Archive for the ‘Express 170’ Category

Profile: Position Vacant

Posted by Ken on July 10, 2012
Posted under Express 170

Profile: Position Vacant

Is it a man or is it a woman? Will the real leaders of sustainability stand up and be counted. Our search is on again for 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders. And even the World Resources Institute asks “Will there ever be a Steve Jobs of Sustainability?” Read more

Ken Hickson puts out the call:

The search is once again on for 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders. For last year’s list go to  Who was there and who was not. And who do you think deserves to be on the 2012 list.

We purposely did not rank the 100. To get on the list was an achievement in itself. And many great people in the world welcomed the new sustainability order and seeing themselves acknowledged.

But it is a new game this year. No guaranteed places. So we invite you the reader of abc carbon express to nominate or recommend who you think should be on the list. It could be you, your best friend or boss.

What’s the criteria for selection, you may well ask. We are looking for people who are having an impact at home or abroad, through their work – in companies, Government agencies, NGOs or the community – and through their influence.

We want to see action men and woman who are walking the talk for sustainability. We want people who see and put into practice the bigger picture. Climate change awareness and action, yes, but also they are applying the principles of sustainability to their daily lives and that of their organisations.

We think it goes beyond “being green”, to acknowledging the four E’s of sustainability: Energy, Economic, Environmental and Ethics. Getting all that in the right place is no tall order. But that’s what leadership is all about.

And while you’re thinking about whether you are up to the challenge or you definitely know someone you want to recommend or nominate, read the following article “Will there ever be a Steve Jobs of Sustainability?

When you are ready send me an email:  – and tell me in no more than 100 words why you think you or your nominee should be on the 2012 list of 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders.


Will There Ever Be A Steve Jobs Of Sustainability?

by Manish Bapna and Kirsty Jenkinson, via WRI Insights (8 July 2012):

Where is the Steve Jobs of sustainability? The business leader with the big, disruptive ideas—and the force of will—to achieve for sustainable production and consumption what Apple’s visionary chief did for global technology and information?

This question springs strongly to mind after attending the Rio+20 conference.

Unlike the original Earth Summit 20 years earlier, business leaders were everywhere at Rio 2012. And with governments failing to make headway at the UN-led forum, there was much talk of businesses taking a greater lead in fixing the world’s environmental and development challenges.

Yet apart from Unilever CEO Paul Polman (who declared, “We have to bring this world back to sanity and put the greater good ahead of self-interest”), few corporate leaders at Rio appeared ready to take up the baton. While literally hundreds of business-led initiatives were announced, most were incremental rather than transformative. And there was limited evidence that CEOs recognize that the planet is on a fundamentally unsustainable course and the window for action is closing.

Sustainable Business Pathways

That said, Rio did see real progress in a few important areas for the private sector. In particular, assuming corporations follow through, it laid foundations for more sustainable business models and scalable partnerships between companies and governments.

Here are three Rio trends that demonstrate an emerging shift in business thinking and provide a platform that smart, forward-looking CEOs should look to build on:

1) Valuing Natural Assets

Meeting in the country that hosts the Amazon, global corporations launched multiple efforts to do something about their huge impact on nature. Taken together, these reflect a welcome shift in business attitudes toward accounting for the natural resources that underpin the global economy.

The Natural Capital Leadership Compact, signed by 15 global companies, urged action to properly value and maintain natural assets like clean air, clean water, forests, and other ecosystems. The Natural Capital Declaration saw similar commitments from a further 39 banks, insurers, and investors. And an additional 24 companies, worth a collective $500 billion, affirmed accounting for natural capital as a business imperative.

2) Corporate Reporting and Transparency

Although the final Rio communiqué watered down a proposed requirement for large companies to report on sustainability, it still provided a push for voluntary global disclosure of private sector impacts. Also significant was the UK deputy prime minister’s announcement at Rio that from April 2013, Britain will require publicly listed companies to fully report their greenhouse gas emissions. The UK move won public support from major companies—including Cisco, PepsiCo, and Aviva Investors—reflecting growing corporate acceptance of the need to be open about the private sector’s environmental footprint. Other countries are expected to follow suit.3) Public-Private Partnership Models

Around the world, interest is growing in bottom-up solutions where companies, government at all levels, and other constituents (such as NGOs and development banks) work to solve specific sustainability problems. While public-private partnerships of this nature are not new, they were a major theme at Rio, where business leaders called for swift and scaled-up collaboration. Promising initiatives were pursued around energy access and water supply in particular.

For example, 45 members of the Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate —including the leaders of GlaxoSmithKline, Levi-Strauss, and Dow Chemical Company—announced commitments to improve water management practices and pursue public-private partnerships to solve the global water crisis. And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the U.S. Water Partnership, through which federal agencies and companies such as Coca-Cola will dedicate $500 million to address water challenges worldwide.

Moving forward, targeted public finance can be used to leverage private investment in such initiatives. For example, the groundbreaking commitment at Rio by eight multilateral development banks to provide $175 billion towards sustainable transport could trigger innovative public-private cooperation in a sector responsible for about one-quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Government Matters

On their own, of course, approaches like these will be nowhere near sufficient to put the global economy on an inclusive and sustainable path. And while companies like GE, Siemens, Unilever, and others have shown that integrating sustainability can be good for a business’s bottom line, companies beholden to shareholders will only go so far in embracing sustainable practices.

It is therefore critical that as business becomes increasingly active in shaping the sustainable development agenda, governments put in place the policies and incentives needed to take global green markets and investment to the next level.

And, of course, it would help if one or more Steve Jobs-like business leaders emerge as paradigm-changing champions of sustainability.

Manish Bapna is the Executive Vice President of the World Resources Institute and Kirsty Jenkinson Director of the Markets and Enterprise Program at WRI.


Where would you live – Hong Kong or Geneva?

