07 October 2010

Climate pact impasse? China tops green jobs, Tata fuel cell play, California green economy and more sustainable business news

Top Stories

"Federal Trade Commission Proposes Revised 'Green Guides'"reliability high.
"The Federal Trade Commission today proposed revisions to the guidance that it gives marketers to help them avoid making misleading environmental claims. The proposed changes are designed to update the Guides and make them easier for companies to understand and use. The changes to the 'Green Guides' include new guidance on marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval, 'renewable energy' claims, 'renewable materials' claims, and 'carbon offset' claims." The guides were last revised in 1998. Among the revisions: "The proposed Guides also caution marketers not to use unqualified certifications or seals of approval – those that do not specify the basis for the certification. The Guides more prominently state that unqualified product certifications and seals of approval likely constitute general environmental benefit claims, and they advise marketers that the qualifications they apply to certifications or seals should be clear, prominent, and specific." Comment period is now open. More details. See FTC site. Reuters article about the proposed regs says "FTC proposes no more 'eco-friendly' claims in ads". [Broad "green" claims are out, if these proposed regs survive the public comment period. The rules restricting broad certifications, badges and seals are particularly interesting.]

"China digs in on rich-poor climate pact divide"reliability high.
"China said on Thursday it will not bow to pressure to rethink a key climate change treaty and was preparing to cope with a "gap" in the pact after 2012 if rich nations fail to add new greenhouse gas goals in time." Su Wei, a senior Chinese climate change negotiator, "told Reuters his government would not bend to Western demands and was reluctantly thinking about how to handle the likelihood that the first phase of Kyoto could expire with no full legal extension to replace it." See Reuters article. [If Kyoto just expires then emission changes would depend only on voluntary actions in each country. The U.S. is saying the Kyoto concept of different treatment for rich and developing nations is "outmoded", a view that is anathema to developing countries. China is saying rich nations need to commit to much deeper reductions while the U.S. can't even legislate the very modest reductions it promised at Copenhagen. The U.S. is impotent, at the federal level, and China impatient. China may have decided, as the U.S. evidently has, that it will be better off with no agreement at all after Kyoto expires.]

"China's Global Dominance in Green Jobs Growing, Report Says"reliability medium.
More from the Clean Edge "Clean Tech Job Trends 2009" report. Stacy Feldman posts: "China is prevailing in the global race for green jobs in sectors from solar panels to advanced lighting, and appears to be on an unstoppable upward path ... . The Chinese government spent $34.6 billion last year to propel its low-carbon economy, more than any other nation and almost double what the U.S. invested. ... Total jobs surpassed three million in 2009, recent data from global research group REN 21 finds. China accounted for 700,000 of that amount, due in large part to measures that promote solar heating." More on reasons for China's lead and other highlights from report. From Solveclimate blogs. Summary of report and access (registration required) here.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Businesses Seek Clarity on Climate Goals"reliability medium.
Elisabeth Malkin posts about Business for the Environment summit in Mexico City, where "some 300 companies, including multinationals," "called on the governments in Cancún to 'set ambitious, clear, measurable 2020 greenhouse gas targets.' ... The companies argued that to 'avoid a major global crisis,' emissions needed to be reduced by at least 50 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels." More about the meeting. From New York Times Green blog. [Such a reduction target is far, far beyond what rich countries are willing to try for (see League Table, which shows "goals" of about 12.5% reduction by 2020), and of course developing countries' emissions will still be rising in 2020 and much higher than today.]

"Indian giant Tata invests in MIT spin-off Sun Catalytix"reliability high.
Tata has participated in a series B funding round for Sun Catalytix, which is developing low-cost fuel cell technology. Sun Catalytix believes this technology could be used in the developing world as a way to store energy captured by solar cells for use when the sun isn't shining. See CNET News.

"Waste heat market heats up as GE acquires Calnetix Power Solutions"reliability high.
General Electric has acquired Calnetix Power Solutions (CPS). "Europe has so far led the way in terms of waste-heat technology, but GE hopes that last week's acquisition of the Florida-based company will allow it tap into a '$1bn global space with high growth opportunities'." The Calnetix devices can generate electricity using waste heat from engines boilers and turbines. "Acquiring CPS's technology gives us a tremendous opportunity to enter this very promising, small-scale waste heat to power segment with a competitive, fully commercialized offering," GE said. See BusinessGreen.

Science and Economics

"Sun's role in warming the planet may be overestimated, study finds"reliability high.
"Researchers have found that the waxing and waning of the sun affects our planet's temperature in exactly the opposite way scientists had thought. The work suggests, counterintuitively, that when the sun is at the dimmest point of its 11-year solar cycle, as it was in December 2009, it warms the Earth most, and vice versa." Quotes lead author: "If further studies find the same pattern over a longer period of time, [then] we may have overestimated the sun's role in warming the planet." See story in The Guardian. Abstract in Nature here, but it doesn't say much and article is behind $32 pay wall. [Lead author Joanna Haigh says that the warming influence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including those from human activities, was at least 10 times greater than changes in the strength of the sun. Reuters story quotes her: "It doesn't give comfort to the climate skeptics at all. It may suggest that we don't know that much about the sun. The climate models would still be producing much the same results with or without these solar effects." So these findings are of interest to scientists but don't change expectations of future global warming. Changes in radiative forcing may have regional effects, however.]

"Cleantech Remains an Economic Engine in California"reliability high.
Next 10 has issued its latest "California Green Innovation Index" report. It says "68 percent more GDP per unit of energy than the rest of the country" and "shows that cleantech and green business represent some of the few growing areas in an otherwise down economy". "In a promising sign, the state received 40 percent of worldwide cleantech VC in the first half of 2010, a 246 percent jump over the same period a year before. Although manufacturing jobs shrank 9 percent in the state between 1995 and 2008, green manufacturing employment grew 19 percent during the same time frame." More about the report. See GreenBiz. PDF of report here.