Archive for the ‘Express 162’ Category

A lot of shaking going on

Posted by admin on March 5, 2012
Posted under Express 162

We’re at it again. Reporting extreme weather and linking it to human induced climate change. But more than that:  we’re quoting eminent geologist and volcanologist who says that we humans could have quite a lot to do with earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Scare tactics maybe, but our job is to tell it like it is.  Including the obvious sometimes – that coal is the worst of all fossil fuel evils. Burn all the coal in the earth and we heat it up by 15 degrees. Not all gloom and doom, but as usual some positive stories on energy efficiency, sustainability and innovations from near and far. Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival in Singapore and Earth Hour, which continues on its global outreach. Inventions of the solar kind, improvements in electric vehicles and some hope for the Oceans now that the World Bank, Google and the Global Change Institute are on board. Even some wise words on the significance of stories we read as children – or still read – for good or evil. No fairy stories here. – Ken Hickson

Profile: Carl Bass

Posted by admin on March 5, 2012
Posted under Express 162

Why is the CEO of technology company Autodesk a sustainability advocate? First, he thinks it’s one of the single biggest problems we face as a civilization and incredibly important that we deal with it. “Sustainability is representative of what we try to do with all of our products–we’re trying to give people better tools to make better decisions. If there’s a gigantic problem out there, why not use it as an example of what we can do”.


In Sustainable Business Forum (10 February 2012):

By Marc Gunther is a contributing editor at FORTUNE magazine who writes and speaks about business and sustainability.

This bench, fashioned from a single piece of black granite, was inspired by an African headrest and designed by Carl Bass. An accomplished and dedicated woodworker, Carl has lately been making things out of stone and metal, too.

In his day job, Carl is the CEO of Autodesk, which makes 3D design software that helps shape the world we live in. With just under US$2 billion in revenues, Autodesk, which is based in San Rafael, California, USA,  sells to the architecture, building, construction, manufacturing and entertainment industries.

I traveled to San Francisco this week to interview Carl at an Autodesk sustainability summit. We met at the Autodesk Gallery at One Market Street, a cool space that showcases some of the cutting-edge sustainability projects designed using the company’s software–the ongoing renovation of the San Francisco Bay bridge, the Tesla electric car, Masdar’s headquarters building which is supposed to generate more energy than it uses.

Autodesk has a slew of sustainability initiatives, including working partnerships with the US Green Building Council, the Biomimicry Institute, the Cleantech Open and Granta Design. It gives away millions of dollars of software every year to clean tech startups and entrepreneurs in 29 countries.

As you’d expect, Carl uses Autodesk’s software — Inventor,  in the case of the bench — to test out his designs. This is known in the business world as eating your own dog food. I began our conversation by asking him about his latest creation, a bowl (below) made of metal, stainless steel and bronze that he produced, believe it or not, on a 3D printer. What follows are edited excerpts from our talk.

On making a metal bowl using a printer: It’s a little science fiction-y.  They lay down layers of stainless steel powder and use a laser to fuse it together…The idea that you can send a file to a printer and get something made out of metal is totally incredible.

How his customers’  thinking about sustainability has evolved: Where you see the greatest interest in sustainable design, right now, is around buildings. Things like LEED gold roll off people’s tongues. Cities are getting more interested. When you move into the realm of manufacturing, it’s more divided. Leading consumer products companies have taken a keen interest. Nike’s a good example. They’re selling millions or tens of millions of things, so small design decisions can have a huge impact downstream. The more traditional parts of manufacturing will come next.

On Autodesk’s role: Our job is to understand what our customers want to do, and look at what technology is capable of doing and try to intersect at the right time. You don’t want to be too far ahead of your customers because that falls on deaf ears and you certainly can’t afford to be too far behind. You’re trying to find that intersection.

Some people say the company should aggressively push sustainable design: We’re not in the business of putting an X on your design. “You want to print that? No, you can’t print that.”  Just imagine if you push it to the limit. “Your building’s too ugly. Your product doesn’t work well.”  That’s just what people want, software that grades them. (laughter)  I get annoyed when my phone won’t even let me type the word I want to type. Image the sensibility of a designer who is told by their software that their choices are lousy. That’s not the way to win friends and influence people.

On the laggards: There’s a whole lineup of Republican candidates for president who are more extreme than the next in denying climate change. I’m sure we have customers like that, and I don’t think any piece or software is going to change their minds.

Why, with so many companies embracing green practices,  the big picture–rising carbon emissions, in particular–looks gloomy:  You’re dealing with economic and demographic trends that aren’t helping. More people with disposable income and a middle class sensibility. I was thrilled to see the Tata Nano car. It’s great that you have an emerging middle class in places like India. But it’s a tragedy that it’s not an electric vehicle. It’s five or 10 years before it would be practical to make a really low cost electric vehicle, and now we’re putting relatively inefficient internal combustion engines on the road.

On how computer power has changed design: “If you go back to the 90s, for the most part, we were giving people tools to document a design. It was a computerized way of making a blueprint. There was nothing real about it. The thing that’s changed the most since then is the amount of computing power we now have available, and what we’ve been able to do with that. In every industry where we participate, people are building 3D models of what they are going to build. They’re no longer relying on 2D representations. So there’s an incredible power to really understand the projects and products that we are building.

On cloud computing:  I can access the cloud and get more computing power than existed on the planet five years ago. People are under-utilizing computing and treating it as a scarce or somewhat precious resource. Computing is virtually free. I can rent an eight-core [i.e., very powerful] computer for five cents an hour. So for an entire day of computing, it costs me 40 cents. To park my car downstairs for an entire day costs 40 dollars.

Why he’s a sustainability advocate: First, personally and professionally, I think it’s one of the single biggest problems we face as a civilization. It’s incredibly important that we deal with it. Second, sustainability is representative of what we try to do with all of our products–we’re trying to give people better tools to make better decisions. If there’s a gigantic problem out there, why not use it as an example of what we can do?

Whether his passion for making things makes him a better CEO: I don’t profess to be a professional designer. That’s what our customers do. But the process in some ways is the same. I like to think that it helps me in my day job, but I would probably do it anyhow.


What’s Stopping Energy Efficiency from Taking off?

Posted by admin on March 5, 2012
Posted under Express 162

There are countless studies worldwide, from international bodies such as the International Energy Agency to individual country authorities, which show that energy efficiency will need to account for 40-50% of effort to reduce the world’s emissions. Mostly this is low cost and easily obtainable. Why isn’t it happening everywhere and faster? Giles Parkinson in Renew Economy asks the question.