Posted by Ken on July 10, 2012
Posted under Express 170

Who’s right and who’s wrong when it comes to selecting the world’s most liveable – not necessarily the most loveable – cities? The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has Hong Kong at the top of its list, while the new listing from Singapore’s Asia Competitiveness Institute has Geneva in first place. What’s being measured and what means the most? All very subjective, of course. Read More

New index for ranking world’s cities

By The Straits Times (3 July 2012):

A Singapore institute has come up with its own ranking of the world’s cities, which it believes is more comprehensive than others in the market.

Its creators at the Asia Competitiveness Institute, which is part of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, also tout the index as more representative of ordinary city residents’ concerns, and also more constructive.

The Global Liveable Cities Index, which was released at the World Cities Summit 2012 yesterday, ranks Singapore third, after Swiss cities Geneva and Zurich.

Senior research fellow Woo Wing Thye said rankings typically measure either a city’s clout in the world or the comfort it offers to its inhabitants. But the new index marries both measurements.

‘We are a happy medium between the two,’ he said.

One major difference is that the index uses indicators that apply to the ordinary city dweller earning the median income, instead of a member of the social elite or an expatriate, as many other indexes tend to do.

Such a dweller has a limited budget and is concerned with issues like the average quality of education and the cost of health care, noted Professor Woo.

The index also tries to go beyond ranking just for ranking’s sake: Researchers took each city’s 20 weakest indicators and simulated its new rankings if it improved in these areas, to encourage cities to work on their weaknesses.

The Global Liveable Cities Index, which covers 64 Asian, European and American cities, is based on five categories: economic vibrancy and competitiveness; environmental friendliness and sustainability; domestic security and stability; social-cultural conditions; and public governance.

Singapore was ranked within the top five in all categories except for the environmental segment, where it placed 14th.

The co-director of Asia Competitiveness Institute, Dr Tan Khee Giap, indicated that Singapore could have done better if indicators such as water leakage in pipes and biodiversity were included. They were omitted because comparable data in other cities could not be found.

The lack of data also led to San Francisco – a strong contender as a liveable city – being left out.

To address such limitations, the researchers aim to conduct more field surveys to collect local data, and cover more cities.

To refine the index, ordinary city folk will also be polled for their own weightage of indicators. The index is scheduled to be published again in 2014.

The push for a new index came from the Government four years ago. It had ‘noticed gaps in numerous well-known liveability rankings of cities… each catering to very specific purposes and targeted audiences’, and commissioned the institute to start the project in 2008, the team said in a book on the index.

But Prof Woo dismissed any suggestion of the index being tilted in favour of Singapore, saying it gave equal weightage to all five categories of indicators used.

The new index also addresses a sticking point in some studies that rank Singapore poorly for environmental impact.

While those studies use criteria such as the amount of pavement used or the capacity to produce food, the Singapore institute’s index looks at a city’s carbon emissions measured against economic growth.

Prof Woo said ‘the goal is a higher level of income’ without polluting more than what one can take responsibility for.



Hong Kong named world’s best city in new index

AAP (5 July 2012):

HONG Kong is the best city in the world to live followed by Amsterdam, according to a new ranking focusing on green space.

The list of the world’s best cities to live in combines Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) global “liveability” rankings with new criteria that examine “spatial characteristics”.

Hong Kong was judged the best city, followed by Amsterdam, Osaka and Paris, after additional criteria including urban sprawl, connection and proximity to other cities, and pollution were taken into account.

European cities took five of the top ten ranking spots, with three cities from Asia, one from North America and one from Australia.

Amsterdam was named the world’s second best city in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Best Cities Index.

Sydney was the only Australian city to make the top 10, coming in at number five.

Its ratings in these categories pushed it down from the number two rank in the classic EIU Liveability index, but gave Hong Kong a boost from number 10 to the top spot.

“Sydney scores well for having low pollution levels and lots of green space in the additional indicators,” EIU editor Jon Copestake said in a statement.

“Although it was hampered slightly because of the isolation of Australian cities and the urban sprawl of the city.”

Hong Kong scored poorly for pollution and cultural assets, but scored on natural assets and low urban sprawl.

“Hong Kong is a very compact city that has managed to maintain its natural heritage, create a dense network of green spaces and enjoy extensive links to the rest of the world,” the report said.

“It responded very well to the addition of spatial characteristics to the liveability index.”

Tehran scored the lowest on the best cities index, followed by African cities Nairobi and Lusaka.

The index ranked 140 cities against one another.

The top 10

1. Hong Kong

2. Amsterdam

3. Osaka

4. Paris

5. Sydney

6. Stockholm

7. Berlin

8. Toronto

9. Munich

10. Tokyo


Top Global Projects to Manage Cities & Waste

Posted by Ken on July 10, 2012
Posted under Express 170

Global advisory firm KPMG has selected six upcoming urban infrastructure projects in India, including the USD 90-billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), amongst its top 100 innovative global infrastructure projects, it announced at the World Cities Summit in Singapore. The overall winner for the Waste Management category was Singapore’s Deep Tunnel Sewerage System, Kranji to Changi, while the Edinburgh Food Waste food waste project has been named as one of 10 best waste projects from around the world, which included a number of waste to energy projects. Read More


By (3 July 2012):

Global advisory firm KPMG has selected six upcoming urban infrastructure projects in India, including the USD 90-billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), amongst its top 100 innovative global infrastructure projects.

The DMIC project comes under the global connectivity list and is placed as the second most-innovative project among the 100 most innovative projects.

The development of sustainable urban infrastructure is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, the agency said while releasing the report titled Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition here Tuesday.

The project will cut across five states, linking the Capital with Mumbai. It has an influence area of 320 million people and plans to include a high-speed rail network for freight, a six-lane expressway and a 4,000-mw power station.

The corridor includes the development of industrial production centres along its length, including nine industrial zones and 24 new cities. The plan is to create a globally competitive business environment.

The other domestic projects in the list are th% Chennai Solar Economic Zone (under the urban energy infra category) being developed by on a 312-acre site by GMR Solar. But when completed it will be a 3,700-acre zone intended to attract high-tech investment to the growth-corridor between Bangalore and Chennai.

