Archive for the ‘Express 196’ Category

Weather report: War on the horizon

Posted by Ken on August 7, 2013
Posted under Express 196

It had to come someday. The latest research that shows climate change is going to generate such anger that it leads to violence, even war. We expected climate refugees. We expected wholesale damage by extreme weather events and displacement of thousands by rising sea waters. We have had many health warnings of what climate change means. We see human deaths increase with higher temperatures even now in the hot seasons. Biodiversity loss and species in decline. Expect the heat to rise and diseases as well. Not a good prognosis and with climate wars on the horizon, worse is to come. This is part of the good, the bad and the plain ugly this issue. But always some hopeful signs.  Like the Australian report that 50% in energy savings which can be achieved in commercial and residential buildings. The advances in sustainability actions – and reporting – by the likes of Capitaland in Singapore and internationally, and the opportunity for carbon farming in the desert using jatropha as a fuel and a sink. More waste-to-energy plants and news of the global car industry taking sustainability to heart. But is it all enough? As the ex EPA bosses in the US are saying: It is urgent. We must do more to mitigate and adapt to climate change. At home and aboard. Maybe it needs us to get onto “war footing”. Listen to Carbon War Room, WWF, Rocky Mountain Institute and Beyond Zero Emissions. It is not a “war of words” we are talking about. This is for real. – Ken Hickson

Last Word: How do you rate in the Twittersphere?

Posted by Ken on August 7, 2013
Posted under Express 196

We are loyal followers of Guardian Sustainable Business and could not resist passing on their list of the 30 most influential sustainability voices in America. Twitter-wise anyway. It is good to see serial climate change advocate, prolific speaker, writer and blogger Bill McKibben at the top. But there are many more you might or might not know or follow. Effective communication is the key and if we have to resort to Tweeting to get our messages across, let’s do it. But remember the Marshall McLuhan adage: “The medium is the message”. Media is a means to communicate, not an end in itself. Read More

Twitter list: the 30 most influential sustainability voices in America

Who is driving and shaping the sustainability conversation in the Twittersphere?

By Jo Confino and Hannah Gould in The Guardian (1 August 2013):

Twitter list: the 30 most influential sustainability voices in America

Ahead of the launch of the US edition of Guardian Sustainable Business, we thought it would be useful to check out the most influential sustainability Twitterati in America.

We turned to communications agency Fishburn Hedges and asked them to do some analysis on which individuals are having the most impact in the online sustainability debate.

As we believe in openness, we thought you too would be interested to see the results. Below are the 30 individuals in the sustainability Twittersphere with the highest Klout score. Klout is calculated using variables that include how many followers you have, who those followers are, and the number of retweets and responses your tweets receive. Measured on a scale from 0 to 100, the closer to 100 your Klout, the more influential you are.

Fishburn excluded organisations as well as full-time journalists, and manually checked that each twitter feed was centred around sustainability and actively engaged with followers.

Obviously, there are other ways of producing a league table, so please do tweet @GuardianSustBiz using #topsust with your suggestions, or join the comments section below and share with us anyone we’ve missed out.

Bill McKibben, @billmckibben, Klout 84

Author, Educator, Environmentalist and Founder of

David Jones, @davidjoneshavas, Klout 80

Global CEO Havas. Co-founder One Young World. Led Kofi Annan’s tcktcktck campaign on Climate Justice. Author, Who Cares Wins. Creator, Social Business Idea.

Clayton Christensen, @claychristensen, Klout 78

Professor at Harvard Business School. Author of @MeasureYourLife. Tweets with occasional assistance from the Fellows at the Forum for Growth & Innovation.

Simon Mainwaring, @simonmainwaring, Klout 73

Author of NYT bestseller We First, founder of social branding firm We First, ex-Nike/Wieden ad creative, blogger, speaker, Dad, Australian.

Susan McPherson, @susanmcp1, Klout 71

Passionate connector who believes biz can be a force for good. SVP at Fenton. Angel Investor. Loves adventure, pups, the ocean & running. Host of #CSRChat

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, @RosabethKanter, Klout 66

Harvard Business School Professor and author of SuperCorp, a look at how a new generation of values-driven businesses do well by doing good.

Gil Friend, @gfriend, Klout 65

Strategic sustainability thought leader, consultant, coach. CEO Natural Logic. Author Truth About Green Business. Blogger.

Jeremy Heimans, @jeremyheimans, Klout 65

CEO/co-founder @Purpose. Co-founder @GetUp, @Avaaz, @AllOut

David Wilcox, @ReachScale, Klout 64

#GettingGoodtoGrow by bringing social entrepreneurs together with corporations. Columnist on CSRwire.

Julie Urlaub, @TaigaCompany, Klout 63

Sustainability & Social Media Consultant at Taiga Company; Social Media Wiz for Green Biz – Breathing life to social communications.

Tony Schwartz, @tonyschwartz, Klout 63

President and CEO, The Energy Project. Author, Be Excellent at Anything. Passionate about transforming the way the world works. Craves depth.

Adam Werbach, @adamwerbach, Klout 63

Co-Founder, , Founder, Saatchi & Saatchi S, Author, Strategy for Sustainability. Correspondent for

Alice Korngold, @alicekorngold, Klout 63

CEO. Author: A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot. Blog @FastCompany #CSR #corpgov #ABetterWorldInc

John Friedman, @JohnFriedman, Klout 63

I help companies live their values & tell their authentic stories. Huffington Post sustainability blogger.

Neil Hawkins, @neilchawkins, Klout 63

VP Sustainability & Environment, Health, & Safety (EH&S) for Dow. Champion for Sustainable Business, Collaboration, and Global Ecosystems. Opinions are mine.

Cynthia Hellen, @CynthiaHellen, Klout 62

Founder & CEO @SMPLCTLab | Writer @socentech | Ambassador and Co-Author @InnovatingWomen

April Rinne, @aprilrinne, Klout 61

Globetrotter. Chief Strategy Officer at Collaborative Lab: @collcons, sharing economy, Collaborative Cities. @YGLVoices. Love life, nature, sunshine, handstands.

Dave Stangis, @DaveStangis, Klout 60

VP Public Affairs/CR. Lead #CSR, #Sustainability, #Community & @CampbellCSR Fndation. Business focus, Bottom-line results. Family man, Runner when time permits.

Bruno Sarda, @bruno68, Klout 59

Global citizen. Sustainability Ops Director for Dell. Adjunct Professor & Consultant for ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability. Views shared here are my own.

Jacob Harold, @jacobcharold, Klout 58

CEO at GuideStar USA; thinking about philanthropy, nonprofits, climate, strategy, design, and other nerdy but important things (writing as me, not GuideStar).

Tim Mohin, @TimMohinAMD, Klout 58

Author of Changing Business from the Inside Out, Director of Corporate Responsibility at AMD. Worked in #CSR at Apple and Intel & policy at EPA and the Senate.

Andrew Winston, @AndrewWinston, Klout 57

Globally recognized business consultant-speaker-writer. Hoping to change minds. Author: Green to Gold, Green Recovery, and The Big Pivot (2014).

Raz Godelnik, @ecolibris, Klout 57

Teaching green business, #csr, #sustainability & new product dev at @UDelaware, @CUNYSPS and @TheNewSchool, writer for @TriplePundit, co-founder of Eco-Libris.

Kevin Moss, @KevinIMoss, Klout 56

Head of BT’s net good programme and passionate about the role of business in society and the environment.

Janelle Heslop, @jayhesl, Klout 56

enviro sustainability & innovation consultant @green_order & @cleantechgroup | engineer | ny’er | christian | jamaican | knicks fan | runner | dancer | martian

Chris MacDonald, @ethicsblogger, Klout 55

Ethics educator, consultant, & speaker who blogs about business ethics, governance, CSR. Among ’100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics’ 4 years running.

James Epstein-Reeves, @jepsteinreeves, Klout 55

Business strategist who helps companies develop & implement the right strategies to build their business. Tweets on leadership, strategy, sustainability, & CSR.

Jacquie Ottman, @jacquelynottman, Klout 54

Green marketing expert and author on a mission to prevent household waste, use resources sustainably. Founder, the global community.

Kate Olsen, @Kate4Good, Klout 54

#socialgood champion, #csr & #generosity blogger, insatiable consumer of content (VP Strategic Projects @Network4Good & @Companies4Good).

Hannah Jones, @hjones_nike, Klout 53

VP of Sustainable Biz & Innovation for Nike Inc; Mum of 2, type 3 diabetic (= mum to type 1 diabetic). Sustainability = worlds greatest innovation challenge!

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Profile: Yolanda Kakabadse

Posted by Ken on August 7, 2013
Posted under Express 196

Walk don’t drive. Use public transport and don’t drive private cars. Get serious about conservation. We must have designated places where only conservation takes place. She is noted for her directness. She advocates people power and led the civil society groups at the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. She became Minister for the Environment in Ecuador.  She is the President of WWF International and will be a keynote speaker at the World Engineers’ Summit in Singapore next month. Read More

To give some insight into the woman who heads WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature – internationally, we turn to an article which appeared in the Australian magazine, The Monthly, last November.

Jo Lennan  in The Monthly (November, 2012)

It’s a bright gem of a Sunday, and Yolanda Kakabadse is outing-ready. Cardigan, scarf, plus a wool coat on one arm. Satchel with camera, water bottle, Listerine strip PocketPak. From her bag swings a key ring with a familiar panda logo.

“That’s what I want to do,” she says, walking downhill on Sydney’s Macquarie Street. She points across a fence to where, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, three kids are climbing a Port Jackson fig. “Exactly what they’re doing.”

Kakabadse, 64, from Ecuador, is the eighth president of the World Wide Fund for Nature. The irony of her role, which is voluntary, is that saving Earth’s wild places means visiting mainly cities. “It’s the majority of my meetings,” says Kakabadse, laughing. “Like when you go to Washington to discuss the forest strategy for the world, and you’re locked up in a room with no windows.”

To get to Sydney, she spent 37 hours in transit from her home city of Quito. Her walking tour must be squeezed in between media commitments, for Sunday offers the advantage of being a slow news day (the day’s biggest story is the rescinding of Alan Jones’s S-class Mercedes), which matters if your message is, say, protecting forests in Borneo.

The rest of her week will be spent mostly in Canberra. Diary items include several speeches and meetings with the prime minister and foreign minister, to impress on them the need for Australia to take a leadership role in conserving the forests and fisheries of the Asia–Pacific region.

Though she’s not seen Sydney before, Kakabadse has been to Perth, for the 1990 congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a body she later headed. “I left without seeing much, except some kangaroos.” Issued with a travel pass, she was surprised by the city’s empty buses. “We were the only people on them. It was a culture of one car, one person.”

She wanders on to the Opera House, for a happy snap with the sails behind. “You’ve got plenty of time,” says Kakabadse’s diary minder, an ex-diplomat named Lyn. “Your TV interview’s been pushed back.”

This means she has maybe an hour. “Super,” says Kakabadse, strolling past the quay’s buskers. She looks on in fascination as a guy ingests a metre-long red balloon. “I love street art,” she says. “It gives you so much flavour of a town.”

Kakabadse wants to know about immigration here. Her father, she says, was a migrant from Soviet Georgia, her mother “a typical Ecuadorean, which means a mix of everything”. At a didgeridoo performance, she asks about Aboriginal Australia. As Ecuador’s environment minister in the late 1990s, Kakabadse put her stamp on indigenous affairs by creating ‘untouchable zones’ around tribes who avoided contact. Ever since she’s wondered whether that was the right thing to do.

Having initially studied psychology, she got into conservation in her 20s, once she sensed something was rotten in Ecuador. “Rivers were polluted. Forests we had been visiting were no longer there.” The cause was oil extraction in the Amazon basin. In 1979 she formed Fundación Natura, which now operates across Latin America. But even then she was as much concerned with improving rural people’s lives as she was with protecting nature. Kakabadse is clear on this. “I am not a radical. My point is we should have designated places for oil extraction, and we must have designated places where only conservation takes place.”

She rose to international prominence during the original Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, where she organised the engagement with civil society groups, from Nepalese women’s collectives to Bulgarian carpenters and even an association of astronauts, who had seen the planet from a different angle.

Does Kakabadse get flak for not being green enough? “We are always criticised for that.” Still, many in the sector have come around to her mindset, including the WWF: whereas in its early years it focused on protecting high-profile species, these days it, too, is “talking the same language” of sustainable development.

On George Street, she spots a jacaranda. “You know where it comes from? The southern part of Brazil and the north of Argentina.” She steps under a sandstone arch to a lane traversing the old Sydney Hospital site. “How nice. The Nurses Walk.” She pauses at a souvenir shop, keen to buy some sheepskin boots for her grandson. Her diary minder, though, is pacing on ahead. Kakabadse commits the shop to memory and hurries on.

At the hotel a Prius awaits, from a green car-hire outfit. “Is the cost of a hybrid here more than a normal car?” she asks the driver, who nods. “Much higher? Is there any subsidy?” The driver replies, “Well, if the car is worth $60–80,000 and has a certain fuel consumption, you’ll get a little bit off the luxury tax.” “Hmm,” says Kakabadse.

Nearing the ABC studios on Harris Street, the city appears as eerily empty as a bus in Perth. At the end of her TV interview, Kakabadse is asked how she feels about the outcome of June’s Rio+20 summit, the sequel to her efforts in 1992. “Terrible,” she says. “It was all: ‘we recognise’, ‘we acknowledge’. Not enough of ‘we commit’.”

Jo Lennan is a writer based in Sydney. She contributes to TIME, the Economist and Intelligent Life.

Source:  and


Yolanda Kakabadse Navarro


Yolanda Kakabadse is WWF’s International President and the former Ecuadorian Minister of Environment.

Career Snapshot

President Kakabadse’s work with the environmental conservation movement officially began in 1979, when she was appointed Executive Director of Fundación Natura in Quito, where she worked until 1990.

During this time she helped Fundación Natura become one of Latin America’s most important environmental organizations and, in 1993, she created Fundacion Futuro Latinoamericano, an organization dedicated to promote the sustainable development of Latin America through conflict prevention and management. She was its Executive President until 2006 and remains as Chair of the Advisory Board.

From 1990 until 1992, Yolanda Kakabadse coordinated the participation of civil society organizations for the United Nations Conference for Environment and Development (Earth Summit) in Geneva.

From 1996 to 2004 she was President of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and Member of the Board of the World Resources Institute (WRI) during the same period.

In August 1998 Yolanda was appointed Minister of Environment for the Republic of Ecuador, position she held until January 2000.

During 2001 she was a visiting professor at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environment, USA.

She co-Chaired the Environmental Sustainability Task Force of the UN Millennium Project, 2002 – 2005. She chaired the Scientific and Technology Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility (STAP / GEF) from 2005 to 2008.

Yolanda took office as WWF’s International President on 1st January 2010.

Formal Education

President Kakabadse was born in Ecuador and studied Educational Psychology in the Catholic University of Quito.

Ms Kakabadse’s second term of office expires in 2017.


Turn Back the Clock or Cut Energy Use in Half?

Posted by Ken on August 7, 2013
Posted under Express 196

Australia announces the date for its cliff-hanger election between the party led by recently returned Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott’s Liberals who want to turn back the clock on climate change action and the carbon pricing. This week, Beyond Zero Emissions releases its landmark report on how commercial and residential buildings in Australia can cut their energy use in half. It can be done without political involvement and it will save money – and energy -  boost the economy and create jobs. Read More

Giles Parkinson on upcoming election and Sophie Vorrath on the release of the Zero Carbon Australia Building Plan

RenewEconomy (4 August 2013):

The date for the 2013 Federal election has been called, and set for September 7. For the next five weeks Australians will be assaulted with assurances by the leaders of the mainstream parties, Labor’s Kevin Rudd and the Coalition’s Tony Abbott , that they are best able to lead the nation.

It’s too much to hope for another hung parliament, which finally delivered a carbon price and some critical infrastructure such as a green bank and a “reserve bank” of carbon. But the polls have narrowed and the policy details of each mainstream party are about to held up to intense scrutiny.

On some key issues, such as refugees and education, it will be difficult to spot the difference. Superficially this could also be true of climate and clean energy: Both mainstream parties have committed to reducing Australia’s emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, and both mainstream parties say they are committed to the minimum 20 per cent renewable energy target, and its current expression as a fixed target of 41,000 gigawatt hours.

But that’s where the similarities end.

After being forced into action by the hung parliament and the bargain with the Greens and the country independents, Labor now appears comfortable with its climate change policy settings. It is committed to a carbon price, although Rudd has vowed to bring the traded (and less costly) version forward by a year. It says it will be advised on future reduction targets by the independent Climate Change Authority. Its main challenge is to convince votes that this is not a policy of convenience, and it won’t simply use climate and clean energy as a wedge to drive through the Coalition – as it did in the last Rudd government – however, tempting that might be.

The Coalition’s challenge is to show that its policy has credibility. Or more fundamentally, that it actually has a policy. After more than three years, it still can’t explain how Direct Action will work, or how it will achieve higher abatement targets. Is it a reverse auction, or a baseline and credit scheme? No one seems to know, least of all the Coalition, which promises a White Paper if elected.

The Coalition has vowed to repeal a carbon price, but its ability to do so is seriously question by the narrowing of the polls. It has also promised to disband the CCA and bring its advice “in house”. And suspicions that the Coalition does not take climate change seriously are sharpened by Abbott’s continued use of skeptic talking points to dismiss emissions trading, and the Coalition’s reliance on people more widely dismissed as apologists for fossil fuels to endorse Direct Action.The Skeptic rump that pushed Abbott into power is still influential.

One thing seems certain. The 5% bipartisan target seems certain to be made redundant within a year. The CCA is likely to recommend a 15 per cent reduction target at the very least – taking into account the latest science, the IPCC reports that are soon to be released, the cost, and the extent of international action. At least with an emissions trading scheme, this ambition is easily scalable.

Few people believe Direct Action could achieve a 5 per cent reduction target, let alone a more ambitious one. The Coalition does not appear to have the stomach to implement the sort of biting Direct Action imposed by the Obama administration in the US, with its strict emissions and energy efficiency targets. The recent Galaxy poll suggest even the voters find the Coalition’s claims dubious. Rudd is rated as having more credible climate policies by 45 per cent of voters, versus 31 per cent for Abbott.

The bipartisan support for the RET is also a mirage. The CCA last December dismissed the complaints of some of the big utilities, incumbent generators and conservative state governments, and said that the fixed 41,000GWh renewables target for 2020 should stand.

Labor has endorsed that, and has vowed to enact the other key CCA recommendation – to set the next review of the RET for 2016 –  if re-elected (although it is not entirely clear why they haven’t already done that). The Coalition say they support the 41,000GWh target, but, crucially, they want it reviewed again in 2014 – even though the last review was only completed in December.

This uncertainty has brought the $20 billion renewable energy industry to a virtual standstill, because bankers and utilities are convinced that the Coalition will weaken the target, given that they will disband the CCA, the independent body that has shown it can break through the appeals of the vested interests.

The Coalition knows the impact of their position. As the former, and likely future energy minister Ian Macfarlane said in 2010: “We understand, dare I say better that than those who sit opposite because we have actually done it, the importance of getting a scheme in place where there is certainty, particularly for wind farms.”

The other crucial element of the transition to a low carbon economy is the Clean Energy Finance Corp – another product of the Greens and the country independents and their negotiations with the Gillard government. The CEFC is considered crucial to greasing the wheels for companies to adopt clean energy technologies – be it energy efficiency, capturing waste gas from landfills and coal mines, refinancing renewable projects, or providing support for new technologies such as solar PV farms and concentrated solar power.

Labor says it will support the CEFC, but the Coalition says it will disband it as quickly as it can.

The Greens will not be in government, but their role will be crucial. The Greens want the emissions reductions to reflect the science, and have called for an emissions reduction target of between 25 per cent and 40 per cent by 2020, and for a 90 per cent renewable energy target by 2030. The fact that such goals are often dismissed as extreme says more about the level of political debate in this country, and the stranglehold on the discourse by vested interests, than it does about the Greens climate and clean energy policies.

Much is often said about The Greens refusal to endorse Rudd’s CPRS, and the impact that had on his political future, and the course of carbon pricing. Given what’s happened in Europe since then, it seems a moot point. But it should not be forgotten that the two most crucial institutions introduced with the Clean Energy Future package – the CCA and the CEFC – are there thanks to the Greens and the country independents, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott.

The independents are going, so the role of the Greens in protecting those institutions, along with the carbon price, the RET, and the impending issue of small scale solar, will be critical in coming years.

The Climate Institute gave the Greens 5/5 for climate policies in its “pollute-o-metre” assessment. Labor got a score of 2.5 and the Coalition just 1.5. Just as crucially, the climate and clean energy policies of the independents that could influence a tight parliament – Nick Xenophon, Bob Katter and Clive Palmer – fair even worse.

Energy Savings for Buildings

By Sophie Vorrath in Reneweconomy  (6 August 2013)

A nationwide plan to transform Australia’s existing building stock into models of energy efficiency and renewable power generation has found that residential and commercial energy use could be cut in half, and could reach zero emissions from their operations, within 10 years.

Launched on Tuesday, the The Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan – a joint effort from climate think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions and The University of Melbourne Energy Institute – sets out a strategy to retrofit Australia’s buildings, to reduce energy bills, generate renewable energy, increase comfort levels, and make workplaces more productive.

The plan finds the residential building sector would be able to achieve a 53 per cent energy use reduction overall, with some typical home categories seeing over 70 per cent reduction. Commercial buildings are estimated to be able to reduce energy use by 44 per cent overall.

A key element of the plan involves buildings going gas-free, with gas appliances deemed “too inefficient and polluting” compared to modern electric appliances which can replace them – namely heat pumps, or split-system airconditioners, as they are more commonly known.

Solar also features heavily in the plan, which says Australian households could effectively be transformed into renewable energy power stations, able to generate more than their whole annual demand from rooftop PV panels.

The report – which is slated as the next step in the Zero Carbon Australia transition first outlined in BZE’s Stationary Energy Plan, from 2010 – says that Australia’s existing buildings are not adequately designed to meet many of the challenges we face today – often being unnecessarily cold in winter, hot in summer, and expensive to run.

“We now have the technologies and know-how to make our buildings far more comfortable, while protecting us from rising electricity and gas bills,” the report says. “This plan contains detailed bottom-up research, modelling and analysis into Australia’s existing buildings and energy consumption. We have collaborated extensively with industry, ensuring our recommended suite of retrofit measures is practical and widely applicable.”

Under the plan:

– Residential energy use is halved. The measures in this plan will, together, reduce the residential sector’s annual energy usage by 53%.

– Homes become renewable energy power stations. There is enough solar exposed roof space on residential buildings to install 31 GW of rooftop solar photovoltaics. This installation will allow the average Australian home to generate more electricity than it uses over a year.

– Australian buildings go gas free. The use of fossil gas (conventional fossil gas, coal seam gas, shale gas & others) is completely removed from the buildings sector. Fossil gas appliances are replaced with higher- efficiency electric alternatives, eliminating gas bills and leading to significant reductions in energy use while avoiding the climate and environmental damage caused by gas.

– Households save money. Households currently spend approximately $15 billion per year on electricity and gas bills. The ZCA Buildings Plan will eliminate gas bills while significantly reducing electricity costs. The full upgrade can save $40 billion over the next 30 years.

– Non-residential energy use nearly halved. The energy used in non-residential buildings, on average, can be reduced by 44%. 2.5 GW of rooftop solar photovoltaics can be installed on non-residential buildings and the total cost is equivalent to business as usual over 30 years.

– Energy freedom is achievable. The plan shows that with the above actions, households and businesses can achieve energy freedom by generating more energy than they use and removing gas as an energy source.

– Tens of thousands of jobs will be created. From residential retrofits alone, around fifty thousand jobs can be created in the trades sector employing people to fix Australia’s buildings.

– The transition to 100% Renewable Energy is now $37 Billion cheaper and 15% more achievable. By detailed testing of the assumptions used in the ZCA Stationary Energy Plan, we show we need 15% less (excluding rooftop solar contribution) stationary renewable energy. By rolling out energy saving measures and rooftop solar we can make the transition to 100% renewable energy for Australia easier and cheaper.

Source: and

Two for the Price of One: Jatropha Bio-fuel and Carbon Farming

Posted by Ken on August 7, 2013
Posted under Express 196

Scientists say that planting large numbers of jatropha trees in desert areas could be an effective way of curbing greenhouse gas emissions, as jatropha seeds can be used to produce biofuel and the plants can absorb large amounts of CO2. Dubbed “carbon farming”, researchers say the idea is economically competitive with high-tech carbon capture and storage projects. Read More

Desert ‘carbon farming’ to curb CO2

By Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent, in BBC News (1 August 2013):

Jatropha seeds can be used to produce biofuel but the plant itself can absorb large amounts of CO2

Scientists say that planting large numbers of jatropha trees in desert areas could be an effective way of curbing emissions of CO2.

Dubbed “carbon farming”, researchers say the idea is economically competitive with high-tech carbon capture and storage projects.

But critics say the idea could be have unforeseen, negative impacts including driving up food prices.

The research has been published in the journal Earth System Dynamics.

Seeds of change

Jatropha curcas is a plant that originated in Central America and is very well adapted to harsh conditions including extremely arid deserts.

It is already grown as a biofuel in some parts of the world because its seeds can produce oil.

I think it is a good idea because we are really extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – and it is completely different between extracting and preventing”

In this study, German scientists showed that one hectare of jatropha could capture up to 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year. The researchers based their estimates on trees currently growing in trial plots in Egypt and in the Negev desert.

“The results are overwhelming,” said Prof Klaus Becker, from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart.

“There was good growth, a good response from these plants. I feel there will be no problem trying it on a much larger scale, for example ten thousand hectares in the beginning,” he said.

According to the researchers a plantation that would cover three percent of the Arabian desert would absorb all the CO2 produced by cars and trucks in Germany over a 20 year period.

The scientists say that a critical element of the plan would be the availability of desalination facilities. This means that initially, any plantations would be confined to coastal areas.

They are hoping to develop larger trials in desert areas of Oman or Qatar. Prof Becker says that unlike other schemes that just offset the carbon that people produce, the planting of jatropha could be a good, short term solution to climate change.

“I think it is a good idea because we are really extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – and it is completely different between extracting and preventing.”


To make the idea work the trees would need brackish water from desalination plants like this one in Israel

According to the scientist’s calculations the costs of curbing carbon dioxide via the planting of trees would be between 42 and 63 euros per tonne. This makes it competitive with other techniques, such as the more high tech carbon capture and storage (CCS).

A number of countries are currently trialling this technology but it has yet to be deployed commercially.

Growing jatropha not only soaks up CO2 but has other benefits. The plants would help to make desert areas more habitable, and the plant’s seeds can be harvested for biofuel say the researchers, providing an economic return.

“Jatropha is ideal to be turned into biokerosene – it is even better than biodiesel,” said Prof Becker.

But other experts in this area are not convinced. They point to the fact that in 2007 and 2008 large numbers of jatropha trees were planted for biofuel, especially in Africa. But many of these ventures ended in tears, as the plants were not very successful in coping with dry conditions.

Lucy Hurn is the biofuels campaign manager for the charity, Actionaid. She says that while jatropha was once seen as the great, green hope the reality was very different.

“When jatropha was introduced it was seen as a miracle crop, it would grow on scrubland or marginal land,” she said.

“But there are often people who need marginal land to graze their animals, they are getting food from that area – we wouldn’t class the land as marginal.”

She pointed out that jatropha is highly toxic and can pollute the land it is grown on, even in a desert. And she also had concerns about the fairness of the idea.

“It is still somebody else’s land. Why go in and grow these massive plantations to deal with a problem these people didn’t actually cause?”


Getting Hot Under the Collar? Climate Change Can Cause Conflicts

Posted by Ken on August 7, 2013
Posted under Express 196

Climate change produces many victims, but now a new survey finds that it could increase the likelihood of war and unrest by as much as 56% between now and 2050. And this is a relationship – between these climate variables and conflict outcomes – observed across time and across all major continents around the world, says the study’s researchers at the University of California. Read More

Climate change makes people want to kill each other, survey says

New study finds global warming heats up tempers, could increase war and civil unrest. Drought plays a part, too.

By Deborah Hastings for New York Daily News (2 August 2013):

Global warming heats up more than the weather.

A new survey finds that climate change could increase war and unrest by as much as 56 percent between now and 2050.

“This is a relationship we observe across time and across all major continents around the world,” said Marshall Burke, one of the study’s researchers at the University of California at Berkeley.

“The relationship we find between these climate variables and conflict outcomes are often very large,” he said.

The survey was published Thursday in the journal Science.

It analyzed 60 studies on wars, violent crime and the collapses of historical empires. It also looked at lab simulations documenting what provokes police to open fire.

Researchers found that violence and civil unrest increased in correlation with rising temperatures and extreme weather.

Children in London cool off this week during a mini heat wave. A new survey finds global violence may increase by as much as 50 percent because of global warming.

Children in London cool off this week during a mini heat wave. A new survey finds global violence may increase by as much as 50 percent because of global warming.

“It does change how we think about the value of avoiding climate change,” said Solomon Hsiang, the lead author and researcher at the UC Berkeley.

“It makes us think that avoiding climate change is actually something we should be willing to invest more in,” he said.

Burke said the results “shed new light on how the future climate will shape human societies.”

He also said the study suggests that “a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius could increase the rate of intergroup conflicts, such as civil wars, by over 50 percent in many parts of the world.”

In the U.S., it would mean that for every increase of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, the likelihood of violent crime goes up 2 percent to 4 percent.

The review also noted that historically, great upheavals tended to occur during periods of severe weather.

As an example, researchers noted that the collapse of the Mayan civilization occurred during unprecedented droughts about 1,200 years ago.




Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict

Solomon M. Hsiang, Marshall Burke, Edward Miguel


A rapidly growing body of research examines whether human conflict can be affected by climatic changes. Drawing from archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology, we assemble and analyze the 60 most rigorous quantitative studies and document, for the first time, a remarkable convergence of results. We find strong causal evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world. The magnitude of climate’s influence is substantial: for each 1 standard deviation (1σ) change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4% and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14%. Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm 2 to 4σ by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of anthropogenic climate change.


Cotton on: There’s a Future in Sustainable Fashion & Green Purchasing

Posted by Ken on August 7, 2013
Posted under Express 196

It started with talk about sustainable fashion and led to issues and opportunities for eco products and green purchasing. The sustainable development of supply chains and the work of the International Green Purchasing Network. This issue we present a glimpse at “Better Cotton for Better Lives”,  some fashionably sustainable stories, what’s up with Forum for the Future, Positive Impact and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. And our plan to attend the 4th International Conference on Green Purchasing in Kuala Lumpur 18-20 September. Read More

International Conference on Green Purchasing

September 18 – 20 2013 at Subang Jaya, Malaysia

International Green Purchasing Network (IPGN) is supporting and participating in the forthcoming conference “4th International Conference on Green Purchasing” that will take place in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, from 18-20 September 2013.

The conference will bring together world renowned experts and practitioners with more than a decade of green purchasing and green productivity experiences. Experts will share the critical factors and conditions for the successful implementation of green purchasing and green productivity, and how to formulate a strategic approach to resource productivity in industry, agriculture, retail and service sectors.

UCLG ASPAC Secretary General, Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, will take part as speaker in the conference. Her session will focus on “Towards a Safe and Green City” to be held on Day 3 (Friday, 20th September) at 4.30pm-5pm.


For more on the International Green Purchasing Network go to:


Better Cotton builds better lives for farmers

By Katherine Rowland  for Forum for the Future (5 August, 2013):

As international efforts are proving, sustainable cotton production doesn’t just benefit the environment – it also improves the lives of the farmers and their families. Katherine Rowland reports.

Cotton has a battered reputation as a thirsty crop, and one demanding high levels of pesticide and insecticide. But innovations in recent years reveal that these traits belong to agricultural practices, and are not inherent to the crop itself. Indeed, international efforts from the likes of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) are steadily proving, not only that cotton production can be made more sustainable, but that decreasing the crop’s ecological toll can improve the lives and livelihoods of farmers.

Around 90% of the world’s 100 million cotton farmers live in developing countries, raising the crop on less than two hectares. These smallholders are especially vulnerable to market shifts and climate flux, and the performance of a single growing season can make or break a household. But global businesses are also tethered to the fate of these small plots. Smallholders comprise the basis of diversified and geographically dispersed supply chains, that offer greater resilience than relying on the performance of a single crop. To ensure future supply, several leading companies are intervening on the ground to safeguard the resources on which cotton cultivation depends.

The John Lewis Foundation, a charitable trust set up by the UK retailer, has invested in a three-year programme to train 1,500 farmers in Gujarat, India, in sustainable production techniques. Through a combination of field and classroom based sessions, the trainings address issues such as soil health and water conservation, pest management, reduced chemical use and decent labour standards.

The retailer is working with CottonConnect, a social purpose enterprise set up in 2009 by the Textile Exchange, C&A, and the Shell Foundation, which helps companies map sustainable strategies throughout the supply chain, from ground to garment. The organisation does not set standards for sustainability, but rather works with retailers to meet sourcing objectives, such as Fair Trade and Better Cotton. With the goal of cultivating one million acres of sustainable cotton by 2015, CottonConnect works with up to 80,000 farmers annually, predominantly in India and China.

According to Anna Karlsson, Sustainable Development Manager at CottonConnect: “Economic benefit will keep farmers interested in continuing the training and implementing the practices. Environmental gains are secondary for most farmers. In the short term, using fewer pesticides will save them money, and using them in the right way will have health benefits. In the long term, [better practice] improves the soil, reduces leaching of chemicals into water, and encourages biodiversity.”

While the economic gains come chiefly from spending less on inputs, which in some countries can make up 60% of cotton production costs, better land management strategies also play a prominent role. Techniques such as soil assessments, which let farmers know how much and what type of fertiliser to apply, manure composting, intercropping and crop rotations help to preserve soil health; rainwater harvesting saves on irrigation, and pheromone traps to catch insects reduce dependence on chemicals.

These approaches – already used in the US, Australia and Brazil – comprise part of a larger toolkit developed by the BCI, a non-profit multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to elevate sustainable cotton production around the world, and established the Better Cotton standard in 2009 to do so.

BCI seeks to counter the threats to the industry posed by soil erosion, water depletion, and unsafe working conditions, its principles are based on mainstreaming prudent agrochemical use, environmentally efficient production methods and improved labour conditions. Participating companies include H&M, Marks & Spencer, IKEA and adidas, alongside non-profit partners including WWF and Solidaridad. Collectively, they want 30% of the world’s cotton production to comply with BCI standards by 2020.

The 2010-11 growing seasons saw the first harvests of Better Cotton in India, Pakistan, Brazil and Mali, and Better Cotton is now grown in China, Turkey and Mozambique. Although the programme is in its infancy, it currently involves more than half a million farmers, and has had significant results.

In India, where BCI worked in nine states in 2011, the 35,000 Better Cotton farmers used 40% less commercial pesticides and 20% less water than conventional farmers, while at the same time having on average a 20% greater productivity and 50% higher profits. In Pakistan, 44,000 Better Cotton farmers similarly used 20% less water and 33% less commercial fertiliser than conventional cotton farmers while having on average a 8% greater productivity and 35% higher profits.

These efforts and advancements echo those of more developed cotton-growing countries. In the US, for example, national and local government organisations strictly regulate pesticide and irrigated water applications. Cotton growers and importers also contribute to a collective research and educational outreach program. Over the last three decades, this combination of oversight and outreach has enabled US cotton growers to reduce pesticide applications by 50% and irrigated water applications by 45%.

In addition to technical training, many of these international programmes also incorporate literacy training, women’s skill building, health and safety courses, and commitments to end child labour. Peter Salcedo, a trader for Plexus Cotton, the sixth largest cotton supplier in the world, says that retailers are responding to consumer interest in the welfare of producers, and are increasingly invested in issues like gender parity and community development. Consumers want to be able to trace where their goods are coming from, he says, and so brands need to be able to explain that their products have a “respectable provenance”.

In East Africa, Plexus Cotton sources its stock from BCI, and works with social business development organisations, such as Cotton made in Africa and the Competitive African Cotton Initiative, to offer supply chain traceability starting with raw materials and labour conditions.

Chimala Walusa, a farmer from the Balaka region of Malawi, is one of the 65,000 smallholders that Plexus is working with in the country. Walusa says, “My life style has changed since I became a lead farmer [in the training programme]. Before, I used to harvest less, like seven bales, but now I am harvesting more. This season I have harvested 60 bales of 90kg each. I managed to harvest all this because I followed the basic production techniques I was taught by extension agents [university employees who develop and deliver educational programmes].”

From last year’s sales, I built a good house and  bought four cattle and oxen

Increased yields result in direct gains for his wife and four children, Walsusa explains. “From last year’s sales, I managed to build a good house, and I bought four cattle and oxen. From this year’s [which totalled MK1,575 million / US$4,800], I am planning to buy a plot in town and build a house for rent.”

These gains resonate across the supply chain. For the US-based retailer Levi Strauss & Co., on-the-ground efforts to improve cotton production also serve to protect its business from some of the effects of climate change. Of the 100 countries in which cotton production takes place, many are already feeling the impact of weather shifts in the form of water scarcity and constraints to arable land. As a result, they also recognise the need to implement adaptation strategies, says Sarah Young, Levi’s Manager of Corporate Communications. For a company that depends on cotton for 95% of its products, addressing these challenges at the grower level is a necessary part of sustaining their business.

In the US, increasing weather variability, alongside growing demand, is similarly “cause for concern for cotton farmers and is generating strategies to adapt”, says Ed Barnes, Senior Director of agricultural and environmental research at Cotton Incorporated, a not-for-profit organisation whose work helps US cotton farmers manage input efficiencies and reduce environmental impact. In the past, he says, “if the field didn’t look like a clean construction site, you weren’t going to plant”. But now, 70% of US cotton farmers have adopted conservation tillage practices, a modern farming technique that allows the soil to hold more moisture and nutrients, thereby decreasing dependence on irrigation and fertilisers.

The beauty of these conservation techniques, says Barnes, is that farmers still reap the same, if not higher, financial benefits. With the price of fertiliser and water rising globally, “farmers are interested in using resources as efficiently as possible”, he says. “They are adopting more sustainable practices because they see the economic return, and that what’s good for the land is good for growers.”

Katherine Rowland is a freelance journalist specialising in health and the environment



Forum of the Future

Forum for the Future – the sustainable  development charity – works in partnership  with leading businesses and public service providers, helping them devise more  sustainable strategies and deliver new  products and services which enhance people’s  lives and are better for the environment.

“We have been working with the fashion  industry for several years. In 2007 we published Fashioning Sustainability, which analyses  the social and environmental impacts of the  clothing industry.

The report identifies the  key issues that need to be tackled to make  sustainable clothing mainstream and highlights  what retailers, brands, designers, producers,  governments and consumers each need to  do to take action. Many of our retail partners have fashion ranges, and the sector has  continued to be a high priority for us.

Levi Strauss & Co. is one of the world’s  largest branded apparel companies and  the global leader in  its products in more than 110 countries  worldwide. The company designs and markets  jeans, casual wear and related accessories  for men, women and children under the  Levi’s®, Dockers® and Signature by Levi  Strauss & Co.TM brands.

Almost two decades ago, through the Terms of Engagement (TOE), Levi Strauss & Co.  was the first company to state that it would  only do business with suppliers who shared  its commitment to environment, labour, health  and safety standards. The company’s vision is to build sustainability into everything we  do so that our profitable growth helps restore  the environment.



The Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London

Seeing, Knowing, Doing: Fashioning the Future Summer School

This year Centre for Sustainable Fashion and London College of Fashion are ran Fashioning the Future Summer School  from 1–19 July. The summer school is a unique opportunity for fashion students, tutors and practitioners to collaborate across traditional geographic, linguistic and disciplinary boundaries. Aiming to create an innovative, experimental learning environment for undergraduate fashion students , the summer school has brought together 30 students from 9 institutions across Europe: London College of Fashion, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, Goldsmiths College, Robert Gordon University, Hogeschool Gent, Aalto University, KEA – Copenhagen School of Design & Technology, University of Ljubljana, and University of Boras.

This three-week programme has placed London as the creative focus to expand and deepen knowledge about sustainability while providing skills for addressing design challenges in a resource stricken world. The global move towards urbanisation and the need for innovative design for sustainability is ideally suited to this focus due to the diversity of London’s multicultural urban environment. By the end of this century over 80% of us will be living in cities, through out the summer school students will discover what our greatest challenges are and what new possibilities this brings for fashion design. Students have been asked to consider key city locations: London, New York, Shanghai, Paris and Rio de Janeiro, thinking about how each city has reacted to urban growth, environmental changes, social cohesion and declining resources. We will look at what life like in these cities now and from this imagine London in 2025. Through out this project we will reference the past, present and future to create fashion that is informed, inspired and visualises what the future might be.

In the week leading up to the start of the Summer School in east London, we asked the participating students to carry out a series of daily tasks in the environment of their home cities, which took them through a process of seeing, knowing and doing:

Seeing – observe their surroundings

Knowing – identify and analyse their surroundings

Doing – interact with their surroundings

Students were asked to photograph surfaces they came across during a journey they took; record the feelings of strangers around them; observe and record all the sounds they heard through out the day; do something out of the ordinary; and think about and leave behind the objects they rely on in their everyday life. The images and words posted to the blog over the past couple of weeks has created a unique map for each participant and the variety of work posted has given us incredible insights into each of the student’s own experience of ‘their city’.

Earlier this year, The Centre for Sustainable Fashion also worked with each team to collate a book bringing to life their journey and outlining the, inspiration, insights and innovation that typified each individual concept. One representative from each team was selected by Nike to attend Launch 2020 and their work formed the centrepiece of an exhibition that accompanied the summit. It was huge pleasure to see the interest and intrigue elicited by our work and it served as a fitting reminder of the significant role education has to play in equipping designers with both the skills and thought processes required to tackle the major challenges of the future.

It was truly amazing to be in a room where the voices of our recent graduates were given equal relevance and space as those of chemical company CEOs and Nike Vice Presidents. Some of the highlights of the summit included astronaut Ron Garran talking about the six months he spent orbiting the globe on a space station and sharing his unique physical and a metaphysical view of the world; what he has achieved in space and on earth is awe inspiring. Joan Benoit, the first woman to win gold in an Olympic marathon, was another hugely inspiring speaker, at 55 she still runs 70 miles a week and is an avid campaigner for environmental issues.

We all left with a determination to recognise and respect the finite resources of our planet but at the same time remembering that there is no limit to human ingenuity; when we work together we can apply our collective intelligence and intuition to make better and to live better.”



And Singapore, we learn of what the Australian-founded business of Positive Impact is up to now that its focus is on Asia Pacific:

Positive Impact has a comprehensive range of green merchandise. We strive to provide your business with smarter, more environmentally conscious options for corporate gifts and promotions. Our products have been selected based on ethical sourcing principles, Fair Trade and environmental credentials enabling you to make a better choice.

It’s a fact of life that we all need to consume, but we all need to think before we buy. It is our choices that will either contribute to or reduce Climate Change. We aim for businesses like yours to use its buying power to bring about the change we need, to make and create brands of the future.

With a keen interest in pursuing environmental endeavours and a desire to balance work and motherhood, Miki Massey developed the Positive Impact range to help bring about this change.

Positive Impact is passionate about the environment. We minimise our carbon footprint by buying recycled and recycling, running our office on green power and using energy efficient lighting and appliances. We have signed an emissions monitoring agreement with our carbon partner CRI which means that all our business activities will be calculated and then offset at the end of every year. We have purchased 10 tonnes of the Karnataka Carbon Credits in advance and this has entitled us to 100% LowCO2 certification! To find out more go to Carbon


Our vision is a world where all products are manufactured with a “cradle to cradle” approach. This means considering the environmental impact at every stage of the product lifecycle, from manufacture to disposal, with the intention to minimise the use of natural resources at every stage.

With technology advancement in recycled and recyclable material there is no reason why we have to choose items made from cheap virgin materials that can only be used once. Collectively this method will significantly reduce the amount of rainforests being destroyed, it can ensure people are treated kindly in their work and ultimately can educate the next generation to do better than we have.


We value being different, we value making a change. We value our customers and believe in providing personalised service, with integrity and enthusiasm.

We value walking the talk, we value greening our supply chain. We value our suppliers and partners and always try to deal with likeminded organisations that are doing their bit too.

We value the environment.


New York Times Provides a Republican Case for Climate Action

Posted by Ken on August 7, 2013
Posted under Express 196

Four former heads of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), who served under Republican Presidents of the United States , have come out strongly in support of Obama’s climate action plan and say categorically that the US “must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally”. They point to examples of environmental actions in the past – like dealing with the hole in the ozone layer and the devastation wrought by acid rain – which happened when Republican Presidents were in the hot seat. Read More

A Republican Case for Climate Action

By William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. Thomas, William K. Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman for New York Times (1 August 2013)

EACH of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally.

There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.

The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”

A market-based approach, like a carbon tax, would be the best path to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but that is unachievable in the current political gridlock in Washington. Dealing with this political reality, President Obama’s June climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress. He will use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology, which is inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.

The president also plans to use his regulatory power to limit the powerful warming chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons and encourage the United States to join with other nations to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase out these chemicals. The landmark international treaty, which took effect in 1989, already has been hugely successful in solving the ozone problem.

Rather than argue against his proposals, our leaders in Congress should endorse them and start the overdue debate about what bigger steps are needed and how to achieve them — domestically and internationally.

As administrators of the E.P.A under Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush, we held fast to common-sense conservative principles — protecting the health of the American people, working with the best technology available and trusting in the innovation of American business and in the market to find the best solutions for the least cost.

That approach helped us tackle major environmental challenges to our nation and the world: the pollution of our rivers, dramatized when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in 1969; the hole in the ozone layer; and the devastation wrought by acid rain.

The solutions we supported worked, although more must be done. Our rivers no longer burn, and their health continues to improve. The United States led the world when nations came together to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. Acid rain diminishes each year, thanks to a pioneering, market-based emissions-trading system adopted under the first President Bush in 1990. And despite critics’ warnings, our economy has continued to grow.

Climate change puts all our progress and our successes at risk. If we could articulate one framework for successful governance, perhaps it should be this: When confronted by a problem, deal with it. Look at the facts, cut through the extraneous, devise a workable solution and get it done.

We can have both a strong economy and a livable climate. All parties know that we need both. The rest of the discussion is either detail, which we can resolve, or purposeful delay, which we should not tolerate.

Mr. Obama’s plan is just a start. More will be required. But we must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.

The writers are former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency: William D. Ruckelshaus, from its founding in 1970 to 1973, and again from 1983 to 1985; Lee M. Thomas, from 1985 to 1989; William K. Reilly, from 1989 to 1993; and Christine Todd Whitman, from 2001 to 2003.


More Cities Join the Sustainable Movement: Los Angeles and Chicago

Posted by Ken on August 7, 2013
Posted under Express 196

Cities are heading where countries fear to tread. Last issue we highlighted actions by Copenhagen and Houston. This issue we look at Chicago and Los Angeles as leaders in climate change and sustainability action. Los Angeles gets its first full-time CSO – Chief Sustainability Officer – while Chicago is focussing on sustainable development for infrastructure and urban planning. Read More

Garcetti names LA’s first Chief Sustainability Officer

By Frank Stoltze  for Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) (2  August 2013):

Signaling he intends to focus on creating a more environmentally-friendly Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti Friday named Global Green USA CEO Matt Petersen as the city’s first Chief Sustainability Officer.

“I am proud to have him lead my citywide effort to make every neighborhood healthier, create green jobs, and hold every city department responsible for cleaner air and water,” Garcetti said in a statement.

Since 1994, Petersen has led Santa Monica-based Global Green USA. It is the American affiliate of Green Cross International, which was founded by former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev to “foster a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future,” according to the group’s website.

Petersen, 46, has worked to create greener cities and advance solar energy and fuel-efficient car markets, according to the mayor’s office. In 2008, Time Magazine recognized him for helping New Orleans rebuild a greener community after Hurricane Katrina.

“Its something I’m very excited about and I’m very honored,” Petersen said of his selection. He said he’s known Garcetti since the mayor’s days as a city councilman who met regularly with environmentalists. Petersen said he was “very active” in Garcetti’s campaign for mayor.

“Cities are on the front lines of solutions to climate change and creating a clean energy economy,” he said. Petersen mentioned all of the usual green goals: more mass transit, more solar energy, more local water supplies, and more energy efficiency. He also said he’d like to see L.A. allow more food to be grown locally by small farmers.

“That’s going to require not just the city creating new zoning ordinances, but looking at urban banks and how they can lend to small businesses that they are not used to seeing,” Petersen said. “That’s going to require some education and risk on behalf of the private sector – and some encouragement.”

Asked about a controversial $500 million plan for a massive railyard at the Port of Los Angeles near Wilmington, Petersen said it had “great attributes.” The city council approved the project with Garcetti’s support earlier this year, but legal challenges are expected over how much air pollution it might produce.

“Matt historically has been a pragmatist,” said Mark Gold, associate director of the UCLA Institute for the Environment and Sustainability and the former head of Heal the Bay. “He’s a very smart, articulate guy. He is not a lightning rod in the environmental community.”

Other environmentalists withheld judgment of Petersen.

“We hope he is interested in paying attention to the most poor,” said Leonardo Vilchis of Unión de Vecinos, an environmental justice group based in Boyle Heights.

Petersen will resign his position at Global Green USA, but remain a member of its board of directors. He said he earned $180,000 a year at the non-profit. The L.A. city government job will pay $163,000.

Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) is a member-supported public media network that operates 89.3 KPCC-FM in Los Angeles and Orange County, 89.1 KUOR-FM in the Inland Empire and 90.3 KVLA in the Coachella Valley. We also inform and interact with our communities through our web site, mobile and social media channels and live events.



Richard M. Daley wants to make your city more sustainable

By Sophie Quinton for Grist

Richard M. Daley, who served six terms as mayor of Chicago from 1989 to 2011, was one of the first big-city mayors to focus on sustainable development. Some of his projects, such as the development of Millennium Park, flourished. Others are more likely to be remembered as flops — Chicago taxpayers may lose money on a solar-power deal Daley negotiated, and his administration spent millions of dollars on recycling initiatives that went nowhere.

Two years after leaving office, the longtime mayor is using his hard-won experience to head up a new company — launched by his investment firm, Tur Partners — that will help cities pursue money-saving infrastructure investments. Cities that agree to join The Sustainability Exchange, or TSE, will get a free analysis of their assets and potential projects, and will share information with other member cities. TSE will alert vendors when a city is planning a request for a proposal. And because the company is low-profit instead of nonprofit, when a city or region decides to go ahead with a project, TSE will take a cut of the savings the city realizes over time.

Five cities have already signed up to join the fledgling exchange, including South Bend, Ind.; Parma, Ohio; and New Orleans. I recently spoke with Daley and Lori Healey, his former chief of staff and now TSE vice chair, about how their idea is taking shape.

Q. Why is there a need for something like The Sustainability Exchange?

A. Richard Daley: Everybody has problems with infrastructure. Whether it’s a port, rail, water, lighting, waste – this is part of the sustainability effort that we’re looking at. We’re looking at working with groups of cities to identify the project, raise the capital from the private sector as well as the public, and document the results.

Lori Healey: Most cities are not New York or Chicago or Los Angeles. They don’t have either the technical or financial resources to plan out and implement these kinds of projects. The Sustainability Exchange creates a platform that allows cities to come together to access national expertise in these areas – at no cost to them – with the goal of executing a transaction in a much compressed time frame.

Q. Is it fair to say that the exchange is focused on changes that will save municipalities money over the long term?

A. RD: That’s right. The areas we’re looking at are energy efficiency, water treatment, waste management, and transportation.

Q. What’s going on here other than the collection and sharing of data about city assets?

A. LH: We’ve started to bring together expert resources – including at Harvard and Arizona State University – to take that raw data and enhance it. So what you’re putting out to the private sector is so much better than a typical city RFP [request for proposal]: Here are my buildings, they have lights, tell me what I should do. It’s a much more specific RFP developed as a result of identification of needs.

RD: I think a lot of cities are afraid to invest. You spend a huge amount on the project, and then four or five years later, there’s a whole new project out there that’s going to save more money.

LH: Is it the best, most current of the technologies in the marketplace? We had one mayor recently tell us that he was on his third consultant for looking at a streetlight project – all private consultants for LED companies – and he had gotten three different recommendations.

Q. What’s an example of a project that the exchange could make possible?

A. LH: There are a couple of real-life examples. One is the purchase of LED street lighting. It would make sense for cities to work together within the same footprint of a utility company. That’s something that we help them with, to understand the regulatory environment. And then we bring cities together to take a look at separate transactions that, jointly, price like one.

Another example happened just recently. In a morning meeting in Newton, Mass., the mayor says, “We’re interested in anaerobic digestion; we want to do something in our community to recycle food waste.” We had the same meeting 30 minutes later in another suburb. Why would you do two or three anaerobic digestion plants when it would make sense to do one, with a documented feedstock from three separate communities? It becomes much more financeable and efficient.

RD: Nobody has really gone to the mayors and said, “Let’s all work together across a huge metropolitan area.”

Q. Will requests for proposal be broadcast through The Sustainability Exchange? Or will cities handle the solicitation process on their own?

A. LH: A combination of both. You have to incorporate and respect a city’s own requirements for procuring things. But you can also broaden the footprint for that solicitation. That’s the goal: to provide a bigger platform, on a national market, with independent expertise, to enhance their own capabilities.

Q. Will cities be able to finance these projects on their own? Or will there need to be public-private partnerships?

A. RD: It’s very hard for cities to self-finance. If it’s not a federal or state project, and you want to do it, you can receive a lot of private money.

LH: There is significant private capital committed to sustainability. But right now the market doesn’t have scale enough for them to be very involved at the municipal level.

Q. TSE is structured as a low-profit, limited-liability company, which allows it to accept investments from foundations and other private nonprofits. Why?

A. LH: We wanted, first of all, to be able to assure cities that this isn’t just another business that’s looking to make money. It allows us to accept PRI [program-related investments] income from foundations around data enhancement and data enrichment. And because it’s low-profit, any percent savings that comes back to the Exchange goes back into building the library of best practices.

Q. Will there be adjustments to the TSE model as more cities get involved?

A. RD: I think we’re still in the process, trying to figure out what works and doesn’t work. As we talk to mayors and the research people and universities, they’ll see things. It’s a learning experience for us. We don’t have all the answers, and that’s why we’re meeting with quite a number of people to really solidify the whole idea of this exchange.

LH: We’ve had inquiries from over 50 municipalities at this point. We’re in heavy discussions with 12 to finalize the relationship with them. I anticipate that we’re going to have more.

This story was produced by The Next Economy, a joint project of The Atlantic and National Journal as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Sophie Quinton covers the White House as a staff reporter at the National Journal.

Grist has been dishing out environmental news and commentary with a wry twist since 1999 — which, to be frank, was way before most people cared about such things. Now that green is in every headline and on every store shelf (bamboo hair gel, anyone?), Grist is the one site you can count on to help you make sense of it all. Grist is based in the Emerald City of Seattle, in the Evergreen State of Washington (both green!), with contributors scattered the world ’round. We are a nonprofit organization funded by foundation grants, user contributions, and advertising.


Beyond Sustainability Reporting to Building People Projects

Posted by Ken on August 7, 2013
Posted under Express 196

CapitaLand’s fourth Global Sustainability Report reflects progress in the reporting of its global performance as it operates in 20 countries and 110 cities. Besides being a leader at home and  abroad in sustainability and green building practices, CapitaLand also invests in people projects with its “Building People” photography competition and exhibition with National Geographic this month and its Eco Race for tenants, on 28 September 2013. Read More

 Continued commitment to progressive and comprehensive sustainability reporting

 Achieved cost avoidance in excess of S$35 million for utilities since 2009

Singapore, 31 July 2013 – CapitaLand Limited’s (CapitaLand’s) fourth Global Sustainability Report 2012 (Report) reflects continued strong commitment and progress in the reporting of its global performance.

The Report, validated by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), achieved Level B+ according to the GRI G3.1 Guidelines. It was audited by an Independent Certified Sustainability Assurance Practitioner.

Highlights of CapitaLand Limited Global Sustainability Report 2012:


 Highlighted as a sustainability leader in the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations by Corporate Knights (the second consecutive year to be accorded)

 Listed in Sustainability Yearbook 2013 as the top 15% performing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) companies

 Listed in Dow Jones Sustainability World and Asia Pacific Indexes 2012/2013 as the top 20% performing ESG companies


 Cost avoidance in excess of S$35 million for utilities since 2009

 Increased operational efficiency (per square metre) since 2008 with energy and water reduction of 11.7% and 16.1% respectively

 Reduced carbon emissions intensity by 16% since 2008

Social (Human Capital and Community Development)

 52 training hours per employee, well above the recommended industry guide of 40 hours

 Propagate gender equality with about 27% of women in top management positions

 Zero non compliance for environment, workplace health and safety

 Embrace diversity with employees from more than 80 different nationalities

 More than S$4 million donated by CapitaLand Hope Foundation (Foundation) in 2012 (close to S$20 million donated to more than 120 charities since the Foundation’s inception in 2005)

 100% staff volunteers have a stronger sense of belonging and pride in working for a socially responsible company


 Won for the 12th consecutive year the “Most Transparent Company (Property)” award by the Securities Investors Association, Singapore

 Implemented CapitaLand Global Principles on Ethical Business Conduct

Sustainability issues material to the organisation are a key priority for CapitaLand. Last November, stakeholders including senior management from various business units, departments and geographies were roped in for an independent materiality assessment to identify key Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) issues that are most relevant and important to the Group. This complements the annual review of internal key performance indicators and management processes.

Significant improvements were also made in the underlying process of the Group’s sustainability reporting framework via surveys and internal audits. The objectives aim to better understand energy and water management issues, green features in operational buildings, as well as the levels of staff engagement.

CapitaLand, one of the first companies in Singapore to voluntarily publish its Sustainability Reports, is committed to cover its Group-wide property portfolio in more than 110 cities in over 20 countries. CapitaLand’s presence across different geographies poses challenges to sustainability reporting. Differences in legislature, the availability of local infrastructure and supply chain, standards of measurement and climates (temperate vs tropical) make it challenging for implementation, data collection and date interpretation. By benchmarking against an international standard and framework, top management commitment and establishing Group-wide internal guidelines, CapitaLand has overcome some of these challenges.

Mr Lim Ming Yan, President & Group CEO, CapitaLand Limited, said: “CapitaLand is committed to building a sustainable future for our stakeholders and for generations to come. Sustainability is a Group-wide effort that is integral to our business. Guided by our core values and operating principles, we conduct our business, interact with stakeholders and contribute to the well-being of our employees and the community in an ethical and responsible manner.”

Mr Lim added: “Investors and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability and its positive impact on them. In today’s business environment, sustainability and profitability are both important to the success of a company. The fact that we have avoided over S$35 million in utilities cost since 2009 shows that sustainability makes business sense.”

Mr Tan Seng Chai, Group Chief Corporate Officer, CapitaLand Limited, said: “The publication of CapitaLand’s fourth Sustainability Report 2012 attests to our commitment to transparency and to improving the economic, environmental and social well-being of our stakeholders. Apart from doing good, sustainability ensures our business operates in a transparent and ethical manner.”

The Report is available online at In line with CapitaLand’s commitment to go green, no printed copies will be made to minimise the impact on the environment.

About CapitaLand Limited

CapitaLand is one of Asia’s largest real estate companies. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, the company’s businesses in real estate and real estate fund management are focused on its core markets of Singapore and China.

The company’s diversified real estate portfolio primarily includes homes, offices, shopping malls, serviced residences and mixed developments. The company also has one of the largest real estate fund management businesses with assets located in Asia. CapitaLand leverages its significant asset base, real estate domain knowledge, product design and development capabilities, active capital management strategies and extensive market network to develop real estate products and services in its markets.

The listed entities of the CapitaLand Group include Australand, CapitaMalls Asia, Ascott Residence Trust, CapitaCommercial Trust, CapitaMall Trust, CapitaMalls Malaysia Trust, CapitaRetail China Trust and Quill Capita Trust.

About Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

GRI works towards a sustainable global economy by providing organisational reporting guidance.

GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Framework enables all companies and organisations to measure and report their sustainability performance. By reporting transparently and with accountability, organisations can increase the trust that stakeholders have in them, and in the global economy.

GRI is a network-based organisation. A global network of some 30,000 people, many of them sustainability experts, contributes to its work. GRI’s governance bodies and Secretariat act as a hub, coordinating the activity of its network partners.

Case study on retrofitting:

First Operating Office Building in the CBD to win 2010 Green Mark Platinum Award

Six Battery Road is a 42-storey Grade A office building and a Raffles Place landmark. The first operating office building in the CBD to attain Green Mark Platinum, its location, convenient transport access and excellent views are highly coveted features.  The building is currently operational while asset enhancement work is in progress. The enhancement is expected to complete by end-2013.

Green Features

With innovative features which enhance the aesthetics as well as its green specifications, Six Battery Road stands out as an iconic building for environmental sustainability. “Rainforest Rhapsody”, the largest indoor vertical garden comprising 2,000 square feet of a rich selection of more than 100 plant species, was unveiled on 24 March 2011. Some of its key recycling features include harvesting rainwater in an automatic irrigation system to water the vertical garden, as well as a pilot project which uses exhaust air to power a wind turbine and generate clean energy to drive the irrigation pumps of the vertical garden.

Engineered to conserve energy, the equipment plant room was redesigned with upgraded chillers that incorporate thermal energy storage to help raise system efficiency from 0.94kW/ton to 0.65kW/ton, and reap potential savings of 25% on consumption. Solar light tubes are installed to reduce reliance on artificial lighting.

CapitaCommercial Trust (CCT) Engages Tenants for Eco Race 2013

Race around CBD for a fun morning of eco-conscious activities

Capital Land is now seeking tenants’ registration for 2013 Eco race, happening on Saturday, 28 September 2013.

The objectives of “CCT Eco Race 2013‟ are to educate and promote awareness on environmental sustainability among tenants. It was an opportunity for CCT‟s marketing and leasing team, and property management team to interact with the tenants.



The fourth edition of the CapitaLand-National Geographic  Channel “Building People” Photography Competition  injects life into buildings with new duo-themed contest.

Grand prize winner to go on an exclusive assignment under the mentorship of award-winning National Geographic photographer Mr Michael Yamashita

CapitaLand Limited (CapitaLand) will partner the National  Geographic Channel for the fourth consecutive year for the regional CapitaLand-National  Geographic Channel “Building People” Photography Competition (Competition).

For the first time, the Competition introduces a duo-theme feature – “Best Building  Moment” and “Best People Moment”. The “Best Building Moment” theme calls for creative  interpretations of CapitaLand’s properties, which effectively capture the best  characteristics of its homes, offices, shopping malls, serviced residences and mixed  developments while the theme “Best People Moment” further challenges participants to  capture memorable moments of human connections or experiences within any of  CapitaLand’s properties such as daily interactions, romantic escapism, joyful celebrations and intimate embraces.

With Asia’s rising economy and rapid urbanisation, industry leaders have observed that  people spend an increasing amount of time in buildings – to work, shop and play. Such  urban-living habits have prompted CapitaLand and the National Geographic Channel to  challenge photographers not only to capture photographs which embody the symbiotic  interactions between people and CapitaLand’s properties, but also to personify the  buildings in their work of art such that the buildings metaphorically come to life.

The highly-acclaimed Competition has seen increasing popularity and expanded outreach  as it welcomed a first-time entry from India last year. Last year, there was a 70% surge in  entries from 2011, with an overwhelming 2,000 submissions from Asia Pacific countries  including Australia, Brunei, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore,  Thailand and Vietnam.

A judging panel, comprising National Geographic photographer Mr Michael Yamashita  and executives from the National Geographic Channel and CapitaLand, will evaluate all  entries based on novelty, artistic direction, depth of judgement and the creative  interpretation of the themes, “Best Building Moment” and “Best People Moment”. The 2 judges will also be looking out for innovative portrayals of the synergetic interactions  between CapitaLand buildings and People.

Mr Tan Seng Chai, Group Chief Corporate Officer, CapitaLand Limited, said: “We are  heartened to see the growing popularity of this photographic Competition, as we witness  year-on-year increases in submissions from enthusiasts across the region. Capturing CapitaLand properties through the lenses of photographic talents has given fresh  perspectives to our buildings. Our unwavering dedication to ‘Building People’ at  CapitaLand has urged us to continually provide quality living for people, and we hope that  the submissions this year can illustrate our efforts to bring life to our buildings.”

In addition,  there will also be an opportunity for participants to showcase their photographic creativity  in an upcoming CapitaLand-National Geographic Channel “Building People” Photography  Exhibition in August 2013.

Venue: ION Orchard  from16th – 20th August 2013, 10am – 10pm daily

Exhibition will be opened to public from 7pm onwards on 16th August 2013.