Archive for March, 2013

Go Beyond Earth Hour to Change Energy Behaviour Long Term

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

Celebrities from across Asia are leading the global ambassador efforts for Earth Hour this year, lending their voices of support for the campaign and taking up the challenge to inspire ongoing positive actions for the environment beyond the hour. This year’s focus for India is to encourage people to make the switch , calling for individuals to adopt household products powered by renewable energy; organisations to adopt renewable energy solutions to run their business operations and production processes; and Governments to promote policies favourable to the production and uptake of renewable energy. Read More


Earth Hour report 12 March 2013:

SINGAPORE: Celebrities from across Asia are leading the global ambassador efforts for Earth Hour this year, lending their voices of support for the campaign and taking up the challenge to inspire ongoing positive actions for the environment beyond the hour.

Nadya Hutagalung, Utt Panichkul, Pevita Pearce, Andy F. Noya, Ariel from NOAH, G.E.M. and S.H.E are among the biggest names in Asia supporting the global environmental movement now in its seventh year.

Earth Hour 2013 will take place on Saturday, March 23 at 8:30PM.

The growth of support for the campaign across the continent reflects the rise of a growing Asia, both as an economic powerhouse and as an influential hub for global initiatives like Earth Hour.

“The issues that face our planet are as relevant to Asia as they are to the rest of the world. As our economies grow and Asia becomes the predominant economic force across the planet, we have to pause and think about what legacy we want to leave, not only for our countries in the Asian region, but also for the whole planet,” says Nadya Hutagalung, WWF Earth Hour ambassador and host of Asia’s Next Top Model.

Nadya is the face of the ‘One Degree Up’ campaign in Singapore, as part of Earth Hour’s global ‘I Will If You Will’ initiative, and has pledged to plant 100 baby trees in the Heart of Borneo If 20 shopping centres in Singapore pledge to support the campaign by turning their air conditioners up by one degree.

CEO and Co-Founder of Earth Hour, Andy Ridley, says this year’s ambassadorial support shows the growth of global influence of Asian celebrities.

“Historically international media has not fully acknowledged the power and influence of figures coming out of Asia. You can see this is already changing. The fact that voices from celebrities across the region are so strong shows the power of their influence. After all they represent more than 4 billion people, more than half of the world’s population,” he said.

This Earth Hour, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore is challenging Singaporeans to take action for the environment by turning their air-conditioning up by one degree. According to the National Environment Agency in Singapore, air-conditioning accounts for up to 60% of the electricity bills of buildings in the country.

Joining Nadya in her support of the One Degree Up campaign is Thai media personality and newly appointed Earth Hour ambassador, Utt Panichkul, who has promised to drop one piece of clothing for every 1,000 people who pledge to turn up their air-conditioning by one degree.

In Indonesia, which has recently seen the Earth Hour movement explode to 31 cities across the country, some of the most recognised figures on social media are using their digital presence to inspire actions in the Ini Aksiku! Mana Aksimu? campaign, which is the localised version of Earth Hour’s international I Will If You Will initiative.

Indonesian actress Pevita Pearce has taken up the challenge to sleep without air conditioning for one month and plant 100 trees if 10,000 of her Instagram and Twitter followers share their action for the planet using the hash-tag #dukungAKSIpevita.

Dubbed the “Oprah” of Indonesia, Andy F Noya is a journalist and famous presenter of award winning talk show ‘Kick Andy’. He will paint his face half blue and half green, if 10,000 @kickandyshow followers refuse to use plastic bags and send him their photo as proof.

Indonesian singer Ariel from the band NOAH was next to join the local campaign and has pledged to wear a Panda costume during his one of big concerts after Earth Hour, if 6,000 people plant trees and send their photo to @EHIndonesia using the hash-tag #IniAksiku.

Asia’s Next Top Model contestant Filantropi Witoko is challenging the other 13 finalists of ANTM to refuse plastic bags and bring reusable tumblers wherever they go, and in return will do a solo fashion show during Car Free Day in Jakarta if they accept.

Having last year reached a record 1,671 provinces, cities and municipalities across the country, the Earth Hour movement in the Philippines is also targeting its I Will If You Will campaign specifically for the Filipino community.

Newly-appointed Earth Hour Philippine Ambassador, equestrienne and actress Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, has pledged to contribute 500 seedlings to WWF-Philippines’ agroforestry programme at the Abuan Watershed in Isabela if 500 people agree to quit smoking for 5 days.

She joins WWF-Philippines national ambassadors Rovilson Fernandez, who has pledged to conduct a free CrossFit class if 1000 people pledge to use reusable bags instead of plastics; and Marc Nelson, who has also pledged to kite-board from Boracay Island to the main island of Panay while wearing a Panda hat if 1000 people commit to use reusable water tumblers instead of disposable plastic bottles.

Heading further north, singer /songwriter and actress G.E.M, who was the highest selling female artist in Hong Kong in 2012, has been enlisted as the celebrity judge for WWF-Hong Kong’s Green City Photo Competition and stars in an adorable Earth Hour short film featuring the tagline “Lights Off, Life On”.

WWF Hong Kong’s Earth Hour digital platform also went live last week, and is being promoted with the help of G.E.M, alongside Eason Chan and Kay Tse.

Additionally, WWF-China is encouraging people to take part in Green Week for Earth Hour 2013 by challenging people across China to adopt one of seven environmentally friendly actions as an ongoing practice all year round. The initiative is supported by actress Li Bingbing, singer Eason Chan; singing duo Yu Quan, gymnast Chen Yibing; pianist Li Yundi; singer Li Yunchun; and Taiwanese singer Harlem Yu, who have each chosen a day of the week to share what they’re willing to do to help save the planet.

Taiwan has also just come on board with the global I Will If You Will initiative, and has enlisted support for Earth Hour from stars such as JJ Lin, Amber Kuo, Christine Fan and hugely popular girl group S.H.E.

“Love your planet, don’t just live on it,” was the call from India with actress and singer Shruti Hassan announcing her support as the new Earth Hour ambassador for India.

“It is my honor to be associated with such an inspiring and meaningful cause like Earth Hour. If we aspire for a clean and healthy environment, and for cities that develop sustainably, then we should be aware of our part as well, and be willing to change our own behaviour. Imagine the difference that it will make when all of us get together,” said Hassan at the local media launch in the country.

This year’s focus for India is to encourage people to make the switch to renewable energy, calling for individuals to adopt household products powered by renewable energy; organisations to adopt renewable energy solutions to run their business operations and production processes; and Governments to promote policies favourable to the production and uptake of renewable energy.

Further south in Sri Lanka, one of the country’s biggest music artists Bathiya and Santhush (BNS), will participate in I Will If You Will by pledging to create an Earth Hour song if 10,000 Sri Lankans sign up for earth hour at They are hoping their song will inspire artists to collaborate to create the world’s first global Earth Hour album.

Earth Hour 2013 will take place at 8.30pm – 9.30pm on Saturday 23 March

About Earth Hour

Earth Hour is a global environmental initiative in partnership with WWF. Individuals, businesses, governments and communities are invited to turn out their lights for one hour on Saturday March 23, 2013 at 8:30 PM to show their support for environmentally sustainable action. In 2013, Earth Hour’s I Will If You Will concept invites individuals and organisations to challenge others to an ongoing environmental commitment beyond the hour. Earth Hour began in one city in 2007 and by 2012 involved hundreds of millions of people in 152 countries across every continent, receiving reports as ‘the world’s largest campaign for the planet’.

About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with almost five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.


