Archive for the ‘Express 155’ Category

A Day to Remember

Posted by admin on November 12, 2011
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A Day to Remember

The date was thought to be propitious.
11.11.11. For many it continues to be Remembrance Day or Armistice Day, marking
the end of the First World War. For others, a great mark on the calendar for a
wedding day or birthday. Some of us hoped it would draw attention to the 11th
Hour – the urgency and the necessity – time to make big decisions about our
future world, which is headed on the path to disaster. Significantly, the
International Energy Agency chose this time to give a dire warning that we must
change our energy ways or we are all doomed. Amony Lovins gives us hope and
says it is possible to run a much bigger US economy without oil, coal or
nuclear.There’s a new global list of the world’s most vulnerable countries in
line for climate change impacts and recognition for Munich Re for setting out
the genuine climate risks and leading investment in the Sahara solar scheme.
But we are not doing so well so far…global emissions are still on the rise,
but one way to quickly change things is starring us in the face. Stop chopping
down trees. The UN tells us what we know to expect – more extreme weather and
disasters. Thailand  knows what that
means.Island states want more say and hope the upcoming Durban Climate Change
conference delegates take note, while Africa hopes for a multi-billion dollar
green fund. Australia has a new hope along with its finally legal Carbon Price and
a Clean Energy Future. Singapore comes clean with a new plan for a floating
solar island and an innovative solar charging device. There’s a lot of money to
be made and saved with greater energy efficiency measures in South East Asia,
says Roland Berger, while there’s a warning – again – of an eco-disaster with a
global population out of control.Seven billion and growing fast. How about some
close encounters of a clean energy kind?
Ken Hickson

Profile: Amory Lovins

Posted by admin on November 12, 2011
Posted under Express 155

Profile: Amory Lovins

No ivory-tower scientist, Amory Lovins of the
Rocky Mountain Institute in his latest book “Reinventing Fire”, has a winning
prescription for all four energy-using sectors – transportation, buildings,
industry and electricity – by integrating four kinds of innovation –
technology, policy, design and strategy. Put it all together in a plan for
running a 158%-bigger US economy by 2050 with no oil, coal, or nuclear energy.

Amory Lovins’ Burning Quest to ‘Reinvent

By Joel Makower in Green Biz (27 October

Amory Lovins has a new book out today. That’s
worthy of a news story in itself, since many of his previous works — books and
papers going back to the 1970s — have spurred radical new thinking in energy,
transportation, and building systems. And not just thinking: an impressive list
of companies and governments around the world can trace some of their more
innovative products, processes, and business models to the thinking of Lovins
and his colleagues at the Rocky Mountain Institute, of which he is co-founder,
chairman and chief scientist.

Lovins’ new book, Reinventing Fire: Bold
Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, pulls from the last 30 years of
Lovins’ and RMI’s work. In it, he and his team offer a plan for running a 158
percent-bigger U.S. economy in 2050 with no oil, coal, or nuclear energy.

I recently talked with Lovins about the book,
its implications for companies, and what it will take to make its vision a

Joel Makower: Amory, let’s start with the
title. Tell me about where the idea of “reinventing fire” came from?

Amory Lovins: Well, fire made us human, fossil fuels made us modern and we now need a new fire that makes us secure, safe and durable. The old fire of fossil fuels has served us very well and created our wealth and enriched the lives of billions. It also has costs to our economy, health, environment and security that are starting to erode the prosperity and security it created, so it’s time for a new fire. Because this is the biggest infrastructure change perhaps in the history of our species, we wanted to give it a suitably expansive title.

JM: And what did you find?

AL: Reinventing Fire shows how to run a very
prosperous 2050 U.S. economy — 2.6 times today’s — with no oil, no coal, no
nuclear energy, one-third less natural gas and a $5 trillion lower
net-present-value cost than business as usual. We also found the transition
requires no new inventions and no Act of Congress and can be led by business
for profit.

JM: Many of us, and especially you, have been
talking about some of these things for a long, long time. How is Reinventing
Fire different from past efforts to push renewables and efficiency?

AL: I think in three main respects and several
minor ones. The first two come from a remark attributed to General Eisenhower:
“If a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it.” That is, the reason you
couldn’t solve it wasn’t that it wasn’t small enough to be bite-sized, but
rather the values were drawn so narrowly that it didn’t encompass enough
options, degrees of freedom and synergies to make it solvable.

So, in that spirit, we integrated all four
energy-using sectors – transportation, buildings, industry and electricity –
and having spent the last three or four decades deeply immersed in practical
work in all four of those, we were in an unusually good position to do that
integration. So we found, as you’d expect, for example, that it is much easier
to solve the automotive and electricity problems together than separate

Secondly, we integrated four kinds of
innovation, not just the usual two – technology and policy – but also design –
that is, how technologies are combined — and strategy — that is, a new
competitive strategies and new business models, which turn out to be even
richer in innovation than technology and policy. And the four together are much
more than the sum of their parts, especially in creating deeply disruptive
business opportunities.

A third point of departure is that this work
is trans-ideological. It doesn’t matter whether you care most about profits,
jobs and competitive advantage or about national security, or about health and
environmental stewardship. We ought to do the same things anyway for whatever
reasons. So, if we focus on outcomes not motives, and do the things we agree
ought to be done from whatever perspective, then the stuff we don’t agree about
tends to become superfluous.

There are many other unusual features of this
work that you will have noticed. It’s about solutions not problems. It’s about
transformation not incrementalism. And it’s about practice not theory. It does
not assume internalization. In fact it explicitly assumes all positive or
negative externalities are worth zero — a conservative estimate. Of course, if
we counted them, the net present value surplus would be a lot bigger than the
$5 trillion that we found just in private internal costs. It’s also a very
collaborative effort — over 60 of us, about three-quarters of our total staff
and I were engaged in this during a year and a half. And we were blessed with
terrific collaboration and support from industry in all four sectors in sharing
data and insights and in peer review. So, we think it’s a fresh, rigorous and
coherent alternative vision that, so far, has been lacking and that we hope
will change the national energy conversation.

JM: Speaking of transforming markets, people
often talk about three big levers that one needs to pull to bring technologies
to scale. One is the technologies themselves, another are the policies and a
third are the markets. Obviously it’s never a matter of pulling any one of
those levers really hard, it’s a matter of pulling them all in sequence. It
seems that the technologies exist that we can do a lot of this as you’ve pointed
out many times; that we can do a lot of this with existing technologies. The
markets are emerging. I’m wondering how much of this is all about policy –
sending the right signals and getting the prices right — and how much of this
is just helping the markets to develop.

AL: We put much more emphasis on
barrier-busting and we did find that certain policy innovations are needed to
enable or speed the transition on the business adoption. But we also found that
none of those required an Act of Congress. They could all be done administratively
or at a state level.

For example, rewarding utilities for cutting
the bill and not sell you more electricity has to happen at a state level,
where utilities are regulated. Allowing fair interconnection and competition on
the grid is partly a state and partly a federal matter, but the federal part is
done administratively by the FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission].
Again, no act of Congress required. For light-duty vehicles, the key missing
element is size and revenue-neutral feebates for efficient new autos, but those
can perfectly well be done at a state level.

None of the results that we describe require
carbon pricing or other internationalization, even though that would be very
helpful and correct. But it’s not essential; it’s certainly not sufficient,
because if you get the prices right but don’t bust barriers then not much
happens. And, in the long run, it’s probably not as important as one might
suppose, because given the very large cheap potential we found on the demand
side, an efficient carbon market will ultimately clear low, so carbon would be
a long-term short.

Of course, this independent view that we
don’t need to wait for Congress to command what unnatural act we should commit
in the marketplace is alien inside the Beltway. But about 2,000 miles west of
the Beltway and have no trouble imagining that the dynamism of our most
effective institutions — namely free enterprise and co-evolution with civil
society — accelerated by military innovation could be used to end-run our
least effective institutions, notably Congress.

JM: What role does the current economy play
and — assuming it’s gonna persist for some while, does it make it easier or
harder to reinvent fire?

AL: Both. Easier because it gives time to
rethink. Typically, a slump is when you look for the next wave of innovation
that will bring you out of it in a more commanding competitive position. And at
a time of fiscal stringency it might be easier to get rid of some of the deeply
distorting energy subsidies.

Also, the heightened competitive pressure of
a recession puts more focus on bringing down costs and risk and. You could
interpret our book as being about design for risk management.

JM: A lot of mainstream companies have been
doing some of these things — or, at least, they feel they’ve been doing these
things. They’ve been gradually ratcheting up the energy efficiency of their
operations – lighting, buildings and the like . They’ve been bringing in
renewables in some fashion, either directly or indirectly. Is that enough?
Assuming not, how do you push companies to go further? What do you find the
best motivators in getting them to step this up in some significant way?

AL: Companies tend to be motivated by
increased revenue, competitive advantage and decreased risk, so we describe all
three in detail at the end of the sectoral chapters — Chapters 2 through 5:
who should do what, depending on the level of adventurousness and how advanced
your practice already is.

I would like to see coming out of the
conversation about reinventing fire, a lot more attention to integrative
design, which, on the demand side is the key to the results we got for
transport and building industries. Integrative design optimizes whole systems
for multiple benefits rather than isolated components for single benefits. And
it often makes very large energy and resource savings cheaper than smaller-dose
savings, so it often deals expanding, not diminishing, returns to investments
in energy productivity and that is a bigger game-changer than any single

Having now applied integrative design in over
1,000 buildings and $30 billion worth of factories and various vehicle designs,
we’re confident that it’s replicable, scalable, teachable and revolutionary in
its competitive implications.

We suggest some different ways of looking at
supply and supply-demand integration than are commonly done. For example, in
the electricity sector, we use NREL’s ReEDS model to examine business-as-usual,
a new nuclear and so-called clean-coal scenario, centralized renewables and
distributed renewables. And the surprise to many will be that we found these
four electricity futures for 2050 differ immaterially in cost but profoundly in
risk, so it’s very much a risk-management play.

I think some of the novel competitive
strategies will also surprise people — for example, with help from the former
head of McKinsey’s automotive practice we were able, finally, to nail the
production economics and show that ultra-lighting autos is free because it’s paid
for by simpler manufacturing and smaller power trains. But it then makes
electrification affordable. So, by combining very light, slippery but safe
vehicles with electric traction, you’re bringing into play three very steep
learning curves — one in the advanced composite materials, another in the
structural manufacturing and a third in the electric power train. And those three
are strongly synergistic.

