Archive for September, 2010

Wavering from Hope to Despair

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

Wavering from Hope to Despair

There’s at least one man in this world who constantly wavers from hope to despair. For 20 years David Suzuki has been pounding the streets and shouting over airwaves that we must wake up and face up to environmental reality. We give the last word to a much lesser known mortal man who promoted the oil and resources industry for many years, latterly switching to a very Envirofriendly product. A tribute to Don Norton. Is there hope that finally our politicians have moved towards a realistic and achieveable climate change policy? Singapore made its mark as the venue for another successful Grand Prix and a very significant but smaller green car event. Is Formula One serious about driving to a greener future? Carbon Planet played an important role in developing a new global measure for avoided deforestation and some good advice for Christchurch to build it back green after its devastating earthquake. Wind is all at sea in the UK, the tide turns for Cameroon, and China’s solar billionaire says we must stop subsidising fossil fuels. China is showing its cleantech leadership potential and Townsville, the solar city, is on a mission. The world meets in Kazakhstan for an energy efficiency forum and Volvo comes up with a One Tonne Life project. Cate Blanchett lends her star quality to promote Tim Flannery’s latest book. There is hope after all. – Ken Hickson

Profile: Dr David Suzuki

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

Profile: Dr David Suzuki

He has a message for Australia, which he says has back-pedalled on climate change action. He rejects the argument that a carbon tax will slow the economy. He gives Sweden as a case in point, where in 1991 it initiated a carbon tax. “Today they pay $150 a tonne and have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 8%. During that time the Swedish economy has grown by 44%.” David Suzuki is in Australia in October.

What the hell are you thinking?

Kathleen Noonan in the Courier-Mail (27 September 2010):

 Author and environmentalist David Suzuki.

TALKING to David Suzuki brings to mind that irreligious gift card with a holy picture on it, warning “Jesus is coming. Look busy”.

Around this seemingly tireless 74-year-old Canadian, considered by many as a green prophet, you never feel as if you are doing enough for Mother Earth. He inspires action.

“What the hell are they thinking?” is his favourite phrase, delivered with force, about many things – politicians compliant with the fossil-fuel industry, BP over the oil spill, US President Barack Obama and his motor-industry bailout, Australia and its lack of carbon tax.

There’s so much to do and Suzuki says he and the planet are running out of time.

“I’m in the death zone. I’m not being dramatic or macabre. I’m healthy but I’m 75 next year. That’s entering the human death zone.

“I need to get out there all that I believe. I thought the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster was a moment in history when we would wake up and change our ways, but no. My God, what will it take!”

As clarion calls go, David Suzuki in full flight is truly something to behold.

Just back from the Peruvian rainforest, speaking from his home in Vancouver, the voice gets louder down the phone line, but the activist elder has a rival. His one-year-old grandchild is in full flight in the background. Clearly, passion and verbosity run in the family. “He’s the joy of my life. He and my other grandchildren are why I’m doing this.”

His latest book and lecture tour, The Legacy: An Elder’s Vision for Our Sustainable Future, are “what I want to say before I die”. The book, his most thoughtful and personal, is based on the traditional “last lecture” he delivered last year at the University of British Columbia where he had been a professor for 39 years.

“We are so dazzled by our own inventiveness,” Suzuki writes, “that we are blinded to the consequences of technology. As an elder, I am appalled that my generation has induced change and created problems that we bequeath to my children and grandchildren and all generations to come. That is not right but I believe that it is not too late to take another path.”

Suzuki has spent decades on environmental crusading. His profile as a popular scientist came from his role since 1979 hosting the internationally acclaimed Canadian television series The Nature of Things. The author of more than 40 books, his critics called him a television hippy and economic naysayer, tried to intimidate him with bullets pushed through a window and break-ins to his office, and discredit him with smear campaigns. Not much stuck.

Today the promotion brochure for Suzuki’s Legacy Tour shows his face in close-up profile. With glasses, silver goatee and white hair, he now looks like an old sage. He carries the air of the guru on the mount, waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

Award-winning Canadian film maker Sturla Gunnarsson’s just-released documentary Force of Nature: the David Suzuki Movie interweaves the lecture with a biography, in the tradition of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Gunnarsson knew Suzuki at university.

“He was the genetics professor with a rock-star aura. He was young and charismatic and had a counter-culture folk hero status,” he said.

Suzuki has never been afraid to put his neck out. He has successfully fought through ugly layers of racial prejudice, as a third-generation Japanese Canadian. One of the first and strongest influences on Suzuki was the racism he encountered when he and his family were detained in an internment camp in Canada during World War II.

An early childhood spent exploring a marsh not far from home was another influence. What he learnt in that swamp was that all the planet’s complex yet fragile systems are linked.

“When I saw BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil disaster (the April explosion caused about 4.9 million barrels of oil to gush into the sea), I thought this, these images will change the world. No.

“Then BP used chemical emulsifiers, so the oil is still out there, just not in a gloopy tide that looks bad for television images. Everyone thinks it’s gone away. People have the concentration of a hummingbird.”

He says we don’t take advantage of these crises to make the big changes that are necessary.

“I would have thought Australia, for Christ’s sake, with its huge crisis over water and bushfires, would have been going in a different direction on environment and climate change, but no. It back-pedalled on a carbon tax. Australia, what are YOU thinking?”