Thanks to GE, Five Winners in Ecomagination Challenge Will Go to Market

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

Ecomagination Challenge, the first cleantech competition to be held in Australia and New Zealand by GE, has produced its winners. Out of 191 entries and 35 finalists, five companies specialising in wave energy, smart grid, water efficiency, recycling and carbon free engines were named the winners. Millions will be invested in promising ideas from these entries whose innovation plays a crucial role in improving people’s lives, economic growth, and confronting the challenges of climate change. Read more

GE names five low carbon competition winners in Australasia

By Giles Parkinson in RenewEconomy (20 March 2013):

GE has named five companies specialising in wave energy, smart grid, water efficiency, recycling and carbon free engines as the winners of its first cleantech competition to be held in Australia and New Zealand.

The “ecomagination Challenge” attracted 191 entries and 35 finalists in the competition, which was something of both a marketing and a fishing expertise for GE, one of the largest industrial companies in the world and one of the most committed to next generation technologies.

CEO and chairman Jeff Immelt was in Australia to present $100,000 cheques to the winners, and $10 million will be available to invest in promising start-ups and ideas from these and other entries that impressed the GE selection board. Others will be helped in validation, distribution and development.

“Innovation plays a crucial role in enhancing people’s lives and improving national productivity, economic growth and competitiveness. GE has a strong track record of investment in clean technology and we recognise the importance of supporting new technology developments beyond our own operations,” said Ben Waters, Director of ecomagination, GE Australia & New Zealand.

Applicants to the Australian Government’s $200 million Clean Technology Innovation Program will be able to use  GE’s ecomagination Challenge as part  of the private sector contribution to their project. The government’s Department of Industry and Innovation is also involved in another cleantech competition which is being launched next week.

The five winners of the GE challenge were:

Engineair – Melbourne engineer Angelo Di Pietro has invented the Di Pietro Engine, a carbon-free alternative to internal-combustion and electric motors. The rotary air engine, powered by compressed air, has up to 94 per cent efficiency and zero polluting emissions.

Hydroxsys – an Auckland-based company, started by engineer Daryl Briggs, has designed membrane technology that captures and recycles 90 per cent of water and around 85-90 per cent of energy from industrial processes to be fed back into the manufacturing process.

Bombora – renewable energy generation technology invented by a West Australian company, which takes advantage of Australia’s significant wave resource. Each Bombora device could supply electricity for up to 500 homes.

Greensync – Melbourne-based Greensync has developed an advanced software tool that enables electricity network planners to find alternatives to capital infrastructure. The technology reduces energy consumption by three per cent and costs by 10 per cent by monitoring and managing loads at peak times.

Outpost Central – New Zealand-based co-founders James Riddell and Jedd Forbes have developed smart water meters that can help water utilities, mining and farming organisations achieve 20 per cent savings in water usage within the first year

Here’s some more about the individual winners (material supplied by GE)


Like many start-ups, GreenSync was started out of a garage to address challenges to the electricity grid from the instability of wind and solar penetration. GreenSync founder, Phil Blythe, a research scientist and an engineer by training, worked hard over a number of years to develop the software and analytics.

“After working with demand response for two years, we got to know the business domain inside out , and where the pain points were for customers. Once we understood that, we could see a new way of doing things that strengthened the value proposition for everyone,” Blythe said.

GreenSync applied specialised ‘big data’ analytics to the task of managing peak energy demand, increasing the reliability of the grid, and lowering energy costs for end users. The technology represents a cheaper method than gas peaking power stations to offset these peaks, whilst lowering customer energy costs.

“The transition to a low carbon economy is tough in the energy sector, and it is going to take many small steps to get there. We see our technology as one of the key steps to stability and flexibility in the electrical grid,” Blythe said.

“By monitoring for residual loads, and curtailing loads at peak times, we typically demonstrate a three per cent reduction in overall energy consumption, and around 10 per cent reduction in energy costs. Overall, our contribution to greenhouse gas reduction through supporting the transition to renewable energy as well as direct emission reductions is forecast to be 88,000 tonnes of CO2 over the next five years.”


Two key challenges the world faces is a dependence on fossil fuels and climate change from increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Melbourne engineer Angelo Di Pietro has invented a rotary air engine which tackles these problems. Powered by compressed air, the Di Pietro Engine is a carbon-free alternative to internal combustion and electric motors, with proven mechanical efficiency.

Twelve years ago, Angelo closed his engineering business to pursue his lifelong passion to develop a technology that he believes will eliminate unnecessary waste, inefficiency and excessive pollution in vehicle propulsion. This was based on an idea he had 30 years earlier when he was working on the Wankel engine in Germany.

“I’ve always had a strong passion and belief that through mechanics I can help solve some of the toughest problems the world is facing. It’s a belief that’s moving closer to reality every day,” said Di Pietro. He says the true breakthrough of the technology lies in the simple design of the motor which is compact, inexpensive and has market potential, particularly in motoring applications.

“Compressed air-powered vehicles are not just environmentally friendly, they are cheap to build and could benefit cities and industries across the world. Our technology is many times lighter and smaller than a conventional engine, but capable of similar performance.”

Already fitted to a number of motor vehicles, the Di Pietro technology has proven it is possible to power vehicles by compressed air, replacing internal combustion engines and electric motors. The electricity used to compress the air can come from renewable sources such as hydro, wind and solar.

“We can run a forklift on compressed air continuously for two hours, with a two minute refill time. This shapes up really well when compared to an electric forklift that will run for four hours but takes hours to recharge. We’ve also seen strong performance from vehicles including a burden carrier, a utility truck, motorcycles, and a car.”

Bombora Wave Power

Glen Ryan has a long history of developing renewable energy projects and services in the wind turbine space. After a career as a technical and commercial energy specialist in the mining industry and through his exposure to the renewable energy sector, Glen saw an opportunity to take advantage of Australia’s largely untapped wave resource.

Working in partnership with his brother Shawn, their goal was to develop a wave-based technology that was economically competitive with on-shore wind power generation, currently the lowest cost renewable energy source. The key for Bombora was to create a cost effective device that was robust, reliable and strong enough to withstand the strong storms often encountered by wave generators.

Different to many of its competitors, Bombora’s devices are placed at depths of just five to 10 metres, taking advantage of near shore wave power rather than deep water waves. This allows for greater reliability and uses the surge and heave motions of the waves to generate power. The technology also allows for direct conversion to electricity within the device which only requires a simple power cable back to shore. This provides efficiency gains and is a lower capital cost than the alternative of large hydraulic pipes used by other near shore devices.

The CSIRO predicts that by 2050, 11 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation could come from wave power, and Bombora hopes its technology will be at the forefront of this mass power generation. “Wave power is complementary to other sources of renewable energy but offers predictability up to several days which other sources like wind can’t. The ocean resources are virtually untapped, and given that 90 per cent of the world’s population is located close to the coast, the technology has the potential to be a real game changer,” Mr Ryan said.


Daryl Briggs, a self-confessed membrane boffin with a strong background in dairy engineering, started developing the technology that HydrOxSys would later commercialise out of his back shed in Auckland in 2010. His vision was to create a technology that could help solve water problems around the world and give traditionally “dirty” industries the technology they need to clean up their operations.

His initial focus was to create a chemically durable, abrasion resistant and food safe membrane for the dairy industry to remove water from milk. However, the further Briggs progressed with the technology, the more it became apparent that the membrane had applications well outside the dairy industry. The technology is also relevant for traditionally water-heavy industries like mining, bauxite and oil and gas, to help recycle and reuse water and energy.