The result is as game-changing as switching
from electric typewriters to Moore’s Law-driven computers. And, indeed, BMW has
already confirmed that in their i3 — one of three carbon-fiber electric cars
announced for mass production by three German automakers in the next two years
– the carbon fiber is paid for by needing fewer batteries.

JM: You mentioned BMW, and that’s the first
company you’ve mentioned in this conversation. It gets me to where I wanted to
go next: Are there any poster-child companies that you would say represent
Reinventing Fire?

AL: Not comprehensively. The nearest would
probably be Interface. But there are many others that we mention for
outstanding achievement in particular areas. For example Dow, in efficiency.
Certain real estate developers, like the way Tony Malkin adopted integrated
design for the Empire State Building retrofit.

In automotive, the three companies that are
starting 2012 or 2013 volume production of electrified carbon fiber cars are
BMW, Volkswagen and Audi, but there others making important progress and by my
count, somewhere between four and seven automakers have adopted or are moving
notably toward the strategy we outline. In the United States, I’d say Ford is
probably in the lead but there’s plenty of competition emerging and there’s a
lot happening behind-the-curtain in Japan and in Korea.

In electricity, it’s a much more fluid and
diverse field of players. This is the sector that’s facing the most numerous,
diverse and profound disruptions of any sector as 21st-century technology and
speed collide with 20th- and 19th-century institutions, business models, cultures
and rules. Generally, when you have a complex system dependent on fast and slow
variables it doesn’t end well, so this is one of these inflection points at
least as big as the internet where vast fortunes will be made or lost and we
need to keep the lights on meanwhile.

Some utilities are starting to realize that
the threat of radical bypass from unregulated products that can amount to a
virtual utility is worse than what cell phones did wire-line phone companies,
but that this doesn’t have to be treated as a competitive threat. There are a
half-dozen business models that could make it into an important opportunity.
And of all the alternative strategies, the one that’s clearly unwise is
Ostrich, which is where some companies still find themselves frozen, like deer
in the headlights, with all this turbulence coming at them.

So we’re starting to work with a number of
utilities to think through new business and regulatory models and their
strategic implications. Certainly there are very important hardware vendors and
service providers and aggregators on both the supply and the demand side and
clean electricity is about a $200 billion-a-year business, and growing
explosively worldwide.

JM: After all these years, are more or less
helpful that we can get this right?

AL: I think the talent and the business
leadership are certainly there to do it, with or without help from Congress.
Our hope in putting out this coherent alternative vision, very rigorously
grounded in the existing technologies and meeting the sectors’ normal hurdle
rates, but with less risk, is going to stimulate the more bold and foresighted
business leaders to be early adopters on a scale that will create competitive
pressure for emulation because that’s how we do our outreach at RMI.

JM: I’ll take that as “hopeful.”

AL: We certainly wrote this in a spirit of
implied hope. And I think the scope for driving it from the C suite, not from K
Street, is going to be attractive across the political spectrum because
everybody’s tired of gridlock. And the notion that business can lead the energy
transition may be novel but it’s rapidly gaining credence and momentum.

Short Biography of Amory Lovins:

Physicist Amory Lovins is Chairman and Chief
Scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute ( and Chairman Emeritus of
Fiberforge Corporation (

His wide-ranging innovations in energy,
security, environment, and development have been recognized by the Blue Planet,
Volvo, Onassis, Nissan, Shingo, and Mitchell Prizes, MacArthur and Ashoka
Fellowships, the Benjamin Franklin and Happold Medals, 11 honorary doctorates,
honorary membership of the American Institute of Architects, Fellowship of the
Royal Society of Arts, Foreign Membership of the Royal Swedish Academy of
Engineering Sciences, and the Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood, National
Design, and World Technology Awards.

He advises governments and major firms
worldwide on advanced energy and resource efficiency, has briefed 20 heads of
state, and has led the technical redesign of more than $30 billion worth of
industrial facilities in 29 sectors to achieve very large energy savings at
typically lower capital cost.

A Harvard and Oxford dropout, he has
published 29 books and hundreds of papers and has taught at eight universities,
most recently as a 2007 visiting professor in Stanford University’s School of

In 2009, Time named him one of the 100 most
influential people in the world, and Foreign Policy, one of the 100 top global


Where Does Your Country Rank on the Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2011?

Posted by admin on November 12, 2011
Posted under Express 155

Where Does Your Country Rank on the Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2011?

Some of the world’s largest and
fastest-growing economies, especially those in South Asia, are most at risk
from climate change, finds a new global ranking that calculates the
vulnerability of 170 countries to the impacts of climate change over the next
30 years. The 2011 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, which evaluates 42
social, economic and environmental factors to assess national vulnerabilities,
has Bangladesh topping the list of countries at extreme risk. India is close
behind in second place, Madagascar is third, Nepal fourth, Mozambique fifth and
the Philippines sixth.

The index is mapped in Maplecroft’s Climate
Change Risk Atlas 2011

ENS Report from BATH, UK, (28 October 2011):

Some of the world’s largest and
fastest-growing economies, especially those in South Asia, are most at risk
from climate change, finds a new global ranking that calculates the
vulnerability of 170 countries to the impacts of climate change over the next
30 years.

The 2011 Climate Change Vulnerability Index,
released by global risks advisory firm Maplecroft, evaluates 42 social, economic
and environmental factors to assess national vulnerabilities across three core

The index is mapped in Maplecroft’s Climate
Change Risk Atlas 2011, which evaluates the risks to business relating to
emissions, unsustainable energy use, regulation and climate change

The countries at the greatest risk are
characterized by high levels of poverty, dense populations, and exposure to
climate-related events, as well as their reliance on flood-prone and
drought-prone agricultural land.

Bangladesh residents struggle to cope with
floodwaters, October 21, 2011 (Photo by trucbk99)

Bangladesh tops the list of countries at
extreme risk, and India is close behind in second place. Madagascar is third,
Nepal fourth, Mozambique is in fifth place and the Philippines comes sixth.

Haiti, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Myanmar
(Burma), in that order, round out the top 10 countries listed as at extreme
risk. Vietnam and Pakistan are also listed in the extreme risk category,
although not in the top 10.

“These countries are attracting high
levels of foreign investment from many multinational organizations,” said
Dr. Matthew Bunce, principal environmental analyst at Maplecroft.

“However, over the next 30 years their
vulnerability to climate change will rise due to increases in air temperature,
precipitation and humidity,” he said.

“This means organizations with
operations or assets in these countries will become more exposed to associated
risks, such as climate-related natural disasters, resource security and conflict,”
said Dr. Bunce.

Risk factors include exposure to
climate-related natural disasters and sea level rise.

Woman carries firewood across a dry riverbed
in Bodhgaya, India, the site of Buddha’s enlightment. May 7, 2010. (Photo by JC

Risks such as human sensitivity in terms of
population patterns, development, natural resources, agricultural dependency
and conflicts are also factored into the assessment.

Future vulnerability was determined according
to the adaptive capacity of a country’s government and infrastructure to
withstand climate change.

“Understanding climate vulnerability
will help companies make their investments more resilient to unexpected
change,” said Dr. Bunce.

Throughout 2010, changes in weather patterns
have resulted in a series of devastating natural disasters, especially in South
Asia, where heavy floods in Pakistan killed more than 1,700 people and affected
more than 20 million, over 10 percent of the population.

“There is growing evidence climate
change is increasing the intensity and frequency of climatic events,” said
Dr. Anna Moss, an environmental analyst at Maplecroft.

“Very minor changes to temperature can
have major impacts on the human environment, including changes to water
availability and crop productivity, the loss of land due to sea level rise and
the spread of disease,” she said.

In this Maplecroft map of climate change
vulnerability, the darker the color, the higher the risk. (Map courtesy

Maplecroft rates Bangladesh as the country at
greatest risk due to extreme levels of poverty and a high dependency on
agriculture, while its government has the lowest capacity of all countries to
adapt to predicted changes in the climate.

In addition, Bangladesh has a high risk of
drought and the highest risk of flooding. This was evident during October 2010,
when 500,000 people were forced from their homes by flood waters.

But despite the country’s problems, the
Bangladesh economy grew 88 percent between 2000 and 2008 and is forecast to by
the International Monetary Fund to grow 5.4 percent over 2010 and up to 6.2
percent over the next five years.

“India, ranked second, is already one of
the world’s power brokers, but climate vulnerability could still adversely
affect the country’s appeal as a destination for foreign investment in coming
decades,” said Maplecroft in its analysis.

Vulnerability to climate-related events was
seen in the build up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, where heavy rains affected
the progress of construction of the stadium and athletes’ village.

“Almost the whole of India has a high or
extreme degree of sensitivity to climate change, due to acute population
pressure and a consequential strain on natural resources. This is compounded by
a high degree of poverty, poor general health and the agricultural dependency
of much of the populace,” according to the Maplecroft analysis.

China, Brazil and Japan are classed as high
risk countries.

Countries at medium risk include the United
States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Germany and France.

There are 11 countries considered low risk,
with Norway, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark, in that order,
performing the best.

Source: and

Pole position for Munich Re in Global Green Rankings

Posted by admin on November 12, 2011
Posted under Express 155

Pole position for Munich Re in Global Green Rankings

Munich Re topped Newsweek’s recently
published Green Rankings as the leading company worldwide. With a Green Score
of 83.6 out of 100, Munich Re came out above last year’s winner IBM (82.5) and
far ahead of other insurers. Munich Re has been handling global risks for 128
years and has been measuring climate change impacts since 1973. It set up the
Munich Climate Insurance Initiative and initiated the Desertec Solar Thermal
project in the Sahara.

Pole position for Munich Re in Newsweek’s
Green Rankings

Munich Re topped Newsweek’s recently
published Green Rankings as the leading company worldwide. The rankings focus
on actual environmental performance and involve a high-profile assessment of
environmental impact and management. With a Green Score of 83.6 out of 100,
Munich Re came out above last year’s winner IBM (82.5) and far ahead of other
insurers. Munich Re has been handling global risks for 128 years and has been
measuring climate change impacts for

Thomas Braune, Head of Group Development for
Munich Re, said: “Sustainable thinking and action is our DNA, as we offer our
clients a promise for the future. This applies to all our activities, whether
in our core business or in investments. This ranking therefore also applies to
each of us in our specific sphere of responsibility. In particular, I am very
pleased in view of the global comparison, also with other industries.”

Newsweek started this rating in 2009, not
only focusing on the American market, but also taking into account the global
one. The rankings are the result of a comprehensive research process undertaken
by two leaders in sustainability analysis, Sustainalytics and Trucost,
supported by a high-level panel of advisors. This outstanding performance is
certainly related to the fact that Munich Re also heads the Sustainalytics
ratings in the insurance category.