He rejects the argument that a carbon tax will slow the economy. “I say, look at Sweden… Sweden in 1991 initiated a carbon tax. Today they pay $150 a tonne. That’s a hell of a lot of money, but they have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 8 per cent. During that time the Swedish economy has grown, GROWN, by 44 per cent.

“So what the hell is going on? Our politicians lie through their teeth.”

With his 75th birthday next year, Suzuki says he will be slowing down but by no means retiring. “I think elders are crucial. Elders in first nation aboriginal communities hold a key role, but in the western world they are considered a pain the neck and put into nursing homes. We’re never needed elders more.

“Elders, come on. Rise up!”

Australia, David Suzuki is coming. Look busy.

David Suzuki’s latest book The Legacy: An Elder’s Vision for Our Sustainable Future (Allen & Unwin) will be published on October 3. As part of The Legacy Tour, he will appear at the Brisbane Powerhouse on October 26 (Phone 3358 8600), in Byron Bay on October 27, in Townsville on October 28 and Cairns October 29.

THE WORLD according to Suzuki . . .

POLITICIANS: “They rely on focus groups and quickly abandon policy. They simply eye the next election. At least in Canada it’s five-year terms. My God, in Australia it’s three years. Children don’t vote so there is nothing in it for political leaders to have a vision.”

POPULATION: “The reality is Australia is overpopulated. We are so wedded to economic growth that we think we have to keep the population growing. That is nuts. You can’t keep population growing indefinitely. Your country can’t sustain it.”

SKILLED MIGRANTS: “We take doctors and teachers from Third World countries. I find that absolutely disgusting. They need their academics and trained people. Cuba trains and supplies doctors for the world. What do we do? Rip off poor countries’ doctors.”

SOLAR: “Canada would kill for Australia’s solar potential. Yet when I visit I can hardly find a solar panel in a suburb.”

Source: and

Carbon Price on the Table, Alongside Food

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

Carbon Price on the Table, Alongside Food

Australia’s Prime Minister says (finally) that dealing with a price on carbon was not only necessary to cut carbon emissions pollution but to provide business with “the certainty they seek” and to stay in step with the rest of the world. But a member of Julia Gillard’s high level climate change committee, Independent MP Tony Windsor expressed concern about the impact a carbon price would have on the cost of food. Others want Government to consider a “hybrid” carbon scheme.

Sid Maher in The Australian (28 September 2010):

KEY independent Tony Windsor has expressed concern about the impact of a carbon price on the cost of food.

Mr Windsor has joined Julia Gillard’s top-level climate change committee.

As the Prime Minister announced she would chair the committee herself with “all options on the table” to find a consensus – including a carbon tax, an emissions trading scheme or a hybrid of both – Mr Windsor said the impact of a carbon price on food prices was at the top of his concerns.

“We have to make sure that we don’t start to change land use away from food production,” Mr Windsor said.

He said a carbon price could make the creation of carbon sinks or the growing of biofuels more profitable than food production and this would have to be factored in to any carbon pricing regime. With the government holding a one-seat majority, Mr Windsor’s ultimate position will prove pivotal to the government’s success.

Ms Gillard yesterday unveiled the long-awaited climate change committee, naming Climate Change Minister Greg Combet and the Greens’ Christine Milne as co-deputy chairs. Mr Windsor and Greens leader Bob Brown were also named as members.

But the committee, which will meet monthly until the end of next year, is unlikely to debate the government’s emission-reductions targets of a 5 per cent cut from 2000 levels by 2020 despite the Greens pushing for higher cuts, and will focus instead on the carbon pricing mechanism.

Ms Gillard said the committee would start from the position “that a carbon price is an economic reform that is required to reduce carbon pollution”.

Under its terms of reference, the committee’s deliberations would be “broadly limited to the issue of a carbon price” and its deliberations and papers would remain confidential.

Ms Gillard said the committee would be advised by a four-person panel: the author of the climate change report to the Rudd government, Ross Garnaut; executive director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute Will Steffen; director of consultants Port Jackson Partners and adviser to the Business Council of Australia on climate change Rod Sims; and KMPG partner and social inclusion expert Patricia Faulkner.

Professor Garnaut would be invited to update his climate change review, and the panel would consider the findings of an expert body that is calculating the carbon price equivalent measures undertaken by other countries.

Government sources said last night that some papers were likely to be released.

There will also be two round tables to discuss a price on carbon: one for the business community and the other for environment and non-government organisations.

Ms Gillard said dealing with a price on carbon was not only necessary to cut carbon emissions pollution but to provide business with “the certainty they seek”.

“Dealing with the question of pricing carbon is also necessary so that we stay in step with the rest of the world,” Ms Gillard said.

“The global economy has already begun to shift to a low-carbon economy and if we fail to act on a price on carbon pollution, we run the risk of falling behind.”

Her comments came as nuclear energy advocate and former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski said he wanted Ms Gillard to introduce a carbon tax to force up electricity costs. Mr Switkowski said in Adelaide a carbon tax would spark debate about increased energy costs, and raise awareness about the benefits of cleaner nuclear power.

The climate change committee will hold a public forum of experts in Parliament House and consider whether to proceed with the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change, promised by Ms Gillard during the election campaign but heavily criticised.

Ms Gillard said the Coalition would be invited to provide two members to the committee.

But last night, opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt attacked the committee’s secrecy, saying the Coalition would not participate in it.

