Archive for the ‘Express 192’ Category

Take-Off for a Global Aviation Emissions Pact

Posted by Ken on June 7, 2013
Posted under Express 192

The IPCC has estimated that the aviation industry is responsible for about 3.5% of anthropogenic climate change, with estimates growing to 5% by 2050. It comes as good news then, that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has passed a resolution calling on world governments to agree to manage emissions from air travel, with a single global mechanism to enable airlines to account for and offset their emissions. Read more

Airlines agree to curb their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020

International Air Transport Association resolution calls on world governments to agree measures to manage carbon dioxide

By Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent in The Guardian (4 June 2013):

International airlines have agreed for the first time to global curbs on their greenhouse gas emissions – but fell well short of the measures to combat climate change that green campaigners had demanded.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Monday passed a resolution calling on world governments to agree measures to manage carbon dioxide from air travel, which would come into force from 2020.

They said there should be a single global “market-based mechanism” – such as emissions trading – that would enable airlines to account for and offset their emissions.

But they did not agree to a global limit on greenhouse gas emissions from air travel, or set out in detail how governments should implement a market-based mechanism to cover all airlines.

Their move may help to ease an ongoing row over whether airlines from outside the EU should be bound by Europe’s emissions trading rules.

The European commission insisted that they should, and would have to pay for carbon permits covering flights taking off and landing within the EU’s borders.

Under the emissions trading system, companies must produce a permit for every tonne of carbon dioxide they produce, with some permits allocated free and others auctioned. Companies can also top up their permit quota with carbon credits – awarded by the UN to projects that cut emissions in developing countries, such as solar panels or windfarms.

Several governments, including those of the US, China and India, objected to their airlines being included in the EU emissions trading scheme, and began a legal battle.

Last year, the commission said it would relax its rules if the global airline industry showed it was willing to regulate and reduce its emissions in another way.

But green campaigners pointed out that Monday’s IATA resolution could allow airlines simply to buy cheap carbon credits to offset their emissions, rather than make real reductions.

Carbon credits are currently at rock bottom prices because of a glut on the market, and because companies covered by the EU’s emissions trading system were awarded far more free permits than they needed.

Bill Hemmings, aviation manager at the green campaigning organisation Transport & Environment, said: “The IATA resolution represents a welcome departure from their historical position that better air traffic control, better planes and biofuels alone can solve the problem.

“However, it kicks the ball in the long grass, until after 2020, and sets out a string of unworkable conditions. It rules out the EU emissions trading scheme as a stepping stone, [and rules out] the raising of revenues and impacts on traffic volume, which are inherent to any market-based measure.

“Finally it relies solely on out-of-sector offsets rather than real emissions reductions within aviation.”

The success of the IATA resolution also depends on whether governments and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) can agree later this year on how to regulate airline emissions.

Tony Tyler, director general of IATA, said: “Airlines are committed to working with governments to build a solid platform for the future sustainable development of aviation.

“They have come together to recommend to governments the adoption of a single market-based mechanism for aviation and provide suggestions on how it might be applied to individual carriers. Now the ball is in the court of governments.”

Given the slow progress of global negotiations on climate change under the UN, however, the likelihood of governments coming up with a strong agreement on aviation emissions in the short term seems slim.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate chief, said European governments were willing to help draft and support a strong system on aviation emissions.

“It is a very strong message that the airline industry seems ready to support a single global market-based measures to keep their emissions in check.

“Now it is time for the governments to match this and deliver in ICAO. The EU is ready.”

If there is an agreement on a market mechanism, the next question will be how it operates.

Eva Filzmoser, director of the campaigning organisation Carbon Market Watch, warned that the simplest system on offer – of allowing airlines to buy carbon credits – could be less effective than alternatives.

“A global carbon offsetting scheme is the wrong choice because it does not lead to emissions reductions in the aviation sector itself – it merely compensates these emissions through investment in reduction projects elsewhere.

“Only a cap-and-trade scheme with a stringent cap and a limit on the use of offsets will create sufficient incentives for essential emission reductions in the aviation sector itself.”


Singapore & South Africa Get to Grips with Emissions & Clean Energy

Posted by Ken on June 7, 2013
Posted under Express 192

To more fully understand the impact of economic activities on the environment, the Singapore government is embarking on a five-year plan to monitor the entire island’s carbon emissions . And proving that environmental protection is not only the domain of government, Google has made its first renewable energy investment in Africa. The US$12 million Jasper Power Project in South Africa will generate 96 MW of solar energy, to be the largest solar PV facility on the continent. Read more

Government to track Singapore’s carbon emissions

By Feng Zengkun in The Straits Times (3 June 2013):

5-year-plan will monitor emissions and how much is absorbed by plants

Singapore is embarking on an ambitious five-year plan to take stock of and monitor the entire island’s carbon emissions.

The National Parks Board (NParks) wants to set up a system which will allow it to track emissions and how much of it is absorbed by the country’s greenery.

The project, which is expected to start by the end of this year, will even include roadside trees and playing fields, according to a tender document posted by NParks on procurement website GeBiz last month.

Carbon-accounting experts believe the data could help Singapore improve its plans to take better care of the environment.

If the research reveals for example, that a certain plant species absorbs more carbon dioxide, more of those plants could be planted in housing estates, said the experts.

According to the tender, data from the project will be included in Singapore’s Biennial Update Reports to the United Nations, the first of which is due by the end of next year.

This tabulates the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to reduce them, said NParks director Lena Chan. Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which includes Singapore, agreed to submit such reports during a conference in South Africa two years ago.

In 2010, Singapore emitted around 43 million tonnes – about 0.2 per cent of the world’s output – of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

If the country had done nothing after 2005 to reduce emissions, its output in 2020 would reach 77.2 million tonnes. The Government has pledged to cut emissions by 7 per cent to 11 per cent below this projection.

As part of the latest project, Singapore’s land will be divided into six categories: forest, cropland, grassland, wetland, settlements and other land.

About 56 per cent of Singapore’s land is covered by greenery. Of this, 27 per cent is actively managed vegetation such as parks and gardens while the other 29 per cent includes swamps, marsh, forest and scrubland.

Land plots will be chosen to represent these categories as well as various vegetation types.

Researchers will identify plant species in some of these plots, collect plant and soil extracts and measure their carbon content. Data will be collected annually to track the country’s carbon balance.

One way to quantify the carbon being absorbed in grass, for instance, is to dry a plot sample in an oven, said Dr Alex Cobb from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, who is involved in a similar project here.

“This gives you the grass’ biomass. Then you take a smaller sample of the dried material and measure its carbon content,” he said. Dr Cobb added that some land categories such as forests would offer more challenges, as they contain more types of plants and trees. One possible method is to record the trees’ diameters and compare them with available data to come up with carbon estimates, he said.

Nature Society of Singapore president Shawn Lum said: “Essentially, for every kilogram a tree grows, about half of that is carbon absorbed from the atmosphere.”

Dr Lum added that NParks could tap on the work of several other projects. The National University of Singapore and National Institute of Education have already compiled some carbon data on Bukit Timah trees, and primary and secondary forests here.



Google makes first renewable investment in Africa

From Eco seed (3 June 2013):

Google makes first renewable investment in Africa

Internet giant Google has made its first ever renewable energy investment in Africa.

Located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, the $12 million Jasper Power Project has 96 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity.

The P.V. plant will be of the largest installations in the continent when completed, providing clean electricity to approximately 30,000 South African homes.

“South Africa’s strong resources and supportive policies for renewable energy make it an attractive place to invest—which is why it had the highest growth in clean energy investment in the world last year,” wrote Google in a blog post.

The project will be developed and funded by SolarReserve, Intikon Energy and the Kensani Group, and backed by Rand Merchant Bank, the Public Investment Corporation, Development Bank of South Africa and the PEACE Humansrus Trust.

Jasper will allow for the creation of around 300 jobs during the construction and 50 permanent jobs once operational, aiding to the region’s high unemployment rates. In addition, around $26 million of total project revenues will be set aside for rural development and education programs in the area.

“We believe this investment not only makes financial sense, but also has potential to help grow the renewable energy industry and move the world closer to a clean energy future,” said Google, which has committed over $1 billion to renewable energy investments.

It was in 2011 when the company made its first renewable energy investment in an 18.65 MW solar plant in Brandenburg, Germany. Among its other renewable energy projects include the 845 MW Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Arlington, the 161 MW Spinning Spur Wind Farm in Texas and the 88 MW Recurrent Energy solar project in California.

To date, the company’s total nameplate capacity of its renewable energy investments stands at more than 2 GW. Combined, these projects could generate 5.66 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power around 500,000 households. – EcoSeed Staff


Mixed Messages & Media Bias Could Derail or Delay a Cleaner Energy Future

Posted by Ken on June 7, 2013
Posted under Express 192

When watching a recent Sky News broadcast from the United Kingdom, we were shocked at the obvious bias in giving time to a sceptic conservative and suggesting that investing in clean energy would lead to higher energy prices for consumers.  This in spite of the UK Government’s ambitious move to meet its legally binding target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels and in spite of a high level of investment in wind, solar, tide and wave energy. The sceptics and deniers – and some in the media as well – are at work to derail a plan to move faster to a clean energy, low carbon future. Maybe it was a strong appeal from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, but the signs are that the UK Government is losing its way and its will. Read more

UK energy minister attacks climate sceptics as bill set for vote

By Elizabeth Rigby, Jim Pickard and Pilita Clark in Financial Times (3 June 2013):

Ed Davey sought to prove he remained committed to the green agenda on Monday as the energy secretary prepared for a Commons showdown over his refusal to commit to a 2030 green electricity target.

The Liberal Democrat energy secretary lashed out at unnamed “sections of the press” for giving an uncritical platform to “dangerous” climate sceptics who denied that humans caused global warming.

“This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity-seeking controversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness,” he told a group of scientists and business people at a Met Office event in London.

His attack on climate sceptics, before Tuesday’s vote on the energy bill, prompted a furious response from some MPs. David Davis, a senior Conservative backbencher, described his remarks as “astonishing”.

“The last thing Britain needs at a time of rising energy bills is an energy minister who uses dodgy statistics and alarmist rhetoric to justify even more massively flawed green energy policies,” he said.

The speech was aimed in part at persuading Lib Dem backbenchers against supporting an amendment to his energy bill on Tuesday which would commit the UK to near carbon-free electricity generation by 2030.

Mr Davey last year gave into pressure from George Osborne, chancellor, and delayed a commitment for almost all energy to be generated from low-carbon sources such as wind and nuclear by 2030 – much to the dismay of his own party.

The coalition will face a substantial rebellion today as at least a dozen Lib Dems join forces with Labour, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru to support the amendment tabled by Tim Yeo, the green-minded former Conservative minister and chair of the energy select committee, calling for the 2030 target.

Mr Yeo said David Cameron’s majority could be whittled down to just 20. “This could be seen as an encouragement to the House of Lords to take up the fight,” he said.

The energy secretary will rely on Tory MPs to vote down the amendment. Peter Lilley, a Tory backbencher, said the 2030 commitment should be rejected because it was impractical to remove carbon from Britain’s electricity market in such a short timescale.

“We shouldn’t legislate for the impossible in the hope that it will become possible,” said the MP, who sits on the energy select committee.

Mr Lilley, who is also a member of Downing Street’s parliamentary advisory board, said the rollout of renewables would not be enough to meet Britain’s energy needs while the nuclear programme had been “disappointingly slow”.

Mr Lilley, an outspoken critic of the renewables industry, said Britain’s looming energy crunch had been delayed by the recession, giving some breathing space. But he warned: “We have ended up with a spaghetti of regulation, subsidy, tax and controls which this energy bill merely compounds.”