The sustainability performance has a long
tradition at Munich Re, having been included since 2001 in the Dow Jones
Sustainability and FTSE4Good indices. Munich Re’ ranking in this year’s DJSI
has also improved remarkably, with Munich Re now only three percentage points
behind the sector leader.

Further information about the Green Rankings:




By Matthew Wheeland in (17
October 2011):

The annual Newsweek Green Rankings, which
have become perhaps the most anticipated green ratings in the world, are
published this morning, bringing a new methodology to bear, and bringing a few
surprises with it.

IBM has moved into the top spot from its
third place finish last year, while Hewlett-Packard stays in second place. Dell
moves down the list to fifth place after last year’s third place rank, and
Sprint moves up to third from sixth place last year.

Newsweek’s list this year looks not just at
the 500 largest U.S. companies, but the 500 largest in the world; German
reinsurance firm Munich Re has earned the title of the world’s greenest

Newsweek editor Ian Yarrett explains why each
firm took the top spot on its respective lists:

IBM, in the No. 1 spot on the U.S. list, has
been measuring, managing, and voluntarily reporting on its environmental impact
for more than 20 years. It says it has conserved 5.4 million kilowatt-hours of
electricity over that time, cutting its CO₂ emissions and saving
the company more than $400 million in the process. Energy efficiency and
conservation is a “business no-brainer,” says Wayne Balta, a vice
president who oversees sustainability at IBM. But the company has extended its
eco-savvy far beyond its own operations — for instance, providing software
that helps customers identify energy-saving efficiencies at an office campus.

With no manufacturing operations and only a
limited supply chain, banks and insurance companies tend to be relatively low
impact, and Munich Re, a German reinsurance company, came in first on the
global list. But a high ranking isn’t a given for financial firms. Some of
their investment portfolios include companies that have environmentally
damaging activities, such as coal mining or gas drilling. For the first time
this year, the rankings took those risks fully into account, consistent with
the latest Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard. That is partly why companies like
T. Rowe Price (No. 500 in the U.S.) didn’t rank higher.

The rankings also highlight which sectors are
performing best — as with Munich Re, companies in finance and technology are
predominant at the top of both lists; in eighth place, Office Depot is the only
retailer — and the only firm not in technology, communications or healthcare
– to make the top 10. Staples, the other big office supply retailer in the
U.S., is the next retail firm on the list, in 17th place.

Globally, the list is even more skewed away
from manufacturing and heavy industry: Walmart de Mexico, with its 14th place
rank, is the first firm not in tech or finance to make the list.

It’s important to note that Newsweek
undertook a major shift in its procedures for this year’s list; swapping out
reputational metrics for transparency metrics in its rankings.

As executive editor Joel Makower
writes in his analysis of the list:

What’s changed? Newsweek — which itself went
through two management handoffs during 2010, ultimately merging with the news
and opinion website The Daily Beast — revamped its methodology. Specifically:

a provider of decision support tools to investment institutions, opted out of
the 2011 rankings after participating the first two years. It was replaced by
Sustainalytics, bringing a new set of criteria and analysis to the rankings.

•This year’s disclosure score replaced a
“reputation survey score” used during the two previous years, which
was based on an opinion survey of corporate social-responsibility
professionals, academics, and other environmental experts. That means this
year’s analysis is largely devoid of thought-leader opinion about companies,
focusing instead on more tangible measures of performance.

•This year’s overall “green scores”
are displayed as an absolute number rather than a relative one. In the past,
the top company received a score of 100, with all other companies’ scores shown
relative to that. Now, the green score is a raw score. Under the new
methodology, a rating of 100 would apply only to a company that received a
perfect score. This year, the green score for IBM, which topped the 2011 U.S.
rankings, was 82.5%.

•The global rankings were expanded from 100
companies to 500. That dramatically affected some companies’ rankings, since
they are now competing on a much larger, more diverse playing field.

most of these technical details will matter primarily to sustainability geeks
– socially responsible investors and analysts, and the like. And, of course,
to the companies themselves.

Also among the notable findings in this
year’s report are the least-green companies. The bottom of the list is not made
up of resource-intensive firms that are trying their best to overcome the
demands of their industries, but rather companies that simply haven’t put the
effort in to measure, manage and reduce their impacts.

In the U.S., the bottom seven companies are:
Ameren Corp., Archer Daniels Midland, Consol Energy Inc., INVESCO Ltd.,
Monsanto Co., Blackrock Inc., and T. Rowe Price Group.

Globally, the lowest-ranking firms are: Bunge
Ltd. (U.S.), Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (U.K.), Archer Daniels Midland
(U.S.), Monsanto Co. (U.S.), NTPC Ltd. (India), Coal India Ltd. (India), and
Wilmar International (Singapore).


Global Emissions up 6%: Biggest annual jump ever seen

Posted by admin on November 12, 2011
Posted under Express 155

Global Emissions up 6%:  Biggest annual jump ever seen

The global output of heat-trapping CO2 jumped
by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a
sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.
The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than
the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago. “The
more we talk about the need to control emissions, the more they are growing”,
says John Reilly, co-director of MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy
of Global Change. While Steve Zwick in Forbes GREEN TECH says while there are
no quick fixes, there are stop-gap measures that will buy us time until we can
reduce industrial emissions. Chief among these is to stop paying poor people to
destroy our rainforests and start paying them to maintain them.

Biggest jump ever seen in global warming

By Seth Borenstein , AP Science Writer (4 November

The global output of heat-trapping carbon
dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy
calculated, a sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made
global warming.

The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of
greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate
experts just four years ago.

“The more we talk about the need to
control emissions, the more they are growing,” said John Reilly,
co-director of MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

The world pumped about 564 million more tons
(512 million metric tons) of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009.
That’s an increase of 6 percent. That amount of extra pollution eclipses the
individual emissions of all but three countries — China, the United States and
India, the world’s top producers of greenhouse gases.

It is a “monster” increase that is
unheard of, said Gregg Marland, a professor of geology at Appalachian State
University, who has helped calculate Department of Energy figures in the past.

Extra pollution in China and the U.S. account
for more than half the increase in emissions last year, Marland said.

“It’s a big jump,” said Tom Boden,
director of the Energy Department’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center
at Oak Ridge National Lab. “From an emissions standpoint, the global
financial crisis seems to be over.”

Boden said that in 2010 people were
traveling, and manufacturing was back up worldwide, spurring the use of fossil
fuels, the chief contributor of man-made climate change.

India and China are huge users of coal.
Burning coal is the biggest carbon source worldwide and emissions from that
jumped nearly 8 percent in 2010.

“The good news is that these economies
are growing rapidly so everyone ought to be for that, right?” Reilly said
Thursday. “Broader economic improvements in poor countries has been
bringing living improvements to people. Doing it with increasing reliance on
coal is imperiling the world.”

In 2007, when the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change issued its last large report on global warming, it used
different scenarios for carbon dioxide pollution and said the rate of warming
would be based on the rate of pollution. Boden said the latest figures put
global emissions higher than the worst case projections from the climate panel.
Those forecast global temperatures rising between 4 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit
by the end of the century with the best estimate at 7.5 degrees.

Even though global warming skeptics have
attacked the climate change panel as being too alarmist, scientists have
generally found their predictions too conservative, Reilly said. He said his
university worked on emissions scenarios, their likelihood, and what would
happen. The IPCC’s worst case scenario was only about in the middle of what MIT
calculated are likely scenarios.

Chris Field of Stanford University, head of
one of the IPCC’s working groups, said the panel’s emissions scenarios are
intended to be more accurate in the long term and are less so in earlier years.
He said the question now among scientists is whether the future is the panel’s
worst case scenario “or something more extreme.”

“Really dismaying,” Granger Morgan,
head of the engineering and public policy department at Carnegie Mellon
University, said of the new figures. “We are building up a horrible legacy
for our children and grandchildren.”

But Reilly and University of Victoria climate
scientist Andrew Weaver found something good in recent emissions figures. The
developed countries that ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas
limiting treaty have reduced their emissions overall since then and have
achieved their goals of cutting emissions to about 8 percent below 1990 levels.
The U.S. did not ratify the agreement.

In 1990, developed countries produced about
60 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, now it’s probably less than 50
percent, Reilly said.

“We really need to get the developing
world because if we don’t, the problem is going to be running away from
us,” Weaver said. “And the problem is pretty close from running away
from us.”



Steve Zwick, in Forbes Green Tech (4 November

The Climate Debate is Over. Let’s Tap Markets
to Save the Trees, the Planet, and Ourselves

Our economy is changing our climate in
dangerous ways, and the latest figures show it’s getting worse, with greenhouse
gas emissions up a nauseating and unforgiveable 6% in 2010, despite the global
economic slowdown. If you’re one of these self-proclaimed “skeptics” who still
deny that man caused this mess and that man must fix it, then you’ve sacrificed
your credibility as a sentient human being.

That’s the take-home message from the Berkley
Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) Study, which was funded in part by the Koch
Brothers and headed by Richard Muller, a vocal critic of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  BEST
examined the evidence that “Climategate” supposedly suppressed, and published
its conclusion in mid-October.

“We find that the global land mean
temperature has increased by 0.911 ± 0.042 C since the 1950s (95% confidence
for statistical and spatial uncertainties)” the authors wrote on the very first
page.  “This change is consistent with
global land-surface warming results previously reported, but with reduced

That means that everything you have heard
about “institutional bias” among scientists in the IPCC is wrong.  It means everything you have heard about the
rate of global warming slowing down in the last decade is wrong.  It means that, if anything, the earth is
warming faster than the cautious scientists of the IPCC stated, and all signs
point to mankind as the culprit.

If you still want to blame sunspots and
volcanoes, read The Discovery of Global Warming by Spencer Weart to learn how
those and other theories emerged and failed to pass scientific muster, while
the concept of a man-made greenhouse effect not only passed those tests but
evolved as new evidence came to light.

The cause is clear, and the solution is
obvious – but it’s that solution that has conservatives in a state of paralytic
denial. To fix this problem, we must fundamentally change the way our economy
prices goods and services so that the cost of environmental degradation is
embedded in the cost of production.  If
we do that, everything else will follow. That’s the basic premise of carbon
finance, and it’s a conservative idea – first proposed and then implemented by
fiscal conservatives just a few short years before the whole movement went
collectively insane.

The only thing we should be arguing about now
is how to transition to a truly new and green economy as quickly and
efficiently as possible.  There are no
quick fixes, but there are stop-gap measures that will buy us time until we can
reduce industrial emissions. Chief among these is to stop paying poor people to
destroy our rainforests and start paying them to maintain them.

