Archive for June, 2010

Flannery for Environmental Sustainability & Fast-tracking CPRS

Posted by admin on June 30, 2010
Posted under Express 115

Flannery for Environmental Sustainability & Fast-tracking CPRS

Panasonic is funding environmental research and public education with the appointment of the newly-created Panasonic Chair in Environmental Sustainability at Macquarie University, Professor Tim Flannery. The former Australian of the Year, Professor Tim Flannery told delegates at the Climate Adaptation Futures conference on Queensland’s Gold Coast that it is vital a carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS) is introduced.

By Russell Varley on ABC News (30 June 2010):

Former Australian of the Year, Professor Tim Flannery, has told delegates at the Climate Adaptation Futures conference on Queensland’s Gold Coast that it is vital a carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS) is introduced.

Federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has called for scientists to help build a consensus for a price on carbon but Professor Flannery says the Government must also argue the case.

“The Government can’t have its policy formed in my view by a rump of an Opposition,” he said.

“I mean this is a Howard government policy for a start – it was supported by the Opposition for a long time and now the Liberal Party is in the hands of people who are on Mars as far as climate change goes.

“We shouldn’t let that put us off.”

Professor Flannery says the Greens helped defeat the CPRS legislation and do not seem to understand it would have delivered a 26 per cent reduction in admissions over a decade.

“So that’s a quarter, imagine cutting your own emissions by a quarter,” he said.

“It gives you a sense of how big that job is so it was an ambitious scheme.

“Sure the Government mishandled it – it probably gave away too much taxpayers’ money.

“But that shouldn’t blind us to the fact that that won’t affect at all the power of this scheme to reduce emissions.”

He says the Federal Government should campaign with the CPRS during the next election.

He says he doubts adaptation measures can work effectively without a CPRS.

“If we don’t get the CPRS in place there is a risk that adaptation will become just unmanageable,” he said.

“The changes will be so big we won’t be able to adapt.

“That’s really the bottom line – we need both but we definitely need that price on carbon sooner rather than later.”


By Ty Pendlebury on Cnet (25 June 2010):

Panasonic has announced today it will be funding environmental research and public education with the appointment of the newly-created Panasonic Chair in Environmental Sustainability at Macquarie University, Professor Tim Flannery.

Panasonic Australia has pledged AU$690,000 over three years to support the initiative, which is part of what the company calls the “Green Revolution”.

“There has never been a more pressing need for cutting-edge environmental research and education, and we are pleased to be able to lend our support to Macquarie University,” said Steve Rust, managing director of Panasonic Australia.

Professor Flannery will be tasked with presenting a whitepaper to Panasonic executives in Japan on emerging consumer attitudes towards environmental products later this year.

“For me, the advantage of working with a company like Panasonic is that their ambitions are in the right place and they’re trying to work towards ever-more-efficient goods,” Flannery said.

Flannery is a scientist, broadcaster and author who recently worked as the chairman of Copenhagen Climate Council aimed at reducing global greenhouse emissions.


“Almost Inevitably” World Sea Level Rises on the Up and Up

Posted by admin on June 30, 2010
Posted under Express 115

“Almost Inevitably” World Sea Level Rises on the Up and Up

The world’s peak climate-change scientific body will ”almost inevitably” make a large increase in its predictions of world sea-level rises due to global warming when it releases its next landmark report in, says the vice-chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Dr Jean–Pascal van Ypersele.

Tom Arup for Sydney Morning Herald (30 June 2010):

The world’s peak climate-change scientific body will ”almost inevitably” make a large increase in its predictions of world sea-level rises due to global warming when it releases its next landmark report in four years, says the vice-chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In an interview with the Herald, Dr Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the IPCC’s vice-chairman, said recent satellite observations showed extensive melting in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

That will have to be considered in the next IPCC assessment report on climate-change science – regarded by governments and scientific organisations as the world’s pre-eminent scientific document on climate change – when it is released in 2014 and should lead to the increase in predictions of sea-level rises, he said.

Dr van Ypersele said the sea-level rises estimated in the panel’s last assessment report in 2007 were now known to be on the low side.

The fourth assessment report estimates sea-level rises of 18 to 59 centimetres on 1990 levels by the end of century.

Panel members, including Dr van Ypersele, met in Kuala Lumpur last week to discuss the consideration of the new Greenland and Antarctic data for the next report. Analysis of the reduction of the two major ice sheets will be a main focus of the next report.

”The reason there was a workshop in KL is that the IPCC knows very well this is an area that needs particular attention and where a lot of progress has been made,” Dr van Ypersele said.

”There are a lot of satellite data that was not available for the fourth assessment report that will be available for [report] five … which are starting to show, but are quite convincing I must say, that both the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheet are losing net mass, not on the margins, but as an ice sheet [as a whole].”

Dr van Ypersele is visiting Australia for the world’s first climate-change adaptation conference, being held on the Gold Coast.


Lucky Last – Does the PM need a new consensus on climate change?

Posted by admin on June 30, 2010
Posted under Express 115

Lucky Last – Does the PM need a new consensus on climate change?

Julia Gillard ought to be wary of climate change. Climate change has certainly lost some of its urgency in the minds of the Australian public. However, the new Prime Minister should not diminish its importance. According to the Lowy poll, 86% of Australians still believe that climate change is an issue that needs addressing, more than half of those believe it is urgent. If that’s not consensus, I’m not sure what is. Sara Phillips on ABC Environment has her say. Read More

By Sara Phillips on ABC Environment (25 June 2010):

Julia Gillard ought to be wary of climate change. Not because it might wash away coastline or dry up our farms – although it might – but because it has claimed the scalps of three party leaders in Australian politics. If she does not treat the issue carefully, there is every evidence that hers could be next.

In 2008, Kevin Rudd was our newly elected Prime Minister. He was positively shining in the opinion polls. His opponent at that time was the earring-studded Brendan Nelson, whose performance in the same polls could best be described as woeful.

Rudd, at that time, wanted to get up and running with an emissions trading scheme by 2010. He had been elected partially because of his stance on climate change. John Howard also wanted an emissions trading scheme, but wanted to introduce it in 2011. Rudd, emphasising the importance of the issue, said that this wasn’t soon enough.

