Archive for the ‘Express 198’ Category

Engineering Sustainable Events

Posted by Ken on September 10, 2013
Posted under Express 198

Engineers have a lot to answer for and a lot to give. So when the first World Engineers Summit gets underway in Singapore with the promising theme “Innovative and Sustainable Solutions to Climate Change” you would think that they would get off on the right foot and agree to subject the event itself to a very innovative and sustainable event management plan. Save energy, save water, manage waste, paper and all resources. Measure its carbon footprint. The lot. Yes, the organisers agreed in principle to it and the Singapore Tourism Board (SB) encouraged them to, but no-one has been able to find the money to fund a practical benchmark plan or sustainable assessment – desirably using the international gold standard ISO 20121 for event sustainability as the guiding principle.

Along with other events happening in Singapore this September – including the massively energy inefficient Formula 1 motor racing festival – will go ahead without a sustainable thought or plan in mind. Even the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), with its International Green Building Conference, cannot rustle up any funds to do a benchmark sustainable assessment of the event. And this is the same organisation which has set such excellent sustainable standards with its Green Mark for the property sector.

All is not lost. SASA will do an Omnibus sustainability study covering all Singapore’s September events – with or without funding – and make sure everyone sees the results. Opportunities lost. Lessons learnt. Recommendations made. But this is perhaps the sustainability story we have not told. Most countries, companies, cities agree that sustainability is a good idea. Most agree that it is something we should invest in to reap the rewards. But who pays?  Read More

Remember the adage “he who pays the piper calls the tune”? Well, if it’s a private sector or self-funded study, it will reveal all. Warts and all.  What’s being done right and what’s wrong with existing events. Sure it will propose recommendations and it will show where things can be done better. It will show conclusively – as much as is possible with available data – where energy can be saved. But it would be a much better report if there was co-operation – and funding – from the Government sector and private sector.

Governments in Singapore and elsewhere have come up with grants to fund energy efficiency improvements in the private sector, incentives are there for developers of green buildings, there are advantages if you switch to clean energy and rewards for those who buy low carbon, fuel efficient cars. But events – the very high profile conferences, exhibitions, occasions and festivals, which have such a big carbon footprint but also contribute so much to the economy – are not measured or managed with sustainability in mind.

Of course there are exceptions. Marina Bay Sands has moved towards sustainability, using Earthcheck benchmarking, introducing green meetings and ECO 360 plans, as well as embarking on an ISO 20121 plan for the facility. URA – the Urban Redevelopment Authority – has once again committed to a sustainability management plan for its i Light Marina Bay event, billed as “Asia’s only sustainable light art festival”, when it happens next March. SASA handled this is 2012 and will once again be involved working closely with Pico, the event manager.

If MBS gets its and URA gets it. Why cannot others see that sustainable matters?  Sustainability produces benefits and savings. Look at last year’s London Olympics – arguably the most sustainable “greenest” Olympics ever – which took sustainability seriously, adopting the new ISO 20121 standard and making it work.

Look at the FIA – the international motor sport organisation – they decided at their World Council meeting in London in June that all motor sport events around the world would work towards sustainability. Here’s the FIA decision on its ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY:

“Following the initial work undertaken by a dedicated Working Group mandated to develop a Sustainability Programme, the WMSC approved in principle the implementation of the FIA’s ‘Action for Environment’ programme. The FIA’s goal, within a decade, is that motor sport will be recognised as an exemplar of best practice in environmental sustainability and a world leader for environmental innovation creating a positive impact on both the track and road. Its strategy will focus on measuring and improving innovation and promotion.”

The message doesn’t seem to have got through the Singapore organisers who seem to be doing nothing more than paying lip service to the environment or sustainability. As we have said before, on energy use alone, the night-time event consumes massive amounts of energy and there is no measurement or management to speak of.

This is happening in a city which insists on industry getting to grips with energy efficiency in a big way; where Government incentives and grants funds for companies and  properties to “come clean and go green”.  Businesses, shops and households are encouraged to cut their energy and water use.

How can events be excluded? They contribute to the economy in a big way. They attract a lot of attention at home and abroad.

No one is suggesting we stop enjoying ourselves. Go ahead. Have a good time. Watch the cars and the entertainers. Enjoy and be inspired at conferences and exhibitions. Celebrate with champagne and fine food.

You can have all that and you can also save energy, save the environment and save the economy.

If just a very small fraction of what is spent on staging an event – like the F1, which is many millions – was put into an event sustainability management plan or even a benchmark or assessment study – it would demonstrate what can be saved next time. I’m prepared to bet that a minimum of 25% of the energy consumed at the F1 could be saved. Potentially much more.

We have reported before that we understand that the specially-installed street lights that power up the F1 in Singapore stay on for three days and nights. 24 hours a day! Hard to believe, isn’t it? But that information comes from a reliable source.

That’s incredibly wasteful. And this in a country where the Minister of the Environment and Water Resources says “energy efficiency is the only game in town”.  And in the same country where the chief economist of the International Energy Agency Fatih Birol said at the launch of the World Energy Outlook last December that it is “an economic sin” and “an epic failure of international energy policy” that only a third of economically-viable energy efficiency measures are actually achieved.

Singapore is doing a good job, but it is missing out on making itself a truly “liveable and sustainable city”, by not addressing the events industry.


Profile: Noeleen Heyzer

Posted by Ken on September 10, 2013
Posted under Express 198

Food, fuel and economic crises have pushed millions back into poverty and seen a wavering of commitments made by the international community – reflected in unfulfilled pledges and falling aid flows. “The risks of climate change threaten to reverse our achievements and to undermine future gains”. This from the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, who is a keynote speaker at the World Engineers Summit in Singapore this week. What’s needed is “low-carbon growth, that is high on decent jobs, high on poverty reduction, and high on reducing inequality….we need to address climate change and issues of volatility, ensuring that development gains are not lost due to natural or manmade disasters. Read More

Here’s what Noeleen Heyzer had to say last month (26 August 2013) in Bangkok at the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Dialogue: From the Millennium Development Goals to the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015.

MDG’s: Uneven Regional Achievements in a Changed World

Long before the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted by the international community, Asia-Pacific countries were making great strides in transforming themselves and lifting millions of people out of poverty. It is no surprise then that our region has been an early achiever in halving the proportion of poor and in meeting other targets such as access to safe drinking water and gender parity at all levels of education.

The Asia-Pacific region still faces great challenges however – some are new and some are long-standing, whilst achievement of the MDGs remains uneven among our countries. Despite rising incomes and declining poverty rates, the region is still home to roughly two-thirds of the world’s poor. There are persistent and widening gaps in income and poverty, among and within countries, and among different social groups. Violence against women and girls remains a deep-seated problem in many countries of the region.

In other words, there is much unfinished MDG business, and we need a last big push to 2015 if we are to further reduce poverty and deprivation. We must, therefore, emphasize the importance of meeting international commitments and shared responsibilities, including those relating to Official Development Assistance (ODA), access to markets, technologies, and essential drugs as enshrined in MDG 8, notwithstanding the importance of mobilizing domestic and regional resources.

The world has changed.

The MDGs were conceived largely in a world of optimism given rise by the end of the Cold War and the “third wave of democratization”. We saw unprecedented consensus in the international community at landmark United Nations conferences and summits in the 1990s, which produced our internationally agreed development agenda, including the MDGs.

The sharp recovery from the financial crises of the late 1990s and subsequent boom in the global economy raised the prospect of continued progress at the dawn of the new millennium. It seemed that the era of boom and bust had given way to an era of “great moderation”.

In less than a decade however, great moderation tumbled into a great recession. Since 2006, we have seen excessive volatilities and hikes in key commodity prices culminating in the food and fuel crises in 2007, followed in 2008 by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

These events have pushed millions back into poverty and seen a wavering of commitments made by the international community – reflected in unfulfilled pledges and falling aid flows. Furthermore, the risks of climate change threaten to reverse our achievements and to undermine future gains

So, it is indeed a great feat that many Asia-Pacific countries have been early achievers in reducing the incidence of poverty. Furthermore, this has been achieved despite the region being hit by many significant natural disasters since the adoption of the MDGs.

When we discuss moving “From the Millennium Development Goals to the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015”, we must be mindful of the changed circumstances which have made closing development gaps more challenging and which have strained global consensus.

A Transformative Agenda for Asia-Pacific

Addressing these challenges calls for a new development model based on structural changes for equality, inclusiveness, resilience and sustainable development, as a more integrated whole. The next phase of development has to be driven by a transformative agenda that is people-centred, cares for our planet, and which generates shared and sustained prosperity.

As you are aware, the report by the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 United Nations Development Agenda, called for a universal agenda driven by five big, transformative shifts.