Fast-forward three years and HydrOxSys is in full flight. Mark Hartstone, who has had a 35 year career in successful start-ups, management and international marketing, has joined the organisation as CEO, working with Briggs, the board and advisory board to commercialise the technology.

“We are currently working in conjunction with two New Zealand universities and industry partners in mining and dairy to validate the technology in their plants and processes,” Hartstone said. “GE’s support is really a game changer for us. It gives us the ability to provide working prototypes to organisations in the dairy, mining, bauxite and oil and gas sectors, with a goal to commercialise these partnerships.”

Outpost Central

The world is facing a fresh water shortage by 2025. According to the United Nations, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and climate change.1

With this in mind, Outpost Central co-founders James Riddell and Jedd Forbes set out to develop an alternative technology that addresses the demand for water, rather than trying to increase supply. Together, they developed WASP – smart water meters built with an internal SIM card, 10- year battery life and a waterproof data logger.

Starting in 2002 and growing to a team of 15, Outpost Central now works with water utility customers in NZ, Australia, Africa and Europe as well as customers in the mining and farming industries. “We wanted to help organisations manage their water needs. Rather than spending more to invest in dams and larger desalination plants, our goal was provide them with an alternative solution that will help them to reduce the demand in water, rather than to increase the supply.”

The Smart Meter collects data and sends it to a secure database stored in the cloud. The data is analysed and alerts customers if something is operating outside of normal expectations or there are usage irregularities. From this data, customers can make informed decisions on where there might be a leak or where to invest in upgrades to infrastructure. The systems read the meter every five minutes, to ensure each customer has the most up-to-date data.

“The results speak for themselves,” said Riddell. “A commercial customer will start seeing reductions in water usage almost immediately. Some can achieve 20 per cent savings in water usage within the first year.” A project with a West Australian-based customer has seen early savings of 290 million litres per year as a result of identified leaks, faulty equipment or improved irrigation efficiency.  ”My long-term goal is to have our device on every household water meter worldwide. To provide customers with the information they need to direct planning and infrastructure investments by having a better understanding of how residents use water.”


Last Word: Mixed messages and connecting the dots

Posted by Ken on March 21, 2013
Posted under Express 187

It is more than connections and connecting the dots. It is making things and people work together. Water and oil don’t mix, but water-colours and oil paintings do. Water and earthly objects can cohabitate our planet and have mutual dependency. Art and the environment are convenient and creative bedfellows. Creatively managing resources and inventing eco products draws on – and inspires – the innovativeness and energy in us all. Climate change and sustainability also share a common enemy and there are co-joined solutions to deal with both. As air travel adds to our footprint, we are normally reluctant high fliers, but for some very important reasons this month, we engaged in an excursion to explore art, energy and the environment. We didn’t ignore though important people and events in Singapore. Ken Hickson accounts for his time by sharing his recent diary entries. Read More

No Idle March for some!

We have to start somewhere so let’s make it begin here:

Thursday 7 March: Serious Business and No-frills flying

It’s the deadly serious and fun side of the business of Serious Games International (SGI), which occupied me for some of the day (and week). In Singapore were CEO of SGI Tim Luft and business development chief Felix Bradshaw – both from Coventry, United Kingdom. Helping to get traction in Singapore and Asia is one of my objectives, as we see a strong affinity between gamification – games technology and platforms – with education, training, social enterprise and sustainability.  Collectively we call it “games for good” compared with all the rest of the massive gaming industry. So setting up and attending meetings with private and public sector potential users in Singapore was the name of the game as well as an introduction for Chee Shin Yee, who’s just been appointed to help drive the business of Serious Games in Singapore.

No time to stand or sit on ceremony, as the airport called and I was whisked off on my first flight with the budget carrier Scoot, the newest member of the Singapore Airlines stable. The 7-plus hour flight from Singapore to Australia was quite comfortable. You get what you pay for and “no-frills” was perfectly acceptable. I’ll be telling Campbell Wilson, the airline’s CEO, who I met recently just that. A cost-effective (and sustainable) way to fly. Perhaps not as “great” as flying with parent SIA, but a worthy son or daughter of the leading international airline.

Friday 8 March: Exhibiting a close relation to art

Arriving at Gold Coast Airport around 8am Australian east coast time, was as good as anywhere to land. The weather/temperature was sunny and pleasant. The very necessary but rather time-consuming processing by Australian officials didn’t seem to be aided by the technology on hand. The long queues, two machine passport readers plus a camera meant an hour elapsed before I was through. And that’s without having baggage to collect!

But all was forgotten when I was driven through the pleasant green countryside, across the border into New South Wales, to meet up with artist son David – everyone else calls him Dave Hickson. Inspecting his home and studio alongside the canal at South Golden Beach, it wasn’t long before it was time to get ready to attend the launch of the art exhibition at Tweed River Gallery. This was primarily, the reason for my journey. His first one man exhibition with drawings, small sculptures (assemblages in wood and paint) and photographs, mainly covering his observations during his travels which included Europe, America and Asia last year. Singapore figured, but predominantly his work exhibited his impressions of art and architecture, the life and soul, of Spain and the US.  For more on the show and his work, go to the website:

Of course it was a mix of fatherly pride and appreciation of art when Richard Weinstein flew especially from Sydney to launch the show – he is a barrister and art collector – and likened David’s art to that of Picasso and Matisse! He also spoke of the art which had been commissioned and acquired by the late and great Roddy Meagher, a strong supporter of “Dave Hickson”, who he described as one of Australia’s leading sculptors. One of the local papers gave the show and the artist a worthy mention:


Saturday & Sunday 9, 10 March: Home & country, art, food & wine

The weekend was spent in a very pleasant part of the world: Tweed Valley, South Golden Beach, Byron Bay and Murwillumbah. Windy roads, rolling country-side, where sugar cane grows on the flat and banana palms on the side of hills. Where everything is green.  And art abounds. Not only at the Tweed River Gallery where the works of Margaret Olley have a welcome home. Plans for a new wing for the gallery dedicated to the memory and art of Olley – plus an artist-in-residence retreat – will make this place one of the best regional galleries in the whole of Australia.  The towns and countryside boost many galleries and studios. A vibrant artistic community thrives in Byron Bay and beyond, competing with the surfing and fishing enthusiasts.  It all made me determined to visit again, to explore the art and environment, to write about it to a larger audience. And purchase an excellent map of the artistic attractions of the place!

Monday 11 March:  Change in the Air for Energy

Brisbane was the destination for some important business. A meeting at University of Queensland (UQ) with Adrian Ward of the International Energy Centre (IEC) – – to see how the educational objectives of the centre can be best exported to Asia. Already I had introduced the IEC to Singapore and we discussed next steps to develop some specific programmes on a low carbon energy future – and energy efficiency – which would be applicable to Singapore. I also visited the Global Change Institute – – where Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg has a team of people focusing on a cleaner, greener and brighter future for life on earth. I also inspected progress on the $30 million state-of-the-art building for the Global Change Institute (GCI) at the St Lucia campus which is due for completion this year.  It employs sustainable design, construction and operating practices. It was enjoyable dipping back into delights of Brisbane and UQ, visiting Toowong for shopping and banking. Public transport, in particular the train service from Brisbane and the Gold Coast, was efficient, but as I observed and others agreed, there certainly is a place for a speedier and more sustainable rail service. It cannot compete currently with the speed and efficiency of the four lane highway over-populated by gas-guzzling vehicles and their occupants.