By Giles Parkinson in Renew Economy (2 March 2012)
As one energy efficiency program was closed abruptly this week, and controversy continued to rage over another, a new $1 billion grants based scheme was quietly rolled out to try and encourage Australians – business consumers this time – to become more efficient about the way they use energy (see Government announcement below).
So far, the government’s interventions in the energy efficiency area have been colourful but erratic. We’ve had pink batts, green cars, cash for clunkers, and the solar hot water scheme, and state-based initiatives such as energy efficient light bulbs and standby controllers. All have been effective to some degree (some very much so), but none have really been successful in convincing consumers that energy efficiency is the easiest, the cheapest, and the least disruptive way of reducing emissions and minimizing energy costs.
It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. And those in the industry are scratching their heads as to why this is so and what to do about it. “If we can’t sell the message when energy prices are in the process of doubling, then we must be doing something wrong,” was the conclusion of some at this week’s Energy Efficiency Summer Camp, a summit of more than 250 industry professionals in Sydney.
And there are wider implications. As Jon Jutsen, the chairman of the Australian Alliance to Dave Energy told the summit: “We are standing at a moment of great change, when all parts of the energy industry are reviewing their traditional models because they aren’t conducive to a lower carbon emissions world. Conservative centralized infrastructure investments now look risky and traditionally difficult investments in co-generation and other decentralized energy generation look attractive.”
And therein, perhaps, lies the problem. There are countless studies worldwide, from international bodies such as the International Energy Agency, to individual country authorities, that show that energy efficiency will need to account for 40-50 per cent of effort to reduce the world’s emissions. Mostly this is low cost and easily obtainable. But it does have implications for those who stand to gain simply by selling more energy, or who want to invest in other low carbon technologies. We’ve seen this in the push-back by energy generators against a national traded energy efficiency scheme (it’s complex and adds to compliance costs, they say), and in the debate in Europe about how far energy efficiency should be pushed in the absence of more ambitious emissions reduction targets.
One of the recurrent themes of this conference was that it was not technology that stands in the way of energy efficiency, but regulation. This is mostly about who stands to benefit (financially) from encouraging energy users to use less, but it is also how energy efficiency incentives can perversely dilute the efforts made elsewhere – when low cost abatement becomes the enemy of ambition, when it should be its greatest supporter.
Much of this problem lies in measurement, particularly in Australia. The Australian government likes to tout its National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act, but analysts are now pointing to the fact that this is inadequate. As Deutsche Bank’s Tim Jordan noted this week, NGER only publishes emissions data that is aggregated at the company level. “That makes emissions data for companies with diversified operations very difficult to interpret, and means that reported emissions levels are very volatile year to year as companies add or divest facilities.”
He notes that the US Environmental Protection Authority, by contrast, publishes detailed facility-level data, which makes it easier to compare a company’s performance to its sector peers. “Investors need official facility-level data or more detailed corporate disclosures to assess the impact of the carbon price on a firm’s profitability,” Jordan writes.
Anna Skarbek, from ClimateWorks, says this needs to be remedied, and it needs to be done quickly. ClimateWorks suspects that there is a lot of abatement that can be achieved at zero or at little cost, or even cost benefit, and this would make a 25 per cent reduction target (the one that accords with the science), a lot more obtainable than is currently recognized by government and their advisors.
And time is of the essence, Skarbek says, because by early 2014, after just 18 months of the carbon price, the newly created Climate Authority to be led by ex RBA chief Bernie Fraser will be making a call on how deep Australia’s abatement task should be. “We may find that we could easily double the target, but unless we have that data, we can’t make that call,” she says.
The prime minister’s task force on energy efficiency, which was delivered in late 2010 but which the government is still wrestling with, highlighted the fact that Australia compares badly with the OECD average on energy intensity, and has done comparatively little in terms of programs and standards, simply because energy has been so cheap and formed such a small part of business and household expenses. Indeed, it says there has been such limited demand that most Australian financial institutions do not even have the intellectual property and products needed to finance energy efficiency, meaning that few projects that have been proposed have gotten the finance to go ahead.
The task force said that, if its recommendations are taken up, which include a national “white certificate” energy efficiency trading scheme, it still may not be able to catch up with global competition, but the gains in energy efficiency and fall in energy consumption would lead to lower wholesale prices, and lower profits for existing generators — possibly of between $600 million and $1.5 billion over the period 2012 to 2020. It noted, however, that this “does not represent a loss to the economy”, as there is a countervailing benefit to energy users through lower energy costs. It put the net benefit to the economy from the scheme of $6.6 billion.
These are already the demonstrable conclusions from experiences elsewhere. The conference hear from Lara Ettenson, from the Natural Resources Defence Council in the US, who noted that while California has the highest rate of electricity costs per kw/h in the US, their bills are on average 27 per cent less than the rest of the US – because they use less power, thanks to tough energy efficiency regulation implemented over the last 20 years. And to illustrate the point that the economy does not fall apart when environmental benefits are factored in, California produces twice as much GDP per kw/h as the the rest of the economy. A total of 5 gigawatts of new generation, or 11 average sized coal or gas plants, has been avoided. And in California, it is estimated that 20 energy efficiency jobs have been created for each fossil fuel job made redundant.
Wanxing Wang, the program director of the China Sustainable Energy Program, noted that the Chinese government had targeted energy efficiency as a key part of its energy policy, and part of this was to close inefficient, and highly polluting, coal fired power stations. Indeed, it had nearly doubled its 50GW target, and had closed nearly 90GW of old, inefficient coal-fired plant. That’s nearly double the size of the entire Australian grid. In the US, it is expected nearly 60GW will be closed down by efficiency rules. None of the plants will receive payments for closure, a ruse in which Australia stands unique in the world.
As Jutsen noted in the final communiqué of the summit, individual Australian companies have already demonstrated that it is possible to reduce emissions by half, using established technologies such as co-generation, as an example. But regulation remains the biggest barrier to wider deployment. “Like all reforms, there will always be entrenched business models to overcome and vested interests at play,” he said. “Only this week in the press we have seen some of the existing energy providers claim energy efficiency schemes will add to their regulatory burden. This should be seen for what it is: an attempt by existing entrenched providers to protect their commercial interests.”
The Hon Greg Combet, Australia’s Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Minister for Industry and Innovation
Announcement (16 February 2012):
The Gillard Government today launched $1 billion in funding for manufacturers to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution.
The Clean Technology Investment Programs will provide grants to help manufacturers buy new plant and equipment which cuts their energy costs or reduces carbon pollution.
The Industry and Innovation Minister, Greg Combet, launched the $800 million Clean Technology Investment Program and the $200 million Clean Technology Food and Foundries Investment Program – part of the government’s Clean Energy Future package.
They will support jobs and provide incentives for manufacturers to become more efficient, more competitive and more sustainable.
Eligible manufacturers can apply for funding under the programs from today.
Mr Combet also announced that the government would change co-contribution requirements to make the grant programs more attractive for small and medium-sized firms.
Manufacturers with turnovers of less than $100 million requesting funding under $500,000 will now only have to match the government grants on a dollar for dollar basis.
For all other grants under $10 million, applicants will be required to contribute $2 for every $1 from the government.
For grants of $10 million or more, applicants will be expected to make a co-contribution of at least $3 for each $1 of government support.
The Clean Technology Investment Programs demonstrate the Gillard Government’s commitment to Australian manufacturing.
Projects that can be supported include switching to less carbon intensive energy sources or installing new manufacturing equipment, processes and facilities to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Information sessions on the Clean Technology Programs will be held around Australia from next month.
Source: and

Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire & It’s Deadly

Posted by admin on March 5, 2012
Posted under Express 162

The first global estimates of deaths from non-domestic smoke exposure are surprisingly high, say researchers, who warn that casualties will increase as temperatures rise because of climate change.  The majority of deaths caused by smoke inhalation from landscape fires are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia, according to a study presented at a major science conference. And a crazy idea from a scientist:  Could elephants be introduced to help reduce out of control bush fires in Australia?  Read More

Gozde Zorlu for Science and Development Network (23 February 2012):

Smoke from landscape fires kills thousands in Africa and Asia

The first global estimates of deaths from non-domestic smoke exposure are surprisingly high, say researchers, who warn the casualties will increase as temperatures rise because of climate change.

The majority of deaths caused by smoke inhalation from landscape fires are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia, according to a study presented at a major science conference last week.

The study estimates that most of the 339,000 deaths each year between 1997 and 2006 came from these two regions.