What do these key transformational shifts mean for Asia and the Pacific?

The reality is that the existing Asia-Pacific growth path has not seen the fruits of prosperity sufficiently shared, and has exacted a high toll on our fragile natural resources. Inequalities have widened in many countries, and the “race to the bottom” has seen a slide in labour standards and industrial safety, growing exploitation of migrant workers, women and girls, as well as environmental damage.

For Asia and the Pacific:

“Leaving no-one behind” means touching the lives of nearly two-thirds of humanity, of whom 1.7 billion live on less than $2-a-day, 763 million are extremely poor, and 542 million go hungry. We need to ensure that they have access to basic services, including modern and sustainable energy, fresh water, and adequate sanitation; good healthcare, educational facilities, and social protection services. It means promoting, protecting and fulfilling our commitments on human rights, including eliminating all forms of discrimination. Investments in people are needed to build resilience and reduce vulnerability. ESCAP’s 2013 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific has shown that these investments for more forward-looking macroeconomics are within the means of most countries, although countries with special needs will require partnership.

“Putting sustainable development at the core of the development agenda” means changing how we live, produce and work. It means that the “grow first, distribute and clean up later” approach cannot sustain growth or meet the aspirations of both current and future generations, for an adequate standard of living within our planetary boundaries. A change of paradigm in key sectors such as energy, agriculture and fisheries, water resources management and urban development will be essential to meet the basic needs of people, in a way that promotes both resource efficiency and social equity. ESCAP’s Low Carbon Green Growth Roadmap for Asia and the Pacific provides examples of some successful practices in the region.

“Transforming economies for jobs and inclusive growth” means touching the lives of world’s 73% working poor, and the 1.1 billion workers who are in vulnerable employment in our region, with more than 80 million young people who are looking for jobs2. It also means that the belief that low wages are necessary to attract foreign direct investment and promote economic competitiveness and growth, has lost credibility. Low wages contribute to low domestic demand. Income insecurity and very low wages also hinders investment in human capital.

“Building peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all” means recognizing freedom from fear of conflict and violence, as the most fundamental human entitlement. The Asia-Pacific region is still home to a number of long-term, internal conflicts, many of which are the results of prolonged deprivations, and injustices along different fault lines such as gender, ethnicity and religion. They are also the result of a lack of voice by the marginalized, coupled with an absence of accountability of those in power. We need open, effective and accountable public institutions to address social exclusion, gender inequality, injustice, crime and corruption – to ensure good governance and peaceful societies.

“Forging a new global partnership” means building genuine global partnerships, based on trust and not on conditionality. This is particularly critical for some of the most important development challenges faced by our region, including the need to rebalance trade, manage speculative flows of finance, ensure food security and livelihoods, secure appropriate development financing, promote technology transfer, and create conditions for fair trade. Many issues affecting human security, such as migration and natural disasters, also require both global partnerships and closer cross-border cooperation. Although the primary responsibility lies with individual countries, no country can tackle development challenges alone; we need a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation, and mutual accountability. It is ultimately about building greater levels of trust for humanity.

From Vision to Action

A universal global development agenda must recognize all the principles of Rio+20, and take into account the fact that countries and regions have different initial conditions and resources, and that there has to be sufficient flexibility to adapt the agenda at the local, national, and regional levels – with countries in the driver’s seat.

We also need to look very specifically at the means of implementation for this new development agenda. It will be critical to find innovative sources of financing and create fiscal space by making spending and taxation more progressive. Although, ODA will not be a basic pillar of the post-2015 development agenda, it is still an unfulfilled promise that needs to be addressed.

What we are looking for is low-carbon growth,  that is high on decent jobs, high on poverty reduction, and high on reducing inequality. In this context we need to address climate change and issues of volatility, ensuring that development gains are not lost due to natural or manmade disasters. We need to strengthen the resilience agenda.

Business has to be part of the solution. The business community cannot regard social and environmental concerns as external to their business. Modern business management should seek not only to increase market share, but to increasingly widen the market itself. In an age of diminishing resources, falling demand and shrinking revenues, the interests of our ‘bottom billion’ are the interests of business’ bottom line.

Sustainable growth means strengthening all three pillars of sustainability – economic, social, and environmental – and recognizing that long-term prosperity requires a careful balance between benefits reaped today and ensuring the well-being of our people and our planet tomorrow.

The argument which we are making in Asia and the Pacific is that inclusiveness and sustainability are both interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Growth can only be inclusive if it is more sustainable, and it can only ever be sustained in the long-term by ensuring that it benefits the widest possible number of people, across generations.

We cannot afford to race to the bottom on labour standards, industrial safety or environmental protection. We cannot allow loss of lives of workers, or for toxic pollution to simply be shifted from developed to developing countries. People from around the world, and across the Asia-Pacific region, are asking for a new social contract for sustainable development, between the state and its people, and between the state and the market.

This social contract has to promote citizens’ engagement, translating growth into productive employment for all. It has to adopt policies for the fairer redistribution of wealth, economic assets and opportunities – where there is better resource management and effective delivery of quality basic services to all. It also has to ensure better financial governance, addressing issues of money laundering and corruption, and encourage greater accountability of both the public and the private sectors, at the local, national, regional, and global levels.


In conclusion, this conference is the first regional Ministerial-level event to discuss the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015, following the release of the Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel of Eminent Persons. With the General Assembly preparing to consider this report at its sixty-eighth session, and move towards finalizing a United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015, a regional dialogue such as this could not be more timely for the countries of our region to articulate their concerns and aspirations.

Now is the opportunity for the Asia-Pacific region to lead on sustainable development and to contribute to the shaping of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Let us together create a region of which we can truly be proud – for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren.


Noeleen Heyzer (Singapore) is the ninth Executive Secretary of the Economicand Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General in August 2007. Dr. Heyzer is the first woman to occupy this position since its founding in 1947. She leads the organization at the level of Under-Secretary-General.

Since taking office, Dr. Heyzer has positioned ESCAP, the regional arm of the United Nations, as a powerful comprehensive platform for promoting regional co-operation among member states to achieve inclusive and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. She has strengthened ESCAP’s capacity and effectiveness to support member states, using its convening and standard setting authority, sound strategic analysis, policy options and technical assistance, to build the economic and social foundations for shared prosperity, social progress and ecological sustainability in the region. She has improved the engagement of countries with special needs (least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states), redirecting policies, institutions and resources to reduce poverty and to address existing inequalities. With her leadership, ESCAP is building the capacity of Member States through technical support to implement international agreements, norms and standards. She has focused ESCAP to achieve stronger regional co-operation for transport and ICT connectivity, green growth, fair trade and ethical investment, financial stability, food and energy security, and social development.


The Executive Secretary has championed increased regional co-ordination, enhancing a co-ordinated Asian Pacific voice and leadership in shaping effective and strategic responses to the critical transnational and global challenges of the 21st Century. She has worked with key decision-makers to establish a number of regional co-operation mechanisms and institutional frameworks to address the food-fuel-finance crises and climate change, and to harness development opportunities in the region. These include her five-point agenda for regional connectivity presented to 16 Head of States during the 4th East Asian Summit; the Bangkok Declaration for intermodal transport development; the initiation of an Asia Pacific Energy Security Co-operation Framework; the Dhaka outcome for accelerated growth and poverty reduction in LDCs; and a regional approach towards achieving inclusive low carbon, green growth. At the request of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers, she is now working with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to support ASEAN’s development of a Master Plan for regional connectivity. She is also strengthening SPECA, the United Nations Special Programme for Economies of Central Asia, in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). She strongly advocates for the adoption of a holistic approach to development based on socio-economic equity and ecological sustainability, and the strengthening and integration of the Asia Pacific region through intra-regional trade, financial stability, responsible investment, environmental sustainability, social justice and gender equality.


The Executive Secretary has worked to revitalize the United Nations’ Asia Pacific Regional Co-ordination Mechanism, improving the policy coherence of its 30 UN organizations to “deliver as one” in supporting the region to implement international conventions, declarations and development goals. She has promoted stronger strategic engagement with development partners including the ADB, UNDP, ASEAN, the Pacific Islands Forum and with civil society, business and regional think tanks. The tripartite partnership with UNDP and ADB has led to the development of a widely recognized statistical tracking system for MDG progress in the region. She has also established three new sub-regional offices for ESCAP to provide better support and outreach to all member states to realize the MDGs and other internationally agreed development goals.


Dr. Heyzer has led an unprecedented dialogue with Myanmar’s leaders, resulting in the Government of Myanmar requesting the formation of a development partnership that has allowed eminent international scholars, such as the Nobel Prize economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz, and local researchers to exchange experiences and ideas with government agencies and civil society. She has also worked closely with ASEAN, the Government of Myanmar and the UN for the ongoing recovery efforts assisting cyclone affected people in the Ayeyarwady Delta.