The third is the Sabarmathi Riverfront Development Project (in the urban regeneration and environmental improvement initiative currently underway in Ahmedabad, involving reclamation of a 10.5-km stretch of the banks of the Sabarmathi to create public space for cultural and civic institutions.

The fourth project is the Gorai Dumping Ground Scientific Closure project in Mumbai (recycling and waste management), which has been used as a major dumping ground for waste. The site spans 19.6 hectares`and has been operational since 1972.

The closure has had a major social impact as the dump was located next to residential areas, posing health risks and contaminating local water supplies.

Closure of the site in 2009 involved reforming the existing heap and sealing it off with impermeable surfaces. There are plans to install a power plant at the site which will run on methane gas generated by the decomposing rubbish, said the report.

The next is the Education City Dantewada in Chhattisgarh that will provide a polytechnic, a middle school, a sports complex, an industrial training institute with workshops and residential quarters for staff and students.

The sixth project is the New Delhi Sewerage Masterplan (recycling and waste management) being developed on a PPP model with Aecom, as the Capital’s current sewerage system only connects 55 percent of its residents to the central network. The project seeks to cover the entire 1,500 sq km area of the Capital.

The report further notes that the current estimates suggest that the country’s infrastructure deficit is creating significant challenges for sustained economic growth.

The government is planning to spend USD 1 trillion or around 10 percent of the GDP in ports, airports, highways, railways and other key infrastructure projects during the next five years.

“Country’s need to boost economic growth combined with a growing population requires a globally competitive business environment with state-of-the-art infrastructure to facilitate both local commerce and foreign investment,” KPMG India head, infrastructure advisory group, Arvind Mahajan said.

The project in the Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition are made up of around 20 projects selected by independent judging panels of industry experts from Asia Pacific, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and are broadly listed under 10 categories, including urban mobility, global connectivity, urban regeneration, education, healthcare, water, new and extended cities, recycling and waste management, urban energy infrastructure, and communications infrastructure.

The top-ten projects include East side access project in New York; Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor; the Oresund Regional Development project in Denmark and Sweden; the Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University for Women in Riyadh and the Royal London Hospital, London.

Tuas II Desalination Plant, Tuas, Singapore; the Tianjin Eco City, Tianjin, China; the deep tunnel sewerage system connecting Kranji to Changi, Singapore; the Cidade Intelligente Bezios project under the urban energy infra scheme in Brazil; and the BRICS Cable Project in South Africa and Mauritius are also among the top 10 projects.



Ten Best Waste Projects in KPMG Top 100 Infrastructure List

Waste Management World (3 July 2012):

The Edinburgh Food Waste food waste project has been named as one of 10 best waste projects globally in the KPMG Infrastructure 100 – a league table showcasing 100 of the most innovative infrastructure projects from around the world which included a number of waste to energy projects.

KPMG said that the Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition Report covers 10 project categories, including Waste Management.

According to KPMG – a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services -  in making the final selection five regional judging panels from around the world assessed hundreds of submissions on criteria ranging from feasibility, social impact, technical and financial complexity, innovation and impact on society.

The overall winner for the Waste Management category was Singapore’s Deep Tunnel Sewerage System, Kranji to Changi.

North America continues to dominate top infrastructure development with 25 projects named among the most innovative ventures, closely followed by Asia-Pacific with 20, Europe and the Middle-East with 17 each, South America on 15 and Africa with 6. Nations from emerging markets also continue to feature extensively within the list.

“The league table shows that many of the world class infrastructure projects are located in North American and Asia – these regions have continued to increase their efficiency in getting projects off the ground,” explained Richard Threlfall, KPMG’s UK head of infrastructure, building and construction.

UK ‘Punching above its weight

According to Richard Threlfall, KPMG’s UK head of infrastructure, building and construction, despite a lack of private finance and dwindling construction projects, with seven UK projects in the top 100 “the UK still punches way above its geographic and economic weight with seven of the 100 most important projects in the world across a range of sectors.”

However, he also warned that: “We need to act now to develop private investment in infrastructure. This will not only to help kick start the UK economy but also to secure funding to ensure that our future infrastructure projects continue to be innovative.”

Threlfall explained that hese pioneering projects lie at the heart of solving the challenges faced by the country, from regenerating neighbourhoods to building education and health facilities fit for this century.

“The Government needs to outline a clear strategic direction if it wants to remain competitive on an international level,” concluded Threlfall.

KPMG’s Top 10 Waste Infrastructure Projects

1. Askar Waste to Energy PPP

Location: Kingdom of Bahrain

2. Yas Island Waste Management System

Location: United Arab Emirates

3. Deep Tunnel Sewerage System

Location: Singapore

4. Gorai Dumping Ground Scientific Closure

Location: India

5. Bordo Poniente Waste to Energy

Location: Mexico

6. Bio-Cancun Project

Location: Mexico

7. The Energy Garden Project

Location: Canada

8. Durham York Energy Waste Project

Location: Canada

9. Zero Waste: Edinburgh and Midlothian

Location: Scotland

10. Tonsberg Waste to Energy PPP

Location: Norway


Does Carbon price act like a pack of wolves?

Posted by Ken on July 10, 2012
Posted under Express 170

With the Australian carbon price system coming into effect from this month, companies around the nation can no longer pollute the atmosphere with impunity, while sending a signal to industries to adopt stronger environmentally friendly practices. The carbon price also has the consequence of weeding out inefficient energy producers, especially traditional coal power plants, leading to a less carbon intense economy and a shift in the energy market towards cleaner alternative sources. Read more

ACF release (1 July 2012):

With the carbon price taking effect from today, big companies will no longer be able to pollute our shared atmosphere for free, sending a strong positive signal to industries that clean up their acts.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the price on pollution was a strong step for our environment and would start Australia’s shift to a cleaner economy.

An ACF study examined all the likely places evidence should be found if companies were going to be affected by the carbon price: share prices, investment analyst views, reasons given for job cuts and listings on the stock exchange. The study found no evidence to indicate the price on pollution would hurt companies listed on the ASX.

