13 July 2010

UN pushes biodiversity impact reporting, palm oil and rubber supply chain moves and other green news

Top Stories

South Korea to invest $1.3 billion in green fund.reliability high.
"The South Korean government said in a statement on Tuesday state-run Korea Finance Corp (KoFC) would invest 1.5 trillion won ($1.25 billion) to set up a fund in August to help environmental businesses. ... Spending from the fund will be directed mainly toward businesses involved in emissions reduction and promoting energy efficiency." See Reuters story.

Accounting rules could force businesses to disclose environmental impact.reliability high.
"Companies could be asked to publish details of their environmental and social impacts alongside their financial accounts under new rules being discussed with the organisations that set accounting standards. News of the initiative – which would mean that businesses have to account for the impacts they have on local water quality, plants and animals – emerged as a major report for the UN is published today. ... the study leader, Pavan Sukhdev, said he was discussing with both the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the UK accounting organisation, new regulations requiring companies to publish information about their environmental and social impacts – such as freshwater use and pollution, or the destruction or improvement of habitat for species – and standards for doing this." Se story in The Guardian. Another story on this report, "Biodiversity Inches Up on Corporate Agenda", in The New York Times Green blog. Access the report itself here.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

With a Boost from Innovation, Small Wind Is Powering Ahead.reliability high.
About "a new wave of technology innovation sweeping through the small wind industry. This innovation combined with national, regional and local incentives, as well as significant cost reductions in installations and products, is driving fast growth for small windmill makers. In 2009, despite an abysmal economy, the U.S. small wind market (turbines with rated capacities of 100 kilowatts or fewer) grew by 15 percent, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). That growth included an increase of 20.3 megawatts of new capacity and $82.4 million in sales. ... 'You can add the federal credit on top of state level rebates that can be 20 percent to 25 percent and that pushes the effective price of installing a small residential wind system down to $15,000 on average,'" See Yale Environment 360. [$15,000 would buy a lot of utility-generated electricity. Those who install these units must have a very long view, or get additional psychic or commercial benefits from displaying a wind turbine. Even at 100kW (the largest that qualifies as a "small wind" system) and at high electricity prices, say $0.20 per kWh, the system would have to run flat out 24/7 for 75,000 hours (8.5 years) before you broke even. Installing such a system is more than an economic decision. Sort of like a Prius on top of your building.]

Solarcentury and GE team up to launch solar UK schools financing model.reliability high.
"Under the new agreement, GE Capital, the financial services arm of GE, will cover the bulk of the cost of installing solar technology under Solarcentury's Solar4Schools programme with schools or local authorities providing a small deposit of between £1,000 and £2,000. The school will then lease the solar panels from GE Capital for 15 years using savings on its energy bills and funds raised through the government's feed-in tariff renewable energy incentive scheme. At the end of the 15-year period the school will take ownership of the solar panels, providing it with a further 10 years of revenue from the feed-in tariff." See BusinessGreen. [Schools have roofs, and there are lots of them. This scheme depends on them becoming net generators of electricity, selling power to the grid to make the lease payments. Next: railway stations, military bases? What happens when government is forced to economize by reducing feed-in tariff?]

Greener palm oil arrives in the United States.reliability medium.
"AAK, a vegetable oils and fats manufacturer based in Malmo, Sweden, announced the arrival of the first shipment of segregated RSPO-certified palm oil to its refinery in Port Newark, New Jersey. Segregated RSPO-certified palm oil has been kept separate from conventional palm oil throughout the supply chain. Most "sustainable" palm oil users don't actually use segregated certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), Instead they offset conventional palm oil buy purchasing the equivalent amount of GreenPalm certificates, which represent real CSPO sold elsewhere as conventional palm oil." From Mongabay. [Certified sustainable palm oil has reached a few percent of total production, but complexity of the supply chain means it is not reliably available to European or North American manufacturers. Segregated, identity preserved channels have been established for specialty uses where the substantial additional cost can be passed on to consumers. Palm oil is generally used because it is cheap, so segregated CSPO will probably only be used for applications, such as some margarines, where palm oil is technically required (because of its fatty acid composition, melting point, etc.). It certainly won't go into biodiesel in the near future. See previous post.]

Bridgestone to Partner with the World Agroforestry Centre to Assist Rubber Tree Farmers in Indonesia.reliability high.
"Bridgestone Corporation today announced that it has entered into an agreement with the World Agroforestry Centre in which the parties will provide small-scale farmers in Indonesia information and guidance on best practices in connection with the cultivation of rubber trees. The parties will also conduct joint research intended to help stabilize the region's agricultural rubber industry into the future. The agreement, which was signed on April 29 at the Centre's regional headquarters for Southeast Asia in Bogor, approximately 50 km south of Jakarta, was accompanied by a donation of ¥2 million to the World Agroforestry Centre from Bridgestone. Bridgestone's subsidiary in Sumatra, P. T. Bridgestone Sumatra Rubber Estate, will work with Centre representatives in connection with these initiatives." From Bridgestone press release. [Investing in its supply chain. Following what cocoa companies have done to assure supply and, perhaps, avoid charges of exploitation and unsustainability?]

Government and Regulation

Government to track UK contribution to palm oil deforestation.reliability high.
"The coalition government is commissioning a major new piece of research to establish the extent to which British firms and consumers are contributing to deforestation in South East Asia, through growing demand for palm oil. ... The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that bids for the research project have already been received and a decision on a contractor is due next week. Work will then get underway with the report's findings due for release next month." From BusinessGreen. [What sort of analysis can be completed in one month? They must be talking about buying a study which has already been done.]

Pondering what the recent heat waves have to do with climate issues? See the latest post to sister blog A Very Different Earth.