Archive for the ‘Express 207’ Category

K is for Korea (South, of course) and the infamous Kyoto Protocol

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

K is for Korea (South, of course) and the infamous Kyoto Protocol

K is for Korea (South of course), an acknowledged global leader in adopting green growth and investing in it like no other country. Here’s what OECD says about its very workable strategy. Korea is also – for very good reason – home to the Green Climate Fund and the Global Green Growth Institute. No coincidence that the current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is from Korea.  In 1997, 193 countries signed the world’s first binding agreement to cut emissions: it was called the Kyoto Protocol after the Japanese city where the first devised. Now the world has moved beyond Kyoto but where is it leading to? Christopher Joyce had this to say just when the Lima talks got underway. Read More

World Climate Talks In Lima Aim To Move Beyond Kyoto Treaty

Christopher Joyce for NPR (4 December 2014):

Every year the United Nations invites environmental experts and diplomats from around the world to negotiate ways to slow global warming. This year’s meeting runs this week and next in Lima, Peru.

Some say these conferences are a warming planet’s best hope. Some say they’re a United Nations jamboree. Most agree that recent sessions have seen mixed success at best. This year, however, negotiators think they have some fresh ideas to entice developed countries and developing ones to work together.

In 1997, the conference in Kyoto, Japan, was widely considered a breakthrough, producing an international treaty to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

But that treaty has failed to slow worldwide emissions. It will expire in 2020, and already some countries have either failed to meet their commitments or just dropped out. In the meantime, no one has been able to agree on a new treaty to replace it.

One problem is that the Kyoto limits on emissions only apply to developed countries. But now China, India, Brazil and Indonesia are among the biggest polluters. So the new plan on the table in Lima requires every country to do something to slow warming.

Todd Stern, the U.S. government’s chief climate negotiator, says the new plan is “supposed to be applicable to all.”


“And to us — and, I think, to a great many countries, that was an absolutely critical few words,” Stern says. It signified to all concerned a new type of agreement — that they weren’t just falling back on the language of Kyoto.

In addition to leaving out developing countries, the Kyoto treaty set mandatory reductions in emissions for all developed countries. But even some rich countries failed to meet them.

So the plan in Lima would be to have each government offer up its own voluntary target. And, says Stern, “to subject what they are proposing to do to full sunlight, so … other countries and civil society and the press and everybody else can look to see what China, the U.S., Europe or Japan or anybody else is proposing to do. And you take whatever criticism you get.”

President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping each made that sort of voluntary promise two months ago. They set targets for lowering emissions in the U.S. and China over the next 10 to 15 years.

But what happens if, when you add up everyone’s promises, it isn’t enough to keep a lid on warming? Alden Meyer, a climate expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists, is in Peru this week. He wonders: “Will there be a moment where all those contributions are added up and the world has to confront the reality of what it has put on the table if it’s not ambitious enough?”

In fact, pledges so far from the U.S., China and Europe are not nearly enough to keep the planet from warming to what scientists say will be a dangerous level. Yet many developing countries say they can’t do more because their priority is getting their people out of poverty — not limiting greenhouse gases.

This is the deep difference that negotiators in Lima hope to resolve in time for the next conference of the parties, to be held in Paris next year.

And they do have a carrot to offer. Wealthy countries have promised $100 billion a year to help poorer countries buy the technology they need to lower emissions.

There are plenty of businesses making solar panels, wind turbines and energy-saving devices for rich countries, and they’re eager to sell to the developing world as well. Many are part of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, led by Lisa Jacobson.

“Once people start making these investments,” Jacobson predicts, “they are going to find they are easier to do than expected, they are less expensive than they thought, and that new jobs and new economic opportunity exists. And they’re going to want to do more.”

It’s worth noting that at the very first climate conferences, many business leaders came to oppose a treaty. Now they’re lining up to profit from one.

Christopher Joyce is a correspondent on the science desk at NPR. His stories can be heard on all of NPR’s news programs, including NPR’sMorning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.


L is for LED inventors, Lumileds, Lend Lease/CLT, i Light Marina Bay & London

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

L is for LED inventors, Lumileds, Lend Lease/CLT, i Light Marina Bay & London

This year’s physics Nobel Laureates Isamu AkasakiHiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura are rewarded for having invented the blue light-emitting diode (LED). In the spirit of the Prize, which rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind, making the light bulb longer-lasting and more efficient. We also learnt about what Philips Lumileds is doing at its plant in Singapore – not only making energy efficient lights, but doing everything to save energy and water in the process. Lend Lease is still in the picture, not only supporting BCA in a drive for greater productivity in construction, but also advancing its CLT – Cross Laminated Timber – pilot to continue to show its sustainability commitment. Sustainable lighting and energy efficiency were the themes of this year’s i Light Marina Bay where SASA once again played a sustainability consulting role. London maintains its sustainability leadership in many ways, but how about making something of wasted coffee beans. Read More

Waste coffee grounds set to fuel London with

biodiesel and biomass pellets


Tim Smedley reports for Guardian Professional, (13 February 2014):

Sometimes an idea seems so good you can’t believe it hasn’t been done before. Using

waste coffee grounds to make biomass pellets and biodiesel occurred to Arthur Kay when he

was studying architecture at UCL in 2012. Tasked with looking at closed loop waste-to-energy

systems for buildings, he happened to choose a coffee shop. But when he discovered the oil

content in coffee and the sheer amount of waste produced – 200,000 tonnes a year in London

alone – he jacked in the architecture and set about forming a company called Bio-bean.

Kay is now one of 2014′s “London Leaders” – Boris Johnson’s scheme to promote green

entrepreneurship. He has been on Johnson’s radar since 2012.

“After working on this for a couple of weeks I entered the Mayor’s Low Carbon Prize and was

lucky enough to be among the winners”, says Kay. This gave him the impetus to take it forward

and team up with business partner Benjamin Harriman. They have since attracted over £100,000

in grants and funding. The idea is not to start small and grow bigger; it’s to start big.