He said the Prime Minister had used a hung parliament to break “a bedrock pre-election promise”.

“Ms Gillard today also confirmed a prerequisite for membership of this committee is a belief-test in some form of carbon tax. The Coalition rejects this,” he said.

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said the committee was “well-rounded”.


Commentary in The Age by John Daley, who is chief executive, and Tristan Edis, a research fellow at the Grattan Institute. (24 September 2010):

A mix of ”cap and trade” and emissions taxes is needed to do the job.

Imagine you could only sell your house by auction, but weren’t allowed a reserve price. Doubtless auctions would be more exciting, with buyers hoping for a bargain. But it is also likely that house prices would fall. Many people would fear to invest in housing in case they sold on a bad day.

Energy investors face the same issues with carbon pollution prices, even if the price tags are bigger. Investors in less polluting energy – such as gas, wind and solar power – worry that the carbon price may turn out to be too low. If it is, they won’t make enough to justify investing.

That is why the debate about carbon pricing has turned to “carbon taxes”. Taxes provide more certainty of making a profit on energy investments. However, unlike the “cap and trade” policy proposed last year in the Labor government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme, carbon taxes provide less certainty of big enough cuts in emissions.

A hybrid scheme – a trading scheme with a floor price, a bit like a house auction – would be the best of both worlds. It would reduce uncertainty and, ultimately, the costs of cutting carbon pollution.

Carbon pricing is a key issue when building new power stations. Major private sector energy companies in Australia are not seriously considering building coal-fired power stations in eastern Australia, and banks aren’t likely to be keen to lend money for such projects, either. Instead, they are planning lower-carbon, baseload power stations using gas.

This is exactly the point of carbon pollution prices. We need these new power stations to keep up with rising energy demand and ultimately replace high-pollution power stations such as Hazelwood. But it only makes sense to invest if gas-fired generators cost less to operate than coal-fired generators (including paying for carbon pollution).

A “cap and trade” scheme caps the maximum amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted each year. Polluters need to buy a permit for each tonne they emit. If there are fewer polluters than permits, then permit prices can crash.

This has already occurred with environmental permit trading schemes in Europe and the US, and with Australia’s three existing trading schemes. Unlike normal markets, the supply of permits is fixed by the government, and does not reduce with lower prices.

A simple levy on carbon pollution gives investors more confidence. It becomes cheaper to finance new power stations, and ultimately consumers pay lower electricity prices. Companies that emit carbon pollution directly, such as chemicals manufacturers, think the same way – with more certainty, they will be quicker to invest in their plant to reduce emissions.

The problem with a levy is that it does not guarantee how much carbon we emit. Trading schemes also cushion the economy during recessions: when the economy slows, emissions fall and carbon prices fall.

The best solution may be a “hybrid” scheme, where for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, polluters must both pay a levy and purchase a permit.

In effect, this sets a floor-price for carbon emissions, something like the reserve price in a house auction. It creates more certainty for the builders of power plants, and businesses investing to reduce their direct emissions.

A hybrid scheme would fit with policy around the globe. The European and British schemes appear to be moving towards hybrid designs. The legislation proposed in the US Congress also looks like this.

Established coal-fired generators have the most to lose from a hybrid scheme. Without a floor price, new power generators are slow to invest, electricity prices rise, and existing coal-fired power stations make higher profits. The whole community pays the cost.

At best, a hybrid scheme will reduce emissions like a cap and trade scheme, but at lower cost. Efficient investments will be made earlier. At “worst”, a hybrid scheme might result in Australia cutting carbon emissions by more than we intended. By definition, we would only be paying a cost that we were prepared to pay.

Given that Australia has the highest per capita emissions in the OECD, we can probably afford to overshoot. A hybrid scheme would be the best of both worlds. Just like it is for house auctions.


Greening of Singapore & Formula One

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

Green & Electric Move for Singapore & Formula One

Singapore’s Formula One Grand Prix attracted much more attention, money, as well as noise and fuel burn, but there’s a move afoot to turn Singapore green – or electric – for road transport and even the major car makers are turning to green. The first G1 this month, organised by the Singapore Environment Council, was a showcase for electric Porsches, BMWs and no-brand eco-efficient cars. Also we report on efforts to make the Formula One much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Grace Chua in the Straits Times, Singapore (23 September 2010):

FOR five years, a bright orange, single-seat car was the lone electric vehicle plying Singapore’s roads.

But since last year, the Corbin Sparrow, registered in 2003 by an American teacher here, has had more company.

There are now at least eight electric vehicles here, going by Land Transport Authority (LTA) statistics: seven motorcycles and scooters and one electric car.

Electric car conversion start-up EV Hub has also obtained approval from LTA to convert a BMW and a goods vehicle.

Electric vehicle use and research seem to be moving ahead.

Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi is scheduled to bring in up to 50 of its i-MiEV cars for test programmes here by the end of the year, while the Energy Market Authority has been searching for a service provider to design, build and run a network of charging stations for such test cars.

Because they do not use fossil fuels, driving such vehicles does not produce the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change.

EV Hub unveiled a snazzy red Porsche and sleek grey BMW – both fully electric – at the launch of the Singapore G1 green vehicle race earlier this month, and also has an electric Renault van. Mr David Chou, 40, managing director of the one-year-old start-up, feels converting existing cars to electric ones would encourage people to adopt the technology.

