Archive for the ‘Express 109’ Category

More than Business as Usual

Posted by admin on May 20, 2010
Posted under Express 109

More than Business as Usual

The new chief to guide the UN Climate Change negotiations is a woman who knows her way around the world of politicians, diplomats and the climate. Maybe she can help Australia get real in the world of emissions and energy, because there’s much to be said this week about the need to gear up on energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, and doing without at least one coal fired power station. The CPRS collapse could really mean business as usual, but some still hold out hope for a switch to a low carbon economy and green jobs. Grim news about what’s happening to global fish stocks and the Mediterranean gets the heat treatment. The US reaps what it sows in the bio fuel production business and the new UK Government commits to a 10% emissions reduction all on its own.Electric vehicles are getting another serious run for the money and we hear what’s in the wind for World Environment Day. And – at long lucky last – we invite nominations for this year’s ABC CARBON 50.

Profile: Christiana Figueres

Posted by admin on May 20, 2010
Posted under Express 109

Profile: Christiana Figueres

Way too many roads and not enough bridges have been built, declares Christiana Figueres, from Costa Rica, the new head of the UN Climate Change secretariat.  She stresses the need for change, saying countries and negotiators need to be “very creative and very innovative in how we approach our work”. She will lead the next round of high-level global talks scheduled to start 29 November in Mexico.

UN appoints new climate chief

Radio from Radio Australia News (17 May 2010)::

The United Nations has appointed a Costa Rican diplomat as its new climate chief, to head stalled international talks on how to counter the effects of greenhouse gases on global warming.

Christiana Figueres has been part of her country’s negotiating team in the global climate talks process since 1995.

Costa Rica has been praised for its progressive environmental policies which aim to make the country carbon neutral by 2021.

She’ll take over in July from Yvo de Boer of the Netherlands, as head of the UN climate change secretariat.

A summit in Copenhagen attended by 120 world leaders late last year failed to achieve a binding deal.

Ms Figueres faces a major task in trying to revive the talks process.


NEW YORK, New York, May 17, 2010 (ENS) – Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica has been selected to lead United Nations’ efforts to combat climate change.

Appointed today by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, she will become executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, when Yvo de Boer of The Netherlands steps down July 1, 2010 after four years as executive secretary.

“Ms. Figueres is an international leader on strategies to address global climate change and brings to this position a passion for the issue, deep knowledge of the stakeholders and valuable hands-on experience with the public sector, nonprofit sector and private sector,” said the secretary-general’s spokesman Martin Nesirky in announcing the appointment.

As her first task, Figueres will lead the next round of high-level global talks on climate change that will culminate in a two week summit starting November 29 in Cancun, Mexico.

The Figueres appointment comes five months after the Copenhagen Accord was reached at last December’s UN climate conference in the Danish capital.

That non-binding pact, endorsed by 111 governments, aims to jump-start immediate action on climate change and guide negotiations on long-term action, pledging to raise $100 billion annually by 2020.

It also includes an agreement to keep the global average temperature increase to below two degrees Celsius and efforts to reduce or limit emissions of the six greenhouse gases considered responsible for climate change.

At a March 22 news conference at UN Headquarters in New York introducing her as a candidate for the job, Figueres said she agreed with the secretary-general’s frequent description of climate change as the greatest challenge facing the human family, adding that the December Copenhagen Conference had made that point even more evident and “painful.”

Figueres said that, inspired by U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong’s words, she liked to think of the Copenhagen Accord as a “big step for the community of nations, but a very small step for the planet.”

It was a big step for the community of nations, she said, because, for the first time, the international community had agreed to strive for a maximum temperature increase of fewer than two degrees Celsius, and also because all large emitters, as well as many small ones, had actually made public mitigation pledges in a multilateral context.

Explaining why she considered the Copenhagen Accord “a small step for the planet,” she said “below two degrees has a huge range.” Was it 1.5, 1.6 or 1.7 degrees? she asked.

“That may not mean much to those in industrialized countries, but to the most vulnerable countries, the small island states, the difference between 1.5 and 1.6 or 1.7 is the difference of survival, so that needs to be further specified as we move further into the negotiations,” Figueres said.

She pointed out that the current level of climate mitigation pledges on the table is not enough even to reach the two degree Celsius maximum. Most of the several available analyses of the pledges agreed that the maximum temperature would end up at a three degree Celsius maximum, she said.

Figueres noted that some analyses had suggested that the total of mitigation pledges could end up at 3.9 degrees Celsius, which she said was “clearly insufficient” to ward off the most catastrophic effects of climate change. 

She emphasized that this year’s Cancun climate summit has to be “quite different” from Copenhagen since it must be oriented toward results.

While the past few years have been spent on creating the architecture for a new chapter of the climate regime, it is time to shift the focus from architecture to very concrete deliverables, she said. Such a shift presents challenges because member states have to ensure that there is no gap in the climate regime as the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period expires at the end of 2012.

At Cancun, “We really need to be very creative and very innovative in how we approach our work while still remaining within the rules of procedures of the UN,” said Figueres.

