26 August 2010

Russian food inflation, greening (a bit of) Australia, and more sustainability news for business

Top Stories

Food prices soar in Russia after drought.reliability high.
"Prices of basic foodstuffs like buckwheat and flour have soared in Russia over the past month as the effects of its worst ever drought hit supplies, statistics showed Wednesday. ... 'The most acute problem is with buckwheat because last year's stock is not big and the forecasts are bad,' said Mikhail Susov". See Grist from AFP. [Buckwheat is a staple in Russia, although China is the biggest producer. If Russian consumers connect price spikes in buckwheat, bread and milk with climate change they may pressure politicians to do something. To shift the anger at inflation politicians will be tempted to shift the blame to the drought. The question is whether the drought is regarded as an aberration, and "act of god", or blamed in turn on climate change.]

Australia's capital sets 40 percent carbon cut law.reliability high.
"The Australian Capital Territory, which includes the capital Canberra also ruled by Labor, said its Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill 2010 would set a target of cutting carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels. The cut would rise to 80 percent by 2050, with the aim of the territory of nearly 400,000 people becoming carbon neutral by 2060." From Reuters. [On a national level climate action has been paralyzed by parliamentary politics, but on this local level Labour can act freely. This may also be a signal to kingmaking independents and greens that Labour is serious about climate and deserves their support in forming a government.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Supermarkets miss plastic bag goal for a second time.reliability high.
"The UK's leading supermarkets have once again missed a voluntary goal to halve the number of single use carrier bags handed out, despite cutting usage since last year, new figures have shown. The government-backed Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) confirmed today that the total number of carrier bags issued by the UK's leading supermarkets has fallen 41 per cent since figures were first recorded in 2006." From BusinessGreen.

But in another take on the same data: Plastic bag use plummets in supermarkets since 2006.reliability high.
"Customers at the UK's leading supermarkets used 43% fewer carrier bags in 2009-10 than they did in 2006, when figures were first recorded, with 6.1bn single-use bags used in 2009-10 against 10.7bn four years earlier. ... But figures for the month of May suggest that since the voluntary agreement ended, the supermarkets' performance has dipped." See The Guardian.

Scotland’s offshore wind sector to contribute £7.1bn to economy.reliability high.
"Scotland’s offshore wind sector may contribute £7.1bn of investment to the economy and by 2030 renewable energy could meet up to 143 per cent of its projected annual electricity demand, according to separate reports." More highlights and links to reports. See NewNet. [Scotland has "cleaned up", if that is the right term, from the North Sea offshore oil bonanza, which is now fading. Wind, and maybe tidal, energy may provide a second act.]

Apple blocks iPhones from green ranking scheme.reliability high.
"Apple has refused to allow its iPhones to be included in the UK's first-ever green ranking scheme for mobile phones. .. Launched in partnership with sustainability advisers Forum for the Future, the green ranking scheme scores handsets on the ecological impact of their raw materials, the manufacturing process, packaging, how long they are likely to last, energy efficiency and how easy they are to reuse or recycle." From The Guardian.

Government and Regulation

California Approves First New U.S. Thermal Solar Plant.reliability high.
"California regulators on Wednesday approved a license for the nation’s first large-scale solar thermal power plant in two decades. The licensing of the 250-megawatt Beacon Solar Energy Project after a two-and-a-half-year environmental review comes as several other big solar farms are set to receive approval from the California Energy Commission in the next month." From New York Times Green blog.

EU sees limit on industrial projects in CO2 scheme.reliability high.
"The European Union's top climate official proposed on Wednesday new limits on the use of carbon offsets from industrial gas projects, under fire by green groups, in the EU's emissions trading scheme after 2012. 'The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has been successful in some aspects but has also given rise to criticism, e.g. with regard to environmental integrity,' said Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action, in a statement. ... 'I have asked my services to prepare a proposal for a measure to introduce further quality restrictions on the use of credits from industrial gas projects in the post-2012 EU ETS,' Hedegaard said." From Reuters. [So there could be approved CERs that would not be legal as offsets in the EU? This will complicate the carbon market. Ideally such derivatives should be commodities to minimize transaction costs.]

[shared from Daily Green Brief]