Archive for December, 2014

A is for the Act of Giving

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

A is for the Act of Giving

Long-awaited, missed and even in-demand. Yes, we’re talking about this newsletter, which has been in a state of suspended animation for a few months.

We’re back with a vengeance to reinforce the Act of Giving, and recognise all the wonderful people who give so much of their time and effort to champion the cause of sustainability and climate change action. Who are committed to the blue economy, going beyond green to transform organisations, businesses, cities and countries for a low carbon, clean and healthy future. Cleantech, clean energy and zero waste.

It’s also a year in review, not just by 12 months but 26 letters of the alphabet, recalling my 2009 book “The ABC of Carbon” which did it lexicographically as well.

Many important A’s appear. Acronyms in lights: APO and ADB. While Armstrong Asset Management and Asia Plantation Capital show their mettle. Read your ABCs to appreciate what we’ve done best and what we can do better. Maybe this holiday season will allow more time for some of us to read and reflect. To absorb and act. We think 2014 was a watershed year in more ways than one. Art and Sustainability came together, as well as a landmark report to give Asia Pacific countries 10 actions to help counter “climate departure”. Read More     Ken Hickson


Highlights from March 2014:

Message from the Editor:  Two articles which are worth repeating, as we do believe in recycling. The second  was based on an Outcome Document which I helped write during the APO Taipei event in March 2013. The Art and Sustainability article appeared in the Straits Times, written by Sacha Kagan, who was one of the speakers at the forum help in conjunction with i Light Marina Bay 2014, where SASA was the sustainability consultant.

Let artists shape a resilient city


LAST month, I was invited to give a keynote address on art and sustainability at the i Light Symposium held at the URA Centre in Maxwell Road. The aim of the conference was to bring together leading thinkers in the area of light and art, interrogating art’s power to improve society. I had diverse conversations with artists, architects, social scientists and others, on unsustainable development. I visited neighbourhoods ranging from Marina Bay to Bukit Brown.

These first impressions raised my awareness of the specific challenges of urban resilience for Singapore. In particular, impending climate change raises the question of Singapore’s “resilience” to serious future crises.

Will it survive when the trusted approaches that granted wealth and stability to the island in the past are severely tested?

The concept of “resilience” comes from the scientific study of how natural and social systems, in the past, have managed (or not) to survive by evolving in response to changing circumstances.

Species, ecosystems and societies that have proved able to survive extreme crises share three characteristics:

“Redundancy” or having multiple pathways to doing similar things. Redundancy, however, is severely reduced by efficiency. Efficiently organised societies generally have less redundancy, thereby threatening their resilience.

Diversity – for example, having multiple ways to see the world and express ourselves, as well as multiple ways to learn from experience and transmit knowledge. Cultural diversity, as well as biological diversity, should be preserved and even increased.

Self-organisation, or the ability of communities, neighbourhoods and groups of people to organise themselves to help determine their responses to crises. This goes against the expectation that direction should come from the top. It also goes against the naive expectation that some natural market laws will spontaneously solve problems.

Urban resilience requires the realisation of these three characteristics through a city’s fabric. Singapore has a rich cultural diversity, but there is much room for progress concerning the other two characteristics.

One promising way for cities to develop these qualities of resilience is through art.

I do not mean the promotion of commercial art or art for art’s sake. Rather, the involvement of artists and other unconventional creative people in the process of urban development, to help un-plan our cities. Artists should be allowed to shape spaces where the creative and experimental spirit of the city’s inhabitants is stimulated.

Contemporary city dwellers should be allowed to freely re-imagine possible futures and experiment with more sustainable ways of life. Creative, non-commercial “spaces of possibility” are needed, countering the cancerous growth of malls in the city.

The locations of these spaces should not be government-controlled or pre-designated, as these approaches kill creativity.

Instead, they should be spaces that grow organically from efforts by the different creative, social and cultural communities.

One hopeful example of how artists have made an impact on city spaces comes from the city of Hamburg in Germany. In that city, artists are generally being pushed to market themselves as business entrepreneurs for a short-sighted “creative city”. But many artists and creative folk opposed that strategy. In 2009, a group of them formed a “Right to the City” network, gathering 100 local groups around one common principle: Urban development should be determined by its inhabitants, not by real estate.

On Aug22, 2009, 150 artists, architects and marketing experts illegally occupied a group of buildings called the “Gangeviertel”, historic workers’ quarters in the city’s centre. It was not an ordinary “squatting” but an art exhibition and series of events.

The occupiers did not merely protest against the plans of the city government and the investor: They put up an elaborate alternative plan to re-imagine the place as a centre of culture, complete with work places and social housing, to inject vibrancy into an area dominated by commercial and expensive residential buildings.

For the first time in decades, the city government, which normally evacuates occupied buildings by force within 24 hours, listened to the proposal. Seduced by the artists’ vision, they even bought back the buildings from the investor and gave the occupiers a year to finalise their concept. Rehabilitation work started late last year. Historical buildings were saved and social housing preserved.

Realising urban resilience through the arts will be a great challenge in Singapore, too, but it is not an impossible one. I saw many creative seeds which would need to be encouraged to grow. I saw young people with interesting ideas, designing and making objects, growing their own food.

There are many values of cultural heritage and biodiversity being rediscovered in the historical site of Bukit Brown.

Such sites can become exactly the kinds of undesignated spaces of experimentation and imagination that a city needs.


Sacha Kagan,the writer is a research associate, Institute of Sociology and Cultural Organisation, Leuphana University, Lueneburg in Germany. For more:

Top 10 actions to help counter ‘climate departure’ in Asia Pacific

By Ken Hickson in (21 March 2014:

Ten recommended actions on energy, consumption, and cities were outlined in an outcome document at the end of a three-day conference by the Asian Productivity Organisation (APO) last week in Taipei.

The APO International Conference, under the Eco-Products International Fair 2014, focused on the impacts of climate change, particularly the concept of ‘climate departure’ or the projected timings of when countries will face the dangerous repercussions of climate change from 2020 onwards.

This refers to the findings of a University of Hawaii study reported last October in Nature, which detailed the clear indication that this ‘climate departure’ is expected to occur earlier than previously thought in Asia and the Pacific.

The APO document stressed the “need for a sense of urgency” – to set in motion “actions to make our cities and countries more sustainable, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, speed up the introduction of renewable energy, increase energy efficiency measures, and promote the prudent use of natural resources”.

The document, which will be delivered to the United Nations and its agencies, is seen as a wake-up call for all countries in the region. The targets listed demand that cities and countries in the Asia Pacific to meet at least 20 per cent of energy demand from renewable sources by 2020, as well as “to achieve up to 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency across the board by 2020”.

Other calls to action include the promotion of “sustainable consumption and production”, calling on governments to set examples for green purchasing and procurement, and the need to build “resilience into sustainable, smart, liveable cities”, such as by introduction of “sustainable technologies and transport in urban areas”.

“The APO document stressed the “need for a sense of urgency” – to set in motion “actions to make our cities and countries more sustainable, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, speed up the introduction of renewable energy, increase energy efficiency measures, and promote the prudent use of natural resources”

This document reflects APO’s strong commitment to making a positive contribution in line with the objectives of producing “action-oriented, concise, and easy to communicate” sustainable development goals following the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and “The Future We Want” outcome document adopted at Rio+20. Here are the ten recommended actions:

Creating an energy future sustainable for all

Action 1: Set targets for cities and countries in the Asia Pacific to meet at least 20% of energy demand from renewable sources by 2020

While there is an awareness of the amount of work done by various enterprises to initiate and fund renewable energy projects in the Asia Pacific, greater recognition must still be given to these efforts, along with more funding and policy support from international agencies and governments.

Other countries in the region continue to be constrained in terms of importing energy supply, although some nations are already ahead with their use of renewable energy. The EU has increased its renewable energy target to 27% by 2030; therefore, a regional approach with regional targets is required in the Asia Pacific.

Action 2: Set targets for cities and countries in the Asia Pacific to achieve up to 20% improvement in energy efficiency across the board by 2020

Since energy efficiency is the quickest way to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, countries and cities in the Asia Pacific should commit to a target of 20% improvement (compared to 2014 levels) in energy efficiency across the board by 2020. They should also standardise the energy efficiency criteria for industries, buildings, automobiles, and home and office appliances in the region.

More collaboration between the public and private sectors is required in every city and country to commit resources and funding to achieve the required level of energy efficiency.

Action 3: Encourage greater participation and partnerships among diverse stakeholders to enable access to sustainable energy for all

International and regional agencies, along with APO member governments, should encourage greater participation by all stakeholders and increase partnerships between the public and private sectors. This is to ensure that all have access to energy from sustainable sources and energy security is achieved.

This is in line with the objectives of the UN initiative on “Sustainable Energy for All” and other similar “Energy for All” campaigns. Greater media and community involvement is required to draw attention to what governments, businesses, and NGOs are currently doing. Establishing a Clean and Green Energy Day (or Week) and intensive information campaigns would help focus attention on this, especially if promoted across all cities and countries in the region.

Action 4: Adopt low-carbon technologies along with other energy management initiatives

Low-carbon technologies, along with the use of renewable energy sources, must be considered as an important part of environmental solutions and a key factor in introducing and managing energy security, productivity gains, sustainability of supply, and technological innovations.

For example, advancements in solar panels have significantly brought down costs and led to wider adoption of solar technologies by businesses and households in many countries. Similarly, feed-in tariffs have incentivized purchases of solar systems. These help encourage the use and production of low-carbon technologies, especially in countries where there are subsidies for fossil fuels.

“With the growing threat of climate change, cities in vulnerable locations need to prepare for the worst and adapt to rising sea levels, extreme weather, and possibly more frequent storm surges. There is a need to recognise the role of various stakeholders in promoting urban planning practices that take into account sustainability and smart livability.”

Promoting sustainable consumption and production

Action 5: Recognise the need for governments to set examples for green purchasing and procurement

Governments should adopt policies and practices that only allow the purchase of sustainable products and services, such that these use less energy and raw materials, produce less waste, and these support small producers and fair trade. This would minimize the overall environmental footprint in the region.

Governments also need to work with the private sector to encourage behavioural changes in the purchasing departments of public and private organisations. Sustainable consumption and production should likewise be mainstreamed as an overarching development framework in the planning process of each country.

