Archive for the ‘Express 161’ Category

Sustainable Auto Business News: Cars Go Small, Green & Local

Posted by admin on February 20, 2012
Posted under Express 161

Sustainable Auto Business News: Cars Go Small, Green & Local

The Hiroko is a tiny European electric and drive motors hide inside each of the four wheels. Living Journey aims to make Hertz equipment solutions and sustainable mobility an industry leader in environmental practices via a defined set of new initiatives. Significant improvements in vehicle technology have resulted in new cars in the Australian market recording their lowest ever CO2 emissions. Read More

Hertz announcement by Wes Lane (8 February 2012):

Car hire firm Hertz has announced the launch of its new global sustainability strategy.

The program, called ‘Living Journey’, aims to make Hertz equipment solutions and sustainable mobility an industry leader in environmental practices via a defined set of new initiatives, the company said in a press release this week.

Hertz has outlined three specific points in which it will work to pave the way in sustainable business practice: Smart Mobility, in which it will offer low-emission products to consumers; Environment, in which it will reduce the firm’s environmental footprint via the use of renewable energy and efficiency improvements; and Community, in which it will give back to its neighbours via volunteer and philanthropic efforts.

Mark P. Frissora, Hertz’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement that sustainability has been a part of the company’s culture for a long time, adding that last year it set precedent for the industry via its Electric Vehicle product offerings and solar generator programs at rental facilities and corporate offices.

Mr Frissora went on to say that Living Journey would continue such efforts and would encompass all of the firm’s sustainability initiatives through investments, partnerships and employee education.

The firm also noted in the statement that it had received recognition by the Global Business Travel Association for Sustainable Practice in 2011 for its hourly Hertz On Demand rental scheme.


Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Australia (7 February 2012):

Significant improvements in vehicle technology have resulted in new cars in the Australian market recording their lowest ever carbon dioxide emissions.

The National Average Carbon Emission (NACE) figure for 2011 is 206.6 grams of CO2 per kilometre – down 2.8 per cent compared to the 2010 figure of 212.6 grams of CO2/km.

“The average new car sold in Australia is now at least 20 per cent more efficient than it was in 2000,” the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Chief Executive Ian Chalmers said.

All new passenger cars, SUVs and light commercial utes, vans and buses (up to 3.5 tonne) are included in calculating the NACE figure, therefore including many more vehicle types than CO2 measures used in other parts of the world, including Europe.

“This is one of the most significant yearly improvements in the NACE figure and demonstrates the industry’s commitment to continue to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” Mr Chalmers added.

“The result is a combination of improvements in vehicle technology and a change in consumer buying preferences toward lower emission vehicles,” he said.

“There has been a strong uptake in new-generation diesel and hybrid powered vehicles by consumers.

“In addition, ongoing efficiency improvements in average emissions from petrol powered vehicles by almost 7% indicates that consumers are continuing to purchase more efficient across the new vehicle fleet,” Mr Chalmers advised.

“Carbon dioxide emissions from new vehicles have reduced significantly without regulation and the industry now looks forward to working constructively with the Federal Government in developing a new standard,” he said.


By Mark Brown in Wired UK (26 January 2012):

This teeny fold-up car will be silently zipping along the streets of major European cities in 2013. It’s called Hiriko, and it was unveiled at the European Commission headquarters on 25 January.

Like a child’s stroller, the car’s chassis can collapse in on itself to dramatically reduce its size and occupy a smaller footprint when parked. When folded and stacked, three Hirikos could squeeze into one traditional parking space.

To save on space (even when unfolded it’s just 2.5 metres long), the car also has no doors. Instead you have to clamber in and out through the giant fold-up windscreen. Luckily, the steering console — which sports a spiffy LCD screen — pivots out of the way.

The car is entirely electric and drive motors hide inside each of the four wheels. The wheels can be controlled independently, allowing the car to execute tight manoeuvres, sharp U-turns and easy parallel parking in tight spaces.

The battery will get you 120 kilometres without a recharge, and can be rapidly re-juiced using relevant lithium-ion battery technologies. Also, the car’s speed is electronically set to respect city limits.

The design, originally dubbed CityCar, was dreamt up by Boston’s MIT Media Lab as an answer to urban stress, space and pollution. Since then a consortium of seven small firms from Spain’s Basque country have turned the idea into the commercial Hiriko (“urban”, in Basque).