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was just a twinkle in Penny Wong’s eye at that stage. Professor Garnaut was busy with his team working on the investigations into how such a scheme could work.

But when Nelson was attempting to demonstrate to the Australian people that he was every bit as charming, intelligent and electable as Mr Rudd, he stumbled on climate change.

Writing in The Australian, Nelson was the echo of Mr Howard when he said, “we will proceed cautiously and responsibly, and in a way that does not undermine our international competitiveness and economic prosperity for no net environmental benefit.”

It was not, apparently what Australians wanted to hear. With his popularity languishing at an all time low, it was a matter of time before Malcolm Turnbull, previously Environment Minister under Howard stalked and staked his man.

Turnbull was more magnanimous on climate change. He emphasised its importance and the need for a good emissions trading scheme. But by this stage, the CPRS was taking shape in all its much-maligned glory.

Even the architect of the CPRS, Ross Garnaut, looked at the compromise job the government had done on his blueprint and recoiled in repulsion.

Turnbull, backed by his party, refused to pass the thing.

When, at last, more concessions were made, more compromises added and more nips and tucks sutured in, Turnbull at last made ready to pass the CPRS.

And then Abbott jumped him.

Tony “climate change is crap” Abbott promised no emissions trading shenanigans and Rudd’s CPRS was left like an unwanted child on a doorstep.

The opinion polls charted Rudd’s demise from when he announced his “delay” of the unloved CPRS on April 27. Between April 18 and May 2, the Labor Party’s popularity dropped from 43 per cent to 35 per cent. Unloved it may have been, but it was Rudd’s only real measure to address the problem.

With a “growing sense of concern” about these horrible figures and the Tony Abbott scenario they represented, Gillard made her move.

However, thus far, Gillard appears not to have learned from the lessons of her predecessors. In her first speech as Prime Minister, Ms Gillard was assured and articulate. But on climate change she said was not clear about her direction. “It’s my intention to lead a government that does more to harness the wind and the sun and the new emerging technologies,” she said, but did not reveal any concrete details at this early stage.

When asked by Kerry O’Brien on The 7.30 Report last night to clarify her position in regards to climate change, she responded again with the commitment to make the most of Australia’s “great renewable resources of this land – solar and wind.” She seemed to suggest that the government would not be revisiting the emissions trading scheme before the next election.

“I also believe that if we are to have a price on carbon and do all the things necessary for our economy and our society to adjust we need a deep and lasting community consensus about that. We don’t have it now.

“That’s why I said today if elected as Prime Minister at the forthcoming election then I will take the time to reprosecute the case with the Australian community to develop that deep and lasting consensus”.

Climate change has certainly lost some of its urgency in the minds of the Australian public. However Gillard should not diminish its importance. According to the Lowy poll, 86 per cent of Australians still believe that climate change is an issue that needs addressing, more than half of those believe it is urgent. If that’s not consensus, I’m not sure what is.

Climate change is an issue that Gillard needs to be seen to be active and decisive on. She fumbles this one at her peril.


Will New PM deal with Climate change?

Posted by admin on June 24, 2010
Posted under Express 114

Will New PM deal with Climate change?

Australia has a new Prime Minister and for the first time a female one – Julia Gillard – giving many in business and the community greater hope that this could mean Government gets the emissions trading scheme up and running immediately, as well as finalises the controversial Super Mining Tax. Dropping the climate change ball and the CPRS is seen in by most (including the latest Galaxy poll) as the biggest single reason for the rapid loss of appeal for Kevin Rudd. Good  to see that climate change is back at the top of the political agenda and is also the focus of many conferences coming up here and abroad, as we set out in this issue. Business schools and global businesses increasingly accept the reality of climate change and the need to put sustainability top and centre. Adaptation to climate change is also a new reality as the first international conference comes to the Gold Coast next week, while Munich Re reminds the world that more extreme weather is on the cards, as severe floods hit France, Brazil and China. Global climate scientist Stephen Schneider is back in town and in profile, while the World Bank and APEC show what’s possible in the switch to a low carbon economy and towards clean energy. The oil industry comes under increasingly pressure and Kevin Costner comes in with a clean up act in the Gulf of Mexico. Electric vehicles refuse to go away, and ecospecifier takes the centre stage at the big Design Build show with its Green Tag. Confirmation that 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are largely responsible for climate change. In the Lucky Last slot we hear from Florida solar energy advocate Barbara Young. – Ken Hickson

Profile: Stephen Schneider

Posted by admin on June 24, 2010
Posted under Express 114

Profile: Stephen Schneider

One of the world’s leading experts on climate change is visiting Australia currently, speaking in Sydney Thursday at the Environment Business Australia event and next week at the International Climate Adaptation Futures Conference on the Gold Coast. In his latest book “Science as a contact sport”, he pulls no punches as he reveals the dramatic story behind the headlines as he chronicles the procrastination and politics since scientists first alerted world leaders to the dangers of climate change.

Stephen Schneider is a Stanford University Professor specialising in climate change science and policy. He is the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, Professor of Biology, Professor (by courtesy) of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and a Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment.

Internationally recognised for research, policy analysis and outreach in climate change, Dr. Schneider focuses on climate change science, integrated assessment of ecological and economic impacts of human-induced climate change, and identifying viable climate policies and technological solutions. He has consulted widely with governments around the world and with United States federal agencies and/or White House staff in the Nixon, Carter, Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, G.W. Bush and Obama administrations.

His latest book ‘Science as a contact sport: Inside the battle to save Earth?s climate’ has been published as a history of the global warming science and policy debate since 1970 and a rebuttal of the claims made by climate change sceptics.

Dr. Schneider received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Plasma Physics from Columbia University in 1971. He studied the role of greenhouse gases and suspended particulate material on climate as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in 1972 and was a member of the scientific staff of NCAR from 1973-1996, where he co-founded the Climate Project.