It is widely agreed among participants that the Copenhagen process had been neither inclusive nor transparent, had not been effective and had eroded trust, she said. “The challenge we are facing is that the atmosphere within which we have been working over the past few years has been pervaded by a deep lack of trust at all levels of the system.”

There is a lack of trust in climate science; in the negotiations themselves, and whether such a complex issue can be negotiated in a multilateral process; in whether governments should take the lead, as opposed to the private sector or civil society; and between the North and South, she explained.

That erosion of trust pervades the inside of the Secretariat itself. “Way too many roads and not enough bridges have been built,” Figueres declared, stressing the need for change.

“I don’t want to pretend that this is something that we can do overnight,” she said.” Trust-building is a process over time. It will not happen miraculously. It will certainly not appear magically in Cancun. It is a very difficult path, but I am convinced that it is the path that we need to follow, that we need to embark on immediately,” she said. “It is the only path that will lead us to creativity, innovation and any sort of agreement in Cancun and beyond.”

Figueres, 53, was born in San Jose, Costa Rica into a family prominent in public service. Her father, Jose Figueres Ferrer, was president of Costa Rica three times: 1948-49, 1953�1958, and 1970-1974. As the leader of the 1948 Revolution he is considered the founder of modern democracy in Costa Rica. Her mother, Karen Olsen Beck, served as Costa Rican Ambassador to Israel in 1982 and was elected Member of Congress 1990-1994.

With degrees from Swarthmore College, the London School of Economics, and several advanced degrees in the United States, in 1994 Figueres became director of the Technical Secretariat of the Renewable Energy in the Americas program, today housed at the Organization of American States, promoting hemispheric policies to advance renewable energy technologies in Latin America.

Representing the government of Costa Rica, Figueres has been a negotiator of the UN Convention on Climate Change since 1995.

In 1995 she founded and became the executive director of the non-profit Center for Sustainable Development in the Americas, promoting the participation of Latin American countries in the Climate Change Convention.

In 1999 she conceived and established the first carbon finance program in the developing world, the the Latin American Carbon Program within the Andean Development Corporation. And in 2001, she negotiated the first emission reduction purchase agreement between an industrialized country and a regional development bank.

From 1998 through 2007, she envisioned and helped establish national climate change programs in Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.

In 1997 she provided international strategy for achieving developing country support and approval of the Kyoto Protocol and the Clean Development Mechanism.

From 2007 to 2009 she was vice president of the Bureau of the Climate Convention, representing Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the years, she has chaired numerous international climate negotiations.


Old King Coal or More Green Jobs

Posted by admin on May 20, 2010
Posted under Express 109

Old King Coal or More Green Jobs

Origin Energy head says the collapse of the emissions trading scheme and the subsequent lack of a carbon price means that Australia’s next base-load power stations are likely to be coal-fired. Meanwhile, the ACTU and Australian Conservation Foundation say new modelling shows that  serious efforts to tackle climate change and cut emissions will create jobs even in areas dominated by the mining and electricity industries.

By Tom Arup, environment correspondent In Sydney Morning Herald (19 May 2010):

BIG CUTS to carbon emissions and heavy investment in green technologies will create 3.7 million jobs across Australia by 2030, economic modelling commissioned for unions and green groups shows.

The ACTU and Australian Conservation Foundation will today launch the modelling project, which has been six months in the works, in an effort to show serious efforts to tackle climate change will create jobs even in areas dominated by the mining and electricity industries.

The modelling breaks Australia into 65 regions and suggests that just one – far-western NSW – will lose jobs if Australia adopts a 25 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020, sets up an emissions trading scheme and makes significant investment in green technologies and energy efficiency.

Other areas across Australia, including those dominated by coal mining and energy industries like Gladstone and Rockhampton in Queensland and the Hunter Valley in NSW, will see job growth in the region.

The report finds that overall jobs will increase by 36 per cent across Australia in 20 years.

”The report shows regional areas, even those which produce coal and generate electricity, will have more jobs if we take strong action to cut pollution, but only if we act now,” ACTU president Sharan Burrow said.

Along with an emissions trading scheme and a 25 per cent emissions cut, the modelling assumes the Australian government will invest directly in targeted regional industry planning, electric cars, public transport and reducing household emissions, among others.

The programs assumed under the modelling would require an investment of on average 2.5 per cent of GDP over the next 20 years. The report finds that if investment is made households will be 10 per cent better off by 2030, and GDP growth would average 3.2 per cent to 2030.

The modelling was conducted by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research. It does not model jobs growth with no climate policies because it says that scenario is unlikely given the global push to decarbonise economies.

The institute’s Ian Manning told the Herald that the modelling also reinforces the position of the International Energy Agency that ”procrastination” on investment in a low-carbon economy will increase costs and hurt job growth.


By Andrew Fraser  in The Australian (19 May 2010):

THE head of one of Australia’s leading power companies has argued that the collapse of an emissions trading scheme and the subsequent lack of a carbon price means that Australia’s next baseload power stations are likely to be coal-fired.

