Archive for the ‘Express 85’ Category

Profile: Ken Bellamy

Posted by admin on November 21, 2009
Posted under Express 85

Profile:  Ken Bellamy


This is the Townsville man who has been hailed for a breakthrough in the biological enhancement of photosynthesis – thereby enabling plants to flourish with less water – and is also leading the charge for carbon farming in Australia and globally.

For abc carbon express, Ken Hickson sat down with Ken Bellamy in the small conference room of his Townsville business VRM Bioilogik to discuss his discovery of the true nature of photosynthesis and the implications this has for farming and food production, particularly in areas hit by water shortages.

This is someone who studied humanities, theology and practiced as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) for ten years. He was challenged to revisit his passion for the way things work in our eco-system.  

All this led to the establishment of VRM in 1997 as a biotech company offering an alternative to genetic modification in the management of biological risks.  VRM’s products and processes have gained respect in a range of industrial and agricultural situations since.

He also founded Prime Carbon (in 2004) as a vehicle to facilitate the quantification and sale of Carbon Offsets which directly support land management change to enhance soil quality on farms and other land. These measures for social and scientific support for landholders, has become a leading example of the power of community and business in dealing with the issues of climate change.

Ken gets intense and passionate when he discusses what he’s uncovered which seems to have evaded greater scientific minds for ages. He puts it down to being persistent and methodical. A mathematician and a chemist rolled into one.

He is not dwelling on his “eureka” moment. He is continuing hell-bent on spreading the word, building his businesses and making sure farmers get the message.

He is in demand as a speaker and for media interviews. He doesn’t give away too much. There is  definitely some important intellectual property involved here.

But he is not jealously guarding a “secret”. He is letting it be known that there are some quite simple solutions to improving the soil, managing with less water, increasing productivity and storing carbon.

It involves microbes and Ken is breeding them, storing them and spreading them around.

We could go on for a while – as Ken does – as to how this really works, but suffice it to say, we know he is onto something. And you need to know that too.

Read how the local Townsville Bulletin reported his breakthrough earlier this month:

Rachel Toune in Townsville Bulletin (11 November 2009):

SCIENCE textbooks may need to be rewritten after a Townsville researcher discovered a new addition to an age-old formula.

Townsville biotechnology researcher Ken Bellamy has uncovered vital information about the photosynthesis cycle, which occurs when plants use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to make food and grow.

Mr Bellamy found a group of bacteria commonly present in soils, including in rivers and oceans around the world, creates water and energy using their own photosynthesis process which can then help surrounding plants to grow.

”When we think about growing our food we can now think of two avenues to manage, not just one,” he said.

”We can have one extra handle that we can use to enhance that total photosynthesis.

”North Queensland has plenty of sunlight and green plants and these organisms are present too.”

Mr Bellamy spoke about his findings in London, Wales and Scotland during the past three weeks, before returning for a carbon farming conference in Orange, NSW, to discuss the paper.

The research opens up the possibility for the method to be harnessed and used to help plants grow in areas with little water.

About eight years ago Mr Bellamy was challenged to look at ways to reduce the nutrient runoff into the waters of Queensland by an officer from the Environmental Protection Authority.

The project triggered an interest in plants which were a major part of the issue, which led to examining the process of photosynthesis and links with the bacteria.

”Nothing grows without photosynthesis so the logical conclusion is to find better or more efficient photosynthesis processes which will create sustainable growth,” he said.

”The impact this can have on the environment is we can grow plants with much less rainfall than first thought.”

Mr Bellamy said the bacteria used heat and reflected UV rays, meaning they could survive in the dark ocean, rather than relying simply on visible light.

The research also included finding ways to incubate the organisms and develop them for use in a liquid or a solid media such as recycled organic matter, which could be spread out in areas to help cultivate plants and improve soils.

Mr Bellamy is now in discussions to introduce the additional material in science classrooms at school.

His findings have been reviewed by a team of scientists from the Australian National University as part of a commission from the New South Wales Department of Climate Change and Water.

”The bacteria are primitive – they were there first,” Mr Bellamy said.

”Though it’s a matter of contention I believe it is pointing us to where the water came from in the first place.”

Mr Bellamy’s research will be released to the public within the next month.



Here’s another media report. This one by Tony Raggat, which appeared on the Goldfish website:


It all sounds too good to be true, but perhaps in 10 years time it will be called the bug revolution that started with a small company in Townsville.
Vital Resource Management Pty Ltd operates out of an industrial back block at The Bohle near another of Townsville’s corporate success stories, hybrid toilet exporter Gough Plastics.


Basically, VRM trades in bugs – microbes that can break down wastes, enhance fertiliser and, maybe even one day in acid forms, leach metals from ores.


Already, VRM is selling its products to the aquaculture and agricultural industries in Australia and Europe.


Now the company is embarking on an exciting phase of growth, after federal and state government help to commercialise its work.


It has plans for an initial $2 million capital raising to establish bio-fertiliser factories in the Burdekin and Herbert districts and a showcase facility in Townsville.


“I’ve always had an interest in biology,” VRM managing director and ‘hobby biologist’ Ken Bellamy said yesterday.


“I was with a few friends and a couple of my clients from a previous business when we heard someone say that if you are not looking after your environmental responsibilities, you are going to be out of business in 10 years time.


“I thought that was a challenge.”


Mr Bellamy looked at ways of managing water and wastewater quality in aquaculture ventures by using organic compounds to create a natural balance.


It was the forerunner for treatments for wastewater in sewerage and septic systems in resort and national park settings and preventing bad smells in wastewater at North Queensland sugar mills.


“When sugar gets into wastewater, there are certain types of bad bugs that turn it into a bad smell,” Mr Bellamy said.


“The same type of bugs get into toilets, septic tanks and garbage bins.


“It turned out there are organisms that eat that waste without making that smell.


“We were some of the pioneers of growing those cultures and putting it to use.”


Most North Queensland sugar mills now use the VRM product in their systems.


Another of its cultures used to enhance fertiliser is now raising intense interest in the sugar industry.


Mr Bellamy said it was often forgotten that microbes were needed to help feed fertilisers to plants.


He said VRM mixed and grew certain types of microbes in fertilisers.


The results have been remarkable.


Evidence suggests less fertiliser is needed and more nutrient is consumed by the plant.


An added potential benefit is a reduction in nutrient run-off into the water table and marine environment.


The discovery has huge implications for protecting coastal reefs from land-based nutrient run-off.


Not only that, but the microbes in the bio-fertiliser were also found to inhibit the growth of pathogens, with the potential of preventing the outbreak of some diseases.


A year after showing the bio-fertiliser to a farmer, VRM is now selling five million litres and can’t produce enough to satisfy demand.


“It scares you . . . we’ve never really tried to sell anything,” Mr Bellamy said.


A Federal Government program has funded consultants to write a business plan and conduct market research for VRM.


The company is now investment ready and a couple of investment funds have shown interest.


But Mr Bellamy said that whatever happened VRM wanted to remain a local company.





Here’s a report on Ken Bellamy from the Australian Technology Showcase:


A Townsville company is selling bio-fertiliser that has less impact on the environment, is cheaper than conventional fertiliser and can improve yields.

The bio-fertiliser is made up of water, a chemical fertiliser component, organic substances and a microbial formulation. Ken Bellamy, managing director of the VRM group says the liquid fertiliser contains live cultures which help plants to get the most out of the fertiliser.

“We have to have bugs in the cycle, bugs in the product, actually live cultures in the product, whose job it is to eat the nutrient and pass it on to a plant”.

Mr Bellamy says the product is cheaper than conventional fertiliser, has less impact on the environment and can even increase yields.

“Because the gap between what is put out and what’s taken up by plants typically is so wide, we do find that there’s an equilibrium where there’s actually improved yield in a number of crops based on a more effective uptake of the nutrients”.

Based on growing demand for the bio-fertiliser, production will increase this year from 5,000 to 15,000 megalitres of liquid bio-fertiliser. Approximately five litres of the product will service one acre of sugar cane.


Townsville based company Vital Resource Management (VRM) Pty Ltd has a unique microbial process which provides targeted nutrient uptake for specific elements in Agriculture and Waste Management.

A smelly problem for one of Australia’s large sugar producers was VRM’s lucky break. VRM used its new microbial product to clean up a molasses spill in 1998 at a mill, which operators feared may have required closure for up to seven weeks. Less than five hours after VRM put is Inoculation product to work, the risk of extreme odour from the spill had been removed, and the mill remained open. The spill enabled VRM to prove the effectiveness of their patented microbial approach in controlling odour and removing sugar and other contaminants from waste water.

