16 July 2010

Greening India, bioethanol debate, China flowers bloom, BP biofuels, warmest year and more green news

Top Stories

South Korea Industries to Invest $18.5 Bln in Clean Energy Projects.reliability high.
"South Korea's 30 major industrial groups plan to invest 22.4 trillion won ($18.5 billion) by 2013 in clean energy, including batteries and solar power, to benefit from the government’s spending on environment-friendly projects." See Bloomberg. [This is on top of the government's $1.25 bln mentioned in Tuesday's Brief.]

European Emissions Cut Should Be 30%, Not 20%, Ministers Say.reliability high.
"The European Union should raise its target to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 30 percent by 2020 or risk falling behind the U.S. and China in developing low-carbon technology, French, German and U.K. officials said. The 27-nation bloc’s current 20 percent goal isn't enough to drive the investment needed to slash emissions further," they said. More on concerns about competitiveness in clean technology. The carbon "price at present is 'far too low to stimulate significant investment in green jobs and technologies,' the ministers wrote". See Bloomberg Businessweek. [This is three important ministers writing an article, not official policy. But an interesting trial balloon. While the U.S. is unable to pass its already-anemic verbal commitment, Europe is considering a more aggressive target.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Environmental groups in China--Budding greens.reliability high.
"CHINA’S environment, most obviously the air in its cities, has been deteriorating roughly at the same dizzy pace that its industry has been expanding. Now some young activists, notably in university environmental clubs, are campaigning to raise awareness of pollution. In the process, they are among the first of their generation to dabble with political participation." More about these activists' first tentative moves. Article in The Economist. [Letting a few flowers bloom?]

BP pays $98 mln for Verenium biofuels activities.reliability high.
"BP beefed up its biofuels business on Thursday by paying $98 million for technology and facilities developed by U.S. partner Verenium Corp. ... 'This acquisition demonstrates BP's intent to be a leader in the cellulosic biofuels industry in the U.S. and positions us as one of the few global companies with an integrated end-to-end capability,' said Philip New, chief executive of BP Biofuels." From Reuters.

Infy to debit leaves of 'non-green employees'.reliability high.
Infosys has developed a plan to debit the leaves of employees who don't respond to an automated SMS asking them to turn off idle computers. Article has other company comments heard at India's Green Business Summit 2010. See CIOL.

Firms Should Disclose Emissions to at Least One Carbon Registry.reliability medium.
"Sustainability teams should consider participation in at least one, and possibly two, registries. Participation beyond two programs is often not worth the additional investment of time and money." Post discusses the main registries and their features. From GreenBiz blog.

SAP India bets big on sustainability.reliability high.
"SAP has set sights on India as an important part of the German software vendor's global strategy to generate a sustainability business worth US$9.3 billion by 2013, according to company executives. Pointing to India as a 'very important market' for SAP, Peter Gartenberg, managing director of SAP Indian Continent, said during a press briefing here Thursday: 'It is a large consumer market with high energy consumption [and] SAP can positively impact both the returns on investment and sustainability.'" See ZDNet.

Government and Regulation

Sobering CBO report shows massive costs of corn ethanol tax credit.reliability medium.
"Tax expenditures (essentially foregone tax revenues) in support of this production were roughly $5.16 billion" for corn ethanol in 2009. "CBO finds that before they even pay at the pump, taxpayers incur a cost of $1.78 to replace a gallon of gasoline by substituting corn ethanol." See NRDC blogs. Access the report here. [Americans complain about the cost of motor fuel, but they are willing to pay an additional $1.78 for each gallon of it that is corn ethanol (about a 60% premium).]

Ethanol industry splits on future of U.S. tax breaks.reliability high.
"A group of U.S. ethanol makers proposed a phase-out of federal subsidies on Thursday -- the first such offer by a biofuels group, although the offer was tied to the creation of a more open market for the alternative fuel." Story at Reuters. [The CBO report mentioned above says most of the industry could survive without the existing generous tax breaks. After all this is a highly mature technology, not a nascent industry needing generous subsidy from the public purse. Besides, the industry will retain many government supports such as the barriers against imports of cheaper cane ethanol.]

China says energy efficiency higher than earlier report.reliability high.
"China has again revised its gains in energy efficiency over the past four years, suggesting it is getting closer to achieving a five-year energy intensity reduction target at the end of this year. ... The world's top emitter of greenhouse gases consumed 0.1077 tonnes of standard coal for each 1,000 yuan of GDP in 2009, down 3.61 percent from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. That marks a substantial revision" More on China's struggle to meet its target. From Reuters.

Science and Economics

Last month was the hottest June recorded worldwide, figures show.reliability high.
"Last month was the hottest June ever recorded worldwide and the fourth consecutive month that the combined global land and sea temperature records have been broken, according to the US government's climate data centre. The figures released last night by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggest that 2010 is now on course to be the warmest year since records began in 1880. ... According to NOAA, June was the 304th consecutive month with a combined global land and surface temperature above the 20th-century average." Article in The Guardian. See NOAA data here. [Yet we still see people claiming there is no warming because of a recent "cooling" trend. What data are they looking at? (More about heat waves and warming in this related post)]