23 November 2010

Carbon emissions still rising, Asian pollution costs, carbon-neutral Chevys and more green business news

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"Carbon emissions set to be highest in history"reliability high.
The latest report from the Global Carbon Project show that "Emissions of man-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are roaring ahead again after a smaller-than-expected dip due to the worldwide recession. Scientists are forecasting that CO2 emissions from burning coal, oil and gas will reach their highest in history this year." The analysis, published in Nature Geoscience, "show that national attempts to stabilise carbon dioxide have been too feeble to have any noticeable impact on global emissions." From The Independent. More details and access here. [In spite of lingering effects of the economic recession and continuing efforts to reduce carbon emissions on the part of companies and governments, 2010 greenhouse gas emissions will be the highest yet. Is there any chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees C? Many recent items suggest the emphasis is shifting from limiting emissions to dealing with consequences (see previous post and items below).]

"Air pollution exceeds safety limits in big Asian cities: report"reliability high.
"Air pollution in major cities in Asia exceeds the World Health Organisation's (WHO) air quality guidelines and toxic cocktails result in more than 530,000 premature deaths a year, according to a new report" from the Health Effects Institute, says this Reuters story. It quotes the institute's vice president, Robert O'Keefe: "The levels of air pollution across Asia routinely exceed WHO guidelines and that is evidenced in ... significant excess mortality from air pollution-related disease." See Reuters. Access the report here. [The very significant public health impacts (and costs) should eventually call forth measures to reduce air pollution, such as power plant and vehicle emissions controls. Particulates are a very large part of the problem, especially in the developing countries.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"M&S insists Plan A is ahead of schedule"reliability high.
"Marks and Spencer's Plan A programme is on course to meet half of its 180 sustainability commitments four years ahead of schedule, according to half-year results". "'Plan A is an integral part of our business and at the heart of the M&S brand,' said new chief executive Marc Bolland." More on the greening of M&S. See BusinessGreen.

"On heels of IPO, GM makes bold offset investment"reliability high.
"Chevrolet yesterday announced plans to invest $40m in carbon offset projects across the country over the next three to five years." The projects will account for carbon emissions "roughly the annual emissions produced by the 1.9 million Chevrolet vehicles to be sold over the next year." See BusinessGreen from GreenBiz. [According to VentureBeat "The company will make investments through third-party groups like the non-profit Bonneville Environmental Foundation." Thus GM is buying offsets (over a period of years) that will make their 2011 fleet of Chevys "carbon neutral" for one year. I am still waiting for an oil company to pull the same stunt.]

Government and Regulation

"New Yorkers Learn the Troubles Posed by Sea Level Rise Flow Far Beyond Manhattan"reliability high.
New York State officials are working to develop development guidelines that take into account the threat of sea level rise. "Any reforms to come from the process, starting next week, would affect about 62 percent of New York state's population ... . ...Among other changes, report authors say some rural infrastructure should be relocated away from coastlines, while new and existing buildings in the densely packed New York City metropolitan region should be reconfigured to allow for periodic flooding and sea intrusion. Planners also need to quickly come up with solutions to guard underground infrastructure, especially the flood-prone New York City subway and underground utility cables and pipes." See New York Times from ClimateWire.

"Vietnam launches low-carbon master plan"reliability high.
"Vietnam will develop solar, wind and biomass resources as part of a plan to become a low-carbon economy by 2020, under new proposals set out by the government. According to reports in the Voice of Vietnam, the government has set a target of generating five per cent of the nation's electricity from alternative energy sources by 2020. ... Vietnam also plans to build 14 nuclear reactors by 2030 as part of its move to a low-carbon economy." From BusinessGreen. [Five percent "alternative energy sources" is not "low carbon" by any stretch of the imagination. Fourteen nuclear plants might significantly reduce the growth of emissions between 2020 and 2030, though.]