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 | TIME.com
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.