Action 6: Emphasise the importance of designing and producing sustainable products and services among businesses

Businesses must manage the environmental and social impacts of their production and operations. They should design products and packaging that can easily be reused, repaired, or recycled. The private sector should also examine new business models for turning products into services, so that consumers pay for access rather than ownership of products.

Action 7: Encourage public-private sector partnerships to promote sustainable products among consumers

The public and private sectors should develop effective educational campaigns that enlighten consumers on the environmental impact of their choice of products and services. Businesses should ensure that their products and services are certified by recognized eco-label and green certification programmes so consumers can consciously opt for green products.

They also need to conduct shared research studies and surveys on consumer attitudes toward green products and services, eco-labels, and how these affect their purchasing behaviour.

Building resilience into sustainable, smart and liveable cities

Action 8: Develop benchmarks and best practices for more resilient, sustainable, smart and liveable cities

With the growing threat of climate change, cities in vulnerable locations need to prepare for the worst and adapt to rising sea levels, extreme weather, and possibly more frequent storm surges. There is a need to recognise the role of various stakeholders in promoting urban planning practices that take into account sustainability and smart liveability. Cities that have started to take the lead in these areas should be duly recognised.

Action 9: Encourage more test bedding of projects with public–private partnerships

Test-bedding projects should be encouraged within public–private partnerships since this leads to smart, sustainable solutions and technologies for cities, which can be shared among countries in the region.

Governments should also initiate holistic programs in the urban sector to promote renewable energy use, deploy electric vehicles or special-purpose vehicle systems, design self-sustaining buildings, and adopt municipal and industrial waste or biomass-to-energy projects.

Action 10: Introduce sustainable technologies and transport in urban areas

More sustainable transport systems and measures should be introduced in urban areas. This will help manage the mobility and settlement of people, reduce poverty, create jobs, and resolve other social issues, as well as reduce traffic congestion and air pollution that occur in a number of cities in the region.

Transforming cities for the better through sustainable technologies should be prioritized. With the need to improve quality of life and economic competitiveness, cities must become more resource-efficient and environmentally friendly. Technology is a key lever for sustainable city development.

Effective infrastructure contributes to economic prosperity and an improved quality of life. Urban residents need clean air, potable water, security, efficient buildings, a reliable power grid, and mobility solutions.



B is for Business, Blue Economy, Blue Circle, BMW, Bayer, BCA & Building Performance

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

B is for Business, Blue Economy, Blue Circle,  BMW, Bayer, BCA & Building Performance

Business is starting to go beyond green to a much more sustainable blue. The Blue Economy is on the rise with the Blue Asia Group and Blue Australasia making their presence felt, plus plans are underway for the first “Blue” Business Sustainability Conference in Kuala Lumpur on 22 April. Building & Construction Authority (BCA) promoted productivity in Singapore, while Barghest Building Performance (BBP) showed how to make air conditioning chillers cool again. The Blue Circle is investing in the Mekong’s wind resources, while BMW and Bayer show that Business can take the lead. Read More

The Big Business of Global Warming

Corporations are betting on climate change—and primed for a big payday when things really heat up

By McKenzie Funk in Time Magazine (3 February 2014)

The pharmaceutical giant Bayer has made a remarkable—and lucrative—discovery. Allergies are on the rise. The company’s eye and nose ointment Bepanthen, already good for more than $200 million in annual sales, could soon be in even higher demand.

Bayer mentions this in its annual response to the watchdog CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, which surveys the greenhouse gas emissions of the world’s largest corporations. The CDP celebrates companies that cut carbon, of course, but also celebrates brutal honesty, awarding prizes and A rankings to those that give a true and full accounting of how climate change could affect their bottom lines. Bayer is a winner on both counts. Though still high, its emissions are down nearly 40% from 1990 levels. And the company is transparent about what it believes a warming world will bring.

One of Bayer’s latest products is “a new generation of mosquito net,” the LifeNet. It also has two advanced bug sprays in the pipeline. These will be lucrative because mosquitoes and the disease they carry are expected to thrive in a warmer world, leaving another 40 to 60 million people at risk of malaria in Africa alone. “In light of an expected climate-change-related increase of malaria incidents in further regions of the world (e.g., Northern Europe), we expect a growing demand for Bayer mosquito nets,” the company writes.

For agriculture, the effects of climate change—”water shortages, heat, excessive rainfall”—will be devastating. But Bayer’s insecticide Confidor and its expanding line of genetically modified rice and cereal plants could profitably take out some of the sting. Even a future of superstorms could be a boon. “One example,” writes Bayer, “is the provision of high-performance polycarbonate materials for the construction of exposed buildings, leading to superior stability in the case of storms or other extreme weather events.” For existing structures, the company recommends its spray-on product Baytec, which leaves a thick coating of weatherproof polyurethane.

Bayer is not alone in seeing opportunities in a hotter planet. In Australia’s climate-stressed bread belt, the Murray-Darling basin, and its analog in the American West, the Colorado River basin, hedge funds have bought up millions of gallons worth of water rights. Other funds, convinced that commodity prices can only keep rising, are part of a new scramble for Africa in which as many as 100,000 square miles of farmland—an area larger than the United Kingdom—have been leased or purchased by foreign investors. Meanwhile, at least two of Manhattan’s most storied investment banks have played farmer in Ukraine, where milder temperatures heighten the appeal of some of the richest soil in the world.

In the Netherlands, the stock of the seawall building company Arcadis jumped by 6% the moment New York City—a potential client—was struck by Hurricane Sandy. Up in the melting Arctic, ship traffic has risen 20-fold in three years over the top of Russia on the Northern Sea Route. And receding sea ice puts an even greater prize within reach: oil. Royal Dutch Shell, which in 2008 paid a record $2.1 billion for leases in Alaska’s untapped Chukchi Sea, has told investors that the high north will someday be its number one source of crude. Even in Greenland, the Danish territory synonymous with the slow-moving disaster that is climate change, people have found something to celebrate. Petroleum and precious metal deposits made more accessible by the melting ice are so vast that native Greenlanders recently voted to leave Denmark and its subsidies behind. They will gradually drill their way to independence. The world will gain a new country even as others sink beneath rising seas.

Americans often frame climate change as a tragedy of the commons: We all pursue our selfish lives, we all emit, and together we all will someday pay. But this is a dangerous way to understand the future and our responsibilities to it. That some are planning to get rich from the warming world only underscores the reality of climate change: Its impacts, though mostly bad for most people in most places, are deeply uneven.

It happens that those largely responsible for the historic emissions that got us here—wealthy North Americans and Europeans—are the most likely to stay relatively prosperous, because we have our northerly geographies and we have enough money in our wallets for, say, high-performance polycarbonate building materials. It happens that those least responsible for historic emissions, the equatorial and the poor, are the most likely to see the worst impacts, likely to get poorer faster. This unevenness suggests that self-interest, however rational, may never be enough to jumpstart real climate action in the wealthy countries where it’s most needed. It’s hard to scare people into cutting emissions if they’re not actually all that scared.

There’s nothing wrong with selling mosquito nets, and there’s nothing wrong with buying them. But there’s something wrong if we ignore the true ethical stakes as an ever more imbalanced world keeps lurching ahead, blithely thinking, “At least we’re all in this together.”


McKenzie Funk writes for Harper’s, Outside, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone, and is the author of Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming (The Penguin Press, 2014).

Read more: Bayer and Other Corporations Getting Rich Off Global Warming |



Electric Charger

By Christopher Tan in Straits Times (13 December 2014):

BMW’s electric i3′s fine performance and low running cost make going eco so easy

BMW’s i3 was launched here barely four months ago and it is already the best-selling electric car on the market, with orders breaching the two dozen mark.

Now, you may say the number hardly makes a car a bestseller, but consider this: Only one other electric car has ever been put on the road with a normal plate – a Tesla Roadster.

None of the other carmakers with electric models managed to sell any. The Mitsubishi iMiEV, Renault Fluence ZE, Nissan Leaf andChevrolet Volt were all here, mostly as part of a $20-million “test-bed” scheme that allowed these cars to run around tax-free.

Another $75-million trial is on the way, with new participants such as China’s BYD and France’s Bollore looking to join. These companies are, of course, hoping the trial will pave the way for long-term tax breaks for electric cars.

In my opinion, this is a crutch mentality that is slowing down electric car adoption.

If companies want their cars to sell, just make them desirable. And that is exactly what BMW has done.

The stunning i8 plug-in hybrid sports model reviewed last week is one example. Despite its rather hefty price tag of $600,000, demand is outstripping supply.

The i3 is another example. This is a full electric car, backed by a small twocylinder engine that kicks in to power up the batteries if they run low.

But over the course of a week since taking delivery of this long-term test car, the petrol engine kicked in only once – last weekend, when several errands had to be run back to back.

On normal weekdays, the i3′s realistic range of 90 to 100km is more than adequate. In fact, with my workplace just five minutes away, I could go up to four days without plugging the i3 in.

If I had been truly determined not to rely on the so-called range extender (the small petrol engine), I could have driven to BMW agent Performance Motors.

A high-voltage quick charger there would have juiced up the i3 to 80 per cent in under 30 minutes. A full charge via a normal household socket takes eight to nine hours.

A smartphone app that comes with the i3 also tells me where I can find a public charging point.

These are just for extra peace of mind, really. Because for nine out of 10 times, plugging the car in at home will be sufficient for all your mobility needs.

What I find a little disconcerting is how quickly the range falls initially. At full charge, the range meter reads 115km. But when you come back an hour later and start up the car, it could say 100km. What accounted for the unused 15km?

And often, after driving just 2km, the range drops by 5 to 8km.

Thankfully, the consumption rate slows down after the midway point.

In the default Comfort mode, which comes with full acceleration and airconditioning potential, the car is good for 90 to 100km. It depends on how much idling time you encounter.

In EcoPro mode, the air-conditioning is not so powerful but still good enough for evenings. There is a slight drop in acceleration, but progress is still very brisk. The improvement in consumption here is minute, so I would not bother with it.

In EcoPro Plus mode, the car goes without air-conditioning (compressor is deactivated) and acceleration is further dulled. In this mode, the car is still driveable and consumption improves by 10 to 20 per cent.

The discomfort of not having airconditioning is not worth the savings. So, in short, just leave the car in Comfort mode, which gives you access to sports-car-like performance.