“The price on pollution is a move towards doing what’s best for all Australians, not doing what’s best for a handful of companies that value high profits ahead of the national interest,” said ACF CEO Don Henry.

“From today Australia is finally putting its money where its mouth is on climate change – it is no longer free for big companies to pollute our shared atmosphere.”

ACF’s economic adviser Simon O’Connor said his analysis of share prices and ASX data showed the market was not expecting any value to be lost from Australian listed companies as a result of the carbon price.

“Australia’s four most exposed companies all saw their share prices increase more than the ASX benchmark when the price on pollution overcame the last major hurdle to becoming law,” Mr O’Connor said.

“In fact, BlueScope Steel’s share price went up by 5 per cent on the day of the House of Representatives vote and by 13 per cent in the week prior.

“We couldn’t find a shred of evidence to support the claims that the price on pollution will cause significant economic damage to Australian companies. It’s time to deflate the hot air and get on with the job of moving to a cleaner economy,” he said.



By Tristan Edis for Climate Spectator (4 July 2012):

Only four days since the carbon price has been instituted and we can chalk up some quick wins (if only the federal government would let the natural course of events actually occur).

A few days ago, Climate Spectator outlined how South Australia wouldn’t miss the fact that coal power station Playford was to be closed for good and Northern was also going to be put out of action for six months of the year.

On Friday, the bailout announced for Energy Brix suggests that it’s on its last legs too, if only the government didn’t jump in to prop the thing up for another two years.

Also the June 30 deadline for HRL to reach financial close on its new 600MW brown coal power station, in order to qualify for clean coal funding support from the federal government, has passed without any word from either the government or the company. This suggests this project proposal has finally been euthanised after being announced as the recipient of $150 million in state and federal government subsidies back in early 2007.

The carbon intensity of the project is twice that of a natural gas combined cycle power plant and no noticeable improvement on a conventional new black coal power plant. Even back in 2007, when this project was announced as a successful recipient of funding under the Howard government’s Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund (LETDF), questions were being raised about the likelihood of it raising bank financing. Indeed documents released under freedom of information and reported by The Age showed the project was initially rejected for federal funding in 2006 on the basis it was ”not realistically based” and involved ”a high degree of risk”.

In an environment where both sides of politics publicly state the need to drastically reduce emissions, it is ridiculous that any bank or government would sink hundreds of millions of dollars into a brand new power station with a lifetime of 30 to 40 years, whose original design actually had worse emissions intensity than a modern black coal power station. While infrastructure might one day be built to capture the emissions from the plant and pipe it underground, you’d be a bigger punter than Kerry Packer to allocate money on that coming true.

And yesterday we learned that Munmorah coal-fired power station, which was on its last legs having been mothballed since August 2010, will now be closed and decommissioned permanently.  While it was already slated for retirement in September 2014, what we’ve learnt since electricity market liberalisation is that businesses can manage to keep these assets going for many more years than the engineers originally envisaged, provided market conditions are conducive – Hazelwood being the most prominent example.

According to Munmorah’s owner, Delta Electricity, in 2010 they had gained planning approval for the rehabilitation of Munmorah’s turbine units 3 and 4 and associated infrastructure, which would have reduced the plant’s operating costs and allowed baseload operation at 700 megawatts. While you’d always have to doubt the likelihood of that project proceeding, the fact that it has now been ruled out is unambiguously a good thing for Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Delta Electricity provided the following explanation for closing the plant:

“Decreasing energy demand in NSW has created an excess supply situation. Munmorah’s place in the market has been overtaken by newer and more efficient generators and alternative electricity sources.

The station’s ageing infrastructure and high maintenance costs mean that it is not economically viable to operate. The carbon tax further erodes its viability.”

A carbon price of $23 per tonne of CO2 is clearly not going to lead to any kind of renewable energy nirvana, nor will it shut down coal overnight. But we now have a situation where a combination of reduced electricity demand and the 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target, and high black coal prices have created conditions that are acting to remove a lot of the food the herd of fossil fuel generators need to survive and prosper.

The carbon price is then acting much like a pack of wolves does in nature. While they tend to leave the strong within the herd unharmed e.g. Loy Yang A, they act to weed out the old, the weak, and maladapted young such as HRL’s power station proposal.

This may not be the desired end point on carbon emissions, but it most certainly represents progress over no carbon price at all.



Cities Waking up to Climate Change

Posted by Ken on July 10, 2012
Posted under Express 170

European cities are waking up to the idea that climate change will severely affect how they operate and are shoring up their defences to better manage them, shows a report by UK-based Carbon Disclosure Project. Now city risk assessments are leading to initiatives to better manage floods and droughts, and adaptation of infrastructure to be more energy efficient. Read more

By Nina Chestney for Reuters (28 June 2012):

European cities are planning to adapt to climate change as the risks become more severe, a report by UK-based emissions measurement organization the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and consultancy Accenture showed on Thursday.

Cities increasingly have to plan flood defenses, ways to manage water in times of drought, ensure new buildings provide natural cooling to occupants and adapt old buildings and infrastructure to become more energy efficient.

The report surveyed 22 European cities – including Amsterdam, Berlin, Istanbul, London, Manchester, Moscow, Paris and Rome – about their greenhouse gas emissions and climate change strategies.

The report comes less than a week after a United Nations’ summit in Rio de Janeiro failed to define clear sustainable development goals and left many convinced that local governments and businesses will have to lead efforts to improve the environment.

The survey found that 17 European cities out of the 22 surveyed, or 77 percent, have completed or almost completed risk assessments to understand how climate change will affect them.

Eighteen of the 22 European cities said they face “significant risks” arising from climate change and 54 percent of them see these risks as “severe” or “very severe”.

Due to these risks, cities are increasingly looking at developing adaptation plans. Fourteen European cities, or 64 percent of the 22 surveyed, already have an adaptation plan in place while two more are currently developing them.