Origin Energy chief Grant King told the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association meeting in Brisbane that having a renewable energy target of 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020 “made no sense” without putting a price on carbon.

He said a carbon price of $20-$40 a tonne would be required to start making a gas-fired power station more economically viable than one fired by coal.

“Without a carbon price, coal remains the cheapest fuel for power generation. In the absence of any policy change, we will keep building coal-fired power stations,” he said.

Origin Energy currently operates three gas-fired power stations and is in the process of commissioning a gas-fired baseload power station on Queensland’s Darling Downs capable of producing 630 megawatts.

The company has substantial natural gas reserves and is also involved in gas exploration as well as wind and geothermal projects. It has a part in one of the four consortia planning to build a liquid natural gas plant in Gladstone to convert coal-seam gas for export.

Mr King said yesterday that while wind and solar power could augment Australia’s energy demands they were not reliable providers, and there was still a strong need for baseload power.

He said that increases in household consumption were driving growth of up to 6 per cent a year in demand for baseload power.

“That’s not surprising because we’ve seen increased penetration of air-conditioners and flat-screen TVs,” he said. “Nearly all Australian households have a television, but 10-15 years ago they had one, now they have five, and they’re flat-screen TVs which radiate energy like you wouldn’t believe.”

Mr King said that, until recently, there was bipartisan support for a renewable energy target and a form of carbon pricing.

“Given that bipartisan approach has broken down but there’s still a commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions by 5 per cent to 2020, something else will have to come in its place. I would suggest that both sides of politics need to figure out what that something else is,” he said.

Mr King’s comments were echoed at the conference by Catherine Tanna, Queensland Gas managing director, who said there was uncertainty “in the absence of a long-term global policy for carbon, a policy that allows companies to plan and invest and a policy that does not disadvantage industries that can materially reduce global emissions”.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is due to address the conference this morning, as is Santos chief David Knox, who has put back a decision on whether his company will commit to an LNG plant in Queensland because of uncertainty about the proposed resource super-profit tax.


Ocean Fish Could Disappear in 40 Years

Posted by admin on May 20, 2010
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Ocean Fish Could Disappear in 40 Years

THE world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 unless fishing fleets are slashed and stocks allowed to recover, UN experts warned.  A Green Economy report due later this year by UNEP and outside experts argues this disaster can be avoided if subsidies to fishing fleets are slashed and fish are given protected zones – ultimately resulting in a thriving industry.

From AFP correspondents in New York (18 May 2010):

THE world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 unless fishing fleets are slashed and stocks allowed to recover, UN experts warned.

“If the various estimates we have received… come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish,” Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program’s green economy initiative, said.

A Green Economy report due later this year by UNEP and outside experts argues this disaster can be avoided if subsidies to fishing fleets are slashed and fish are given protected zones – ultimately resulting in a thriving industry.

The report, which was opened to preview overnight, also assesses how surging global demand in other key areas including energy and fresh water can be met while preventing ecological destruction around the planet.

UNEP director Achim Steiner said the world was “drawing down to the very capital” on which it relies.

However, “our institutions, our governments are perfectly capable of changing course, as we have seen with the extraordinary uptake of interest. Around, I think it is almost 30 countries now have engaged with us directly, and there are many others revising the policies on the green economy,” he said.

Environmental experts are mindful of the failure this March to push through a worldwide ban on trade in bluefin tuna, one of the many species said to be headed for extinction.

Powerful lobbying from Japan and other tuna-consuming countries defeated the proposal at the CITES conference on endangered species in Doha.

But UNEP’s warning was that tuna only symbolises a much vaster catastrophe, threatening economic, as well as environmental upheaval.

One billion people, mostly from poorer countries, rely on fish as their main animal protein source, according to the UN.

The Green Economy report estimates there are 35 million people fishing around the world on 20 million boats. About 170 million jobs depend directly or indirectly on the sector, bringing the total web of people financially linked to 520 million.

According to the UN, 30 percent of fish stocks have already collapsed, meaning they yield less than 10 percent of their former potential, while virtually all fisheries risk running out of commercially viable catches by 2050.

Currently only a quarter of fish stocks – mostly the cheaper, less desirable species – are considered to be in healthy numbers.

The main scourge, the UNEP report says, are government subsidies encouraging ever bigger fishing fleets chasing ever fewer fish, with little attempt made to allow the fish populations to recover.

The annual 27 billion dollars in government subsidies to fishing, mostly in rich countries, is “perverse,” Mr Sukhdev said, since the entire value of fish caught is only 85 billion dollars.

As a result, fishing fleet capacity is “50 to 60 percent” higher than it should be, Mr Sukhdev said.

Creating marine preservation areas to allow female fish to grow to full size, thereby hugely increasing their fertility, is one vital solution, the report says.

Another is restructuring the fishing fleets to favour smaller boats that – once fish stocks recover – would be able to land bigger catches.

“What is scarce here is fish,” Mr Sukhdev said, “not the stock of fishing capacity.”


