15 October 2010

Wal-Mart and agriculture, Korea and China investments, BP charges ahead, SME green drivers, other news and Geek Corner

Top Stories

"Global Agriculture Gets the Walmart Sustainability Treatment"reliability high.
"In a spate of new goals announced this morning at a Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting in Bentonville, Walmart aims to overhaul the global food supply chain." It will increase local sourcing of food, cut food waste by 15% in its stores in emerging markets and by 10% in the developed economies, and apply the transparency tools of its Sustainability Index to growers. CEO Mike Duke said they will be "asking our top growers for the first time to provide detailed information on their agricultural practices." More details on the announcement. At Reuters from Greener World Media.

"South Korea kicks off $36bn low-carbon investment drive"reliability high.
South Korea will "spend $36bn (£22.6m [sic]) over the next five years to develop renewable energy sources and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. The government forecasts that the country's exports of clean energy will reach more than $30bn in 2015 if the plan is implemented successfully, creating 110,000 jobs." President Lee Myung-bak was quoted in Korea Times: "Given the sharp growth in the world's market, we will be able to nurture solar energy and wind power industries as the second semiconductor and the second shipbuilding industries and make them the pillar of the future national economy." The Korean government sees the global renewable energy market growing from $162bn last year to around $400bn by 2015. From BusinessGreen. [Who wouldn't be interested in part of a $400 billion market?]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"BP, Arco, Best Buy to install fast chargers for electric cars"reliability medium.
About ECOtality's plan to install 400 Blink DC Fast Chargers. 350 are being funded by a $114.8-million federal grant. Most of these will be along I-5 between Vancouver and Tijuana. Best Buy has also ordered 12 for its stores, and BP/Arco wants another 45 to try out at its stations. The Blink can charge an EV in "15 to 28 minutes". See Los Angeles Times blog.

"China 4th in world energy investment hot spots: report"reliability high.
A report from EC Harris on National Policies and Incentives for Investors in the Energy Sector ranked the U.S. first, then France, Germany and China in terms of energy policies relating to fossil fuels and renewable energy sectors. "The rankings were based on key factors including government policies and incentives, business environment, forecast of economic growth and electricity consumption. China is the world's top investor in renewable energy projects, having invested around $120 billion to $160 billion between 2007 and 2010, the report said." See Reuters story.

"52 Percent of Americans Flunk Climate 101"reliability medium.
About the results of a survey by Yale researchers that found much confusion among the public about climate change. Mentions some of the misconceptions, erroneous and self-contradictory opinions people have, along with some of the correct knowledge that's out there. "Researchers said that the results 'reflect the unorganized and sometimes contradictory fragments of information Americans have absorbed from the mass media and other sources.'" "45 percent said they were not very worried or not at all worried about" climate change. See New York Times green blog. Access the study here. ["Overall, we found that 63 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, but many do not understand why." Who's surprised that most Americans don't know the details about a complicated topic that most of them don't care much about anyway?]

"German power bills to rise on surge in renewables"reliability high.
The levy that German electricity users pay to subsidize feed-in tariffs for renewables like solar will rise from 2.05 cents per kW-h today to 3.53 cents in 2011. From Reuters. ["The average power price in Germany is about 20 cents per kw/h." So the cost of electricity will rise 1.48 cents per kW-h or 7%. Installation of PV panels has surged this year since Germany announced that the subsidies would soon be reduced to try to cool the overheated solar market. This 3.53 cents per kW-h fee represents a transfer of billions of euros from electricity ratepayers to those who installed renewable energy systems. Those billions have driven Germany above 15% of electricity from green sources.]

"Staples Pushes Key Suppliers for Sustainable Products, Packaging"reliability high.
Office supply chain Staples will challenge key suppliers to improve sustainability in product manufacturing, packaging and distribution. EVP of merchandising and marketing said: "We’re letting our key suppliers know that sustainable business practices will join price, quality and service as a major factor in driving purchasing decisions. Starting now and over time, we’ll work with all of our suppliers in a Race to The Top to improve product sustainability and quality and reduce cost." The focus over the next six months will be on packaging reduction and sustainability. See Environmental Leader.

"5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Care about Sustainability"reliability medium.
Kathy Miller Perkins posts five drivers for small-business sustainability action. "even though the larger companies are in the sustainability limelight currently, small businesses have much to gain by developing their own sustainability strategies. And let's face it: No company will be able to hide from the issues for long." See GreenBiz blog. [Not news, but a useful reminder for SMEs.]

Government and Regulation

"Agencies Urged to Plan for 'Inevitable Effects' of Warming in U.S. Report"reliability high.
The Obama administration's interagency task force on adapting to climate change, which includes NOAA, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, says government agencies should prepare for the "inevitable effects" of global warming and consider it in all planning. It also recommends that the U.S. develop a strategy to support adaptation in poorer nations. See Bloomberg story. PDF of the report here. [Thus the U.S. joins Britain in advising government and companies that warming impacts are inevitable and they better be planning for them (See this earlier post at sister blog).]

Geek Corner

"Video: ABC News gets taken for a spin in Google's self-driving Toyota Prius"reliability medium.
See it in action. "Becky Worley, the news correspondent in the video clip, even gets up the guts to give the Google car a real-life brake test. She steps in front of it as it's motoring down the road. What happens? The car "sees" her and slams on the binders." From Autoblog Green. [Latest of Google's geek green dreams. See full list here. You know commuting geeks begrudge those hours when they could be surfing, playing or coding.]