The stated 0 to 100kmh timing is 7.9 seconds, but the i3′s acceleration is so perfectly linear (the beauty of electric motors) that it feels like a much faster car. You get 250Nm of torque the moment you depress the accelerator. And unlike in combustion engines, where torque tapers off after 4,000rpm or so, the i3′s maximum shove is maintained as long as your foot is on the pedal.

Much of the i3′s performance is attributable to its lightweight body.

Made largely of carbon-fibre and plastic, the BMW tall hatch weighs only 1.2 tonnes (about 200kg lighter than a Mercedes-Benz A-class). This makes for one exhilarating car.

This, in fact, is its most loveable trait. Its second-most loveable trait is its low running cost.

Based on today’s cost of electricity and petrol, you stand to save close to $1,000 a year on fuel if your current car is a Volkswagen Golf or equivalent, and you clock 19,000km a year.

The bummer is its road tax. The Land Transport Authority has deemed it fit to slap the i3 with an annual road tax of around $1,700 – more than what a 2.4litre petrol car attracts. It effectively wipes out the electric car’s fuel savings.

While I started this article saying that electric cars should not rely on subsidies to succeed, I think the road tax for the i3 is unnecessarily and unjustly punitive.



C is for Cleantech, Cities, Cycling, CSIRO, CLC, CRI & CEI

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

C is for Cleantech, Cities, Cycling, CSIRO, CLC, CRI & CEI

Cleantech is coming into its own with a collaborative approach in Asia, encompassing solar, energy storage, energy efficiency and waste to energy technologies (see I for IPEx), while CEI, CRI and CLC all get to grips with sustainability for events, companies and cities. Cycling gets a break in KL, Malaysia and crowdfunding is being put to good use. CSIRO, Australia’s scientific outfit  is facing cuts, just when the country should cut its emissions instead . Fortunately, the C40 group – now numbering 70 cities - launched the first global standard to measure urban greenhouse gas emissions. Read More

CSIRO has ‘cut into the bone’ to implement successive government cuts, chairman says

By Conor Duffy for ABC (12 December 2014):

The CSIRO has “cut into the bone” to implement successive government funding cuts and further cuts will risk its ability to carry out ground-breaking research, according to its chairman and one of its most senior scientists.

The CSIRO staff association estimates government funding reductions, the most recent being the Abbott Government’s $110 million cut in the May budget, have seen staff levels reduced by more than 20 per cent.

CSIRO chairman and former Australian of the year Simon McKeon has conceded the cuts have led to reduced staffing in virtually every part of the organisation.

“The reality is that over the last couple of years, not just one year, we’ve had to, I would argue, cut into the bone,” he said.

“What we often said publicly is that we would try and contain the cuts as much as possible to those resources that help our scientists.

“But undeniably over this last year or so, we’ve also had to farewell scientists who are globally relevant – people who we would prefer not to have said goodbye to.”

We’re not slashing funding to science… the reality is the scientists I talk to are looking forward to the opportunity to improve industrial competitiveness in Australia.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane

Mr McKeon is warning any future cuts will reduce the organisation’s ability to continue delivering breakthroughs like polymer notes and Wi-Fi.

“There is definitely a law of diminishing returns and indeed negative returns at some point and the real question is what do we expect of CSIRO?” he said.

“It’s served this country fabulously well for decades and decades and we can continue chopping and making it a smaller organisation, but the difficulty is the immense benefit that it provides this nation starts to be reversed.”

Mr McKeon hopes redundancies will be almost finished by the time new chief executive Larry Marshall takes over in January.

“[The year] 2014 will go down in CSIRO history as a challenging year. We’ve done what we had to do,” Mr McKeon said.

“There’s not too much more to be done early in the New Year and then the genuine hope is that we resume the normal growth path; that a terrific organisation, an organisation that all Australians ought to be proud of, can resume again.”

For the first time one of the organisation’s most senior scientists, Dr Paul Fraser – the head of Oceans and Atmosphere, the division that studies climate change – has revealed he has taken a voluntary redundancy.

Dr Fraser is a leading expert who has been honoured by NASA and helped establish one of the world’s two most important climate research centres at Cape Grim in Tasmania in 1976.

“There are downsides to this process and one of those is possibly my reputation and how that may attract people to fund projects with my name associated with them,” Dr Fraser said.

Dr Fraser is continuing to work two days a week as an honorary fellow mentoring staff and working on research papers.

“Obviously I’m disappointed, I think CSIRO has as I said, a wonderful reputation and it is a pity that CSIRO funds have been cut,” he said.

Dr Fraser agreed with Mr McKeon that further cuts would inhibit the ability to carry out research.

“In our own particular situation with our own laboratory I would support what Simon says, I can’t see how having lost the people we have out of our group that measures greenhouse gasses how we could survive if we had to lose more people out of that group,” he said.

We’re not slashing funding to science: Industry Minister

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane launched a new $120 million scientific research vessel called the Investigator with CSIRO executives in Hobart today.

He said the cuts to the CSIRO were minimal.

“CSIRO actually had a very small cut relative to its overall budget if you look at the overall science budget in Australia, [which is] over $9.3 billion,” he said.

Mr Macfarlane also said the Government was working on five new centres to partner science and industry.

“We’re not slashing funding to science, as I’ve just said the science budget in my portfolio went up in the last budget, that’s a fact and the reality is the scientists I talk to are looking forward to the opportunity to improve industrial competitiveness in Australia,” he said.



World’s Mayors Adopt New Tool to Calculate Climate Emissions

Environment News from LIMA, Peru, (9 December 2014):

The first global standard to measure greenhouse gas emissions from cities was launched Monday in tandem with the ongoing UN climate summit in Lima.

The Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories (GPC) is the first internationally accepted standard for measuring emissions at the city level, enabling cities to establish credible emissions accounting and reporting practices.

Using the GPC, cities can develop an emissions baseline, set mitigation goals, create more targeted climate action plans and track their progress over time.

The GPC was developed over the past three years by the Washington, DC-based think-tank World Resources Institute (WRI), the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

“When it comes to the battle against climate change, cities are at the frontlines,” said WRI’s Ryan Schleeter and Wee Kean Fong, who led development of the Global Protocol.

Cities are the largest source of the problem, they told the biggest gathering of mayors and climate action experts since the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September in New York, because half the global population lives in urban areas, and cities produce 70 percent of the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions.

Even now, emerging cities are catching up to developed cities in their emissions, said Fong and Schleeter. “The Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin, for example, have per capita emissions similar to those of large European and North American cities. And the environmental impact of urban areas is poised to grow – cities are expected to gain 1.4 billion people in the next 20 years and attract trillions of dollars’ worth of investments.”

At their meeting Monday in Lima’s historic municipal hall, the mayors of the world’s major cities, and many smaller cities as well, cemented the commitment of local governments to step up collaborative climate action and scale down greenhouse gas emissions.

They produced the Lima Communiqué, which will feed into the ongoing negotiations across town at COP20, the 20th Conference of the governments that are Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

There, delegates from more than 190 countries are negotiating the draft text of a new universal legally-binding climate change agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, to be adopted a year from now in Paris.

ICLEI President David Cadman of Vancouver, Canada, said, “The COP20 is paramount to producing a decisive agreement in Paris 2015, which will determine the post-2015 climate agenda. To achieve this goal, we need to enable more ambitious actions and commitments from local and subnational governments to help nations move to a climate-friendly track.”

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is one of the 35 cities that pilot-tested a beta version of the Global Protocol in Australia, China, Europe, India, South Africa, South America and the United States.

In 2011, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes enacted an ambitious climate change law, setting a goal to avoid 20 percent of its emissions by 2020. But at the time, Rio officials had no idea how much the city was emitting, or where its emissions were coming from.

By using the new GPC protocol, city officials calculated that transport produced 39 percent of its emissions and waste produced 19 percent. They found that targeting emissions reductions in these sectors would help Rio meet its 20 percent target.

The number of cities using the GPC has since risen to more than 100 and is expected to grow in the near future.

Lima Mayor Susana Villarán said, “Cities are made up of its citizens, and if the changes are not coming from new generations, from the community, we are walking through unknown paths into our planet’s uncertainty. We cannot allow that.”

“By 2035,” Mayor Villarán told her counterparts at Monday’s meeting, “75 of 100 people are going to live in urban areas. As mayors, we have the responsibility of ensuring that our cities would be livable for future generations.”

“The legacy of this COP20 in Lima should be for a greater, more robust engagement of local governments beginning with us, starting today in Lima, towards Paris and beyond,” she said.

Under the Compact of Mayors, the world’s largest effort for cities to fight climate change, debuted at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, cities will set climate targets and report against these targets into a reporting platform, using the newly-launched GPC.

All reported data will be consolidated and made publicly available through the Carbon Climate Registry, the Compact’s designated central repository.

New research shows that existing city commitments alone could reduce annual carbon emissions by 454 megatons of CO2 equivalent in 2020.

“Cities are economic and population hubs, making them critical actors in the fight against climate change,” said Johannesburg Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau, a member of C40’s Steering Committee.

“The C40 network alone represents more than 500 million people around the world. Together with our partners, our collective efforts to encourage cities to sign onto the compact will help them to set more ambitious climate targets and take action the ground. That is the power of cities,” said Tau.

Cadman said, “We are grateful for the vision and great leadership of the City of Lima and for giving local governments a proper venue where they can jointly set targets, spur new partnerships, and inspire ambition among cities and nations alike.”


D is for Deforestation, Diamond Energy, DNV GL, Dell, Du Pont & Denmark

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

D is for Deforestation, Diamond Energy, DNV GL, Dell, Du Pont & Denmark

Deforestation is the most important, immediate and urgent challenge, Unilever’s Paul Polman told the Global Landscapes Forum at Lima before the close of the UN climate change conference.  Dell sets some new sustainability standards for recycling and packaging, while DNV GL does the verifying for Australia’s first Climate Bond for renewable energy. Diamond Energy makes its mark as it opens Asia’s first energy demand response centre, as DuPont announces a new clean energy move with JA Solar in China.  Denmark keeps ahead as the world’s most wind powered nation by generating 41% of its electricity consumption in the first half of 2014. Read More



From the Danish Wind Industry Association


It’s windy in Denmark. And that fact helps explain why Denmark is leading the way in integrating wind power into the electricity system.