Fay Johnston, a researcher at the University of Tasmania, Australia who led the study, said she was surprised the figures were so high given the intermittent nature of smoke exposure.

She was speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada last week (18 February), the same day as her study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Using data on fire emissions, mortality rates, population density and weather conditions, the team assessed how small particles in wildfire smoke affect health.

They included fires from agricultural burning, grass fire, peat fire, and tropical deforestation, using a variety of data from global datasets and satellites.

“We have known for a long time that fires release gases and particulate matter with adverse effects on health, but nobody has been able to quantify this for landscape fires until now,” said Guido van der Werf, an earth scientist at the VU University Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, who was not involved in the study.

He told SciDev.Net the predictions still underestimate the number of deaths, as they do not include an assessment of the impact of ozone and nitrogen, which are also produced in fires.

Rising temperatures caused by climate change could lead to more wildfires and even greater health impacts, the study says.

The study concludes that reducing landscape fires would save lives and also help preserve biodiversity and mitigate climate change, since fires emit gases and particles that also contribute to climate change.

But van der Werf said it may not be easy to reduce the number of fires.

“Most of the fires in the tropics are man-made. Humans use fire as a tool to manage the landscape,” he said, adding that it is one of the few options to do so available to people who do not have access to machinery and fertilisers.

Savannah fires are beneficial for nutrient recycling and to prevent trees invading the landscape, he said, and fires are used to clear land for agriculture or other uses.

Dieter Schwela, a researcher at the University of York, in the United Kingdom, said: “This research is significant because it draws attention to a scarcely recognised problem”.

He added that more needs to done to reduce exposure to landscape fire smoke, especially in Africa, where there are no initiatives to address the problem.

Current practices, such as the burning of agricultural residues after harvest in Sub-Saharan Africa and the burning of forests in South-East Asia need to change, Schwela told SciDev.Net.

For this to happen, more research on the actual exposure on regional and local level is needed, added Schwela.


Expert advises big fix for jumbo-sized problem

Nicky Phillips on Science in Hobson Bay Weekly ( 2 February 2012):

KANGAROOS and koalas should share this wide, brown land with elephants, a scientist has advised.

David Bowman, of the University of Tasmania, said the world’s biggest herbivores should be brought to Australia to munch their way through the large swath of introduced grasses pushing out native species in northern Australia.

The provocative suggestion by Professor Bowman, a forest ecologist, has been heavily criticised by some scientists as careless, given the potential for the giant creatures to create a greater problem than they will solve, and applauded as a radical solution to a growing environmental conundrum by others.

Regardless, many scientists agree the management of key environmental crises facing large parts of the continent – bushfires and rapidly increasing numbers of feral plants and animals – needs to be rethought.

In his comment piece, published in the journal Nature, Professor Bowman suggests elephants could keep gamba grass, an introduced species invading northern Australia’s savannahs, to manageable levels, a solution that would not only reduce the grass but cut a big fuel source often burnt in wildfires.

“It would be essential to proceed cautiously, with well-designed studies to monitor the effects,” Professor Bowman said.

He also suggested land managers return to traditional patch burning to reduce out-of-control fires, a program already being trialled in the central Kimberley, and use Aboriginal hunters to curb feral animal numbers.

An Australian Laureate Fellow with the school of plant biology at The University of Western Australia, Richard Hobbs, agreed that new and varied approaches to tackle Australia’s ecological management problems were needed but it was highly likely elephants would become a pest.

“Maybe we need to come to terms with the fact that some of our ecosystems may remain changed because of the species we’ve already introduced, rather than introducing more in the hope that they can fix things for us,” he said

A senior lecturer with the native and pest animal unit at the University of Western Sydney, Ricky Spencer, said Professor Bowman’s comments were careless.

“If we did go down the road of introducing elephants to Australia, we had better develop the technology to clone sabre-tooth tigers to eventually control the elephants,” he said.

Professor Bowman admitted his paper was meant to be challenging. “We are going to be driven, whether we like if or not, to think outside the square because current approaches to land management are not working,” he said.


Singapore Lights Up & Shows the Way for Sustainable Events

Posted by admin on March 5, 2012
Posted under Express 162

Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival – i Light Marina Bay – starts in Singapore this coming Friday (9 March until 1 April). A total of 46 properties, including Marina Bay Sands and 16 CDL buildings, have agreed to participate in an energy efficiency campaign. There’s also an associated symposium organised by Festival Director and lighting expert Mary-Anne Kyriakou. Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA) is playing a key role in the festival and campaign.

Ken Hickson, CEO of Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA) reports:

How to make a major event sustainable, particularly when it involves 30 light art installations? And how to get businesses and properties to support it by taking energy efficiency measures of their own?

The answer is setting objectives and principles and applying them every step of the way.

SASA was called in to work with Pico, the event manager, the festival director and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to develop a Sustainability Action Plan for the festival and to act as sustainability consultants.

Being guided by the acknowledged international standard for events, BS890 – which is also being used for the London OIympics this year – we committed to measure and manage practically every aspect of the three week-long event, including the art installations, suppliers, contractors and partner events.

Four key sustainability principles underscore the festival:

•             Accessible and Inclusive – the site and location of events are free and accessible to all, enabling visitors to walk around Marina Bay and to use public transport to get to and from the event

•             Minimise Negative Impact on the Environment – by promoting energy efficiency and reduced reliance on fossil fuels, in art installations and the running of all programmes and activities

•             Leaving a Positive Legacy – by promoting a positive, healthy and safe environment for all who participate in and attend the event

•             Encouraging Sustainable Behaviour – by emphasising environmental awareness, in the production of art installations, the use of best practices in event management and monitoring, and public education.

As sustainability consultants, we look into energy use, waste minimisation, water use, transport, access and recycling. Where we can advise on alternatives or use of renewable energy, we do. We also encourage other sustainability initiatives and the educational component of the festival.

In addition, we undertook to encourage properties around the Marina Bay precinct, the adjacent CBD and further afield to join in on the associated “Switch Off, Turn Up” campaign. We found by far the majority of property owners and managers very keen to take part and before the festival gets under way, a total of 46 properties have committed to energy saving measures. This could save more than 100,000 kWh of electricity over the three week-long festival duration.

Marina Bay Sands, also prime sponsor of the event, has committed to make significant energy savings for the three week period, cutting back on lighting, office equipment electricity use and adjusting air conditioning temperatures.

City Developments Ltd (CDL), which involved  four properties in the 2010 event, has committed 16 of its Singapore buildings to the energy efficiency campaign this time, not only boosting the overall number of buildings, but also enhancing its own reputation as the Singapore property company with the most local and global awards for sustainability and green buildings.

Power Seraya, a YTL Company, is supporting the festival and campaign as sustainability sponsor. Two Singapore businesses – Green Koncepts and Power Save Solutions – have undertaken to provide smart metering services for the festival’s lighting installations, while Phoenix Solar is fitting solar PV panels where required.

It is pleasing to see the commitment of so many businesses to truly make this “Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival”, showing that it is possible to make a major event in Singapore very enjoyable and impactful, at the same time manage energy and other finite resources in a sustainable way.

Source: and


i Light Symposium:

Here’s what festival director Mary-Anne Kyriakou, herself a lighting specialist, says about the i Light Symposium, which brings together international experts on lighting design, innovations  as well as sustainability, architectural lighting and urban/city scale developments:

“For today’s architectural lighting designer, energy savings on large scale architectural lighting projects doesn’t mean over-lit, monotonous and bland environments.

“Considered and measured creative design,  balanced with good aesthetics create the new trends in lighting design resulting in positive experiences for  city environments and dwellers.