Career Highlights


(October 1994 – September 2007)


Prior to her appointment to ESCAP, Dr. Heyzer was the first Executive Director from the South to head the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Through her leadership, UNIFEM assisted over 100 countries in the formulation and implementation of legislation and policies that promote women’s security and rights. This resulted in the removal of discriminatory practices, changes in inheritance laws for women, better working conditions for migrant workers, women’s full participation in several peace negotiations and electoral processes including in Liberia, Rwanda and Timor Leste, and the inclusion of women as full citizens in the constitution of Afghanistan. Dr. Heyzer played a critical role in the Security Council’s adoption and implementation of the landmark Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security undertaking extensive missions to conflict-affected countries worldwide. She was responsible for the establishment of the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women and for appointing Actress Nicole Kidman as UNIFEM’s Goodwill Ambassador to campaign against this violence. She led UNIFEM’s restructuring to maximize organizational performance. Consequently, UNIFEM has increased its resources tenfold, strengthened its programmes, ground presence and team leadership, and successfully advocated to put issues affecting women high on the agenda of the whole United Nations system.


Dr. Heyzer has served on numerous boards and advisory committees of international organizations, including the UNDP Human Development Report as well as the UNDP Eminent Persons Group on Trade and Sustainable Development. She convened and chaired the International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian-Israeli Peace and was on the High-Level Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding chaired by Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen. Dr. Heyzer successfully mobilized private sector partners such as Macy’s, CISCO, and the Calvert Investment Fund to provide high value employment and market access to women and youth in conflict and tsunami-affected areas as well as in the Arab States, setting new standards for ethical investment.




Dr. Heyzer has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science from the University of Singapore. She obtained a Doctorate in social sciences from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.


Prizes & Awards


Dr. Heyzer has received several awards for leadership, including

Women of the Year Award (2008), Singapore Press Holdings.

Women’s Equality Award (2007), American National Council of Women’s Organization, Washington, USA.

Global Leadership Award (2005), Global Summit on Women, Mexico.

Women Who Make a Difference Award (2005), American National Council for Research on Women, New York City, USA.

UNA-Harvard Leadership Award (2004), Boston, USA.

The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal (2004) given to “a person who has promoted, in action and spirit, the values that inspired Dag Hammarskjöld as Secretary-General of the United Nations and generally in his life: compassion, humanism and commitment to international solidarity and cooperation”. Upsala, Sweden.

The Woman of Distinction Award (2003) from the UN-NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York, USA.

Spirit of Excellence and Lifetime Achievement Award (2000) by the Institute for Leadership Development, York University, Canada.

Global Tolerance Award for Humanitarian Service (2000), Friends of the United Nations, New York, USA.

She was listed by the Earth Times in 2000 as one of the most influential voices in the UN system. In recognition of her contribution to women, peace and justice, Dr. Heyzer was among the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.


Looking for Innovative & Sustainable Solutions

Posted by Ken on September 10, 2013
Posted under Express 198

When the World Engineers Summit opens in Singapore this coming week, with the theme “Innovative and Sustainable Solutions to Climate Change”, there is no excuse for delegates not to be aware of the “clear and present danger”. Singapore’s Straits Times editorially urged everyone  to “Get on with it–global warming is real” days before unprecedented  flooding in the city state and Pacific Island nations last week urged greater support for climate action as their very existence was threatened. Read More

Editorial Desk , The Straits Times (3 September 2013):

The science of predicting global warming has its sceptics, among them vested interests like big industry.

An update on rising sea levels by the United Nations climate panel, which forecasts up to a metre’s rise by 2100, may not win new converts. But a graphic presentation of how coastal flooding could gut the economic assets of low-lying cities should persuade laggard governments that taking timely preventive measures is not a matter of choice.

Climate doubters can challenge the science, but not the visceral evidence of extreme weather phenomena. This is why a new climate study, which places 13 of the 20 most vulnerable cities in Asia alone, should concentrate minds.

Singapore is spared the dubious distinction, but its planners will want to evaluate the impact on the economy of flood damage to Guangzhou and Shenzhen in China, and Mumbai and Kolkata in India – besides Jakarta, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. Shanghai, Tianjin and Xiamen are also at risk.

These are cities Singapore does business with. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, calculates that flood damage to the 139 coastal cities assessed worldwide could reach US$1 trillion annually by mid-century if mitigating steps are not taken.

Building and strengthening defences like levees and storm barriers go beyond preparing for an apocalyptic event by the end of the century, when island chains in the Pacific could vanish.

Coastal flooding as a result of storm surges, land subsidence from groundwater depletion and urban growth will wreak havoc on an ascending scale well before sea levels rise.

Flood defences are not a recent invention. Tokyo has had them going back 400 years. But with typical technological acuity, the authorities are building an underground reservoir carved into rock to receive excess runoff. San Francisco is mulling a massive flood wall near the Golden Gate Bridge to save the bay area’s multi-billion dollar technology economy from going underwater. New York worries about its logistical operations.

Singapore has had the benefit of advice from the Dutch – reassuring as countless studies credit Holland with having the world’s best flood defences.

But the frequency of inner-city flooding would have alerted the authorities to the adequacy of its primary defences – stone embankments, the Marina Barrage and a requirement that new reclamations be raised in elevation.

These are periodic infrastructural works which governments plan for and execute as a matter of course. The “scientific” notion of countering the effects of climate change through treaty-mandated reductions in carbon emissions is on the other hand fraught with problems. It is clear what governments should focus on.



Pacific countries adopt Majuro declaration, lead the world on climate change

By Sean Dorney, ABC Pacific Correspondent  (6 September 2013):

Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum countries have adopted the Majuro declaration, leading the world in action on climate change.

The Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, named after the atoll in the Marshall Islands where this year’s forum has just concluded, describes climate change as one of the greatest challenges for the world.

The declaration commits the countries to increasing their efforts to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions by turning to alternative, sustainable energy resources.

Marshall Islands President, Christopher Loeak, says he hopes the declaration would be a game changer in the global fight to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“It is our aim to provide leadership to the world on climate change,” Mr Loeak said.

“It is only right that we do that because we are the most vulnerable to climate change even though we do not contribute much to it.”

President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau, host of next year’s Pacific Islands Forum, says climate change would be as important an issue at next year’s Forum.

“It’s always going to be an issue… whether it’s Majuro, whether it’s Cook Islands last year or whether it’s Palau next year,” Mr Remengesau said.

“This is the heart of our very survival as people and island communities.”

Attached to the Majuro Declaration on Climate Leadership is a list of the measures each of the 15 Member Countries are taking to reduce greenhouse emissions.

President Loeak of the Marshall Islands says New Zealand and Australia have agreed to reduce their emissions.

“I believe they will come up with more ambitious targets than currently are in place now…But Australia now is going to an election,” Mr Loeak said.

Australian Labor Government’s Minister for Mental Heath and Ageing, Senator Jacinta Collins, represented Australia at the Forum.

She says the Government was in caretaker mode and could not make any new commitments with the elections due.

Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, the President of the Marshall Islands, will be presenting the declaration to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

The declaration says it will be presented as a contribution to the UN Secretary General’s efforts to catalyse ambitious climate action and mobilise political will for a universal ambitious and legally binding climate change agreement by 2015.

Fiji’s re-admission to the Pacific Islands Forum

Leaders at the forum expressed commitment to revisit Fiji’s suspension from the Forum, welcoming the release of Fiji’s new constitution and its imminent approval by the President of Fiji.

They say the new constitution is an important step towards free and fair elections in Fiji next year.

Any invitation for Fiji’s re-admission to the Forum will not be made until after the Fiji elections which on the current schedule will fall just after next year’s forum in Palau.

Marshall Islands – US dispute on nuclear contamination issues

The Forum leaders welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s report that was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council last year, supporting the Marshall Islands in its efforts to engage the United States towards a justified resolution of the US nuclear testing program.

The report outlines measures that the United States, the United Nations and the Marshall Islands should take to address the Marshall Islands’ dispute with the United States over further compensation for the impacts of radioactive contamination as a result of the U.S. nuclear bomb tests in the Marshalls in the late 1940s and 1950s.

The forum leaders are considering submitting a letter to the US government urging the US to take action to “meaningfully address the ongoing impacts resulting from the US nuclear testing program”.

They are also going to speak to the United Nations Secretary General as they say the Marshall Islands was placed by the international community under a trusteeship of the United Nations to the United States.