It’s windy in Denmark, which helps explain why Denmark is so skilled at capturing the power of the wind. With 28 per cent wind power in the electricity system, Denmark is a nation that many others are looking to in order to discover sustainable energy solutions for the future. However, plentiful wind is not necessarily synonymous with a strong wind industry. Denmark’s achievement in bringing 28 per cent wind power into the electricity system is built on several key factors, that together have made Denmark the world’s Wind Power Hub. It generated 41% of its electricity consumption from wind in the first half of 2014

First-mover in wind power

Denmark’s role as a first-mover in both onshore and offshore wind power has been important. The lessons learned through the early years of setting up wind turbines across the nation have been pivotal. The industry has developed through innovative thinking and experience which have helped create core competencies in production, design and installation of wind turbines that are sought after worldwide. To date, Danish companies have installed more than 90 per cent of the world’s offshore wind turbines. With a constant aim of bringing down the cost of energy, Denmark expects to remain the dominant player in the offshore wind turbine market for years to come. Europe’s offshore wind power capacity is expected to see a tenfold increase, just in this decade!


Wind power – a strong competitor

Danes are positive about wind power. Recent surveys show that most of the population would welcome more wind energy in the electricity system. Denmark is also a progressive country in its energy policy, which supports an increase in renewable energy – and wind in particular. Political support rests on the fact that onshore wind power is cost competitive with any type of newly built electricity generating technology and that wind is inexhaustible, stable and forever free-of-charge. Based on the above factors, the wind industry today is part of the backbone of the export earnings of the Danish economy.

Moving towards a sustainable future

The world faces many obstacles in the battle against fossil fuels and climate change. Denmark sees many good reasons for continuing the development of wind power, and the government has set the target of 50 per cent wind power in the electricity system by 2020. Although ambitious, the target is in line with the overall vision to make Denmark completely free of dependence on fossil fuels by 2050. At that time the Danish energy system will consist purely of renewable energy, with wind being the main contributor. Denmark is looking towards a greener and windy future!


From National Geographic (12 December 2014)


LIMA, Peru — The man behind the podium Sunday at the Global Landscapes Forum, an offshoot of the annual United Nations negotiations on climate change being held here, spoke in blunt terms:

“Commercial agriculture accounted for 71 percent of tropical deforestation in the last 12 years. That translates into the loss of 130 million hectares (321 million acres) of forests. In fact, that loss contributes about 15 percent to global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire transport sector. These are the inconvenient facts.”

In other words, the massive companies that grow our food are in part responsible for aiding and abetting practices that are slowly killing the earth by recklessly tearing down forests to grow crops.

The speaker was pointing a finger of blame at one of the most environmentally damaging industries on earth. In doing so, Paul Polman, the CEO of England-and-Netherlands-based Unilever, the world’s second-largest consumer goods conglomerate, was in essence pointing a finger at himself. It was both disarming and, well, breathtaking.

“For those of us in the food sector, like my company, we know that climate change cannot be tackled without a fundamental change in the way that agriculture – the world’s oldest and largest industry – is practiced,” Polman told an audience of several hundred.

“In fact, most CEOs, I’m convinced of now, know that their companies cannot prosper in a world with runaway climate change. This is increasingly evident. They understand the need to work together with political leaders to address these challenges.”

THAT’S A STUNNING statement, one that environmentalists would love to believe. That is, until they slam head-on into other inconvenient facts, like The New York Times investigation over the weekend. That in-depth story revealed that leaders of the U.S. energy industry have bankrolled the campaigns of an array of Republican state attorneys general in the express hope of seeing undermined the Obama administration’s stringent environmental regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

If there are any oil, coal or gas honchos in Lima for the UN negotiations, they were not among the speakers at the landscape forum. But Polman, who is gaining an international reputation as one of the world’s greenest CEOs, was there. And for one morning, that was enough to reveal that some corporate leaders possess values that transcend quarterly returns and shareholder demands – both of which Polmon insisted need to be de-emphasized for – he actually said this — the greater good of society.

When it comes to climate change, Polman is certainly out of synch with the oil baron Koch brothers in saying, “The cost of inaction is becoming greater than the cost of action.”

By example, he added, “Natural disasters linked to changing climate already cost us (at Unilever) more than $300 million a year. We see increases in food costs, water scarcity, reduced productivity in many parts of the agricultural supply chain — all linked directly to climate change. Left unchecked, climate change has the potential to be a significant barrier to our gross, and that of nearly every other (business) sector.”

For the record, Unilever – which owns Ben & Jerry’s, Knorr, Lipton and Bertolli olive oil, not to mention Dove, Vasoline and VO5 – ranks No. 140 on the Fortune 500. It has revenue exceeding $66 billion and profits of $6.4 billion. For his part, this bleeding-heart CEO brought home $11 million in total compensation last year, with a healthy bonus for exceeding growth expectations.

But just because he’s rich and successful doesn’t mean he doesn’t get it. Because Unilever sources raw materials from tropical regions around the world, it has come to understand that massive deforestation in Latin America, Africa and Asia is increasing carbon emissions, intensifying erratic weather and hurting his business – in both the short and long term.

“There is a strong business case for taking climate change out of the value chain,” Polman said. “It’s one of the reasons why we’re committed to sourcing 100 percent of our agricultural raw materials sustainably by the year 2020.

“To Unilever, sustainable agriculture sourcing includes eliminating deforestation from the entire supply chain. Our priority is therefore to preserve high conservation-value forests, forests with high carbon stocks, and tropical forests on peat surfaces. We are also implementing a responsible sourcing policy that we’re driving up the value chain for our suppliers.”

THAT’S HOW the needle moves. When Walmart decides that energy-efficient lights are not a leftist plot to kill profits, but rather a long-term money saver, large-scale change comes. When Unilever decides that it will not source palm oil from Indonesian suppliers that are rapaciously deforesting, change comes there, too.

None of this is easy, Polman notes. The world is moving toward a population of 9 billion people. Food output will need to increase by 80 percent to meet future demands. But large and small farms can do far more to increase yields on the same amount of land, while restoring land back to forests that have been destroyed, he said.

To speed things along, food industry giants such as Minnesota-based Cargill and Singapore-based Wilmar are also getting on board. Both are among the 170 governments and companies that pledged at a UN climate summit in September to halve the rate of deforestation from the production of commodities like palm oil, soy, paper and beef products no later than 2020, and eliminating deforestation by 2030 as part of the New York Declaration on Forests.

“Deforestation is not just one of the great challenges in the fight against climate change,” Polman said. “It is the most important, immediate and urgent challenge, in my opinion. We are not yet acting at either the speed or scale that the problem demands. But we can win this battle.”

Justin Catanoso is a freelance journalist based in North Carolina and director of journalism at Wake Forest University. His reporting is sponsored in part by the Wake Forest Center on Energy, Environment and Sustainability, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington, D.C.



E is for Energy, Environment, Ethics, Economy, Efficiency, EnergEyes & Elkington

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

E is for Energy, Environment, Ethics, Economy, Efficiency, EnergEyes & Elkington

The Four E’s of Sustainability – Energy, Environment, Ethics and Economy – are emphasised in my  “Race for Sustainability” book and retain their relevance and connectivity. Our other initiative, EnergyEyes, arrived on the scene to promote renewable energy in South East Asia. We can never get enough of John Elkington, who launched his latest “Breakthrough” book and lauded the work of city Mayors. Energy Efficiency is taking on greater importance as the Indonesia Energy Conservation & Efficiency Society (I E C E S/M A S K E E I) organised its first national conference and the new Indonesian President started to cut fuel subsidies. Here’s an article specially written for us by Idris Sulaiman, an enthusiast for energy efficiency and one of the key organisers of the energy efficiency event. Read More


Source: &


Article specially written for ABC Carbon Express by Idris Sulaiman, an enthusiast for energy efficiency and one of the key organisers of Indonesia’s first forum on energy efficiency last month (November 2014):

Indonesia’s Clean Energy is brimming with potential


“Why would anyone want to invest in energy efficiency measure in Indonesia?” The country has been known for low energy prices, which has been subsidized for years. It seems hardly anyone is thinking of energy-saving measures, when many top hotels, restaurants and other similar places seem to pride themselves is setting their AC to the lowest temperature to make it “attractive” for their clientele to come.

I thought I would take the time to share with you a little bit of my optimism of seeing energy-saving measures in this new era of ‘mental revolution’ and e-blusukan (community video-conference consultations) of President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo and particularly as a result of the formation of a new multi-stakeholder advocacy group on energy efficiency and conservation in Indonesia.

Even though fuel subsidies were in previous decades the order of the day, on November 18, 2014 President Jokowi has relatively been successful introducing significant cuts to the fuel subsidies which was accompanied by several welfare safety-net measures in the form of direct transfer payments to people on low income who are hit hard by the increases in gasoline prices. On top of the reduced subsidies, there have been substantial recent increases (38.9-64.7%) in industry and household electricity tariffs that have affected almost all except the electricity users from low income groups in Indonesia.

Now that subsidies have been significantly lowered in fuel prices and electricity tariffs, it stands to reason that people will closely look at energy efficiency and conservation measures as well as consider using renewable energy much more seriously. However, there is a great need for awareness raising in the potential of clean energy in terms of available technologies and their potential money savings. While the government has come forward with some necessary policies including incentives, in the area of energy-saving and renewable financing Indonesia needs to bring them in line with the rest of ASEAN countries. In countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, the government have a range of policies that actively support clean energy.

In the midst of the commotion of fuel price and electricity tariff increase, on 27 to 28 November 2014 the Indonesia Energy Conservation and Efficiency (IECES or known by the Indonesian acronym MASKEEI) held its First National Discussion Forum and Congress entitled “Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Resilience for Indonesia’s Sustainable Future” in Jakarta.  The Congress elected Soedjono (Jon) Respati (CEO, Center for Sustainability, Surya University) as MASKEEI’s First Executive Director, Fazil Alfitri (CEO of Medco Power) as Chair of the Board of Supervisors and Dr. Marzan A. Iskandar (former Head, Agency for Assessment and Application of Technology-BPPT) as Chair the Board of Professionals and Experts.

The society which consists of individual professionals, companies and industry/professional organizations as well as academics aims to raise awareness and improve all efforts to achieve national energy resilience and a sustainable and equitable development through its central motto of “Enhancing Energy Productivity” in Indonesia. MASKEEI is gathering all interested parties in promoting various technologies and their applications for conservation and efficiency efforts. The society also plans to play an active role as government’s partner in developing strategic policies and support related capacity building.