“European cities are demonstrating leadership and best practice in managing climate change at the local level,” said Conor Riffle, head of CDP’s cities program.

“The report shows that other cities can benefit by implementing similar strategies, like annual measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.”


Global carbon dioxide emissions, one of the main greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, hit a record high last year, according to the International Energy Agency.

Eighty-six percent of the European cities surveyed have set a city-wide emissions reduction target, compared to a global average of 70 percent of cities, CDP said.

Based on the latest data given by four cities to CDP, London’s emissions fell 3.6 percent to 43.4 million metric tons (47.8 million tons) of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2010 from 2008 and Copenhagen’s dropped 5.2 percent to around 2.5 million metric tons in 2010 from 2009.

Berlin’s emissions rose 4.1 percent to over 20.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2008 from 2007 and Rotterdam’s grew by 6 percent in 2010 to 29.6 million metric tons from 2009.

“Population growth, economic activity, weather patterns, and other factors that are outside the city government’s direct control can make it difficult, if not impossible, to show steady reductions in emissions,” the report said.

European cities are also becoming more aware of the economic opportunities from climate change. Thirteen of the cities surveyed, or 59 percent, think that tackling climate change will develop new business industries in their cities.

Some cities – like Helsinki and Berlin – are using voluntary agreements with the private sector to strengthen their cities’ climate protection goals.


US Weather Forecast: Climate Change…Maybe

Posted by Ken on July 10, 2012
Posted under Express 170

Maybe the tide of opinion is turning against climate change sceptics in North America, according to the head of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Maybe the bout of extreme weather is doing it. The recent wildfires in Colorado have been the most destructive ever on state record and part of the multiple wildfires that are burning across the United States. The hotter and drier condition resulting from climate change has been a factor for the severity of the wildfire, and could be an indicator of future re-occurrence. Read more


Ben Cubby, Environment Editor, Sydney Morning Herald (10 July 2012):

THE tide of opinion is turning against climate change sceptics in North America, according to the head of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Escalating bouts of extreme weather appear to be behind the shift, said Jane Lubchenco, the chief of the NOAA – the US equivalent of the CSIRO.

”I think there really is a heightened awareness now, because it is something tangible, it’s something people are experiencing themselves – more heatwaves, more wildfires,” Dr Lubchenco told the Herald.

”In the US, I think that the increasing number of extreme weather-related events will help the American public understand that there is a lot at risk and that we do need to be acting more definitively.”

The east coast of the US has just endured a series of some of the most intense heatwaves on record. Altogether, record high temperatures have been recorded at more than 40,000 sites in the US. If global warming wasn’t taking place, the ratio of high and low temperature records would be roughly equal, but in the US this year, heat records have dominated by a ratio of seven to one.

”The heatwaves that we have been seeing in the eastern United States are completely consistent with what we expected to be seeing, and we expect to see more,” she said.

An agreement was signed yesterday between the CSIRO and NOAA to share data and conduct joint research into reefs, oceans and atmospheric warming. At the International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, specialist ocean researchers released a statement calling for greenhouse gas cuts.

”The international coral reef science community calls on all governments to ensure the future of coral reefs, through global action to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases,” the statement said.

A Stanford University professor, Steve Palumbi, said scientists had described the severity of the problem and the risks, and politicians had to take responsibility for action. ”To be honest, it’s really difficult,” he said. ”It’s a turning of a corner. It’s scientists giving up control.”

Dr Lubchenco said she did not agree with critics who thought scientists were becoming campaigners for action on climate change. ”At NOAA, all we are doing is providing the data,” she said. ”When some people don’t like the information, they criticise the providers of that information and we certainly see that playing out.”



By Blake Deppe for People’s World (29 June 2012):


Colorado’s Waldo Canyon Fire - which has forced the evacuation of 35,000 people, destroyed 346 homes, and burned for six days at the edge of Colorado Springs – is the most destructive brushfire on record for the state. According to experts, this havoc is just the beginning of what global warming will wreak in the future.

This is what climate change looks like.

Scorching temperatures and winds stoked the flames over the past few days, which has eaten up 18,500 acres of land so far. Firefighters managed to form containment lines around just 15 percent of the wildfire’s perimeter on June 28.


Elsewhere in the state, the High Park Fire remains active, and has very recently had a potentially upsetting ripple effect: it has blackened the nearby Poudre River with ash, possibly killing schools of fish beneath the now-tainted water. The river is filled with dust and debris from the fire as well. The more ash collects in the water, experts believe, the higher the fish mortality will become.

“This is going to happen over time” as the wildfire continues, said Ken Kehmeier, an aquatic biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “When the river turns black, fish are getting all that particulate matter that could affect oxygen levels. We could see fish struggling due to their gills getting clogged up with ash.”

In the case of the Waldo Canyon Fire, meanwhile, authorities say that arson cannot yet be ruled out as a culprit for the blaze. But the more likely causes for it, note scientists, are several: shorter winters with reduced snowfall, earlier springs, and extreme and early summer heat, all of which occurred this year.

“What we’re seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate scientist. “It looks like heat; it looks like fires; it looks like this kind of environmental disaster. This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future.”

The aforementioned weather conditions, he added, were exactly what he and his colleagues at the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had predicted would result from a carbon-induced climate shift.

Dr. Steven Running, a University of Montana forest ecologist, noted that mountain snow generally melted two weeks earlier than average this year in the U.S. “That just sets us up for a longer, drier summer. Then all you need is an ignition source and wind. Now we have a lot of dead trees to burn, and it’s not even July yet.”

But the problem runs deeper than just disasters that have been observed this year alone. Since 1950, the number of heat waves worldwide has greatly increased, according to a report by nonprofit science outreach group Climate Communication. The “remarkable run of record-shattering heat waves in recent years,” said the report, “from the Russian heat wave of 2010 that set forests ablaze to the historic heat wave in Texas in 2011″ all serve as examples of the ongoing climate change issue.

Others understand that right-wing efforts to deny the existence of climate change, to loosen regulations on pollution, and to divert attention away from environmentalism are only going to add to the problem.