‘It’s like doing a heart transplant for a car. You give it a new motor, components and wires, but keep the chassis you love, so it has the same sturdiness, safety features and so on,’ he said. Making a new car from scratch, even if it was electric, also produces extra carbon emissions, he added.

It costs more than $50,000 for a basic conversion, which involves swopping the engine and innards with an electric motor system; and up to about $200,000 for a higher-end set-up with more cutting-edge batteries and technology.Those who own these cars have to charge them at home, so they are practical only for those living in landed property.

The firm is working with the National University of Singapore and Singapore Polytechnic to test different kinds of electric motor technology, and train students to test and maintain such vehicles.

Meanwhile, Greenlots, which distributes and installs charging points where people can pay to charge vehicles, has sold three of its E-Max electric scooters since they were launched in April last year.

Its customers are in their late 20s and early 30s, and commute short distances to work, said Greenlots vice-president Khoo Lin Zhuang, 28. But they live on landed property as there are few places to charge the vehicles here. Greenlots has, however, installed a handful of charging stations in places such as the 313@Somerset and Parkway Parade malls.

Such inconvenience, along with uncertainty about funding schemes, is part and parcel of being a pioneer on the electric vehicle scene here, Mr Khoo said.

But he added it was worthwhile: ‘We’re not one of the big boys, that’s why we have to rush out of the gate first.’

But it has been a bumpy ride for other electric vehicle firms.

Mr Clarence Tan of the Green Car Company, with a fleet of five Corbin Sparrow three-wheelers, said no one wanted to buy the cars, which cost about $125,000 each. Reasons included the lack of charging points and limited range, as the car can travel only 30km to 50km on a single charge.

The firm’s new plan: wait for certificates of entitlement prices to drop, then put the vehicles on the road and invite advertisers to place ads on the cars.

The first G1 in Singapore also attracted international attention as 36 consulate staff from 12 different foreign missions, in teams of three comprising two passengers and a rider, manoeuvred their trishaws across various obstacles in a race.

The race was one of the many activities of the Singapore G1, to raise awareness of green transport technologies and green alternative energy through educating and engaging the public.


A report from James Allen, who regularly reports on F1 and attended the Singapore Grand Prix, which was originally posted on 30 June this year:

The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) has unveiled a raft of changes aimed at reducing the sport’s carbon footprint.

The teams have long been under pressure from sponsors who want to be associated with a ‘green’ product and following the results of an environmental research analysis conducted by Trucost, FOTA believes it can cut emissions by over 12 per cent before 2012.

According to the report, Formula One teams’ CO2 emissions hit 215,588 tonnes in 2009 of which 0.3 per cent came from fuel emissions during racing and testing.

“It has already been possible to reduce Formula One’s total carbon emissions,” said FOTA Chairman and McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh. “Moreover, building on what we have already achieved, and extrapolating what is now being planned, we anticipate that by 2012 Formula One will have reduced its total carbon emissions by 12.4% compared with 2009.

“In addition, the FIA and FOTA are already working together to tailor the 2013 technical regulations to ensuring that all engines and powertrains used in Formula One by that date will showcase, and provide a platform for the ongoing development of, technologies designed to enhance fuel efficiency.

“This is a very exciting time for Formula One, and I am delighted that our sport has been able to take a global environmental lead in this way.”

The 2013 engine regulations are a fantastic opportunity for the sport to take a fork in the road and make itself relevant for the future. The engines are likely to be small capacity turbos, with additional boost from heat energy regeneration systems, harnessed to braking as well as from engine braking. The FIA has been talking about this for some time now.

FOTA have stressed that it is important to find a balance between pushing for a greener future and ensuring Formula One continues to be the world’s best motor racing series.

“Formula One is, and must always be, the pinnacle of world motor sport,” said a FOTA statement. “Equally, Formula One cars have traditionally provided an exciting and productive development platform for new automotive technologies, and must continue to do so. Many of those new technologies have ultimately been introduced into consumer production cars.

“Turbocharging, fuel injection, variable valve timing and kinetic energy recovery systems [KERS] have all been developed within Formula One, and it is the intention of FOTA, in collaboration with the FIA, that Formula One should continue to pioneer technologies that are appropriate to the challenges faced by society today and in the future, and that are applicable to products that will benefit mankind in the longer term.”

The FIA welcomed the announcement, “The programme highlights the important role that new technologies will play in reducing emissions over the coming years and the leadership role of our sport in developing efficiency solutions for the wider automobile sector,” said a statement.

F1 and the environment is one of the topics under discussion at the FOTA Fans Forum, powered by Santander, which JA on F1 is organising in London.

Video chapters from the discussions will be uploaded soon after the event via You Tube and will be posted here on JA on F1.

James Allen became ITV Sport’s lead commentator on Formula 1 in October 2001, having deputised for Murray Walker at six races during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

James joined ITV in 1997 as pit lane reporter having fulfilled a similar role on the American sports channel ESPN since 1993. His sharp, often humorous analysis of team’s race strategies and the goings on in the pit lane quickly became a feature of ITV’s coverage.

James was born into a racing family: His father Bill was a works Lotus driver in the 1960s, enjoying success in sportscar events like the Le Mans 24 Hours.

James studied English and modern languages at Oxford University and joined the Brabham team as press officer in 1990. The following year he drew the short straw when the team hired Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell and James was responsible for ensuring them a good press!

