27 January 2010

Will climate suits be like tobacco and asbestos? And other company and industry news

Top Stories

Courts as Battlefields in Climate Fights.reliability high.
"Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo village of 400 perched on a barrier island north of the Arctic Circle, is accusing two dozen fuel and utility companies of helping to cause the climate change that it says is accelerating the island's erosion. . . . And although a federal judge in Oakland, Calif., dismissed the Kivalina suit in October, the village is appealing the decision." Article gives other examples of lawsuits filed by those who feel they are hurt by climate change, going after big greenhouse gas emitters. Kivalina says energy companies "conspired 'to suppress the awareness of the link' between emissions and climate change through 'front groups, fake citizens organizations and bogus scientific bodies.'" Discovery in such a case could be highly revealing. "In a report issued last year, Swiss Re, an insurance giant, compared the suits to those that led dozens of companies in asbestos industries to file for bankruptcy, and predicted that 'climate change-related liability will develop more quickly than asbestos-related claims.'" From New York Times.

Iceland Leads Environmental Index as U.S. Falls.reliability high.
"A new ranking of the world’s nations by environmental performance puts some of the globe’s largest economies far down the list, with the United States sinking to 61st and China to 121st. In the previous version of the Environmental Performance Index, compiled every two years by Yale and Columbia University researchers, the United States ranked 39th, and China 105th." "'Countries that take seriously the environment as a policy challenge do improve, and those that don’t deteriorate,' said Daniel C. Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, who oversees the index project. 'Both the U.S. and China are suffering because they’re industrial and haven't been paying much attention to environmental policy.'" See New York Times. Access report and related material here.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

GM backward integrates into electric motor design, manufacture.reliability high.
General Motors will take $105 million it got from the Department of Energy and $141 of its own money to set up in-house electric motor manufacturing, expanding an existing transmission plant in Maryland. "The first GM-designed and built electric motors are scheduled to appear in 2013 in rear-wheel-drive hybrid vehicles. GM said it would consider building motors in-house for a broader range of electric vehicles." From Reuters.

EnerDel Plans to Invest $237 Million in New Indiana Lithium-Ion Battery Plant.reliability high.
"The new plant will give EnerDel the capacity to produce battery packs for approximately 600,000 hybrid electric vehicles, or 60,000 battery electric cars. It will be financed through a $118.5 million grant awarded under the federal stimulus package under a 50:50 cost-share program, of which EnerDel plans to spend $60 million in 2010. The project represents just the first stage of the company's expansion plans in the Indianapolis area. 'We're out to be the capital of the electric vehicle industry and EnerDel is at the center of those hopes,' said Governor Daniels." See EnerDel site.

Sneak peek at Itochu’s Green Crossover initiative.reliability high.
"The Green Crossover Project—spearheaded by Itochu's real estate arm, powered by EnerDel's batteries, and including a number of other partners such as Mazda and Think—essentially provides a secondary life to the battery packs, after their use in electric vehicles has been degraded, since they still have significant storage capacity remaining. . . . The first phase of the project is expected to start in March in Tsukuba, which is about 30 minutes from Tokyo. It is expected to include rapid electric vehicle charging powered by solar, and a communications system for about 10 vehicles. Murase said Itochu is investing an initial $2 million in the first phase. . . . The long-term vision for the project includes electric vehicle car sharing programs and quick recharging stations at 8,000 family marts across Japan, already owned by Itochu. Murase described them as slightly different from America’s 7-Eleven's because there’s one on just about every corner." From Cleantech Group. [Electric car technology isn't as big as internal combustion technology, but this and the previous two articles, and others like Toyota's integration into lithium, show that an extensive industry is emerging reaching from mining through manufacturing to recharge retailing. Daily Brief hasn't published as much EV material lately, since it is supposed to reflect the whole range of GreenBase data. If you want to know more on any specific sector you can search GreenBase.]

HaraBara wins coveted slot to present at SIIA Summit 2010.reliability high.
HaraBara, Inc. is one of nine companies in the digital content industry that have been selected by the Software and Information Industry Association, the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry, to present its business model at the SIIA Information Industry Summit in New York, January 26‐27.  All of the firms selected are early-stage businesses that offer content or content technology products and are poised for growth. They were picked out of more than 50 applicants. HaraBara's presentation reviewed its business model and recent introduction of its Competitive Assessment product based on GreenBase™. Source: HaraBara.


Bid to buffer Louisiana coast shuts down.reliability high.
"The failure of the West Bay diversion highlights the problems federal and state governments face as they try to combat sea level rise and land loss. The project is being scrapped for reasons that have plagued other coastal restoration projects: the conflict between coastal restoration and maritime traffic, high costs, and untested scientific and engineering techniques." "Over the objections of some scientists, a panel overseeing the effort to save coastal Louisiana voted last week to close a river diversion at West Bay, a spot about 75 miles south of New Orleans. The cut in the river was supposed to create 10,000 acres of land. However, after six years and $33.3 million in work, it created little to no land." See MSNBC from AP. [This give a sense of how difficult, and potentially useless, some of the trillions of dollars of civil engineering projects that will be undertaken to mitigate climate change impacts may ultimately be.]

[Crossposted from HaraBara.com courtesy of HaraBara, Inc. Copyright © 2010 HaraBara, Inc.]