09 September 2010

Water footprint challenge, endless Kyoto? Carbon trading and other green business news

Top Stories

"How Water Footprinting is More Complex than Carbon"reliability medium.
Marc Gunther posts about a new report from The Coca-Cola Co. and the Nature Conservancy, "Product Water Footprint Assessments: Practical Application in Corporate Water Stewardship". He says: "Coca-Cola has recognized for years that water is a risk factor in its business; the company got a wake-up call after it was accused of hogging too much water in India. About five years ago, it set a number of aggressive water conservation goals, mostly focused on the efficient use and treatment of water when making its products." Coke says: "Research found that the value of a product water footprint is its ability to disaggregate water use by component, allowing both direct and indirect water use to be examined, as well as the different types of water that are used. The types of water are green water, which is rainwater stored in the soil as moisture; blue water, which is surface and ground water; and grey water, which is the volume of freshwater required to assimilate pollutants based on existing ambient water quality standards. Keeping the components of a water footprint separate allows impacts to be assessed in the context of local watersheds where the water is being sourced." See GreenBiz blog. [The concept of "gray water" used to dilute pollutants to acceptable levels, hugely increases the "water footprint" of some products, especially those derived from agriculture where fertilizer runoff is an issue. That is why Coca-Cola says its orange juice has a bigger footprint than Coke. This report provides a more sophisticated, more complex, more difficult to quantify and perhaps more easily manipulated model of water footprinting. I'm also a little confused by the concept of "blue water", rainwater stored in the soil--do they have to calculate the amount of soil water taken up by the cane used to make the sugar they use, separately from the irrigation water? Better read the report.]

"Poll: Businesses failing with sustainability messaging"reliability high.
BusinessGreen reports on results of an IBM-sponsored YouGov poll of over 2,200 British adults that found business and government were perceived as not providing useful information for consumers to be more sustainable. "Only 12 per cent of respondents felt there was consistent information available on how to develop and maintain a sustainable lifestyle, while almost half said there was a lot of information, but much of it appeared to be conflicting. Moreover, a fifth felt there was not much information on sustainable living available and seven per cent said they did not understand what was meant by the term 'sustainable lifestyle'." Additional highlights of findings. See BusinessGreen. IBM press release on the poll here.

"Kyoto Protocol to continue past 2012: UN climate chief"reliability high.
India's Economic Times quotes UN climate chief Christiana Figueres: "Yes, it (Kyoto Protocol) will continue to exist as a second protocol because it does not have a sunset clause. It does not end" and "What the governments are negotiating now is the second commitment period. But the Kyoto Protocol continue to exist-- whether there is going to be a second commitment period or whether countries want to take all of the elements of the Kyoto Protocol and put them in a different framework that is for them to decide." More at Economic Times. [Should the Kyoto Protocol continue in force? Since any country seems to be able to ignore it at will, I guess it wouldn't make much difference one way or the other.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"NYSE Euronext Combines With APX for Environmental-Trading Venture"reliability high.
Bloomberg article looks at the new joint venture between NYSE Euronext and APX Inc. "to expand its trading volume in electricity, renewable energy and carbon dioxide allowances." The joint venture, NYSE Blue, will compete against London-based European Climate Exchange in trading carbon emission allowances from the ECS, CDM, U.S. states and voluntary markets. See Bloomberg. [Good article about carbon trading markets and trends.]

"Steelworkers Accuse China of Violating Trade Rules"reliability high.
According to the NYT, "The United Steelworkers union plans to file a legal case with the Obama administration on Thursday, accusing China of violating World Trade Organization rules by subsidizing exports of clean energy equipment ... . ... The union says the violations have helped Chinese companies expand their share of the world market for wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear power plants and other clean energy equipment, at the expense of jobs in the United States and elsewhere. The filing asks the Obama administration to begin formal proceedings at the W.T.O. in Geneva to force China to repeal the subsidies." More at The New York Times[Timed to put pressure on the Administration in the runup to November elections.]

"To Go Where Compact Fluorescents Cannot"reliability medium.
Matthew Wald says Zachary S. Gibler, chief executive of the Lighting Science Group Corporation, a company that makes LED lamps, believes the best applications for LEDs to replace compact fluorescents is in directional lighting. Since LEDs are directional to begin with they have an advantage over CFLs or halogens where reflector bulbs are used, as in "high hat" ceiling fixtures. See New York Times Green blog.

"Hyundai unveils its first electric car"reliability high.
Leading Korean carmaker Hyundai will introduce the "BlueOn" battery-electric vehicle, based on its i10 hatchback. It expects to supply a small number to public-sector customers this year and enter the consumer market by 2012 with production of 2,500 units. The car will use batteries from SK Energy. See Reuters.

Government and Regulation

"Rebates available for first electric cars in Tenn."reliability high.
AP reports that "Gov. Phil Bredesen announced Wednesday that Tennessee will offer a $2,500 rebate on the first 1,000 electric vehicles sold in the state." Tennessee is home to a new Nissan battery plant. The rebate fund, which uses federal money from petroleum industry fines, will probably run out before the GM Volt reaches the market. At CNBC from AP.

Hawai'i decouples electricity revenues.reliability high.
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has decoupled the revenues received by the state's electric utility Hawaiian Electric Co. from the quantity of power it sells to consumers. The idea is to get the utility to encourage energy conservation. See Bloomberg Businessweek from AP. [This approach has helped California keep per-capita electricity use level for many years.]

And from a sister blog . . .

Deepwater Horizon Fail.
From Doc's Green Blog: BP has provided its first analysis of what went wrong on the Deepwater Horizon that led to 11 deaths and the nation's biggest single maritime oil release. As expected, lots of things had to go wrong at once.