Smart money is moving in this direction, as
we saw at the end of September with the publication of State of the Forest
Carbon Markets 2011: From Canopy to Currency. This survey documents a record
$175 million flowing to support forest carbon projects in 2010, representing
commitments to sequester enough carbon to offset nearly 30 million tons of
carbon dioxide emissions.

The money comes from industrial companies
that want to reduce their carbon footprint by paying poor people to act as
providers of an ecosystem service – usually by either planting trees, shifting
to sustainable forestry, or saving endangered rainforests (REDD – Reduced
Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).

Encouragingly, the report shows that
private-sector companies aren’t just buying credits to reduce their footprints;
they are also developing and brokering projects on an ever-larger scale – a
role traditionally filled by environmental non-profits. This indicates the
market’s growing confidence in our ability as a species to do the right thing.

And, as we all know, the market never lies.


Rich Nations Upsetting Island States; Africa Goes for $100 Billion Climate Fund

Posted by admin on November 12, 2011
Posted under Express 155

Rich Nations Upsetting Island States; Africa Goes for $100 Billion Climate Fund

The 42-member Alliance of Small Island States
(AOSIS) – island states most vulnerable to global warming – have lashed out
against rich nations for being “reckless and irresponsible” for
promoting a delay in the adoption of a new international agreement until 2018
or 2020, just weeks before the start of a United Nations climate summit in
Durban, South Africa. Meanwhile, there are plans in the pipeline to establish a
$100 billion ‘Africa Green Fund’ to address the issues of climate change
confronting the continent, says Professor Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and
Vice President of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

AfDB to launch $100b ‘Africa Green Fund’ to
address climate change issues

Ghana Business News (28 October 28 2011):

The African Development Bank says there are
plans in the pipeline to establish a $100 billion ‘Africa Green Fund’ to
address the issues of climate change confronting the continent..

Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice
President of the African Development Bank
(AfDB) said at a press conference in Addis Ababa during the Africa
Economic Commission (AEC) Conference on Green Economy and Structural
Transformation that the Fund is still being conceptualised and depending on how
fast progress is made in identifying sources of funding the Fund will

He said the money is expected to come from
countries in the north and from Africa. He mentioned among others, pension
funds as some of the sources from which the money would be raised.

Later in an exclusive interview with, he said the Fund is designed around the climate change
issue. “It is just to make sure that this opportunity around climate change,
doesn’t become a curse, but only becomes an opportunity,” he said.

He told that the fund
would be used to finance green projects in infrastructure such as dams,
hydro-electric power generation, geothermal, wind farms, and any form of clean
energy will fall under the umbrella of the Fund.

He said the Fund will also cater for the
AfDB’s socio-economic  programme such as
the Sahel programme in Mali to address the challenges posed by desertification
by reducing its impacts on farmers. It would also be used to provide irrigation
schemes for farmers to reduce their dependence on the rains, he said.

He is hopeful that the Bank will be able to
capitalise the Fund and launch it as soon as possible.

Economists, environmental experts, civil
society and government representatives are meeting in Ethiopia at the African
Economic Conference 2011 under the theme ‘Green Economy and Structural
Transformation’ to discuss and push for structural changes in African
countries’ towards a green economy as the continent and the whole world is
being faced with the challenges of climate change.

On Monday
October 24, 2011, Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, Director of Economic
Development and NEPAD Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
told journalists at a Sensitization Workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that “The
impact of climate change is huge on the economy and the people,” he said as can
be seen in the shrinking of natural resources such as the Lake Chad, and sea
erosion at Keta in Ghana.

He said the devastating impact of climate
change is already costing Africa a lot already.

The requirements in terms of financial
requirement for climate change adaptation programmes in Africa he said is said
to be around $20 billion to $30 billion per year.

“Mobilizing this resources is a great
challenge and even if the resources are available, accessing is a problem,” he

He called on African countries to do two
things by instituting policies to adapt to climate change and adopting an
economic transformation strategy that does not worsen the problem, ” because it
pays nobody for Africa to contribute to climate change which is already
affecting Africa worse than anyone else,” he said.

According to Prof. Nnadozie, Africa must
adopt a green economy strategy which promotes sustainable development, uses
less carbon and more renewable energy.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi in Addis Ababa,



Vulnerable Islands Urge Climate Deal before
End of 2012

A group of island states most vulnerable to
global warming have lashed out against rich nations for wanting to delay a new
international climate pact until years after the Kyoto Protocol on curbing
carbon emissions expires in 2012.

Reuters Report (3 November 2011):

A group of island states most vulnerable to
global warming have lashed out against rich nations for wanting to delay a new
international climate pact until years after the Kyoto Protocol on curbing
carbon emissions expires in 2012.

The 42-member Alliance of Small Island States
(AOSIS) said countries such as Japan and Russia were “reckless and
irresponsible” for promoting a delay in the adoption of a new
international agreement until 2018 or 2020, just weeks before the start of a
United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa.

“If we allow this to happen, global
warming problems are going to worsen and the impact on a country like Grenada
will be devastating,” Joseph Gilbert, Grenada’s environment minister and
current chair of AOSIS, said in a statement.

“We therefore cannot continue to delay
making decisions, to 2018 or 2020, as there will not be sufficient time for countries
to take action,” he said.

If world governments fail to agree a pact
that sets tough climate targets then small island countries in the Caribbean,
the Pacific, Africa and elsewhere will be further exposed to severe drought,
rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes as a result of climate change,
Gilbert said.

AOSIS said a large number of developed and
developing countries also want a climate deal done before the end of 2012 and
are calling for that timetable to be agreed at the climate summit in Durban.

Representatives from more than 190 nations
will meet in the South African city from November 28-December 9 to resume
climate talks, but a binding pact to reduce emissions looks unlikely to be
delivered and may take several years due to deep divisions between rich and
poor nations. [nL5E7LE2PU]


The 1997 Kyoto Protocol covers only emissions
from rich nations that produce less than a third of mankind’s carbon pollution
and its first phase is due to expire end-2012. Poorer nations want it extended,
while many rich countries say a broader pact is needed to include all big
polluters. [nL3E7L30B0]

Russia, Japan, Canada and others have said
they will not sign up to a second commitment period unless it includes all
major emitters.

Two years ago, industrialized nations set a 2
degree Celsius warming as the maximum limit to avoid dangerous climate changes
including more floods, droughts and rising seas. Some experts say a 1.5 degree
limit would be safer.

Scientists have said carbon emissions need to
be cut by 80 to 95 percent by 2050 to keep warming levels reasonably safe.

This is well above the collective commitment
by developed countries for a 5.2 percent reduction from 1990 levels under the
first phase of Kyoto, and well above developed country targets currently on the

The AOSIS chair urged developed countries not
to renege on their legal commitment and “historical responsibility”
to commit to new targets under the Kyoto pact after 2012.

Otherwise, he said: “What this will do
is ruin the Kyoto Protocol, wreck the international carbon market, and
undermine the credibility of the legally-binding international climate regime
that has taken the world more than 20 years to build.”

Benchmark U.N.-issued carbon credits traded
at an all-time low of 6.35 euros ($8.76) earlier on Thursday, before recovering
somewhat. ($1 = 0.725 Euros)


Beyond Euro/US Financial Uncertainly, is a Looming Energy/Climate Disaster

Posted by admin on November 12, 2011
Posted under Express 155

Beyond Euro/US Financial Uncertainly, is a Looming Energy/Climate Disaster

Not from some doomsday prophet or climate change
fanatic, but from the normally cool headed International Energy Agency (IEA). The
world is effectively heading for disaster. If it continues with business as
usual, then the world is hurtling towards a 6°C global warming scenario and the
runaway impacts of climate change. And David Jones says that at forums like
G20, in the midst of all of the economic and financial uncertainty, it’s easy
to forget the looming issue of climate change. Yet if we do not act and find a
solution, issues such as the size of Greece’s debt may unfortunately be
somewhat academic.

Giles Parkinson in Climate Spectator (11
November 2011):

Much of big business, particularly the fossil
fuel industry and its cheer-squad in the mainstream media, likes to dismiss the
ambitions and the policy proposals of the green movement as some sort of
unrealistic, utopian dream. But the bombshell dropped by the deeply
conservative International Energy Agency in its World Energy Outlook, released
overnight, should shake them out of their socks: It is not the
environmentalists and clean energy developers that are kidding themselves about
the world’s energy future needs, it’s Big Oil and Big Coal.

The IEA said overnight that the world is
effectively heading for disaster. If it continues with business as usual, then
the world is hurtling towards a 6°C global warming scenario, and the runaway
impacts of climate change. But even under the “new policies” scenario, which
includes the pledges made at the last UN climate talks in Cancun, and national
initiatives such as Australia’s newly passed carbon pricing legislation, the
world only gets one third down the track to where it has said it wants to be –
limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 450 parts per million.

The World Energy Outlook is an annual
publication keenly watched by the energy industries that it serves. Under its
“new policies” scenario, coal, gas and oil have a rosy future. But the IEA says
this is not good enough. “We cannot continue to rely on insecure and
environmentally unsustainable uses of energy,” it says. “Governments need to
introduce stronger measures to drive investment in efficient and low-carbon
technologies. If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world
will lose forever the chance to avoid dangerous climate change.”

So the IEA also paints its 450 scenario –
which it says gives the world an even bet at limiting global warming to 2°C –
and it requires a dramatic and immediate change in policies and investment,
effectively a halt to new coal fired power plants, increased deployment of gas
(but only as a transitional fuel), massive investment in renewables, and a
significant deployment in nuclear, particularly in developing economies (to
replace their coal-fired plans). It also turns the assumptions made by
Australian Treasury, and possibly the business plans of the oil, coal and gas
industries, on their head.

The critical leap made by the IEA – often
described as a bland, conservative organisation over its 40-year existence – is
that it has now firmly embraced the concept that the world has a finite carbon
budget. And it gives the energy industry, particularly those who seek to
prevent early policy action, a clarion call about the implications.

The IEA calculates that 80 per cent of that
carbon budget is already locked in by plants that have already been built. This
“lock-in” leaves little room for manoeuvre. But delaying serious action until
2015, just three years away, would lift that lock-in to 95 per cent of the
carbon budget, a scenario that that would mean that half of the world’s coal-
and gas-fired energy plants would need to be shut early – by 2035.

If action was delayed until 2017, then the
“lock-in” of existing plants would exceed the world’s carbon budget. In this
case, the IEA says, if the world wants to meet that 450 target, then no new
coal- or gas-fired generation could be built after that time, without forcing
the immediate closure of another dirtier plant. Effectively, the only option
after 2017 is to build emissions-free generation – renewables and nuclear. And
not just that; the IEA says any investment in appliances, buildings and
passenger and commercial vehicles after 2017 will also have to be emissions
free, or require the early retirement of some existing plant or facility to
create headroom for the new investment.