Stern Words on The Future of Carbon Capture & Storage

Posted by admin on May 20, 2010
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Stern Words on The Future of Carbon Capture & Storage

Foremost climate change economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, has told the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute that heavy polluting countries such as Australia must accept that future economic growth will come from investment in low-carbon technologies, while the Institute’s CEO says it must accelerate the development of 20 industrial scale, integrated demonstration projects, and move beyond those to broader commercial deployment.

Tom Arup reports in The Age (17 May 2010):

THE world’s foremost climate change economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, has told the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute that heavy polluting countries such as Australia must accept that future economic growth will come from investment in low-carbon technologies.

In a speech to the first US meeting of the institute, in Pittsburgh at the weekend, Sir Nicholas said the ”acrimony” at Copenhagen had damaged those arguing for green investment in the ”intense” Australian debate on climate change. In his speech Sir Nicholas singled out Australia, which has shelved its proposed emissions trading scheme, and China as countries where the debate about a green economy is sharpest.

Sir Nicholas said the extent of China’s acceptance of a green economy growth would be crucial to building global momentum towards a meeting at the Mexican resort city Cancun, which will again attempt to devise a new global agreement.


Here are some extracts from the speech by Nick Otter, CEO of the Global CCS Institute at the Pittsburgh meeting:

I am pleased to be talking to you today, and pleased that despite the financial dilemmas dominating politics and the world today that CCS is still a focus for governments and corporations alike. CCS is after all ultimately about energy, and rather than falling far from grace – energy security does and will continue to remain at the forefront of the US and global political agenda. It will remain a priority for corporations, executives and boards as they seek to manage risk and shareholder value, and it will remain a focus for NGOs as they contemplate how to influence environmental policies on behalf of their constituents.

The challenge we face today, in this room, is how to ensure that CCS becomes a part of the diverse energy supply portfolio in the US and globally in the immediate future, and that it lives up to its potential and plays a significant role in helping reduce emissions in the long-term. This challenge defines the role of the Institute, a role we are taking steps to fulfil by collaborating with our member countries and organisations.

The major challenges to the development and deployment of CCS projects are not insurmountable, but they are real. The obstacles are not geological – we know it can be done. The barrier is not the absence of technical solutions – it is clear that the individual states of CCS are viable. The major hurdles reside around what happens above the ground: policy, regulation, finance, public awareness, capacity building and knowledge sharing. The challenge is to address these barriers to create the conditions for the integration of these technologies at commercial scale and across a variety of applications.

If CCS is to make a difference the IEA estimates that 100 industrial scale projects may be needed by 2020, and 3,400 by 2050. This equates to flow rates surpassing the global oil and gas industry, over US $2 trillion in investment, and an average of over 100 new projects per year between 2020 and 2050.

In my opinion, there are three key factors to delivering the global collaboration required:

  • First – common goals. We need governments, industries and communities to agree to a desired role for CCS, the extent to which support for a commercially viable industry should be provided, and what needs to be done to create that vision.
  • Second – sharing knowledge. Our ambitious goals and steep development trajectory demands and industry which disseminates information to foster progress.
  • Third – leadership. The fact that we are all here today demonstrates willingness, but what is needed is the creation of the means and pathways for industry members to contribute to making the extraordinary happen.

Common goals

First, let’s look at whether any common pathways exist ahead of us. In terms of the Institute ‘us’ means our members. The Institute now has over 200 members including 40 governments and 160 corporations and like-minded organisations from around the world. The US Government was one of our founding members and is now a fully fledged legal member. Our members applications were accepted by the Institute due to their ability t demonstrate a legitimate interest in, and a commitment to the advancement of CCS.

The Institute itself as an interim goal to accelerate the development of 20 industrial scale, integrated, demonstration projects. And, we also have an important role to play in ensuring the right elements are in place for CCS to move beyond the demonstration phase to broader commercial deployment.

Sharing knowledge

One of the early pieces of work conducted by the Institute was an audit of CCS projects globally. This research is not a static fixture in time, but an evolving piece of work that will be regularly updated and built upon to advance the understanding of the status of projects, the costs involved, the level of policy initiatives, and the gaps and barriers to deployment at scale. This was an initial piece of work to help begin to fill the information vacuum around the challenges facing CCS projects.

This not simply about information collation, this is about the collation of experiences, and in my mind the best source of knowledge is experience. This project is but one of the pieces of work the Institute will deliver to disseminate the lessons from large scale demonstration projects. Our work will require the collaborative efforts of the industry and governments to contribute experiences that will help other projects move forward where otherwise they may not have. Ultimately it will be to the benefit of all.


Most collaboration cannot occur unguided.  And, in most instances a helping hand is needed to avoid our societies from sitting still. Again, there is a role for the Institute here. Not a dominating role, but an important leadership role to help catalyse the industry and our membership base.

The Institute is seeking to do this by sketching out plans of action to tackle every single one of those elements that can propel our industry into being or act as hurdles stopping our progress. I mentioned these elements before as ones that I believe exist ‘above the ground’: policy, regulation, finance, public awareness, technical, capacity building and knowledge sharing.