He was honoured in 1992 with a MacArthur Fellowship for his ability to integrate and interpret the results of global climate research through public lectures, seminars, classroom teaching, environmental assessment committees, media appearances, Congressional testimony, and research collaboration with colleagues. He also received, in 1991, the American Association for the Advancement of Science/ Westinghouse Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology, for furthering public understanding of environmental science and its implications for public policy. He was elected to membership in the US National Academy of Sciences in 2002.

Dr Schneider continues his work as a lead author on IPCC reports and is focusing on assessing key vulnerabilities and risks of climate change and the detection and attribution of climate changes and impacts. In 2007, after decades of work, Dr. Schneider, along with four generations of IPCC authors, received a collective Nobel Peace Prize for their joint efforts in 2007.

Stephen Schneider did a national tour of Australia for Greenhouse 1988 event ,which opened up the public discussion of climate change policy in Australia, and in 2006 spent 6 months as an Adelaide Thinker in Residence, producing his report to the SA government: Climate Change – Risks and Opportunities. The concept of ‘power parks’ was one of his top ten recommendations. 

As Keynote speaker at the Environment Business Australia event on Thursday (24 June) he will help answer some penetrating questions posed by the organisers.

Can Australia exploit sufficient renewable energy source to power most if its economy by 2040 or even 2030? Could it become a ‘clean energy superpower’ exporting low emission energy to Asia? And how feasible is it to think that Australia could value-add to its resources endowment by becoming a regional hub for minerals processing and even supply-chain manufacturing by co-locating energy intensive industry alongside solar thermal, geothermal, marine energy?

Leading experts take us through the opportunities as well as the challenges to scaling up renewable energy technology, building the necessary supply and transmission infrastructure, and harnessing the money to get it all done. They will also examine potential limits to the vision.

Entitled “Power Park Australia”, the afternoon and evening forum will focus on ‘new markets, new industries, new jobs’ forum.

                 Thursday 24 June, Sydney,
Time:                12.30 pm to 8.00 pm
Venue:              Hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, level 10, 201 Sussex Street

Other speakers are:

  • Stewart Taggart, Director, Desertec Australia, on plans to harness solar thermal energy from the Sahara to provide electricity to Europe are big and bold. An introduction to how Australia could harness renewables on an even bigger scale
  • Bertus de Graaf, CEO, Panax – How far off is industrial scale geothermal?
  • Dr Keith Lovegrove, Associate Professor and Head of Solar Thermal Group, ANU; Head of Solar Thermal at IT Power – Australia, India and the future of the race to harness concentrated solar thermal energy at scale
  • Dr Michael Ottaviano, CEO, Carnegie – Multiple application marine energy
  • Albert Goller, CEO, Siemens “Picture the Future: Australia’s Energy”. Planning for a big, smart, fast, reliable grid and overhauling the transmission system to capitalise on new sources of energy
  •  Jonathan Whalley, CEO, Windesal  Local supplies of desalinated water
  • Peter Mansfield, Head of Project and Infrastructure Finance, Investec Bank – Galvanising capital to build Australia’s next competitve edge
  • Andrew Petersen, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers  Clarity, consistency and encouragement needed in the regulatory framework.  

This Environment Business Australia series of events is about the emerging and smart technologies, today’s expertise and tomorrow’s infrastructure, progressive capital and strategic policy ? in short, the BIG ideas, coupled of course with the political will ? that can shape sustainable and long-term prosperity.

Britain, Europe, USA and China are fast-tracking the ‘Green Economy’. Australia is lagging behind. We can only catch up if we harness our strong comparative advantages and develop the strategies necessary to build the transition to ‘new markets, new industries and new jobs’.

ET is now a faster growing sector than IT! The challenges are great, but so are the opportunities in replacing or upgrading outdated infrastructure and systems, and building the next generation of capital stock. While all future capital investment will be evaluated against climate, food, and fuel security issues, it is hardly an impost on society to tackle problems and create sustainable wealth – especially when much of the necessary action comes at no net cost, provides long-term wealth generation and offers co-benefits to the community (like cleaner air, less congested roads, more fertile soils and less tax paid to support overseas interests).

Over the next few months, EBA will roll-out a series of capital city forums and webinars focusing on investing in wealth-generating projects.

These will be followed by a high level international conference in early 2011 showcasing Australia’s best and brightest friends who will tell us that progressive growth towards a Green Economy requires vision and leadership (rather than propping up the historical imperatives of the 19th Century and the free-riders whose profit margin is so opaquely boosted by the unpriced collateral damage of waste, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions).

The objective is to assemble the real visionaries with ‘how to’ expertise to shape the future that Australians want, backed up with exemplar case studies from around the world. Business leaders, scientists, strategists, planners, architects, technology and infrastructure developers, financiers and policy makers have vital roles in galvanising the Green Economy – EBA will be the “catalyst” bringing them together to incubate commercial scale projects.

A ‘solutions clearing house’ will be a permanent web-based ‘Green Bay’ for goods, services, technologies, ideas, case studies – a one stop shop to sell or buy ‘green and smart’.

Source: and

Galaxy Poll Delivered “Change” Message to PM Rudd

Posted by admin on June 24, 2010
Posted under Express 114

Galaxy Poll Delivered “Change” Message to PM Rudd

Was this week’s Galaxy poll, which underscored the backlash against the government over the delay in the ETS, the final nail in the coffin for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd? It found 52% of voters disapproved of the government’s decision to delay the ETS. WWF plans to use the poll to increase pressure on both major parties to combat climate change.

Sid Maher in The Australian (23 June 2010):

LABOR’S primary vote has collapsed in southeast Queensland.

The government is facing defeat in the north Brisbane seat of Petrie and struggling to hold Brisbane amid voter anger at the Prime Minister’s decision to delay the emissions trading scheme.

A Galaxy poll of 1600 voters in four Brisbane seats, taken for WWF Australia, shows Labor’s primary vote has slumped 9 per cent since the last election to 34 per cent across Petrie and Brisbane, which it holds, and the marginal Coalition seats of Bowman and Ryan.

The Coalition’s primary vote was one point higher than in the 2007 election, at 46 per cent. Based on preference flows at the last election, the Coalition has a winning lead over the government of 51.5 per cent to 48.5 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis.