So what does the 450 scenario look like?
According to the IEA, both our means of transport and our energy grids are
completely transformed. Improved fuel efficiency plays the biggest role in
transport, but by 2035, electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids will account for
one third of all vehicle sales. Biofuels also are a major contributor.

The energy grid is dominated by renewables
and the share of fossil fuels falls dramatically. Coal goes from 32 per cent of
capacity (and 41 per cent of generation) to just 13 per cent (and 15 per cent),
with a net loss of 300GW of capacity to 1,268GW. To understand the implications
of that, around 330GW-worth of plants are now under construction, so more than
600GW of coal fired plants will have to be retired – much of it early. That’s
not much of a growth scenario.

Gas nearly doubles its capacity, to 2,10GW,
but its market share falls from 24 per cent to 22 per cent; nuclear’s share
increases slightly to 9 per cent from 8 per cent, but its capacity also doubles
(to 865GW), mostly in developing countries such as China, India and Korea. The
share of hydro falls slightly, to 19 per cent from 20 per cent, although its
capacity also nearly doubles to 1,803GW.

The most dramatic change is in non-hydro
renewables, whose share increases phenomenally – from just 4 per cent in 2009,
to 34 per cent of global electricity capacity in 2035. Wind capacity grows
10-fold to 1,685GW, sending Landscape Guardians across the globe completely
barmy. Solar PV rises 40-fold to 901GW from 22GW in 2009; solar thermal leaps
from just 1GW to 226GW; geothermal from 11GW to 60GW; marine from zero to 23GW,
and biomass grows six-fold to 329GW. In terms of generation, non-hydro
renewables soar to 28 per cent from just 2 per cent in 2009, nuclear and hydro
have a 20 per cent share each, while coal drops from 41 per cent to 15 per
cent, and gas from 21 per cent to 17 per cent.

There couldn’t be a clearer picture about
where the investment and business and job opportunities lie in the future.
According to the IEA scenario, solar thermal has a compound annual growth rate
in investment of 35 per cent from 2011 to 2035, little wonder that the world’s
biggest energy groups are falling over each other trying to get hold of the
best technology. Solar PV, even after its spectacular growth in recent years,
delivers 15 per cent compound annual growth for the next two and a half
decades, wind grows at 10 per cent per annum and marine at 18 per cent.

The renewables sector will attract a total of
$20 trillion in new investment. The other growth industries in this scenario
are clean transport – fuel efficiency and EVs – which attract around $6.3
trillion. The building sector attracts an extra $4.1 trillion, “smart” energy
technology attracts $2 trillion. The losers? Coal capacity slumps by 0.5 per
cent per year out to 2035, a net reduction in investment of $6 trillion, and
investment in poles and wries would be reduced by $900 billion – even after the
investment needed to accommodate intermittent renewables. There is a lot at
stake for vested interests.

And if all this sounds like it is
horrendously expensive and should be put off for as long as possible – echoing
those old chestnuts trotted out by business lobbies hand-wringing about poor
economic conditions, and it not being the right time – then the IEA is
dismissive. “Delaying action is a false economy,” it says. “For every $1 of
avoided investment between 2011 and 2020, either through reduced low-carbon
investment or adoption of cheaper fossil-fuel investment options, an additional
$4.30 would need to be spent between 2021 and 2035 to compensate for the
increased emissions.”

But there is another surprise. The aggressive
investment in the 450 scenario, which includes the dismantling of fossil fuel
subsidies, and the diversion of some of that to renewables, will mean consumers
around the world actually pay $669 billion less in energy costs than they
otherwise would. And, says the IEA, there are other benefits: less pollution;
more countries that are energy self reliant (less chance of conflict);
healthier people who live longer; and a much greater chance of preventing
runaway global warming, with far lower adaptation costs. It seems like a policy

But contrast the 450 scenario to the
direction we are now headed. Australian miners are relatively happy for the
world’s politicians to continue to say they want to limit global warming to
2°C, but not actually implement the policies to do it. In the IEA’s “New
Policies” scenario, Australia is actually the only major OECD country to
increase coal production out to 2035 and, along with Indonesia, to dominate
regional trade, which is why so many coal companies are piling into NSW and
Queensland to dig the ore up.

But in the 450 scenario, should politicians
get their act together, the outlook is turned on its head. China is no longer
Australia’s biggest customer, it actually ceases to become an importer of coal.
Output in the US and Europe declines dramatically, India becomes the biggest
customer. These go completely against the scenarios outlined by Australian

The IEA says gas may well be facing a
“golden” age, but it is not inevitable. It carries several caveats. Like
renewables, it will require the policy intervention of governments to displace
coal – this could be mandated closures, or a high enough carbon price. This is
particularly so in China, where the IEA says gas would have little impact on
the power mix if market economics became the absolute priority for deployment
in power generation in that country. In certain scenarios – such as the delayed
response to 450, and the delayed deployment of CCS – the golden age is brought
to an abrupt halt, possibly as early as 2030, when it begins to decline. In all
scenarios, renewables account for a far greater level of abatement of either
gas or nuclear, second only to reduced consumption, or energy efficiency.

But if these scenarios look like hell on
earth for Big Coal and Big Oil, the IEA paints an even more radical scenario –
the one that happens if policies are delayed, but the world finally decides
that it wants to get to 450 in a big hurry. In other words, what does it do if
OECD countries do not lock in, by 2013, CO2 pricing and support for low-carbon
technologies at levels which are strong enough to steer the energy sector onto
a steep decarbonisation path? This, after all, given the state of international
negotiations and individual country commitments, is the most likely scenario.

Essentially it means the early retirement of
fossil fuel plants – well ahead of their economic life. Anyone building a new
coal-fired power station, or even a gas-fired power station, cannot rely on it
surviving until the end of its normal economic life, unless stringent policies
are implemented within two years, or there is a great leap ahead in CCS.

But of particular concern to the IEA is that
the rollout of CCS is delayed. This will require an even greater shift to
renewables, and particularly solar PV in buildings. Wind would have to grow at
90GW a year; sales of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles would need
to be three quarters of passenger and commercial vehicle sales in 2035,
requiring a significant transformation of the infrastructure used to fuel/recharge
the cars. There would also need to be a more rapid roll-out of nuclear.

But therein lies a problem. The IEA says the
accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power station has led to a re-evaluation of
the risks associated with nuclear power, and to greater uncertainty about the
future role of nuclear power in the energy mix. It paints varying scenarios,
including a “low nuclear case” in which it plays a smaller role in global
energy supply, and more is required of renewables to compensate – 20 per cent
more than in the base-case 450 scenario. And CCS would need to deliver 30 per
cent more.

But what would happen if both CCS failed to
deliver in time, and governments were reluctant to push the button on nuclear?
The IEA doesn’t cover that scenario; it’s not quite ready to go there. Maybe
next year.


David R. Jones, Global CEO of Havas and
co-founder of One Young World on  Why
Greece’s Debt Shouldn’t Be the G20′s Biggest Economic Issue  (4 November 2011):

As the G20 leaders meet in Cannes, the entire
meeting is being consumed by the current debt crisis in Europe and its
potential impact on the global economy.

On one level, that is completely
understandable. The world’s economy is precariously balanced and without
confident, decisive action could tip back into another major global downturn.
It’s a critical issue and one that must be resolved. Especially after defeat
was almost snatched from the jaws of victory by Greece’s decision to hold a
referendum which has fortunately now been reversed

However, there is another subject that the
G20 has a unique opportunity to take action on. And one that is every bit as
critical. In the midst of all of the economic and financial uncertainty, it’s
easy to forget the looming issue of climate change. Yet if we do not act and
find a solution, issues such as the size of Greece’s debt may unfortunately be
somewhat academic. The phrase ‘rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic’ springs
to mind.

Climate is an economic issue. Both in its
threat and in its potential opportunity. And while history will probably forget
the current Greek debt crisis, it will not forget the consequences of action,
or to be more pessimistic inaction, on climate. As the quote on the wall of
Patagonia’s head office says: “There is no business to be done on a dead

President Sarkozy has stated that he wishes
to lead the G20 in addressing global problems with “action and
ambition” — this can and should include action on mitigating the effects
of Climate Change. Alongside resolving the world’s debt crisis, establishing a
new framework for consultation on a financial transaction tax and exchange rate
developments, the G20 should be stating clear, specific commitments by member
states as to how they will deliver on the recent Cancun agreement within their
own legislative programs, as well as acting in concert, and thereby delivering
economic growth and jobs through the green economy.

While taking action on climate change has
been somewhat of a political hot potato in recent years — given both its
complexity and low perceived chance of success many politicians have sought to
steer well clear of the subject — it could actually, almost
counter-intuitively, be the one subject the G20 leaders could agree on. The
opposition from member states regarding financial transaction taxes and
exchange rate reform make the chances of agreement on those issues limited –
the White House has already this week expressed its skepticism about Sarkozy
and Merkel’s plan on taxing financial market transactions, and it is highly
unlikely that the US and China will resolve their very public differences on
exchange rate — thus realistic practical proposals regarding action on Climate
Change have a very real chance of being adopted and therein delivering a major
tangible success to the Summit. Which may interest those leaders who have a
rather important date with the polls next year.

In order for Cannes to deliver concrete
action on climate, any solution needs to achieve the following:

Firstly, it needs to be practical and have a
realistic chance of being adopted. It must be within relatively easy reach of
each member of the G20 and be something they are already looking at. It must
also be something on which they can legislate quickly. What is key is that it
is a starting point, not an end point.

Secondly, it needs to diffuse the political
standoff between the developed and developing world and the tensions between
China and America — already exacerbated by the currency debate. The Chinese
government is paying the highest financial price of all the G20 members for the
negative effects of carbon emissions, but they need to keep their economy
growing and they need a realistic starting point for world action on climate
change that they can adopt. Their investments in Green Energy show how
committed they are to acting — just not on someone else’s terms.

The following two simple proposals address
these criteria and could and should be adopted by the G20 leaders in Cannes.

Proposal 1: PEY18

In order to ensure that the negative effects
of carbon emission begin to come under control, the G20 member states should
resolve to set 2018 as the year in which these emissions will peak; emissions
will fall after 2018, Peak Emission Year, as a result of the legislative action
agreed by the G20 member states. If it should be that a G20 member will not
accept 2018 then they must state and commit to their own national peak
emissions year.

