12 November 2010

Perverse incentives, water pressure, Singh's fuel worries, regulatory moves and market opportunities, and more green business news

Top Stories

"The Curious Case of HFC-23"reliability medium.
NRDC has issued a report on the refrigeration chemical HFC-23 and the curious business that has developed around its production, destruction, and the carbon credits thereby generated. "A small group of carbon offset projects under the climate treaty is reaping billions of dollars in windfall profits while worsening both global warming and depletion of the ozone layer". See NRDC blogs. Access the report here. [Another example of perverse effects of well-intentioned incentives. Ends up in the Not-So-Green department.]

"Growing pressure on water supplies affecting one in five global businesses"reliability high.
A survey on water issues by the Carbon Disclosure Project has found that "At least one in five of the companies using the largest amounts of water in the world is already experiencing damage to their business from drought and other shortages, flooding, and rising prices," according to The Guardian. Many companies in water-intensive industries, such as those in the food and drink, tobacco, and metals and mining sectors, said they were already experiencing detrimental impacts or expected risks in the next few years. "Companies that ignore water dangers 'pose a risk to investments', said Anne Kvam, head of corporate governance of Norges Bank Investment Management, a lead sponsor of the report." Article in The Guardian. PDF of the report here.

"PM of India: Demand for hydrocarbon fuels to increase 40% in ten years"reliability medium.
Eric Loveday posts highlights of Indian PM Manmohan Singh's address at the Petrotech 2010 conference. "Dr. Singh predicts that India's demand for hydrocarbon fuels will rise 40 percent over the next ten years, whereas increase in supply from the world's maturing oilfields is only expected to grow by 12 percent." The PM sees supply uncertainties on the horizon. Text of whole speech included. See Autoblog Green. [Sounds like significantly higher prices for petroleum products are inevitable.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Investment Firm Pressures Starbucks, Google for Sustainability Committees"reliability high.
Investment firm Harrington Investments has introduced shareholder resolutions at Starbucks and Google calling for creation of board-level Sustainability Committees. More on Harrington's efforts with other companies. See Environmental Leader.

"Sugarcane ethanol plant will help California’s low carbon ambitions"reliability high.
Private equity firm Clean Energy Capital plans to develop a sugar cane ethanol plant in California's Imperial Valley. "The project is expected to cost about $575m and produce 66 million gallons of ethanol" per year, plus biomethane for heating or electricity generation. "Scott Brittenham, CEO of Clean Energy Capital, said, 'There will be strong demand for ethanol from the refinery because the ethanol produced will meet stringent low carbon fuel mandates imposed anywhere in the US.'" From NewNet. [California's low-carbon fuel standard survived an attempted repeal funded by oil companies in recent voting. Several other states are considering adopting the same rules. In 2011 California fuels must not exceed on average 95.61 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent released per megajoule of energy produced. Midwest ethanol from maize made at plants partly powered by coal is far above this limit, but California-produced cane ethanol from plants using natural gas should be well below it, enabling refiners to use it to blend down to the target.]

"Trees grow in Brooklyn"reliability high.
About efforts in cities in the U.S. Northeast to improve wastwater management. "New York recently unveiled a grand plan to clean up its waterways. Instead of spending billions on new tanks and pipes (ie, 'grey infrastructure'), which take years to build and never quite address the problem, the city intends to invest in 'green infrastructure', such as roofs covered with vegetation, porous pavements and kerbside gardens." More. See The Economist.

Government and Regulation

"Europe Unveils Plans for Single Energy Market within 10 Years"reliability medium.
"The European Union has unveiled plans for a single European energy market, a 1 trillion-euro ($1.38 trillion) strategy to achieve energy security and cut fossil fuel emissions. The 10-year plan would include upgrades to the continent's aging pipelines and build infrastructure that allows energy to flow across borders from one end of Europe to the other. The new system also will help the expansion of renewable energy supplies across the continent, the EU said." At Reuters from Yale Environment 360.

And related: "Power to the European market"reliability medium.
"Charlemagne" posts about the benefits of creating a single European energy market, rather than the fragmented national markets that now exist. "The European Commission this week said that €1 trillion ($1.4 trillion) of investment would be needed in the next decade" to link together national grids into a more robust network. A more flexible gas distribution network in particular could reduce Russia's power to threaten specific markets with cutoffs. See The Economist blogs.