The National Discussion Forum was opened by a speech from Sudirman Said, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources and followed by 18 international and domestic speakers with professionals, government policy makers and academic backgrounds. The four panels covered key topics: Policy and Regulatory Developments; Energy Efficiency and Conservation Business; Latest developments in Renewable Energy and Info-Tech Communications that supports clean energy; and Energy Efficiency in Transport and Logistics.

In essence many speakers emphasized that in order to meet the energy needs that are likely to continue to increase, the government needs to seriously support energy demand-side management as well as plan to make improvements on the supply-side. Over the next five years, the government will build a power plant to produce 35 thousand megawatts (MW), they urge that MASKEEI to actively support the government to come up with a roadmap for national energy utilization (demand-side). “Because in the past the use of energy in Indonesia was clearly wasteful. To produce one dollar of GDP in Indonesia, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), it takes 6.191 BTU of total primary energy. The intensity or the amount of energy used to produce one unit of economic output was still below the average in the Asia-Oceania and is ranked 74th, said Dr Marzan, the newly elected Chair of MASKEEI’s Board of Professionals/Experts.

Dr. Marzan who previously headed the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) added that “for the pursuit of a balanced economic growth, Indonesia should optimized its energy efficiency strategy as the production of one kWh of electrical energy costs more than the cost of saving one KWh.” He further stressed that “energy efficiency refers to the use of less energy to produce the same number or amount of useful services or the same output. Efficiency is not enough with efforts to reduce energy use, but must be accompanied by increase in energy productivity.”

No doubt that if Indonesia can achieve higher energy productivity, then offsetting increases in fossil fuel prices and in electricity tariff are now potential possible and can become national priority given the improvements in technologies. However, “energy savings should be supported by appropriate fiscal policies” said Dr. Luluk Sumiarso, the moderator of MASKEEI’s Forum. “For example, hybrid cars that cost much expensive than ordinary cars. Solar water heaters can save energy use but still considered a luxury item.”

One of the Forum’s speakers, Dr. Venny Chandra, Director of ECORIA and Sustainability Advisor of Ciputra Group remarked that  “The momentum is here for us to engage with the public at-large. I believe the synergy with the private sector is under-utilised – and it was good to be able to share that with MASKEEI’s Forum. There is a great effort to pull everyone together in MASKEEI and as such this should continue”.

Incidentally, President Jokowi in his celebrated pre-election debate speech (5 July 2014) also said that “the government should dare to make policy to utilize energy potential in the most optimal and efficient way”.

MASKEEI has brought together many organizations and people working to better Indonesia’s use of energy. Many speakers suggest that Indonesia is ready for some great years ahead, though it will require hard work and collaboration in order to get the right government policies and investment climate. MASKEEI, business and other society’s stakeholders needs to pull together as a community to do this, then no doubt good things will happen as improving energy conservation and efficiency is also in the national interest and in the interest of a low-carbon global future. Then there should be little doubt that many would want to invest in energy efficiency measures along with other clean energy ventures in Indonesia.




MASKEEI harap bantu mendukung dan jangan segan-segan mengkritisi Pemerintah

“We hope that MASKEEI can assist and will not hesitate to criticize the Government”

Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources,
Speech delivered at MASKEEI National Discussion Forum (Jakarta, 27 November 2014)




“I wanted to congratulate MASKEEI on a job well done with the National Discussion Forum (27-28 Nov 2014). I thoroughly enjoyed the event and am very excited about the impact it will have on Energy Efficiency in Indonesia”, CEO, PT SYNERGY EFFICIENCY SOLUTIONS




“Congratulations on such a successful First NDF. It was extremely valuable and exciting” CEO, OUT PERFORMERS




“The momentum is here for us to engage with the public at-large. I believe the synergy with the private sector is under-utilised – and it was good to be able to share that with MASKEEI’s Forum. Great effort to pull everyone together in MASKEEI. Well done”, Director of ECORIA and Sustainability Advisor of CIPUTRA GROUP




“Increased funding for conservation and energy efficiency will be very timely with the increasing
‘fiscal space’ after the reduction in fuel subsidies”, Head of Budgetary Policy, Fiscal Policy Agency, Minister of Finance (Kabid APBN-BKF-KemKeu )


Dr. Idris F. Sulaiman, Associate Fellow on ICT and Energy at Center for Sustainability,
Surya University, Indonesia and at Digital Divide Institute, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
He is a member of the Board of Professionals/Experts, Indonesia Energy Conservation &
Efficiency Society  (M A S K E E


F is for a Flying Future, Fuels, Funds, Forests, Foods & Fibres

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

F is for a Flying Future, Fuels, Funds, Forests, Foods & Fibres

As November 2014 marked the launch of my latest book “Mr SIA: Fly Past”, we give you a significant chunk of the last chapter “Flying into the Future” as it has a sustainable prescription for what “flies ahead”, with solar, safer and quieter supersonic, along with lighter, more fuel efficient aircraft to lead to a 50% cut in aviation emissions by 2050.  The year also saw advances in Fuels (the jet bio kind), Funds for a cleaner energy future, Fibre of the carbon variety for cars and aircraft, plus Food security and less waste, Forest Fires on the rise and greater Forest protection to come. Read More



Extracts from Chapter 23 in the book “Mr SIA” Fly Past” by Ken Hickson, published by World Scientific Publishing (November 2014):


“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

(Leonardo da Vinci,1452 – 1519)


Flying into the Future

Is the future of flight something dreams are made of or is it much more down to earth?

Do we aspire to quietly fly with the angels or the birds? Or blast off into space at the unbearable speed of light to break the sound barrier? Or do we just want to enjoy the air travel experience as much as we welcome arriving at our destination?

Airbus conducted a very comprehensive survey in 2012 involving 10,000 people around the world who said what they wanted from the future of flight. The call was definitely for more flying, in a more sustainable way and a less stressful experience. Here are a few of the key findings:

  • 63% of people worldwide say they will fly more by 2050
  • 60% do not think social media will replace the need to see people face-to-face
  • 96% believe aircraft will need to be more sustainable or ‘eco-efficient’
  • Almost 40% feel air travel (door-to-door) is increasingly stressful
  • 86% of people think less fuel burn is key
  •  85% want to see a reduction in carbon emissions
  • 66% want quieter aircraft
  • 65% would like to see planes which are fully recyclable.

Besides carrying out such an educational survey, Airbus is doing a lot of work on design for future flight, including creating radical blueprints for concept planes and aircraft interiors. It is all about learning more of the technologies and innovations that come together in an engineer’s dream for a concept plane. It is also using ‘biomimicry’ or biologically inspired engineering. A growing number of aeronautical innovations are inspired by an array of natural structures, organs and materials. These tried and tested patterns of the natural world will continue to be a powerful source of inspiration in the future.

Lim Chin Beng is a airline man who has lived through practically all stages of the development of flight – through 9 of the 11 decades since the first commercial flight got off the ground in 1914 – so not only does he know a thing or two about the past and present flying machines, but he has some perceptive views for the future too.

When Mr Lim talked about tourism and its benefits to a conference in Singapore way back in 1988, he pointed to the five important factors for the tourist industry to always bear in mind: the economic and the manpower factors for a start, which were so important for the economic viability and sustainability of the industry.

But he put equal emphasis on what matters to people, to the tourists themselves. He points to the cultural factor and the exotic factor. Being conscious of the cultural and social implications as well as impacts of tourism – whether intended or not – as well as providing for the human craving for exoticism and excitement.

But the fifth factor, which was very relevant to him at the time when he was both an airline man and a committed promoter of a tourist destination (Singapore), was the accessibility factor.

He called for the industry – airlines, civil aviation authorities and tourism organisations – “to bring down the barriers to travel”.

Freedom of the skies is still not a reality everywhere. Great strides have been made and most of the worst protectionist countries have opened up and allowed airlines of other countries access to destinations and markets.

He would like to see more being done in the future to make sure there are no barriers to airlines or the countries they originate from or want to fly to and through.

The flying experience has certainly improved with newer and more efficient aircraft, but as more are flying and the low cost carriers have helped make that happen, the infrastructure on the ground has struggled to keep up.

He believes the pleasure of travel – now and in the future – should start with the airport experience. He is well aware that some airports are bad enough to put people off air travel for life!

Some airports are managing very well because they plan ahead. At Singapore Changi Airport the comfort and convenience of the passenger is uppermost and it still wins awards, he is pleased to see,  because management is thinking ahead and providing for the future of air travel now.

How does Changi do it? While always making sure security and safety is taken into account, there is remarkably good co-operation amongst all the Government agencies – immigration, customs, police – to ensure that departures and arrivals go smoothly. Good systems are in place to cope with the growing volume of traffic day and night.

An example, not only as to how Singapore thinks ahead, but also to show how willing it is to share, is the planned World Airport Expo in February 2015.

The intrusion of drones – unmanned aircraft used largely up until now for military purposes – into the preserve of air freight companies for shipment of goods and mail deliveries, should make some airlines sit up to see what the flying freight future holds. This Reuters report shows that Google and Amazon are trialing drones for deliveries:

Google is developing airborne drones capable of flying on their own and delivering anything from candy to medicine.

The effort, which Google calls Project Wing, marks the company’s latest expansion beyond its Web-based origins and could help Google break into lucrative markets such as commerce and package delivery, ratcheting up the competition with

Google rival Inc announced plans last year 2013) to use aerial delivery drones for a service called “Prime Air.”

In 2012, Congress required the FAA to establish a road map for the broader use of drones. The FAA has allowed limited use of drones in the United States for surveillance, law enforcement, atmospheric research and other applications.

He told MBA students in 2005:

I would venture that the sector length of future flights will be determined not by the technical aspect of the aircraft but by the maximum hours that passengers can endure being cooped up in an aircraft. Another interesting aviation milestone is that all the world’s B747s have flown a total distance equivalent to 75,000 round trips from earth to the moon!

Talking about the moon, what about space travel?

He is well aware of the plans of Sir Richard Branson and other transport entrepreneurs like Elon Musk to take passengers into space and bring them back.

