23 November 2010

Carbon emissions still rising, Asian pollution costs, carbon-neutral Chevys and more green business news

Dare to Share:  

Top Stories

"Carbon emissions set to be highest in history"reliability high.
The latest report from the Global Carbon Project show that "Emissions of man-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are roaring ahead again after a smaller-than-expected dip due to the worldwide recession. Scientists are forecasting that CO2 emissions from burning coal, oil and gas will reach their highest in history this year." The analysis, published in Nature Geoscience, "show that national attempts to stabilise carbon dioxide have been too feeble to have any noticeable impact on global emissions." From The Independent. More details and access here. [In spite of lingering effects of the economic recession and continuing efforts to reduce carbon emissions on the part of companies and governments, 2010 greenhouse gas emissions will be the highest yet. Is there any chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees C? Many recent items suggest the emphasis is shifting from limiting emissions to dealing with consequences (see previous post and items below).]

"Air pollution exceeds safety limits in big Asian cities: report"reliability high.
"Air pollution in major cities in Asia exceeds the World Health Organisation's (WHO) air quality guidelines and toxic cocktails result in more than 530,000 premature deaths a year, according to a new report" from the Health Effects Institute, says this Reuters story. It quotes the institute's vice president, Robert O'Keefe: "The levels of air pollution across Asia routinely exceed WHO guidelines and that is evidenced in ... significant excess mortality from air pollution-related disease." See Reuters. Access the report here. [The very significant public health impacts (and costs) should eventually call forth measures to reduce air pollution, such as power plant and vehicle emissions controls. Particulates are a very large part of the problem, especially in the developing countries.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"M&S insists Plan A is ahead of schedule"reliability high.
"Marks and Spencer's Plan A programme is on course to meet half of its 180 sustainability commitments four years ahead of schedule, according to half-year results". "'Plan A is an integral part of our business and at the heart of the M&S brand,' said new chief executive Marc Bolland." More on the greening of M&S. See BusinessGreen.

"On heels of IPO, GM makes bold offset investment"reliability high.
"Chevrolet yesterday announced plans to invest $40m in carbon offset projects across the country over the next three to five years." The projects will account for carbon emissions "roughly the annual emissions produced by the 1.9 million Chevrolet vehicles to be sold over the next year." See BusinessGreen from GreenBiz. [According to VentureBeat "The company will make investments through third-party groups like the non-profit Bonneville Environmental Foundation." Thus GM is buying offsets (over a period of years) that will make their 2011 fleet of Chevys "carbon neutral" for one year. I am still waiting for an oil company to pull the same stunt.]

Government and Regulation

"New Yorkers Learn the Troubles Posed by Sea Level Rise Flow Far Beyond Manhattan"reliability high.
New York State officials are working to develop development guidelines that take into account the threat of sea level rise. "Any reforms to come from the process, starting next week, would affect about 62 percent of New York state's population ... . ...Among other changes, report authors say some rural infrastructure should be relocated away from coastlines, while new and existing buildings in the densely packed New York City metropolitan region should be reconfigured to allow for periodic flooding and sea intrusion. Planners also need to quickly come up with solutions to guard underground infrastructure, especially the flood-prone New York City subway and underground utility cables and pipes." See New York Times from ClimateWire.

"Vietnam launches low-carbon master plan"reliability high.
"Vietnam will develop solar, wind and biomass resources as part of a plan to become a low-carbon economy by 2020, under new proposals set out by the government. According to reports in the Voice of Vietnam, the government has set a target of generating five per cent of the nation's electricity from alternative energy sources by 2020. ... Vietnam also plans to build 14 nuclear reactors by 2030 as part of its move to a low-carbon economy." From BusinessGreen. [Five percent "alternative energy sources" is not "low carbon" by any stretch of the imagination. Fourteen nuclear plants might significantly reduce the growth of emissions between 2020 and 2030, though.]

19 November 2010

Who will pay huge adaptation bills? Worry on agricultural impacts, green jobs analysis and other news

Dare to Share: 

Top Stories

"Climate aid said focused too heavily on C02 cuts"reliability high.
"Under the non-binding Copenhagen Accord agreed at a U.N. summit in December 2009, donors agreed that money to give a quick push to efforts to slow climate change from 2010-12 would have a 'balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation.' But only 11 to 16 percent of the money promised so far will go to adaptation actions such as building sea walls and promoting new farming practices, according to the report by the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)." From Reuters. IIED press release here. Access the report here. [Of course rich-nation funding of mitigation (reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) might help the whole world, including those rich nations. On the other hand funding for adaptation (dealing with the local effects of global warming) has mainly local benefits in the poor nations themselves. There may also be a bias toward technological fixes where some of the technology bought with the funding will be supplied by the donor nations. This is an old foreign-aid trick.]

