06 July 2010

Plan for more warming, save by workshifting, green company news and Geeks' Corner

Top Stories

Global emissions targets will lead to 4C temperature rise, say studies.reliability high.

The world is heading for an average temperature rise of nearly 4C (7F), according to analysis of national pledges from around the globe. Such a rise would bring a high risk of major extinctions, threats to food supplies and the near-total collapse of the huge Greenland ice sheet. ... The Climate Interactive Scoreboard, for which researchers check daily for updates in emissions or other targets which would reduce pollution such as reductions in energy intensity or increases in renewable energy, makes a medium-range prediction of a 3.9C increase in temperatures, with a range of 2.3-6.2C (4.2-11.1F), based on committed targets" Story at The Guardian. [This is scary. Note these projections are based on "committed" targets. How many of those commitments will be kept by politicians? Well, some businesses can profit during war, and some will profit from climate change. Others may be destroyed.]

Telecommuting Saves Companies $10K Per Employee Yearly.reliability high.

"Businesses that let 100 employees work half of their time from home can save more than $1 million a year according to Telework Research Network's (TRN) latest study of telework programs and their benefits. TRN looked at more than 250 case studies ... . ... letting one employee work half of their time out of the office saves their company about $10,000 per year and the employee up to $6,800 per year." See Greener World Media. Access the report here.

China Fears Consumer Impact on Global Warming.reliability high.

"Already, in the last three years, China has shut down more than a thousand older coal-fired power plants that used technology of the sort still common in the United States. China has also surpassed the rest of the world as the biggest investor in wind turbines and other clean energy technology. And it has dictated tough new energy standards for lighting and gas mileage for cars. But even as Beijing imposes the world’s most rigorous national energy campaign, the effort is being overwhelmed by the billionfold demands of Chinese consumers." From The New York Times. [Important reading. All the TVs in China use a lot of juice. And more than a billion people want more air conditioning. These trends may overwhelm even Chinese-scale energy efficiency efforts. "If China cannot meet its own energy-efficiency targets, the chances of avoiding widespread environmental damage from rising temperatures 'are very close to zero,' said Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency in Paris."]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

The Green Gauge: IBM rides a high.reliability high.

Information from "a bi-weekly analysis of companies in the news by ASSET4 ... , a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. ... Here is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines June 19 to July 2 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity." Discusses positive or negative news on IBM, GE, Ingram Micro, DSM, Costco Wholesale, IOI Berhard, EDF. See Reuters blog.

For a Premier Lab, a Zero-Energy Showcase.reliability medium.

"The federal government has just finished construction on a zero-energy office building, the nation’s largest, and is hoping that commercial developers will follow its lead. The 222,000-square-foot Research Support Facility is on the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory campus in Golden, Colo. ... Thanks to various “passive” design techniques and technologies, the facility will consume 50 percent less energy than buildings constructed to current commercial codes, he predicts. The remaining power needs will be generated onsite from solar panels, allowing the building to operate at an annual net-zero energy basis. ... Although more expensive than conventional commercial buildings, the new building’s cost, $259 per square foot, is in line with that of other LEED buildings." From New York Times Green blog. [Since the government paid for the building and will also benefit from power-bill savings over its lifetime the green building version of the principal-agent problem is avoided.]

Government and Regulation

Obama admin unable to resolve shutdown of PACE clean-energy program.reliability medium.

"Obama administration officials have failed to resolve a dispute with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that has shut down Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), according to an email obtained by Grist. ... 'Unfortunately, the discussions between the Obama Administration and the FHFA [Federal Housing Finance Agency] have not been successful,' DeVries wrote. 'DOE and the White House have informed us that the senior lien -- regardless of how structured, accelerated, or insured -- is not acceptable to the regulators.  New guidance from Fannie and Freddie to this effect is due out soon.'" From grist.

Science and Economics

Accentuate the negative.reliability medium.

Discussion of the conclusions of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) in its review of the IPCC's reports. Poster raises question (though the PBL doesn't) whether IPCC's authors and editors might have tended to lean toward the negative. See post at The Economist blogs. [Best analysis of this latest fine-tooth combing of the IPCC's work, though the post itself accentuates the negative. Gives PBL's concerns and IPCC's answers. Basic conclusion: IPCC report conclusions are correct, but it should have been even longer to include discussion of where the expertise of the authors played a role, and more complete referencing of sources. Access PBL report here.]

Geeks' Corner

DriveGain iPhone app helps drivers save fuel, reduce emissions.reliability medium.

"DriveGain has introduced a new iPhone app that promises to save drivers up to $205 a year in fuel costs by following some simple visual and spoken cues. The DriveGain app uses the iPhone's built-in GPS system to calculate the vehicle's speed and rate of acceleration and deceleration. The visual displays include a recommended gear indicator and some sliders that drivers try to keep in the green. In addition, the app calculates fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, fuel cost per mile and much more." See Autoblog Green post. [But please keep your eyes on the road.]