Mr Lim would not be the only one to question whether space travel can become within the reach of enough people to make it viable, but he does agree that aviation has made great strides since the early island-hopping days and nights of international air travel in flying boats from the 1930s to the 1950s, which were definitely reserved for the very rich.

Maybe one day in the future – thanks to the pioneering work Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and XCOR, along with their NASA predecessors  – space flight will be safe and value for money. But Mr Lim thinks that is a long way ahead.

What is more realistic and more achievable is a return to super-sonic travel. He predicted its return when he spoke to the MBA students in 2005 [11]:

Looking further into the future, I am convinced that the supersonic airplane will make a comeback. With an ideal size of say 300 seats, the range capability to fly across the Pacific, quieter and more efficient engines and capable of flying at a speed of Mach 3, it should prove very popular with the businessmen. The second generation SST would allow businessmen to have face to face meetings without having to waste too much time travelling long distances and spending long periods away from their offices.

Some airports may specialize in handling the SST, some in handling the ultra long haul flights and become major aviation hubs. Some may even specialize in handling budget airlines. But what is certain is that airports that do not change, coupled with an aviation policy that are restrictive, will degenerate into insignificant airports catering to perhaps just domestic flights and a few international flights, instead of becoming important international aviation hubs.

It wasn’t just the Concorde disaster on take-off at Charles de Gaule Airport, Paris in 2000 that put an end to supersonic passenger flights. The Concorde was uneconomic – it could not a carry enough passengers to make it pay – and it was so noisy that even countries like Malaysia banned it from flying over its airspace.

For the future – predicts Mr Lim – there will be supersonic passenger aircraft and they will be as quiet today’s passenger jets. They will have to be designed to carry at least 300 passengers a flight and they will offer the fastest and most convenient way to travel long distance for those who can afford to pay a premium.
But before supersonic aircraft make their return, Mr Lim thinks we will be able to experience what the people in Airbus survey wanted – more sustainable and eco-efficient aircraft. That is well on the way, with the design and manufacturer of aircraft. Along with the desire of the whole industry to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment and cut its emissions of greenhouse gases.

When you see how far commercial aviation has come in 100 years – as Tony Tyler the Director General and CEO of IATA told an aviation conference in Singapore in February 2014 – you can start to think where it might be in the next 100 years. To him,  the way forward for aviation involved improving regulation, ensuring sustainability and expanding connectivity:

“Our goals are to achieve a 1.5% improvement in fuel efficiency annually by 2020; to cap net emissions with carbon neutral growth from 2020 and cut net emissions in half by 2050 as compared to 2005 levels. And we will achieve this through a combination of four elements: better technology, infrastructure, operations, and with a global mechanism for market based measures (MBM)”.

The same article went on to explain how a MBM scheme works and what is already happening on a voluntary basis, where according to IATA, at least 32 of its member airlines have introduced offset programmes, either integrated into their web-sales engines or to a third party offset provider.

Market Based Mechanisms are only one way airlines plan to make future flights cleaner, with less impact on the environment.

While Mr Lim is the first to admit that there were not the same “environmental impact” pressures on airlines during his 30-odd years in the business. But in fact what SIA was doing for very good economic reasons in the 1980s and 1990s by maintaining the most modern fleet in the world had added benefits. The newer aircraft were more energy efficient than the ones they replaced. Less polluting, more productive, cleaner and greener than what went before.

How do the big aircraft manufacturers see flying into the future? Airbus sees it this way.

In unveiling its 2050 vision for ‘Smarter Skies’, Airbus allows for more flights, fewer emissions and quicker passenger journey times. For the first time, its vision of sustainable aviation in the future looks beyond aircraft design to how the aircraft is operated both on the ground and in the air in order to meet the expected growth in air travel in a sustainable way.

Already today, if the Air Traffic Management (ATM) system and technology on board aircraft were optimised (assuming around 30 million flights per year), Airbus research suggests that every flight in the world could on average be around 13 minutes shorter. This would save around 9 million tonnes of excess fuel annually, which equates to over 28 million tonnes of avoidable CO2 emissions and a saving for passengers of over 500 million hours of excess flight time on board an aircraft.


The future, as Airbus see it, concentrates on operational achievements and the Smarter Skies vision, which consists of five concepts which could be implemented across all the stages of an aircraft’s operation to reduce waste in the system (waste in time, waste in fuel, reduction of CO2). Its five include: eco-climb, express skyways, free glide approaches and landings, ground operations and power.


While Airbus makes a strong commitment to operational gains in the battle to make sure aviation maintains blue skies into the future, Boeing is making the most of its achievements in aircraft design and production. And still holds out its Dreamliner aircraft as its best contribution to date to the future of cleaner and clearer skies.


It is not just aircraft design and performance – even when it’s better for the environment – that is so important to the passenger. As Mr Lim has noted, a determinant for the operation by airlines over long distances is how much “passengers can endure being cooped up in an aircraft”.

Mr Lim would applaud such improvements that mean greater comfort for passengers on board, but he also wonders about how to satisfy those who want an even quieter and cleaner ride. Maybe the Solar Impulse is the aircraft of the future.

It is the work of two men, both pioneers, innovators and pilots. The driving force behind Solar Impulse is Bertrand Piccard, doctor, psychiatrist, explorer and aeronaut. He made the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight and is the project initiator and chairman. André Borschberg, an engineer and graduate in management science, a fighter pilot – a professional airplane and helicopter pilot – is the co-founder and CEO.

Together they are attempting to rewrite the next pages in aviation history with solar energy, and voyaging around the world without fuel or pollution. Their ambition is for the world of exploration and innovation to contribute to the cause of renewable energies, to demonstrate the importance of clean technologies for sustainable development; and to place dreams and emotions back at the heart of scientific adventure.

The Solar Impulse is not the first solar airplane ever designed, but it is certainly the most ambitious. None of its predecessors has ever managed to fly right through the night with a pilot on board.

The flying inventors admit they are “dealing here with a symbol, as solar airplanes are unlikely ever to carry 300 passengers, but it is a symbol that affects all of us. In fact, aren’t we all on Earth in the same situation as the Solar Impulse pilot?”

So is the future of flight a solar powered plane which can transverse the earth without using one litre of fuel, except for that freely provided by the sun?

Or does it mean going “back to the future” with quieter but powerful super-sonic passenger jets or maybe a “voyage in a ship” that takes us beyond earth to the edge of space?

There’s no doubt in Lim Chin Beng’s mind that people will want to fly in ever increasing numbers to even more places. The Airbus survey bears that out, just as it shows a desire for a more sustainable, less stressful air travel experience.

Flying in the future presents a dilemma and a challenge for those in the aviation industry responsible for producing the machines and making them fly.  How to do that, bearing in mind not only the dreams and demands of people, but to do it for the planet and for profit?

There’s at least one man who has played his part – many parts in fact – in delivering flying pleasure to millions around the world.

For the man they still call “Mr SIA”, the letter “S” must figure prominently on the passport when flying into the future: Supersonic, safe, secure, sustainable, space, solar and silent.

But the capital S word which Lim Chin Beng counts on to continue to provide leadership in the future of aviation is none other than the place which has figured so prominently in the fly past over the first 100 years of commercial aviation ….Singapore.

Source: and

G is for Green Growth & Business, Green Energy, Green Productivity, Directgreen & Beyond Green to Blue Cities

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

G is for Green Growth & Business, Green Energy, Green Productivity, Directgreen & Beyond Green to Blue Cities

G is for the Green focus of conferences in Taipei, Taiwan in March, September and November: Green Productivity, Green Energy and Green Products, Purchasing and Procurement. Plus the progress of Directgreen to bring shoppers and sellers together for sustainable purchasing. Then the important Green Growth and Business Forum in Singapore mid-year, which produced a flurry of follow-up articles. For good measure, here’s the article which says “Green Cities are good but blue cities are even better”, based on my presentation at the APO International Conference on “Achieving Sustainability to Empower Future Generations”. Read More

Sustainable cities go beyond green to blue

Blue and Green Tomorrow (12 April 2014):

Green cities are good, but blue cities are even better, argues Ken Hickson.

We can turn blue with cold or become “true blue”. We can sing the blues or join in with the words of the old Willie Nelson song: “Nothing but blue skies from now on”. So how about considering the colour blue as a means to go beyond green to transform our cities to be more liveable, sustainable, smart and resilient?

The man who is most closely identified with turning to the colour blue is Gunter Pauli, the Belgium economist. His book, The Blue Economy, had the twin aims of stimulating entrepreneurship while setting up new and higher standards of sustainability. It’s a progressive metamorphosis from the green economy.

We have little choice when it comes to taking necessary action to transform where we live and what we do. From the realities we see around us, the global systems crisis is not one but many crises. The climate crisis is there for all to see, but we also have connected crises relating to food, water, energy, waste, housing and the economy.

We are also reminded of the projected timings of ‘climate departure’, which refer to the findings of a University of Hawaii study reported last October in Nature, and shows that countries and cities in the Asia Pacific will face the impact of dangerous climate change from 2020 onwards.

There are many measurements and assessments around the world for smart and sustainable cities. One of the most respected is the Siemens Green Cities Index, which employs 29 indicators across eight categories – energy and CO2, land use and buildings, transport, waste, water, sanitation, air quality, and environmental governance – to determine where each city falls in five “performance bands”.

Singapore was the top performer in the Asian Green City Index and shows consistently strong results across all individual categories. It has emphasised the importance of sustainability through holistic planning, high-density development and green space conservation. It has also produced leading water recycling plants and waste-to-energy facilities.

The blue economy, as with the blue city, does not mean managing with less. In fact, it ultimately leads to abundance and prosperity. It follows patterns in nature that first respond to need and then flourish. Pauli says we need to celebrate collaboration, innovation and the collective strength of organisations to create transformational change.

Besides highlighting the “liveability” status, we see cities that we know well and they are taking steps to transform themselves, changing from their old ways in their use of energy, transport and buildings towards cleaner air, cleaner streets and much lower emissions of greenhouse gases.

Sydney, Australia: Already regarded as a world city for its lifestyle, entertainment, the arts, environment and its role as the nation’s business capital, Sydney aims to do a lot more in the sustainability stakes. It aims to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 – one of the most ambitious targets in Australia.

Melbourne has been crowned the globe’s most liveable city for the third time in a row, nudging out Austrian capital Vienna in the Economist Intelligence Unit Survey (2013). In the review of 140 cities, the Australian state of Victoria’s capital was given perfect scores for healthcare, education and infrastructure. It is setting high benchmarks for greening its property sector, too.