“With artificial light we can create environments that promote positive human scale experiences, touching the essence of beauty and taking care for our environment.”

Join in discussions on light, culture and architecture as leading lighting practitioners share international case studies about global cities after dark.

Date:     Monday, 12 March 2012

Time:     9.00am to 5.00pm

Venue: The URA Centre, Level 5, Function Hall

Registration:      Free Admission. Registration closes on 11 March.

More information and to register:

For enquiries, email:

*This symposium is accredited 4 points under the BOA/SIA Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Programme.




9.30am Opening Remarks

Andrew David Fassam, Director (Urban Planning), URA

Opening Address

Mary-Anne Kyriakou, Festival Director, i Light Marina Bay 2012


Light and Culture: Creating meaning with light through public space interventions

Leading international lighting practitioners and light festival curators will discuss how light art is creating new innovation and shaping culture for cities and their inhabitants.


Break (Lunch not included)

2.00pm Light and Architecture: Creating atmosphere through design and architecture

Discover the latest urban scale architectural lighting trends and developments in architecturallighting through case studies from cities in Asia.


Programme Partner: Phillips


Morning Session

•             Lighting for People

Uno Lai, Lighting Designer, Uno Lai Design (Taiwan)

Lai shares Asian perspectives on light and culture and how the art of lighting shapes what people believe and the way people see the world.

About the Speaker

Uno Lai is an established lighting designer from Taiwan and owns an award-winning lighting design company which operates in Shanghai and Taipei. He is a professional member of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNA) and the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), and frequently delivers public speeches and lectures.

•             Belgrade of Light

Aleksandra Stratimirovic, Curator, Artist and Light artist (Sweden/Serbia)

Learn about the “Belgrade of Light” festival: its beginnings, its inspirations, and how it aims to cultivate Belgrade and Serbia’s contemporary and creative environment.

About the Speaker

Aleksandra Stratimirovic graduated from the Faculty of Applied Arts and Design in Belgrade and completed her studies in specialised lighting design at the University of Fine Arts and Crafts in Stockholm (Konstfack) and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm. She is the co-founder of the Lighting Guerilla Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia and the founder and artistic director of the Belgrade of Light festival in Serbia.

•             Light & Urban Intervention – reclaiming the streets!

Martin Lupton of Light Collective, Lighting Designer (United Kingdom)

Lupton speaks on creating awareness of social issues and the urban environment through Urban Intervention – art that responds to the community, locational identity and the built environment.

About the Speaker

With a PhD in Lighting Design Methods for Commercial Interiors at Liverpool School of Architecture and the former President of the Professional Lighting Design Association, Martin Lupton has earned an international reputation as a passionate ambassador for professional sustainable lighting design.

•             “Performative Architecture” and the return to a “Staged City”

Professor Lawrence Wallen, Head of School of Design, University of Technology Sydney; and Head Design Professor, University of the Arts Zurich (Australia/Switzerland)

Gain insight on how light can be used as medium to shift the aesthetic, form and use of our Urban Spaces.

About the Speaker

Lawrence Wallen studied at the University for Applied Arts Vienna and RMIT Melbourne and is currently Head of Design at University of Technology Sydney and Professor at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). He was the Australian Commissioner for the Prague Quadrennial for Performance Design and Space 2011 during which he curated and co-authored the National Australian exhibit ‘Spatial Narratives’.

Professor Wallen’s participation is made possible by the University of Technology, Sydney.

•             The story behind Lumina Light Festival

Carole Purnelle, Curator, Artist (Portugal/Belgium)

Shedding light on culture and heritage, hear how the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sintra, Portugal, was illuminated for the Lumina Light Festival.

About the Speaker

Carole Purnelle is a founding artist and director of art and multimedia studio OCUBO, and has presented her works in countries such as Japan, Australia, Singapore, Israel, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Afternoon Session

•             Technological lighting perspectives from Singapore to Dubai

Stephen Gough, Principal Designer & MD, Project Lighting Design (Singapore)

Lai shares Asian perspectives on light and culture and how the art of lighting shapes what people believe and the way people see the world.

About the Speaker

With 25 years of experience in Asia’s lighting industry, Stephen Gough moved to Singapore in 1992 to set up Project Lighting Design Pte Ltd. Some of PLD’s most notable projects include the Fullerton Hotel, the Singapore Flyer, Dubai Mall and Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort.

Gough’s participation is made possible by Project Lighting Design.

•             (Night) Life Between Buildings

Ong Swee Hong, Director, Ong and Ong (Singapore)

Re-imagine how our cities will appear at night as Ong shares her expertise in urban lighting design strategies and how we can better shape our environment through innovative illumination of public spaces.

About the Speaker

As an accomplished professional, Ong Swee Hong was involved in the conceptualization of the lighting masterplan for various international projects, like the Marina Bay Sands Singapore Integrated Resort Exterior Lighting Masterplan. Besides her lighting design practices, she have contributed in various publications and conferences locally and internationally, and has been invited to give lectures on lighting design.

Ong’s participation is made possible by Ong & Ong.

•             Lighting Design in the Dragon’s Den

Tatsuma Yamaguchi, Design Director, Lighting Images  (China/Japan/Singapore)

Look at art lighting designs through Yamaguchi, as he discusses his observations and experiences in designing light and architecture in China.

About the Speaker

Tatsuma Yamaguchi’s expertise in urban planning, architectural design and new interactive media application has seen him overseeing commercial building projects as well as hospitality and residential complexes. Among his numerous projects, Yamaguchi laid out the architectural concept for the Japan Pavillion at the 2010 World Expo, and also executed the lighting concept for the Shenyang Summer Palace (Mall), Yacht Club Sanya and Hilton Haikong.

Yamaguchi’s participation is made possible by Lighting Images.

•             A new way of thinking about Light

Ta-Wei Lin, Principal, CMA Lighting Design (Taiwan)

Low tech can be innovative! Lin demonstrates how this is possible with his experience bringing lighting to people’s daily lives in Taiwan.

About the Speaker

Ta-Wei Lin has been the director of CWI Lighting Design Inc in Taiwan since 1993 and is currently an Associate Professor at Shi-Jyan University Architecture Department. He has presented lighting seminars at ELDA + Light Focus 2005 in Milan and Light Fair 2006 in Las Vegas, and has garnered international awards including the 2003 IALD Award of Excellence and 2006 IIDA Award of Excellence for Outdoor Lighting Design.

•             Achieving high quality designs that adhere to the new wave of energy and sustainability codes

Kevin Sturrock, Principal Director & Designer, iLAB  (Singapore/Australia)

Sharing experiences from recent large-scale airport and corporate office projects, Sturrock discusses design in the new wave of energy efficiency.

About the Speaker

Prior to establishing iLAB in July 2001, Kevin Sturrock was Director & Principal Designer of Lighting Design Partnership, and had worked with Lam Partners Inc (Lighting Architects) and collaborated with respected lighting architects William Lam & Jonathan Speirs, He has also been teaching Lighting Design to interior design & architecture students at universities such as Napier University Edinburgh and University College London.

Sturrock’s participation is made possible by iLab.

•             Key ingredients in a City that is fit for the future

Rogier van der Heide, Vice President & Chief Design Officer Philips Lighting (The Netherlands)

Van der Heide shares his ideas on innovative solutions that meet the future demands of city living.

About the Speaker

A recipient of over 50 international design awards, Rogier van der Heide’s work is widely recognised as leading in the field of creative and independent design. Having delivered lectures, presentations and seminars about design, light, business, and strategic design, his inspiring talk on in particular about the beauty of darkness has attracted over 500,000 viewers.