New Funds and Awards Greet Green Buildings Conference Delegates

Posted by Ken on September 10, 2013
Posted under Express 198

There will be a lot to talk about when the International Green Building Conference starts in Singapore this week, including two recent announcements: A $200 million fund has been set up by Sustainable Development Capital Asia (SDCL) to fund energy efficiency projects in Singapore, including industry infrastructure, building retrofits and renewable energy installations, while CapitaLand Limited is the only company in Asia has been named both the Regional Sector Leader for Asia and the Global Sector Leader in the ‘Diversified’ property category by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB). Read More

For the full programme of the International Green Building Conference as well as exhibitors at the BEX event, go to: and



CapitaLand is the only company in Asia to be named Global Sector Leader by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark

By Eugene Tay in Green Business Times (5 September 2013):

Singapore, 5 September 2013 – CapitaLand Limited (CapitaLand) has been named both the Regional Sector Leader for Asia and the Global Sector Leader in the ‘Diversified’ property category by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB). Among 74 real estate companies and funds surveyed in Asia, CapitaLand is the only organisation to be named a Global Sector Leader. This is also the third consecutive year that CapitaLand has been named a Regional Sector Leader for Asia since GRESB was incepted in 2011. Sector leaders are recognised for their outstanding performance among regional peers and their best practices in sustainability performance illustrate the way forward for the real estate industry.

GRESB today announced the release of its 2013 Report, which is based on sustainability data gathered from 543 real estate companies and funds, providing aggregate information on 49,000 properties in 46 countries across the globe. Together, the 543 real estate companies and funds surveyed represent US$1.6 trillion in gross asset value.

Companies were nominated by institutional investors to take part in the GRESB Survey. The survey is based on a broad view of sustainability indicators, comprising seven aspects: management; policy and disclosure; risks and opportunities; monitoring and environment management system; performance indicators; building certification and benchmarking; and stakeholder engagement. Collectively, these aspects provide important contributions to strong sustainability performance, beyond efficient use of energy and water and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and waste.

More than 50 institutional investors, representing on aggregate US$6.1 trillion of institutional capital, now use the GRESB benchmark results in the various stages of the investment management and engagement process, with a clear goal to optimise the risk/return profile of their real estate investments.

Mr Lim Ming Yan, President & Group CEO, CapitaLand Limited, said: “We are pleased to be recognised by GRESB as the Regional Sector Leader for Asia and the Global Sector Leader in the ‘Diversified’ property category. This achievement attests to our commitment to sustainability across our multi-sector real estate portfolio spanning over 110 cities in more than 20 countries worldwide.”

Mr Lim added: “Sustainability is integral to our business. We will continue our Group-wide efforts to develop and operate our properties in a ‘green’ manner, engage our stakeholders in our sustainability drive and contribute to the well-being of our employees and the community in a responsible and ethical way.”



NEA’s Energy efficiency Singapore news bulletin (5 September 2013):

New way for companies to finance energy efficiency in Singapore

Singapore businesses in the manufacturing sector have another very good reason to embark on an energy efficiency drive.

With no upfront investment, companies can cover up to 100% of the capital cost of energy efficient technologies, systems and equipment. It is paid for out of the energy cost savings achieved through performance guaranteed agreements with suppliers.

All this is possible now through an approved $200 million fund set up by Sustainable Development Capital (Asia) Limited (SDCL), with the encouragement and support of the Economic Development Board (EDB).

SDCL Asia is focussed on the development and project financing of energy efficiency projects, primarily in Singapore’s manufacturing sector, where there is a recognised opportunity to achieve some significant energy savings.

Up until now there has appeared to be some reluctance by companies to embark on energy efficiency measures, either because of the perceived capital cost involved or because they were not convinced they would achieve genuine energy savings.

SDCL considers it has come up with the ideal solution as it is prepared to provide up to 100% of the capital costs to finance the installation of technologies, systems and equipment – without any upfront outlay by the host company – with a guaranteed return through energy cost savings.

How does it work?

Firstly, the host Singapore company enters into an energy service agreement (ESA) with the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – provided by SCDL – to fund and implement the energy efficiency project in return for a share of the resulting energy savings.

Next, the SPV sub-contracts the implementation to the ESCO through an energy performance contract (EPC) and the investor provides debt and equity capital to fund the project capex (capital expenditure) and other costs.2

The EPC may incorporate a performance guarantee, on-going Operation and Maintenance (O&M) and Measurement and Verification (M&V) services. Alternatively some or all of these may be provided directly to the host.

Finally, the other terms of the EPC are designed to be back-to-back with the ESA, leaving the SPV with only the obligation to fund the project and the ESCO with the obligation to deliver the project.

Glen Plumbridge, the Managing Director of SDCL explains that under the project agreement – or Energy Services Agreement – the investment return is ‘paid from savings’.

“The investment return is typically based on a share of energy savings achieved for an agreed contractual term (typically 5 to 10 years). So at the end of the contract term, the installed systems and equipment and all the energy savings they generate are retained by the host company.

“We can even structure the contract so that payments are made only if and when measured and verified energy savings are achieved” says Mr Plumbridge, who welcomes the opportunity to offer its services and funds to Singapore companies.

The energy efficiency project size would typically range from S$1million to 40 million. It can cover a host of capital expenditure items, including industry infrastructure – for the supply, conversion, transmission, distribution or consumption of energy – building retrofits and renewable energy installations.

For Singapore companies, this can make perfectly good business sense. Improving energy efficiency is one of the most cost effective ways of reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

It is a process and a plan that has worked very well in other parts of the world and SDCL has direct experience in handling energy efficiency finance in the United Kingdom where performance guarantees and 100% upfront capital investment has become more common.

Headquartered in London, SDCL is a specialist investment and financial advisory firm, focused on energy efficiency. In 2012 SDCL launched the innovative UK Energy Efficiency Investments Fund, in which the UK government’s UK Green Investment Bank made a GBP50 million cornerstone investment commitment.

SDCL is a member of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative and is authorized and regulated in the UK by the Financial Services Authority.

Energy efficiency projects SDCL has funded includes lighting upgrades, compressed air and extraction fans, metering, motor replacement, energy optimisation, installation of equipment and related services.

They can operate over multiple sites where there is a need for different approaches and equipment. Obviously in Singapore it could involve upgrading of chiller plant for air conditioning or industrial equipment required for processing, storage and packaging.

SDCL fund invests in non-domestic energy efficiency projects in the UK. SDCL Asia will be drawing on the specialist experience  and expertise developed within the SDCL Group both in the UK and Asia to implement energy efficiency in Singapore, which will  be a first of a kind for the region.

SDCL Asia, a joint venture between Sustainable Development  Capital LLP (“SDCL”) and First Eastern Investment Group (“First  Eastern”) of Hong Kong, which has committed to be the  cornerstone investor to launch the energy efficiency financing  process.

Source: and

Asia Needs Inclusive Growth with Green Touch and Clean Energy Investing

Posted by Ken on September 10, 2013
Posted under Express 198

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) says it is vital to reconcile sustainable development with developing countries’ urgent need for poverty allevation and growth – inclusive and green growth – to avoid irreversible and costly environmental damage. A key topic at the Clean Tech marketplace forum in Singapore which ADB is supporting. Armstrong Asset Management is heading in the right direction with the third close at $130 million of its Clean Energy Fund for South East Asia. Read More


The Clean Tech Marketplace Forum is on from Monday 9 September to Wednesday 11th at Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore.

Sharing a common strategic vision of addressing climate change, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Global Cleantech Clusters Association (GCCA) which is composed of 48 clusters from across the world, representing 10,000 Cleantech companies, have joined forces to facilitate the creation of a low carbon technology marketplace in Asia through an objective forum that will bring together all relevant stakeholders to discuss new development, issues, challenges, projects, partnerships and prospects.  This global, cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholders and multi-dimensional forum is envisioned to pave the way for the creation of a successful and sustainable model for an efficient cleantech marketplace at the regional level to help spur sustainable economic development in the Asia Pacific region and the rest of the world.

This Forum is a global stage for all key stakeholders (private sector, government bodies, technical and research institutes, multilateral agencies and NGOs) to incorporate their perspectives in the creation and operation of a cleantech marketplace to accelerate cleantech development, innovation and adoption.

Event Highlights:

Asian Development Bank (ADB) Low Carbon Technology Marketplace Forum

Global Cleantech Cluster Association (GCCA ) Asia-Pacific Cleantech Cluster Managers Meeting

Presentation of findings of GCCA Survey 2012

Sharing of best practices and case studies

Singapore Cleantech Forum presented by Singapore High Technology Association – a Green Technologies Association

Pre-event Masterclass Training Workshop on Keystone Method for Cleantech Investment (used in  GCCA Later Stage Awards Judging), as well as Climate Smart and Power House Workshops

Guided Tour at BEX/WES on Sept 11

Networking session with Swissnex and visit to Swiss Future City Lab in Singapore

Business Matching sessions and meetings

Networking cocktails for Cleantech Partnerships

For the full programme, speaker and registration details go to:


By Elga Reyes in (2 September 2013):

Clean energy fund raises US$130 million for regional solar, biogas projects

Singapore-based Armstrong Fund has received several financial commitments from various international monetary agencies interested in investing in renewable energy projects in Southeast Asia.