For each of these elements the Institute is producing concrete plans to guide our actions for the next three to four years. These plans are collaborative ones, providing our members with the opportunity to define our pathway to success, and that of the industry.


Does CCS have any benefits? Well we must all think there are otherwise we would not be here today. The benefits to the US and other individual regions are of course far reaching. With increased acceleration of CCS we would hope to see job creation, reduced emissions, and greater energy security.

But let me leave you with one clear benefit. Studies show that if CCS fails to achieve commercial viability, global mitigation costs will be around 10 percent higher in 2050 than they otherwise would have.

The US Government and the local and international companies operating here who are making CCS happen today are contributing to delivering these benefits for its citizens.

There are many in this room who are investing in CCS, they are working to put in place the regulatory frameworks to allow CCS to be deployed, and they are working with financiers to create innovative and enterprising models to make these projects commercially viable. These are the front-runners; the ones who are taking the risks – financially and politically.

These members of our industry are also the ones that will reap the rewards.


Close Polluting Power Station To Cut Emissions & Create Jobs

Posted by admin on May 20, 2010
Posted under Express 109

Close Polluting Power Station  To Cut Emissions & Create Jobs  

The closure and replacement of Australia’s most polluting coal fired power station at Hazelwood by the end of 2012 could be achieved for $320 million a year. A report commissioned by Environment Victoria says this would cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 12% and create hundreds of jobs.

Push for Hazelwood power station to close early

Adam Morton In The Age (17 May 2010):

A BLUEPRINT on closure and replacement of Australia’s most polluting power station by the end of 2012 has found it could be achieved for $320 million a year.

A report commissioned by Environment Victoria found the early closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station would cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 12 per cent and create hundreds of jobs.

The proposal comes as political leaders search for a way to fill the climate policy void created by the indefinite delay of the Rudd government’s emissions trading scheme.

The federal backflip is forcing the state government to rethink its forthcoming climate policies – a climate change white paper and bill and statement on future energy supply.

Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said the consultants’ analysis showed that the cost and timeframe were feasible.

“Everyone knows that Hazelwood is going to close at some point,” he said. ”We think this is a real opportunity for whichever state or federal party that works with the company, International Power, to make it happen.”

Consultants Green Energy Markets found Hazelwood – responsible for 23 per cent of Victoria’s energy – could be replaced in one of two ways.

The first is a combination of large-scale gas-fired power and an expanded renewable energy program, mainly from pushing through some of the dozens of wind farms proposed.

The second would install less gas and introduce a residential and commercial energy efficiency program, wiping out the need for a quarter of Hazelwood’s electricity.

It is estimated replacing Hazelwood could reduce the state’s annual emissions by nearly 15 million tonnes, free 27 billion litres of water for other uses and create 2300 ongoing jobs under the second scenario.

There would also need to be financial support to help the local community cope with Hazelwood’s closure.

The report suggests several policy measures that could bring on the change, including competitive tender programs for funding and expanding the existing Victorian Energy Efficiency Target.

The $320 million annual cost is based on the equivalent of a carbon price of $20 – at the lower end of what International Power has estimated it would cost to replace coal with gas.

Victorian Energy Minister Peter Batchelor welcomed the report, but warned against underestimating the time necessary to build new clean energy plants and the growth in electricity demand.

“No community would allow the closure of one of its power stations before its replacement began operating,” he said.

Victorian opposition energy spokesman Michael O’Brien said it would be ”very difficult” to resolve Hazelwood’s future without leadership from the federal government, but advancing the debate was important.

Federal opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt said its “direct action” policy, which would ask companies to tender for access to a cash pool to cut emissions, would allow coal power stations such as Hazelwood or Yallourn to be replaced with gas or gas and renewables.

International Power has signalled it is open to a phased early shutdown of Hazelwood if a price could be agreed.


Super Hornet Takes Off With Flower Power

Posted by admin on May 20, 2010
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Super Hornet Takes Off With Flower Power

US ethanol production has cracked the 40-billion-litre mark, displacing about 364 million barrels of imported oil, according to a new report from the Renewable Fuels Association, while the US navy is currently trialling a biofuel blend – including the flowering plant, camelina – in its sophisticated FA-18 Super Hornet fighter jet.

Peter Hemphill in The Weekly Times (17 & 19 May 2010):

US ETHANOL production has cracked the 40-billion-litre mark, displacing about 364 million barrels of imported oil, according to a new report.

The Renewable Fuels Association’s annual industry report shows US ethanol now accounts for more than half the world’s production of the biofuel.

The Climate of Opportunity report showed the US increased its ethanol production during the past year by 5.2 billion litres, with another 19 refineries coming into production.

There are an estimated 189 refineries in the US with capacity to produce 45 billion litres of ethanol.

By comparison, Australia only produces 215 million litres of ethanol.

The American ethanol industry now underpins corn prices in the US and, with government backing, has reduced US reliance on imports of oil from the volatile Middle East region.