"Report: India faces major climate changes by 2030"reliability high.
A recent study by the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment says that t average temperatures in India could climb 2 degrees C (3.6 F) within two decades, with even higher temperatures projected for some coastal regions. "'There is no country in the world that is as vulnerable, on so many dimensions, to climate change as India is,' Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in a statement released with the report on Tuesday. 'We must continue this focus on rigorous climate change science.'" Some highlights of the report. See The San Francisco Chronicle. More highlights of the report are here. PDF of the report here. [The India press had a range of reactions to the report, even claiming such warming would be a "blessing" to some states. Google it. The message for the nation, however, is that it will have to come up with lakhs of crores of rupees annually for adaptation.]

"Climate change and disease will spark new food crisis, says UN"reliability high.
The FAO's latest Food Outlook Report warns of projected increase in prices for staples in 2011. "Price hikes of 41 per cent in wheat, 47 per cent in maize and a third in sugar are foreseen". "Climate change, speculation, competing uses such as biofuels and soaring demand from emerging markets in East Asia are the factors that will push global food prices sharply higher next year, claims the FAO." More highlights of report. In particular it notes "an expansion in food production is the potentially more lucrative use of crops for biofuels and non-grain or non-food crops such as sugar, cotton and soya" and "the FAO explicitly acknowledges climate change as a factor in jeopardising food supplies." It says, "adverse weather effects are undoubtedly a primary driver of wheat production shortfalls and, with climate change, may increasingly be so". From The Independent. PDF of the Food Outlook Report here.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Pacific Northwest's Puralytics Wins National Cleantech Open"reliability high.
Oregon-based Puralytics, a developer of photochemical water purification products, has been awarded the Cleantech Open's national business competition top prize. It will receive "the national prize of $250,000 -- comprised of $100,000 cash and $150,000 in-kind startup services." See Marketwire. [In addition to its LED-phochemical water purification machine, Puralytics also displayed a portable plastic pouch with an enclosed pad embodying its photochemical system, where the light can be provided by the sun, enabling purification of a couple of liters of water in two hours. Impressive technology.]

"New Study Shows Wind Energy Supply Chain Means Manufacturing Jobs and Corporate HQs for Illinois"reliability high.
"The Environmental Law and Policy Center has released a new study of Illinois’ wind energy supply chain showing more than 100 Illinois companies with a total of over 15,000 employees." The report notes that while most nacelles are assembled domestically many of their components are imported. However, "domestic production of subcomponents such as bearings, electrical components and hydraulic systems" are increasing in Illinois. From Environmental Law and Policy Center. PDF of report here.

"IT to Drive Vehicle Energy Efficiency"reliability medium.
John Gartner posts about the many ways information technology will become more integrated into vehicle management and lead to greater transportation efficiency. Computers and communication technology increasingly transfer information between vehicles, drivers, and transportation infrastructure. Gives examples. See CleanTechies blog.

Government and Regulation

"A Call to Action on Ocean Acidity"reliability medium.
John Rudolf posts that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared in a memo that states bordering water bodies that are becoming more acidic from the absorption of carbon dioxide should list them as impaired under the Clean Water Act. "The E.P.A.’s declaration, which also urges states to gather data on ocean acidification in their coastal waters, is a result of a successful lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental advocacy group. Under the Clean Water Act, states that list bodies of water as impaired must take action to curb the pollution responsible for the impact." See New York Times green blog.

"'Green stealth tax' carbon reduction scheme delayed"reliability high.
The UK government has "announced it would delay the implementation of a scheme to encourage businesses and organisations to save energy, after controversially changing the programme last month into what critics described as a "green stealth tax"." The program has required large carbon emitters to register would have required them to buy allowances for their emissions. The revenues from sale of allowances was to have been returned to participating emitters according to a formula that would reward those minimizing their emissions. Recently the government had announced that it would instead just keep the revenues from sale of allowances. Now "the government will delay the implementation of the scheme, so that the first sale of permits to cover energy use will not take place next year, but in 2012." See The Guardian.

"Norway climate deal to drive Indonesia reform"reliability high.
"A $1 billion dollar deal with Norway to save Indonesia's forests and cut planet-warming carbon emissions will trigger a much-needed shake up of Indonesia's notorious bureaucracy, a top official said on Thursday." Discussion of implementation of red-tape-and-corruption-reducing efforts connected with the vast foreign aid and forest protection program. From Reuters.

Science and Economics

"USAID Study Says Climate Impact on Himalayas Remains Unknown, but Worrisome"reliability high.
.Highlights of a recent report by the U.S. Agency for International Development that calls attention to uncertainties on impacts of melting of glaciers in "High Asia". "The agency says more information about the glaciers' behavior is needed to help communities adapt to climate change-driven changes in glacier melt and the region's water cycle. ... 'it is important to start looking now at how to make communities more resilient,' said Kristina Yarrow, a health adviser to the agency's Asia and Middle East bureaus." At The New York Times from ClimateWire.