The poll, taken from June 9 to June 15, reinforces a Newspoll published this week of the Queensland marginal seats of Dawson, Flynn and Longman which also found Labor on 34 per cent of the primary vote and the Coalition on 45 per cent. Newspoll found Labor’s support had also crashed in western Sydney.

The Galaxy poll underscores the backlash against the government over the delay in the ETS.

Galaxy found 52 per cent of voters disapproved of the government’s decision to delay the ETS, and that the Greens vote had doubled from 7.8 per cent at the last election to 15 per cent across the four electorates.

WWF plans to use the poll to increase pressure on both major parties to combat climate change and will carry out an advertising campaign and letter drops in the next few weeks.

“You can pursue energy efficiency and soil carbon, and both are good, but unless you put a cap on pollution you are just mucking around,” said WWF Australia sustainable development program leader Paul Toni.

Galaxy found that “around two-thirds (64 per cent) of those in Queensland’s most marginal seats claim the ETS will influence the way they vote at the next election”.

In Petrie, it found Labor’s primary vote has slumped to 36 per cent compared with the Coalition’s 43 per cent, while the Greens are polling 13 per cent and Family First 5 per cent. In Brisbane, the ALP polled 37 per cent compared with the Coalition’s 43 per cent, while the Greens had 16 per cent.

The Coalition looks set to hold Bowman, polling 48 per cent of the primary vote compared with 34 per cent for the ALP and 13 per cent for the Greens.

Ryan also looks comfortable for the Coalition, with 48 per cent compared with Labor’s 30 per cent and 18 per cent for the Greens.

The poll found 64 per cent of voters in the four marginal seats still supported an ETS and only 25 per cent opposed the idea.

Support increased to 70 per cent when voters were advised that low and middle income earners would be compensated for electricity prices under the government’s proposal.

But veteran Labor strategist Bob McMullan told caucus that reporting of Labor’s poor polling had been overdone.

Mr McMullan said no opposition leader had won government with Tony Abbott’s level of disapproval and no government that was ahead in the polls at this point in the cycle had lost. He said Labor’s share of the two-party-preferred vote had risen from 49 per cent in April to 52 per cent at the most recent Newspoll.


Adapting to Climate Change & Green the Economy

Posted by admin on June 24, 2010
Posted under Express 114

Adapting to Climate Change & Green the Economy

Don’t hold your breath, but there is a possibility that the G20 summit in Toronto this weekend will take action to reduce government subsidisation of the fossil fuel industry and to level the playing field for clean and renewable fuels. Meanwhile the peak climate change adaptation research organisations will unite to host next week Australia’s first international conference dedicated solely to preparing for, and adapting to, the impacts of climate change on the Gold Coast (29 June-1 July).

From the World Bank (21 June 2010):

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Toronto this weekend to focus their incoming summit on development and green growth in promoting global economic recovery.

“Based on our collective experience, the best way to enhance the framework for strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth is to put development front and centre, and to invest in a green economic recovery for all,” Ban said in an open letter to the leaders.

“Economic recovery will be more sustainable if it is embedded in a global green new deal,”

The UN chief asked world leaders to undertake international initiatives that supported national investment plans, women’s economic empowerment and measures to expand access to credit and savings for the poor.

“We must also build further momentum on education for all with a special focus on girls’ education,” he said, while also underlining the need to conclude an international trade deal that “takes into account the needs of the poorest nations by enhancing their market access.

Ban Ki-moon also asked investments in global health and health systems, such as the Joint Action Plan for Women’s and Children’s Health, and fully funding programmes like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Sanitation and Water for All Initiative.

The Global Fund requires USD 17 billion over the next three years to meet current and projected needs.

The UN chief also called on nations to deliver on $30 billion in fast-start funding for developing countries dealing with climate change over the next three years and ensuring that the climate finance pledged in Copenhagen is delivered.

“The G20 showed leadership in calling for the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies and I encourage all to work individually and collectively to do so as soon as possible,” he said.


By Terry McDonald for Energy Boom on (16 June 2010)

Don’t hold your breath, but there is a possibility that the G20 summit in Toronto next week will take action to reduce government subsidization of the fossil fuel industry and to level the playing field for clean and renewable fuels.

So far, the G20 has been focusing on the US$500 billion of fossil fuel consumption subsidies, but the public’s anger at the Gulf Oil spill disaster is an opportunity for President Obama and other G20 politicians to take action against tax breaks and lax regulations that put additional billions of dollars into the pocketbooks of the companies that find, produce and process fossil fuels.

The President’s Oval Office address last evening promised action in the Gulf and an energy policy that accelerates the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Let’s see what actually happens.

Obviously, this is a huge issue for clean sector companies and their investors. We all understand that existing government subsidies to clean companies are necessary to support the economy’s transition from fossil fuels and energy waste to cleaner, more efficient and more secure sources of energy.

But they can also be big time turnoffs to investors. Investors believe if companies need government subsidies to compete, then how sound can their real financial propositions be? Furthermore, what happens when the political mood shifts or if economic circumstances force the government to reduce or eliminate subsidies?

However, action from the G20 could change everything. Investors would see that, to a considerable extent, clean energy needs subsidies because the fossil fuel sector gets subsidies. Maybe the financial community will begin to treat the renewable energy sector with new respect. This, in turn, would bring more non-government capital to this sector.

Here’s some background:

The G20 summit in Toronto June 26-27 is scheduled to deal with a commitment from the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh September 24-25, 2009 to “rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption.”

A report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) prepared for the Toronto summit says fossil fuel consumption subsidies were US$557 billion in 2008, up from US$342 billion in 2007. Data for 2009 and 2010 is not included, but the EIA expects current levels to be marginally lower than 2008.

IEA modeling indicates that phasing out fossil fuel consumption subsidies between 2011 and 2020 would:

“Cut primary global energy demand by 5.8% by 2020. This is equivalent to the current energy consumption of Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand combined.

Cut global oil demand by 6.5 million barrels per day in 2020, predominately in the transport sector. This is around one-third of current U.S. oil demand.”