Rep. Harry Waxman, D-Calf., remarked, “Extreme events like the wildfires in Colorado are going to get worse unless the Republican-controlled Congress changes course soon.”


Energy use set to fall for first time

Posted by Ken on July 10, 2012
Posted under Express 170

The Australian Energy Market Operator has forecasted a fall in energy consumption for the first time, delaying a need for investments in new power plants and transmission networks. This fall can be attributed to lower demand and growth of renewable energy generation. This spells good news for Australia in meeting its greenhouse gas emissions target and for consumers seeking to lower their energy bills. Read more

Adam Morton and David Wroe (29 June 2012):

The body that manages Australia’s electricity grid has for the first time forecast a fall in energy use, and predicted it will delay for years the need for investment in new power plants or transmission networks.

The Australian Energy Market Operator says consumption will fall this year due to four factors: a decline in manufacturing, comparatively mild weather, the swift growth in rooftop solar panels and consumers reacting to rapidly rising electricity prices.

It reverses years of the operator projecting soaring growth in energy consumption, and has implications for the shift from coal-fired power to lower-emissions gas under the carbon price scheme.

It could also restrict the pace at which power bills increase. If demand for electricity is down, it will keep the wholesale electricity price paid to power plant owners low.

And if investment in new electricity infrastructure is deferred it could slow the increase in the amount consumers pay for the upgrade of poles and wires – nationally, the biggest contributor to rising electricity bills in recent years.

Matt Zema, the market operator’s chief executive, said the fall in energy use – down 2.4 per cent on last year and 5.7 per cent lower than projected – was the biggest since the creation of the National Electricity Market in 1998.

”For the first time, we’re seeing that GDP is still growing but energy demand is actually decreasing,” he said.

Of the nearly 6 per cent decline on last year’s projections, about half is due to a fall in industrial consumption – mainly due to the high Australian dollar increasing competition for manufacturing from cheap imports.

The other half is split between reduced demand for airconditioning due to a milder summer, the growth of photovoltaic solar panels to a point where they provide 0.9 per cent of energy used, and improved energy efficiency due to the advent of better appliances and light globes and consumers becoming more energy conscious. The market operator expects solar panels to generate 3.4 per of all energy in a decade.

Mr Zema said the fall in energy consumption had combined with other factors – including rising gas prices due to overseas demand for LNG – to hold up investment in gas-fired power plants, which had been expected to be a medium-term replacement for coal.

Tony Wood, an energy expert from the Grattan Institute, said it would make it easier for Australia to reach its greenhouse gas emission reduction target.

Electricity distributors would probably not have to spend as much on network and transmission costs, he said.



Setting new milestone for electric vehicles

Posted by Ken on July 10, 2012
Posted under Express 170

Cities around the world are setting an example in adopting electric and plug in hybrid vehicles by incorporating them into municipal fleets and public transportation, as well as providing the infrastructure to encourage higher pick-up rate among consumers. Now, 16 cities have set a cumulative target to increase the share of EVs to about 6% of total vehicle sales by 2020. To achieve that, innovative programs are being and have been initiated. Read more

By Max Frankel for Renew Economy (4 July 2012):

Sixteen cities around the world have set a cumulative target to sell almost six million electric and plug in hybrid electric vehicles by 2020. If they reach this goal, EVs would account for about 6% of total vehicle sales and about 20 million cars on the road.

A new report called the EV City Casebook highlights how these leading cities are putting the right pieces into place to encourage the adoption of EVs:

“Cities are also leading by example. Many have already added electric vehicles to municipal fleets and incorporated hybrid buses into public transportation. They are placing charging spots at public buildings and, in some cases, offering discounted electricity rates for EV users from municipal-owned utilities. Just as important, cities are using their convening power to assemble multi-stakeholder groups that include city planners, automakers, utilities, infrastructure suppliers, academic and research institutions, and city and national officials. These groups work together to create a roadmap for EV readiness that considers all stakeholder perspectives and seeks to identify and address technical, economic and regulatory barriers to EV adoption and integration.”

The sixteen cities involved in the collaborative project are Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, BrabantStad, the Goto Islands in Nagasaki, Hamburg, Helsinki, Kanagawa, Los Angeles, New York, North East England, Portland, Research Triangle in North Carolina, Rotterdam, Shanghai, and Stockholm.

Three cities, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Los Angeles have taken the lead and are instituting innovative programs to reach their ambitious EV targets. Here’s a look at what they’re up to:


Amsterdam is a 219 square kilometer city with a population of a just over 780,000. There are almost a quarter million registered vehicles and the average commuter travels 8 kilometers everyday. Amsterdam currently has about 750 EVs in use and aims to have 10,000 on the roads 2015. To accomplish this goal, the city has number of initiatives in the works.

First, Amsterdam has reserved almost €9 million for subsidies. They pay companies up €5,000 for each electric car, €10,000 per electric bus, and €40,000 per electric truck that they integrate into their fleets. A pilot program run in 2009 yielded encouraging results, with over 200 EVs purchased.

Next, the City has a Car2Go program. Started in 2011, electric vehicles can be dropped off and picked up at any time from public parking spots for a nominal fee. This program closely resembles the Bikeshare and Zipcar programs we see in the U.S. Additionally, stating in 2013, an online database will provide live and up-to-the-minute information about the location and status of the city’s nearly 1,000 EV charging stations.

Finally, Amsterdam is slowly transitioning its taxi fleet to EVs. By the end of 2012, 40 of the city’s 2,500 diesel taxis will be electrically powered, up from 10 the previous year.

Amsterdam also aims to be fossil fuel free by 2040, powering its electric cars, trucks, boats, and buildings with energy generated by wind, solar, and biomass.


Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain with a population of of more than 1.6 million people. It is a dense metropolis where people rely heavily on motorbikes and scooters to get around. The city has almost a million registered vehicles, but plans to expand its electric fleet from the 400 it has today to about 3,000 by 2014. Barcelona also aims to have almost 4,500 charging stations in two years.