“People think of us in a tiny little van or bicycle going round and collecting 10 kilos from each

coffee shop,” says Kay. “We are instead focusing on the [waste streams] of large-scale coffee producing factories in or around London. We’re currently in conversation with a couple of major

coffee shop chains too, who are really interested. Our processing plant isn’t operational yet but

we’re looking at a six to eight-month timeframe to set up a large-scale waste-processing site in

Edmonton, North London, capable of processing 30,000 tonnes a year.”

The technology Bio-bean is using to do this is a mixture of old and new. “Imagine you have a pile

of coffee grounds,” says Kay. “You dry them, then we have the patent for the bit in the middle

that allows us to extract oil from it. It’s a biochemical process, a solvent that you evaporate

through what’s called ‘hexane extraction’. By weight it is about 15-20% oil. The remaining 80-

85% is then turned into bio-mass pellets used to be burned in boilers.” The solvent is also 99.9%

recyclable, meaning it can be used over and over.

While first-generation biofuels have faced criticism for competing with food crops, secondgeneration

biofuels made from residual waste have come of age. McDonald’s now powers some

of its vehicles with its waste cooking oil. However, while cooking oil has to go through costly

filtering processes, coffee is a pure waste stream, and a growing one thanks to our insatiable

caffeine habit.

“We see this as the next step in creating a sustainable supply chain,” says Kay. “People have

concentrated a lot on the first stage of the supply chain, the Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance

movements to ethically source coffee. But then as soon as someone drinks it it’s seen as the end

of it – we’re saying the next step of sustainability is to close the loop and ethically dispose of it,

and creating something really valuable from it.”

The main market for the fuel is London’s transport system – the prospect of a “Bio-bean bus” is

not far-fetched given some London buses already run on biodiesel. Major coffee companies and

high street chains have expressed interest – fuelling their fleets or factories with waste coffee

would be a major PR boon.

Biomass pellets are another idea that has come of age. Biomass boilers for homes are supported

by the Green Deal and are becoming more common in factories and large public buildings. Yet,

says Kay, they mostly burn wood pellets shipped over from North America. Bio-bean’s initial tests

have found coffee pellets to produce 150% more energy than wood due to their higher calorie


Coming from essentially free waste, Kay believes both the biodiesel and pellets can be produced

at 10% below market trading price. If it all sounds too good to be true, then it’s because there’s

nothing yet to show for it. “We’ve done a number of successful trials, have worked with a number

of waste producers and teamed up with all the relevant people – we’ve got interested investors,

good funding,” says Kay. “However, there is a big, big gap between concept and going into


The plan is to end the year with a major processing plant up and running inside the M25, using

coffee produced in London, drunk by Londoners, to power London’s buildings and transport. If it

happens, it won’t just be a good idea – it will be a great one.


M is for “Meltdown in Tibet”, Mega-dams & Mountain people

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

M is for “Meltdown in Tibet”, Mega-dams & Mountain people

Michael Buckley’s “Meltdown in Tibet” – book and film – draws attention to China’s exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources, where incompetent, corrupt stewardship of the environment has potentially devastating consequences not just for the “roof of the world”, but also for the nations that depend on the rivers flowing out of it. Nomadic farmers are being forcibly removed from their homelands. I met Michael at the Singapore Writers Festival and it was clear he took real risks to see for himself what is happening in Tibet, not in the distant past but right now. This review in the South China Post tells part of the story. Read More


Book review by Ben Richardson in the South China Morning Post (15 November 2014):

Meltdown in Tibet by Michael Buckley, published by Palgrave Macmillan

Tonle Sap lake in central Cambodia acts as a giant overflow for the Mekong River. When monsoon floods submerge the surrounding forest, they create an ecosystem rich in mineral-bearing silt and a fish hatchery that may account for more than half of the annual animal protein intake of the country.

Such rare habitats are sensitive to change and so act as an early warning signal – for anyone willing to listen. Tonle is sounding an alarm right now, says travel writer Michael Buckley: the fish catch is down and the pulse of the Mekong’s floods has grown arrhythmic.

Thousands of kilometres upstream at the river’s source, another sensitive habitat is also in peril. Tibet’s snowcapped peaks and glaciers hold the world’s third-biggest store of fresh water, and are the source for river systems that sustain almost two billion people.

Between these two precious habitats is China, and the Chinese obsession with dam-building.

Major dams on the Mekong and other rivers originating in Tibet are playing havoc downstream, blocking silt and fish, and putting control of water supplies into Beijing’s hands, Buckley writes.

He fingers China’s secretive leaders as the main villains in Meltdown in Tibet - and any lingering doubts about where his sympathies lie are dispelled by a foreword from the Dalai Lama.

More political pamphlet than academic study, the book’s main charge is that China’s exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources and incompetent, corrupt stewardship of the environment has potentially devastating consequences not just for the “roof of the world”, but also for the nations that depend on the rivers flowing out of it. Degradation of forest, grasslands and glaciers will be significant contributors to global climate change, Buckley writes.

China’s policies in Tibet not only attempt to wipe out the culture and traditions of the country it invaded in 1950, but also enable the exploitation of hydropower and an untapped hoard of minerals that may be worth hundreds of billions of dollars, says Buckley. While Himalayan nations such as Nepal and Bhutan stand to gain from selling their natural resources, indigenous Tibetans won’t benefit from China’s “neocolonialism”.

This important debate is made more so by China’s economic and political power. Beijing is fond of rhetoric extolling the peaceful rise of China as a good neighbour and global citizen. But is it? China rules Tibet with an iron fist while promoting a “theme park” tourism industry that glosses over the brutal repression of ethnic Tibetans.

Buckley recounts seeking out a rooftop vantage point to take photographs during a 2010 visit to Lhasa: “I find these perches occupied by men in full military regalia, with binoculars – and guns – trained on the Jokhang [Temple] and Barkhor [Square] below – the launching point of many demonstrations in the past.”

Buckley’s polemical style can be grating at times: everything China does is bad; Tibetan nomads are romanticised as eco-warriors in harmony with nature. He makes a compelling case that China’s Tibet policies are noxious, but other actors and factors are at work too.