The car will hit European cities in 2013. There are plans to make it a city-owned vehicle, up for hire like Boris bikes. Or, alternatively, it could be released for sale privately at around 12,500 euros (£10,500).

According to the AFP, several cities have shows interest, including Berlin, Barcelona, San Francisco and Hong Kong. Talks are underway with Paris, London, Boston, Dubai and Brussels.


Funding for Sceptics & Climate Change Deniers Exposed

Posted by admin on February 20, 2012
Posted under Express 161

Funding for Sceptics & Climate Change Deniers Exposed

A major leak exposes how Heartland Institute works to undermine climate science. Libertarian think-tank keeps prominent sceptics on its payroll and relies on millions in funding from carbon industry. It shows there is a co-ordinated effort to have an alternative reality on the climate science in order to have an impact on the policy. It also funds education to schools in the US with an alternative climate view. Read More

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent for Guardian (15 February 2012):

The inner workings of a libertarian think-tank working to discredit the established science on climate change have been exposed by a leak of confidential documents detailing its strategy and fundraising networks.

DeSmogBlog, which broke the story, said it had received the confidential documents from an “insider” at the Heartland Institute, which is based in Chicago. The blog monitors industry efforts to discredit climate science.

The scheme includes spending $100,000 for spreading the message in K-12 schools that “the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science”, the documents said.

It was not possible to immediately verify the authenticity of the documents, although Heartland issued a statement on Wednesday claiming at least one document was fake, and that it was the victim of theft and forgery. However, Anthony Watts, a weathercaster who runs one of the most prominent anti-science blogs, Watts Up With That?, acknowledged Heartland was helping him with $90,000 for a new project. He added: “They do not regularly fund me nor (sic) my WUWT website, I take no salary from them of any kind.”

Watts, in an email, did not mention the entire cost of his temperature station initiative but said: “Heartland simply helped me find a donor for funding a special project.”

“There is nothing I can tell you,” Jim Lakely, Heartland’s communications director, said in a telephone interview. “We are investigating what we have seen on the internet and we will have more to say in the morning.” Lakely made no attempt to deny the veracity of information contained in the documents.

The Heartland Institute, founded in 1984, has built a reputation over the years for providing a forum for climate change sceptics. But it is especially known for hosting a series of lavish conferences of climate science doubters at expensive hotels in New York’s Times Square as well as in Washington DC.

If authentic the documents provide an intriguing glimpse at the fundraising and political priorities of one of the most powerful and vocal groups working to discredit the established science on climate change and so block any chance of policies to reduce global warming pollution.

“It’s a rare glimpse behind the wall of a key climate denial organisation,” Kert Davies, director of research for Greenpeace, said in a telephone interview. “It’s more than just a gotcha to have these documents. It shows there is a co-ordinated effort to have an alternative reality on the climate science in order to have an impact on the policy.”

The Valentine’s Day exposé of Heartland is reminscent to a certain extent of the hacking of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit in 2009. Those documents helped sink the UN’s climate summit later that year.

In this instance, however, the Heartland documents are policy statements – not private email correspondence. Desmogblog said they came from an insider at Heartland and were not the result of a hack.

The documents posted on Desmog’s website include confidential memos of Heartland’s climate science denial strategy, its 2012 budget and fundraising plan, and minutes from a recent board meeting.

The fundraising plan suggests Heartland is hoping for a banner year, projecting it will raise $7.7m in 2012, up 70% from last year.

The papers indicate that discrediting established climate science remains a core mission of the organisation, which has received support from a network of wealthy individuals – including the Koch oil billionaires as well as corporations such as Microsoft and RJR Tobacco.

The documents confirm what environmental groups such as Greenpeace have long suspected: that Heartland itself is a major source of funding to a network of experts and bloggers who have been prominent in the campaign to discredit established science.

Heartland is anxious to retain its hold over mainstream media outlets, fretting in the documents about how Forbes magazine is publishing prominent climate scientists such as Peter Gleick. “This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out,” Heartland documents warn.