In order to accomplish these goals, Barcelona has installed a series of “Mobecpoint” charging stations around the city to encourage the use of electric two-wheelers. The city is second only to Rome in its use of motorbikes and the Mobecpoint stations charge them for free. Barcelona hopes to encourage electric scooters enough so that they make up half of the two wheeled vehicle fleet. Volta Motorbikes, a popular manufacturer, has introduced an electric two wheeler named the ‘Barcelona’ due to its “design, environmental respect and quality.”

The city’s LIVE program (Logistics for the Implementation of the Electric Vehicle) is an open platform that provides information to users about everything from charging stations to opportunities for new innovation and investment. It also issues EV registration cards needed for using the municipal charging stations. LIVE is regarded as “the first citizens’ office in Europe to provide information regarding electric mobility.”

Through LIVE, Barcelona released an app called Chargelocator, which allows mobile users to find the nearest and cheapest available charging station.

Like Amsterdam, Barcelona is working on an EV car sharing program. This one is being worked on in collaboration with MIT and may resemble the University’s ideas for the City Car.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles has more than 2.5 million registered vehicles for its 4.1 million residents. Commuters travel an average of 23 miles a day and nearly 80% of them do it via passenger vehicle. Currently, Los Angeles has about 2,000 EVs in use, but aims to get that number closer to 80,000 by 2015.

To help reach that goal, the State of California has added a $2,500 purchase rebate in addition to the $7,500 federal tax credit on electric vehicles. California also allows drivers traveling alone to use the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on highways if they are driving Zero-emissions cars.

In late 2011, the city of Los Angeles started using long-range all-electric eBuses to shuttle passengers to and from the terminals at LAX airport. The buses are significantly cleaner and cheaper than conventional buses; in fact, some estimate they can be up to $500,000 cheaper than normal buses over their life time.

The city of LA also started requiring all new construction projects to contain EV readiness infrastructure.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has taken a number of steps to further the development and deployment of EVs. It has invested $60 million in smart grid technology for the city, upgraded the local power grid to cope with EV charging stations, and provided a $2,000 discount to people who install EV charging stations in their homes.

Finally, the city is involved in a number of collaborative projects with local universities and state agencies to study and prepare for the rollout of a future EV fleet. LA has entered into a partnership with Shanghai, China to “cooperate and share data from their respective EV demonstration programs.”

It will still be many years before EVs become truly “mainstream.” But forward-thinking cities are preparing for their roll out today, setting the stage for a new phase in transportation.

Max Frankel is a senior at Vassar College and an intern with the energy team at the Center for American Progress. This article was first published on Climate Progress. Reproduced with permission.


Singapore brings Waste to Energy expertise to Qatar

Posted by Ken on July 10, 2012
Posted under Express 170

Singapore’s Keppel Integrated Engineering has recently completed the state-of-the-art Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre in Qatar, capable of handling all household generated rubbish per day. Rising up from the desert, this is the first integrated waste management plant in the Middle East, and one of the first in the world to feature electricity generation as well. Read more

By Jonathan Kwok for the Straits Times (30 June 2012):

IN EARLY 2007, Australia-born engineer Geoffrey Piggott was driven to the middle of a vast desert near the Qatari industrial township of Mesaieed.

There, surrounded by flat stony and sandy desert as far as the eye could see, he had a 3sqkm area marked out for him.

He was told to build a modern waste management plant for Qatar’s government.

‘I had to look for the site with a GPS. It was completely flat, there were no roads, no water, no supplies, no electricity, no telecommunications,’ recalled Mr Piggott, a project director with Singapore’s Keppel Integrated Engineering (KIE).

‘All we had were a few pegs in the ground marking out the site for us.’

That marked the start of the Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre, which stands on the site today. The state-of-the-art facility processes 2,300 tonnes of solid waste a day. A Qatar government strategy paper says this is about the amount of rubbish generated by all households in Qatar.

It has also put Singapore on the world map in terms of waste management. KIE was behind the design, construction and running of the facility.

The plant has received attention as the first integrated waste management plant in the Middle East – combining sorting and recycling, compost production, energy production from waste and landfilling all in one facility. It is also one of the first such plants in the world. A unique aspect is the different processes being in a single location, to treat all types of waste in an environmentally friendly way.

‘This plant is something that we are pretty proud of – as a Singapore-based company, to be able to do this in the Middle East, so far away,’ said BG (NS) Tay Lim Heng, chief executive of KIE, a subsidiary of rigbuilding giant Keppel Corp.

‘When we secured the contract, it was possibly one of the biggest single engineering projects won by a Singapore-based company in an overseas country.’

With the support of Singapore’s National Environment Agency, KIE had in 2006 snagged the contract worth 3.9 billion Qatari riyal – or about S$1.7 billion at the time – which includes operating and maintaining the facility for 20 years.

Work started in early 2007, and soon there were more than 2,000 workers from 26 countries working on the construction site.

The weather was a major challenge, with summer temperatures soaring to 40 deg C or more, and little or no rainfall.

The workers built everything from roads to accommodation, power supply and water supply – essentially, an entire small town out in the desert.

To cater to all the nationalities, there were three canteens serving different cuisines across the 3sqkm site – about the size of 420 football fields.

The wildlife was a challenge as well, said Mr Piggott. ‘We had to build a fence to keep out the camels. They would otherwise go wherever there was a drop of water on the site.’

On working with the Qatar government, Mr Piggott said that although the relevant ministries were helpful, some of the approval processes for various permits were lengthy.

Finally, after 10 million man-hours, the Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre was completed last October, handed to the Qatari government and started operating. Now, the plant is manned by 250 KIE personnel, including 15 Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

Less than 5 per cent of the waste volume arriving ends up in the landfill, with the rest being converted into compost, recycled or incinerated. Before that, Qatar buried its waste in landfills with minimal processing.