Peak Emission Year (PEY) will give the
Chinese government something they can sign up to without losing face and
without being seen to ‘blink first’ in a standoff with US interests. It allows
for a global agreement but with everyone acting on their own terms. And China
can be seen to ‘lead’ as opposed to bending to the will of developed economies.

Proposal 2: FFS18

The G20 members will agree to abolish Fossil
Fuel Subsidies by 2018.

The G20 has already made a commitment to
establish a plan to end fossil fuel subsidies. They can and should demonstrate
that they are accountable to that commitment. A report by the International
Energy Agency (IEA), Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC),
Organization for

Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),
and World Bank estimated that fossil fuel consumption subsidies cost the global
economy $557 billion in 2008, and unless eliminated can be expected to impose
similar costs in the future — that can finance a lot of Greek debt! There is
even political momentum on this issue, with the US in particular wanting to
pursue an end to FFS.

These two proposals are broadly in line with
the publicly-stated views of the majority of G20 government environment
ministers. They have been developed with the informal input of the governments
or environment ministries of many of the G20 countries, and after consultation
with Climate experts, Business leaders, the Global Climate Change Alliance and
the Global Sustainability 50 Committee of 50 of the world’s largest companies.

More importantly, they are credible, tangible
and achievable.

As President Sarkozy said in his August 20,
2010 speech to the 18th UN Ambassadors Conference: “Shouldn’t the G20 be
discussing the financing of a climate agreement? At a time when the fight
against climate change is at a standstill.”

Yes, I think it should.

PEY18/FFS18 is one of the nine proposals that
were developed for the French government, this year’s G20 Chair, by the ‘G20
Paris Initiative Task Force’ of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders
community including David Aikman, Fabrice Seiman,Thomas Buberl, Alfredo Capote,
Kevin Lu, Erwann Michel-Kerjan, Jill Janaina Otto, Anthony Stevens and David

About the Author:

Jones is the Global CEO of Havas and co-founder of One Young World. In advance
of the United Nations’ Copenhagen Climate Summit, David led Kofi Annan’s
TckTckTck campaign, recruiting 18 million “climate allies.” He also
led the advertising agency team working with David Cameron and the UK
Conservative Party team from 2007 to the successful election in 2010.

The opinions are the author’s own.


Australian Government Gives Green Light to a Clean Energy Future

Posted by admin on November 12, 2011
Posted under Express 155

Australian Government Gives Green Light to a Clean Energy Future

With the Carbon Price passed into law, Australia
is set to unlock more than A$13 billion in government funds for clean energy
that could boost investments for large solar power stations, geothermal, wave
power and energy efficiency projects, but is wind  missing out, asks David Fogarty. But Giles
Parkinson thinks the Government-approved Clean Energy Future package could
hardly have been better timed for the 850 or so delegates to the Carbon Expo
forum in Melbourne.

By David Fogarty for Reuters (8 November

Australia is set to unlock more than A$13
billion in government funds for clean energy that could boost investments for
large solar power stations, but wind farm developers are at risk if the money
disrupts an existing green scheme.

The Senate on Tuesday passed laws supporting
renewables and a national carbon price to accelerate investment in cleaner

Geothermal, wave power and energy efficiency
projects are also likely to benefit from two independent bodies to be approved
by the Senate, the A$10 billion dollars ($10.3 billion) Clean Energy Finance
Corporation (CEFC) and A$3.2 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Wind farms and household solar are unlikely
to get access to the cash because the technologies are more mature, cheaper
than other renewables and less in need of support.

But getting the design right for the CEFC in
particular will be crucial, energy policy analysts say, or the risk is
undermining an existing scheme that has driven major investment in wind farms.

“Not only does the CEFC stimulate
certain technologies but it also acts against other technologies, so the wind
industry might come out really loudly against the CEFC,” said Tony Wood,
director of the energy program at the Grattan Institute in Melbourne, an
independent think tank.

Australia is blessed with vast potential to
generate renewable energy from the sun, wind, geothermal, wave as well as hydro
power. While government programs have tried to support green energy, about 90
percent of the country’s power comes from coal and gas.

With energy costs and greenhouse gas
emissions rising, the government is trying to change this.

The CEFC starts in 2013 and runs for 5 years,
with half the money set aside for renewable energy and the remainder to support
lower-emissions technologies and energy efficiency. It aims to commercialize
green energy power generation that needs additional financial help to make it

It potentially represents the most important
program to ramp up green investment since the government overhauled and
expanded a market-based scheme that mandates a national target of 20 percent
renewable energy by 2020.


That scheme, the Mandatory Renewable Energy
Target, has led to a dramatic rise in wind farm investment, with more than
2,000 megawatts of capacity now installed and about another 9,000 MW of
projects proposed.

The projects earn renewable energy certificates,
currently trading at about A$40 per megawatt/hour, that retailers and some
generators have to buy to meet green energy targets

The government is reviewing the design of the
CEFC, with wind farm developers fearing a major scaling up of rival renewable
energy technologies that would also earn renewable energy certificates could
distort the market.

“The CEFC needs to have the right
principles around it to make sure that it doesn’t create a market distortion
under the renewable energy target and that’s what we will be advocating for
strongly,” said Lane Crockett, managing director, Australia, of Pacific
Hydro, a large wind farm developer.

“If there was a market distortion, it
could threaten wind assets,” he said, adding the A$5 billion under the
finance corporation should deploy renewable energy investment for assets or
generation above and beyond the 20 percent renewable energy target, and focus
on less mature technologies.

Questions remain over the level of risk CEFC
is willing to take and the type of financial support for projects.

“The CEFC, being a government-owned
body, wouldn’t be expected to give the rate of return that banks or others
would, so people talk about it that would be just above the bond rate,”
said Paul Curnow, who advises on carbon, renewable energy and environmental
markets for law firm Baker & McKenzie in Sydney.

“It could be loan guarantees, early
stage equity, concessional loans,” he said, steps that would help bridge
the price gap in servicing debt costs and the money a project earns from
selling power and earning renewable energy certificates.

A major issue for many large renewable energy
projects is the high initial capital cost and debt repayments. Depending on the
technology, the long-term power purchase agreement as well as money from
renewable energy certificates might not cover the debt servicing costs.
Sweeteners become essential.

The smaller Australian Renewable Energy
Agency, set to start next year and run for nine years, will focus on grants to
emerging green energy technologies to help with research and development and
bringing them up to commercial scale.


The agency will repackage existing programs,
with additional support for large-scale solar expected, along with money for
geothermal and wave power developers.

Beneficiaries could include Carnegie Wave
Energy Ltd and Oceanlinx and geothermal companies Geodynamics Ltd, Green Rock
Energy Ltd and Pacific Hydro.

“In Australia, local banks will often
only lend for 5 to 8 years, so if the CEFC is able to take a long-term view,
able to invest 10 to 15 years, then the returns on areas such as solar and
geothermal start to make more sense as the returns on investment kick in with
higher energy and carbon pricing over this longer period,” said Curnow.

Geodynamics says it aims to complete a 25 MW
plant by Dec 2013 and is targeting production of more than 500 MW by 2018.

Large-scale solar is set to benefit from both
funding bodies. This includes utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power
plants and solar thermal, which focuses the sun’s energy to drive steam
turbines to generate power.

These can use large numbers of parabolic
troughs to heat fluids to drive the turbine, or use acres of mirrors to focus
sunlight to a point on top of a tower.

Leading power generation equipment maker
Alstom is confident it will benefit since its turbines can be used for both
types of solar thermal technology. Alstom also has a stake in U.S. solar tower
firm BrightSource.

“We haven’t secured deals with anybody
at this point,” said Gwen Andrews, vice-president Asia and Oceania for
environmental policies and global advocacy at Alstom.

“But with the new funding announcements
coming out, we are very hopeful of the future for solar thermal in

The government earlier this year announced it
would partially fund the country’s two largest solar power stations with total
capacity of 400 MW. Investors include French nuclear firm Areva, BP Solar and
Pacific Hydro.

Curnow said it was too early to judge how
successful the CEFC would be. If the aim was to solely support the target of 20
percent renewable energy, then the body might not be able to spend the full
A$10 billion because there were already sizeable green energy investments in
the pipeline.

“If you just need a 20 percent target, then
assuming all of those projects going forward need some support from the CEFC,
you have to question whether they could spend that money, since the aim is to
leverage private investments,” he said.

“So it does imply that we are going to
see more renewables than the 20 percent.”


Giles Parkinson in Climate Spectator (8
November 2011)

It was a couple of years later than it needed
be, and about an hour later than the organisers hoped, but the passing of the
Clean Energy Future package by the Senate on Tuesday could hardly have been
better timed for the 850 or so delegates to the Carbon Expo forum in Melbourne.

Some 20 years after climate change first
became a serious public policy issue, after some 35 different policy reviews,
several aborted attempts, a trail of political victims and some harsh words
both in and out of parliament, the Senate gave its approval to a carbon price
by a handful of votes.

There were cheers in the Senate, but a muted
reception at the expo, possibly because most had left the giant screen relaying
the proceedings of the Senate to tuck in to lunch. “I can’t quite believe it
has actually happened,” said one lawyer who had been working on legislative
drafts for the best part of a decade. But, as one banker lamented, some
uncertainty has simply been replaced by more uncertainty: the question posed by
his customers, which up to now has been “will the legislation be passed?” will
simply be replaced with “will the legislation be repealed?”

The passage of the legislation does have one
important political dynamic: the onus of the government to justify and explain
its legislation is now passed to the Opposition, which has been campaigning on
a platform of “no, no, no,” underlined by Abbott’s extraordinary blood oath to
repeal it. It was quickly the focus of the leading business types invited to
speak at the expo.

Michael Fraser, the CEO of AGL Energy,
described the “Abbott factor” as “very unfortunate”. For AGL it meant that any
decisions made on certain investments, such as the baseload gas generation that
most say is crucial to transition one of the world’s dirtiest economies to a
cleaner future, will be deferred. “We will proceed with caution,” Fraser told
the audience. “We want to see bipartisan agreement.”

And, he warned, energy prices would not fall
as the Opposition claimed they would, should the carbon price be repealed. In
that situation, they would likely go even higher. “When I look at the
fundamentals, energy prices are going to rise.”

Steve Sargent, the CEO of GE Australia, the
local branch of the world’s biggest industrial conglomerate, said the political
situation was “disappointing,” particularly when both sides of parliament had
identical climate policies, at least as far as the crucial emissions reduction
target was concerned. “We should have been debating what we were going to do
and how we going to get there,” he said.

The federal government insists that Tony
Abbott’s threat to repeal the legislation is simply hot air. It’s not that it
can’t be done, at least in theory, said Mark Dreyfus, the parliamentary
secretary for climate change, it’s that it won’t be, for political reasons.
“This legislation will not be repealed. It’s a hollow promise,” he told the

In the meantime, big business seemed mostly
happy and enthusiastic about the arrival of a carbon price. “There are a whole
lot of business that don’t exist today that are going to emerge,” Fraser said.
“We certainly see lots of opportunities.” GE, which has been pricing carbon on
its own internal models for nearly a decade, also saw lots of opportunities.
And Sargent noted, citing new engine models GE had delivered for the Qantas
fleet: new technologies could deliver both lower operating costs and lower
emissions. “It’s very doable,” he said.

One of the areas of concern was about the
price of carbon, not so much that it was set so high in comparison to the
current European price (it is currently about double) – as both AGL and Delta
pointed out, to achieve transition to gas in short term will need a price far
higher than $23 a tonne – but that it was set at all. “The quicker the
transition to a market price, the better, said Santos CEO David Knox. “We
already take on oil price risk, gas price risk. Now we will have carbon price
risk. We will just model this into our business plans.”

Knox said Australia now had a fantastic
opportunity to drive down emissions, with a “clever” combination of gas and
renewables, that could reduce Australia’s emissions intensity by more than half
to 0.4t/MWh, and make local industry competitive and the economy an attractive
place to invest.

But Steve Everett from Delta was still
hopeful for a role for coal, saying “remnants” of the industry would be needed
to provide centralised power stations. He even expected coal-fired power
stations to be built in various “pockets” such as in Western Australia, and
possibly even along the east coast if carbon capture and storage could prove
its worth.

Knox said that would be possible, but not
easy. The huge transport costs of CO2 to be sequestered meant that CCS was
“very unlikely to solve the problem,” unless the coal-fired plant and the tanks
to sequester the emissions were close together. Coal seam gas, which Santos
exploits, still has its own issues. Knox said concerns about entry to the farm
gate and its impact on aquifers needed to be addressed properly. Indeed, he
said, the industry needed to aim to “jump high” on these issues, rather than
engage in limbo dancing.

Most people would be hoping for some of the
same from the Opposition on climate policy. But it may take a while.


Tell Flood-prone Thailand that Disasters will Multiply in the Future

Posted by admin on November 12, 2011
Posted under Express 155

Tell Flood-prone Thailand that Disasters will Multiply in the Future

A new UN report seems to state the obvious…it
concludes that man-made climate change has boosted the frequency or intensity
of heat waves, wildfires, floods and cyclones and that such disasters are
likely to multiply in the future. Thailand pretty much knows that as it
grapples with the impact of the worst flooding for many decades…is it a 50 or
100 year occurrence? For sure it will happen again.

By Marlowe Hood  for AFP (1 November 2011):

A new UN report concludes that man-made
climate change has boosted the frequency or intensity of heat waves, wildfires,
floods and cyclones and that such disasters are likely to multiply in the

The draft document, which has been three
years in the making, says the severity of the impacts vary, with some regions
more vulnerable than others.

Hundreds of scientists working under the
Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) will vet the phonebook-sized
draft at a meeting in Kampala of the 194-nation body later this month.

“This is the largest effort that has
ever been made to assess how extremes are changing,” said Neville
Nicholls, a professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and a
coordinating lead author of one of the review’s key chapters.

The report’s authors stress that the level of
“confidence” in the findings depends on the quantity and quality of
data available.

But the overall picture that emerges is one
of enhanced volatility and frequency of dangerous weather, leading in turn to a
sharply increased risk for large swathes of humanity in coming decades.

AFP obtained a copy of the draft report’s
20-page Summary for Policymakers, which is subject to revision by governments
before release on November 18.

A series of natural catastrophes around the
world has boosted the need to determine whether such events are freaks of the
weather or part of a long-term shift in climate.

In 2010, record temperatures fuelled
devastating forest fires across Siberia, while Pakistan and India reeled from
unprecedented flooding.

This year, the United States has suffered a record
number of billion-dollar disasters from flooding in the Mississippi and
Missouri Rivers to Hurricane Irene to a drought in Texas.

China is reeling from lack of water too, even
as central America and Thailand count their dead from recent flooding.

These events match predicted impacts of
global warming, which has raised temperatures, increased the amount of water in
the atmosphere and warmed ocean surface temperatures — all drivers of extreme

But teasing apart the role of natural
fluctuations in the weather and rising levels of greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere has proven devilishly difficult.

The nine-chapter Special Report on Managing
the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation,
or SREX, pored over hundreds of recent scientific studies in search of

The new report’s main conclusions about
future trends include:

- It is “virtually certain” –
99-100% sure — that the frequency and magnitude of record-hot days will
increase over the 21st century on a global scale.

- It is “very likely” (90-100%
certainty) that the length, frequency and/or intensity of warm spells,
including heat waves, will continue to increase over most land areas.

- Peak temperatures are “likely”
(66-100% certainty) to increase — compared to the late 20th century — up to
3.0 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050, and 5.0 C (9.0 F) by

- Heavy rain and snowfall is likely to
increase, especially in the tropics and at high latitudes.

- At the same time, droughts will likely
intensify in the Mediterranean region, central Europe, North America,
northeastern Brazil and southern Africa.

- Rising and warming seas are also very
likely to boost the destructive power of cyclones, while melting glaciers and
permafrost, along with heavier precipitation, will trigger more landslides.

The Carnegie Institution’s Chris Field,
co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group 2, would not comment on the report’s
conclusions, but said they would help shape political choices.

“When the SREX is finalized and approved
by the world’s governments, it will provide a solid foundation for smart
policies on managing risks from climate extremes and climate-related
disasters,” he said by email.

The IPCC’s landmark Fourth Assessment in 2007
said global warming was “unequivocal” and that human activity was
almost certainly largely to blame.


Asia pays watery price for overdevelopment

By Denis D. Gray, Associated Press (25
October 2011)

As millions of urbanites living a modern
lifestyle fear that torrents of floodwater will rage through Thailand’s
capital, some in enclaves of a bygone era watch the rising waters with hardly a
worry — they live in old-fashioned houses perched on stilts with boats rather
than cars parked outside.

“No problem for them. They’ll be
safe,” says boatman Thongrat Sasai, plying his craft along some of the
remaining canals that once crisscrossed Bangkok, earning it a “Venice of
the East” moniker.

Like most of monsoon-swept Asia, the city and
its environs have experienced periodic floods since it was founded more than
two centuries ago. But recent decades have witnessed dramatic changes — from
intense urbanization to rising waters blamed on climate change — that are turning
once burdensome but bearable events into national crises.

“In a sense traditional society had an
easier coexistence with water and flooding,” says Aslam Perawaiz, an
expert at the Bangkok-based Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. “Now, with
such rapid development there’s a much bigger problem.”

Across Asia, areas of high population density
are also those most prone to flooding and other water-related disasters,
according to an Associated Press analysis of recent U.N. maps. When overlaid,
the maps show such convergence in a wide arc from Pakistan and India, across
Southeast Asia, to China, the Philippines and Indonesia.

This isn’t mere bad luck. Historically,
agrarian societies settled in the continent’s great river basins, including the
Ganges in India, the Mekong in Southeast Asia and the Chao Phraya in Bangkok.
The gift of the rivers was fertile land, but it came at the price of almost
annual flooding during the monsoon rains.

By providing sufficient food for growing
populations, these rice bowls in turn spurred the rise of some of Asia’s
largest cities from Bangkok to Kolkata, India. The concentration of national
resources and wealth means even smaller disasters can have a big impact.

Severe flooding this year has killed more
than 1,000 people across Asia, and economic losses are running in the tens of
billions of dollars.

Thailand, suffering its worst flooding in 50
years, offers a prime example of the perils of centralization and man’s
fractured bonds to the natural environment. Floodwater has spilled into
outlying parts of Bangkok, and the government is scrambling to try to prevent
the inundation of the city center.

The basin of the Chao Phraya — the River of
Kings — and its headwaters in the north are home to 40 percent of the country’s
66 million people. Bangkok is Thailand’s industrial, financial, transportation
and cultural heart, contributing more than 65 percent of its gross domestic

Growth, outward and upward, has been
stunning. Bangkok’s greater metropolitan area now covers nearly 3,000 square
miles (more than 7,700 square kilometers) and continues to gnaw away at a
surrounding countryside that once acted as a natural drain for water from
northern mountain watersheds — themselves shedding more water because of
widespread deforestation.

Highways, suburban malls and industrial
parks, many now swamped and sustaining crippling losses, create dangerous
buildups of water or divert it into populated areas rather than along
traditional paths toward the Gulf of Thailand.

In Bangkok itself, streets where today’s
middle-aged residents used to play with water buffaloes as children are studded
with towering, cheek-by-jowl condominiums and office blocks. The ratios of
green space to population and area are among the lowest of any major city in
the world.

To this add extreme and erratic weather, said
to be triggered by climate change, which has increasingly buffeted Asian
countries with storms, typhoons and floods. These include ones such as Thailand
with a historically mild tropical climate.

Further, the legal and illegal pumping of
underground water faster than it can be replaced has compressed water-storing
aquifers, causing Bangkok to sink between 0.8 and 2 inches (2 to 5 centimeters)
each year. Scientists say the rise of waters in the nearby gulf as a result of
global warming could combine with the sinking land to put Bangkok under water
much of the time by mid-century.

Similar subsidence and seawater encroachment
is occurring in Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila, where a typhoon last
month triggered the worst flooding in the Philippine capital in decades.

Bangkok, some experts half-jokingly say, may
well return to what it was in the 19th century: a water world where almost all
its 400,000 inhabitants lived on raft-houses or homes on stilts. “The
highways of Bangkok are not streets or roads, but the river and the
canals,” wrote British envoy Sir John Browning in 1855.

A century later, on the advice of
international development agencies, Bangkok began to fill in most of its canals
— excellent conduits of floodwaters — to build more roads and combat malaria.

Sumet Jumsai, a prominent architect and
scholar, says that Bangkok’s early development “evolved with nature and
not against it.” But, he adds, by the early 1980s the city had become
“an alien organism unrelated to its background and surroundings, a great
concrete pad on partially filled land that … must succumb to the flood every

Dikes and drainage pipes have been built, but
nature appears to be keeping several steps ahead of manmade defenses.

“Of course this year the flood is maybe
too great to stop, but all in all it was better in the old days,” says
Phairat Klatlek, sitting atop a poorly erected concrete flood wall through
which water rushed into the first floor of her home. She and her electrician
husband, like most of their neighbors, had built a ground-hugging, modern house
along the Bangkok Noi canal.

Sumet is designing modern, functional
buildings, including a university campus, built on stilt columns and proposes a
revival of floating houses, promenades and markets.

“The underlying philosophy is the return
to living with nature like in Bangkok of yesteryear,” he says.

But Aslam, the disaster expert, says, “I
don’t think we can go back to living in harmony with nature as in the past.
What is now necessary is huge investments and long-term planning by governments
to mitigate such flooding.”

Associated Press writers Sopheng Cheang in
Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines; and Asia
interactive producer Pailin Wedel contributed to this report.


Sizing Up Innovations: A Small Solar Charger and a Floating Solar Island

Posted by admin on November 12, 2011
Posted under Express 155

Sizing Up Innovations: A Small Solar Charger and a Floating Solar Island

At Clean Energy Expo, a small Singapore start-up
company set the tech media world buzzing with the launch of its unique solar
charging mPowerPad.  the Government announced
Singapore will build its first floating solar system – the first of its kind in
the region – led by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and national water
agency PUB, at a cost S$11 million and be operational by 2013.

By Jessica Cheam in Straits Times (3 November

Singapore will build its first floating solar
system – the first of its kind in the region – in the calm waters of the
western Tengeh Reservoir.

The innovative project, led by the Economic
Development Board (EDB) and national water agency PUB, will cost $11 million
and be operational by 2013.

National Environment Agency (NEA) chief
executive Andrew Tan announced this yesterday, noting that the pilot project
will be studied for the potential of using reservoir water surfaces for these
systems to generate electricity.

This is to overcome Singapore’s land
constraints: Solar panels need large land mass to generate a large amount of
energy. In Singapore, they are usually built on rooftops.

Speaking at the third Solar Pioneer Awards
ceremony, where he was the guest of honour, Mr Tan said he was optimistic that
‘local solar adoption will continue to proliferate, driven by factors such as
increased local capabilities, innovation and government support’.

The 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic system –
which will be connected to the national grid – will generate enough energy from
the sun to power 450 four-room flats at any one time.

Mr Goh Chee Kiong, EDB’s director of clean
technology, told The Straits Times: ‘This is a major step for us… if this pilot
project works out, the potential is tremendous for rolling out similar projects
across the island.’

He added that remote reservoirs would be good
locations. Those that currently host recreational activities, such as
MacRitchie, will not be considered.

Singapore got its inspiration from existing
floating projects such as those in the United States’ Napa Valley, where land
owners built such systems to reduce water loss and overcome land constraints,
he added.

Singapore’s solar industry has grown into a
thriving industry in recent years; The HDB recently unveiled the first solar
leasing project, which allowed private firms to design, install and maintain
solar energy systems.

The floating project will be a public and
private partnership, where the government agencies will work with interested
private-sector companies to build the system.

Singapore can learn about the technical
challenges and cost-effectiveness of such systems through this test bed, which
will also look into other considerations such as aesthetics and impact on the
environment, said Mr Goh.

EDB and PUB will also study other potential
benefits, such as the cooling effect of the water body on the solar panels,
which will enable it to be more effective in generating electricity.

possible benefits are reduced water evaporation, and algal growth in the

Industry players said they were excited about
the project. Mr Christophe Inglin, managing director of solar firm Phoenix
Solar, who is keen to bid for it, said: ‘This is a very interesting experiment…
but there are some technical challenges to be ironed out. Water and electricity
do not mix very well together.’

NEA’s Mr Tan noted the Asian sunbelt region
is viewed as the ‘next exciting growth frontier for solar markets’. ‘Solar
energy also has the potential to help Singapore diversify its energy sources
and reduce its carbon footprint,’ he said.

Yesterday’s ceremony was held at the inaugural
PV Asia-Pacific Expo, part of the annual Singapore International Energy Week.

Five private-sector projects were given the
Solar Pioneer Award, which recognises solar installations in Singapore that are
at the forefront of system design, size and installation techniques.

The five are Keppel DHCS’ district cooling
systems plant at Changi Business Park, Hyflux’s innovation centre in Bendemeer,
GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals’ plant in Tuas, OUB Centre’s One Raffles Place
Tower 2 and UOL Group’s Upper Pickering hotel and office development.


By Jacqueline Seng on cNet Asia, Crave (1
November 2011):

If you’re off the (power) grid often–and you
don’t own a rugged solar phone–you might need the mPowerpad, a charger that
harnesses solar energy to charge up to two devices at a time.

Launched by Singapore-based startup Third
Wave Power, the mPowerpad is actually more than a solar charger. It also acts a
reading light, flashlight, insect repellent (by emitting an ultrasonic
frequency) and FM/AM/shortwave receiver.

During a demo at the Clean Energy Expo Asia
2011, Third Wave Power co-founder Lim Chuin Kiat showed off the device’s accelerometer-based
user interface which we found relatively intuitive and easy to use. For
instance, tilting the device in a certain direction triggers one function, or
turns it off. Lim says that avoiding the use of moving mechanical parts also
helps ensure the device is as robust as possible.

With its polycarbonate material, silicon
sleeve and rubber bumpers, the mPowerpad is claimed to be water-resistant and
shock-resistant for falls of up to 1m. It’s about the same size and weight as
an iPad, so it should fit well in a backpack.

The 4-watt solar panel is fully charged
within six hours and can juice up an iPhone fully with more than enough power
remaining to use other functions for up to six hours. The 2,500mAh charger is
made up of five standard AA-size nickel-metal hydride batteries which can be
easily removed and replaced, or used in other compatible devices when fully
charged. Lim estimates that the cell is able to last for 500 recharge cycles,
or up to 18 months if used daily.

The mPowerpad works with non-iOS devices,
too–it comes with seven common connector tips, so you can use it with most
other handsets. There’s also the option of using an AC input if there’s a power
socket readily available. People in remote areas without a ready supply of electricity,
such as hikers or those living in rural areas, may find this solar charger

Third Wave Power co-founder V.S. Hariharan
says that the company is in talks with retail partners and NGOs about
distributing the mPowerpad in Asia, India and Bangladesh, and that shipping
should begin in early January next year. The device will cost US$80.


Singapore, 31 October 2011 – Singapore-based
company Third Wave Power Pte Ltd today announced its new offering, mPowerpad,
the world‟s first multi-function, portable solar device that can power up
digital devices and is equipped with essential functions for users operating
away from the power grid like AM/FM/SW radio, reading light, flashlight and
ultrasonic insect repellent. mPowerpad launches this week at the Clean Energy
Expo Asia 2011 in Singapore, 1-3 November (Booth F05, Suntec City).

Compact, rugged and lightweight, mPowerpad
takes less than 6 hours to fully charge under direct sunlight. Through two USB
ports, mPowerpad is capable of charging many types of devices and gadgets such
as mobile phones, smartphones, tablets and cameras. With a 2500mAh battery
capacity, it can fully charge up an iPhone – as quickly and efficiently as from
an AC/DC outlet – while simultaneously providing reading light, radio and
insect repellant for 4-5 hours.

“mPowerpad is designed for people who often
travel to remote places and need a serious solution to keep their gadgets and
equipment up and running,” said VS Hariharan, Co-founder of Third Wave Power.
The company – backed by commercial incubator Small World Group and Singapore‟s
National Research Foundation – recently won the ‟Most Eco-friendly Start-up„
award at Techventure 2011, held in October in Singapore.

“Other solar chargers in the market do not
have more than one or two functions, or they lack durability and reliability.
mPowerpad, however, delivers an affordable, sustainable boost to productivity,
and benefits outdoor enthusiasts, professionals and households with no ready
access to electricity,” said Hariharan.

mPowerpad features a unique gesture-based
user interface that requires no button, knob or dial to operate the device.
With no moving mechanical parts that could break down from manual wear and
tear, and being water, dust- and drop-resistant, mPowerpad is built to
withstand harsh weather and terrain conditions.

Said Lim Chuin Kiat, Co-founder of Third Wave
Power, “mPowerpad has been designed for ultimate ease-of-use. With a built-in
accelerometer, functions are activated by simple motions of tilting or turning
the device. Anyone in the world – regardless of culture, literacy or education
– will find mPowerpad extremely easy to use.”

Field testing of pre-production units is
currently underway across various geographies. The first shipment of mPowerpad
is expected early January next year with a recommended retail price of US$80
per unit.

For more information on mPowerpad, visit
Third Wave Power at Clean Energy Expo Asia 2011, Suntec City Singapore, Booth
F05, 1-3 November or visit In addition, a public CEEA
session on “Making solar power portable and useful” by Third Wave Power is
scheduled on 2 November, 11.00–11.45 am at Tech Talk Room 1.

About Third World Power Pte Ltd

Third Wave Power aims to empower people
around the world by improving lives and increasing productivity. Incorporated
in 2011 and based in Singapore, the company develops affordable and innovative
renewable power solutions that serve portable energy needs in both urban and
rural areas. Third Wave Power products are designed based on customers‟ needs
and are made to perform and last in the environments they are used in. The
company is backed by commercial incubator Small World Group and Singapore‟s
National Research Foundation. Third Wave Power was honored at the recent
Techventure 2011 event, winning the “Most Eco-friendly Start-up” award. For
more information, visit

About the Founders

VS Hariharan, Co-Founder

Hariharan brings more than 20 years‟
experience from the information technology industry. In Hewlett-Packard Company
and Wipro Infotech, he was in general management roles as well as senior
positions in sales and marketing. Hari has extensive experience in product marketing
as well as building go-to-market engines for consumer and business products.
Throughout his career, he has also been involved in scaling many new and
emerging businesses.

Lim Chuin Kiat, Co-Founder

With more than 20 years‟ experience in the
information technology industry, Chuin Kiat oversaw research & development
department and was also in senior management roles in Hewlett-Packard Company,
Dell and Venture Corporation. He holds eight US patents for inventions relating
to printers, scanners and battery power management. Chuin Kiat has also been
involved in scaling many product businesses.

About the Investors

Small World Group Incubator

Small World Group Incubator (SWGI) regularly
provides seed funding, mentoring and help to start and grow small companies.
SWGI operates under the National Research Foundation‟s (NRF) Technology
Incubation Scheme in Singapore. SWGI focuses on three areas of technology
innovation – clean tech, optical systems and advanced materials. For more
information, visit

The National Research Foundation

The National Research Foundation seeks to
strengthen Singapore‟s R&D capabilities, encourage greater innovation and
nurture the growth of technology-based enterprises in Singapore. This will help
Singapore to remain competitive and create high value jobs and prosperity for
Singaporeans. For more information, visit