Paris: Transforming France’s capital into an electric city began with Autolib’, an electric car sharing service inaugurated in December 2011. It deploys 3,000 all-electric for public use on a paid subscription basis, based around a citywide network of parking and charging stations. By February 2013, there were 4,000 charging points in Paris.

Helsinki: One of the 10 smartest cities in Europe, it really shines in the smart government arena. With more than 1,000 open datasets, it has been actively promoting engagement with developers through hackathons. It also played host to the first global Open Knowledge Festival in 2012.

Taipei: The Siemens Asian Green City Index depicts a highly sustainable Taipei, in the top seven cities out of 22. Taipei collects 100% of its waste while managing to produce the second lowest amount of total waste in its high income city bracket. Taipei 101, billed as the tallest green building in the world, is arguably the best example of waste and recycling performance of any building anywhere.

Tokyo: In 2005, Tokyo inaugurated the nation’s first business-oriented CO2 Emission Reduction Programme, covering  40% of the industrial and commercial sectors’ CO2 emissions, which equates to 20% of Tokyo’s entire CO2 emissions. Almost 1,400 facilities are covered, and office buildings comprise 80% of all covered facilities.

London sets itself up as a good example of respect for culture and tradition, as well as sustainable economic development. Among the world’s top 10 most resilient cities (ranked by Triple Pundit in 2011), it was also an early mover in adaptation by erecting the second largest movable flood barrier in the world. The Thames Barrier, operational since 1982, “protects 125 sq km of central London from flooding caused by tidal surges”.

We need to observe and emulate the way nature’s ecosystems function, so as to create jobs, increase capital and revenue while respecting the environment, says Pauli, who points to three overarching organisational objectives which are needed to transform our economies and our cities:

- Net Zero Emissions
- No Waste to Disposal
- Net Positive Impact

Singapore is at the forefront of city transformation, as the unifying theme for World Cities Summit in Singapore in June 2014 is “Liveable and Sustainable – Common Challenges, Shared Solutions”, when city leaders and companies will look at the state of challenges and identify principles of shared solutions, spanning the range of development, socio-economic and political contexts.

Singapore is also the focus for the Blue Cities Index and Blue Cities Forum, devised by Sydney-sider Rodin Genoff, who works on transforming industries and communities. It is a new process to measure and promote a number of indicators, taking the features of a green city and improving them with systems, infrastructure, technologies and governance for a smarter and efficient way of working.

There exist five keys to open the door to transformation for our cities:

1. Strong Leadership with public-private partnership and community involvement
2. Make bold moves, drawing on technology, creativity and determination
3. Combine the forces of Energy, Economy, Environment and Ethics for sustainable outcomes
4. Manage all resources effectively, including waste, to achieve economic returns
5. Keep people in mind, as sustainable cities are noticeably healthier and more liveable

But most of all we have to adopt – at home and abroad – a sense of urgency.

If transformation means turning blue, that’s the way to go. Not wallowing in doom and gloom – “feeling the blues” – but acting now so we have a chance to once again experience the blue skies ahead.

Ken Hickson is chairman of Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA), regional director in Asia for Be Sustainable and Singapore chairman for the International Green Purchasing Network. He is the author of five books, including Race for Sustainability and The ABC of Carbon.  This article is based on his presentation at the Asian Productivity Organisation International Conference with the theme, “Achieving Sustainability to Empower Future Generations” in Taipei, Taiwan on Friday March 14 2014. Contact him at:

H is for the Haze, Healthy Buildings & Honda’s Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Homes as well as Cars

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

H is for the Haze, Healthy Buildings & Honda’s Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Homes as well as Cars

H is for the Haze – trans-boundary air pollution from burning – which didn’t come back to hurt Singapore in 2014 with the same degree of harm as it did in 2013. Singapore Institute of International Affairs presented the paper “From the Haze to Resources: Mapping a Path to Sustainability” at the Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources. We discovered the Japanese experience similar air borne invasions from across the sea (see Y for Yellow Dust). Honda shows off a new Hydrogen fuel cell car that can even power your House. Jane Henley of the World Green Building Council heralds a report on “Health, well-being and productivity in offices: The next chapter for green building”. Read More


Healthy Buildings: The Next Chapter in Green Building

In Huffington Post (24 September 2014):

Jane Henley, CEO, World Green Building Council


What’s the secret to a healthy, productive office? Bring in the fresh air, let in daylight, minimize noise and keep the temperature steady. Sounds obvious, right?

And yet, many people spend their working week sitting in sealed up, stuffy offices that are dim and dingy or lit up like operating theaters.

They sit shivering in winter or sweating in summer, are distracted by incessant disruptive noise, and never see the sun or the sky during the day.

This isn’t good — for the health of people, or for the health of the planet.

The World Green Building Council, in partnership with its Green Building Council network, has today published a new report, Health, well-being and productivity in offices: The next chapter for green building, which finds a range of factors — from air quality and lighting to views of nature and interior layout — can affect workers’ health, satisfaction and job performance.

When employee salaries and benefits make up 90 per cent of a typical organization’s budget, a small improvement in staff performance can have a big impact.

Take daylight, for example. While the stereotype of the coveted ‘corner office’ may be outdated, research finds that workers with access to natural light and views are more productive than their colleagues who are squeezed into dark, dim cubicles.

One 2011 study, which investigated the relationship between view quality, daylighting and sick leave of employees in administration offices of Northwest University, Washington, found those in offices with better daylight and views took 6.5 per cent fewer sick days.

Absenteeism is a significant drain on business productivity — which ultimately impedes profitability. The annual absenteeism rate in the United States is three per cent per employee in the private sector, and four per cent in the public sector, costing employers US$2,074 and $2,502 per employee per year respectively.

In many cases, sustainable design strategies trigger a “virtuous circle” that delivers both economic and environmental dividends. For example, designing a building to maximize daylight reduces the need for artificial daylight, and with it energy costs and carbon emissions, while also creating a more pleasant and productive workplace for people.

The report — sponsored by JLL, Lend Lease and Skanska — also presents a simple toolkit that businesses can use to measure the health, wellbeing and productivity of their buildings and inform financial decision-making.

While this report doesn’t have all the answers, it does establish a pathway to help building owners and managers measure the previously unmeasurable — and to make business decisions that are better for people, performance and profit, and leave the planet better off too.


I is for IPEx, IEA, IRENA, IGPN, ISO 20121 & Interface

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

I is for IPEx, IEA, IRENA, IGPN, ISO 20121 & Interface

As the market potential for Cleantech investments in Asia could reach US$20 and 50 billion per annum between now and 2020, the time is right for the launch of IPEx Cleantech Asia, as the world’s first “matchmaker” for technology providers and prospective adopters in Asian countries. IEA denounces subsidies for fossil fuels, while IRENA pushes for greater renewable energy investment. IGPN continues to promote green purchasing and procuring, while ISO 20121 is now the sustainable event standard. Interface, the world’s largest carpet tile manufacturer achieves 100% renewable energy, virtually zero water in manufacturing and zero waste to landfill in Europe. Read More


IPEx Cleantech Asia Provides Technology Transfer Marketplace

Report in Green Business Singapore  (6 December 2014):

There’s a multi-billion dollar market in Asia for low carbon clean technology – or Cleantech – and IPEx Cleantech Asia has been launched to capitalise on this.

The new Singapore-based entity will act as a matchmaker and service provider, assisting both technology companies from around the world with innovative products and services, and prospective buyers and adopters in Asian countries.

Believed to be the world’s first Cleantech Intellectual Property (IP) Assisted Brokerage Platform, it is an initiative of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and is set up by ReEx Capital Asia and DNV GL Clean Technology Centre.

The initial focus areas for IPEx Cleantech Asia are Solar, Energy Storage, Energy Efficiency and Waste to Energy. It is equipped to identify deals that could create value for both technology holders and acquirers, as well as provide enhanced due diligence assessment to cover patent, IP, financial and commercial as well as technical considerations.

The market potential for Cleantech investments in Asia is estimated by the industry to be between US$20 and 50 billion per annum between now and 2020, while the World Bank estimates that a further US$20-30 billion per annum is required to shift to low-emission technologies in developing countries.

As the region is home to 53 percent of the world’s population and some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, the majority of Cleantech funding is expected to happen in the Asia Pacific region, which is also the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

One of the prime movers behind IPEx Cleantech Asia, ReEx Capital Asia will operate the platform with DNV GL Clean Technology Center providing policy and technical advisory services.

ReEx Capital Asia’s CEO, Yanis Boudjouher, says “IPEx will operate by proactively bringing together low carbon technologies (LCTs) and those ready and willing to finance and acquire them”.

Frederic Crampe, ReEx Capital Asia’s co-founder, adds that “the assisted brokerage entity will bridge LCTs from around the world with relevant Asia-based project developers and systems integrators”.

The other key partner in this venture, Dr Sanjay C Kuttan, Director of DNV GL Clean Technology Centre, says “IPEx Cleantech Asia will accelerate the transfer and deployment of LCTs to developing Asia by ensuring a high level pre-feasibility evaluation is in place that facilitates the transaction, thereby helping to mitigate climate change impacts and stimulate economic development”.

ADB’s Jiwan Acharya, Senior Climate Change Specialist, said during the side event of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Climate Change Conference held in Lima, Peru: “Asia and the Pacific has the most to gain and the most to lose from climate change. Greater access to climate technologies and financing would help put the region on a low-carbon path that would benefit the region, and the world.”

The parties involved in the new marketplace have extensive experience in the technology transfer, IP, technology and funding in the Cleantech sector, most notably involving investments in renewable energy projects in Asia.



Interface Europe Reports (5 February 2014):

Interface Europe reaches sustainability milestones, achieving 90% carbon reduction

World’s largest carpet tile manufacturer achieves 100% renewable energy, virtually zero water in manufacturing and zero waste to landfill at its European manufacturing facility in The Netherlands

Interface, a leading carpet tile manufacturer and environmental pioneer, has reached a series of major sustainability milestones at its European manufacturing facility in Scherpenzeel, The Netherlands.