He co-wrote Mansell’s best selling autobiography in 1995 and in 1998 he followed it up with a second book: Michael Schumacher, Driven to Extremes. His biography of Schumacher, The Edge of Greatness was published in 2007 and is considered the definitive book on the seven times world champion. James has also been the F1 correspondent for the Financial Times since 1999.


Avoiding Deforestation and Rewarding Forestry Investment

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

Avoiding Deforestation and Rewarding Forestry Investment

A new project methodology – developed by Australia’s Carbon Planet – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through Improved Forest Management has successfully completed a first independent assessment under the VCS Methodology Approval Process. Meanwhile, a Tanzanian reforestation project became the first forestry investment to earn carbon offsets under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), which will assure investors the emissions cuts are credible and long-term.

Carbon Planet Methodology Completes First Review under VCS Approval Process:

Improved Forest Management Methodology Now Enters Second Review

Monday 27 September 2010 – WASHINGTON – A new project methodology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through Improved Forest Management has completed a first independent assessment and now begins a second independent assessment under the VCS Methodology Approval Process.

The methodology, whose title is “Estimating GHG Emission Reductions from Planned Degradation (Improved Forest Management),” is designed to reduce selective logging rates in forested areas by creating an alternative revenue stream for indigenous peoples to replace or exceed revenues from selective logging.

The new methodology was developed by Carbon Planet, a global carbon management organization, and submitted to the Methodology Approval Process to be reviewed and approved for use under the VCS Program. It must be reviewed by two independent auditors before being approved for use under the VCS Program, at which point projects using the methodology will be eligible to issue GHG credits, known as Voluntary Carbon Units (VCUs).

Dave Sag, the founder and executive director of Carbon Planet, told abc carbon express this was a very significant development for Australia, which has pushed hard through the private sector, to gain recognition for avoided deforestation.

He explained that much of the work leading to this VCS approval process has been done in Australia by Carbon Planet’s Dr Samuel Phua. This approach is a lot like taking a life cycle assessment of a product. This measures the cost to the environment and the economy of deforestation and rewards communities for investing in alternative “clean” economic activity.

Effective 27 September, the methodology has completed a first independent assessment by the Rainforest Alliance and now enters the second assessment phase. The second independent auditor, Bureau Veritas, was contracted directly by the VCS Association.

All documentation is available on the VCS website, including the first assessment report and revised methodology.

The Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) is the most widely used GHG accounting standard among projects issuing credits in the voluntary carbon market. Founded in 2005 by the Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Association and the World Sustainable Development Business Council, the VCS has pioneered flexible and reliable tools for generating quality GHG credits with environmental integrity and lasting value.

The VCS Methodology Approval Process is a unique approach for the development of new and refined project methodologies to reduce GHG emissions. By providing an avenue for project developers to propose new methodologies or refine existing methodologies for GHG mitigation, it allows projects to effectively address the real challenges they encounter on the ground.


Reuters report by Nina Chestney (29  September 2010):

 Demand for voluntary carbon credits will be given a boost after the first forestry project earned offsets last week under an industry-backed standard.

The voluntary carbon market, which operates outside mandatory emissions cutting schemes, had been waiting for such a move, as players gear up for participation in a multi-billion U.N. deforestation emissions reduction mechanism.

“It could trigger a boom. Everyone has been waiting…so hopefully we finally see some forestry credits come to market,” said a market participant, who declined to be named

Last week, a Tanzanian reforestation project became the first forestry investment to earn carbon offsets under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), which will assure investors the emissions cuts are credible and long-term.

The project in the southern highlands of Tanzania involves converting degraded grassland into sustainably harvested eucalypt and pine forests that soak up carbon dioxide from the air as they grow, earning CO2 offsets.

Forests soak up large amounts of carbon dioxide and scientists say curbing deforestation is a key way to fight climate change.


A UN-backed scheme, called reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), is not yet formally part of a broader U.N. climate deal but buyers of carbon credits are still investing in the sector as they expect REDD to be highly lucrative in the future.

“Many have been waiting on the sidelines for others to make the first moves and in particular address the permanence issue,” Grattan MacGiffin, head of GTE Global Trading Ltd, told Reuters.

“(California’s) Climate Action Registry has been doing forestry for a while but the VCS news is bigger, potentially adding impetus to the growing support for a CDM REDD methodology to be given the green light,” he added.

Carbon offset organization ICROA said the voluntary market has helped bring forestry offset projects into the mainstream and could help shape REDD’s future structure.

“One reason why the voluntary market has embraced forestry projects is because they are emotive and conceptually easier for business and consumer customers to grasp,” said Sascha Lafeld, ICROA’S co-chair.

In 2009, forestation and reforestation was among the top three most popular project types in the market


Build Christchurch Back Green After Earthquake Destruction

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

Build Christchurch Back Green After Earthquake Destruction

The massive rebuilding task facing Christchurch in the wake of the earthquake presents a unique opportunity for the city to lead New Zealand in sustainable building practices, says the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC).The recovery effort following a disaster is a crucial time; it’s a chance for communities to be at the heart of planning, creating homes and buildings that meet social, environmental and economic needs.

From the Green Building Council (22 September 2010):

The massive rebuild facing Christchurch in the wake of the earthquake presents a unique opportunity for the city to lead New Zealand in sustainable building practices, says the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC).