Van der Heide’s participation is made possible by Philips.

For more information on the full three weeks programme for i Light Marina Bay, go to the website.


Can a Changing Climate Trigger Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Volcanoes?

Posted by admin on March 5, 2012
Posted under Express 162

As we near the first anniversary of the colossal Japanese earthquake and tsunami, it is appropriate to consider this: Our climate-changing activities are loading the dice in favour of escalating geological havoc at a time when we can most do without it. It isn’t just about floods, droughts and heat-waves. It brings erupting volcanoes and catastrophic earthquakes too. This from Bill McGuire, professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London.

Bill McGuire for (26 February 2012):

As the Earth’s crust buckles, volcanic activity will increase.

The idea that a changing climate can persuade the ground to shake, volcanoes to rumble and tsunamis to crash on to unsuspecting coastlines seems, at first, to be bordering on the insane. How can what happens in the thin envelope of gas that shrouds and protects our world possibly influence the potentially Earth-shattering processes that operate deep beneath the surface?

The fact that it does reflects a failure of our imagination and a limited understanding of the manner in which the different physical components of our planet – the atmosphere, the oceans, and the solid Earth, or geosphere – intertwine and interact.

If we think about climate change at all, most of us do so in a very simplistic way: so, the weather might get a bit warmer; floods and droughts may become more of a problem and sea levels will slowly creep upwards. Evidence reveals, however, that our planet is an almost unimaginably complicated beast, which reacts to a dramatically changing climate in all manner of different ways; a few – like the aforementioned – straightforward and predictable; some surprising and others downright implausible. Into the latter category fall the manifold responses of the geosphere.

The world we inhabit has an outer rind that is extraordinarily sensitive to change. While the Earth’s crust may seem safe and secure, the geological calamities that happen with alarming regularity confirm that this is not the case. Here in the UK, we only have to go back a couple years to April 2010, when the word on everyone’s lips was Eyjafjallajökull – the ice-covered Icelandic volcano that brought UK and European air traffic to a grinding halt. Less than a year ago, our planet’s ability to shock and awe headed the news once again as the east coast of Japan was bludgeoned by a cataclysmic combination of megaquake and tsunami, resulting – at a quarter of a trillion dollars or so – in the biggest natural-catastrophe bill ever.

In the light of such events, it somehow seems appropriate to imagine the Earth beneath our feet as a slumbering giant that tosses and turns periodically in response to various pokes and prods. Mostly, these are supplied by the stresses and strains associated with the eternal dance of a dozen or so rocky tectonic plates across the face of our world; a sedate waltz that proceeds at about the speed that fingernails grow. Changes in the environment too, however, have a key role to play in waking the giant, as growing numbers of geological studies targeting our post-ice age world have disclosed.

Between about 20,000 and 5,000 years ago, our planet underwent an astonishing climatic transformation. Over the course of this period, it flipped from the frigid wasteland of deepest and darkest ice age to the – broadly speaking – balmy, temperate world upon which our civilisation has developed and thrived.

During this extraordinarily dynamic episode, as the immense ice sheets melted and colossal volumes of water were decanted back into the oceans, the pressures acting on the solid Earth also underwent massive change. In response, the crust bounced and bent, rocking our planet with a resurgence in volcanic activity, a proliferation of seismic shocks and burgeoning giant landslides.

The most spectacular geological effects were reserved for high latitudes. Here, the crust across much of northern Europe and North America had been forced down by hundreds of metres and held at bay for tens of thousands of years beneath the weight of sheets of ice 20 times thicker than the height of the London Eye.

As the ice dissipated in soaring temperatures, the crust popped back up like a coiled spring released, at the same time tearing open major faults and triggering great earthquakes in places where they are unheard of today. Even now, the crust underpinning those parts of Europe and North America formerly imprisoned beneath the great continental ice sheets continues to rise – albeit at a far more sedate rate.

As last year’s events in Japan most ably demonstrated, when the ground shakes violently beneath the sea, a tsunami may not be far behind. These unstoppable walls of water are hardly a surprise when they happen within the so-called ring of fire that encompasses the Pacific basin but in the more tectonically benign North Atlantic their manifestation could reasonably be regarded as a bit of a shock.

Nonetheless, there is plenty of good, hard evidence that this was the case during post-glacial times. Trapped within the thick layers of peat that pass for soil on Shetland – the UK’s northernmost outpost – are intrusions of sand that testify to the inland penetration of three tsunamis during the last 10,000 years.

Volcanic blasts too can be added to the portfolio of postglacial geological pandemonium; the warming climate being greeted by an unprecedented fiery outburst that wracked Iceland as its frozen carapace dwindled, and against which the recent ashy ejaculation from the island’s most unpronounceable volcano pales.

The huge environmental changes that accompanied the rapid post-glacial warming of our world were not confined to the top and bottom of the planet. All that meltwater had to go somewhere, and as the ice sheets dwindled, so the oceans grew. An astounding 52m cubic kilometres of water was sucked from the oceans to form the ice sheets, causing sea levels to plummet by about 130 metres – the height of the Wembley stadium arch.

As the ice sheets melted so this gigantic volume of water was returned, bending the crust around the margins of the ocean basins under the enormous added weight, and provoking volcanoes in the vicinity to erupt and faults to rupture, bringing geological mayhem to regions remote from the ice’s polar fastnesses.

The breathtaking response of the geosphere as the great ice sheets crumbled might be considered as providing little more than an intriguing insight into the prehistoric workings of our world, were it not for the fact that our planet is once again in the throes an extraordinary climatic transformation – this time brought about by human activities. Clearly, the Earth of the early 21st century bears little resemblance to the frozen world of 20,000 years ago.

Today, there are no great continental ice sheets to dispose of, while the ocean basins are already pretty much topped up. On the other hand, climate change projections repeatedly support the thesis that global average temperatures could rise at least as rapidly in the course of the next century or so as during post-glacial times, reaching levels at high latitudes capable of driving catastrophic breakup of polar ice sheets as thick as those that once covered much of Europe and North America. Could it be then, that if we continue to allow greenhouse gas emissions to rise unchecked and fuel serious warming, our planet’s crust will begin to toss and turn once again?

The signs are that this is already happening. In the detached US state of Alaska, where climate change has propelled temperatures upwards by more than 3C in the last half century, the glaciers are melting at a staggering rate, some losing up to 1km in thickness in the last 100 years.

The reduction in weight on the crust beneath is allowing faults contained therein to slide more easily, promoting increased earthquake activity in recent decades. The permafrost that helps hold the state’s mountain peaks together is also thawing rapidly, leading to a rise in the number of giant rock and ice avalanches. In fact, in mountainous areas around the world, landslide activity is on the up; a reaction both to a general ramping-up of global temperatures and to the increasingly frequent summer heatwaves.

Whether or not Alaska proves to be the “canary in the cage” – the geological shenanigans there heralding far worse to come – depends largely upon the degree to which we are successful in reducing the ballooning greenhouse gas burden arising from our civilisation’s increasingly polluting activities, thereby keeping rising global temperatures to a couple of degrees centigrade at most. So far, it has to be said, there is little cause for optimism, emissions rocketing by almost 6% in 2010 when the world economy continued to bump along the bottom.

Furthermore, the failure to make any real progress on emissions control at last December’s Durban climate conference ensures that the outlook is bleak. Our response to accelerating climate change continues to be consistently asymmetric, in the sense that it is far below the level that the science says is needed if we are to have any chance of avoiding the all-pervasive devastating consequences.