A look at another nomadic culture is helpful. Mongolia’s population in 1950 was only 780,000, with 80 per cent living in the countryside. Today, more than 70 per cent of the nation’s 2.95 million people are urbanised, according to the United Nations.

Left alone, would Tibet’s nomadic traditions have withstood the global trend towards urbanisation and globalisation? Has Tibet been protected from large-scale exploitation until now mostly by its inaccessible terrain?

As untapped sources of power and minerals become harder to find, even the most inhospitable regions now seem attractive.

Flaws aside, Meltdown in Tibet is hard to put down as Buckley’s passion and outrage swell, like the Mekong, from a trickle to a thunderous torrent at every twist and turn of his narrative.


N is for Nexus, promoting carbon development and clean energy funding, NTU’s Eco Campus, New Zealand’s sustainable wine & see who’s saying “No to Nuclear”

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

N is for Nexus, promoting carbon development and clean energy funding, NTU’s Eco Campus, New Zealand’s sustainable wine & see who’s saying “No to Nuclear”

Nexus is better known for its carbon development work and promoting clean energy in projects in South East Asia. In November they joined forces with the Gold Standard Foundation and the Blue Moon Fund to host the first “Innovative Finance for Sustainable Development Conference” (IFSD). In Singapore. The two-day event brought together investors, donors, business and non-profit leaders to explore how funding mechanisms, like results-based finance (RBF), can support climate and development projects. Nanyang Technological University (NTU) advances with its unique eco-campus programme and New Zealand promotes the world’s most sustainable win.  Germany’s no-nuclear power stance and the clean energy Energiewende strategy is creating jobs, raising GDP, and attracting business. Read More

As Germany said no to nuclear it committed to renewable energy – wind and solar primarily – over fossil fuels. Its policy is paying off, even if the oil price collapse is an added complication. But Energiewende is creating jobs, raising GDP, and attracting business

While Critics Debate Energiewende, Germany is Gaining a Global Advantage

By Peter Sopher for the Energy Collective (8 October 2014):

Economics is the focus of many debates surrounding Germany’s aggressive “energy transition” (orEnergiewende), which plans to move the country to nearly 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Critics sayEnergiewende’s costs are unjustifiable, arguing they hurt the country’s international competitiveness and systemic inefficiencies exacerbate these costs.

At first glance, it’s hard to argue with them. The scale of investment in Energiewende can seem intimidating: So far, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates the total cost of Germany’s clean energy expansion at €106 billion. Furthermore, the Wall Street Journal quotes government sources when predicting total costs through 2040 to be about €1 trillion.

By contrast, however, Germany’s annual investment in fossil fuels has been €90 billion; and, investments in Energiewende go into electric grid upgrades that would need to happen in Germany anyway, whereas fossil fuel investments leave the country.

When viewed in context, there are many reasons to believe investments in Energiewende will reap economy-wide rewards, giving Germany a competitive global advantage over other countries that lagged behind investing in the future.

Energiewende is creating jobs, raising GDP, and attracting business

The German example shows an energy transition can lead to overwhelmingly positive, balanced, and pervasive employment impacts.

In 2004, Germany’s renewable energy sector employed 160,500 people, and that number doubled to 367,000 by 2010. The net employment gain from renewable energy in 2009 alone was 70,000-90,000, compared to the “business-as-usual” scenario in which energy was provided by fossil fuels. And this trend is only expected to continue.

The projected net employment gains for 2020 and 2030 are 23,000-117,000 and 105,000-241,000, respectively. Furthermore, because of indirect employment from supplying intermediate products and components to the renewables sector, all regions of Germany are set to benefit from renewable energy expansion.

As with employment, Energiewende also promises to positively impact Germany’s GDP. By 2030, German renewable energy exports are expected to reach €47–69 billion (€33-48 billion in 2005 Euros). In addition, relative to a scenario with no renewable energy policy, costs to the German economy are negative for all realistic scenarios. In 2009, total profits of German manufacturers of renewable energy facilities were €16.4 billion. Projected profit ranges for 2020 and 2030 are €28 billion-€42 billion and €43 billion-€60 billion, respectively.

Large industries, small businesses, and residential consumers share these economic benefits. Heinrich Böll argues, “contrary to one common misconception, renewables have turned Germany into an attractive location for energy intensive industries.” In 2012 alone, renewables had driven down wholesale electricity prices by over 10 percent; and, cheaper electricity prices translate to lower business expenses.  In addition, as of 2013, farmers and individuals owned renewable energy investments amounting to over €100 billion.

Paying for renewables now makes practical sense

The costs of renewable energy, such as wind, solar, and others, in Germany have fallen and are expected to continue to fall in the future as manufacturers accumulate experience, make improvements, and enjoy economies of greater scale.  At present, premier wind farms produce electricity at a price comparable to that of gas and coal plants. In addition, the levelized cost of energy for solar PV has fallen 78 percent over the past five years, and PV is now competitive with residential electricity tariffs in many countries, including Germany.

Furthermore, while renewables fuel sources have no fuel costs, Germany’s costs of importing oil, gas, and hard coal have increased by factors of 2.77, 2.68, and 2.26, respectively, over the past ten years. In addition, steel and cement prices jumped between 2000 and 2011, contributing to the cost of constructing a new power plant rising by 70-100 percent in many cases.

While the costs of Energiewende are growing, the majority of electricity price increases in Germany have been a result of rising fossil fuel costs. Energiewende costs were only responsible for about 29 percent of the average electricity prices’ jump of €0.118/kWh between 2000 and 2012. During this same period, costs of electricity generation, transport, and distribution of conventional power have risen by 46 percent of the entire price increase.

Finally, we can’t forget the societal costs associated with continuing to rely on fossil fuels for electricity. CESifo DICE quotes Küchler and Meyer when reporting, “The societal costs of one kWh of wind energy amount on average to 8.1 cents, and those of hydropower to 7.6 cents. In comparison, one kWh of coal power costs on average 15.6 cents (lignite) or 14.8 cents (hard), of natural gas 9.0 cents, and of nuclear 42 cents.”