17 November 2010

GE boosts cleantech startups, a plywood pledge, juice packaging, LED marketing, bag banning and other green news for business

Top Stories

"GE & Partners Announce Five $100,000 Innovation Award Winners"reliability high.
"GE unveiled today the five innovation award winners of its $200 million open innovation challenge, the 'GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid.' ... The winning ideas are a lightweight inflatable wind turbine; a technology that instantly de-ices wind turbine blades so they never slow or shut down; an intelligent water meter that can generate its own power; a cyber-secure network infrastructure that allows two-way communications grid monitoring and substation automation from wind and solar farms; and a technology solves short-circuiting and outages from overloaded electric grids by enabling precise control over their flow and power." More details on winners, including videos. From GE site.

"California leads 'subnational' summit climate push"reliability high.
"The so-called R20 coalition of some 100 regional, state and provincial governments, observer nations and corporations aim to use their joint economic heft to create industries and to make 'subnational' deals to create low-carbon projects." "The green movement is going full steam ahead without an international agreement," said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The R20 group could come to represent 20% of the global economy as new members join. See Reuters.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Plywood giant says it will make greener buys"reliability high.
Georgia-Pacific LLC, the largest maker of plywood in the U.S., "will not buy timber from environmentally sensitive areas and will discourage landowners from clearing hardwood forests under a new policy, it said Tuesday." GP CEO Jim Hannan said, "We continue to believe it is possible to operate in a way that is environmentally responsible and also economically sound. This policy also gives us the opportunity to address issues of increasing interest to our customers and to consumers." More details of proposed policy, which was worked out in negotiation with environmental groups including the Rainforest Action Network. At MSNBC from AP. [The power of NGOs, who in this case pressured GPs big customers, like Home Depot, threatening to make them look bad if they didn't get their suppliers like GP to forswear wood from habitat-destroying sources.]

"GE, partners to invest $55 million in power-grid tech"reliability high.
"General Electric Co and a group of venture-capital firms said on Tuesday they would invest $55 million in a dozen startup ventures and partnerships working on new power-grid technologies. ... GE ... is working with venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield, RockPort Capital, Emerald Technology Ventures and Foundation Capital". More on some of the specific  investments made. From Reuters. [This is the first of $200 million GE and these investment partners plan to put into cleantech ideas in this particular program.]

Exchange Calls It Quitsreliability medium.
John Rudolf posts about the closing of the Chicago Climate Exchange. "With climate legislation in the United States dead in the water for the foreseeable future, participants in the exchange have lost interest, said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, chief executive of Intercontinental Exchange, an operator of futures exchanges for agricultural, credit, currency and energy contracts that purchased the Chicago Climate Exchange in July 2010 for $600 million." Intercontinental "will replace the cap-and-trade system with a less ambitious registry program for carbon offsets next year." See New York Times Green blog. [Evidently they don't think anything resembling cap and trade will be seen in the U.S. for years, at least not anything needing exchange trading or futures. Offsets traded under regional cap and trade programs will be traded over the counter?]

"Home Depot selling Philips 60-watt equivalent LED online"reliability medium.
Martin LaMonica posts that Home Depot will begin selling on line, and have in stores by December, a 60-Watt-equivalent LED "bulb" from Philips at a price of $40. The Ambient LED lamp uses 12.5 Watts. "Its average life is listed at 25,000 hours and it does not contain mercury or lead." From CNET News Green Tech blog. [25,000 hours at say four hours a day--should last 15 to 20 years and save one megawatt-hour. At an average cost of around $0.20 per kilowatt-hour you'd save $200-300 dollars over those decades. Prius owners only?]

"Naked Juice Serves Beverages in Eco-Friendly Package"reliability high.
Naked Juice will package its 10-oz., 15.2-oz., and 64-oz. juice and juice smoothies in bottles made from 100-percent post-consumer recycled PET plastic from early next year. 32-oz. containers have been using rPET since last year. See Environmental Leader.

Government and Regulation

"L.A. County passes sweeping ban on plastic bags"reliability high.
"The ban, which will cover nearly 1.1 million residents countywide, is to the point: “No store shall provide to any customer a plastic carryout bag.” An exception would be made for plastic bags that are used to hold fruit, vegetables or raw meat in order to prevent contamination with other grocery items. If grocers choose to offer paper bags, they must sell them for 10 cents each, according to the ordinance." From The Los Angeles Times. [Unincorporated areas are islands like East Pasadena, dotted across the 4,752 square mile county, where about one million people shop according to the article.]