So what – geologically speaking – can we look forward to if we continue to pump out greenhouse gases at the current hell-for-leather rate? With resulting global average temperatures likely to be several degrees higher by this century’s end, we could almost certainly say an eventual goodbye to the Greenland ice sheet, and probably that covering West Antarctica too, committing us – ultimately – to a 10-metre or more hike in sea levels.

GPS measurements reveal that the crust beneath the Greenland ice sheet is already rebounding in response to rapid melting, providing the potential – according to researchers – for future earthquakes, as faults beneath the ice are relieved of their confining load. The possibility exists that these could trigger submarine landslides spawning tsunamis capable of threatening North Atlantic coastlines.

Eastern Iceland is bouncing back too as its Vatnajökull ice cap fades away. When and if it vanishes entirely, new research predicts a lively response from the volcanoes currently residing beneath. A dramatic elevation in landslide activity would be inevitable in the Andes, Himalayas, European Alps and elsewhere, as the ice and permafrost that sustains many mountain faces melts and thaws.

Across the world, as sea levels climb remorselessly, the load-related bending of the crust around the margins of the ocean basins might – in time – act to sufficiently “unclamp” coastal faults such as California’s San Andreas, allowing them to move more easily; at the same time acting to squeeze magma out of susceptible volcanoes that are primed and ready to blow.

The bottom line is that through our climate-changing activities we are loading the dice in favour of escalating geological havoc at a time when we can most do without it. Unless there is a dramatic and completely unexpected turnaround in the way in which the human race manages itself and the planet, then long-term prospects for our civilisation look increasingly grim.

At a time when an additional 220,000 people are lining up at the global soup kitchen each and every night; when energy, water and food resources are coming under ever-growing pressure, and when the debilitating effects of anthropogenic climate change are insinuating themselves increasingly into every nook and cranny of our world and our lives, the last thing we need is for the dozing subterranean giant to awaken.

Bill McGuire is professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London. “Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes” is published by Oxford University Press. Hear him on the Science Weekly podcast at


Mark your Diary & Get Ready to Turn Out the Lights

Posted by admin on March 5, 2012
Posted under Express 162

“In its sixth year, with hundreds of millions of people taking part in Earth Hour, we want to go beyond the hour to encourage positive action for the environment,” said Earth Hour Co-Founder and Executive Director, Andy Ridley. WWF, which is behind the annual event that encourages people to switch off their lights for an hour on the last Saturday evening of March, is moving its global Earth Hour headquarters from Sydney to Singapore in May. Read More

By Feng Zengkun in The Straits Times (21 February 2012):

EARTH Hour, a global climate change movement, is making Singapore its home.

The agency, which is behind the annual event that encourages people to switch off their lights for an hour on the last Saturday evening of March, is moving out of its global headquarters in Sydney to come to these parts by May. And it will be hiring people here to fill its ranks.

The group has eight members, four of whom will move here. It plans to recruit four full-timers here and more temporary staff for its events.

Earth Hour executive director and co-founder Andy Ridley said in a press conference at Ion Orchard yesterday that Singapore is well placed to move the campaign forward.

‘Sydney is the most beautiful city and we’ll be sad to move from there, but it’s a long way from the rest of the world,’ he said. ‘Moving here makes total sense geographically.’

He added that Singapore is great for business and communications, and brilliant for digital work. It also has ‘great people who can work for us’, he said.

Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007. By last year, it had spread to more than 5,000 cities and towns across 135 countries, rapidly gaining traction in India, Indonesia, China, Latin America and the United States.

Its Singapore headquarters is expected to lead its outreach to businesses.

A key objective of the movement is to get people to go ‘beyond the hour’ in protecting the planet.

Its offices will be at Tanglin International Centre, located on the former grounds of the Ministry of Education in Kay Siang Road.

The building, now a dedicated space for non-profit groups, is already home to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Singapore Environment Council and Fauna & Flora International are expected to move in this year.

About 135 international non-profit organisations are now using Singapore as a regional or global base.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) aims to get 150 such international non-profit groups from all sectors here by 2015, creating 2,500 jobs in the process.

Mr Goh Chee Kiong, the EDB’s director of clean technology, said at the press conference that Asia will play an increasingly major role in the ‘global sustainability landscape’ and Singapore will help to implement green initiatives in the region.

This year’s Earth Hour takes place on March 31 at 8.30pm. The Singapore event will be in Orchard Road and organisers are hoping for a 6,000-strong turnout.

The campaign theme, revealed yesterday, is ‘I Will If You Will’. It is aimed at encouraging people to make longer-term green pledges.

Former model and WWF Singapore’s official Earth Hour ambassador Nadya Hutagalung, for example, has pledged to dive with sharks off southern Australia alongside Mr Ridley if 10,000 people pledge not to use plastic bags and straws for the rest of the year.

Source: www.

From WWF’s Earth Hour office (1 March 2012):

From Times Square to the Sydney Opera House, Brunei to Lithuania, the tallest building on the planet to an Inuit igloo, the world will once again celebrate the largest voluntary action for the environment as the lights switch off for Earth Hour, on 31 March.

Earth Hour has grown from a one-city initiative in 2007, to a 5,251 city strong global movement, last year reaching 1.8 billion people in 135 countries across all seven continents.

“In its sixth year, with hundreds of millions of people taking part in Earth Hour, we want to go beyond the hour to encourage positive action for the environment,” said Earth Hour Co-Founder and Executive Director, Andy Ridley.

“We have created a new element, ‘I Will If You Will’, to offer the incentive to share the dream amongst us all. The power of social media enables us to unite the global community in the endeavour to protect the planet,” he said.

The “I Will If You Will” digital platform created in partnership with Leo Burnett, is the result of a collaboration with YouTube, therefore bringing together the world’s biggest social video platform with the world’s largest action for the environment.

Earth Hour’s new “I Will If You Will” campaign uses the YouTube video platform to encourage people to share a personal dare with the world, by asking “What are you willing to do to save the planet?” “I Will If You Will gives every individual the opportunity to inspire their friends, colleagues and neighbours to take sustainability actions not just on the hour but beyond the hour. The challenges we are seeing from all walks of life are truly inspiring,” said Ridley.

Earth Hour Kids’ ambassador Pocoyo has doubled his “I Will If You Will” challenge after reaching its target of 10,000 within days. Pocoyo will now plant 20,000 trees if 20,000 people play his recycling game on

The President of Fiji, 70 year old Epeli Nailatikau, announced he will walk 30 kilometres to raise awareness of climate issues if businesses, non-government organisations and government departments in Fiji take clear-cut actions that will benefit our environment.

A diverse range of supporters including Stephen Fry and Yoko Ono have already engaged with Earth Hour and “I Will If You Will” on Twitter.

The concept of “I Will If You Will” centres around providing a social contract for two parties – connecting one person, business or organisation to a promise and their friends, family, customers or members to a challenge.

The YouTube platform hosts a global library of “I Will If You Will” challenges, and encourages people to share their “dare” publically through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and email. Friends can be invited to participate and accept each challenge using these popular social networks.

Earth Hour 2012 will take place at 8.30pm – 9.30pm on Saturday 31 March.


Listen to this 14 year old: “Stop Talking & Start Planting”

Posted by admin on March 5, 2012
Posted under Express 162

A 14-year old Felix Finkbeiner was in Singapore last week to promote the campaign he started – Plant for the Planet – and this week he will give a keynote speech on the future of mobility at the world biggest travel show, ITB Berlin Convention (7-9 March),  when well-known German PUMA manager Jochen Zeitz presents future sustainability scenarios. Adam Lyle met up with the young man who keeps saying “Stop Talking and Start Planting”.