Tuesday 12 March:  Air time for a book

It was time to leave terra firma – and in particular the pleasant home, art and environment of David and Jerusha in Northern Rivers of New South Wales – to embark once again on a high-flying experience with Scoot. Gold Coast, Australia to Singapore. The journey was once again pleasant enough – opting for an exit row seat ensures leg room and avoids the need to climb over resting fellow passengers. With an excellent book to while away the seven hours – Ian McEwen’s “Sweet Tooth” turned out to be a welcome diversion from all the heavy going, business and climate related material I usually digest on the road. He is also the author of “Solar” – more appropriate for a clean energy advocate – which I have also read.  Unlike travelling on “normal” airlines, Scoot does not offer screens built into the seats. But as the “pitch” says, the airline can “Stream content from our cabin server to your own tablet or laptop” for a small price or “if you want to engage in some on-board gaming, you can Rent-a-Tablet for S$20”.  I did think of my Serious Games friends and made a note to alert them to the opportunity of educational games for on board Scooting.

Wednesday 13 March:  Home for a change of pace

Back in home territory in Singapore, there’s work to catch up on and home life to fit back into, including meeting and greeting friends from afar. Angie and Robin from Dorset, UK have come to stay. An escape for them from the bleak European weather before they too fly on down to Australia. A conference to prepare for, clients to deal with, some writing and editing to undertake before another round of meetings gets underway.

Thursday 14 March: Eco Products to the fore

The show must go on. Eco Products International opens at Marina Bay Sands and SASA and its associates /clients have space to display our wares.  After the ceremonial opening there’s the networking and checking out who’s there and who’s not. A big presence of Japanese companies and people, including the Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), which plays the key role in organizing these events around Asia.  We meet the other speakers and get ready to act as moderator for a session on Sustainable Urban Planning. We meet and learn a lot more of the work of APO, as well as some key players, ORIX, who go beyond leasing to manage waste and develop solar energy.  Among the host of products on show, we latch on to the work of Enviplast from Indonesia with their cassava starch “plastic bags. We also meet – and get interviewed by – Nobuko Kashiwagi. Go to to learn more of this innovative new media and its coverage of the Singapore event.

Friday 15 March:  Engineering Change

There was much more to do and see at the Eco Products show with presentations covering all manner of worthwhile topics. And people to meet. But a highlight of the day/night must have been the lead up event for the World Engineers Summit held at the BCA Academy. On hand was none other than Engineers Australian National President 2012, David Hood and PUB CEO Chew Men Leong. While I had another moderating job to do, I was most impressed by the attendance (mostly young engineers) and the quality of the speakers.  David Hood will be back for more at the September event – – and meantime he will continue to be the engineer at the forefront of change in Australia and throughout the region.

That was the week that was! And I better stop there. There’s more to do and connections that go beyond sustainability, eco products, environment, energy, water and earth. There’s the connections in the “cloud” that don’t relate to planetary climate but to technological advances to make things work better and more efficiently. It’s all connected. It’s all real. And it’s essential that each one of us continues to see that we have a critical role to play in this inter-connected world of ours.

As Shakespeare wrote a long time ago: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”

Expressly in Time – Take Five!

Posted by Ken on March 7, 2013
Posted under Express 186

High Five! Yes, its time to wish ourselves and our readers happy birthday. Five years old. That’s how long this newsletter has been winging its way into your inboxes. It all started in the first week of March 2008. It was a weekly e-newsletter then and while there were less of you loyal followers in the early days, but most of you have stayed with us as we’ve grown in size, content and variety. Now coming out every two weeks – or twice a month  – we’ve reached our 186th issue and have exceeded 2500 mark of regular readers.  We have also delivered more than 2500 articles in that time – many of them at least since issue 75 are still archives on our ABC Carbon website. Demographically, you are all over the place. A larger percentage of our readers are in Australia, Singapore and New Zealand, but we also reach out to followers in the United Kingdom, South Africa, the US, Canada and most countries in Asia. Plenty to read this time and to celebrate a milestone. We haven’t won the battle or the war but we have at least we have continued to fight the good fight. To show – hopefully – that the pen is mightier than the sword. And the war of words – climate change communication – is winning more supporters for action than ever. –   Ken Hickson

Profile: Andy Ridley

Posted by Ken on March 7, 2013
Posted under Express 186

“In the face of the threat of an unsustainable future, the grassroots nature of the Earth Hour movement and the can-do attitude of its participants to mobilize action, are the tipping points helping to deliver real environmental outcomes, both big and small”, says Andy Ridley, CEO and co-founder of Earth Hour, which takes pace around the world on 23 March. He is one of the 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders. Read More

From Singapore, where Earth Hour now has its Global Headquarters:

Earth Hour, the world’s largest movement for the planet, has launched its 2013 campaign on the back of record environmental outcomes it achieved in 2012.

Andy Ridley, CEO and Co-Founder of Earth Hour, spoke at the media launch of the environmental campaign in Singapore today. Earth Hour 2013 will take place on Saturday, March 23 at 8:30PM.

“Earth Hour has always been more than a lights off campaign, and we are now seeing some extraordinary environmental outcomes on the way to achieving our long-term vision,” Ridley said.

“Last December, the Russian parliament passed a long-awaited law to protect the country’s seas from oil pollution, after the voices of 120,000 Russians were presented to the government during our I Will If You Will campaign for Earth Hour 2012,” he said.

Following on from the massive success of its 120,000-strong signature petition, WWF’s Earth Hour in Russia has launched its 2013 campaign aiming to secure more than 100,000 signatures from Russian citizens to petition for amendments to the current forest legislation. If successful, it will return a ban on industrial logging in an area of land equal to twice the size of France, with protective forests equalling almost 18% of all forest territory in the country.

In Africa, the first Earth Hour Forest has begun in the nation of Uganda, an important first step in the fight against the 6,000 hectares of deforestation that occurs in the country every month. WWF Uganda identified close to 2,700 hectares of degraded land, and set a goal to fill it with at least 500,000 indigenous trees as part of their Earth Hour 2013 campaign.

In Botswana, former President Mr Festus Mogae has made a four-year commitment to plant one million indigenous trees as part of his I Will If You Will challenge, starting with 100,000 in a severely degraded area in Southern Botswana called Goodhope.

Across Latin America, preparations for ‘La Hora Del Planeta’ are well underway with Argentinian Earth Hour organisers and WWF affiliate Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina, mobilizing thousands of participants to help champion the passing of a Senate bill to make Banco Burwood the biggest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the country.

If the pending Senate bill is passed, the 3.4 million-hectare MPA will raise the level of protection of Argentina’s Exclusive Economic Zone* from 1% to 4%.

After recently moving its headquarters to Singapore, the Earth Hour Global office is now amidst some of the fastest growing Earth Hour movements around the world, who are using the rising influence of Asia to expand their actions.

The ‘Ini Aksiku! Mana Aksimu?’ campaign (localised Indonesian version of I Will If You Will) has led to a revolutionary use of Twitter to mobilise 30 cities across Indonesia to take ongoing action beyond the hour.

“What Earth Hour has done in Indonesia, through ‘Ini Aksiku! Mana Aksimu?’, has led to thousands of people taking actions now, that they weren’t doing before. And this is just the start,” said Verena Puspawardani, Campaign Coordinator of the Climate & Energy Program at WWF Indonesia.

In the USA, nearly 35,000 Girls Scouts took part in Earth Hour last year through the Save Energy Project, and installed 132,141 energy efficient light bulbs across the country. The impact is a staggering 75,392,654 pounds of CO2 emissions eliminated, equivalent to the CO2 sequestration from planting 7,286 acres of trees per year*.