The IEA report says Iran accounted for more than US$100 billion in consumption subsidies in 2008, and other leading subsidizing countries in the top five are Russia, Saudi Arabia, India and China.

Eight G20 countries are included in this data, but not the U.S., the EU, the UK or Canada. Neither are other non-G20 oil producers on this list, including Norway.

Curiously, government subsidies to the production side of fossil fuel industry by the U.S. and Canada and other producing countries are not on the Toronto G20 agenda.

The Obama administration’s 2011 budget proposes to eliminate nine different tax expenditures that primarily benefit oil and gas companies. Cutting these special tax deductions, preferences, and credits would save the government about US$45 billion over the next 10 years.

The American Petroleum Institute has a different view. It argues that President’s Obama’s budget proposals are not a formula for energy independence/security and are an US$80 billion taxation hit on the oil and natural gas industry that will cost American jobs.

In G20 host country Canada, where environmental groups claim government subsidies or tax incentives benefit the oil and gas industry by US$2 billion a year, an internal Canadian government memorandum states that preferential subsidies for the oil industrial need to be adjusted to level the playing field for clean energy alternatives.



Australia’s peak climate change adaptation research organisations will unite to host Australia’s

first international Conference dedicated solely to preparing for, and adapting to, the impacts of

climate change.

The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) and CSIRO Climate

Adaptation Flagship will hold the International Climate Adaptation Futures Conference on

Queensland’s Gold Coast from June 29-July 1.

NCCARF Director Professor Jean Palutikof said international interest in the event was intense,

with almost 900 abstracts received from 55 countries.

“The Conference has attracted some of the world’s leading climate change adaptation experts in

agriculture, community development, policy, economics, coastal and urban planning, health and

ecology as well as other researchers working on the adaptation challenge,” she said.

Guest speakers include:

• Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner

• UNEP Chief Scientist, Joseph Alcamo

• Leading figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International

Institute for Environment and Development

• Leading Australian scientists including past Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery.

CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship Director Dr Andrew Ash said the Conference would focus

the attention of the global climate adaptation research community on Australia.

“While previous conferences have focussed on ‘mitigating’ climate change by reducing emissions

to minimise human-induced climate change, this event looks at adapting our way of life to cope

with impacts that can no longer be avoided,” he said.

“It will provide an opportunity for scientists and government decision makers to share research

methods, experiences and results on effective ways to adapt and prepare for climate change.”

Associated Conference events will include field trips exploring on-the-ground challenges and

solutions around Queensland as well as opportunities for the wider community to get involved

through student events and a public seminar.

Co-hosted by Australia’s National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, this conference will be one of the first international forums to focus solely on climate impacts and adaptation. It will bring together scientists and decision makers from developed and developing countries to share research approaches, methods and results. It will explore the way forward in a world where impacts are increasingly observable and adaptation actions are increasingly required.

The Climate Adaptation Futures Conference will showcase leading impacts and adaptation research from around the world. It will explore the contribution of adaptation science to planning and policy making, and how robust adaptation decision making can proceed in the face of uncertainty about climate change and its impacts.


Sustainability Becoming Critical for Companies Globally

Posted by admin on June 24, 2010
Posted under Express 114

Sustainability Becoming Critical for Companies Globally

In a UN Global Compact survey, an overwhelming majority of corporate CEOs – 93% – say that sustainability will be critical to the future success of their companies and they believe that, within a decade, a tipping point could be reached that fully meshes sustainability with core business. A good enough reason to plan to attend the National Sustainability Conference in Singapore 29/30 July. We’ll be there!

NEW YORK; June 22, 2010 – In spite of the recent economic downturn, an overwhelming majority of corporate CEOs – 93 percent – say that sustainability will be critical to the future success of their companies. Furthermore, CEOs believe that, within a decade, a tipping point could be reached that fully meshes sustainability with core business – its capabilities, processes and systems, and throughout global supply chains and subsidiaries. 

These are among the key findings of a survey of 766 CEOs around the globe – the largest such research study of top executives ever conducted on the topic of sustainability – released today by the United Nations Global Compact and Accenture. In addition to an online survey, the study included extensive interviews with 50 of the world’s leading CEOs. 

According to the survey, “A New Era of Sustainability: UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study 2010”, the global economic downturn did little to dampen corporate commitment to sustainability. In fact it seems to have done the opposite: 80 percent of the CEOs say the downturn has raised the importance of sustainability. As businesses address the challenges of the financial crisis, sustainability is being recognized as a source of cost efficiencies and revenue growth.  Additionally, many companies view sustainability as a critical element in driving growth in new markets as they look toward economic recovery. 

The survey results indicate that businesses are taking sustainability more seriously. In a similar survey conducted in 2007, 50 percent of the CEO respondents said that sustainability issues had become part of their company’s strategy and operations. In the 2010 survey, that number jumped to 81 percent. 

While recognizing the scale and complexity of global challenges, many CEOs say there has been progress over the past three years in making the transition from developing a sustainability strategy to execution. 

CEOs cited several barriers to achieving their sustainability goals, including:

       The complexity of implementing strategy across business functions (cited by 49 percent)

       Competing strategic priorities (48 percent)

       Lack of recognition from the financial markets (34 percent)

CEOs also believe that several conditions must be met before sustainability can be fully integrated into a company’s core business, and that businesses need to take a leadership role in bringing them about. Business action will be required in five key areas:

       Shaping consumer tastes in order to build a stronger market for sustainable products.

       Training management, employees and the next generation of leaders to deal with sustainability issues.

       Communicating with investors to create a better understanding of the impact of sustainability.

       Measuring performance on sustainability – and explaining the value of business in society.

       Working with governments to shape clearer regulation and create a level playing field.

On the issue of creating a friendlier investor environment for business sustainability, fewer than 50 percent of the executives surveyed (who work for listed companies) indicated that sustainability informs their discussions with financial analysts. Even though CEOs overwhelmingly believe their sustainability activities have a positive impact on their company’s valuation – in terms of revenue growth, lower costs, reduced risks and enhanced brand reputation – quantifying that value with traditional metrics such as cost reduction and revenue growth has been elusive. 