Adam Lyle, Executive Director of Green Biz Check and Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA) reports:

A young man who is already going places, Felix Finkbeiner is at the ripe young age of 14 and doesn’t hesitate to tell people to “Stop Talking and Stand Planting”.

Felix was in Singapore principally to address the Young Presidents Organization 2000 strong annual conference at Marina Bay Sands. He was one of the keynote speakers and was given a standing ovation when he took the stage!

He also took the opportunity to visit some schools here to tell his story and encourage other young people to get involved in his global campaign. There are even plans to open a regional office here for the global Plant for the Planet campaign.

Felix is an extraordinary person by any measure and he’s only 14. A gifted speaker and someone who we will see a lot more of over the years.  One cannot but feel a little intimidated by what this young man has done in 5 years compared to what many do in 50 years.

Positively, however, it reinforces that anything is possible if you have the passion and he has that in spades. So, as he says: “Stop Talking and Start Planting.”

The Plant-for-the-Planet Children´s Initiative was founded in January 2007. It has its origin in a school presentation about the climate crisis of the – back then – 9-year-old Felix Finkbeiner.

Inspired by Wangari Maathai, who planted 30 million trees in africa, Felix developed at the end of his presentation the vision that children could plant one million trees in each country of the world to create a CO2  balance therewith.

During the following years Plant-for-the-Planet developed to a worldwide move:  At present approximately  100,000 children in over 100 countries pursue this goal. They understand themselves as an initiative of world citizens which campaign for climate justice in the sense of total reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases and a homogeneous distribution of those emissions among all humans.

Since March 2011, Plant-for-the-Planet has a democratic structure with a Global Board which consists of 14 children from eight nations.

He has high hopes and a commitment, matched by his achievements to date. This 14 year old, founder of Plant-for-the-Planet, demands from every world citizen to plant 150 trees until 2020.

He has gained a lot of influence in his short time on the planet. So much so that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has handed over running of its well- established “Billion Tree Campaign”  Felix and company of young people.

Together with children from various countries, Felix Finkbeiner, the founder of the initiative, accepted this assignment in the course of a festive event in the Moses Mabidha Stadium in Durban, South Africa at the time of the climate change conference in Durban last December . Prince Albert of Monaco, who launched the campaign in 2006 together with the late Wangari Maathai, also attended the ceremonial act.

Until now, more than 12.5 billion trees have been planted within the framework of the Billion Tree Campaign – that equals two trees per citizen.

The handover of this important campaign to the children from Plant-for-the-Planet constitutes an important decision, standing symbolically for the trust which the adults set into the activities of the children: the following generation will manage successfully continue this initiative and unite young people all over the world by taking over responsibility for the earth. Therefore the children set another ambitious goal: to plant 1,000 billion trees worldwide until 2020.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the UNEP, says: “Today we open a new chapter with the Plant-for-the-Planet foundation and its network of enthusiastic young people around the globe. I would encourage all those involved in the Billion Tree Campaign to now give the Plant-for-the-Planet Foundation and this network of young people the same kind of support they have given UNEP and the World Agroforestry Centre since 2006″, he added.

The children are proud and happy about the decision of the UNEP and consider it as great success of their present work – last but not least because the takeover of the campaign puts them into the position that the adults report to them.

“This is an enormous sign of confidence and a historical step”, Felix Finkbeiner says. “Now we children officially control the tree counter and together with the governments, companies and citizens we will let it increase quickly. We succeed this challenge with greatest dedication and we will do everything to continue the Billion Tree Campaign as defined by its late founder Wangari Maathai.”

The lately departed Kenian environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Maathai who has planted 30 million trees within 30 years, has been the greatest role model for Felix from the beginning on. Her success inspired Felix to unite the children of the world and plant trees against the climate crisis.

1,000 billion trees for the whole world until 2020

The new goal of the children and youth, linked to the takeover of the Billion Tree Campaign, is to plant 1,000 billion trees worldwide until 2020. Through this great carbon reservoir an additional 10 billion tons can be bonded and therewith time is gained to finally decrease the CO2 emissions sustainable.

If each world citizen only planted 150 trees until 2020, this goal could be achieved.

Using a counter on the website of the campaign, which also merges to the area of responsibility of Plant-for-the-Planet, the current number of planted trees can be traced:

Until now, more than 12 billion trees have been planted in 193 countries.

Patron of the Plant-for-the-Planet Children Initiative is the UNEP’s former executive director Klaus Töpfer, patron of the “Billion Tree Campaign” is Prince Albert II of Monaco.

About Plant-for-the-Planet:

The Plant-for-the-Planet children initiative was founded in January 2007 and has its origin in a school presentation about the climate crisis of the – back then – 9-year-old Felix Finkbeiner. At the end of the presentation Felix developed the vision that children could plant one million trees in each country of the world to create a CO2  balance therewith. During the following years Plant-for-the-Planet developed to a worldwide move:  At present approx. 100,000 children in over 100 countries pursue this goal.

They understand themselves as an initiative of world citizens which campaign for climate justice in the sense of total reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases and an homogeneous distribution of those emissions among all humans.

Since March 2011 Plant-for-the-Planet has a democratic structure with a Global Board which consists of 14 children from eight nations.

The worldwide communication campaign of the children initiative is guided by the slogan “Stop talking. Start planting” and in 2010 was awarded the Social Effie in gold for efficient communication.

Plant-for-the-Planet is supported by the Global Marshall Plan Foundation, the AVINA Foundation, the Club of Rome and Leagas Delaney Hamburg. In Germany the following companies support the Academies for the education of the children: Toyota, Develey Senf & Feinkost, Hess Natur and Parador. The Academies in South Africa are being supported by Deutsche Post DHL and Toyota Financial Services South Africa.

In Germany,  the goal to plant one million trees was reached on 4th of May 2010. Of course, further trees are being planted in Germany beyond the one million goal.


Himalayan Sherpa Laments Devastating Climate Impact

Posted by admin on March 5, 2012
Posted under Express 162

Climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb, some of the world’s top mountaineers have warned.  Apa Sherpa, the Nepali climber who has conquered Mount Everest a record 21 times, said he was disturbed by the lack of snow on the world’s highest peak, caused by rising temperatures.

Times of India & AFP (26 February  2012):

GATI (NEPAL): Climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb, some of the world’s top mountaineers have warned.

Apa Sherpa, the Nepali climber who has conquered Mount Everest a record 21 times, said he was disturbed by the lack of snow on the world’s highest peak, caused by rising temperatures.

“In 1989 when I first climbed Everest there was a lot of snow and ice but now most of it has just become bare rock. That, as a result, is causing more rockfalls which is a danger to the climbers,” he told AFP.

“Also, climbing is becoming more difficult because when you are on a mountain you can wear crampons but it’s very dangerous and very slippery to walk on bare rock with crampons.”

Speaking after completing the first third of a gruelling 1,700-kilometre (1,100-mile) trek across the Himalayas, Apa Sherpa would not rule out the possibility of Everest being unclimbable in the coming years.

“What will happen in the future I cannot say but this much I can say from my own experiences — it has changed a lot,” he said an an interview with AFP in the village of Gati, 16 kilometres from Nepal’s border with Tibet.

The 51-year-old father-of-three, dubbed “Super Sherpa”, began his working life as a farmer but turned to the tourism industry and mountaineering after he lost all his possessions when a glacial lake burst in 1985.