“The recovery effort following a disaster is a crucial time; it’s a chance for communities to be at the heart of planning, creating homes and buildings that meet social, environmental and economic needs,” says Alex Cutler, CEO of the NZGBC.

“This is a great opportunity for Christchurch to think long term and build the city back sustainably through great design, sustainable materials, efficient appliances and renewable energy sources.“

A new report released this week by the World Green Building Council highlights how green buildings can play a valuable role in meeting local needs worldwide, including in areas hit by natural disasters. The report, Tackling Global Climate Change, Meeting Local Priorities, was launched to coincide with World Green Building Week, an annual event in its second year.

According to the report, buildings consume 30-40 per cent of global energy. There is no single larger global contributor – and thereby potential reducer – of carbon than the building sector. So the building sector has a crucial role to play in reducing climate change.

Importantly, while green buildings typically cost only 3-5 per cent more than standard buildings to construct, they can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 35 per cent – and in some cases can be carbon neutral. Moreover, green buildings reduce waste output by 70 per cent, water usage by 40 per cent and energy usage by 30-50 per cent – in some cases producing energy that can be sent back to the grid.

“Clearly, Christchurch has a lot to gain by building back green,” says Ms Cutler.

‘Build it back green’ is a global movement encouraging communities to rebuild with a reduced carbon footprint following severe natural disasters.

Similar rebuilding efforts are occurring right around the world in the aftermath of natural disasters: after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is being transformed by thousands of green homes and neighbourhoods; Flowerdale in Victoria, Australia is being rebuilt using sustainable reconstruction practices following the February 2009 bushfires that destroyed 2,000 homes and 3,500 structures in total; and, after being hit by a tornado, Greensburg Kansas in the USA is rebuilding with sustainability and community development in mind.

“Back home, Christchurch City Council is already leading the way with green building practices in New Zealand with the 6 Green Star – Office Design certified Civic Building. Now there’s an opportunity to extend their leadership to the wider community,” says Ms Cutler.

The NZGBC, along with BRANZ and Beacon Pathway, is soon to launch a residential rating tool called Homestar™ that will be highly relevant to the rebuilding of homes. Some basic principles about the site, orientation to the sun and access to amenities are covered by the tool.

Simple options such as updating buildings with wall and ceiling insulation, effective lighting, heating and cooling systems can all increase energy efficiency. Such small-scale improvements can, collectively, make larger steps towards reducing the total energy usage of homes and buildings.

“Investing in community tools for green rebuilding will encourage significant private sector investment and showcase New Zealand’s green building excellence,” says Ms Cutler.

“The immediate response to the rebuilding of Christchurch has been heartening and the NZGBC looks forward to following and supporting the progress.”


Tide Turning for Cameroon & Wind All at Sea for UK

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

Tide Turning for Cameroon & Wind All at Sea for UK

Cameroon is considering harnessing power from its ocean currents to help fill its chronic electricity gap. The government of the central African state bordering the Atlantic has hired MRS Power Cameroon to conduct a tidal power feasibility study. Meanwhile, the world’s largest offshore wind farm has opened off the south coast of England, with 100 turbines able to produce enough energy a year to power the equivalent of more than 200,000 homes.

AP reports (23 September 2010):

The world’s largest offshore wind farm has opened off the south coast of England.

Officials of energy company Vattenfall say the Thanet offshore wind farm has 100 turbines and will produce enough energy a year to power the equivalent of more than 200,000 homes.

The UK’s onshore and offshore wind turbines now produce enough energy to power all the homes in Scotland.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne says the British government is committed to producing more renewable energy.

Pressure group Friends of the Earth, meanwhile, wants the government to guarantee funding of at least STG2 billion ($A3.2 billion) a year for the Green Investment Bank.

The bank aims to boost private-sector spending on low-carbon technology.


Reuters report  (27 September 2010):

Cameroon is considering harnessing power from its ocean currents to help fill its chronic electricity gap.

The government of the central African state bordering the Atlantic has hired MRS Power Cameroon, a subsidiary of MRS Holding Ltd, to conduct a tidal power feasibility study, the government-owned Cameroon Tribune reported on Monday.

“This project comes at a time Cameroon is suffering a huge power deficit due to a sharp increase in demand and so it will be a wonderful alternative for power generation on a large scale in the country,” Fitzgerald Nassako, permanent secretary at the energy ministry was quoted as saying.

Cameroon relies heavily on hydroelectric power but has faced severe power shortfalls in recent years that forced its Rio Tinto joint-venture, Alucam, to slash production rates from an aluminum smelter and is believed to be holding up broader investment.

The government has set an ambitious target of tripling power generation capacity by 2020 with a slew of mostly hydropower projects, in part to pave the way for a handful of planned energy-intensive mining projects.

Terms of the agreement, and the potential power generation capacity from the project, were not immediately available.


Stop Subsiding Fossil Fuels & Encourage Solar Power

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

Stop Subsiding Fossil Fuels & Encourage Solar Power

The Australian-educated founder of Suntech Power Zhengrong Shi says governments were subsidising the price of conventional energy by selling off natural resources — particularly coal, oil and natural gas — too cheaply. He says a tax on carbon is necessary. His company, which has an annual turnover of $US3 billion ($3.2bn), says the higher price of fossil fuel energy would encourage more to make greater use of solar power.

Glenda Korporaal in The Australian (29 September 2010):

CHINA’S solar power billionaire, Zhengrong Shi, has supported the BHP Billiton chief’s call for Australia to introduce a tax on carbon.