“These outcomes both evidence the power of our collective action and the potential for future outcomes for the environment, generated by hundreds of millions of people coming together as part of the Earth Hour movement,” Ridley said.

The importance of the grassroots element of inspiration of Earth Hour is evident in the case of two volunteers in Libya, Mohammed Nattah and Muhammad Bugashata, who with the help of Libya’s scout groups have successfully created the first environmental movement in their country post civil war.

“I wanted to join in 2011 but that wasn’t an option because my city went through a lot that year – the war and everything,” said Nattah.

Ridley believes that in the face of the threat of an unsustainable future, the grassroots nature of the Earth Hour movement and the can-do attitude of its participants to mobilize action, are the tipping points helping to deliver real environmental outcomes, both big and small.

“People from all walks of life, from all nations around the world, are the lifeblood of the Earth Hour interconnected global community. They have proven time and time again that if you believe in something strongly enough, you can achieve amazing things. These stories aren’t unique, this is happening all over the world,” he said.

Since 2007 when 2.2 million people took part in the first Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia, Earth Hour has massively expanded to over 7,000 cities and towns in 152 countries and territories with hundreds of millions of participants across seven continents.

In 2013, Earth Hour is not merely an annual event, but is a continuous movement driving real actions to change the world we live in.


Earth Hour 2013 will take place at 8.30pm – 9.30pm on Saturday 23 March

* An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a sea-zone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources.

*Data provided by Girl Scouts Forever Green – Save Energy, developed in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency and Earth Hour

See the Earth Hour 2013 Official Video at

Press images from the global media launch can be downloaded at

Press images of Earth Hour can be downloaded at

Downloadable video footage of the global event will be available in four B-rolls for media, covering major regions at

To join the global community head to:

Earth Hour







About Earth Hour

Earth Hour is a global environmental initiative in partnership with WWF. Individuals, businesses, governments and communities are invited to turn out their lights for one hour on Saturday March 23, 2013 at 8:30 PM to show their support for environmentally sustainable action. In 2013, Earth Hour’s I Will If You Will concept invites individuals and organisations to challenge others to an ongoing environmental commitment beyond the hour. Earth Hour began in one city in 2007 and by 2012 involved hundreds of millions of people in 152 countries across every continent, receiving reports as ‘the world’s largest campaign for the planet’.


About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with almost five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.


About Andy Ridley

Andy is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Earth Hour, the world’s largest global environmental movement, which initiated in Sydney, Australia in 2007 as a campaign for action on climate change.

Earth Hour has swept the globe and brought together hundreds of millions of people. In 2011, more than 5200 cities and towns took part in 135 countries across every continent, reaching over 1.8 billion people.

In 2012 Earth Hour took the global community beyond the hour by committing to ongoing actions for the planet after they switch off the lights. Extending beyond climate change, Earth Hour has launched a campaign called I Will If You Will, which utilises a dynamic YouTube platform to unite the global community and dare the world to save the planet.

Born in Norwich, England, Andy moved to Sydney in 2002, becoming an Australian citizen in 2009. Prior to settling in Australia, Andy left Norwich – via an honours degree in Modern Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University – for the bright lights of London, where he headed up the special projects team for the Prince’s Trust, working on a number of UK charity campaigns including the very successful ‘Party in the Park’.

An avid scuba diver, Andy was drawn to Australia by the promise of some of the world’s most spectacular coral reefs and marine wildlife sanctuaries. Landing the role as Communications Director with WWF Australia, he worked on major conservation campaigns to protect the Great Barrier Reef, Southern Ocean and Coral Sea, pristine marine wilderness areas threatened by the effects of global warming.

In 2004, inspired by the idea of a campaign to engage everyday people and businesses in the climate change debate through a simple action, Andy initiated a think tank between Leo Burnett and Fairfax Media, forming a partnership to deliver a ‘lights out’ campaign, which would later become known as Earth Hour.

Andy’s vision came to fruition on 31 March 2007, when over two million people and two thousand businesses in Sydney switched off their lights for the inaugural Earth Hour. By 27 March 2010 the open-source nature of the Earth Hour message had swept the globe, with hundreds of millions of people in over 4,500 cities and towns across 128 countries and territories on every continent contributing to the world’s greatest ever voluntary action.

In addition to individual support, Earth Hour garnered the backing of businesses, including Google, Blackberry, HSBC, IKEA, Nickelodeon, PwC and many other multinationals. Earth Hour also attracted support from governments at all levels and high profile global ambassadors including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In the space of three short years, Andy’s inspiration, led by WWF in partnership with Leo Burnett and Fairfax Media, had gone from a one-city initiative to a global phenomenon.

Earth Hour has been supported by hundreds of media support worldwide including international outlets such as TIME Magazine, CNN and the Discovery Channel to help spread Earth Hour’s message of hope and action for a better, healthier world to a global audience.s

Earth Hour has also been lauded for its ingenuity, vision and reach, receiving MTV’s Good Karma Award, The Gold Banksia Award (Australia’s premier environmental honour) and the Cannes Titanium Lion, amongst a host of international accolades.

As one of Tourism Australia’s ‘Friends of Australia’, Andy was recently asked to become an ambassador for the Great Barrier Reef’s inclusion in the list of New7Wonders of the world. A fitting title for a natural wonder whose plight helped inspire the inaugural Earth Hour; a movement that now transcends all barriers of race, culture, religion, society, generation and geography to protect and celebrate the one thing that unites all of humanity – the planet.

Source: and

Energetic Answer to Alleviate Poverty

Posted by Ken on March 7, 2013
Posted under Express 186

The Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative by the United Nations to provide modern energy supplies to everyone will, besides eradicating poverty, have a significant impact in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and ETH Zurich. However, in order to hit the global target of below 2°C temperature rise, other measures such as increasing energy efficiency is required. Read more

New Study: ‘World Can End Poverty and Limit Warming’

By Alex Kirby in Climate News Network (3 March 2013):

LONDON — Eradicating poverty by making modern energy supplies available to everyone is not only compatible with measures to slow climate change, a new study says. It is a necessary condition for it.

But the authors say the plan to provide sustainable energy worldwide will not by itself be enough to keep the global  average temperature rise below the widely accepted international target level of 2°C (3.6°F). While the plan can help measures to tackle climate change, it cannot achieve that by itself.

The plan, the U.N.’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4All), if it proves successful, could make a significant contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to the analysis from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and ETH Zurich.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, shows that reaching the three energy-related goals of SE4All would cut greenhouse gas emissions and is achievable.

“Achievement of the three objectives would provide an important entry point into stringent climate protection”, says Joeri Rogelj, ETH Zurich researcher and IIASA-affiliated scientist, who led the study.

It found that the short-term goals, due to be reached by 2030, would help achieve long-term climate targets. But to ensure stringent climate objectives were reached, SE4ALL would need to be matched by other measures, the researchers say.

SE4All ‘Necessary — But Not Sufficient’

SE4All’s objectives include providing universal access to modern energy, doubling the share of renewable energy globally, and doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency — all by 2030.

While the objectives do not explicitly address climate change, sustainable energy is accepted as vital for cutting greenhouse gas emissions: 80 percent of CO2 from human activities comes from the global energy system, including transport, buildings, industry, and electricity, heat, and fuel production.

“Doing energy right will promote the Millennium Development Goals and at the same time kick-start the transition to a lower-carbon economy”, says IIASA researcher David McCollum, who also worked on the study. “But the U.N.’s objectives must be complemented by a global agreement on controlling greenhouse gas emissions.”