As of January 2014 the company has been operating with 100% renewable energy (both electricity and gas), using virtually zero water in its manufacturing processes and has attained zero waste to landfill. This is a key achievement for the facility and a significant step forward for the company as it strives towards Mission Zero – Interface’s pledge to eliminate any negative impact it has on the environment by 2020 and by doing so, become a restorative enterprise.

Interface started its Mission Zero journey in 1996 and by 2013 had reduced its GHG emissions by 80% and water use by 87% in Europe. The company has recently introduced several innovations that are significantly reducing its impact on the environment further still, achieving 95% water reduction and 90% carbon reduction from January 2014. One example is the company’s recent switch to green gas at its facility in Scherpenzeel. The gas is created by anaerobic digestion of fish waste, which is filtered to natural gas and pumped into the grid. The other main innovation implemented has been a water recirculation system through closed loop piping.

Commenting on Interface’s achievement, Rob Boogaard, CEO of Interface in Europe said, “In the past three years we have taken huge strides towards our Mission Zero goal. To put it in context, as per January 2014, we are operating our European factories with a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1996 while the EU Commission has set an EU carbon reduction target of 40% by 2030. 2014 is a landmark year for us in many ways as we celebrate 20 years of Mission Zero, and these figures from our European manufacturing operations show just how far we’ve come and what can be achieved with the right mind set and ambition.

“However, while our achievements are to be celebrated, this is certainly not a time to be complacent. For us, Mission Zero is not simply about reducing our own direct impacts – it’s also about taking full responsibility for the entire lifecycle of our products. Our goal is to cut the umbilical cord to oil, with the result that 44% of our raw materials in Europe are already recycled or bio-based we’ve come a long way but our Mission continues.”


J is for Japan’s Leadership in Green Productivity & Resilience, Japan for Sustainability & Tokyo Cap & Trade for Buildings

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

J is for Japan’s Leadership in Green Productivity & Resilience, Japan for Sustainability & Tokyo Cap & Trade for Buildings

J is for Japan’s Leadership in Green Productivity, Innovative & Sustainable Products and Companies – like Toyota, Hitachi, Fuji Xerox. The world’s first cap and trade scheme for buildings (in Tokyo). We also learn a little more of the work of creative sustainability consultant Daisuke Goto and his “Ideaship”. The Japan for Sustainability organisation is an example of leadership and says: “In this world of ever-increasing instability and uncertainty, “resilience” — the capacity to flexibly recover in any circumstances — is becoming extremely important”. Japan knows and working hard to build national resilience to face disasters, like Fukushima. Read More

Japan for Sustainability (19 December 2014):

Article by Junko Edahiro, chief executive of Japan for Sustainability, who  delivered a keynote speech on September 10, 2014, at an international symposium “Cope with the Stress of Future Changes – Preparing States, Region, Cities, Organization, Families and People for the Ongoing Transition” organized by the Club of Vienna, an international network of experts in economics, social, natural and environmental sciences. This JFS Newsletter article introduces the excerpts of her speech, Japan’s challenges revealed from Fukushima nuclear accidents.

For many years, I have been working in various roles as an interface among sectors in Japan, and as an interface between Japan and the rest of the world. I have been working as a communicator, so to speak. What you will hear today is from the perspective of someone who has been working for some 15 years to make a difference in the field of sustainability.

I have been working on, for example, governmental committees to combat climate change, biodiversity loss, energy, and other problems. I have been writing articles and books, giving talks to many audiences, and running a corporate consultancy.

But what I have found is that many issues in our world are symptoms of something deeper. That root cause we must face and address is the ever-growing appetite for economic growth. Unless we do something about this appetite, it will be difficult for us to solve other issues.

That was my thinking several years ago when I launched the Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society, and still is today. On this finite planet, it is difficult to have infinite economic growth. Everywhere, not only in Japan but in the rest of the world too, we witness many attempts and initiatives to create alternative paths for happiness and wellbeing. Back in Japan, our institute is engaged in various activities: research, publishing, creating dialogue, and networking with others in the world.


I’d like to talk the challenges we are facing in Japan. They relate to the Fukushima nuclear power plant accidents. We have not yet solved these problems, and they are enormous. Now I will talk about the current situation in Fukushima.

To air:
To date : 20,000 trillion becquerels (Bq) including cesium 134 and 137
Continuously 10 million Bq per hour
To ocean:
To date: immediately after the accident: 7,100 trillion Bq including cesium 134 and 137
Continuously 20 billon Bq per day due to contamination of underground

This is the status of the leakage of radioactive materials, according to a statement by the president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the company that owns the nuclear power plant. To date, we have been emitting a huge amount of nuclear material into the air and ocean, and this has not yet stopped. If you have visited Japan you will know that it is blessed with a rich natural environment. Everywhere we find abundant sources of groundwater. The Fukushima site is no exception. And this means that every day, about 400 tons of groundwater are flowing into the reactor site and becoming contaminated.

This is a huge problem for us. Now the government is trying to install a cooling shield underground. Reactors 1 to 4 are close to the seashore, while from the mountains, we have the inflow of 400 tons a day of groundwater getting contaminated. The government’s current plan is to install 1,550 pipes 30 meters deep, in the surrounding area. The length of the wall is 1.5 kilometers. The plan is to circulate a coolant at 30 degrees below zero to freeze the groundwater and surrounding soil.

What do you think about that? This is the plan. This is what the government is trying to do. The operation to install this “freezing wall” is set to start in March 2015 and is expected to continue until 2020. The construction costs are huge and will be paid by the government, meaning that taxpayers are paying for this.

To maintain freezing conditions for such a long time, the electricity costs will be huge. Many people are concerned about power failures. What will happen if the electricity stops?

The government has already tried many things to stop the contamination of groundwater, especially to prevent it from flowing into the ocean. An underground water bypass, purification system for contaminated water, and many other initiatives have been tried, but without success. Nobody knows if this cooling shield will succeed.

I had hoped that not only people in Japan but also experts from around the world could help us. But the problem is that the Japanese government and TEPCO are not willing to receive input. Since the Fukushima accident, I have been contacted by many experts from around the world, with offers of help — expertise and technologies to help us in Japan. I have conveyed their messages to the government, but the government’s typical reply is “Thank you, but no. We will take care of these things by ourselves.” This attitude is a problem.

In a year since the earthquake and nuclear accident, over 54,000 people moved out from Fukushima, over 70 percent increase compared to the previous year. Many people have left their homes and the region and never came back. As you would expect, many tragedies are happening in Fukushima. Communities are being torn apart, and families are being torn apart. Divorce levels are high, because husbands and wives may have different opinions about where to live. Suicide levels are high. And now Fukushima is facing economic damage because of the prefecture’s tarnished image. People in other parts of Japan are not willing to buy products — especially agricultural products — from Fukushima. Not surprisingly, they are afraid of radioactive materials potentially being in the products. This is a sad situation, still continuing in this region.

Then there is the problem of debris, not only from the Fukushima accident (highly contaminated, requiring experts to handle), but also from the earthquakes and tsunamis that also left a huge amount of debris. No communities elsewhere in Japan are willing to take this debris from Fukushima Prefecture. This problem has not yet been solved.

Now, because of the shutdown of Fukushima nuclear power plants and others throughout Japan, some people are concerned about energy shortages. And yes, we can expect more price increases.

Before the Fukushima accident, about a third of Japan’s electricity came from nuclear power. But today, all nuclear power plants are still shut down, as they we stopped for inspections and maintenance, and none have been restarted yet. So we now rely heavily on fossil fuels to generate electricity. This dependency creates a big problem for global warming and climate change, of course.

We heavily rely on imported fossil fuels, and our electricity costs have been increasing. Our national annual electricity bill has increased by 20 to 30 percent since March 11, 2011, the date of the earthquake and nuclear plant accident. People are concerned about energy security, because we are so dependent on outside energy sources.

We have some large hydropower generation plants, but still a small amount of renewables. Since 2012, when Japan introduced a feed-in-tariff system (utilities on the power grid must purchase electricity from small producers, at preset tariff rates), there has been a dramatic increase in electricity production from renewables, especially photovoltaics. But we started from nearly zero, so the portion of renewables among all the energy in Japan is still very limited.

To me, the real challenge includes the fading of public concern and interest. Three years feels like a long time to maintain a high level of public attention on anything. Of course, people living in Fukushima are still interested in doing whatever they can do. But generally speaking, since peaking after the accidents, the levels of concern and interest about these issues are declining among the Japanese people nationwide. Also, check the mass media coverage of Fukushima-related issues, and you will see that it has been decreasing sharply.

Japan’s current administration under Prime Minister Abe has put its priority on economic growth in order to the address Fukushima disaster and other issues. So people feel, “Now we don’t have the luxury of other options. To deal with Fukushima or energy issues, we should just focus on economic growth.” This is now a sentiment shared by many Japanese.

I believe that we should think about these situations from the structural level, but we haven’t done so yet. The previous administration tried to change things but failed and was thrown out in the last general election. Now the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the traditional power-holder, is again the ruling administration in Japan.

The Abe administration kicked out the anti-nukes members, including myself, from governmental committees. Before the Abe administration, I was a member of an energy committee, an advisory body for the government charged with providing input on energy policies until 2030 for Japan. We had 25 members, of whom myself and seven others were not in favor of nuclear power. It was a small contingent, but this was still a huge departure from the past because citizens and experts against nuclear power have never been assigned as members of a governmental advisory body.

The new administration, however, restructured the committee, eliminating anyone against nuclear power. Now what we have is a situation where government officials and committees are back to doing their jobs as if the March 2011 disasters had never occurred. They have resumed what they had been doing for 30 or 40 years, focusing on nuclear power.

In Japan we have what some people refer to as a “nuclear village”: a group of government officials, industries, and academia notorious for being strongly pro-nuclear. There has been little change in this group, and the regulatory committee to oversee nuclear policies and operations is currently headed by a well-known nuclear proponent. This morning [on September 10, 2014] I received news from Japan that the regulatory committee has approved Japan’s first re-start of a nuclear power plant (in Sendai), and it will likely take place this winter, I am afraid.

Another problem is that we have very limited real journalism in Japan’s mass media. If you just watch television and read national newspapers, you will get only a partial picture, not the whole picture. At the same time, Japan’s alternative media are weak, so it is difficult for anyone to get an alternative message across to the public.

If we hold a meeting like this one, we will attract likeminded people and can have a good discussion. But how can we go beyond that audience? It is a huge challenge.