All of this is to say, capitalizing on renewables now makes for a prudent investment that will pay for itself as both the actual and societal cost of obtaining, generating, and moving conventional energy sources continues to increase.

Cost vs. price: understanding the difference matters

Spiegel Online International points out that “German consumers already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe.”

But such a position is short-sighted. While the price of a kilowatt-hour of energy is high in Germany, thecost of electric bills is not unreasonable. The average German and American electric bills, at about $100/month, are the about same. Germany’s energy efficiency leadership enables them to afford high rates without especially high bills.

An additional insight into Energiewende’s industrial affordability comes from the World Wildlife Fund(WWF), which states, “averaged over all industrial enterprises, energy costs account for a mere 2 percent of a company’s gross production value.” Similarly, CESifo DICE finds Energiewende affordable on the residential level; as of 2012, electricity expenditures only accounted for 2.5 percent of a private household’s consumer budget.

Putting “low income” in context

All sides agree heightened energy costs due to Energiewende have a greater adverse impact on the poor than on other social classes.

As Spiegel Online International expresses:

“In the near future, an average three-person household will spend about €90 a month for electricity. That’s about twice as much as in 2000…But despite those price hikes, government pensions and social welfare have not been adjusted. As a result, every new fee becomes a threat to low-income consumers.”

To this point, WWF notes “private households on low incomes need energy advice and support, e.g. to buy highly efficient appliances. Needy households which are hit especially hard by rising electricity prices should be supported with subsidies.”

For international context, however, even when compared to some of the most developed countries in the world, such as the United States, energy poverty is less prevalent in Germany. In 2011, 312,000German households had their electricity cut off. Meanwhile, there were 16 million living in energy poverty in the United States.


Energiewende has already positively impacted the country’s GDP and employment situation, and this state of affairs promises to continue as renewable energy prices trend downward and the costs of importing fossil fuels trend upward.

Moreover, criticisms of Energiewende’s costliness tend to lack perspective. While electricity prices are high, electricity bills are as affordable as those in the United States. Renewables have caused electricity prices to rise in Germany over recent years, but conventional fuels have contributed to even larger increases. And energy poverty is a serious issue, but relative to other developed countries, Germany has fared favorably.

Regarding Energiewende’s long-term economic ramifications, Heirich Böll foresees even more economic benefits. Germany’s goal is to gain “first-mover advantage” and develop high value engineering technologies, such as those required for solar panels, wind turbines, biomass and hydro power plants, battery and storage systems, smart grid equipment, and efficiency technologies.

Finance professionals spend their careers searching for investments that entail manageable upfront costs, low risk, and extraordinary potential. So far, Energiewende has fit this mold.


O is for Oceans of Opportunity, Ocean Recovery, Orkney Islands & Offshore Renewable Energy

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

O is for Oceans of Opportunity, Ocean Recovery, Orkney Islands  & Offshore Renewable Energy

Oceans of opportunity was the theme and Jose Ramos Horta was the star attraction at The Munakata Eco-100 International Forum in Japan in June. The former President of East Timor, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Co-Chair of the forum, delivered a speech of his mission in Guinea-Bissau, how we are damaging the earth’s resources and immorally polluting the oceans. Indonesia is looking to draw of its offshore wealth as its accepts that blue is the new green. Ocean Recovery is also concerned about what we are dumping in our oceans, so Doug Woodring thinks it would help if there was a price on the polluting plastic. With some of Europe’s best wave and tidal resources, Orkney is playing a global role in the development of marine renewable energy and offshore renewables are starting to figure prominently in helping the UK switch from a fossil fuel dependence. Read More


Scots renewable energy displaces a million tonnes of CO2 every month

12 December 2014


Almost 12 million tonnes of CO2 emissions were displaced by green energy in Scotland in the most recent year for which data is available, figures released today show.

The reduction – an average of around a million tonnes a month – is the highest ever recorded in Scotland.

The statistics were published in response to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Eilidh Whiteford MP and answered by UK Energy Minister Amber Rudd MP.

Ms Rudd revealed that Scotland’s renewable electricity industry displaced 11.9 million tonnes of CO2 in 2013, an increase of over 14 per cent on the 10.4 million tonnes of CO2 displaced in Scotland by the sector in 2012.

Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “This means that not only are renewables now the number one source of electricity in Scotland, but we have achieved this milestone while preventing a record amount of harmful carbon emissions from being released into our atmosphere.

“Renewable energy in Scotland is doing exactly what it was designed to do: creating jobs, securing our energy supplies and, most importantly, reducing our carbon emissions to help limit climate change.”

Speaking from the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Lima, where he is an observer, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “That renewables in Scotland are now helping to displace almost a million tonnes of climate pollution every month is fantastic news, and proof that a renewable power sector is the foundation of a truly low carbon economy – keeping the lights on, creating jobs and cutting emissions.

“Right now, governments from almost 200 countries are meeting in Peru to agree how they will reduce global emissions and prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The growing success of renewables in helping to cut emissions both in Scotland and across Europe is exactly what is needed right now to help encourage other countries to secure a good deal on climate.”


Charting a successful passage for Marine Renewables

With some of Europe’s best wave and tidal resources, Orkney is playing a global role in the development of marine renewable energy.

As the home of EMEC, the European Marine Energy Centre, more wave and tidal energy devices have already been deployed in Orkney waters than at any other single site in the world.

Organisations like EMEC, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Orkney Islands Council are working closely with Orkney companies to foster the evolution of this new industry as it moves towards the commercial deployment of wave and tidal technologies.

An impressive supply chain of local businesses is geared up to support wave and tidal developers. Many have invested in specialist vessels. All are pro-active in their backing for marine renewable energy.