“Achieving greater environmental and social sustainability takes time, effort and a sincere leadership commitment,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “Two-thirds of the CEOs we surveyed are looking to the Global Compact as a forum for sharing best practices and emerging ideas on sustainability, and we look forward to helping guide their efforts to develop effective policies and tangible practices.” 

Warming investors to the notion that sustainability is good for the bottom line and regaining trust of all stakeholders in the wake of the global financial crisis are other critical issues CEOs face, according to the survey.

“CEOs told us they have by necessity been on the defensive during the downturn, but that they feel now is the time to get on the front foot in aligning sustainability with core business strategy and execution” said Mark Foster, Accenture’s group chief executive, Management Consulting and Global Markets.  “Business leaders recognize they are going to have to take a real lead, for example, holding the line on sustainability in their business models; tackling the roadblocks with diligence in tough to crack areas like supply chain and performance management; and working hard to respond to and shape customer demands that turn sustainability into an opportunity for growth and innovation.” 

According to the survey findings, three corporate attributes – brand, trust and reputation – were by far the primary considerations CEOs cited for acting on sustainability. They were identified by 72 percent of the respondents as one of their biggest motivators, followed in descending order by: the potential for revenue growth and cost reduction (cited by 44 percent), personal motivation (42 percent), consumer and customer demand (39 percent) and employee engagement and retention (31 percent).   


       83 percent said the economic crisis elevated the role of sustainability and ethics in building trust in business

       80 percent said it raised the importance of sustainability as a leadership issue for top management

       77 percent said it led them to take a longer-term view of business and the role of sustainability

Among the survey’s additional findings:

       Education and climate change were identified by respondents as the “big issues” they face, with resource scarcity and health starting to appear on the horizon. Education was identified by 72 percent of the respondents as the most important development issue for the future success of their business, followed by climate change at 66 percent. 

       91 percent of CEOs said their companies would employ new technologies to address sustainability issues over the next five years, such as developing renewable energy and creating greater energy efficiency.

       78 percent of the respondents believe that companies should engage in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders to address sustainability issues. Examples of potential partnerships include suppliers, NGOs and governments.

“It is clear from the survey results that global business has its work cut out in order to build sustainability programs that become key components of a company’s core business,” said Peter Lacy, who led the study and is managing director, Sustainability Services at Accenture for Europe, Africa and Latin America. “If sustainability does become fully integrated into global businesses within the next decade, the regulatory, technology, investment and consumer changes required will be staggering, creating significant winners and losers across businesses and industries.  

“However, it’s great to see that some progress is being made, and that the movement toward a more sustainable economy and business context is clearly gaining momentum.” 

About the United Nations Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies around the world to align their strategies and operations with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of broader UN goals. Through the development, implementation, and disclosure of responsible corporate policies and practices, business can help ensure that markets advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere. The Global Compact is not a regulatory body, but a voluntary leadership platform for dialogue and learning. With more than 8,200 signatories in more than 135 countries, it is the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative.

2010 UN Global Compact Leaders Summit: Building a New Era of Sustainability
24-25 June 2010, New York
Chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010 will bring together more than 1,200 leaders from all sectors to elevate the role of responsible business and investment in bringing about the needed transformation to more sustainable and inclusive markets. More information:

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 181,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$21.58 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2009. 

Source: and

National Sustainability Conference, Singapore 29/30 July 2010:

The Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES), National University of Singapore and the Workplace Research Centre (WRC), University of Sydney are jointly organising The National Sustainability Conference 2010, entitled “Environmental Up-Skilling & the Green Collar Economy”. This conference builds on the Climate Change @ Work series of conferences which take place in Australia and promote achieving sustainability in the workplace through sustainable leadership and management practice.

This year the theme of the 2nd National Sustainability Conference will be the Future Landscape of Environmental Economies in the Asia Pacific Region.

The conference will be held on the 29th & 30th of July 2010 at the Amara Hotel.

This conference will promote achieving sustainability in workplaces through sustainable leadership and green business solutions. The role of the workplace as a major player and as a solution provider within the international climate debate is now recognized, and interaction with the public and corporate policy agenda is increasingly important.

The main themes of the 2010 conference will centre on important management issues, such as how sustainability practices will affect workplace relations, skill demands and career opportunities, to operational issues such as carbon emissions mitigation practices in the generic workplace. It will feature case studies from companies who will be showcasing how they have driven and developed sustainable business practices in their organisations.

The conference comprises three sessions:

Session 1:        Future Landscape of the Environmental Economies in the Asia Pacific Region

Session 2:        Growing the Sustainable Workplace

Session 3:        Environmental Up-skilling: Implications for Skills and the Labour Market

We are expecting an audience of around 200-300 people broadly ranging from industry experts and professionals to Environmental and HR Managers, policy institutes, government officials, NGO representatives, academics and students.

Go to the website for the full conference programme and speakers.

ABC Carbon Director, Ken Hickson is a speaker at the conference on the subject on “Green Investing and Green Venture Capitalism”. His book “The ABC of Carbon” is being provided to all registered delegates at the conference.


World Bank/APEC: Renewable Energy & Low Carbon Scenarios

Posted by admin on June 24, 2010
Posted under Express 114

World Bank/APEC: Renewable Energy & Low Carbon Scenarios

Asia-Pacific ministers and officials have agreed to promote renewable sources and nuclear power in a bid to maintain energy security and cut greenhouse gas emissions in the region, according to APEC. Meanwhile, a World Bank study of Brazil says the country could reduce its gross greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by up to 37% between 2010 and 2030, while at the same time maintaining the development goals for that period, without negatively affecting growth or jobs.

AFP Reports in The Age (20 June 2010)

Asia-Pacific ministers and officials have agreed to promote renewable sources and nuclear power in a bid to maintain energy security and cut greenhouse gas emissions in the region.

Japan hosted Saturday’s one-day energy meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), in Fukui, ahead of a summit scheduled for November in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo.

In a statement adopted at the meeting, the forum agreed that the deployment of renewable energy, nuclear energy and power generation involving carbon capture and storage technology should be promoted, Kyodo News reported.