He is on a 120-day walk dubbed the Climate Smart Celebrity Trek with another of the world’s top climbers, Nepali Dawa Steven Sherpa, with the pair expected to reach the finish on May 13.

The expedition, the first official hike along the length of Nepal’s Great Himalayan Trail since it opened last year, will take in some of the world’s most rugged landscapes and see the duo ascending beyond 6,000 metres (19,600 feet).

“I want to understand the impact of climate change on other people but also I’d like tourism to play a roll in changing their lives as it has changed mine,” said Apa Sherpa.

Research published by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) last year showed Nepal’s glaciers had shrunk by 21 percent over 30 years.

A three-year research project led by ICIMOD showed 10 glaciers surveyed in the region all are shrinking, with a marked acceleration in loss of ice between 2002 and 2005.

Scientists say the effects of climate change could be devastating, as the Himalayas provide food and energy for 1.3 billion people living in downstream river basins.

Environmental campaigners refer to the mountain range as the “third pole” and say the melting glaciers are the biggest potential contributors to rising sea levels after the North and South Poles.

Scientists blame confusion and scepticism over climate change on a blunder in a 2007 United Nations report which falsely claimed that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by as soon as 2035.

On the ground, however, mountain communities are already alarmed by dramatic shifts in weather patterns, two-time Everest summiteer Dawa Steven Sherpa told AFP as he and Apa completed the first 530 kilometres of their trek.

“Right from the beginning we saw the effects of climate change on tea plantations in Ilam district,” he said.

“These areas would not normally get frost and it is destroying their entire crop. These are cash crops that employ thousands of people, even on one farm.

“From what the local people are saying, it’s getting colder in the winter and hotter in the summer and it is the cold they are worried about.”


Is a Sustainable City an Oxymoron?

Posted by admin on March 5, 2012
Posted under Express 162

The scale of change required in cities is vast and the rate at which this change is happening will need to dramatically increase if the challenges presented by ecological, societal and economic sustainability are to be met. This challenge is so great that visions of sustainable cities are often unrealistic and unattainable. Retrofitting of existing building stock has a major role to play in contributing to urban sustainability.

Rosie Bristow for the Guardian Professional Network (24 February 2012):

Is a sustainable city an oxymoron?

The scale of change required in cities is vast and the rate at which this change is happening will need to dramatically increase if the challenges presented by ecological, societal and economic sustainability are to be met. One participant at a recent seminar on sustainable cities suggested that the size of this challenge is so great that visions of sustainable cities are often unrealistic and unattainable.

An interesting view on this is to think about the concept of a sustainable city as normative, in the sense that it is based on opinions and values and therefore difficult to define. Scenario and futures-based studies can help with this and create positive visions, which have the power to create a sense of future which can be an enabler for change.

Cites are the only model of concentrated human existence and evidence suggests that low density living is not a sustainable option, when combined with highly manufactured lifestyles. From this perspective, sustainable cities have to become a reality, and an important factor in this will be the alignment of costs and benefits and carrots and sticks for residents.

New buildings versus retrofitting

In the UK 80% of buildings that will be in use in 2050 are already built and this statistic is similar for other developed world cities. This points to the key role that retrofitting has to play in contributing to urban sustainability.

At city level, strategic focus should be on retrofitting both buildings and energy, waste and water infrastructure. Challenges related to this include access to funding, minimising disruption for residents and integrating sustainability into standards and legislation. New technologies, for example spray-on PV, can play an important part in providing the tools for low-carbon retrofitting.

City growth and competitiveness

Cities in the developing world are facing the dual challenge of dealing with the huge growth in the numbers of urban poor, whilst also retaining the key skills and private capital that enable them to compete at the global level.

There is an opportunity for developing cities to gain a competitive edge over their developed counterparts if they are able to face these challenges head on. One way to do this is through leapfrog technologies such as Bus Rapid Transit. Pioneered by a developing city, this technology is now allowing residents access to cheap, quick and efficient public transport.

Solutions should be tailored to specific cities, as each has an individual set of challenges. Cities all over the world are striving to attract people from different cultures and wealth brackets. This means that the focus should be on creating inclusive, appropriate and durable infrastructure that improves people’s lives.

Cities compete globally for growth, industry, investment and jobs but they also need to solve the local problems facing their residents. An approach to meeting both challenges is to work out how local strengths can be made into a viable export.


For urban sustainability to be realised, the public, private and third sectors need to work together. All solutions will require a combination of policy, private sector partnerships and innovation in technology, planning and thinking.

Networks have an important part to play in sharing best and worst practice and enabling cities to learn from the experiences of others. Having said this, it is also important for cities to create their own bespoke approach that fits with the needs of their residents.

City authorities are well placed to represent their residents needs in the national policy environment because they tend to see the link between public health, quality of life and the environment and the specific way in which these factors interact in their own city.

Cities as systems

A sustainable city is one where ecological, cultural and economic systems are aligned in such a way so as to support a sustainable urban future.

Central to this is the recognition that the behaviour and mindset of city residents need to change just as much as buildings and infrastructure do. In addition, efforts to change the mindset of suppliers to the market can also lead to significant benefits in terms of sustainability.

The power of information

New networks and technologies present a huge opportunity in terms of making cities more sustainable through providing real-time information that can enable utility companies to better manage the grid, energy consumers to save power and transportation networks to run more efficiently.

In the case of cross-sector partnerships, where participants are prepared be open source and recognise that everyone is on the same journey into the unknown, the potential provided by information can be realised.

An open source approach can make information attractive and accessible to a whole range of stakeholders and help to ensure that city development is both sustainable and fit for purpose.

Adaptable, sustainable infrastructure

Cities need to become more adaptable and responsive, and one way to do this is to create temporary structures that can be adapted for alternative uses or removed entirely. An example of this approach can be seen in the temporary venues for some of the sporting events at the London 2012 Olympics.

Conceptual masterplanning can play a key role in ensuring that city infrastructure is fit for purpose. The best way to do this is through a community driven process which includes the views and focuses on the needs of the full range of stakeholders.

Planning can also have an effect on levels of crime and antisocial behaviour. Creating spaces that feel safe and encourage positive, vibrant behaviours is important to establishing a sense of place. In this way environmental design can be used as a crime prevention tool.

Redefining the western model of development

Traditionally, the western model of urban development has been based on growth and expansion but this trend cannot continue indefinitely and does not always make sense in the developing world context.

Resources are not infinite which fundamentally mean that something about the current model of development needs to change. Having said that, a strategy of the developed world telling the developing world that it can’t have access to the same resources and standard of living that the west has been enjoying has not been very successful.

Making limited resources stretch whilst also improving living standards, presents a big challenge. Support for innovation and entrepreneurship are critical to meeting it and cities should ensure they create and maintain the space for new ideas to flourish. In addition, rather than telling the developing world what it cannot do, developed world cities should look to set an example and share best practice that can be used elsewhere.


A sustainable city should be…

• A place you want to be; a place of choice

• A place you can afford to be in all currencies (carbon and money)

• A place you want to stay and where people build social capital and a sense of community

• Resilient, agile and adaptable to change

The key factors that make up a sustainable city are…

• resource efficiency

• social and economic viability

• diversity of neighbourhood and environment

• leadership and vision

• collaboration and partnership

Some starting points are…

• Set a shared vision that sets out the major challenges

• Develop a set of metrics that can be used to judge progress

• Set a strategic role for a chief information officer

• Experiment with new partnerships

• Realign financial innovation with real value

This content is brought to you by Guardian Sustainable Business in association with Skanska. Source: