Archive for the ‘Express 193’ Category

Profile: Dorjee Sun

Posted by Ken on June 22, 2013
Posted under Express 193

Profile: Dorjee Sun

As a campaigner against deforestation and founder of Carbon Conservation, Dorjee Sun has been on about the Indonesian Burning Season for a few years. Now it is worse than ever for the health and environments of South East Asia. Deforestation is bad enough – it accounts for 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – now the very health of its people is at stake. What does he think needs to be done to stop the burning? Read More

We asked Dorjee Sun, a long time campaigner for avoided deforestation and producer of the film “The Burning Season”, for his thoughts on the “haze” issue and what can be done to end the burning and attend to the health and environmental consequences, not just for Singapore but the rest of South Asia and ultimately the world..

From Hong Kong, where Dorjee went to get away from Singapore’s all pervasive air pollution from the Indonesian fires, he sent this considered report on what he titles “HAZE 9-11”:

Dorjee Sun for ABC Carbon Express (21 June 2013):

HAZE 9-11: As a pragmatic environmentalist and a solutions oriented person, the current finger pointing and combative rhetoric by all parties is not the path to constructive long lasting solutions in my humble opinion.

Rather we must build deep, open, honest and transparent collaborations for the next decade and beyond, and use this ‘HAZE 9-11′ as a Pearl Harbour or black swan event that will never be forgotten but will be used as the motivation to find lasting solutions and that rarest of commodities; ‘long lasting political will’ in companies, communities and government to finally solve this persistent and recurring problem. ‘Lest we forget’.

Carbon Conservation has been working on avoided deforestation, stopping the haze and helping industry towards a more sustainable business model for 7 years and worked in Indonesia for nearly this whole period. The sad fact is that behind the 2 super powers of America and China, Indonesia is the THIRD biggest emitter of greenhouse gases simply because of this forest clearing and burning.

So how do we solve this? Firstly, I believe that this is a man-made problem and thus is absolutely solvable. Let me repeat – ‘Yes we can solve this problem’. I don’t buy into the naysayers who say fires will always burn and I absolutely believe that where there is a will there is a way.

But to find the right solutions we need to be open-minded and collaborative with all stakeholders. We all just need to ‘stay calm and carry on’.

We need to look at and evaluate all possible options – both ‘carrots and sticks’. From ‘carrots’ or payments to the people on the ground to value and protect the peat-lands and forests and exploring innovative ideas like incentivizing forest stewardship and fire avoidance by rewarding those communities for the years where there are reduced or no hotspots and reduced or no haze.

This then could possibly be even parlayed into a regional carbon market hub in Singapore where companies buy carbon credits to offset their footprint by buying anti-haze community carbon credits.

We actually have a pilot project in Riau that would protect deep peat forest and could avoid the fires in the critical Kampar Peninsula peat dome area on the Sumatra island where the haze is originating from but were unable to raise finance in 2009-10. Now with other industry partners I hope to re-launch this effort and possibly build a bigger regional area of protection.

In terms of the viability of a Singapore based regional carbon market for anti-haze carbon, please note that Shenzhen just launched a regional Chinese domestic carbon market this week and in 2009 the USA (under the Waxman Markey Bill), the world came within inches of a market policy that would have included forest carbon within its trading boundaries.

Ironically and interestingly, the voluntary market report which was released just 2 days ago showed that voluntary markets are healthier than compliance markets with average 2012 prices of US$5.90 per tonne down  only a fraction from US$6.20 in 2011 and traded volumes were actually up about 4% to 101 million tonnes.

Solutions could also involve the recognition of products carrying supply chain inputs from the burning areas and also identification of owners of the offending concessions, if but just to allow consumers to discern and decide where to spend their dollars.

The solutions might also involve encouraging the Indonesian Government to consider domestic ‘sticks’ or enforcement of ‘zero burn’ laws which Indonesia has but doesn’t widely enforce. Or perhaps just allowing the ability for Singapore to mobilize water bombing efforts in circumstances of such serious haze. At what point can a country defend its sovereign right to clean air for its kids?

But before all of this, first, there needs to be building of trusted and transparent sharing relationships where we come together to find mutually agreeable solutions. Unless we see the common win-wins of all our children enjoying fresh air and economic development then our efforts will be doomed to failure. And indeed the rift of ‘us versus them’ or ‘rich dad, poor dad’ will grow ever deeper when in actuality we should all be prospering together.

The best example of global solutions was the Montreal Protocol and a bilateral example is where Australia will send fire-fighters to California to help fight their bush fires in the Australian winter. Unfortunately, probably the most notable failed example is the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen UNFCCC summit.

But there is a silver lining in this terrible HAZE 9-11. Seven years ago, when grisly images of burnt orangu-tans and devastated forest areas first moved my team and I to raise finance for forest carbon and motivated Carbon Conservation’s first forest projects in Indonesia, what we lacked was the momentum, awareness and sustained interest of society. We asked: ‘How could we rally the importance of this issue?’

Well now environmentalists have the momentum, the attention and support of society and so we must operate in pragmatic, realistic, achievable and transparent rational steps.

The simple fact is that we operate in a capitalist world with multiple sovereign governments representing different voter bases but we all must recognise that we are bound by some common questions: What wealth is worth having? What is the value of economic development or wealth if your children (in both Indonesia and Singapore) develop massive systemic respiratory problems?

How do we put a value on clean air and on the protection of standing forest when it is 20 times cheaper to burn to clear land? What is the true economic equation if the US$25billion per year industry of tourism is crippled in Singapore by not protecting forests and Marina Bay becomes Mordor? And at what point do we truly fight for what’s right?

Sometimes it takes a crisis to solve a crisis and I think with HAZE 9 -11 that time has finally arrived.’

Dorjee Sun, Director of Carbon Conservation and Carbon Agro.

The business of saving the planet

This article by Steve Colquhoun appeared last month in the Sydney Morning Herald (31 May 2013):


Dorjee Sun is both an optimist and realist when it comes to attempts to save the world’s rainforests and their inhabitants from being ravaged.

The chief executive of the Carbon Conservation organisation knows the forces of profit and demand are arrayed against his team’s efforts to protect endangered and highly sensitive ecosystems, and that the carbon credits system that was supposed to assist isn’t doing so.

“We aren’t going to change the system we currently have, so we have to play within the parameters of that system,” he says.

“What I hope to do is convince governments, consumers, as well as companies that we can have a sustainable world as well as a profitable and prosperous world.”

Part of the problem continues to be public apathy. “It’s like the world is asleep and every time there is a catastrophe or a calamity, some people wake up, but a lot of people still hit the snooze button and go to bed while the clock keeps ticking,” he says.

Tempering his frustration is the elation that comes with small but important victories. His team worked to protect a forest in Aceh, Indonesia that contains tigers, rhinos, elephants, orangutan and leopards.

After knocking on more than 200 doors, they finally arranged for investment bank Merrill Lynch to provide $432 million in carbon credits to protect the forest.

However, with the virtual collapse of the carbon trading market during the 2008 global financial crisis, another plan was needed. A deal was struck with a gold mining company to hand over 1 per cent of the forest to mining in return for saving 99 per cent for conservation.

“After we did that deal we did receive a lot of criticism … but we had to do it. No regrets,” Sun says.

Carbon Conservation is also a minority holder in a deal to protect a 200,000 hectare timber concession in the Congo basin that is home to 500 lowland gorillas.

“I’m realistic and optimistic. I still think we can do this,” Sun says.

“Every day the key philosophy is you wake up, you give it 100 per cent, you don’t give up, failure only is if you never try. As long as I go to bed feeling like I’ve tried my hardest then I can’t fault whether or not we win or lose.”

Read more:


Dorjee Sun is CEO of Carbon Conservation and is passionate about forests, community development, conservation and climate change. He started Carbon Conservation to finance the preservation of tropical rainforests and provide carbon credit revenues to local communities via Avoided Deforestation.

Dorjee was the founder of a recruitment software company with offices in Melbourne and London (exited 2003), and an award winning education company which mentored over 25,000 students through Sydney and Melbourne offices in 2004 (later acquired by an ASX listed company). His interest in animation and webTV led to the founding of the creative agency Joosed, producing HoneyRoasted TV, the first Asian-Australian TV series and over 50 TV commercials for global clients.

With an interest in viral marketing and social media software, Dorjee started, a software company building virtual villages for business and government. The company’s projects include, the world’s first asian youth pop-culture collaborative community (with webTV and a peer production platform) and focusing on youth car culture.

Graduating from the University Of New South Wales (UNSW) with degrees in Law and Commerce and a Diploma in Asian Studies, Dorjee studied at Peking University in China on a 2 year scholarship. He has served as a University of Melbourne Asialink Asia Australia Leader , Youth Chair of the Ethnic Communities Council at both national and state levels, University Law Society President and as a menber of the Education Technology Advisory Board.

He has spoken at the Future Summit, AsiaConnect, The World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and participated at the Australian Davos Leadership retreat and other think-tanks.


Carbon Agro is a privately held company which was founded in Singapore in 2008. During the past 4-5 years, it has focused its investments and activities in South East Asia. Currently the group is Headquartered in Singapore. The group was setup to invest and develop environmentally sustainable and commercially sustainable projects and business. The founders and shareholders believe that business does not have to come at the expense of the environment and more importantly an environmentally sustainable and responsible business can be equally commercial or even more viable.

Focusing on clean technologies, Carbon Agro has focused it activities on the use of biomass across the region. Our first project was a Oil Palm Empty Fruit Bunch co-generation power plant for a ply mill factory in project in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Subsequently has successfully implement Oil Palm composting systems in Sumatra Indonesia and is seeing growing demand for is various Biomass technology solutions.

Carbon Agro is currently investing with clients to fully integrated Oil Palm waste management solution which include the holistic use of mill waste streams such as POME, EFB, Boiler Ash, incorporating composting, biogas digestion technologies into integrated waste management solutions. Carbon Agro has strong pipeline of projects and looks to be expanding organically as well as through partnerships and investments.

Carbon Agro has been investing in Zero Waste Aerated Bunker (ZWAB) composting system as it is the only system to utilize up to 100% of mill POME during its composting process. It is also unique in being fully registered as a program of activity for GHG abatement under the UNFCCC clean development mechanism. Carbon Agro has ZWAB sites under development and deployment in Indonesia and Malaysia and has also deployed our first Composting Site in Latin America.

​Carbon Agro continues to seek optimal waste management solutions for the Oil Palm Sector that achieve maximum nutrient recycling and reduces GHGs. Where appropriate Carbon Agro also looks to providing clean energy via biogas or biomass power plant for Palm Oil Mills.


Fires from Slash & Burn Threaten Lives & Livelihood

Posted by Ken on June 22, 2013
Posted under Express 193

Fires from Slash & Burn Threaten Lives & Livelihood

The annual air pollution hazard – called simply “haze” by most – has once again descended on the island of Singapore and parts of Malaysia. A result of the slash-and-burn technique used for land clearing on neighbouring islands in Indonesia, the all-pervasive smoke has broken the previous high for dangerously unhealthy air recorded in 1997, leading to finger-pointing by the people and governments of Singapore and Indonesia. How bad will it get before companies and Governments take real action against the culprits? Read more

Dangerously high haze levels in Singapore limit outdoor activity.

Julie Noce reports for AFP News (19 June 2013):

Smog from forest fires in Indonesia stayed at unhealthy levels in Singapore on Tuesday as the two neighbours blamed each other for the seasonal problem.

Singapore’s Pollutant Standards Index stood at 115 as offices opened — still above the “unhealthy” threshold of 100 but down from the peak reached late Monday when the entire island was shrouded by a smoky haze.

Most commuters walked in bright sunshine on Tuesday without covering their faces despite the lingering smell of burnt wood in the business district.

The Ministry of Manpower has urged employers to issue protective masks to staff with heart and respiratory problems, and those working outdoors. The elderly and children have also been told to reduce strenuous outdoor activity.

The pollutant index soared to a peak of 155 late Monday, the highest since Southeast Asia’s prolonged haze crisis in 1997-1998, but eased off overnight.

On Monday, Singapore urged Indonesia to take “urgent measures” to tackle its forest fires as smoke blown from Sumatra island choked the densely populated city-state as well as parts of Malaysia.

But the Indonesian forestry ministry said firefighters were already tackling the blazes and water-dropping aircraft would be deployed if local governors made a request.

A ministry official, Hadi Daryanto, also attempted to shift some of the blame onto Malaysia and Singapore, saying their palm oil companies that had invested in Indonesia were also responsible.

“The slash-and-burn technique being used is the cheapest land-clearing method and it is not only used by local farmers, but also employees of palm oil investors including Singaporean and Malaysian companies,” he said.

“We hope the governments of Malaysia and Singapore will tell their investors to adopt proper measures so we can solve this problem together.”

But Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s minister for environment and water resources, kept up the pressure on Indonesia.

In remarks carried Tuesday by Singapore media, he said “commercial interests in Indonesia have been allowed to override environmental concerns.”

He repeated an offer of help from Singapore, which has a modern military and civil defence system including firefighters.

The Singapore military came to Indonesia’s aid after Aceh province was devastated by a tsunami in 2004.


Not act of nature but man-made: NEA chief


By Zakir Hussain Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta Straits Times (21 June 2013):

THE haze triggered by fires raging across Sumatra is not an act of nature, but man-made, National Environment Agency (NEA) chief executive Andrew Tan said yesterday.

Hence, Indonesia needs to take more decisive action against errant companies, Mr Tan told The Times, echoing remarks he made at a two-hour meeting held here yesterday afternoon between Singapore officials and their Indonesian counterparts.

Singapore, he added, could work together with Indonesia to map its satellite images of hot spots onto land concession maps of affected areas in Sumatra, and track those responsible.

“I urged Indonesia to take more decisive action, because the situation is likely to deteriorate in the next few weeks and at the onset of the dry season if no further efforts are taken,” he said.

“We registered that given the weather conditions, the burning actions are man-made and therefore can and should be averted. We pressed them to take our concerns seriously.”

The emergency meeting at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry followed telephone calls between foreign and environment ministers from both countries on Tuesday. In addition, Singapore’s Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishman is due to travel to Jakarta today.

Singapore’s Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit a record high of 371 at 1pm yesterday, an hour before the Jakarta meeting began.

“On Singapore’s part, we conveyed the very serious concerns that Singaporeans have over the deteriorating haze situation… how this was unprecedented and (how) PSI levels deteriorated very quickly,” Mr Tan said.

“(We) are now at a stage where air quality is at hazardous levels. So we can’t take this lightly.”

Singapore also proposed to bring forward a sub-regional ministerial meeting on transboundary haze set for August, he said.

Indonesian officials were asked to share if they have information about Singapore companies involved in illegal burning so that Singapore can act as well.

“We had a frank discussion with host agencies,” Mr Tan said.

The Singapore side was updated regarding a ministerial meeting yesterday morning that saw a national task force on haze being set up. Measures agreed on included stepping up firefighting efforts and enforcement against errant firms. Immediate steps included cloud-seeding to induce rain.

The task force, chaired by Coordinating Welfare Minister Agung Laksono, includes the ministers for foreign affairs, the environment and forestry. Mr Agung told reporters that cloud-seeding would take place as soon as it was feasible, starting today. The salt is ready, the planes are in place, he said, but there must be clouds.

He noted that the burning was not always above ground. Some 850ha of land had been ablaze in recent days, and fires in some 650ha had been put out, he said.

The government is investigating which companies are responsible and will take action against those found culpable. “But there must be a process,” he said.


Why naming and shaming might help fight haze

By Jessica Cheam in The Straits Times (21 June 2013):

Singapore, the clean and green garden city, turned hazy and grey this week when winds blew in the thick smog caused by more than 100 hot spots over Sumatra.

The haze that enveloped the Republic was the worst in history, hitting a record of 371 on the Pollutant Standards Index yesterday, curtailing outdoor activities across the island.

Indonesian officials say the huge tracts of land around the coastal city of Dumai – located on the coast of the Strait of Malacca that faces Singapore – have caught fire due to the early hot season.

Farmers are also using their ‘slash and burn’ methods to clear plantations – an established practice for many smallholder farmers who regard it was the easiest, low-cost method although with exacting environment and public health costs.

Such a phenomenon is not rare in this part of the world, which has been plagued by transboundary haze pollution for many years, although the seriousness of the haze varies from year to year.

As the haze worsened, Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan had tougher words for Indonesia. “No country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans’ health and wellbeing,” he wrote on Wednesday night.

The Asean bloc has tried to address the haze pollution for more than a decade with limited success. Each year, its ministers meet to discuss the issue and pledge cooperation on tackling it. There has been some progress such as in Jambi province, where Singapore and Indonesia worked together to implement steps to address forest fires.

But notably, the 2002 Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, which legally binds countries to prevent and control haze, has not been ratified by Indonesia, rendering it toothless because most of the burning originates there.

Indonesia has taken umbrage at suggestions it has not done enough, but over the years, it has been relatively ineffective in enforcing and prosecuting those who start the forest fires. Short of engaging ministers in more talk, Singapore and Malaysia  have their hands tied as the burning is not in their territory.

Satellite technology pin-pointing the exact locations are also useful, but without being able to match the coordinates to land owners, culprits remain unexposed.

So, what options do we have?

If the authorities are unable to make progress, then commercial and public pressure could be the key to addressing the problem.
Singapore has now called on Indonesia to publish the concession maps that will show which companies own the burning spots. Indonesia has suggested that it was Malaysian and Singaporean palm oil companies behind the hot spots, and has since said it will check and “then we will coordinate”.

This is a long overdue move, and governments, non-governmental organisations and wider society must put pressure for such information to be made transparent.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan hinted as much when he said: “I am sure consumers will know what to do.”

In other words, the power to stop this lies with us.

When I say “us”, I mean not just Singaporean consumers – as we are only a small country with limited buying power – but the wider international community, because the haze pollution knows no borders.
We might suffer most of it due to our proximity to the burning, but the larger concern is the huge amounts of carbon emissions the burning is adding to the atmosphere, worsening climate change and destroying biodiversity.

As educated consumers, we have the capacity to demand that companies conduct their business responsibly and without detriment to the wider public. This includes ensuring that their entire supply chain is operated in a sustainable manner.

To some extent, this has already been demonstrated in campaigns by environmental groups against major palm oil players. A recent Greenpeace campaign targeting consumer giants like Unilever and Nestle, for example, has led to these companies dropping Singapore-listed Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) as a supplier.

The storm of public criticism had forced Unilever and Nestle to relook their supply chains and in turn, forced players like GAR to clean up their act. GAR has since engaged external parties such as the Forest Trust to look into their operations, and Unilever has also resumed buying from it.

It is unrealistic to expect these companies to clean up overnight, but at least there is a process of improvement.

Locals reports have since quoted Wilmar International as saying that they have a zero-burning policy, although it “cannot prevent local practices of slash-and-burn for agricultural and other purposes”.

This is simply not good enough.

We need to apply more public pressure to ensure these companies are responsible for what happens on their land. Saying it cannot be controlled just shows that you simply aren’t trying hard enough.

In the current era of technological innovations and crowd-sourcing, it is also difficult to withhold information from the public.
It is then up to us to demand these firms to do the right thing. After all, we are the shareholders who buy their stock and the consumers who buy their products.

Companies can no longer escape the public eye of scrutiny and think they can get away with anything less than responsible action.

The business practices of all palm oil companies who own forest land should be examined by the wider international community and we should mobilise people power to launch even more campaigns that will force companies to change the way they do things. Singapore is capable of that – witness the recent protests against the population white paper and the change in website licensing.

Sure, the issue is far more complex and involves challenges such as the size of forest land involved, and the ability to reach and educate smallholder farmers. These farmers are also trapped by the lack of alternative economic options, and there is an obvious absence of local law enforcement.

But that is precisely why action has to be taken sooner rather than later.

This is the only way to make progress on this problem. Sooner or later, the rain will wash away the smog and the skies will clear again. But even though we may no longer see it, the haze problem still exists.

And it will never go away until we take the necessary steps to address it.

Source: and

Emissions Trading Scheme Underway in China

Posted by Ken on June 22, 2013
Posted under Express 193

Emissions Trading Scheme Underway in China

China has stepped up its game in tackling the issue of climate change, energy security and air pollution. The world’s second largest emissions trading scheme has just came online in the city of Shenzhen, the first of seven planned Chinese pilot emission trading schemes. This, in addition to China already being the largest investor in renewable energy, with the largest installed capacity of wind power and the largest producer of solar modules. Read more

By Erwin Jackson in Renew Economy (18 June 2013):

The first of the seven planned Chinese pilot emission trading schemes, in Shenzhen, is to be launched today. While China has been indirectly pricing carbon for years, this scheme will be its first mandatory carbon market.

Second largest emissions trading scheme in the world

Pilot emission trading schemes are planned to start this year in Beijing, Chongqing, Guangdong, Hubei, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin.

These pilots are expected to cover around 700 million tonnes of CO2-e by 2014, which is a fraction of China’s total emissions, yet are still very significant. By comparison, Australia’s carbon price covers around 380 million tonnes, California’s 165 million tonnes and Europe’s 2.1 billion tonnes. (See Table 2 for comparison with Australia.) China plans to implement a national scheme around 2016 based on the lessons learned from the pilot schemes.

China is implementing a range of policies to address climate change, energy security and air pollution. If projections are accurate, these policies (see list of efforts on page 2) since 2005 will deliver a reduction in emissions of 4.5 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2020. This would be the largest single absolute reduction for any country in the history of action on climate change, and would equivalent of closing 1,000 500MW coal-fired power stations for a year.

Note also that China’s unabated appetite for coal is overstated. China has been the world’s largest investor in coal over the last decade but the nation’s energy use is undergoing significant change.

In 2011 coal plant investment was less than half of what it was in 2005. Inefficient coal generation have been progressive closed and last year coal consumption grew only 2.5 per cent compared to nearly 12 per cent in 2011.

Renewable energy accounted for over 19 per cent of generation in 2012 and combined with nuclear, accounted for over 90 per cent of all electricity generation growth last year.

Spotlight on Shenzhen

Shenzhen is one of the China’s Special Economic Zones, located next to Hong Kong. It is home to around 11 million permanent residents. The region is seeking too to build an advanced carbon finance centre. In 2011, its GDP was around $178 billion and per capita incomes were around $17,000.

Total emissions are estimated to be around 83 million tonnes in 2010 (compared to around 570 million in Australia).

Rules will differ between the pilot schemes to allow China to experiment with different emission trading scheme designs (see table 1). Shenzhen has committed to reduce the emissions intensity of its economy by 21 per cent below 2010 levels by 2015. Like the schemes in other major economics, Shenzhen’s market has an absolute emission limit.

This is around 32 million tonnes. This distinguishes it and other schemes from New Zealand’s emission market or the Coalition’s Emission Reduction Fund, which do not have a regulated cap on emissions.

The scheme will cover all companies with emissions over 20,000 tonnes of CO2-e and around 40 per cent of total emissions. It covers 26 sectors, including electricity and natural gas, water supply and industrial manufacturing.

Initially emission permits will be allocated to companies for free but this will be progressively reduced through time and income from the carbon price to be used to support the development of new carbon reduction technologies and projects.

Companies that pollute more than they are allowed will have to buy credits from those that reduce emissions below their targets. Companies will be charged three times the market price for each tonne of CO2 they emit over their cap if they fail to deliver enough credits. It is unclear at this point whether carbon prices for traded units will be public in the short-term.

Reasons for action

Chinese officials have cited numerous reasons for their climate action, including an effort to build energy security, reduce air pollution, foster new industries and contribute to global emission reductions. China’s significant investment in clean energy, for instance, has helped the emerging economy leapt ahead of countries like the United States in its ranking among the G20 nations in its ability to compete in a global low carbon economy. This year China ranked 3rd, up from 7th last year. If China had not increased its clean energy investments, it would be in 8th place.

Renewable energy in particular has had exponential growth. From having virtually no industry in 2005, China now has the largest installed capacity of wind power in the world and is the world’s largest producer of solar modules. China is now the world’s largest investor in renewable energy with around $65 billion invested in 2012. Between 2009 and 2011, China invested more money in renewable energy than it did in coal fired generation.

Is it enough?

Despite China’s recent efforts under current energy projections, emissions and coal use will keep growing until at least 2020. This is not inconsistent with a world seeking to avoid a 2°C increase in global temperature as long as an emissions peak by around this time.

Erwin Jackson is Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute


What’s in the Wind? Vestas Has the Facts on Cleaner Energy

Posted by Ken on June 22, 2013
Posted under Express 193

What’s in the Wind? Vestas Has the Facts on Cleaner Energy

Wind power sometimes gets a bad rap, with unfounded claims such as the health risks from infrasound produced by wind turbines. Such unfounded claims  are gaining wider acceptance, so much so that Vestas, the largest global manufacturer of wind turbines, has found it necessary to launch a global campaign entitled “Act on Facts”. Read more

Wind power faces a formidable opponent

By Tristan Edis in Climate Spectator (18 June 2013):

Vestas, the largest global manufacturer of wind turbines has chosen Australia to launch a global campaign against wind power misinformation entitled Act on Facts.  The campaign involving the website appears to stem from a frustration that unfounded concerns or half truths about wind farms are managing to spread and become accepted by an important segment of the community.

According to Vestas’ public affairs director in Australia, Ken McAlpine, a number of groups opposed to wind farms,

“don’t observe rules of civilised debate, they are not particularly interested in facts and they have been doing it for years … They have been able to achieve change at a state policy level and there is a risk they will be able to do it at federal level as well”

McAlpine said Vestas felt the need to seize the initiative stating,

“Wind energy is the only thing we do and we see this as such a threat to our business that we have to step up and change the game … we are taking some risks and working with people we have never worked with before but we have to do something different because what we have been doing so far hasn’t worked.”

It seems extraordinary that Vestas feels the need to launch such a campaign in Australia – one of the smaller markets for wind turbines globally and one where support for wind farms is actually quite high. Most recently in a survey held over June 13-16 by Essential Research found 76% of the people surveyed supported the building of wind farms in Australia. Only 11% opposed them with rest responding don’t know. This is similar to other surveys that examine Australia’s preferences surrounding energy sources, such as the long-running survey conducted by the Climate Institute.

However in spite of this broad-based support, they have some formidable opponents.

They are formidable because a number of them carry significant influence amongst the conservative Coalition. In addition when you represent change to the established status quo, it really only takes a small number of people who are loud, persistent and determined to make life extremely difficult.

Some of the opponents have an understandable and entirely legitimate concern that wind farms proposed nearby to where they live will interfere with their view, increase noise and may possibly cause other problems.  These people don’t necessary hate wind farms, they just aren’t convinced that wind farms are important enough that their amenity should be compromised.  Or at the very least they believe they should be compensated for any loss of amenity.

However such people can be recruited or influenced by others whose opposition to wind farms is far broader and deeper. This is where things get very difficult and almost beyond any form of civilised discussion.

For some it’s about political ideology – they don’t like the idea of government intervention and feel the problem of climate change isn’t justification for replacing fossil fuels with a more expensive, and less controllable source of energy.  At its most rational some of them do accept climate change as a legitimate concern, but think subsidising renewable energy is the wrong way to address the problem. A number of these people can also be subject to civilised rational discussion.  But many are utterly uninterested in a discussion about pro’s and con’s.  Instead they are determined to stop wind farms and are prepared to use any means necessary.

Then there are those whose opposition almost borders on religious fervour and anger.  These people see themselves as victims of a conspiracy of elite interests which includes wind farms but can extend to the carbon tax, banks, even fluoridation of water. Such people can be recruited to provide grass-roots for the ideological warriors.

The anti wind farm rally being held in Canberra today is following a very similar campaign to that involved in opposing the carbon tax. Again you have shock jock, Alan Jones front and centre whipping up the frenzy.  Trying to combat such a scare campaign is incredibly difficult, as the Gillard Government can attest.

But what should be very concerning to the wind industry is that Nick Xenophon was willing to get involved. Xenophon is not normally aligned with the loony right and is often quite clever about the battles he chooses to take on. Xenophon is reasonably likely to hold the balance of power in the next Senate and could be pivotal in any decisions on the Renewable Energy Target.

Xenophon’s attitudes represent the ultimate test for the wind industry in its efforts to combat misinformation surrounding wind power.


Climate Change Impacts: Where the World Bank Wants to Put its Money

Posted by Ken on June 22, 2013
Posted under Express 193


Floods cause devastation in India. Again! While climate change is expected to affect every single being in every corner of the world, the effects may not be felt evenly. Asian cities like Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh, are expected to bear the brunt of the impact as sea levels rise, tropical storms intensify and rainfalls more sporadic and intense. The World Bank is beginning to commit billions of dollars in flood and water management, and this could not have come sooner as effects are beginning to be felt even today. The World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says it now looks at the effect on climate change of all of its lending decisions, though finding the right answers isn’t always easy. Read more

Climate change threatens trouble in the near future, World Bank says

By Howard Schneider in Washington Post (19 June 2013):

The World Bank is beginning to commit billions of dollars to flood prevention, water management and other projects to help major Asian cities avoid the expected impact of climate change, a dramatic example of how short the horizon has become to alleviate the effects of global warming.

Places such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City are now considered “hot spots” that will bear the brunt of the impact as sea levels rise, tropical storms become more violent, and rainfall becomes both more sporadic and — in the rainy season — more intense.

Bank officials said this week that those effects are not considered a distant risk anymore, but rather are a near certainty “in our planning period” of the next 20 years or so.

In a study released Wednesday, the bank, for example, projected that major portions of Bangkok would be flooded by 2030. A flood control system built for Ho Chi Minh City only a decade ago is now considered inadequate and needs a $2 billion overhaul, said Rachel Kyte, the bank’s vice president for the environment and sustainable development.

The system “was built for a scenario that no longer exists,” Kyte said. “The investment they made is obsolete” for the sea level rise projected in coming years — about half a foot by 2030 under current projections, and double that a decade later.

World leaders have committed to try to curb greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit the global temperature increase to about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius. A World Bank report last year projected that the world is on pace for an increase of perhaps twice that over the next century — potentially devastating water and food supplies in some parts of the world and leading to tens of millions of refugees fleeing a degraded environment.

But that dire prediction of a hundred years off still seemed “a long way away,” Kyte said, so the bank commissioned a follow-up report to look at what is likely to happen in the next few years as global temperatures move towards the 2-degree-Celsius increase.

The impact is substantial, and falls most heavily on less developed nations in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as parts of Asia most prone to flooding and harsh tropical storms.

In Africa, areas relied on for corn and other crops may become too arid to farm, and grazing lands could wither. Bank officials said they are hopeful that advances in crop science and genetics by then will have produced drought-resistant varieties of corn and other plants adaptable to the emerging environment.

In Asia, the threat is from too much water as seas rise, mountain glaciers melt, and intense storms overwhelm urban systems. Rising ocean temperatures and saltwater intrusion into rivers could ruin local fisheries — a key source of protein — in countries such as Vietnam.

The issue has become a main concern for World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who sees it as a chief impediment to alleviating global poverty. The progress of the last 20 years, he argues, could be set back substantially if nations must devote resources to recovering from storms and natural disasters instead of investing in health, education and other services that could boost their societies.

As a result, Kyte said the bank is now focusing much of its planning in some countries on how to build infrastructure and re-engineer cities to better withstand environmental stress.

That might include elaborate dike networks to hold back the rising tide, holding areas that could capture water running downhill after intense rains, or measures to ensure that generators or other critical power equipment are moved out of basements and pumping or other systems are installed to protect major structures.

Among the world’s several development banks, funding for projects to help poorer countries battle climate change rose from $10 billion in 2011 to nearly $25 billion in 2012, Kyte said, and is expected to continue rising.


Climate change will reshape world ‘in our lifetimes’ – World Bank president

Laurie Goering for the Thomson Reuters Foundation (19 June 2013):

LONDON (Thomson  Reuters Foundation) – In fewer than 20 years, climate change impacts – from flooded major cities to crashing food production – threaten to fundamentally reshape the world economy and dramatically worsen human lives, the World Bank’s president warned on Wednesday.

But political will to act on climate change, particularly by major players such as China, is rapidly building, even as U.N.-led climate talks falter, Jim Yong Kim said at a Thomson Reuters discussion in London.

After seeing widespread deaths from pollution last winter, “there’s a new spirit in China,” Kim said. The Asian giant, the world’s largest carbon emitter, is setting “really, really aggressive goals” on curbing climate-changing emissions, and are moving to establish what could be the world’s biggest national carbon market, he said.

Right now, “they’re more serious than any country I know” in terms of acting on climate change, Kim said. That, combined with what he said was strong political will in the White House to address the problem and moves to curb emissions from New Delhi to New York, could add up to changes that will eventually address “the huge bulk of the issue” – even if it’s not happening fast enough, he said.

New Delhi, for instance, now runs its once smoke-belching buses on cleaner – though still not clean enough – natural gas. Hong Kong has halved the number of cars in the city. And in Africa and other regions, climate-smart changes to agriculture are lowering emissions and laying the groundwork to shore up food production.

New York City, which pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2030, now is on track to reach its goal by 2017, Kim said. And Germany is leading the world in growing its economy while reducing its carbon footprint.

“Every country in the world has to move in that direction,” Kim said.


Some of the impetus to action has come from worsening extreme weather that has brought increasingly frequent record-breaking droughts, floods, fires and storms throughout the world.

“I’ve lost count of the number of once-in-a-lifetime events that happened in the last two or three years,” Kim said. Climate change, he said, is particularly playing out in changes in the planet’s water cycles, with some regions getting far too much and others far too little.

In a report on the regional impacts of climate extremes, released on Wednesday by the World Bank, scientists predicted that by 2030, as world temperatures rise by an expected 2 degrees Celsius, 40 percent of the maize farmland in Africa could become unsuitable for growing the crop. The southern Philippines over the same period could see its fisheries fall by half, the report said.

Stunting from malnutrition “is going to be everywhere”, Kim said.

In South Asia, a shifting monsoon is likely to leave some regions underwater, and others in worsening drought, the report said, with major cities like Mumbai, Kolkata and Dhaka also facing increasingly intense cyclones. In Southeast Asia, Bangkok could be underwater by 2030 or 2040, the report said.


“It’s coming unless world leaders do something about it,” Kim warned. “This report should make us lose sleep over what our world will look like in our lifetimes.”

“Climate change is a short and medium term risk to the global economy,” he said. “People think it’s about their grandkids. It’s not.”

The World Bank, he said, now looks at the effect on climate change of all of its lending decisions, he said, though finding the right answers isn’t always easy.

In Liberia, for instance, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has begged the bank for help in increasing the country’s paltry access to energy, in order to attract investment, start industries and provide jobs for former soldiers who remain a threat to the country’s stability while they are unemployed.

That urgency has led the bank to support coal-fired energy projects in Liberia, Kim admitted. “I’m going to try everything I can to avoid investing in coal … but I can’t look Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the eye and say, ‘You have to wait’,” he said.


Kim said he believes the slow-moving U.N. climate change negotiations, which aim to build a new global climate treaty in 2015, to take effect in 2020, are crucial but clearly not enough, and that delaying action on climate change until the new treaty takes effect is “a lame excuse in the face of what we’re about to hand to our children”.

What’s needed is hard work to scale up the climate-friendly changes that are happening now but are insufficient, he said, while continuing to “push our leaders to sign global agreements”.

China’s increasing serious worries about climate change give him some hope for the U.N. process, he said.

“The fact that China is being so aggressive about their own carbon market is a really, really encouraging sign for a global (climate) agreement,” he said. If China, the United States and Europe could form the basis of a world carbon market, then low-carbon investment will surge and “finally, finally we’ll have market mechanisms working to help us deal with climate change”.


Part of what is necessary to drive political action on climate change, he said, is a genuine grassroots movement, something that is currently missing. Action on HIV/AIDS, he said, came only after activists went into national health institutes, threw blood and demanded change.

“I keep asking: ‘Where is the plan for that?’ We don’t have it yet,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like a movement.”

Scientists and climate experts, similarly, have done a poor job at helping people understand the links between extreme weather and climate change, and providing them with answers about what to do to make a difference, beyond what he called “small-bore answers” like installing solar panels.

“We need to put together a plan that is equal to the challenge, and we have not done that yet,” he said. “As extreme weather events continue to happen, I think public opinion is going to change and at that point we need to have a plan.”


Climate Change Impacts: How Much is your Property Worth Now?

Posted by Ken on June 22, 2013
Posted under Express 193

Climate Change Impacts: How Much is your Property Worth Now?

A study by scientists from CSIRO and University of Queensland reveals homeowners could suffer cuts of thousands of dollars from the value of low-lying homes in southeast Queensland due to rising sea levels and intense storms. With proactive adaptation measures, such as raising homes and modifying drainage, homeowners and communities collectively could save billions of dollars. Read more

Queensland property values at risk as sea levels rise due to climate change, CSIRO and University of Queensland say

By Peter Hall in The Courier-Mail (18 June 2013):

RISING sea levels and intense storms will cut thousands of dollars from the value of low-lying homes in southeast Queensland, including Brisbane, according to an Australia-first climate change study.

The Federal Government-funded analysis by scientists from the CSIRO and University of Queensland reveals homeowners and communities collectively could save billions of dollars by acting now to fortify properties and infrastructure.

It factors in sea-level rises of up to 20cm by 2030 and 50cm by 2070.

The study shows some buildings just above the 1-in-100-year flood level are expected to be affected in coming decades, resulting in a minimum 4 per cent price drop.

It advocates “proactive adaptation measures’’, such as raising homes, modifying drainage and banning new development in at-risk areas.

In extreme cases, a retreat to higher ground may be the best option.

Experts concede convincing people to follow the recommendations will be a great challenge.

The study, Housing Shadow Prices in an Inundation-prone Suburb, looks at 4000 sales in an unnamed inner-Brisbane suburb.

The location is described as close to the river but not riverfront and within 5km of the CBD. It contains properties worth up to $5 million.

The research modelled buyers’ willingness to pay for land and homes in the flood-prone area and showed “significant property-price discounting of 5.5 per cent per metre below the defined flood level’’.

Experts say the snapshot could be applied to 61,500 southeast Queensland properties soon expected to be under threat from a 2.5m storm tide.

Project leader Dr Ryan McAllister told The Courier-Mail the main message was it made economic sense to adapt sooner rather than later.

Dr McAllister said previous international studies found property prices in flood areas dropped by 10 per cent to 20 per cent in the short term.

Prices usually bounced back as memories faded but his team’s detailed hedonic modelling had defined additional longer-term price impacts.

“For a house that is already in the flood zone, then 50cm of sea level rise will result in an additional 2.75 per cent of price discounting. How much discounting occurred before sea level rise (SLR) depends on its place in the flood zone,’’ Dr McAllister said.

“For a house that is just above the 1-in-100-year flood level, then 50cm of SLR will result in 4.05 per cent discounting,’’ he said.

Dr McAllister said that while the impacts of climate change would not be catastrophic, there were going to be “some winners and losers’’.

“The study recognises the challenge of convincing residents within exposed areas to participate in adaptation, which would require buy-in from the community,’’ he said.

“Given that in Australia people’s wealth is largely tied up in the family home, we present a strong case to consider the effect of current and future climate risks on net wealth.’’


What the study says:

- For flood-prone urban areas, the prospect of increasing population densities and more frequent extreme weather associated with climate change is alarming

- Proactive adaptation can reduce potential flood risks but convincing residents in exposed areas to participate is challenging

- The results of this study (4000 sales in a flood-prone inner-city Brisbane suburb) show significant property price discounting of 5.5 per cent per metre below the defined flood level

- The suburb is close to the river but not at the riverfront, avoiding problems of disentangling river views from the adverse effects of flooding. Future sea-level rises are expected to proportionately affect local flood risks.

INFORMATION: Housing Shadow Prices in an Inundation-prone Suburb (CSIRO, University of Queensland)


- 20cm is the projection of sea level rise by 2030 and 50cm by 2070

- 227,000 people in southeast Queensland are at risk of inundation from a 1-in-100-year storm tide

- 273,000 will be exposed by 2070

- 35,200 residential buildings in the southeast are at risk from a 2.5m storm tide

- 61,500 properties will be affected by 2030, given current growth levels

- 3.8 million Queenslanders – 85 per cent of the state’s population – live near the coastline.


Business needs to Shift away from the Short-term, Unsustainable Mindset

Posted by Ken on June 22, 2013
Posted under Express 193

Business needs to Shift away from the Short-term, Unsustainable Mindset

A major non-profit group, The B Team, was launched by Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson and Puma chairman Jochen Zeitz, to work on the development of a new set of business values that puts equal importance on people and planet alongside profit. The group aims to redefine the way business operates in order to address the growing challenges businesses and societies face, such as high unemployment, global inequality and the unsustainable use of natural resources. Read more

Richard Branson, Puma’s Zeitz kick off ‘Plan B’ for business

By James Murray in (14 June 2013):

Sir Richard Branson and Puma chairman Jochen Zeitz have launched a major non-profit group, The B Team, to promote a new set of progressive business values that “prioritize people and planet alongside profit.”

The group brings together high profile business and political leaders, including Arianna Huffington, Unilever’s Paul Polman, Ratan Tata of the Tata Group, United Nations Foundation President Kathy Calvin and former Irish President Mary Robinson. These so-called “B Leaders” have pledged to work on the development of a “Plan B for business” that seeks to address the growing challenges businesses and societies face, such as high unemployment, global inequality and the unsustainable use of natural resources.

“Today we want to start a global conversation on a ‘Plan B’ for business,” Branson said in a statement. “We are working with government agencies, the social sector and business leaders to help get on top of some of the world’s seemingly intractable challenges. We are keen to listen, learn and share with others to build businesses that do what’s right for people and the planet.”

Zeitz, responsible for pioneering the development of the world’s first corporate environmental profit and loss accounts at Puma, said the new group’s goal was no less than to redefine the way businesses operate.

“Business is integral to society, but it has also created most of the negative environmental challenges of this century,” he said. “The B Team will help to catalyse a shift away from the existing short-term, unsustainable mindset towards the long-term interest of people, the planet and the wider economy. Tackling these three challenges is a starting point for a ‘Plan B’ to form.”

Does the B Team’s emphasis on people, planet and profit sound familiar?

The precise nature of the group’s work remains vague, but it has set out three challenges that it wants to address as a matter of priority. Working under the banners “Future of Leadership,” “Future Bottom Line” and “Future of Incentives,” the group will investigate how to promote a less short termist and more inclusive approach to corporate leadership, expand corporate accountability to take account of environmental, economic and social impacts and improve corporate and economic incentive structures to remove harmful subsidies and promote responsible behavior.

“The evolution of business leadership away from a focus on short-term profits is essential for the future generation of leaders,” Huffington said. “We need a ‘Plan B’ for the way business is managed, starting with leadership more committed to well-being, wisdom and sustainable business success.”

The group, which hosted a live online broadcast this week to over 200 gatherings in 60 cities around the world, also released a joint declaration setting out its goals and priorities.

“The private sector can and must redefine both its responsibilities and its own terms of success; a Plan B for concerted, positive action that will ensure business becomes a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit,” the group stated, adding that global society faces severe challenges in terms of resource scarcity and continuing inequality. “While there are myriad reasons we’ve arrived at this juncture, much of the blame rests with the principles and practices of ‘business as usual.’

“These are not the outcomes we envisioned as we grew our companies; this is not the dream that inspired us. And the overwhelming conclusion we’ve reached is that businesses have been a major contributor to the problems, and we as business leaders have the responsibility of creating sustainable solutions.”

The declaration stated there was no alternative but for business leaders to develop a new approach, which in many ways would constitute a new form of capitalism.

“Our vision of the future is a world in which the purpose of business is to become a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit,” the declaration states. “Our mission is to help develop a ‘Plan B’ that puts people and planet alongside profit. Plan A — where companies have been driven by the profit motive alone — is no longer acceptable.”

The group also calls on other business leaders to join them and sign up to its vision. “As business leaders, we know that what we’re proposing will be a challenge, or even an affront, to many of our colleagues and competitors,” they said. “But we’re confident that those who choose to work with us will see that in the long run, what’s better for the planet and its people is also better for business.”


Right Royal Recognition for Olympic Gold Sustainable Event

Posted by Ken on June 22, 2013
Posted under Express 193

Right Royal Recognition for Olympic Gold Sustainable Event

The efforts gone in to make the 2012 Olympic Games the most sustainable ever has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. Chairman of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, Shaun McCarthy, who oversaw sustainability at the Games, was awarded an OBE for services to sustainability. Others honoured for services to the environment include Michael Phillips, former chair of the charity Keep Britain Tidy, and Imperial College Professor James Ferguson is rewarded for his commitment to sustainable energy. Read more

Olympic sustainability guru recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours list

Shaun McCarthy, chairman of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, has been awarded an OBE for services to sustainability

By Marino Donati in Supply Management (17 June 2013):

The man who oversaw sustainability at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Shaun McCarthy, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

McCarthy, chairman of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, has been given the honour for services to sustainability and the Games, which was hailed as the “greenest ever”.

The commission was the independent body set up to monitor and advise on the sustainability of the event, the first such body used in an Olympic games.

As chairman, McCarthy coordinated a team of experts whose remit ranged from waste management to the ethics of corporate sponsorship. The commission’s sustainability goals have been credited with inspiring sustainable practice more widely in the events industry around the world.

McCarthy, who is now a director of social enterprise Action Sustainability, is a regular blogger on the subject of sustainable procurement for Supply Management. As the work of the commission was concluded in March, McCarthy wrote: “I feel proud. In 2005, we started something that had never been done before, we made it work with a minimal budget and a tiny team.” He wrote about the commission’s achievements and also those areas it wasn’t able to “fully address”, particularly the difficult relationship between corporate interests and the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship and matters relating to ethical supply chains.

McCarthy is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, and the Institute of Directors.

He thanked his colleagues at the commission and said his role there was “one of the most challenging, and most rewarding jobs I have ever had, and that includes a stint at BAA during the construction of Terminal 5”.



Individuals from sustainability space recognised in Queen’s birthday honours

By Ilaria Bertini in Blue and Green Tomorrow (17 June 2013):

Individuals who have made important contributions to the sustainability sector, the environment and to communities have been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

The Cabinet Office said, “In total, 72% of awards in the birthday honours list are for people who are actively engaged in charitable or voluntary work within their local community. Philanthropy has once again been a prominent theme among the recipients.”

Malcolm Hayday, founder and former chief executive of Charity Bank, which featured in The Guide to Sustainable Banking 2012, is among those to be recognised. He has been awarded a CBE for “services to charities and social enterprise”, thanks to his commitment to social finance.

Charity Bank chairman George Blunden said, “Malcolm demonstrated that a bank can make long-term loans to small charities safely and therefore address market failures, and that savings can be mobilised from ethical depositors for the purpose”.

David Hutchison, CEO of Social Finance UK, and Jane Platt, chief executive of National Savings and Investments (NS&I), are given OBEs for financial service to the UK, and Christine Farnish, chair of Consumer Focus, is rewarded for her contribution to financial and consumer services.

Among people whose service to the environment has been recognised is Michael Phillips, former chair of the charity Keep Britain Tidy, and Michael Quicke, chief executive of the CCLA and former chair of the National Trust’s investment committee, who has seen his service to the “national heritage” of the UK recognised.

Quicke said, “In my opinion, the National Trust is one of the greatest British organisations, contributing to the culture of this country in countless ways.”

Meanwhile, Shaun McCarthy, chair of the Commission for Sustainable London 2012 is recognised for services to sustainability and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Imperial College professor James Ferguson is rewarded for his commitment to sustainable energy.


Climate Change Impact: Summer Rain in Britain Will Continue for Many Years

Posted by Ken on June 22, 2013
Posted under Express 193

Climate Change Impact: Summer Rain in Britain Will Continue for Many Years

Britain can expect more rainy summers ahead, according to meteorologists. The country is in the midst of a rare weather cycle, known as the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation, which increases the likelihood of increased rainfall each year, making wet summers more likely for the next five to ten years. It is currently unsure how this weather pattern will be affected by climate change in terms of the length of the cycle or its intensity. Read more

Stand by for another DECADE of wet summers, say meteorologists

Climate change may be intensifying the natural cycle and may prolong it, says expert, but it is too early to say

Tom Bawden in The Independent (18 June 2013):

Britain faces ten more years of wet summers, after the Met Office revealed the country is in the midst of a rare weather cycle that increases the prospect of summer rain and could last for two decades.

Since the cycle began in 2007, six of the past seven summers have been wetter than average – with last summer seeing the heaviest rainfall in a century at almost double the seasonal average.

Although the cycle does not guarantee wet summers, it “loads the dice” in favour of increased rainfall each year, making wet summers more likely for the next five to ten years. The prediction is based on the last two times the cycle – known as Atlantic multidecadal oscillation – occurred, in the 1950s and early 1960s and in the 1880s.

“This is a really new and exciting finding,” said Professor Stephen Belcher, head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, of the research by the University of Reading.

“Up to ten years from now the cycle could persist and therefore there is a higher possibility of wet summers,” he added.

Climate change may be intensifying the natural cycle and may prolong it, but it is too early to say for certain, Professor Belcher said.

“Now we are beginning to unpick and understand, we can design experiments to understand whether climate change is playing a role. It could be, we just don’t know – but we now have a clear research path to investigate this,” he said.

The weather cycle is determined, in part, by the way the atmosphere and the North Atlantic Ocean exchange heat, which guides the jet stream.

“It’s the pattern of warm and cold water, it’s the contrast of the warm and the cold, when  that sits in the right place beneath the jet stream, it can kind of steer the jet stream and influence where it goes,” said Professor Belcher.

Scientists are making much of the jet stream and how changes in these strong winds are affecting the weather.

They say the jet stream has generally been travelling much further south in recent years than is normal. The jet stream usually travels north of the UK over the summer, but has often blown to the south in recent years, allowing colder air to come in from the north that reduces temperatures and increases rainfall.

One theory is that the accelerating loss of Arctic ice has reduced the temperature difference between the North Pole and the warmer, mid latitude countries such as the UK.

This has weakened the jet stream, which travel from west to east at speeds of more than 200 miles an hour five to seven miles above the earth’s surface, making it less powerful and more meandering – often in a southerly direction.

Since the Atlantic multi-decadal cycle began, three of the seven summers have seen the triple disappointment of having below average temperatures, below average sunshine and above average rainfall, the Met Office said.

The Met Office gave its qualified warning about the potentially wet summers ahead, following a meeting to discuss whether the unusual weather patterns seen in recent years were in part influenced by climate change.

It convened a group of 25 experts at its head office in Exeter from Universities including Exeter, Leeds, Oxford, Reading and Imperial College London.

In addition to discussing the recent wet summers, they also debated this year’s spring – the coldest in 50 years and the freezing winter in 2010/2011 which included the UK’s coldest December since records began in 1910 with heavy snowfall that caused travel chaos over Christmas.

The Met Office said “there is some evidence to suggest that changes in the Arctic climate may be making an impact” on winter temperatures.

Summing up, Professor Belcher said: “The key question is what is causing the jet stream to shift in this way? There is some research to say some parts of the natural system load the dice to influence certain states of the jet stream, but this loading may be further amplified by climate change.”

The meeting came after the National Farmers’ Union reported that wheat harvests are likely to be around 30 per cent lower than last year as a result of the extreme weather over winter, making it the second below-average harvest in as many years.

Beekeepers have also reported that a third of honeybee colonies failed to survive the winter following last year’s wash-out summer and continuing bad weather into 2013, exacerbated by the late arrival of spring.


Profitable Numbers: 3% Emissions Cut to Keep Below 2 Degree Temperature Rise

Posted by Ken on June 22, 2013
Posted under Express 193

Profitable Numbers: 3% Emissions Cut to Keep Below 2 Degree Temperature Rise

In order to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, corporations will have to cut greenhouse gases emissions by more than one gigaton in less than 10 years, which is a 3% annual reduction. Though highly challenging, companies can profit while making big emissions reduction. The thousands of industry and business actions could create US$780 billion in net present value and US$190 billion in savings in 2020, according to the CDP and WWF report, incorporating models by McKinsey. Read more

How to put ‘The 3% solution’ to work for your carbon projects

By Jonathan Bardelline in (19 June 2013):

For U.S. corporations to get on track with keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, they’ll need to slash carbon emissions by more than one gigaton in less than 10 years.

Instead of looking at that, which translates into a 3-percent annual reduction, as a daunting task, the CDP and WWF want companies to recognize it is a major chance to make big emissions reductions, profitably.

“This is an opportunity we think has been disguising itself as a crisis,” said Steven Swartz, partner at McKinsey & Co., during a GreenBiz webcast on “The 3% Solution” report by CDP and WWF.

Profit through change

For the report, McKinsey modeled thousands of actions that corporations could take, Swartz said. All together, those actions could create $780 billion in net present value and $190 billion in savings in 2020.

Those savings come from four areas: upgraded technology, combined heat and power, behavioral change and solar PV.

Although upgraded technology — which includes only known, proven technology — provides the biggest impact itself, the grand majority of actions involve energy efficiency and behavioral change, Swartz said.

The report aims to show how U.S. companies can contribute to the worldwide target by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to keep global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

What U.S. companies need to do, Swartz said, is reduce emissions so that they’re 25 percent lower than emissions from 1990. Emissions from U.S. companies were 4 gigatons that year, putting the goal at 3 gigatons for 2020. In 2010, emissions for U.S. companies were at 4.1 gigatons. That all means companies need to aim for reducing emissions 3 percent annually, hence the title of the report.

To get started, Swartz said, companies need to take on four types of actions:

1. Improve energy management and investments. Capital expenditure is needed to meet emissions goals, Swartz said, and to get there you need to articulate that these actions are investments in growth, get management to make them a priority and gather the necessary expertise to handle the hundreds of small projects that will be needed.

2. Increase low-carbon energy supplies. The utility sector is the main player in this step, he said.

3. Develop low-carbon products and supply chains. Companies and utilities can greatly shape consumer carbon reductions through low-emission vehicles, cheaper solar PV, efficient appliances and energy management solutions.

4. Engage with stakeholders and government. “This is going to require more than companies acting alone,” Swartz said, “They’re going to have to work in an ecosystem that includes everybody.”

Making calculations

To help corporations get going, the CDP and WWF put together a calculator that takes a few key inputs about a company and produces an emission reduction target, how much capital you’ll likely spend and expected savings.

More important than those other steps, Swartz said, is setting ambitious targets, pointing to research showing that companies that set targets outperform companies that don’t.

S&P 500 companies that report to the CDP and set greenhouse gas reduction targets saw a return on investment an average of 9 percentage points better than companies without goals, he said.

Not only that, CDP co-founder and CEO Paul Simpson said that companies listed in the Climate Performance Leadership Index — those that have the highest scores based on their actions to mitigate climate change — have had consistently higher financial returns in the past two years than companies on the Global 500, a list of the world’s largest companies by revenue.

“If anyone can do this, I really think U.S. companies can do it,” he said.

Jonathan Bardelline is a regular contributor to, where he formerly served as associate editor.