26 February 2010

Olympics green(ish); Wal-Mart reductions, nuclear bribes, misplaced incentives and other GreenBase information for Friday

Top Stories

A slushy shade of green.reliability high.
Feature on the efforts of the Vancouver Olympics organizers to make the games as green as possible. "Overall, the David Suzuki Foundation, a prominent Canadian environmental organisation, has awarded the Vancouver games a symbolic bronze medal for its green achievements. Among the reasons for not giving it gold is a sense that Vanoc has not lived up to its own lofty aspirations." Gives some of the green and not-so-green aspects of the games. Story in The Economist. [Vanoc claims a footprint of about 120,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases. But a quick calculation reveals that the emissions from participants and visitors traveling to and from the games could easily triple that number. It's easy being green if you make someone else take the blame for emissions you cause. Events like this usually cause their greatest climate impact through the travel they require. We're not saying there shouldn't be such events, just that their accounting should be honest.]

Wal-Mart Unveils Plan to Make Supply Chain Greener.reliability high.
Wal-Mart plans to cut some 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain by the end of 2015 "by focusing on popular product categories with the highest embedded carbon — milk, bread, meat, clothing — and by pressing its suppliers to rethink how they source, manufacture, package and transport those goods. Essentially, suppliers are being asked to examine the carbon lifecycle of their products, from the raw materials used in manufacturing all the way through to the recycling phase. . . . Also, as Michael T. Duke, Wal-Mart's president and chief executive, said in a Web cast on Thursday, 'We know we need to get ready for a world in which energy will only be more expensive.'" See New York Times story. Commentary from grist. [It isn't immediately clear if this means that Wal-Mart's supply chain will emit 20 million tonnes less GHG annually by 2015, but it it does that is approximately the annual emissions of Jordan--less than New Zealand but more than Estonia. Wal-Mart, by squeezing some carbon efficiency out of just its suppliers, can have the same impact as a whole nation going carbon neutral.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Skepticism Meets Vt. Nuke Plant's Cheap-Power Gift.reliability high.
"The owners of Vermont's only nuclear plant on Tuesday offered a shot of cut-rate power in an effort to help the state build jobs -- and were immediately met by skepticism about their motives in making the pitch on the eve of a Senate vote that could lead to the plant's demise. Curt Hebert Jr., executive vice president of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., said at a news conference that the Vermont Yankee plant would provide cheap electricity for economic development projects in the state for three years -- but noted it was contingent on the plant being able to operate beyond the expiration of its license in 2012." AP story in The New York Times. [The bribe wasn't taken and the Vermont Senate voted against extending the license. Vermont is the only state where the legislature, in addition to regulators, has such a role. See Boston Globe editorial.]

Energy audit sheds light on costly appliances, electronics.reliability high.
"PG&E brought my family an unwelcome gift in mid-November: a SmartMeter. I was worried. Reducing my carbon footprint and protecting the world from global warming hadn't gotten my attention quite the way the SmartMeter, and more specifically the threat of losing money, had. Never before had I considered auditing my energy consumption. I didn't even realize that companies offered this service." One homeowner's experience with a self-audit and the resulting savings. Story in Contra Costa Times. [Smart meters are contentious in some markets because consumers feel threatened. They reasonably ask, "What's in it for me?" This story shows how they are supposed to work, at least in these early days. A smart grid makes smart consumers.]

Government and Regulation

UK plans boost for electric vehicles.reliability medium.
"The incentives - up to £5,000 for the least polluting vehicles - will come into force in January 2011, by which point the necessary plug-in points to charge electric vehicles on the go should be more widespread. The grant will cover up to a quarter of the cost of the vehicle, capped at £5,000, and will be available for both individuals and companies. In a separate announcement, London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, said that funding is now in place to have 7,500 electric charge points in the city by spring 2013, with 1,600 to be installed over the next 12 months." From edie.net.

However: Electric vehicle grants scheme backfires as taxpayers subsidise £87,000 sports cars.reliability high.
"Subsidising expensive sports cars is not the most obvious way to fight global warming. But soon, anyone with £87,000 will be able to claim a UK taxpayer-funded £5,000 grant to help them buy Tesla's supercharged electric car, the Roadster, in the name of cutting carbon emissions. The Guardian has learned the Tesla Roadster is one of just two cars that will be available from the start of a new government grants scheme announced today to encourage the take-up of greener cars. Existing electric cars, such as the G-Wiz – the most popular consumer electric car on UK streets – and the MEGA e-City will not be eligible because they do not go fast enough." See story in The Guardian.

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