SE4All has global goals, but the researchers say action at regional and national levels will be essential to achieving them. IIASA’s energy program leader Keywan Riahi, a co-author of the study, says: “The next step for this initiative is already under way, with a large number of national plans that underpin the global objectives.”

They analyzed the likelihood of the world limiting global warming to target levels if each or all of the SE4All objectives were achieved. Using a broad range of scenarios, they found that if all the objectives are met, the likelihood of keeping temperature rise below 2°C (3.6°F) will be more than 66 percent.

Many Variables

If only the renewable energy goal is met, chances of staying below 2°C (3.6°F) will range from 40 to 90 percent, they say, while achieving just the energy efficiency goal will improve the chances to between 60 and 90 percent.

But the researchers warn that this result depends strongly on what future economic growth is assumed. They say the likelihood of reaching climate targets within the scenarios depend on a range of other factors, including energy demand growth, economic growth, and technological innovation.

The study also found that providing universal energy access by 2030 will not hinder long-term climate goals, thanks to the marked gains in energy efficiency that will result. “Sustainable development and poverty eradication can go hand in hand with mitigating climate risks,” says Rogelj.

He told the Climate News Network: “To ensure effective climate change mitigation, a global treaty on greenhouse gases should enforce a cap on global emissions which limits emissions from all sources.

“With such a cap SE4ALL can help to limit emissions from the energy sector, but other measures will have to tackle those from other sources like deforestation, or other gases, like methane from agriculture and waste, or facilitate an even quicker decarbonization of the energy sector, like carbon-capture and storage.”

The new work also quantified the potential costs of reaching the SE4All objectives, which would amount to increasing energy investment by between 0.1 and 0.7 percent of global GDP. The authors’ estimates account for the substantial savings in energy use and reduced fossil energy investment that would result from promoting more sustainable energy technologies and lifestyles.

Alex Kirby, a former BBC environment correspondent, is a founding journalist of Climate News Network. Climate News Network is a news service led by four veteran British environmental reporters and broadcasters. It delivers news and commentary about climate change for free to media outlets worldwide.

They Don’t Want to Be Climate Refugees

Posted by Ken on March 7, 2013
Posted under Express 186

Last October, the Pacific island archipelago of Tokelau became the first nation in the world to be 100% renewably-powered. Far from being meek victims of rising sea levels, the people of Tokelau have taken the proactive step to end their contribution to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the people that will make the difference in the fight against climate change, as environmental advocates in Australia step up their engagement with local communities to build a better future for all. Read more

Malo ni!

My name is Mikaele Maiava. I’m writing from the Pacific Island archipelago of Tokelau to ask you to join with us in action as we take on the fossil fuel industry.

Last October, Tokelau turned off the last of its diesel generators. In their place, we switched on our solar plants, making Tokelau the first country in the world to become 100% renewably-powered.

I woke up before sunrise that day, excited about the history Tokelau was making. My whole village made its way to the site of over 100 solar panels — we could see the many hours of hard labor that had gone into this project. As we counted down to the switch, I could feel future generations smiling at us and thanking us. Our children’s future suddenly looked brighter because we had the vision (and perseverance) necessary to get off fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewable energy.

You might wonder why we bothered. Aren’t we doomed to lose our islands from sea-level rise? I don’t blame you for thinking that if you did. So often the global media victimises the Pacific Islands and portrays us as helplessly succumbing to climate change and rising seas. But the global media know nothing of who we really are, or how it feels to live on these paradise islands we call home. They don’t know that as Pacific Islanders, we are warriors, and that the land we live on is part of us.

We know that the longer the fossil fuel industry gets its way, the worse climate change will be, and the more sea-level rise will threaten our islands. But giving up on our home is not an option. We are not drowning.

We are fighting.

That’s why on March 2nd, Pacific Islanders across 15 diverse nations will be mobilising at prominent locations to perform our unique war challenges, songs, and dances. We’ll be laying down a challenge to the fossil fuel industry. It is their coal and oil and gas vs. our future. They cannot both coexist. And it is our future that has to win.

In this moment, and in the years to come, we need you to walk beside us. Because we live far away from the mines and power plants that threaten our future, we need the world’s solidarity. Click here to stand with us during this weekend of Pacific Warrior climate action!

We want to show the world that people from countries and cultures everywhere are standing with us — the Pacific Warriors — in the fight against climate change.

Fakafetai lahi,

Thank you,

Mikaele Maiava

________________________________________ is building a global movement to solve the climate crisis. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for email alerts. You can help power our work by getting involved locally, sharing your story, and donating here.


By Graeme Taylor (22 January 2013):

Connecting the dots to local climate impacts is a key to community engagement

Notwithstanding Australia’s record-smashing heatwave, the impacts of climate change are often perceived to be distant in time and space.

Most Australians do not yet understand the scale and urgency of what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls the climate emergency—the most serious threat facing humanity. The reasons are many, including the poor performance of much of the media, and the complacency of political and business leaders. The most broadly disseminated view is that climate change is a distant and very long-term problem; an international problem (and therefore too big and complex for you or me to influence); and something that can and will be eventually managed with adaptation and new technologies.

Our challenge is to find ways to overcome these myths, mobilise communities, and then build a national movement for a paradigm shift in Australian climate politics.

One key path to catalyse this process is to help local communities understand how climate and health and livelihood issues are intertwined, and why the current global climate change trajectory menaces their futures.

Such an approach could see Australian environmental and climate action advocates focus on helping communities that have already experienced serious climate change damage understand the critical threats they face in the coming decades. These campaigns will work with residents to develop clear, powerful narratives capable of mobilising their communities in support of emergency action. The success of these local initiatives will help lay the foundations of a wider, national movement.

The campaigns should focus on high profile issues — such as dying coral reefs, coastal inundation, extreme heat, bushfires and droughts as a threat to both health and livelihood — and the communities that these issues will affect first and foremost: exemplar communities that are in the unfortunate position of “canaries in coal mines”.  A priority is selecting communities and regions that are iconic in nature, that are vulnerable to climate change; and where there is a close relationship between regional environmental and economic damage. Exemplars could include:

Cairns and neighbouring communities and the Great Barrier Reef. Half the reef has died since 1985 and most of the rest will disappear in the next 30 years. Have residents been fully informed of the threat and its causes?  Have they been asked: Is the loss of the GBR acceptable to you? How will this affect the economy of the region? How will this affect you personally? Will your community and way of life survive? Are governments aware of this? Should they take immediate action to save the GBR? What do you think the community should do? (This approach is being used to some extent in campaigns against the expansion of the Queensland coal export industry.)

Communities that are at particular risk of bush fires increasing in frequency and intensity. This campaign could focus first on building awareness among emergency personnel (such as volunteer fire fighters) of projected weather changes over the next 40 years — increasing heat, dryness and wind — and ask them questions such as: How will a constantly worsening climate affect your quality of life and your work and work safety?  Are these changes acceptable to you, your children and your communities? Will your community and way of life survive? Are your political representatives and government officials aware of this? What will you do to help stop global warming?

Urban communities and workers at particular risk from global warming and heat waves. This campaign could focus first on building awareness among emergency personnel (ambulance, fire, police and hospital staff) and vulnerable groups such as the elderly of the threat to both health and the quality of life of projected weather changes over the next 40 years. How will constantly rising temperatures and increasingly extreme weather affect public health, the quality of life of your community, and your work? At what point will your city become unliveable during summer months? Are these changes acceptable to you, your children and your communities? Are your political representatives and government officials aware of this? What will you do to help stop global warming?