As for new nuclear power plant construction, the statement said “solid financial frameworks as well as cooperation among member economies and with relevant multilateral organisations” could be of help, Kyodo said.

It was the first time APEC had clearly stipulated the promotion of building new nuclear power plants, Kyodo said, quoting Japanese government officials.

Japan has been eager to promote nuclear power as a largely carbon-free energy source, although it has often been plagued by safety concerns and problems related to radioactive waste disposal.

During the meeting, US Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman touched on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a US spokeswoman said.


World Bank (17 June 2010):

Brazil could reduce its gross greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by up to 37 percent between 2010 and 2030, while at the same time maintaining the development goals set out by the government for that period, without negatively affecting growth or jobs, says a new World Bank study of low carbon development scenarios in Brazil. This would be the equivalent of taking all of the world’s cars out of circulation for three years. The study was launched today, in Brazil’s capital Brasilia, during a seminar attended by several ministries and research centers. 

“Brazil is one of the leading nations at climate negotiations, it has one of the cleanest energy matrixes and is offering creative and constructive solutions both at the global and national levels, as is demonstrated by our voluntary commitment to reduce emissions by between 36.1% and 38.9% by 2020,” said Izabella Teixeira, Environment Minister. “This study joins a list of others proving Brazil’s potential. However, our 2005 emissions represented barely 6.6% of total global emissions. The developed world is responsible for the largest share, and needs to contribute directly and proportionally to the solution of this problem.” 

The Brazil Low Carbon Study, indicates that the country has a great opportunity to mitigate and reduce emissions, mainly in areas such as changes in land use (like agriculture and deforestation), energy, transportation and waste management. In each of those areas, the study identifies opportunities to reduce emissions that would have no impact on economic development. The efficiency of those activities is measured against a reference scenario, tracing the current path into the future while incorporating different development levels. Reaching that low carbon scenario would require additional investments of around US$ 400 billion over twenty years.

 According to World Bank Director for Brazil Makhtar Diop, “certainly, consolidating this emission reduction scenario is a great challenge in terms of planning and financing. However, the Brazilian economy would be positively affected. Results show a boost in annual GDP growth and job creation. Taking everything into account, doing nothing would be more costly —both in terms of the national as well as the global impact, and the need to adapt to climate change.”

Approximately 40% of Brazil’s gross carbon emissions come from deforestation, even though recent efforts from the government to protect forests have significantly contained that number in the last few years. Together with agriculture and livestock raising, 75% of Brazilian emissions derive from changes in land use.

“Avoiding deforestation is by far the best option to reduce GHG emissions in Brazil,” said Christophe de Gouvello, report coordinator. “The Brazilian government has been fighting deforestation through forest protection policies and programs, but it also has the opportunity to use other instruments — such as increasing the use of pastures and reintegrating degraded areas to the production cycle, avoiding encroachment on new areas.” 

According to the study’s estimates, a new land use dynamic in Brazil would reduce deforestation by up to 68% by 2030, compared to the reference scenario estimated for that same year. According to the report, market mechanisms would not be enough to take advantage of all the opportunities Brazil has to mitigate emissions. Public policies and planning are essential, especially with regards to managing land competition and forest protection. 

In the energy sector, given that emissions in Brazil are already relatively low due to its renewable matrix, opportunities for reduction are lower. It is estimated that the share of that sector’s emissions will continue to grow along with the economy, and may reach more than a quarter of the country’s total emissions by 2030. Therefore, even if the actions suggested for a low carbon scenario are carried out, such as increasing ethanol exports, achieving energy efficiency in industry and regional integration, emissions would still be approximately 28 percent higher in 2030 than 2008.

As with energy, the Brazilian transportation sector is mentioned in the report as a low-carbon-intensity sector in comparison to other countries, due to the widespread use of ethanol. Nevertheless, the fossil fuels used in transportation accounted for 12 percent of all CO2 emissions in 2008. Public transportation policies in cities and multimodal distribution for regional transportation could reduce emissions by 26 percent and 9 percent, respectively, by 2030. Combining these with an increased use of ethanol could possibly double these reductions. Implementing this low carbon scenario for the transportation sector would mean lowering the rate of emission increases attributed to the sector, from almost 65 percent to less than 17 percent by 2030.

With respect to waste management, which accounts for the lowest share of Brazilian emissions, 4.7 percent in 2008, the report recommends the systematic burning of methane, better planning, more investment and incentives to manage landfills and other collection and processing services. The implementation of adequate policies could reduce sector emissions by up to 80 percent by 2030, a volume comparable to Paraguay’s entire emissions.

“The sum of all the necessary investments for each sector and the collateral effects on the rest of the economy would counterbalance the potential negative effects and even promote growth and job creation. As an investment, the low carbon scenario generates profits in three ways: economic growth, long term environmental sustainability and global benefits,” Diop added.

The Brazil Low Carbon Study is part of a series of analytical works on low carbon development scenarios for several countries. The World Bank recently published the Global Development Report on Climate Change and the Latin America and the Caribbean Report on Low Carbon Development.


Oil Industry Must Clean Up Its Act & The Gulf

Posted by admin on June 24, 2010
Posted under Express 114

Oil Industry Must Clean Up Its Act & The Gulf

The oilmen and investors must be forced to recognise that the true costs and risks to society of oil exploration are far greater than the costs and risks of investing in alternative energy. By relying on fossil fuels, the West is risking catastrophic climate change and also foregoing the opportunity to develop new energy technologies. And in a Robin Hood-type move Kevin Costner’s company Ocean Therapy Solutions is providing thirty-two centrifuge machines to assist in the cleanup of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Anatole Kaletsky  in The Times (17 June 2010):  

ABOUT 10 years ago, I was at a City lunch where the guest of honour was the chairman of one of the world’s biggest oil companies – not BP, but it might as well have been. I asked him why his company had invested so little money in alternative energy projects.

My question to the oilman was partly prompted by the fact that BP had recently started its rebranding campaign, in which it tried to use the slogan “Beyond Petroleum” to identify itself with alternative energy research. Even a decade ago, it was apparent that some combination of new technologies would eventually have to replace fossil fuels.