In reference to claims the US ethanol industry was diverting valuable corn away from food to fuel-production, the RFA said energy prices, not biofuels, drove food-price increases.

But the US biofuel industry is now looking at developing ethanol from other sources, such as cellulosic compounds. The RFA report identified 28 cellulose ethanol projects under development and construction in the US, most proposing to produce the biofuel from crop straw, wood, corn or sugar waste but also including municipal solid waste as a substrate.

THE US Navy has given new meaning to the term “flower power”.

The navy is currently trialling a biofuel blend in its sophisticated FA-18 Super Hornet fighter jet.

The blend is half standard jet propellant fuel and half biofuel made from camelina, a flowering plant in the Brassica family, which includes canola, mustard and cauliflower.

Camelina has been grown in Europe and Central Asia as an oilseed crop for more than 3000 years.

It is also known as gold-of-pleasure, false flax, wild flax, German sesame and Siberian oilseed.

US company Sustainable Oils won a contract last September to supply a camelina-based jet biofuel to the US Navy.

Sustainable Oils settled on camelina as a biofuel crop because it was not a food crop and worked well in rotation with wheat.

A number of farmers in Montana supply the oilseed to Sustainable Oils.

The US Navy is the largest diesel user in the world, but hopes to source half its energy needs as alternative fuels by 2020.

The US Navy plans to start using biodiesel in part of its naval fleet by 2016.

According to Biomass Magazine, the US Air Force is also trialling camelina in an A-10 Thunderbolt II jet and plans to source half its domestic aviation fuel as alternative fuels within six years.


A Greek Tragedy? Economy Cools, Temperature Heats Up

Posted by admin on May 20, 2010
Posted under Express 109

A Greek Tragedy? Economy Cools, Temperature Heats Up

People in cities around the Mediterranean including Athens, Rome and Marseilles are likely to suffer most in Europe from ever more scorching heatwaves this century caused by climate change, scientists said at the beginning of the when Greece hosts the third annual Mediterranean Sustainable Energy Summit organised by Financial Times, under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic.

Climate change threatens health by Mediterranean

Alister Doyle, Reuters Environment Correspondent (16 May 2010):

People in cities around the Mediterranean including Athens, Rome and Marseilles are likely to suffer most in Europe from ever more scorching heatwaves this century caused by climate change, scientists said on Sunday.

The number of heatwaves was likely to surge to almost 3 each summer from 2071-2100 in the Mediterranean region from just one every third year from 1961-1990, it said. Most other parts of Europe would suffer far less.

The number of Mediterranean summer days with temperatures above 105 Fahrenheit (40.6C), a threshold in the United States for public health warnings, would rise to about 16 a year from 1.6 in the same period.

Heat-related health problems would be felt most by people living near the coast or in low-lying river valleys, according to scientists in Switzerland and the United States writing in the journal Nature Geoscience about health and heat projections.

“Some of the most densely populated European regions, such as the urban areas of Athens, Bucharest, Marseilles, Milan, Rome and Naples, would experience the severest changes in health indicators,” they wrote.

About 40,000 people died in an extreme heatwave in Europe in 2003. But Erich Fischer, lead author of the study at the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science at ETH Zurich, said it was uncertain how deadly future heatwaves would be.

Air pollution might aggravate health risks for people with respiratory or heart problems in hotter temperatures, he said. And he said the study did not consider that cities can act as “heat islands” — often warmer than surrounding countryside.

On the other hand, improved weather forecasts can help ensure that people at risk — especially the elderly and the very young — stay in the shade and drink more on hot days. And air conditioning might become more efficient and widely used.

“People living in Arizona show that you can adapt to heat,” Fischer told Reuters. In such hot climates, people avoid straining themselves outdoors at the hottest part of the day.

He said the study was the first to pinpoint areas of Europe where rising temperatures would coincide with rising humidity, high night-time temperatures and long-lasting heatwaves — all factors that can aggravate health problems.

Global warming will mean more moisture in the air from the Mediterranean, for instance, making it harder for people to sweat away excess heat. High night-time temperatures can make sleep harder.

“We see the strongest increases in the number of these days with dangerous health conditions … all along the coast of the Mediterranean and in low-altitude river basins, such as the Po or the Danube,” he said.

The study defines a heatwave as at least 6 days in a row with temperatures among the hottest 10 percent of those recorded in the region for those dates. That means that a heatwave in Greece is hotter than one in Scandinavia.


In association with the Institute for Climate and Energy Security and C&C International, Financial Times is presenting the third annual Mediterranean Sustainable Energy Summit organised Under the Auspices of H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic, Dr. Karolos Papoulias in Athens this week. 

This summit is defined by the region in which it is located, a potential hub for East-West sustainable energy developments and it is amongst the regions which will be hit hardest by climate change.

Taking place over two days, the comprehensive agenda will interpret the outcomes of the UN’s Copenhagen conference and the implications for future energy and environment policy development in the Mediterranean region.

