05 October 2010

$6tln externalities; 2 degrees "not safe"? Greening supply chains, and supply lines; other sustainable business news

Top Stories

"UN: Annual cost of environmental damage tops $6.6tn"reliability high.
A new report from the UN Environment Program and the Principles for Responsible Investment initiative says that "Global environmental damage resulting from human activity resulted in an economic cost of $6.6tn (£4.2tn) during 2008, equivalent to 11 per cent of global GDP, and is set to cost $28tn a year by 2050. ... It concluded that the world's top 3,000 public companies are responsible for a third of all the global environmental damage carried out in 2008, running up unaccounted costs equivalent to $2.2tn." See BusinessGreen. PDF of press release here. PDF of executive summary here. [Its the externalities, folks. We all pay for them.]

"Research suggests climate change target 'not safe'"reliability high.
A recent study of climate during the Last Interglacial (130,000-116,000 years ago) shows temperatures about 1.5 degrees C higher than today, but which "appear to have resulted in global sea levels some 6.6 to 9.4 metres higher than today, with a rate of rise of between 6 to 9 centimetres per decade — more than double that recently observed." that Lead author Turney said: "The results here are quite startling and, importantly, they suggest sea levels will rise significantly higher than anticipated and that stabilizing global average temperatures at 2˚C above pre-industrial levels may not be considered a 'safe' target as envisaged by the European Union and others. The inevitable conclusion is emission targets will have to be lowered further still." From EurekAlert. Access full report here. [Yet several other reports recently (for example this one) suggest the chances of global action to keep warming below 2 degrees C are small, and that we may already be committed to an increase at least this high. Very scary for our grandchildren.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Accelerating to a better future"reliability medium.
Feature article about high-speed rail in China. Extols the extent and benefits of high-speed rail development in China, and the potential for China to be a competitive supplier of rail technology world wide. See Xinhua.

"U.S. Military Orders Less Dependence on Fossil Fuels"reliability high.
Feature article looks at the U.S. military's push to find renewable and alternative energy sources for combat troops, bases and ships. Gives examples of systems being tried in Afghanistan. Commercial products are being adapted because of the haste of the program. The high cost of transporting fuel to remote sites to run generators makes even expensive technology cost effective. The military's buying power may drive development of technologies that will later find civilian applications. At The New York Times.

"IMO fails to reach consensus on emissions cut plans"reliability high.
"As this week's [International Maritime Organization] marine environment protection committee meeting drew to a close on Friday, delegates said there was little consensus on proposals for technical and operational measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships," reports Reuters. The ocean shipping sector is thought to account for about 3% of global carbon emissions. From Reuters. Another article at Sustainable Business.com. [The failure of the industry to come up with its own plan may stimulate national regulation. Particulate emissions are also a major issue for some national pollution control agencies.]

"Hungary declares a state of emergency after sludge disaster"reliability high.
"The Hungarian government has declared a state of emergency after a third person died today in flooding from a ruptured red sludge reservoir at an alumina plant. Six people were missing and 120 injured in what officials said was an ecological disaster." From The Guardian. [Since I reported on the Macondo blowout it is only fair to include this. Another example of corporate and government incompetence, indifference or worse. Expect more regulations. Coal ash stories: same thing.]

"Hara’s newest software looks to supply chains for energy savings"reliability high.
"Energy management startup Hara released today its biggest software product to date, a supply-chain module that can evaluate energy efficiency among a client’s suppliers – vendors, transportation services, warehouses and the like." Article discusses "Why would a customer pay for a software that helps its suppliers analyze energy efficiency?" See Venture Beat.

Government and Regulation

"China hopes 'eco-city' will prove a model alternative"reliability high.
About an "eco-city" for 350,000 being developed near Tianjin, China, by a Chinese-Singaporean consortium. Lists some of the proposed amenities and "green" features. The site on "11.6 square miles of non-arable salt pans and former fishing villages has more cranes than wind turbines and will not be finished for at least another decade." See Grist from AFP. [Eighty percent of the city's power is to come from coal-fired plants! A new sort of "green".]

"Brazil election sees breakthrough for Greens and environmental agenda"reliability high.
The Green Party candidate won 19% of the vote in Brazil's presidential election, exceeding expectations and forcing a runoff between the Workers' Party and the Social Democrat candidates. The Green Party said it would take a couple of weeks to decide which of the remaining candidates to support, if any. From The Guardian. [Another electorate speaks. Is it because of support for Green Party policies or rejection of main party business as usual?]

From a Sister Blog

"Climate Change--What We Know and What's Uncertain"reliability medium.
A digest of the Royal Society's recent summary of climate change science. Information is categorized according to whether it is agreed among scientists, subject of general consensus but still being debated, or just not yet known. "What we know is sobering. What we don't know is scary. The fact that we don't know everything is unsurprising. ... That we are unable to deal with the problem, or that some even deny that it is a problem, is just human nature." See Doc's Green Blog.