Pictured is the solar power project in Thailand, developed by Conergy, from which Annex Power originated.

Armstrong Asset Management on Thursday announced the investments of several financial institutions to the Armstrong South East Asia Clean Energy Fund which will channel US$130 million into different renewable energy projects in the region.

The IFC Catalyst Fund, the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), and the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM) have committed to the Armstrong Fund, a private equity investment account dedicated to small-scale renewable energy and resource efficiency projects in emerging markets around Southeast Asia.

Singapore-based Armstrong Asset Management aims to invest in 10 to 15 projects that generate up to 10MW of power from sources such as solar, hydro, wind or biogas within ten years. The worth of each project can range from US$5 million to US$12 million.

With this upsurge of new commitments, the Armstrong Fund is closer to achieving its goal of US$150 million by end of September or its targeted final closing.

The IFC Catalyst Fund, managed by the IFC Asset Management Company LLC, a subsidiary of World Bank-member International Finance Corporation, invested US$20 million to the Armstrong Fund. Back in May, it also provided the same amount, which was the first investment by the multilateral organisation in a fund focused on mitigating climate change in Southeast Asia.

Reyaz Ahmad, head of the IFC Catalyst Fund, said, “The capital, expertise, and innovation [Armstrong Fund] will bring to clean energy in Southeast Asia exemplifies the role private equity can play in helping to address climate change while generating financial returns.”

Similarly, Jurgen Rigterink, chief investment officer of FMO, which is investing in the fund for the first time, said, “We are pleased to work with investors who are committed to clean energy and energy and resource efficiency.”

The Dutch development bank, which is one of the largest such banks in Europe with an investment portfolio of 6.3 billion euros, supports innovative solutions for economic and social growth. Aside from energy, they are also focused on two other high impact sectors – financial institutions and agribusiness, food and water.

SIFEM, on the other hand, invested in the Armstrong Fund through Obviam, an independent investment advisor in Switzerland.

“Obviam is looking forward to a long term partnership with Armstrong, who offers a unique blend of in-depth renewable energy and Southeast Asia investment experience. We expect the fund to a play an important role in fostering the application of clean and renewable energies in the region, working towards minimising fossil fuel-based dependence,” said Claude Barras, chief executive officer of Obviam.

Currently, the Armstrong Fund has investments in solar photovoltaic and biogas power projects in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines worth US$30 million in partnership with Annex Power. In addition, it has invested in the construction and development of a 30MW portfolio of solar power projects in Thailand with Hong Kong-based energy company, Symbior Energy.

According to Armstrong Asset Management managing partner Andrew Affleck, the firm will ensure that the environmental and developmental impact will be reported to the investing institutions, as well as the amount of generated clean energy.

He added, “The Armstrong team will work with our investee companies to adopt best practices that adhere to IFC’s environmental and social performance standards, in addition to delivering the projected financial returns.”


Will the Election Victor Spoil a Nation’s Climate Change Moves

Posted by Ken on September 10, 2013
Posted under Express 198

The victory of the Liberal party in the just-concluded Australian elections will see a new government formed under the leadership of Tony Abbott – the man who, in his campaign, vowed to dismantle the carbon tax introduced in the previous administration. This spells bad news in the fight against climate change, which was shown in a recent study to make extreme weather events more likely in the coming years.  Read more

Climate change to bring more sizzling summers, study says

By Wendy Koch in USA Today (5 September 2013):

Does climate change contribute to extreme weather such as last year’s record heat in the USA? New research suggests that, yes, it increases the likelihood these disasters will re-occur.

New research finds climate change will increase the risk of heat waves in USA

It finds that Sandy-like flooding will become more frequent along the coasts

2012 saw 11 “extreme weather” events costing more than $1 billion in damages

Brace yourself for more hot summers ahead. Extreme weather researchers report on Thursday that climate change makes the searing summer that the struck the United States last year much more likely.

In fact, July 2012-like heat is now four times as likely to strike the Midwest and Northeast as it was in pre-industrial America when less carbon dioxide warmed the atmosphere, according to a Stanford University study. Last year’s heat wave, which peaked in July — the warmest month on record for the contiguous USA — exacerbated the nation’s drought, ruined crops and contributed to more than 100 deaths.

“It was a very rare event. It’s now less rare given current greenhouse gas emissions,” says lead author Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment.

His research is part of a trove of 19 new peer-reviewed studies by scientists worldwide that look at the possible link between climate change and a dozen extreme weather events across the globe last year. About half of the studies say human-caused climate change — due to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation — contributed to the event examined.

Climate scientists often caution that no single weather event can be blamed on global warming, but Thomas Peterson of NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center says that advances in climate modeling now allow them to “talk” about individual events.

“The models are improving,” agrees Thomas Knutson of NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., adding they’re now able to simulate year-to-year climate patterns such as El Niño and La Niña and thus tease out the role of long-term global warming. The studies, edited by NOAA climate scientists, appear as a special supplement in today’s Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Knutson co-authored a study, based on historical data and 23 models, that estimates human-caused climate change contributed 35% to the extreme warmth that swept over the eastern USA from March through May last year. He says the risk of such an event occurring again is at least 10 times more likely.

Another study, led by NOAA’s William Sweet, finds that coastal communities will see “increased frequency” of flooding akin to that in New Jersey and New York after 2012′s Superstorm Sandy because of climate-induced sea level rise. “Events of less and less severity (from less powerful storms) will produce similar impacts,” the study concludes.

Yet these researchers still say that typical weather and climate patterns played major roles in the extreme weather events studied. Diffenbaugh says lack of rainfall was a prime reason for last year’s heat wave, and Knutson — like two French scientists who authored a similar study — sees natural variability as the main culprit in 2012′s warm spring.

The NOAA-edited studies looked at twice as many extreme weather events worldwide — including Kenya’s drought, southeast Australia’s wetness and the Netherlands’ cold spell — as did last year’s compilation of similar research. Indeed, in the USA alone, 2012 brought 11 such events that each caused at least $1 billion in damage.

Diffenbaugh, whose research was federally funded, says understanding the likelihood that these disasters will reoccur can inform efforts to reduce vulnerability and quantify the true societal cost of greenhouse gas emissions.



Explainer: What election result means for carbon pricing

By Elisa de Wit for RenewEconomy  (9 September 2013):

The Government has stated that its first order of business will be repeal of the Carbon Pricing Mechanism (CPM) (or the so-called ‘carbon tax’). In place of the CPM, the Government will address climate change and carbon emissions through its Direct Action Plan (Direct Action Plan). It is intended that implementation of the Direct Action Plan will provide the mechanism for the Government to achieve its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% on 2000 levels by 2020.

Repealing the Carbon Price Mechanism

Assuming the Government sticks to its previously announced deadlines, the Government will introduce legislation to repeal the CPM (Repeal Bill) on the first sitting day of Parliament. The Honourable Greg Hunt has stated that the CPM will then be repealed by April 2014 or, at the latest, by July 2014.

However, as the Government does not currently have control of the Senate, in order to repeal the CPM before 1 July 2014 it will need Labor to support the passage of the Repeal Bill. It remains uncertain whether Labor will agree that the new Government has a mandate to repeal the CPM and therefore whether it will support the Repeal Bill.  Indications prior to the election were that Labor would not countenance reversing its position on this issue.

If Labor does not support the Repeal Bill, then the Government’s ability to pass the Repeal Bill through Parliament will depend on the final composition of the Senate. At the time of posting this article it remained uncertain whether the Government would have a majority in the Senate in its own right from 1 July 2014. If the Government does not achieve the required numbers it has committed to call a double dissolution election. The fastest possible time frame for repeal via a double dissolution is likely to be approximately 8-9 months from the election, but the repeal could potentially take several months longer than this.

Direct Action Plan

The Government aims to commence its Direct Action Plan by 1 July 2014. The Direct Action Plan is an incentive based policy designed to support emissions reduction activities through:

  • a capped government fund which will purchase “lowest cost abatement” from projects that reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions (Emissions Reduction Fund), and
  • the imposition of financial penalties on businesses which exceed their “business as usual” emissions baselines.

The details of the Direct Action Plan will be developed through a white paper process which the Government proposes to start by 7 October 2013. We note that legislation to introduce the Direct Action Plan will be subject to the same hurdles as discussed above for the Repeal Bill.

Although the exact details of the Emissions Reduction Fund will be finalised during the white paper process, it is proposed that Low Carbon Australia will buy the “lowest cost per tonne abatement” from entities which:

  • reduce emissions through a project approved under the existing and/or expanded Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), or
  • create abatement by operating below their “business as usual” baseline.

Low Carbon Australia will purchase abatement through a reverse auction where entities can voluntarily place bids based on the lowest price they are willing to sell their abatement for. Low Carbon Australia will be able to enter into forward contracts with entities to purchase abatement which may be delivered up to 7 years in the future. Funding, however, will only be delivered once abatement is actually achieved. The Government is adamant that it will not pick and choose what types of projects it will purchase abatement from, but rather, will simply purchase the lowest cost abatement.

The exact details of who will be liable to pay financial penalties under the Direct Action Plan and the value of these penalties is expected to be finalised during the white paper process. The Government has, however, announced that the “business as usual” emissions baselines will be calculated on an individual firm basis, will be based on a firm’s average emissions over the past five years using data reported via the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme and may potentially be linked to a firm’s emissions intensity.

The Government’s targets and approach to emissions reduction will be re-assessed in 2015 when an eight year plan for post-2020 will be developed.

Carbon Farming Initiative

The CFI will continue under the new Government and will be one of the main platforms for developing abatement under the Direct Action Plan. The Government intends to retain the project types and methodology determinations which have been approved to date under the CFI and also proposes to expand the CFI by:

  • expanding the types of projects which are eligible under the CFI (for example, adding types of projects which deliver abatement from energy efficiency, waste coal mine gas, transport, composting/recycling etc)
  • expanding the methodology determinations which are available under the CFI and in particular speeding up the process to have a methodology determination approved (for example, methodologies from international schemes such as the Clean Development Mechanism are proposed to be imported into the CFI), and
  • providing an option for carbon sequestration projects to be carried out with a shorter permanence period of 25 years (instead of 100 years).

Changes in institutional and governance arrangements

The Government has announced that it intends to merge the Commonwealth Climate Change and Environment Departments.

The Government has also committed to abolish the Climate Commission, the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Energy Security Fund. In particular the Government intends to introduce legislation to Parliament which will shut down the CEFC within the first sitting fortnight of Parliament.

The Government intends to retain the following organisations:

  • the Clean Energy Regulator, which will be responsible for administering the expanded CFI (including new powers to approve methodology determinations), Renewable Energy Target and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme
  • Low Carbon Australia, which will conduct reverse auctions on behalf of the Emissions Reduction Fund, and
  • the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, however, the Government has announced that there will be budget cuts to the agency.

Implications for CPM liable entities and other participants in carbon markets

Assuming the CPM is successfully repealed, the termination date for the CPM will most likely be the first quarterly accounting day after the Repeal Bill is passed. Importantly, the Government has stated that it will not repeal the CPM retrospectively.

If the CPM is successfully repealed part way through the 2013/14 compliance year, the Government has announced that liability under the CPM will be calculated on a pro-rata basis. For example if the CPM is repealed on 1 April 2014, the CPM will have operated for 9 months of the compliance year and liable entities will be required to surrender eligible emissions units to cover three quarters of their greenhouse gas emissions for 2013/14 by 1 February 2015.

Moving forward, although liable entities will no longer be subject to liability under the CPM, it remains uncertain whether the same entities would then be covered by the “business as usual” baseline under the Direct Action Plan. If so, these entities would be able to either sell abatement to the Emissions Reduction Fund if they emit below their baselines or could be subject to financial penalties if they emit above their baselines.

Repealing the CPM will also have implications for the demand for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) which are generated under the CFI. In the 2012/13 financial year, 97% of all ACCUs issued were purchased by liable entities under the CPM. The Government, however, is confident that there will be demand for ACCUs through the Emissions Reduction Fund and on international markets.


Elisa de Wit is a partner with Norton Rose Fulbright Australia.


Hawaii Is US Leader in Retrofittng for Energy and Water

Posted by Ken on September 10, 2013
Posted under Express 198

Say ‘Aloha’ to energy efficiency! The state of Hawaii has once again topped the Energy Services Coalition ranking for innovative approach to implementing energy and water efficiency retrofits in buildings in the United States. The state can serve as a case for the bipartisan energy efficiency legislation “The Energy Savings & Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013” introduced in the United States, aimed at saving America billions in dollars  while creating domestic jobs and reducing carbon emissions. Read more

Hawaii takes Energy Service Coalition’s top award for energy efficiency

By Duane Shimogawa for Pacific Business News (6 September 2013):

Hawaii is tops in the nation when it comes to an innovative approach to implement energy and water efficiency retrofits in buildings using energy savings to pay for projects, according to the Energy Services Coalition, a national nonprofit made up of experts hoping to increase energy efficiency and building upgrades through energy savings performance contracting.

The state took the Energy Services Coalition’s Race to the Top award for the second straight year.

“Energy remains a priority of this administration, and Hawaii’s top national ranking affirms the significant progress we are making in the area of energy efficiency,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement. “Our investments in energy savings performance contracting will not only reduce costs at state facilities, it is also expected to create several thousand jobs.”

Race to the Top ranks states by investment per capita in energy savings performance contracting. Hawaii leads with an investment of $132.25 per capita, with Ohio coming in second with $108.58 and Kansas in third with $97.77.

In August, the state Energy Office accepted the Race to the Top award at the annual Energy Services Coalition Conference in Denver, Colo.

At the event, the coalition recognized Hawaii for its outstanding commitment to energy efficiency, environmental stewardship, and economic development through energy savings performance contracting.

“Through performance contracting, we are saving $14.2 million and 60.9 million kilowatt hours per year,” State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director Richard Lim said in a statement. “Over 20 years, these energy savings will be equivalent to powering an estimated 171,623 households for one year.”

Duane Shimogawa covers energy, real estate and economic development for Pacific Business News.



Slashing Energy Waste Could Create 174,000 American Jobs

by Beth Buczynski in Earth Techling (6 September 2013):

These days, politicians from opposing parties rarely agree on anything. At least in public. Until we’re all comfortable with admitting that fossil fuels are a dangerous, dying industry, and that we should have switched to renewables decades ago, the small victories must be celebrated.

Take the recently introduced bipartisan energy efficiency legislation known as The Energy Savings & Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S. 1392), for instance. Introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), the bill has the potential to save America billions while creating domestic jobs and reducing carbon emissions–all things this country sorely needs.

According to new analysis released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), S. 1392 would cut government and industrial energy waste and help homeowners finance energy efficiency improvements, among other energy-saving measures. ACEEE found that the proposals being considered could, in combination, save consumers and businesses over $65 billion on their energy bills by 2030. That translates into a lot of extra revenue, not to mention the ability to hire more Americans to meet increased demand.”

Highlights of the proposed legislation:

Strengthen national model building codes to make new homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient while working with states and private industry to make the code-writing process more transparent.

Train the next generation of workers in energy-efficient commercial building design and operation through university-based Building Training and Research Assessment Centers.

Require the federal government – the single largest energy user in the country — to adopt energy saving techniques for computers, saving energy and taxpayer dollars.

Help manufacturers reduce energy use and become more competitive by incentivizing the use of more energy efficient electric motors and transformers.

“Altogether, these provisions would support over 152,000 new jobs in 2025, increasing to 174,000 jobs by 2030,” states an ACEEE press release. “In addition to providing economic benefits, the provisions would prevent unnecessary electric generation and natural gas consumption. Energy savings from these provisions would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 676 million metric tons by 2030.”

So far, American businesses seem to be on board, but will Congress listen? “As users of one-third of our nation’s energy, manufacturers are directly affected by the cost of energy, and we believe policies should promote research, development, and deployment of energy-efficient technologies,” said Ross Eisenberg, vice-president of energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.  ”Manufacturers support the Shaheen-Portman bill, a set of common sense, bipartisan energy efficiency measures that would create jobs by saving energy in industrial, commercial, and residential sectors.”

Source: and

Challenges for Leading Companies as they strive for sustainability

Posted by Ken on September 10, 2013
Posted under Express 198

Corporations play an important part in the race for sustainability and meeting climate goals. Yet, despite this awareness, corporations still face a challenge in getting investors engaged on sustainability, according to a joint survey by Accenture and the United Nations Global Compact. A good company to emulate would be pencil-makers Faber-Castell, which has been recognised by the United Nations to be the world’s first private company to deal in carbon dioxide certificates from managed forests. Read more

Sneak preview of global CEO survey shows it is still a struggle to engage investors on sustainability

By Peter Lacy for Guardian Professional (14 August 2013):

Once every three years, Accenture joins forces with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) to conduct the most comprehensive global study in existence on corporate views on sustainability.

In addition to in-depth interviews with 76 CEOs and a survey over of 1000 CEOs globally, we also conduct detailed assessments of investor and consumer attitudes to sustainability. We present the results in September at the UNGC Leaders’ Summit in New York. But some of the early findings are in.

Back in 2010, the last time we conducted the study, we heard a common refrain from CEOs: “We’d like to do more on sustainability,” they said, “but investors just don’t care.” This year, we set out to uncover how this relationship has changed, and understand the role that investors are playing in companies’ efforts to align business performance with sustainability leadership.

Before we began our programme of interviews with business leaders, we asked sustainability professionals, academics and civil society leaders what they thought we should be asking. Many of the suggestions we received focused on the role of investors:

• Do you think your share price currently includes any value directly related to sustainability?

• How many times have you gone on record to the analyst community to explain to them how your sustainability programme is generating value – and what did you tell them?

• How big an impediment are financial markets in terms of decisions where there is a trade-off between sustainability and profit?

• What changes could be made in the financial system to encourage companies and individuals to prioritise sustainability?

• What do you need from your investors to allow you to progress further with transforming your business towards a truly sustainable one?

Our conversations this year suggest that the investment community may be beginning to pay greater heed to sustainability. As one senior business leader put it: “We still find it challenging to convey to mainstream investors why and how sustainability can drive value creation, but they’re starting to appreciate the risks of working in an unsustainable system.”

But our survey data suggests that the pace of change may be slow: just 7% of CEOs in the communications industry, for example, regard investors as an important voice in guiding their approach to sustainability. And with signs that CEOs themselves may be struggling to quantify the value of sustainability to their business, we are seeing a more equivocal assessment than ever of the power of markets to find solutions to sustainability challenges.

Through our in-depth interviews and quantitative survey data across 27 industries and more than 100 countries, we’ll be looking to uncover the true dynamic between companies and investors on sustainability: how companies can communicate better; how investors can approach sustainability differently; how we can assess and value performance on sustainability; and how we can collectively align market incentives with sustainable development.

Early next year we will again be teaming up with the UNGC, and also the UN backed Principles for Responsible Investment, to conduct a parallel investor survey with their members, whose total assets under managements comes in at over $8 trillion. We hope to report on these additional findings in the autumn but in the meantime, we’d like to know what you think.

Get involved

How do you see investor approaches changing? Can companies communicate more effectively on the business value of sustainability? Let us know your views, join the conversation at @actsustainably, and watch this space as we build towards the launch of the UNGC-Accenture CEO Study on 19 September.


Peter Lacy is the managing director of Accenture Sustainability Services in Asia Pacific



Faber-Castell proves sustainable manufacturing has competitive edge

ecovoice (5 August 2013):

One of the oldest industrial manufacturing companies and family-owned businesses in the world, Faber-Castell, has enjoyed yet another year of healthy growth, after pioneering sustainable practices that have seen the business named by the United Nations as the world’s first private company to deal in carbon dioxide certificates from managed forests.

Creating a competitive edge from a true commitment to sustainable and socially responsible practices has proven to make good business sense as well as drive profitable results according to Australian based Regional Director for Faber-Castell, Count Andreas (Andy) von Faber-Castell.

Count Andy, an eighth generation descendant of the company founder, has personally overseen the introduction of self sustaining and community enhanced FSC-FM certified pine forests in Brazil and Colombia that have directly contributed to the prestigious United Nations accolade.

The South American forest projects contribute to around 75 per cent of the company’s global wood needs for the production of over three billion pencils globally a year. They also see over 70 farmers and their communities engaged in guaranteed employment, regeneration of their previously degraded lands from overuse as stock grazing lands, and a share of profits from the fast growing forest products harvested for Faber-Castell pencils.

The global and local corporate policy on quality, environment and social responsibility was introduced decades ago, and Andy believes it was potentially easier to embed in a family run business that is intuitively focused on legacies of fortune and sustainability for future generations. But such a large globally competitive business also means these policies have to be accountable in the here and now for profitability, growth and competitive advantage. Faber-Castell is a world-leading example proving the way in these attributes.

“As a family company now in its eighth generation of ownership, Faber-Castell understands the importance of ensuring the resources are there for future generations by providing a sustainable quality product,” said Count Andy.

Count Andy said the company’s long term investment and belief in social and environmental practices was well balanced with its position as a premium, high quality manufacturer and had proved to be good business practice with a global group turn-over of 570 million Euros in the fiscal year 2011/12, up 6% on the previous fiscal year and the 12/13 fiscal year achieved a 600 million Euro turn-over.

“We’re a long-standing business not interested in short-term profit-seeking, so the ability to generate sustained profit is vital. For me, business and integrity go hand in hand and the integrity that embodies values such as social and ecological responsibility, trust, honesty and fairness is fully compatible with profitability,” said Count Andy.

Unlike other companies who have been forced to use wood blends in their pencils due to diminishing wood supply figures, Faber-Castell’s sustainable plantations ensure all pencils are of ecological and superior quality. The long-term gains are the result of an ecological commitment from as early on as 1926 when Faber-Castell began recycling its use of paint solvents and use of wood waste for electricity. This longstanding commitment has resulted in some impressive figures, including:

75% of the total quantity of timber required by Faber-Castell can be covered by its own certified forests

A recycling proportion of 88% throughout the companies

More than 60% of all packaging elements are made from cardboard

The company covers the predominant part of the energy required from wood waste and water power

To further its sustainable culture, plastic waste materials from production are almost completely re-used and by separating the waste into up to 28 different material groups.

In addition to environmental awareness, Faber-Castell also has a global commitment to social responsibility. In 2000, it signed an international binding agreement with German trade union IG Metall to guarantee conditions of employment and labour in all companies of the Faber-Castell group around the world. The Social Charter comprises a ban on child labour, equal opportunities and equal treatment of employees regardless of race, religion, sex or nationality, guarantee of safe and hygienic working conditions, and payment of adequate wages under decent working conditions.

Source: and

Alternatives Fuel for Leading Airlines as Aviation Explores a Sustainable Future

Posted by Ken on September 10, 2013
Posted under Express 198

The aviation industry forms an important pillar of a nation’s economy. A new report by the cross-industry aviation organisation the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) reveals that aviation supports some 26.8 million jobs and $1.1 trillion in GDP across the 21 APEC economies. It is thus important for this industry to grow in a systematic and sustainable matter. To push that along, Singapore Airlines and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore are doing a joint research on the benefits, requirements and cost of using alternative fuel which causes less pollution. Read more

By Karamjit Kaur for The Straits Times (6 September 2013):

CAAS, SIA to study alternative fuel use

Singapore Airlines (SIA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) are doing a joint research on the benefits, requirements and cost of using alternative fuel.

In a push for cleaner skies, Singapore is studying for the first time the feasibility of airlines using alternative fuels.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) are doing the joint research, with the aid of hired consultants.

They will look into the benefits, requirements and cost of using alternatives, a CAAS spokesman told The Straits Times.

The study, expected to start later this year, should take about six months. The cost has not been finalised.

Whether the intention is to eventually draft policies to require or encourage Singapore carriers to make the switch is premature to say, industry observers said.

SIA spokesman Nicholas Ionides said the new collaborative effort will take the studies it has done on its own to the next level.

Its move is also in concert with the International Air Transport Association’s (Iata) global drive to get airlines to eventually switch from fossil fuels like oil to alternative sources, namely biofuels, which cause less pollution.

It will help to further reduce the industry’s carbon emission, which is about 2 per cent of man-made greenhouse emissions currently.

But it wants to do better. Said Iata’s assistant director of environment (technology), Mr Thomas Roetger: “We must put in place appropriate steps to further limit and reduce carbon emissions.”

Iata has pledged that from 2020, the industry will achieve growth without increasing its carbon emission. By 2050, the target is for its carbon emission to be half that of 2005.

The focus on biofuels follows the significant strides made by the industry in recent years in reducing its carbon footprint, Mr Roetger said, citing the investment in more fuel-efficient planes and air traffic service providers helping to shorten flight times.

Biofuels used in aviation are typically extracted from plant sources that are not used in food, such as algae.

Since 2011, they have been certified safe for planes when used with today’s jet fuel. Further studies and tests are being done on whether a complete switch is safe.

Sixteen airlines have tried out the mix since then, completing more than 1,500 commercial passenger flights. The carriers include Air France, Air China and Thai Airways.

SIA has not done any such test flights.

The biggest obstacle to the widespread use of biofuels is price, which is almost double that of jet fuel, Mr Roetger said.