Agricultural communities particularly at risk from increasing bush fires, droughts, extreme heat and diminishing access to irrigation. This campaign could focus first on building awareness among farmers of the threat to both their incomes and the quality of life of projected weather changes over the next 40 years. They could be asked questions such as: How will constantly rising temperatures and increasingly extreme weather affect your production, increase your risks and costs, and negatively impact both your work and the quality of life of your community? At what point will farming become unviable? Are these changes acceptable to you, your children and your communities? Are your political representatives and government officials aware of this? What will you do to help stop global warming?

Dr Graeme Taylor is the coordinator of BEST Futures ( and the author of Evolution’s Edge: The Coming Collapse and Transformation of Our World, which won the 2009 IPPY Gold Medal for the book “most likely to save the planet”.

Security Threats & Climate Wars On the Horizon

Posted by Ken on March 7, 2013
Posted under Express 186

Security threats in the future may not come in the form of invaders and missiles, but in droughts and rising sea levels, according to a new report by a Harvard researcher. Climate change-caused environmental havoc can have ripple effects on food, water, energy, infrastructure, economic and political security, with repercussions on national security. This has been demonstrated in the drug war in Mexico sparked by drought and political instability. Read more

Weather warning: Study examines climate change as a national security issue

Lake County News Reports (23 February 2013):

A Harvard researcher is pointing toward a new reason to worry about the effects of climate change — national security.

A new report co-authored by Michael McElroy, the Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies, and D. James Baker, a former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, connects global climate change, extreme weather, and national security.

During the next decade, the report concludes, climate change could have wide-reaching effects on everything from food, water, and energy supplies to critical infrastructure and economic security.

The study was conducted with funds provided by the Central Intelligence Agency. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the CIA or the U.S. Government.

“Over the last century, the trend has been toward urbanization – to concentrate people in smaller areas,” McElroy said. “We’ve built an infrastructure – whether it’s where we build our homes or where we put our roads and bridges – that fits with that trend. If the weather pattern suddenly changes in a serious way, it could create very large problems. Bridges may be in the wrong place, or sea walls may not be high enough.”

Possible effects on critical infrastructure, however, only scratch the surface of the security concerns.

On an international scale, the report points to recent events, such as flooding in Pakistan and sustained drought in eastern Africa, that may be tied to changing weather patterns.

How the United States responds to such disasters – whether by delivering humanitarian aid or through technical support – could affect security.

“By recognizing the immediacy of these risks, the U.S. Can enhance its own security and help other countries do a better job of preparing for and coping with near-term climate extremes,” Baker said.

The report suggests that climate changes could even have long-reaching political effects.

It’s possible, McElroy said, that climate changes may have contributed to the uprisings of the Arab Spring by causing a rise in food prices, or that the extended drought in northern Mexico has contributed to political instability and a rise in drug trafficking in the region.

“We don’t have definitive answers, but our report raises these questions, because what we are saying is that these conditions are likely to be more normal than they were in the past,” McElroy said. “There are also questions related to sea-level rise. The conventional wisdom is that sea level is rising by a small amount, but observations show it’s rising about twice as fast as the models suggested. Could it actually go up by a large amount in a short period? I don’t think you can rule that out.”

Other potential effects, McElroy said, are tied to changes in an atmospheric circulation pattern called the Hadley circulation, in which warm tropical air rises, resulting in tropical rains.

As the air moves to higher latitudes, it descends, causing the now-dry air to heat up. Regions where the hot, dry air returns to the surface are typically dominated by desert.

The problem, he said, is that evidence shows those arid regions are expanding.

“The observational data suggest that the Hadley circulation has expanded by several degrees in latitude,” McElroy said. “That’s a big deal, because if you shift where deserts are by just a few degrees, you’re talking about moving the southwestern desert into the grain-producing region of the country, or moving the Sahara into southern Europe.”

The report is the result of the authors’ involvement with Medea, a group of scientists who support the U.S. Government by examining declassified national security data useful for scientific inquiry.

In recent decades, the group has worked with officials in the United States and Russia to declassify data on climatic conditions in the Arctic and thousands of spy satellite images. Those images have been used to study ancient settlement patterns in the Middle East and changes in Arctic ice.

“I would be reluctant to say that our report is the last word on short-term climate change,” McElroy said.

“Climate change is a moving target,” McElroy continued. “We’ve done an honest, useful assessment of the state of play today, but we will need more information and more hard work to get it right. One of the recommendations in our report is the need for a serious investment in measurement and observation. It’s really important to keep doing that, otherwise we’re going to be flying blind.”

To read the full report, visit


Solar & Hydro Projects With Winning Potential for Investors

Posted by Ken on March 7, 2013
Posted under Express 186

Shri Shakti Alternative Energy of India and River Gen Mini Hydro project in Indonesia were seen as two clean energy projects with the greatest potential at a funding conference in Singapore last month, but altogether ten projects were presented to potential investors, all very promising to contribute significantly to greenhouse gas reductions in Asia. Read More

On 22 February, ten clean energy projects that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions across Asia by nearly 1.1 million tonnes CO2 e p.a. year, were presented to investors in Singapore at the CTI PFAN Asia FORUM for CLEAN ENERGY FINANCING (AFCEF-3).

While all won recognition and the opportunity to seen as potential targets for investors, two were selected by the judges as the best of the best.  They were Shri Shakti Alternative Energy of India – -  and River Gen Mini Hydro project in Indonesia.

More than 100 financiers, clean energy experts and representatives of financial institutions from across Asia and overseas participated in the Forum. The meeting was organized by the Climate Technology Initiative’s Private Financing Advisory Network (CTI PFAN), a global multilateral initiative dedicated to connecting clean energy businesses with financing and “bridging the gap” between clean energy project developers and investors.

“By matching project developers from around the region with investors, this forum helps make projects happen and increases the flow of investment into developing clean energy markets in Asia” said Peter Storey (CTI PFAN Global Coordinator).

The projects showcased at the Forum, with a total aggregate investment value in excess of USD 297 million, included bio fuels, solar, biogas, waste to energy initiatives developed by entrepreneurs and companies from India, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

“What is so exciting about the CTI PFAN programme is that it is not about process, but instead is facilitating the implementation of real projects, having not only economic returns, but social and environmental benefits as well” said CTI PFAN Manager, Elmer Holt.

CTI PFAN screens business plans, selects the most economically viable and environmentally beneficial projects, and provides multiple rounds of coaching and guidance before projects are presented to investors. CTI PFAN is now working on more than 164 clean energy projects across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Globally, CTI PFAN has raised over USD 432 million dollars of investment for clean energy spread over 38 projects.

From the 10 showcased projects, a panel of independent judges selected RiverGen, mini-hydro projects in Indonesia, and Shri Shakti Alternative Energy Pvt. Ltd., a solar park project in India as the joint winners of the CTI PFAN Clean Energy Financing Awards. For investors, AFCEF-3 was a great opportunity to access a select group of clean energy projects with high profit potential, verified environmental and development benefits, which are ready for investment. It also provided a unique networking forum for Asia’s clean energy entrepreneurs.

Nagaraja Rao, Regional Coordinator-AFCEF3, said “CTI PFAN is providing a vital link between investors and project developers and this forum is ideally tailored to creating deal flow for clean energy investors in Asia”.

“The key to a successful realization of this growth lies in the bankability of these projects that demonstrate the high quality investment potential due to their scalability and the dilution of risks. These are the kinds of projects that have been handpicked and coached for the AFCEF-3. Singapore is proud to have established itself as Asia’s financial hub and thus a great location for financing platforms such as AFCEF- 3”said the Chairman of SEAS, Mr. Edwin Khew.