The centre includes waste separation and recycling facilities, which sort metals and plastics from the trash to be processed and reused. Organic waste material is sent to a compost plant within the compound, to be converted into compost fertiliser, while inorganic material goes to a waste-to-energy plant for the generation of electricity. Only a small volume of the original rubbish ends up in the on-site landfill, which will be able to last for about 20 years.

Mr Tay reckoned that such integrated facilities can be the way ahead for many countries, with the increasing focus on green energy and sustainable development.

Singapore does not have any totally integrated waste management plants. A major constraint is the scarcity of land here, he said.

In contrast, Qatar, which has the greatest number of proven reserves of oil and gas in the world, has plenty of land. It is 16 times Singapore’s size, with a population of only 1.8 million. Singapore’s four waste-to-energy plants will be able to fit into KIE’s Qatar facility easily, Mr Tay said.

But Singapore’s efforts in waste management include recycling facilities and a well-managed landfill at Pulau Semakau which stores incineration ash, experts say.

For KIE, Qatar’s Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre was its first project in a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state.

Mr Tay said that with Qatar looking to build up its infrastructure for the 2022 Fifa World Cup, other possible projects in the country could include ‘district cooling’. This involves centralised cooling for many buildings using chilled water.

KIE already operates the district cooling systems in Singapore’s one-north, Woodlands Wafer Fab Park and Changi Business Park.

He added that with other GCC countries also facing challenges with waste management, KIE will be keen to pursue projects similar to the Qatar plant across the region.


Clearing the Air on Health Impacts of Pollution

Posted by Ken on July 10, 2012
Posted under Express 170

The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the health threat posed by air pollution, especially in Asia, which bears 65% of global deaths. At the Clean Air Forum in Singapore delegates were told the pollutant posing the greatest risk is identified as particulate matter – fine particles that deposit in airways and can lead to increased acute morbidity, mortality, and decreased lung growth and function. Action has been urged to clean up the air, especially from industry, transportation and energy production. And diesel is seen as a significant contributor, too.  Read more

Report from Ken Hickson at the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore:

Asia’s booming cities are experiencing mounting problems of air pollution and this is being borne out with the region having more than its share of deaths from environmental pollution, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).

While Singapore’s air might to amongst the cleanest in Asia,  attention is now turning to the very fine particles – less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter  and labelled PM2.5 – which are believed to pose the largest health risks, increasingly accounting for cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

The Clean Air Forum jointly presented at the CleanEnviro Summit by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) set out to provide “innovative solutions to improve air quality among Asia’s growing cities”, but also drew sobering attention to the health and environmental impacts of indoor and outdoor pollution.

In a keynote address to the Forum, Nasir Hassan, PhD, Regional Adviser on Environmental Health for the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out that globally 3 million children under the age of five die every year due to environment-related diseases, with half of them – 1.5 million – from acute respiratory infections.

While outdoor air pollution is the most obvious problem and is identified as the cause of 800,000 deaths a year, nearly 50% of pneumonia deaths among children under five are due to particulate matter inhaled from indoor air pollution.

Asia is carrying an “uneven burden” from environmental pollution, says Dr Hassan, as 65% of the world total of deaths and lost life-years occur in Asia.

He drew particular attention to the single most studied and the most important health-damaging pollutant: particulate matter (PM), which includes black carbon. Fine particles deposit in airways and can lead to increased acute respiratory morbidity (pneumonia, asthma), increased mortality (from all causes) and well as decreased lung growth and function.

While particles less than 10 micrometres in diameter (PM10) pose certain health concern, particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5) and referred to as “fine” particles, are believed to pose the largest health risks. Because of their small size (less than one-seventh the average width of a human hair), fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs. Exposure to PM2.5 increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, and reduces life expectancy.

As some of the largest contributors to urban outdoor air pollution are industry, power generation, and transport, the WHO points to improvements in urban planning and public transport, stronger emissions controls for motor vehicles and regulations for industry  which have been shown to improve air quality and health.

May Ajero, the Programme Manager for Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities Centre, told the Clean Air Forum that the Centre’s mission is to promote better air quality and liveable cities by translating knowledge to policies and actions that reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from transport, energy and other sectors.

“We need to put air pollution back on the agenda,” she said, “as it is a major issue with severe impacts on public health and contributes to climate change”.

While Asia has measures in place to help bring down pollution, Ms Ajero believes there are still plenty of opportunities to bring down pollution further, identifying diesel exhaust as a major problem as it has been identified as a cause of lung cancer.

She drew attention to a report last month (June) by the International Agency For Research On Cancer (IARC) which has for more than two decades classified diesel engine exhaust as a “probable” carcinogen — a cancer-causing agent — but until recently there was no clear evidence linking it to higher cancer rates.

This winter, however, two studies in the United States were published based on research involving more than 12,000 mine workers done by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, known as the Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study, or DEMS.

According to a CNN report – referenced by Ms Ajero – industry groups and clean-air advocates alike say recent improvements in diesel engines are dramatic, but older engines are still in widespread use. Dr. Christopher Wild, the IARC director said while the United States and Europe already have “stringent” guidelines on diesel fumes, but there is “relatively little information about diesel exhaust in developing countries.” Other scientists warn that cancer takes years or even decades to develop, meaning that people exposed to fumes in the past are still at risk.

The Clean Air Forum also saw the launch of a new initiative by SIIA to further draw attention to the problems of air pollution. It has established the Clean City Air Coalition, a partnership of various stakeholders to raise awareness of the impacts of air pollution to inform policy makers and private corporations as well as change behaviours of individuals and the broader society.

Nicholas Fang, Director of SIIA and one of moderators at the Clean Air Forum, felt that more needs to be done to raise public awareness of this issue, especially pertaining to sources of pollutants such as PM2.5 and NOX (Nitrous Oxides). In 2011, the annual PM2.5 level remained the same as the year before (2010) while the annual PM10 level increased slightly, with both exceeding the WHO’s Air Quality Guidelines.

In working towards raising awareness, the SIIA has been writing commentaries on the clean city air issue for local media and also has ambitious plans to ramp up online initiatives to reach out to the general population.

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