But the cache raises an equal number of questions – such as the identity of an anonymous donor that has been a mainstay of Heartland. The unnamed donor, who contributed $4.6m in 2008, has since scaled back contributions. Even so, the donor’s $979,000 contribution in 2011 accounted for 20% of Heartland’s overall budget, the fundraising plan says

According to the fundraising document Heartland hopes to bump that up to $1.25m in 2012

The importance of one or two wealthy individuals to Heartland’s operations is underscored by a line in the fundraising document noting that a foundation connected to the oil billionaire Charles Koch had returned as a donor after a lengthy hiatus with a gift of $200,000 in 2011. “We expect to ramp up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to the network of philanthropists they work with,” the document said.

Heartland hopes to cash in on its vocal support for the controversial mining method known as fracking, the document suggests.

Heartland operates on a range of issues besides the environment. But discrediting the science of climate change remains a key mission. The group spends $300,000 on salaries for a team of experts working to undermine the findings of the UN climate body, the IPCC.

It plans to expand that this year by paying a former US department of energy employee to write an alternative curriculum for schoolchildren that will cast doubt on global warming. The fundraising plan notes the anonymous donor has set aside $100,000 for the project.

The plan also notes the difficulty of injecting non-scientific topics in schools. “Heartland has tried to make material available to teachers, but has had only limited success. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. Moreover, material for classroom use must be carefully written to meet curriculum guidelines, and the amount of time teachers have for supplemental material is steadily shrinking due to the spread of standardized tests in K-12 education,” the fundraising plan said.

The Heartland Institute’s conference on climate change in 2009. Link to this videoThe documents suggest several prominent voices in the campaign to deny established climate science are recipients of Heartland funding.

They include, according to the documents, a number of contrarian climate experts. “At the moment, this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found,” the documents say.

Whether these funding arrangements actually exist cannot be verified. However, Heartland’s website notes that Idso, Singer, and Carter were commissioned to write a report for the organisation.


10 Global Sustainability Megaforces to Threaten Business

Posted by admin on February 20, 2012
Posted under Express 161

10 Global Sustainability Megaforces to Threaten Business

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is encouraging more businesses to embrace the principle of sustainability in their strategies –it should be in the DNA of business culture and operations. KPMG reports that climate change could be the only global megaforce that directly affects all others, with annual output losses ranging from 1% per year, if strong and early action is taken to tackle rising temperatures, to as much as 5%  a year, if policymakers fail to act. It is but one of the 10 sustainability “megaforces” threatening your business. What about the others? Read More

By BusinessGreen staff (16 Feb 2012):

Businesses have been urged to step up their efforts to ensure they are resilient to an increasingly resource-strained world, after a new report by KPMG identified 10 “global sustainability megaforces” that could derail businesses’ plans over the next two decades.

Climate change

KPMG says this could be the only global megaforce that directly affects all others, with annual output losses ranging from one per cent per year, if strong and early action is taken to tackle rising temperatures, to as much as five per cent a year, if policymakers fail to act.

Energy and fuel

Fossil fuel markets are likely to become more volatile and unpredictable due to higher demand, shifts in the geographical pattern of consumption, supply and production uncertainties, and increasing regulation to tackle climate change.

Material resource scarcity

As developing countries industrialise rapidly, global demand for material resources is predicted to increase dramatically, says KPMG. Businesses are therefore likely to face increasing trade restrictions and intense global competition for a wide range of material resources that become less easily available. However, such scarcity also creates opportunities to develop substitute materials or to recover materials from waste.

Water scarcity

Based on a forecast that the global demand for freshwater will exceed supply by 40 per cent by 2030, KPMG warns that businesses may be vulnerable to water shortages, lower-quality water, price volatility and resulting reputational challenges.

Ecosystem decline

With global ecosystems showing signs of breakdown and stress, more companies are realising how dependent their operations are on the critical services these ecosystems provide. The decline in ecosystems is making natural resources scarcer, more expensive and less diverse, which increases the costs of water and escalates the damage caused by invasive species to sectors such as agriculture, fishing, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and tourism.

Population growth

The world population is expected to reach 8.4 billion by 2032, increasing pressures on ecosystems and affecting supplies of natural resources such as food, water, energy and materials. KPMG maintains, however, that this population boom also provides business opportunities to grow commerce and develop new ways of addressing the demand of growing populations for agriculture, sanitation, education, technology, finance and healthcare.


Within growing populations, the middle class is forecast to grow 172 per cent between 2010 and 2030. This presents a challenge for businesses, which will be required to provide services and goods to this new middle class market at a time when resources are likely to be scarcer and more price volatile. Additionally, increasing wealth means that many companies will no longer be able to take advantage of “cheap labour” in developing nations in the same way they have previously.


By 2030, all developing regions, including Asia and Africa, are expected to have the majority of their inhabitants living in urban areas. Virtually all population growth during the next 30 years will be in cities, which will require extensive improvements in infrastructure, such as construction, water and sanitation, electricity, waste, transport, health, public safety, and internet and cell phone connectivity.

Food security

Global food prices are predicted to rise 70 to 90 per cent by 2030 as a result of growing populations, water scarcity and deforestation. Farmers in water-scarce regions are likely to have to compete for supplies with electric utilities and mining, as well as with consumers.


Wood products contributed $100bn per year to the global economy from 2003 to 2007, while the value of non-wood forest products, mostly food, was estimated at about $18.5bn in 2005. But the OECD predicts that forest areas will decline globally by 13 per cent from 2005 to 2030, mostly in South Asia and Africa, hitting the timber industry as well as downstream industries such as pulp and paper. However, KPMG notes that new opportunities may arise through the development of market mechanisms and economic incentives to reduce the rate of deforestation such as the UN-backed REDD+ programme.


Hameed Shaheen in Pakistan Observer (16 February 2012):

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is encouraging more businesses to embrace the principle of sustainability in their strategies, noting that with the most of the world’s ecosystems in decline, widening social inequality and climate change, global prosperity, productivity and stability was at stake. “We need corporate sustainability to be in the DNA of business culture and operations,” said Mr. Ban in his address to a gathering in New York entitled ‘KPMG Summit: Business Perspective for Sustainable Growth, says a UN report.’

Mr. Ban pointed out that corporate sustainability is currently not properly valued, noting that many proven innovations and solutions – from energy efficiency to emissions reductions – are not supported with the right incentives.

“In fact, incentive structures still tend to encourage unsustainable behaviour. As a result, too many companies limit their sustainability efforts to pilot programmes that never take off. Even worse, sustainability becomes more a matter of public relations than how companies operate,” he added.

He lauded the nearly 7,000 corporations in 140 countries that had joined the United Nations Global Compact initiative that seeks to foster responsible business practices. Stressing the UN’s commitment to supporting companies to carry out their businesses in a sustainable way, Mr. Ban cited the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment that been embraced by more than 900 institutional investors representing at least $30 trillion in assets.

Through the UN-backed “Principles for Responsible Management Education,” over 400 business schools and related institutions are integrating sustainability into curriculum and research, he said, adding that the recently issued report of his Global Sustainability Panel also provided a blueprint for mainstreaming sustainability. Mr.

Ban also highlighted the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative that is mobilizing the private sector towards a more accessible, efficient and clean energy economy, and the fact that more than 400 business leaders had pledged their support for the Caring for Climate initiative designed to advance low-carbon solutions and help make the green economy a reality, he said.

He urged business leaders gathered at the conference to five steps to advance sustainability: Join the Corporate Sustainability Forum to be held on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Sustainable development in Brazil in June; Heed the call of a new generation of investors by publicly reporting on sustainability performance;Engage in responsible lobbying and advocacy to affirm their belief in free and fair trade; Work with governments to adopt smart regulatory frameworks and incentives that reward environmental and social performance; Work with the UN in its platforms and initiatives on sustainable business practices.


Ken Hickson has the last word: Leaders’ Loss Lamented

Posted by admin on February 20, 2012
Posted under Express 161

Ken Hickson has the last word:  Leaders’ Loss Lamented

Like the plot in a Shakespearean play, leaders have been removed from positions of power. One by a coup, one facing charges arising from a traffic misdemeanour!

We often go on a bit about leadership and the importance of having people in the world who will take a stand and push for things sustainable:  good for people and the planet.

Climate change leadership seems to come and go. We once hung our hopes on US President Obama and in Australia on opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull. But political forces – inside and outside a country – often prevent someone from showing their true colours and achieving what they set out to do.

How sad and therefore unfortunate that two strong leaders for climate change action in two very different places – the United Kingdom and the Maldives – were effectively forced out of the front line. Is there someone to step into the vacancy left by Climate Change Minister Chris Huhne or that of former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed? We provide two articles which reflect on the sudden loss of these two leaders. Read More

Michael McCarthy  in The Independent Saturday 04 February 2012

With the enforced departure of Chris Huhne the environment in Britain has lost its most intelligent and powerful defender. In his 20 months at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the MP for Eastleigh has shown not only a masterful grasp of policy, but a willingness to fight his corner in the Cabinet for the green causes he has long championed.

In particular he has stood up to the Chancellor, George Osborne, and to Mr Osborne’s intensifying attack on environmental concerns as an irrelevant side issue which only harms economic growth.

After the Chancellor’s discourse to last October’s Conservative conference, in which he roused the party faithful by crying “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business!”, Mr Huhne responded by echoing Mr Osborne’s own words back to him, asserting: “We are not going to save our economy by turning our back on renewable energy.”

It did not make him popular with his Tory cabinet colleagues – indeed, it made him hated by some, who will privately cheer his fall – but it did reassure all who care about the environment that their concerns were being upheld at the highest level.

Strange that it should be Mr Huhne taking this role, a former financier and financial journalist (he was once City editor of The Independent) who, let it be said, is a rich man with a portfolio of properties, but who could have devoted his whole life to money making and raked in millions.

He could have bought a flash country estate and taken up huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ like many an upwardly mobile hedge-fund boss of his generation. Instead, after a visit to Africa, he conceived a passion for environmental and developmental causes and went into politics full time for the Liberal Democrats.

His rise has been helped by what even his enemies acknowledge is a brilliant brain. “You should see him in negotiations with the Treasury,” a Tory colleague once murmured in admiration. “But then, he was a ratings analyst.”

This intellectual agility was never put to better use than at the Cancun climate conference in December 2010, when the laboriously constructed negotiating process appeared to be in ruins after the disastrous Copenhagen talks of the previous year.

Cancun was meant to repair the process so that the world could continue to grapple with the global-warming threat, but it too appeared to be heading for deadlock over the current emissions-cutting treaty, the Kyoto protocol: South American countries insisted on renewal, but the Japanese said Never.

Mr Huhne was put in charge of a committee to try to bridge the divide, which he proceeded to do by producing a text of such subtlety that even the opposing sides felt able to agree to it, and the process was saved.

It might seem an obscure victory – but it was a crucial one for the future. There is no doubt that Mr Huhne, as was said of Othello, hath done the state some service. He has been a genuine big beast in the political jungle, and to see him brought low is very sad. His departure is also a very great loss to anyone who cares about the environment and the green economy – especially in an administration which proclaimed it would be the greenest government ever, but which looks a paler shade of green with every day that passes.


By Kate Sheppard in Mother Jones (8 February 2012):

The president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, resigned on Tuesday amid what has been described in some press accounts as a coup. There are plenty of questions about the circumstances of his departure from power, but what is clear is that it means the loss of one of the most powerful and visible international leaders on climate change.

Nasheed told reporters on Wednesday he was forced to resign at gunpoint, after what appeared to be a mutiny by police officers and protesters. From Reuters:

“Yes, I was forced to resign at gunpoint,” Nasheed told reporters after his party meeting a day after his resignation. “There were guns all around me and they told me they wouldn’t hesitate to use them if I didn’t resign.

“I call on the chief justice to look into the matter of who was behind this coup. We will try our best to bring back the lawful government.”

Yet the newly installed president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, said on Tuesday that it was a peaceful transition. The change of power has sparked rioting in the streets as well. It’s not clear at this point what will happen in the country, and a United Nations political mission is expected to visit later this week.

The tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean has a population of just 395,000, and in 2008 Nasheed became the country’s first democratically elected president. In that capacity, he has been a leading international voice advocating action on climate change. To illustrate the threat that sea level rise posed to his nation, he held a cabinet meeting underwater in 2009. And in 2010 his government installed solar panels on the presidential residence and rolled out a plan to cut the country’s emissions. As Maldivian Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam told Mother Jones at the time, “We are the front line, we can start dealing with it ourselves.”