Bringing together senior government officials, corporate leaders, financiers, academics and global experts, the forum will stimulate debate and dialogue on how to tackle the challenges that climate change presents in the Mediterranean and will discuss how we can grasp the opening to establish this region as the sustainable energy hub for Europe. Both are goals which can be achieved through the development of forward thinking climate and energy strategies and a partnership approach between the public and private sectors.

The agenda for the 2010 summit will include a blend of keynote addresses, expert panel discussions and in-depth case studies, designed to inform and update attendees on the policies, practices and business opportunities which will define the future climate and sustainable energy developments of the region.


UK Government Takes Up on 10:10 Climate Change Challenge

Posted by admin on May 20, 2010
Posted under Express 109

UK Government Takes Up on 10:10 Climate Change Challenge

The new British Prime Minister David Cameron says he wants his to be the greenest government ever, committed to a 10% reduction in carbon emissions across central Government in the next twelve months. This cut amounts to 600,000 tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to taking more than 200,000 cars off the road – and about 1% of total UK emissions, as much as the city of Liverpool. Reports from The Guardian and Edie: The new Conservative-Lib Dem coalition has pledged to cut central government emissions by 10% in the next 12 months – equivalent to taking more than 200,000 cars off the road. The commitment is the most high-profile success to date for the 10:10 climate change campaign, which launched in September last year. Emissions from central government are about 1% of total UK emissions – as much as the city of Liverpool. A 10% cut is amounts to 600,000 tonnes of CO2. “This is the first announcement the coalition has made, and the inclusion of their 10:10 commitment bodes well for the importance they’ll place on carbon reduction this term,” said Eugenie Harvey, campaign director of 10:10. “We’re glad to see they’re walking the walk.” The campaign, which is supported by the Guardian, calls on individuals, businesses and other organisations to make similar 10% cuts and has signed up over 65,000 people, 2,610 businesses and 3,100 organisations and educational institutions. The movement includes Royal Mail, Lovebox music festival, Tottenham Hotspur football club and the Tate Modern as well as celebrities such as Delia Smith, Colin Firth and Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox. Within days of the launch of the campaign, the members of all three front bench teams signed up on an individual basis. So far 158 local authorities have signed up. When they made the commitment, 50 councils were Conservative held, 32 Labour, 40 Lib Dem and 36 with no overall control (the balance of some of these councils will have changed in last week’s elections). In October, the Liberal Democrats brought legislation before parliament to sign up government and public sector bodies to 10:10. The Conservatives supported the measure but it was defeated by the Labour government. The 10:10 movement has also spawned sister groups in France, Ghana, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal and Germany. Source:

Government departments to cut emissions by 10% in 12 months New energy and climate change secretary, Chris Huhne, has announced plans to cut government emissions by 10%. Speaking to staff at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) this morning, with prime minister David Cameron, he announced plans for department headquarters to publish online in real time their energy use. A government steering group chaired by Mr Huhne will also be set up, with representatives from key departments and the private sector. Mr Cameron said: “I don’t want to hear warm words about the environment, I want to see real action. “I want this to be the greenest government ever, taking our lead from 10:10, I commit us to a 10% reduction in carbon emissions across central Government in the next twelve months. “But I have also made sure all Cabinet ministers are involved, developing plans to show how they will meet their share. “And the public will be involved too – because we’re going to publish the energy use of government headquarters in real-time, so people can hold us to account for our performance. If we do this, we’ll cut the Government’s energy bills by hundreds of millions of pounds.” Mr Huhne added: “A lot of progress has been made, but we must now go further, faster and turn targets into real change. “This is a coalition to provide strong and stable government for this country, the benefits of the low carbon economy are agreed between both parties, this is a priority agenda common to both manifestos.” Source:

An Untapped Opportunity – Energy Efficiency to Cut Emissions

Posted by admin on May 20, 2010
Posted under Express 109

An Untapped Opportunity – Energy Efficiency to Cut Emissions

Energy efficiency is finally coming into its own in Australia. Mark Lister tells us what other countries are up to and what we should be doing about it. The Government appointed advisory group has a job to do, with 187 submissions to consider, while Climate Change Minister Penny Wong will pour an extra $100 million into the government’s troubled $175m green loans program over the next year.

By Mark Lister in EcoGeneration May/June issue 2010:

What Australia can learn from the rest of the world. Energy efficiency has enormous potential to cut damaging greenhouse gas emissions and save billions of dollars for all sectors of the economy, yet this potential remains largely untapped in Australia, writes Mark Lister.

As our politicians continue to treat energy efficiency as an afterthought rather than a central priority, developing and industrialised countries around the world are seizing energy efficiency opportunities and reaping the rewards.

While some of these nations have implemented energy efficiency strategies to address fuel shortages, energy security or lack of network capacity, many now see that energy efficiency is a cost-effective way to address climate change. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that energy efficiency will account for around 54 per cent of global emission abatement to 2030, in a scenario where global carbon dioxide levels stabilise at 450 parts per million.