AFCEF-3 is sponsored by the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI) and its Private Financing Advisory Network (CTI PFAN), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Energy for All Program of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Center for Environmental Technology Transfer (ICETT) and is co-organized by the Dawn Consulting, Clean Energy Solutions International (CSI), PPL International, Economic Development Board of Singapore, the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS) and ReEx Capital Asia.

CTI PFAN is a multilateral, public-private partnership initiated by CTI in cooperation with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Expert Group on Technology Transfer.

CTI PFAN Pilot Programme for Financing Adaptation related Climate Change Projects

Developing countries will experience some of the worst impacts of climate change and given the constraints on the availability of public sector resources, it is generally accepted that significant private sector financing will be required to play a role in addressing many of the challenges of adaptation.

CTI PFAN’s Pilot Programme for Financing Adaptation related Climate Change Projects seeks to identify promising projects which have the capability of raising private sector financing. Selected projects will be offered free professional advice on project development and structuring and will be connected with investment through CTI PFAN’s global investment networks. The best projects will also be showcased at an Investor Forum to be held later in 2013.

Project Eligibility

CTI PFAN seeks project proposals that are financially and technically viable, environmentally beneficial, socially responsible and meet the CTI PFAN adaptation criteria:

Adaptation related projects are those that help reduce the vulnerability of human and natural systems to the current and future impacts of climate change and climate-related risks, increasing or maintaining adaptive capacity and resilience in the targeted regions and countries through investment for project implementation.

There are no sectorial exclusions but projects in the following sectors will be targeted for selection:

• Agriculture & Agri-business

• Water and Sanitation

• Tourism

• Urban Adaptation

• Micro-finance and Micro-Insurance

• Energy & Access to Energy (Climate Proofing of Energy Generation & Supply)

• Forestry & Eco-system Services

• Adaptation Products & Services

Eligible projects include proposals by:

• Companies, Individuals or Legal Persons

• Public Private Partnerships

• Municipalities, Local Authorities & Government Agencies

• NGOs

Only business opportunities that require total (initial) capital in excess of US$1 million (or currency equivalent) will be considered. Applications from projects in all Sub-Saharan African countries will be consideredwith priority being given to projects from Mozambique,South Africa,Kenya, Uganda,Ghana and Senegal.

Project Selection

Up to 20 projects will be selected to participate in the Pilot Programme. Project selection is expected to occur by end of June 2013. Projects will be evaluated and selected according to the following criteria:

Submission of Application

Applications consist of a completed application form together with a Project Proposal Document and a Project Data Sheet and must be submitted by midnight (CAT) Tuesday 30 April 2013 to CTI PFAN Adaptation Coordinator,

About CTI PFAN & the Organisers

The CTI PFAN Pilot Programme for Financing Adaptation Related Projects is sponsored by the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI)and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with support from the InternationalCenter for Environmental Technology Transfer (ICETT).

In climate change mitigation, CTI PFAN has successfully raised over USD 438 million of private sector investment and financing for 38 projects, representing over 321 MW of clean generation capacity and 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 e reduction pa. The Pilot Programme for Financing Adaptation related projects is designed to transfer the CTI PFAN methodology for mitigation projects and accelerate the deployment of private sector finance for climate change adaptation projects.


Games for the Good of the Environment & Sustainability

Posted by Ken on March 7, 2013
Posted under Express 186

How to engage customers old and new, and induce behavioural changes? Gamify it! The use of games to motivate consumers, through rankings, achievements and rewards, to change their way of approaching environmental stewardship is on the rise by startups and corporate alliances. The social component of gamification is the key component to inducing behavioural changes, and has proven to bring real and significant results in advancing sustainability. Read more

Why companies are fueling the rise of green gaming

By Ashok Kamal for (21 February 2013):

Who said going green had to be boring?

Maybe the same people who believe games are just entertainment.

Both myths are being shattered by the growing phenomenon of green gamification, the use of games to make sustainability fun and rewarding. This growth is being accelerated by forces ranging from the government’s Green Button promotion of energy usage data to the digital generation’s strong desire for smartphone apps that allow them to manage resource consumption.

Much as Nike+ Fuelband is turning exercise from a chore into a cool activity, a suite of green web and mobile apps are transforming the way people approach environmental stewardship. From startups such as Leafully to corporate alliances that increase energy efficiency, gamification is emerging as a powerful weapon to advance sustainability.

In isolation, recycling a bottle or turning off the lights may not sound exciting to the average person. Jogging was seen as a burden to many outside the fitness enthusiast community before the emergence of gamified apps. But whether you’re working out or conserving water, actions become rewarding when they are measurable, engaging and shared.

Social comparison — the relative performance compared to peers — is a powerful motivator for achievement. Not only are people driven to gain status and recognition by social sharing, but there is also positive peer pressure to avoid being a laggard. Do you want to be the house on the block with the worst recycling rate?

The Zynga of green gamification is Opower, which is a software player that processes big household energy data into a gamified interface that helps people reduce their power consumption and utility bills. The company partners with utilities to analyze data in more than 50 million homes and it closed out 2012 by saving users an estimated 2 terawatt hours of energy, or $200 million.

Greenbean Recycle is a Boston-based startup changing the attitude and behaviors about recycling on the campuses of some of the nation’s best colleges, including MIT, Harvard and Tufts. Greenbean’s game mechanics, such as intercollegiate challenges and recycling lotteries, have resulted in up to a 40 percent increase of the recycling rate. Moreover, Greenbean is cracking the code of one of recycling’s main hurdles: how to get people to recycle nondeposit bottles that don’t pay a redemption value. By posting leaderboards and rewarding the top recyclers, Greenbean’s collection is 30 percent nondeposit materials that would normally be destined for overcrowded landfills.

Other new green gaming companies that raised millions of dollars in venture funding include My Energy and Practically Green, which both use the social web to calculate environmental footprint metrics and reward users for their performance.

Even historically static sectors, such as academia, nonprofit and small business, are embracing innovation through green gamification. Ocean explorer and activist Philippe Cousteau, in conjunction with Jeffrey Plank at the University of Virginia, developed a massively multiplayer online game to simulate the impacts of human activity on the health of Chesapeake Bay (which is the largest estuary in the U.S.). Players of the UVA Bay Game take on the role of key stakeholders — ranging from fisherman to regulators — to learn systems-thinking and collaboration.

Cousteau, Plank and I spoke on a 2012 SXSW panel with Intel’s Carrie Freeman, who asserted that corporations can leverage the UVA Bay Game model to solve business challenges such as balancing company versus community water needs. The UVA Bay Game developers recently announced a partnership with The Nature Conservancy to launch a new version of the simulation focused on a major Texas watershed.

While small business owners are often pressed for time and money, thousands across the country have joined the Green Business Bureau, which offers a gamified online sustainability tool that helps assess, manage and report on a library of 400-plus green initiatives. One GBB member, NewMarket International, shaved $60,000 of its annual budget by following the adaptive survey’s recommendations and reducing packaging waste, among other green achievements. GBB’s technology also powers green business certification for nonprofit Green America and Intuit’s small business supplier network.

The main reason people play green games is that they are fun. A more sustainable world is the convenient — and welcome — byproduct.

Ashok Kamal is co-founder and CEO of Bennu, which is a leader in green social media marketing. Bennu’s sustainability solutions increase enterprise value by aligning clients’ business objectives with consumer demand and environmental resources.