In an interview with The Australian yesterday at the Forbes CEO Conference, the Australian-educated founder of Suntech Power said Australian governments were subsidising the price of conventional energy by selling off natural resources — particularly coal, oil and natural gas — too cheaply.

“It (a tax on carbon) is necessary. The government is subsidising conventional energy — fossil fuel energy — enormously,” Mr Shi said. “But people don’t know that. We don’t see it. So an additional tax on top of that is trying to monetise its real cost.”

Mr Shi, whose company has an annual turnover of $US3 billion ($3.2bn), said the higher price of fossil fuel energy would encourage more Australians to make greater use of solar power.

“People will say why do I need to pay additional tax to use conventional energy when I can make a similar investment to put a solar panel on my roof which is sustainable and doing something good.”

Mr Shi predicted the cost of solar energy would eventually reach “grid parity” in Australia as the cost of solar power came down with cheaper manufacturing solar panels and improved technology and as costs for electricity generated by fossil fuels rose. He said solar power in Italy already had already reached grid parity, a trend that would happen increasingly around the developed world. He estimated that this could happen within five years in Australia.

“Why do we need to sell oil to the power companies at $5 a barrel and they sell to other countries at $80 per barrel?

“It is an asset. Why don’t you use the sun?

“If people could see the subsidy for coal or oil or gas that the government provides — if you take that into account it is already very expensive.

“Solar is cheaper.”

Mr Shi said Australia should dramatically increase the market price of its resource assets such as coal, oil and natural gas.

He said people who installed solar-powered systems on their rooftops could sign a power purchase agreement at a fixed 15c per kilowatt hour cost which would be stable for next 20 or 30 years.

But he said the cost of fossil fuel power would continue to rise.

“Do you think a conventional power electricity company would be willing to sign a long-term agreement with you? They don’t know the cost themselves? Today their price may be cheaper than solar power but it will eventually become more expensive.

“There will be a turning point where grid parity is reached, and going forward from that point, solar will be cheaper than fossil fuel based energy.”

Mr Shi said Australia’s policy of having 20 per cent of its electricity supplied by renewable energy by 2020 was a “good goal”.

But Mr Shi said Australia needed to accelerate its shift to solar power if it was to reach this goal.

He said Suntech currently had about 30 per cent of the market for solar panels in Australia which generated revenues of about $50 million a year.

He said Suntech had benefitted from policies by Australian governments to encourage the use of solar power.

“They have made the economics work and really pushed the market growth.”

He said China’s government was serious about energy and environmental issues and encouraging greater use of solar power.

He said the country planned to introduce a target to have 20 per cent of its energy use supplied by renewable energy by 2020. Mr Shi said China planned to make a substantial new investment in solar power technology.

He said solar energy was already beginning to leapfrog conventional electricity in poorer countries such as Indonesia and India where there was little established electricity infrastructure

Mr Shi predicted China’s solar power market would boom as the cost of manufacturing the panels continued to come down.

Suntech has research operations in Australia with links to the University of NSW in Sydney and Swinburne University in Melbourne.

It bought a research company called CSG Solar 18 months ago which had operations in Sydney.

He said Australia was a major research and development focus for the company, which spent $3 million a year on R&D here.


Promoting Energy Efficiency in Central Asia & Beyond Borders

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

Promoting Energy Efficiency in Central Asia & Beyond Borders

The International Energy Efficiency Forum in Kazakhstan this week combines an assessment of energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) policy and legislative frameworks with the analysis of international best practices. The geographical focus of the Forum will be on countries of Central Asia and other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It is back by UN agencies. Pictured is a Normal Foster -designed building in the capital Astana.

UN Report from Geneva (24 September 2010): 

The International Energy Efficiency Forum will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 28-30 September 2010.

The Forum will be held in parallel to the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development for Asia and the Pacific and is organized jointly by the Government of Kazakhstan, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Forum will combine an assessment of energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) policy and legislative frameworks with the analysis of international best practices. The status and potential of EE and RE in various economic sectors (industry, fuel and energy, housing and communal services, public buildings, construction, transport, etc.) will also be reviewed.

Emphasis will be given to energy efficiency in the residential and municipal sector, as one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions with large potential for improvements in energy efficiency. The main focus of the Forum will be on ways and means of financing EE and RE investments.

The geographical focus of the Forum will be on countries of Central Asia and other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). However, the Forum will have a global outreach as it will offer opportunities to share experiences in overcoming barriers to energy efficiency from other regions of the world.

For instance, a number of countries from South-Eastern Europe participating in the UNECE Financing Energy Efficiency Investments for Climate Change Mitigation (FEEI) Project will be represented. In the framework of the UNECE Global Energy Efficiency 21 (GEE21) project, representatives from other regions are expected to participate. In addition to the Central Asian countries, ESCAP region will be represented by experts and officials from China, India, Japan, Mongolia, and Thailand.

The plenary sessions will feature presentations of high-level officials from Governments of the countries of the UNECE and ESCAP regions, representatives of United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations, financial institutions, business sector and energy efficiency experts.

