16 September 2010

Carbon trade barriers? Adaptation urged in UK, coal issues in India, China and World Bank, plus more green news for business

Top Stories

"UK poorly prepared for impact of global warming, climate watchdog warns"reliability high.
A new report by the UK Climate Change Committee's adaptation sub-committee says the nation is very poorly prepared for expected effects of climate change, "with fewer than one in 15 companies, local authorities and other public bodies taking action to tackle the issue". The article says that according to the report "The UK's homes, power stations, roads and water supplies are at risk from flooding, drought and heat waves unless the government takes urgent action to "future-proof" the country". "If we wait it will be too late," said Lord John Krebs, chairman of the sub-committee. From The Guardian. Access the report here.

"Climate expert tells NZ to cut the carbon"reliability high.
Report on Nicholas Stern's speech at Aukland University. He "says that the world is embarking on a 'new industrial revolution'" and that "All countries have to embrace [the industrial revolution] ... or countries will be reluctant to trade with them. Ten or 15 years from now, those that produce in dirty ways are likely to face trade barriers." More of Stern's remarks. From New Zealand Herald. [This trade issue is a new angle. Stern is suggesting that excessive embedded carbon emissions could come to be regarded as health and safety concerns are under international trade rules today--justifiable grounds for trade barriers.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"VantagePoint Venture Partners Announces US$100 Million Fund in Tianjin, China"reliability high.
"VantagePoint Venture Partners announced yesterday in China the firm’s initial closing and launch of a US$100 million (RMB680 million) fund aimed at the burgeoning CleanTech and Financial Services sectors in China’s Bohai Rim region. The Tianjin VantagePoint Hi-tech China FIVCE Fund will be managed in conjunction with Tianjin Hi-Tech Holding Group and Tianjin Binhai Development Investment Holding Co., and will focus on investment opportunities in the CleanTech and Financial Services sectors in the city of Tianjin and the surrounding regions." See Business Wire.

"Lack of coherent supply chain sustainability information confuses IT sector"reliability high.
"A lack of coherent sustainability standards in the IT sector is confusing customers with what is and is not green IT, says Probrand, a reseller that deals with more than 1,000 technology vendors. ... 'Standards exist for the energy consumption of IT products, such as the US Energy Star, and for the disposal of end-of-life kit, such as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment legislation in force in Europe,' Probrand business analyst Gary Price told BusinessGreen.com. 'But there is no over-arching sustainability standard.'" More on confusion of standards, difficulty of life cycle analysis. From BusinessGreen.

"World's largest solar plant wins key approval"reliability high.
Reuters reports that "The world's largest solar power plant cleared an important hurdle on Wednesday, laying the groundwork for a dramatic expansion in solar energy generation in the United States and around the world." The plant at Blythe, California would have four 250megawatt solar thermal units, cost $6 billion, and send its first electricity to Southern California Edison in 2013. Some further government actions are still needed to start construction. Reuters story.

Government and Regulation

"India May Allow Coal Mining in Dense Forests to Meet Rising Power Demand"reliability medium.
Mridul Chadha posts that "The Indian government is considering opening up densely forested areas of the country to increase supply of coal for its new thermal power plants. ... there are several environmental and socio-economic issues related to coal mining, specifically, in forested areas. One would have to keep in mind the rights of the tribals who live in the surrounding areas. Additionally, there would be significant environmental impact, firstly, from the clearing of forests and, secondly, from the mining activities themselves." See CleanTechies blog. [This suggests further conflict and tension between domestic coal production and environmental/social goals.]

"World Bank invests record sums in coal"reliability high.
In the year ending June 2010 the World Bank invested either US$3.4bn (£2.2bn) or $4.4bn in coal-fired energy (depending on whether you count dedicated transmission networks for coal-fired plants in India). Story says "Environmental campaign groups said  spending on coal in that period was 40 times more than five years ago, and claimed there was an "incoherence at the heart of the World Bank's thinking about energy" that would damage long term attempts to cut emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases from such plants." See article in The Guardian.

"China Mulls Coal Limit"reliability medium.
China Securities Journal is said to quote Wu Yin, deputy director of the National Energy Administration, suggesting China stop increasing coal extraction rather than continue to expand it as in the recent past. "It is far from certain that Wu's proposal will be included in the 12th Five-Year Plan, which will come before the Communist Party's Central Committee in October, but analysts see multiple reasons behind the unusual approach." Some comments regarding the burden imposed on the economy by ever-increasing production. More on China's coal problems and strategy. See Radio Free Asia. [Coal brings China monster traffic jams on the Beijing-Tibet highway, huge infrastructure investment requirements in roads and railways to ship coal, mining accidents, pollution from China's high-sulfur supplies and significant public health impacts. Do these comments reflect a strategy to shift to imports or a recognition that there cannot be endless growth in reliance on coal, perhaps related to the difficulty of further increasing domestic production? (See "Peak Coal?" post.]