13 September 2010

Coal health costs, trade friction over green subsidies, IKEA big wind player and other business sustainability news

Top Stories

"The Toll From Coal report"reliability high.
The Clean Air Task Force has published "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source". "This study provides a new update on the burden of death and disease from coal-based electricity production across the United States. Estimated impacts are based on projected power sector emissions in 2010. ... Results from this latest assessment indicate that although coal plant emissions of key particle-forming pollutants like sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) have declined significantly over the last several years, existing plants remain among the top contributors to fine particle pollution in the United States." Provides a map to learn health impacts in your state or county, with estimated annual mortality of individual power plants. The "analysis finds that fine particle pollution from existing coal plants is expected to cause nearly 13,200 deaths in 2010. Additional impacts include an estimated 9,700 hospitalizations and more than 20,000 heart attacks per year. The total monetized value of these adverse health impacts adds up to more than $100 billion per year." See CATF site. PDF of report here. Map app here.

"On Clean Energy, China Skirts Rules"reliability high.
A New York Times feature article says: "The booming Chinese clean energy sector, now more than a million jobs strong, is quickly coming to dominate the production of technologies essential to slowing global warming and other forms of air pollution. ... But much of China’s clean energy success lies in aggressive government policies that help this crucial export industry in ways most other governments do not. These measures risk breaking international rules to which China and almost all other nations subscribe, according to some trade experts interviewed by The New York Times." More on how China helps exporters. From The New York Times.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Brownsville, Texas Bans Plastic Bags"reliability medium.
Daniel Kessler posts that "Brownsville, TX, has taken action and banned plastic bags. The ban goes into effect January 5. Shoppers who forget their reusable bags can buy plastic bags for an extra buck." See TreeHugger. News story on the move at BusinessGreen. [Brownsville takes a different approach with its $1 per transaction charge if you forget your reusable bag.]

"IKEA starts to assemble European wind energy portfolio"reliability high.
"It was revealed this week that the retail giant has acquired six German wind farms from Spanish wind turbine firm Gamesa, giving it access to 45MW of capacity, enough to power around 17 IKEA stores. The acquisition, which was completed earlier this year, but only announced by Gamesa yesterday, builds on a similar deal that saw it acquire four French wind farms last year. In total the company now operates 52 wind turbines boasting 93MW of capacity and providing enough energy to cover 10 per cent of the group's electricity needs." More at BusinessGreen.

"CBI: Businesses need better warning of climate risks"reliability high.
UK business lobbying organization CBI launched a report "Whatever the weather: managing the risks from a changing climate" that called for the Government to make its environmental data more easily available to help businesses prepare for the risks of climate change. It also called for the creation of a new public information bank showing the risk to critical infrastructure. "It also notes that businesses need to take action to improve their climate resilience and understand their climate risks." Story at BusinessGreen. CBI press release here. PDF of report here.

Government and Regulation

"Japan starts WTO dispute with Canada on clean power"reliability high.
Japan has initiated the process of objecting to a protectionist trade provision of Ontario funding for alternative energy projects. Ontario offers guaranteed long-term pricing for energy produced by renewable projects using a certain percentage of locally produced components. From Reuters.

"Norway says green taxes can help jobs and economic growth"reliability high.
Reuters quotes Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg: "One of the ways that we can restore public finances is to try to have green taxes." "One of the problems many countries in Europe are facing is that they reduced taxes during times of high economic growth and now they have problems in financing the public sector." "We see a very close link between climate issues and economic recovery. Investments in green technology are part of the solution." See Reuters story.

And from sister blog . . .

"'Peak Coal' And The Future Of Energy"reliability medium.
Is coal the fuel of the past? Will the rising price of energy from coal make alternative energy sources more economically competitive? Recent research says "Maybe." See Doc's Green Blog.

"Storms of My Grandchildren--James Hanson" (book review)reliability medium.
"Dr. James Hansen has written a personal, idiosyncratic, urgent, heartfelt book about climate change, past and future. ... Dr. Hansen has decided that he knows something important, and that he must speak out about it. Not everyone will agree with the urgent, even intolerant, tone of his call to action. But it is based on true feelings founded on decades of serious science." Also at Doc's Green Blog.