The second day of the Forum will consist of two parallel workshops:

* The Workshop on Investments in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects will focus on policy reforms to promote investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and on potential for such investments with specific examples of project proposals.
* The Green Buildings Workshop, jointly organized by the UNDP Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) and UNEP’s Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative (UNEP-SBCI), will focus on policies, technologies and know-how for the building sector specifically highlighting the significant benefits that buildings offer with regard to energy efficiency, climate change mitigation, and green growth. .

On the third day, the 18th session of the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) Working Group on Water and Energy Resources and the Baku Initiative Workshop will be held.


Actress Meets Scientist Here on Earth To Dispel Ignorance

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

Actress Meets Scientist Here on Earth To Dispel Ignorance

Actress Cate Blanchett has launched the latest book by scientist and climate change activist Tim Flannery – “Here on Earth” – in Sydney. Tim told ABC’s David Mark of the need to dispel ignorance on issues, like climate change. He gave the example of the success of the European emission trading scheme which we never hear about in Australia. “Not a single industry could demonstrate any impact on the bottom line on their profitability from the EU ETS. It reduced emissions by 2 to 3% per year”.

Sydney Morning Herald (23 September 2010):

Actress Cate Blanchett has launched a book by scientist and climate change activist Tim Flannery in Sydney.

Here On Earth charts the history of life on our planet and argues that the human race will be moved to act to save itself from a climatic catastrophe.

Blanchett launched the book, which promises to change the way people live, at an event in Walsh Bay in Sydney today.

Flannery said his book was an argument for hope in the face of the challenges the earth faces.

The 2007 Australian of the Year has written more than a dozen books, including award winning bestsellers, The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers.


David Mark reported this story on The World Today for ABC on 24 September 2010):

SHANE MCLEOD: One of the more prominent Australian voices warning of the dangers posed by climate change says there’s a reason to hope.

The former Australian of the Year professor Tim Flannery says there are signs that the world is taking steps to deal with environmental challenges and provided they do that the looming problems caused by a warming world can be dealt with.

Professor Flannery has written his first book since The Weather Makers warned of the dangers posed by global climate change.

He spoke to David Mark.

TIM FLANNERY: Essentially it’s taking a longer view of the problem – taking a view that is appropriate to the sort of timescale of this issue. 

And I am not denying that climate change isn’t a really, it’s a hugely enormous issue for humanity and we have to come to terms with that. 

But provided we can do that I think that we actually do have a pretty bright future on the planet. It’s not going to be one of just ongoing crises.

DAVID MARK: You just used the word “provided”. It seems to me that that’s a big opt out if you like because we have known about this problem of climate change possibly for 40 or 50 years and yet consumerism has gone on, the use of resources has gone on exponentially if you like. 

So what actually gives you that hope that somehow against all the evidence of the past that this can stop, we can slow down and change?

TIM FLANNERY: Look the big shift that’s happened over the last couple of years concerns the developing countries, places like China and India. 

And you see there the enormous breadth of the programs that are now happening in China – the three-quarters of a trillion dollars being invested in clean tech, the cost curves are now coming down for all the renewable energy technologies, the fact that China is introducing an emissions trading scheme.

I mean all of those things are changing our chances.

So you know if the Europeans put their ambition up to 30 per cent emissions reductions rather than 20 and the US and Australia ramp up their ambitions as well we’ll get there. We’ll come in under the 450 parts per million.

DAVID MARK: And yet we keep hearing that countries have to act sort of now within the next five or 10 years. We have to immediately get those emissions downs. There’s no signs that those emissions are coming down. The trajectory seems to keep going up. 

So do you really believe that those sort of very immediate deadlines can be met?

TIM FLANNERY: Yeah sure. I mean what we know is that we have to, the developed countries have to bend their emissions trajectory curve to start reducing. You know so the emissions have to peak within probably the next five years and that’s entirely achievable with an ETS in Australia’s case and an emissions trading scheme in the US.

We have already seen it happen in Europe. It’s got to happen in the other countries. 

And then China and India hopefully sometime in the decade beginning 2020 will bend their emissions trajectory down and we will come in if we achieve that under the 450 parts per million.

DAVID MARK: If you look at the debate that was had in Australia recently about the ETS it came down to a fairly simplistic economic argument that seemed to be one in favour of those who say well let’s not do anything about climate change or let’s not do as much as perhaps someone like yourself would argue is necessary. 

How do you win the hearts and minds?

TIM FLANNERY: By dispelling ignorance on these issues. That’s the most important thing. You can look at the analysis by the US German Marshall Fund of the European emissions trading scheme and see what it does. 

You know what we learned from that analysis is that nothing changes except the emissions, right? There was not a single industry that was surveyed in that analysis who could demonstrate any impact on the bottom line on their profitability from the EU ETS. And yet it had reduced emissions that scheme by 2 to 3 per cent per year over the last few years.

DAVID MARK: And yet doesn’t the recent debate in Australia show that people’s minds can be changed by fairly simplistic arguments?

TIM FLANNERY: People can be misled very easily on this you know. And that’s why we need some facts.

DAVID MARK: We’ve been talking about climate change but perhaps at the very heart of this conversation is really the issue about how we all choose to live, whether we can actually live more sustainably. 

Do you believe that this society, this particular Western society can fundamentally change the way it lives so that it can live more sustainably?

TIM FLANNERY: Yeah I really do. And that is the heart of the book – whether sustainability is possible in a species like ourselves.

SHANE MCLEOD: Professor Tim Flannery, professor of environmental sustainability at Macquarie University. He was speaking to David Mark.