But he foresees prices falling in the coming years as demand grows and suppliers achieve economies of scale.

Iata is also talking to governments on how they can incentivise the use of alternative fuels for aviation, he said.

Mr Ionides shares his vision: “The way forward is to ensure there is enough supply and ready infrastructure to support the deployment of alternative fuels in an economically viable manner.”


Aviation supports 26.8 million APEC jobs

ATAG reports from  Geneva and Tokyo (4 September 2013):

As Ministers of Transport from across the APEC region gather in Tokyo, a new report has been released by the cross-industry aviation organisation the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), looking at the role aviation plays in the APEC region. The report, Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders APEC, reveals that aviation supports some 26.8 million jobs and $1.1 trillion in GDP across the 21 APEC economies.

ATAG Executive Director, Paul Steele, says: “The breadth and importance of air transport to economies in APEC is impressive. The fact that, ranked by GDP, the region’s air transport industry would be the fifth largest APEC economy shows how large the industry is. But more important than the size of aviation is the important role it plays in transporting passengers and goods across the region. Aviation drives high-value trade and is a vital player in the region’s tourism industry.”

Globally, air transport facilitates around 35% of the value of world trade and in APEC, it handled 23.2 million tonnes of high-value trade in 2010. The report estimates that, by 2030, air transport will support up to 45 million jobs and $3.2 trillion in GDP, but also cautions that if growth were to be just one percent lower each year, the impact could be up to eight million jobs not created.

Steele comments, “Aviation is a great facilitator and catalyst for economic growth, but it needs to be growth in a sustainable and systematic way. We must ensure that the industry and governments work together to build the needed infrastructure to facilitate this growth. But any new infrastructure must fit in to a broader strategic plan. I am glad to say that the industry and governments are working through APEC on some of these issues and this cooperation should be broadened wherever possible.”

Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders APEC also provides an overview of the scope of air transport across the APEC economies. Airlines in the region carried 1.4 billion passengers in 2010. There are 857 commercial airports, 1,344 airlines, 21 air traffic control organisations and 16,782 aircraft that make up the APEC air transport system.

The meeting of the APEC transport ministers comes at a key time when governments are preparing to meet in Montreal at the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for the 38th triennial ICAO Assembly, beginning at the end of September. The aviation industry has been urging governments to make progress on the issue of aviation and climate change and in particular on the development of a single global market-based measure for aviation emissions to complement efforts on technology, operations and infrastructure improvements.

“We would like to send a strong message to the APEC Transport Ministers and their colleagues in governments around the world to provide leadership on climate change and how any global policy response might impact aviation. As an industry, we have provided our suggestion of an approach we think is the most practical and easy to implement. It is now up to governments to set in place the way forward,” says Paul Steele.

“The report we have released today allows us to explore the important role that aviation plays across the APEC region – and the world – on a daily basis. Our industry is committed to a sustainable future for air transport and providing all the benefits that aviation brings for global economies. What we are hoping to achieve at ICAO is a key building block of that sustainable future and we urge all governments, including the APEC Ministers meeting in Tokyo, to support this global effort.”



The Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders APEC report can be found at this direct link.

APEC is the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation organisation, a forum designed to facilitate economic growth through greater cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. It consists of the following governments: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, People’s Republic of China, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.


APEC is working on a number of aviation projects with member countries and industry, including the recently-announced initiatives in aviation security, connectivity, infrastructure and passenger facilitation improvements.

The full, global, Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders report can be found at


The industry’s position on climate change for the 38th ICAO Assembly.

A comprehensive story on the aviation industry’s position can be found on page 8 of this publication for the ICAO Assembly.

A Boeing report released last week estimates the number of pilots that will be required to be trained and employed in the Asia-Pacific region over the next year to be 192,300, along with 215,300 aircraft technicians.


Fold up cars ideal for Hong Kong’s electric switch

Posted by Ken on September 10, 2013
Posted under Express 198

The roads of the near future may look and sound different from todays. They would be quieter and cleaner, from the increased adoption of electric vehicles which are gaining traction in Hong Kong with financial and policy support from the government. Folding cars too may feature on the roads of the future, aimed at making parking an easier affair. These new technologies, though, still face significant safety, financial and administrative challenges. Read more

By Li Xueying for The Straits Times (31 August 2013):

THE taxi purrs up the slope as cabby Sammy Ho Kam Lok steps on the gas – or rather, the electricity.

“I can go faster now. It’s quieter too,” says the 53-year-old of his new sedan painted the jaunty red of Hong Kong’s cabs.

It is one of 14 new electric taxis now plying streets here, marking the start of what many hope will be a wave of electric vehicles that can help curb the city’s pollution.

Just last week, Hong Kong was shrouded yet again in smog. Tourism officials put up a giant banner at the Tsim Sha Tsui pier of a clear city skyline, so visitors could take their holiday snaps against it.

A key culprit is road transport, especially belching lorries, buses and taxis. It makes up two-thirds of the carbon monoxide and a third of the nitrogen oxides here, says Ms Tiffany Leung of environment advocacy group Clean Air Network. Marine vessels and power generators also contribute.

“Electric vehicles will thus be significant in helping us deal with pollution,” Ms Leung says.

There are now 482 such vehicles here, up from 74 in 2010. They form a small fraction of the city’s 658,000 vehicles, but plans are afoot to increase their usage.

The use of electric taxis might be “an experiment” for now, says Mr Charles Tran, the president of the Hong Kong Taxi & Public Light Bus Association, which rents them from China carmaker BYD. But it hopes to raise the number to 45 in coming months and eventually buy its own.

BYD is targeting 3,000 by 2015. Hong Kong has a fleet of more than 18,000 taxis, most of which run on LPG.

A trial to run electric buses will start at the end of next year, with the government funnelling HK$180 million (S$30 million) to bus firms to buy 36 such vehicles.

“The ultimate policy objective is to have zero-emission buses running across the territory,” says a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department.

As an incentive for private-car owners – electric cars cost two or three times more than conventional ones – it waives the first registration tax, which is 40 to 115 per cent of the car’s listed price.

The government will take the lead, adding 120 electric vehicles to its current 98 within the year.

But the drive to go electric is not without bumps.

Cost is one issue. For instance, repairs will be problematic and expensive after the warranty expires, says electrical engineering academic Eric Cheng of Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

“No technicians in Hong Kong are specifically trained in repairing electric vehicles,” he notes.

Another is the lack of charging infrastructure, with just 1,000 points around the city. Canada mandates chargers in all new buildings.

Also, some drivers are daunted by perceived risks, especially after a charger at a carpark melted in June because of a faulty connection to the electricity grid.

Moreover, professional training in related fields has yet to catch up with the technology.

Says Dr Cheng: “If there’s a crash, what should firemen do? Spray water or use powder? And the high-voltage electricity?”

Thus, the government must take even “more aggressive” steps on various fronts, say experts.

Professor Chan Ching Chuen of Hong Kong University says Shenzhen, where heavy subsidies make electric cars cheaper than conventional ones, has 4,300 out of an overall pool of two million. Japan has more than 40,000 out of a pool of 74 million.

Still, Hong Kong is ahead of Singapore, which has just one privately registered electric car.

Hopefully, more Hong Kong motorists will jump on the bandwagon. Mr Ho’s new taxi has already received the thumbs-up from passengers.

“They say it is amazing!” he declares proudly.



Folding car is answer to parking nightmare

A car, which folds up to make it easier to squeeze into the smallest parking space, has been developed in South Korea.

By David Millward for The Telegraph (4 September 2013):

Known as the Armadillo, the car could be the answer to a motorist’s prayers especially in supermarkets and urban car parks where spaces can be a challenge.

All a motorist needs to do is drive up to the space, get out of the car and press a switch on a mobile phone.

Then the rear of the car folds over the rest of the vehicle, mimicking how an armadillo uses a protective shell to ward of hostile predators.

This cuts the length of the car almost in half to 1.65 metres – 65 inches.

The mobile is also used to park the car itself thanks to a Windows based computer system.

Space has also been saved by replacing the wing mirrors with small cameras, which project onto a screen on the dashboard.

The Armadillo is an electric two-seater car capable of travelling 62 miles on a 10-minute charge.

However there is one small snag, the South Korean authorities have yet to agree to allow the car on the road because it does not meet the country’s crash resistance standards.

An AA spokesman however voiced doubts about the technology.

”We can see a bit of a problem in that, having folded over for parking, what happens if another car parks ‘bumper to bumper’ and prevents the Armadillo from unfolding again?

”The Nottingham workplace parking levy is about to meet its nemesis if micro cars like this mean you can get two cars into one parking space. Other councils may have to re-write their parking charges and halve their fines if they find two Armadillos getting cosy in one parking space.”