California’s citizens use about 40 per cent less electricity than other Americans. This success comes from stringent energy codes and standards for buildings and appliances, and ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs administered by California’s electric and gas utilities. According to the 2009 California Green Innovation Index, California has prospered since energy efficiency regulations were introduced in the 1970s.


In recent times, Chile’s economy and energy consumption has grown in parallel by 5 per cent annually. Faced with limited fossil fuel resources and a high dependence on imports to meet its energy needs, the Chilean government prioritised energy efficiency in 2005 and developed a nation-wide program. Sustained energy efficiency action is forecast to reduce business as usual energy demands by 20 per cent by 2020.


With blackouts and ongoing power interruptions, Ghana in West Africa distributed six million Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) to help cut peak demand by 5 per cent while also reducing electricity bills for its citizens. Ghana’s government also implemented an extensive public education campaign and an energy efficiency standard and labelling program for appliances.

California, Chile and Ghana all have one thing in common: governments that created ambitious policies and environments to support major energy efficiency programs. Aside from addressing energy supply issues, their citizens have benefited from reduced energy bills and their economies have prospered. Australia would do well to learn from other countries and access the growing body of knowledge that demonstrates the benefits of large-scale energy efficiency.

Australia’s untapped energy efficiency opportunity

In Australia, energy consumption continues to increase. Rather than focusing on ways to reconfigure industry to reduce consumption, billions of dollars are spent to prop up old networks and coal-fired power stations. The cost of this is ultimately passed onto consumers through increased electricity bills.

While policies to encourage energy efficiency have been widespread, they regularly rely on markets and incentives to drive investment in this area. Price alone is not a significant driver of energy efficiency take-up.

To increase Australia’s energy efficiency to a level that will result in meaningful emission reductions, state and federal governments can intervene directly through strong policies and regulations to net economic benefit. We can do better with more stringent building codes, targeted information, electricity network regulation, and creating frameworks for parties that currently have no incentive to reduce consumption.

Our governments should consider these options, alongside incentives and other programs, to encourage the large-scale uptake of energy efficiency. The work of the Prime Minister’s Energy Efficiency Task Group offers a promising acknowledgement of this potential. The Group’s brief is to create a step-change improvement in Australia’s energy efficiency by 2020, and place Australia at the forefront of OECD energy efficiency improvement. Based on the achievements of other OECD countries, we have some catching up to do.

Energy efficiency is a proven, simple and cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions and can be implemented now using existing technologies. It cuts electricity bills, decreases demand on networks during peak periods, and reduces the need for costly network infrastructure. Importantly, energy efficiency buys time for other solutions to be developed and is a fundamental part of any response strategy. Other countries have seen the light – let’s hope Australia doesn’t get left in the dark for much longer.

Mark Lister is the Interim CEO of the Australian Alliance to Save Energy.

Source: and

The members of the Government’s Energy Efficiency Advisory Group are:

John Connor The Climate Institute
Greg Bourne WWF
Sharan Burrow Australian Council of Trade Unions
Neil Marshman Rio Tinto
Clare Martin Australian Council of Social Service
Karen Moses Origin Energy
Rob Murray-Leach Energy Efficiency Council
Cameron O’Reilly Energy Retailers Association of Australia
Brian Spalding Australian Energy Market Commission

When the deadline for submissions on energy efficiency closed on 2 May, a total of 187 had been received. Government, with the help of its advisory, will now consider submissions received from the public and interested organisations.


Nicola Berkovic in the The Australian (12 May 2010):

CLIMATE Change Minister Penny Wong will pour an extra $100 million into the government’s troubled $175m green loans program over the next year.

The money will be used to fund an extra 600,000 environmental audits for householders, announced by the government earlier this year.

The audits provide advice to home owners about ways to improve energy and water efficiency.

Initially, the program provided for low-interest loans of up to $10,000 to help householders pay for environmental products recommended by the audit, such as roof-top solar panels and water tanks.

However, the government axed the loans component of the program in March, without warning to the banks and credit unions that had designed loan products to fit within the scheme’s guidelines.

Yesterday, the government revealed in the budget it would discontinue a $50 rewards card promised to all householders that booked an environmental audit.

The government has yet to send a rewards card to any of the hundreds of thousands of householders that have already received their audit.

The budget revealed the government still intends to send a card to those households, but anyone who receives an audit from today will miss out on the $50 reward.

The green loans program has been plagued by administrative bottlenecks, including major problems with the government’s call centre that made it difficult for assessors to book appointments and long delays in the government sending out environmental audit reports to householders.

Allegations have also been made of favourable treatment for certain businesses and sub-standard training for assessors. A number of external inquiries into the scheme’s mishandling are under way, including a $4m independent probe of alleged rorting of the scheme.

Concerns have been raised that some environmental assessors charged for audit reports without visiting the home.

Senator Wong announced the government would try to better manage demand for program by cutting the number of environmental assessors to 5000.

However, she has not yet made clear how the government will decide which assessors will miss out on work under the program.

The government angered environmental assessors when it slashed the number of audits that environmental assessors could perform each week so that the program no longer provided them with full-time work.