27 August 2010

Pachauri exonerated, green gains ground in India and China, stimulus green billions, Bill Gates' views and more sustainability news

Top Stories

Green Activists Gain Ground with Successive Victories in India.reliability medium.
Analysis by Ranjit Devraj says "Green activists in India have chalked up a series of successes recently and feel heartened that the central government is heeding their call. A number of mega projects which would have displaced vulnerable communities or caused damage to the environment were recently scrapped by the government." Cites examples. Credits environment minister Jairam Ramesh. "The minister does not shy away from controversies, readily taking on powerful vested interests -- whether they are cabinet colleagues or mining maharajas." From IPS.

Analysis: China clean energy plan hinges on coal price.reliability high.
"China's $736-billion push to harness nuclear, wind, solar and biomass energy hinges on making the cleaner fuels competitive with cheap and CO2-intensive coal without derailing surging industrial growth. ... 'Parallel policies are essential,' said Wang Yi, deputy head of Institute of Policy and management, China Academy of Science. 'The government must gradually lift fossil fuel prices while granting incentives to non-fossil fuels to establish a long-term price signal.' ... For international firms involved in the sectors expected to receive the spending, the plan is a potential gold mine. ... 'Chinese leaders are dead serious about environment, more serious than the outside world thinks,' said Yan Kefeng of Cambridge Energy Research Associates." See Reuters article.

A Newspaper Apologizes to United Nations’ Climate Chief.reliability medium.
"Last December, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper published a 2,000-word article accusing Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of potential financial conflicts of interest. On Sunday, The Telegraph made an abrupt about-face, pulling the story from its Web site and apologizing to Dr. Pachauri. The occasion for the retraction was the release of an audit of Dr. Pachauri’s finances by the international accounting firm KPMG, which found that he had, in fact, made little income from his outside dealings since 2008." See New York Times Green blog. More from George Monbiot at The Guardian. [A lot of people heard the story that Pachauri was getting rich off climate change ("must run into millions of dollars" said The Telegraph) who will never notice the retraction.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

The Bill Gates Path to an Energy Revolution.reliability medium.
Commentary on Technology Review article say "Gates hammered on points reported here for many years: that without a big, and sustained, boost in spending on basic research and development  on energy frontiers, the chances of triggering an energy revolution are nil; that while the private sector and venture capital investors are vital for transforming breakthroughs into marketable products or services, they will not invest in the long-haul inquiry that’s required to generate game-changing breakthroughs; that a 1 or 2 percent tax on carbon-emitting fuels could generate a large, steady stream of money for invigorating the innovation pipeline". Highlights and quotes from interview. See New York Times Dot Earth blog.

How Businesses Can Plan for the Unpredictability of Climate Change.reliability medium.
Article discusses various risk management and planning tools, with links. "we are still a long way from being able to predict specific climate events. In lieu of precise predictions, a key to effectively managing the physical effects of climate change is preparedness, which can be achieved through developing literacy, identifying plausible impacts, evaluating priorities, and building resilience." From GreenBiz blog.

U.K. Office Workers 'Addicted' to Paper.reliability high.
"A survey of 1,000 U.K. office workers has found that efforts to make office paper use more efficient are proceeding sluggishly at best, wasting huge amounts of resources and stymieing IT managers' attempts to rein in energy and paper use. The survey, conducted by research firm Loudhouse on behalf of Kyocera, found that the average employee uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year, and as many as 6,800 of those sheets are wasted." See Greener World Media. Access the full survey results at Kyocera site.

Getting sustainability a seat in the C-suite.reliability medium.
"Getting the attention—and respect—of a company’s top leaders doesn’t always follow suit with the upward trend around all things green." How to pitch the board, from a consultant. From Sustainable Industries.

Government and Regulation

How the Stimulus Is Changing America for the Greener.reliability high.
"the Recovery Act is the most ambitious energy legislation in history, converting the Energy Department into the world's largest venture-capital fund. It's pouring $90 billion into clean energy, including unprecedented investments in a smart grid; energy efficiency; electric cars; renewable power from the sun, wind and earth; cleaner coal; advanced biofuels; and factories to manufacture green stuff in the U.S." Article discusses how that $90 billion is being spent. See Time.

Next-Generation Feed-in Tariff for California?reliability high.
"On Tuesday the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a proposed decision to launch a new renewable incentive program designed to drive mid-sized renewable energy development. This next-generation feed-in tariff program will require investor-owned California utilities to purchase electricity from renewable energy systems between 1 and 20 MW in size. From Renewable Energy World.

Science and Economics

Spurred by Warming Climate, Beetles Threaten Coffee Crops.reliability high.
Researchers studying the coffee berry borer find that its recent global spread may be tied to increasing temperatures in coffee-growing regions. "Until recently, the coffee berry borer was confined to just a few regions in Central Africa. But since the 1980s, the beetle has gradually spread to every coffee-growing region except Hawaii, Nepal, and Papua New Guinea. Juliana Jaramillo, a biologist at Kenya’s International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology, suspects temperature increases are to blame. She and her collaborators recently identified the temperature range in which the beetle can survive. They found that the average minimum temperature the borer requires to reproduce is about 68 degrees F, and the mountainous regions of Ethiopia did not reach that temperature until 1984." From Yale Environment 360. [Expect higher coffee prices--blame global warming?]

In Case You Missed It . . .

The latest post at Doc's Green Blog:  U.S. Energy Flows.reliability medium.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has come out with its "Estimated U.S. Energy Use" flow chart covering the year 2009. These charts are always fascinating. Here are some of the insights it offers. Doc's Green Blog.