P is for Printing, Paper, PEFC, Palm Oil, Philippines, Porritt & Partnering Plantations with Perfumes Perform to Perfection

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

P is for Printing, Paper, PEFC, Palm Oil, Philippines, Porritt & Partnering Plantations with Perfumes Perform to Perfection

P is for PEFC – Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification  – which not only brings Paper and Printing to sustainable levels, but also Christmas trees in Europe. We also have a claim to fame by having the first book in Asia – “Race for Sustainability” – certified by PEFC! Then there’s Sir Jonathon Porritt, who has success with his book “The World We Want” and Forum for the Future. The Philippines is rapidly becoming one of the most renewably-energised countries in the world, going beyond its abundant geothermal resource to embrace solar where outside investors are putting funds into building infrastructure. We dug deep into the Palm oil business this year, working with WWF to come up with some recommendations and actions, and discovered also that the industry could be doing a lot more for itself, by turning its waste into energy for its factories. One Plantation company is getting it together as it not only manages its business sustainably but also produces high value Perfumes in the process. Read More



“Oud Oil” by Asia Plantation Capital star of the 2014 World Perfumery Congress


At one of the largest and most important events in the perfume industry – the World Perfumery Congress – a biannual event held this year in Deauville, France, the team from Asia Plantation Capital Distilleries and their fragrance partner Fragrance Du Bois stood out.

It was the mysterious and rare, pure Oud oil, produced on sustainable plantations owned and managed by Asia Plantation Capital, that put a spotlight on the brand. Oud oil has a near mythical status in the world of haute perfumery and fast-growing demand from the cosmetics industries.

“The latest production of Oud oils by Asia Plantation Capital Distilleries has been honed and refined over years of research and development to provide the fragrance industry with a natural sustainable Oud oil of a consistent quality and standard,” says veteran perfume industry expert Simon French. “Reaction from international perfumers at the show has been incredible. It’s clear the company’s new oil production techniques are paying off and producing an oil with a less animalic note and softer tones, which makes it much better to work with for perfumers and is also longer lasting.

Visitors to the company’s stand included leading companies in the fragrance industry and perfumers, as well as the biggest companies in the Oud market from the Middle East, rating the company’s oils of a much higher quality than what they have been offered in the market.

Also showcased were exquisite perfumes created by Fragrance Du Bois and its team of international perfumers where all perfumes were formulated using the 100% guaranteed pure oil to help showcase its diversity to other perfumers and fragrance houses. One of Du Bois’ finest fragrance Sahraa Oud, created by one of Du Bois’ perfumers, Francois Merle-Baudoin, was shortlisted in the top 10 fragrances by an independent perfume house at The Art and Olfaction Awards in Los Angeles recently.

This significant difference with the pure, natural Oud oil produced by Asia Plantation Capital is a result of working with the leading academics in the industry and industrial production line experts to develop the detailed “soil to oil program” which is at the core Asia Plantation Capital’s sustainable agarwood plantations. Every stage of the process from initial plantation stock and land selection, to the inoculation techniques and end processing systems have been subjected to rigorous scientific analyses and review by the SKP team.

This product offers sustainable credentials and Asia Plantation Capital supplies all its Oud oil under its own trademarked brand “OuDubois”, simply translated as Oud of wood; this brand is now the company’s seal of authenticity. Each 1kg bottle is sealed at the source, and the age and planting date of the trees planted and when it is harvested is recorded, guaranteeing traceability on demand. Presently for every tree harvested, Asia Plantation Capital is currently planting at least 20 new trees as part of their sustainable agarwood plantation model to ensure the continuation of future sustainable supply. Additionally each oil comes with CITES certification guaranteeing the sustainability of the oil produced and ensuring it is legal, as well as IFRA certification by leading perfume and cosmetics company ABP Australia and independent University MSDS Analysis report.

Company spokesperson Mohammed Jaan said, “At the end of the show, the Asia Plantation Capital Distilleries team received over 140 serious trade buying enquiries from around the world, and with confirmed orders for the companies, next 12 months production already in place. Getting your hands on any of this incredible oil is the only thing not guaranteed by us!”


Q is for Queensland – host state of G20 in Brisbane & home of the Great Barrier Reef – plus where Qantas started life

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

Q  is for Queensland – host state of G20 in Brisbane & home of the Great Barrier Reef – plus where Qantas started life

Q is for Qantas, Australia’s airline, which some would say has been slow off the mark to adopt sustainable practices and cut its emissions. Now it is well and truly making moves, particularly in committing to sustainable aviation biofuels. Queensland, the Australia state which hosted – along with its capital city Brisbane – the landmark G20 event in November. What did US President say to the University of Queensland students? The state also hosts some of the largest coal mines and coal fired power stations in the country, vast solar energy resources and the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, which is not only threatened by run-off from land, dirty ships, but also climate change. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg runs the Global Change Institute at University of Queensland and co-authored this article. Read More

Thursday, December 18, 2014 – 15:00

The Great Barrier Reef should not be listed as ‘in danger’


By Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, The University of Queensland and Justine Bell, The University of Queensland

The Australian government has stepped up its campaign this month to prevent the Great Barrier Reef being listed as a World Heritage site “in danger” at international meetings next year.

The World Heritage Committee — the international body that oversees World Heritage sites — has shown increasing concern about the future of the reef over the past three years, and in response has threatened to list the reef as a World Heritage site “in danger”.

Australia has argued that it is meeting the conditions set by the World Heritage Committee to protect the reef (even though some feel this is at face value only). While valid concerns remain over the detail within the government plans for the reef, we argue that it would be prudent for UNESCO to defer making the call. If the Committee listed the reef as “in danger”, it would be giving up its significant lever to prompt Australia to step up, and thereby jeopardising the future World Heritage Area status of one of our most precious national treasures.

Road to danger

How did we get here?

First, there was the build-up of worrying reports which revealed that the Reef has been losing its reef-building corals at a rapid rate since the early 1980s. These alarming reports have continued with the latest report showing a loss of 50% since the early 1980s. Much of this change can be traced to human impacts from deteriorating water quality and the declining resilience of coral reefs in response to impacts such as crown-of-thorns starfish outbreak, climate change and disturbances from cyclones and storms.

Then there was a sudden appearance of major gas liquefaction facilities on Curtis Island inside the World Heritage area, apparently in contravention of the World Heritage Convention yet authorised by the previous Queensland government.

This was enough to spark an “invitation” by the Australian government to the World Heritage committee of UNESCO to visit the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage property.

The visit ignited a political storm. The more committee members learned, the more they became concerned about the direction that the Australian and Queensland governments were taking with respect to the reef. This led to a damning report from UNESCO which criticised management of the Great Barrier Reef and the apparent planned proliferation of port facilities up and down the Queensland coast. The report specifically recommended no new port development outside the established port areas of Abbot Point, Gladstone, Hay Point and Mackay, and Townsville.

Most importantly, the UNESCO report also stated the real possibility that the GBR property might be listed as a World Heritage site “in danger”. To many, this outcome would be a major blow to Australia’s reputation as an environmentally responsible nation, with clear ramifications for its iconic tourist industry, worth around A$6 billion dollars each year.

These developments quickly re-focused the attention of the Australian public, as well as state and federal governments.

Lines in the sand

Perhaps not unexpectedly from such a politically explosive issue, a range of actors entered the fray. A line was drawn with mining largely on one side and reef experts on the other.

The spotlight also fell on other potentially harmful activities. The dumping of three million cubic metres of dredging spoils from the expansion of Abbot Point, for example, was at first permitted, but subsequently reopened for assessment as the debate heated up. The federal government is now considering a land-based option for dumping dredge spoil.

Key experts left their positions within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, concerned leaders held Senate inquiries, and commentators across a spectrum lent words to the growing controversy.

Interestingly, the federal government (following the reconsideration of the Abbott Point issue) had in the meantime begun to tackle the dredge spoil issue across a wide range of other projects, reducing about 47 million cubic metres of planned disposal in the marine park to zero. These difficult decisions were naturally welcomed by the UNESCO committee, amid an otherwise confusing mass of opinion and rhetoric.

Should the reef be listed as ‘in danger’?

This question has been examined continuously over the three-year saga. On one hand, state and federal governments have arguably come a long way to meeting the concerns of the UNESCO World Heritage committee. On the other, the health of the reef is still declining and consequently more needs to be done.

The Queensland Government has recently introduced the Ports Bill that supposedly restricts further port development along the Queensland coast to ports at Brisbane, and four “Priority Port Development Areas”, currently defined to include the four ports identified by UNESCO. The Bill also restricts dredging for new and existing port facilities for the next 10 years, except in priority ports. This Bill consequently is a step towards implementing the UNESCO recommendations, and demonstrates that the threat of an in-danger listing has provided a lever for reform.

At the same time, the state and federal governments and their partner agencies developed a long-term sustainability plan for the reef, while expanding activities with respect to tackling the water quality issue with its partners.

The World Heritage Committee urged Australia in 2011 to undertake a strategic assessment of the World Heritage Area and develop a long-term plan for protecting the Outstanding Universal Value of the reef (the basis for its World Heritage listing). While there has been legitimate criticisms from the expert community (including one of the authors of this article, O.H-G.) of the plan given it is vague on quantitative targets and specific strategies, and strangely silent on the implications of a growing climate crisis for the Great Barrier Reef, many of the efforts of state and federal governments have gone a long way to meeting the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee.

With this in mind, there is an argument to say that the World Heritage Committee should not re-list the reef as “in danger”. After all Australia appears to have met most of the recommendations and should, on the face of it, be recognised as such – perhaps with the caveat that it has much more to do.

Especially given that current and proposed actions are unlikely to stem the catastrophic loss of key organisms such as reef-building corals.

And lastly, it would seem ill-advised that the World Heritage committee remove one of the only levers it currently has over the treatment of the World Heritage listed GBR. The threat of an “in danger” listing is a major incentive for Australia to improve its game, and has already prompted some reform. With this lever gone, the influence of UNESCO would largely disappear along with, most probably, any political will to prevent the further decline of the once-pristine reef.

The devil is in the detail

There are, however, a number of important issues that need to be resolved for the world to be reassured that Australia is taking its World Heritage responsibilities seriously. These issues, however, should be easily solved by both state and federal governments, especially given their efforts so far.

The Ports Bill, as drafted, leaves open a number of loopholes. UNESCO has expressly recommended no new port development in the World Heritage Area, but the Bill only prohibits any significant port development. What would be classified as ‘significant’ is not defined in the Bill but clearly needs to be.

Additionally, UNESCO recommended that port development be restricted to the four major ports listed above. These are termed priority ports in the Bill, and there do not seem to be any barriers to further areas being declared as such. Therefore the restrictions on new development (and dredging) could potentially be overcome by declaring a proposed port to be either (a) not a significant port development, or (b) a priority port. This needs to be resolved so as to reassure UNESCO and the Australian people that port development cannot proliferate across coastal Queensland through a loophole.

Consequently, there are several inconsistencies that must be ironed out if the actions of the two governments are to be robust and credible. The State and Federal government should take the opportunity to strengthen proposed legal protections to fully reflect UNESCO’s recommendations.

However, given the efforts of the Queensland and Australian governments to resolve these issues, it would be advisable for UNESCO to continue its patient prodding of the Queensland and Australian governments to improve the response to their concerns. The threat of an “in danger” listing has already sparked some reform, and may be enough to trigger further reform, without jeopardising the World Heritage Area status of the GBR.

These issues are not insurmountable but are required if we are to preserve one of Nature’s most spectacular ecosystems for President Obama’s daughters and the generations to follow.

This article was amended on December 18, 2014, to clarify the timeline of reports on the reef’s health, and the government agencies that developed the long-term sustainability plan.


R is for Renewables, Rescuing Rainforests, Responsible Business Forum, Rocky Mountain Institute, REDD & REEEP

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

R is for Renewables, Rescuing Rainforests, Responsible Business Forum, Rocky Mountain Institute, REDD & REEEP

Renewable Energy is getting global acceptance and IRENA is making sure of that. REEEP keeps track of developments in renewable energy and energy efficiency around the world, while REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation – is trying to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests. Meanwhile, Rainforest Rescue gets on with the job in Australia’s Daintree Rainforest, by identifying and purchasing rainforest at risk of development and protects it forever. Everyone can help. A $25 donation could save 5m2 of land or $300 donation could save 1 hectare of rainforest. Responsible Business Forum once again wowed with a great line-up of speakers and some positive outcomes. In a surprise move, two NGOs that have been at the forefront of combating climate change through promoting innovation and market-based solutions have now joined forces. Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Carbon War Room (CWR) announced they will merge. Read More



Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room Merge


Leon Kaye  in Triple Pundit ( 18 December 2014)


Two NGOs that have been at the forefront of combating climate change through promoting innovation and market-based solutions have now joined forces. Yesterday Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Carbon War Room (CWR) announced they will merge, allowing them to leverage each other’s strengths and find solutions to expand their vision of a low-carbon economy.

This new organization could benefit from what had been two very approaches. RMI, which was founded over 30 years ago, focuses on research and analysis. CWR, one of Richard Branson’s many ventures, takes a more brash approach toward promoting a global low-carbon economy—and has also been fixated on how capital solutions can help renewables and clean technologies scale. The trick, of course, is whether two different organizations with different work cultures and survive as one entity: a frequent challenge within the private sector when two companies merge.

The good news is that these two organizations already have a solid track record of alignment. Earlier this year both RMI and CWR launched the Ten Island Challenge, a program to transform the economies and energy portfolios of Caribbean island economies. Nations and territories including Saint Lucia, Aruba and Granada have seen their economies long hampered by their reliance and expensive and dirty diesel fuel. They may barely contribute one percent to the world’s total carbon emissions, but will bear the brunt of climate change, rising seas and volatile weather patterns in the coming years. Wind and sun are both in plentiful supply, however, so the RMI-CWR partnership is working on investment programs that can accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources in the region.

Both organizations are also working on additional programs, including improving the energy efficiency of freight trucks, scaling rooftop solar and other renewables to bring down energy costs for consumers and find ways to seek a global market for more fuel-efficient ships.

For now the enthusiasm is infectious, especially coming from one of RMI’s founders. “For more than 32 years, RMI had partnered with industry and business with significant successes in transforming energy use across the transportation, buildings, industrial, and electricity sectors,” said Amory Lovins, RMI co-founder, chief scientist, and now chairman emeritus. “Now we can capitalize on Carbon War Room’s proven ability to engage and excite corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and investors to rally around innovative ideas and take action.”

Jules Kortenhorst, the current CEO of RMI, will become CEO of the new merged organization. With his advocacy including an emphasis cost of climate change and optimism that large companies will have a role in expanding the scope of renewables, this new venture under his leadership will be off to a fast start. With atmospheric carbon dioxide now above 400 ppm and extreme weather on the rise, this joining of forces could make a difference if clean energy becomes the norm in developed and developing nations alike.

After a year in the Middle East and Latin America, Leon Kaye is based in California again. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. Other thoughts of his are on his site,


S is for Sustainability, Solar, Seoul, Solar Cities, Semakau, SERIS, Stern (Nicholas) & Suzuki (David)

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

S is for Sustainability, Solar, Seoul, Solar Cities, SERIS, Stern (Nicholas) & Suzuki (David)

S is for Sustainability of course, but is it on a plateau or progressing?  Solar is surging ahead in Singapore and South East Asia, with the help of SERIS, Phoenix, Lys Energy Solutions and SUNSEAP. Sustainable urban solutions conference comes to Seoul  in April 2015 and Solar Cities advances and we check out Gentec solar cell plant in Taiwan. Singapore shows that no man is an island and no island (Semakau) goes entirely to waste. Mr Stern is still an economist to take account of and don’t ignore David Suzuki, who’s come up with the Blue Dot Tour. Interface, Ricoh, CDL were among the winners in the 2014 Sustainable Business Awards.

NTU to build region’s first renewable energy integration demonstration micro-grid

Published on: 28-Oct-2014

New initiative supported by EDB and NEA, together with 10 top industry partners


Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will be building a hybrid micro-grid which will integrate multiple large-scale renewable energy sources.


The first in the region, the hybrid micro-grid will test and demonstrate the integration of solar, wind, tidal-current, diesel, storage and power-to-gas technologies, and ensure these energy sources operate well together.


To be built under the new Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator- Singapore (REIDS) initiative, the hybrid micro-grid will be located offshore at Semakau Landfill and is expected to produce power in the megawatt (MW) range, which will be suitable for small islands, isolated villages, and emergency power supplies. This will be able to power around 250 HDB 4-room apartments, which together consume a peak of 1 MW.


This initiative is supported by the Singapore Economic Developm​ent Board (EDB), and the National Environment Agency (NEA). The S$8 million initial micro-grid infrastructure will also facilitate the development and commercialisation of energy technologies suited for tropical conditions to be developed by NTU together with 10 world leading companies.


It was launched by Mr S. Iswaran, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry, this morning at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre as part of the Singapore International Energy Week 2014.


At the launch ceremony, NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson, EDB’s Assistant Managing Director Mr Lim Kok Kiang and NEA’s Group Director for Joint Operations and Technology, Mr Satish Appoo, witnessed a pledge signing ceremony by NTU, the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS) and 10 leading clean energy companies.


“Sustainability is one of the major pillars of NTU’s research. We have been very active in clean energy research such as in tidal, solar and wind technologies and this new initiative will allow us to apply our research and integrate the different energy sources. In so doing, we hope to develop practical renewable solutions for the energy integration industry,” said Prof Andersson.


This initiative is expected to attract $20 million worth of projects over the next five years, in addition to the initial $8 million investment in infrastructure on the Semakau Landfill.


The 10 energy and clean tech industry leaders keen to be part of this ground-breaking effort include Accenture, Alstom, Class NK, DLRE, GDF Suez, Renewable Energy Corporation, Schneider Electric, Trina Solar, Varta and Vestas.


“NTU’s REIDS will serve as a strategic living lab for Singapore, encompassing a large scale micro-grid with a plug-and-play setup that clean energy industry leaders can leverage to develop and demonstrate and diverse range of clean energy technologies,” said EDB’s Assistant Managing Director Mr Lim Kok Kiang.


“By providing industry leaders with a unique platform to innovate and commercialise cutting-edge energy solutions suited for the tropical climate, Singapore will be better positioned to meet the growing demand for renewable energy technologies in the Asian region,” Mr Lim added.


Mr S. Satish Appoo, Group Director, Joint Operations and Technology, NEA said, “The REIDS initiative enables the development of renewable energy solutions in Singapore for a sustainable future, which is important for an economy largely dependent on energy imports.


“As Singapore works towards greater self-sufficiency in energy production, the National Environment Agency (NEA) is happy to host REIDS clean energy facilities on Semakau Landfill, and support the national effort to explore renewable energy solutions.”


REIDS to be implemented in two phases


In the first phase, a micro-grid facility will be built at the Semakau Landfill that will oversee energy storage facilities, solar photovoltaic panels and wind turbines.


The hybrid micro-grid will provide a full-scale test-bed for Singapore’s on-going energy research, working closely with scientists and engineers from both the public and private sectors.


A key problem posed by renewable energy sources is that of intermittent power supply. The hybrid micro-grid aims to ensure a stable and consistent power supply through the integration of a variety of smart energy management and storage systems.


The second phase will involve the development of a scaled-up tidal energy facility around Semakau Landfill and St. John’s Island, which will then be integrated with the first phase.


A key long term goal will see the development of micro-grid technologies that can help provide electricity to overseas communities that do not have access to power. This is in addition to introducing new technologies that can stabilise power grids in urban communities. Both are widely regarded as critical needs across Asia.


T is for Taiwan, Taipei, Tzu Chi Foundation & DA.AI Technology

Posted by Ken on December 23, 2014
Posted under Express 207

T has to be for Taiwan and Taipei, where we experienced some of the most enlightening talk and action in the last 12 months and observed at first hand some of the best practices in the world for waste management, recycling and up-cycling. Taipei 101 – undisputedly the tallest green building in the world – has such an effective waste and recycling programme. We saw the work of the Tzu Chi Foundation – inspired by Dharma Master Cheng Ye – and the work of DA.AI Technology, in turning PET plastic drink bottles into fashion garments and blankets for humanitarian work aboard. Here is a country doing more than most to move to a low carbon future and to export talent and technology, products and service, accordingly. See what Taiwan’s Environment and Development Foundation does. So why is there no place for Taiwan in United Nations? What’s more, the country’s Green Trade Project Office has developed the “Taiwan Green Demo House,” which it takes on tour overseas. Read More

Read More



Environmentally Friendly, Reusable Exhibition Show Booth from Taiwan’s Green Trade Project Office

Reported in (The A to Z of Building) (14 October 2014):

Without a doubt, the decoration and packaging materials used in a trade-show exhibition can leave a sizable footprint on the planet. To address this issue, Taiwan’s Green Trade Project Office has developed the “Taiwan Green Demo House,” which is essentially an environmentally friendly, reusable exhibition show booth.


Taiwan Green Demo House, an environmentally friendly, reusable exhibition show booth. (PRNewsFoto/Taiwan Green Trade Project Off..)

Over the past 12 months, more than 35 companies have used the Taiwan Green Demo House to showcase their eco-friendly products and innovations to people from around the world.

The Demo House is based on three key principles: it is “modular,” “easy-to-assemble,” and “reusable.” In addition, it has been designed to present the use and application of high-quality green products and services in a “realistic” way. Featuring an ICT control system, the Demo House enables visitors to experience the full benefit of each display, just as if they were in a real home, office, or retail space.

In addition, the Taiwan Green Demo House also utilizes advanced building-energy- modeling software called IES-VE to ensure the best energy-saving strategies for the entire setting. IES-VE analyzes a number of inputs, including climate data, building design, HVAC design, among others, to calculate the building’s energy consumption and anticipated energy bills. It then proposes energy-saving strategies based on the return-on-investment of the application of energy-saving products.

For example, by installing J-Energy’s smart inverter to a traditional air conditioner, the speed of the motor, the compressor, and cooling output can all be controlled, enabling energy savings of up to 20 percent. By replacing a building’s ceiling and walls with NexPower’s thin film PV modules, harmful radiation can be filtered out, heat can be blocked, and clean energy from the sun can be generated. As an OEM of the world’s top LED manufacturers, CB Lighting is a reliable lighting-solutions partner, especially when it comes to quality, price competitiveness, and energy saving. And with the help of SunValue’s solar-power brick, solar energy can be easily absorbed from various angles. According to IES-VE’s calculations on a virtual 4,889-square-meter, 3-floor building in Singapore in average annual weather conditions, an energy savings of up to 56 percent can be attained with just these four products.

The Taiwan Green Demo House also features several of the newest smart and eco-friendly innovations. EPADA’s easy DIY bricks, for example, allow consumers to put together walls, chairs, desks, and much more, just like Lego bricks; M-Field’s energy solution stores surplus energy in the form of hydrogen and provides reliable and clean backup power during blackouts; and Every Easyup’s smart power switch embeds wireless protocols, like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee, and opens up a wild range of possibilities for smart living. Taiwan’s largest wooden- flooring-products exporter Ua Floors has showcased their toxic-free products as well as nanotechnology that helps to facilitate blood flow. Nan Yang Chemical’s mesh pipe is like the blood vessels in the human body, with the pipe’s smart design delivering water and nutrients to the ground while carrying away waste. Renato-lab’s designers enjoy turning recycled goods into fashion products, since they believe that great design and recycling technology can be integrated with more sustainable lifestyle choices. And Aecl has 35 years experience in producing industrial instruments. Their reliable temperature and humidity transmitters, energy meters, and air quality displays have become must-haves for environmental management.

Source: and