19 March 2010

Friday commentary, the "Not So Green News" and other company, industry, government and technology selections

Top Stories

[It's Friday, so we loosen up a little. One reason Daily Brief includes lots of stories from Britain, even though more of our readers at the moment are outside the UK, is that we think that Britain is a few years ahead of the U.S. in dealing with the carbon transition, and perhaps 10 years ahead of India. Just as readers in Texas can benefit from seeing what is going on in California, so readers in the U.S. can use information from the UK to anticipate future challenges.]

Britain's Conservatives propose carbon levy.reliability high.
"A Conservative British government would impose a carbon tax on electricity generation, to create a clear incentive for long-term investment in renewable energies, the party said on Friday. Unveiling its energy strategy, the opposition Conservative party said it would reform an existing Climate Change Levy (CCL), imposing a levy instead on the carbon content of power production. Utilities would only have to pay the levy if the European carbon price fell below the level of the levy, which would thereby act as a floor price for carbon emissions in Britain. ... By setting a floor price for carbon, the levy would provide a reliable signal for investment in all forms of low carbon energy including nuclear power, it said." Reuters story. [Another typical pre-election effort to pander to the masses?]

More Maize Ethanol May Boost Greenhouse Gas Emissions.reliability high.
"In the March issue of BioScience, researchers present a sophisticated new analysis of the effects of boosting use of maize-derived ethanol on greenhouse gas emissions. ... The researchers' main conclusion is stark: these indirect, market-mediated effects on greenhouse gas emissions "are enough to cancel out the benefits the corn ethanol has on global warming." ... their bottom line, though only one-quarter as large as the earlier estimate of Searchinger and his coauthors, still indicates that the maize ethanol now being produced in the United States will not significantly reduce total greenhouse gas emissions, compared with burning gasoline." From Science Daily. Abstract and first page available here. [There go those pointy-headed scientists again. Senators can safely ignore them again.]

The science of climate change.reliability high.
Feature article examines the state of the science of climate change. Uncertainties exist, of course, but many have been resolved by research in recent years. The probabilities are against a non-catastrophic future. "Using the IPCC’s assessment of probabilities, the sensitivity to a doubling of carbon dioxide of less than 1.5ºC in such a scenario has perhaps one chance in ten of being correct. But if the IPCC were underestimating things by a factor of five or so, that would still leave only a 50:50 chance of such a desirable outcome. The fact that the uncertainties allow you to construct a relatively benign future does not allow you to ignore futures in which climate change is large, and in some of which it is very dangerous indeed. The doubters are right that uncertainties are rife in climate science. They are wrong when they present that as a reason for inaction." See The Economist. There is a shorter companion article here. [Rather long and detailed, but the issues are complex. Worth reading. Nobody said dealing with climate change would be easy.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

'Revolution' required to tackle climate change, IEA says.reliability medium.
"The Paris-based intergovernmental body and the chief technology officers of 30 major companies issued a joint statement urging greater action to limit global temperature increases. The statement says: 'Dramatic greenhouse gas emission cuts are required. IEA studies have shown that halving current global CO2 emissions by 2050 is technically within our reach. To achieve this requires a stronger focus on energy efficiency measures and substantially decarbonised power and transport sectors by 2050. This means a revolution in the way modern society uses and produces energy.' ". From edie.net. PDF of statement here. [The companies supporting the Joint Statement are: ABB, Air Liquide, Alstom Power, Ansaldo Energia, Areva, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Electrolux, ENEL, General Electric, HeidelbergCement, Hitachi, Hydro-Québec, Iberdrola, Norsk Hydro, Philips Lighting, Renault, Sasol, Shell, Schlumberger, Siemens, TEPCO, Total, Toyota Motor Europe, United Technologies Corporation, Vestas Wind Systems, Volkswagen AG. Admittedly most of these stand to make a great deal of money from the transition to a low-carbon economy.]

Toshiba says good-bye to incandescent era.reliability high.
"Toshiba announced Wednesday it has produced its last major run of incandescent lightbulbs. The Japanese electronics manufacturer said the phaseout is part of a strategy to ultimately concentrate on LED (light-emitting diode) lighting products, though it will continue to produce certain specialty incandescent bulbs. ... Hakunetsu-sha & Company was Japan's first electric incandescent lighting factory and produced its first bulbs in 1890 at a rate of 10 bulbs per day. The company was renamed the Tokyo Electric Company in 1899, and in 1939 merged with Shibaura Engineering Works to become what is today known as Toshiba." Story at CNET News.

Government and Regulation

Why California's new electric vehicle rebates are good, and why they're not so good.reliability medium.
"Since Monday, the state of California has been offering tax rebates for eligible zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles under the $4.1 million Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP). The rebates are worth up to $20,000 for commercial vehicles and up to $5,000 for new light-duty vehicles. The list includes pure electrics like the Tesla Roadster and the Nissan  Leaf, NEVs from GEM and a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle: the Honda 2010 FCX Clarity. The all-electric Zero DS and S motorcycles are eligible for $1,500. ... Gas2.0  wishes the start date could have been pushed back a bit, until the Leaf, for example, becomes available. $5,000 means a lot more when the car costs $35,000 (or whatever) and not the $109,000 for a Tesla Roadster." See Autoblog Green. The project's site is here.

Not So Green News

Egg boss jailed for 'free range' fraud.reliability high.
"A Midlands businessman was jailed for three years today after admitting making a fortune by fraudulently passing off battery farm eggs as free range or organic. Around 100m mislabelled eggs sold by Keith Owen ended up on the shelves of supermarkets including Sainsbury's and Tesco. That the fraud was able to carry on for two years while he made a £3m profit raises questions for the food industry about the provenance of goods." See The Guardian.

Calif. locals vs. lake of chicken waste.reliability high.
Olivera Egg Ranch's 16.5-acre waste lagoon tormented neighbors for years. "Now, after the Humane Society of the United States petitioned state air regulators for an investigation last month, Olivera Egg Ranch is facing six violations for expanding and operating its facilities without proper permits. . . . Upon completion of the investigation, the company could be subject to fines of up to $10,000 a day for each of the six violations. The lawsuit, which seeks a cleanup and unspecified damages, alleges that 'Olivera has systematically and continuously released unlawful levels of ammonia from the hen houses and manure lagoon into the local community without reporting them as required by (federal law) since at least 2004.'" Story at MSNBC from AP.

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