Yet despite all the fuss about global warming, the US government halved its energy research spending in the past decade to just $US5 billion a year – one-fourteenth of military research and one-sixth of government spending on medical R&D.

The private sector’s research efforts were even more pathetic – and still are. The entire global research effort on all forms of non-carbon energy, including nuclear power, in the past decade was only about double Microsoft’s spending on repeatedly upgrading Windows and Office.

By contrast to the $US10bn spent globally on alternative energy and nuclear research, $US250bn was spent annually, according to the Stern report, on subsidising the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

BP’s much-touted $US45 million investment in Solarex, the world’s biggest solar-energy company, was minuscule compared with the $US70bn it paid at about the same time to buy US oil giants Amoco and Arco, making BP the biggest US oil producer.

So when I asked the oil company chairman my question, I expected the oilman to scoff at the very idea that new technologies would ever replace fossil fuels.

He conceded that alternative energy sources might displace oil, but the prospects of success for any particular technology were too uncertain and financially risky for his shareholders to stomach.

It is impossible to say whether President Barack Obama will prove right in his prediction last night that the global energy outlook will be changed forever by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. What he can do is see to it that no oil company will ever again claim that prospecting for oil is a less financially risky proposition than installing wind turbines or investing in nuclear power.

The Obama administration’s strategic objective, beyond sealing the gusher and cleaning up the mess, should be ensure that drilling for oil becomes prohibitively expensive. The oilmen and investors must be forced to recognise that the true costs and risks to society of oil exploration are far greater than the costs and risks of investing in alternative energy or nuclear power.

Whether or not BP is found by the courts to have been negligently culpable, the company now faces catastrophic financial losses. If these losses threaten BP’s survival as an independent company, then oil drilling in technically challenging or environmentally sensitive locations may be recognised as too expensive.

And if Big Oil persists in drilling in some of the world’s most dangerous environments, then shareholders may replace the oilmen with new managers with a better understanding of the new energy economics – or the share price will be pushed down.

A panic among shareholders after the Gulf of Mexico blowout could put an end to the world’s dependence on fossil fuels much faster than any amount of regulation or protest.

Consider now what would happen if financial markets imposed an effective moratorium on exploration in challenging locations.

At first sight this might seem a disaster, strengthening the monopoly power of Saudi Arabia and OPEC, potentially sending oil prices from $US70 a barrel to $US150 or above and redirecting an additional $US1 trillion of income annually from Western democracies to Middle Eastern supporters of terrorism and other hostile regimes.

It was to avert such a disaster that the US Republicans coined their 2008 election slogan, “Drill, baby, drill”.

However, an end to oil exploration in the US would have the opposite effect to that predicted by Republicans. Suppose the US government and Western financial markets accepted that it was economically irrational to drill 4.8km down into rock formations under stormy waters, when oil can be extracted for one-tenth of the cost from Middle Eastern deserts or Siberian steppes.

Governments, instead of imagining energy prices reflect market forces, would realise oil markets are rigged by cartels and distorted by unrecognised environmental and geopolitical costs.

Voters, instead of imagining they are being punished when energy taxes are increased, might realise such taxes make oil-consuming countries richer by stopping money being siphoned to Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela through ever-rising oil revenues.

Oil-producing countries might realise they have only 30 years or so to sell as much oil as possible.

And energy companies – instead of wasting more than $100bn a year on exploration for oil reserves outside the accessible fields in OPEC countries – would invest in new technologies.

The industrialised world’s addiction to oil is not just environmentally destructive and geopolitically suicidal, but also economically irrational.

By relying on fossil fuels, the West is not only risking catastrophic climate change and subsidising some of the world’s nastiest political regimes to the tune of $US1 trillion annually, it is also foregoing the opportunity to develop new energy technologies in which knowledge-based societies, such as Europe and the US, would enjoy a clear competitive advantage.

Continuing to feed the world’s oil addiction rather than developing alternative energy sources is the real crime committed by BP and accomplices in Big Oil.


Report from Energy Boom:

Robin Hood may just be coming to the rescue once again! It’s official. Academy award winning actor Kevin Costner and his company, Ocean Therapy Solutions, has signed a contract with British Petroleum for 32 “dream machines.”

According to the company website, BP signed a letter of intent to “deploy thirty-two centrifuge machines to assist in the cleanup of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Years in the making, Costner’s machines use centrifugal force to separate oil from water. The “dream machines” are available in five different sizes. The largest centrifugal oil-water separating machine, the V20, is capable of cleaning “210,000 gallons of oily water per day.”

The machines are transported to the spill area on barges. Once the oil is separated from the water, the more than 99 percent crude-free water is released back into the ocean and the oil is stored in tanks.

Putting his money where his mouth is, Costner invested US$20 million of his own money into his dream machines. For more than 15 years, Costner and his team have been working on the 4,000 pound machines. Costner’s brother, a scientist, has also been involved in the project. Ocean Therapy Solutions will manufacture the devices.

As of June 10th, three V20 machines were operational in the Gulf and 10 more were expected to be operational shortly. While financial details have not yet been disclosed, the 32 units are expected to be deployed and working within the next 60 days.

While BP, the EPA and the Coast Guard are screening submitted proposals to help in the clean-up effort, even Robin Hood himself had trouble getting his invention past the barrage of red tape.

In fact, Costner spent over US$1 million in the past month promoting his technology before BP finally signed on. Costner testified before a U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on June 17, 2010. Costner told the committee:

“I believe there are other small companies out there in the private sector just like us. How do we let them in? How do we create an environment that fosters and encourages investment in critical technologies? I leave that to this body. But you should know, that negotiating your way, as a small business, through the bureaucratic maze that presently exists is like playing a video game that no one can master. It’s like trying to get to a next level that doesn’t exist.”

Costner also testified earlier this month before the House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee.

Born in California in 1955, Costner has received two Academy Awards in his career to date. Costner won an Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture in the 1991 film, Dances with Wolves. He was also nominated for Best Actor for the same film.

Ironically, Costner starred in Waterworld, a 1995 futuristic film where all the polar ice-caps on earth have melted and little land remains. The post-apocalyptic story was panned by both critics and the public alike.