The products work by introducing ‘friendly bugs’ to target biological effects responsible for odour, fat build up and other septic matter found in wastes in a patented methodology. Similarly, microbes which target nutrient management and specific nutrient capture and uptake are fostered in soil.

The products are based on a managed microbial balance using Probiotic techniques and organisms which are known for their use in food and drinks.

VRM now supplies virtually all of Australia’s Sugar Millers with its Inoculation systems and products, which are cheaper than chemical-based products and more environmentally friendly and do not contain nitrates or phosphates.

VRM has since applied its unique technology to include three product lines – Inoculation programs for waster water, Probiotic cleaning products and production of nutrient management products for agriculture.

The most significant advantage VRM’s technology offers, is that it is:-
• purely Australian based
• effective against chemical alternatives
• efficient
• timely unique process with effective results
• environmentally friendly
• safe for use
• economical




And for some more information on Prime Carbon, this from their website:

Prime Carbon Pty Ltd is a privately owned company and an Australian leader in the establishment of systems to produce, aggregate and trade carbon credits.

Prime Carbon undertakes the following main activities:

  1. Prime Carbon’s “Soil Enhancement and Carbon Sequestration Program” assists Landholders to return carbon to the soil from the atmosphere by the process of photosynthesis. This program results in the creation of carbon credits which are aggregated and listed on the National Environment Registry (NER). 
  2. Prime Carbon is a wholesale broker of these carbon credits to the market.

Prime Carbon assists in offsetting the carbon emissions of commerce and industry by linking these with environmentally sustainable farming and industry practices. Initially this involves supporting a range of technologies aimed at restoring and maintaining soil carbon reserves.


Our vision is that by 2013 we will:

  • Convert at least 1 million hectares to sustainable farming practices
  • Provide $1 billion pa in commercial opportunities for country regions
  • Provide substantial wholesale carbon credit units for trading at a National and International level
  • Be seen as the benchmark for regionally focused carbon exchange programs in Australia
  • Be a focal point for on-going research into sustainable technologies


Source: and

Over to China & the US

Posted by admin on November 21, 2009
Posted under Express 85



While Australia struggles to get its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme through the Senate, WWF says there is strong evidence that world leaders will still deliver all of the key elements of a legally binding agreement, particularly with President Obama’s visit to China providing increasing optimism that the world’s two biggest economies could pull off a deal in Copenhagen.


By Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson in The Washington Post (18 November 2009):


Buried in the text of Tuesday’s joint declaration between President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao was a hopeful clause about climate talks: The Obama administration is likely to offer emission-reduction targets at next month’s climate summit, as long as the Chinese offer a proposal of their own.


U.S. reluctance to set a short-term emissions goal has been a sticking point in the U.N.-sponsored talks for nearly a year. Almost all industrialized nations, and many developing countries, have announced plans to curb their greenhouse-gas output by 2020. Neither the United States nor China — which is not obligated to do so under the U.N. framework, even though it ranks as the world’s biggest emitter — has done so, thereby hampering the prospects of an agreement.


A senior administration official said any U.S. target would require congressional action. Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said that would not happen until spring. The House-passed climate bill includes a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 compared with 2005 levels; the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee backed a 20 percent cut, but key senators vowed to make that less ambitious.


This past weekend, the Obama administration endorsed a Danish proposal to settle for a political accord on global warming in Copenhagen next month, while deferring to 2010 the codification of a legally binding international treaty. According to the joint declaration, “an agreed outcome at Copenhagen should . . . include emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries.”


Michael Levi, a senior fellow on environmental and energy issues at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the U.S.-China declaration “has moved expectations up a bit for Copenhagen.”

Obama and Hu also endorsed a package of energy projects, most of which have been in the works for some time. The package highlights areas of growing cooperation between the two nations but does not include new commercial-scale projects in carbon capture and storage.


The presidents announced the creation of a U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center supported by US$150 million in public and private money, contributed evenly by the two nations over five years. Obama and Hu also announced initiatives to promote cooperation on development of carbon capture and storage projects, methane capture, electric vehicles, and shale gas.


Separately, General Electric announced that it licensed technology from China for possible use in U.S. high-speed-rail projects that were funded in this year’s economic stimulus act.


South Korea, which is Obama’s next stop in Asia, announced Tuesday that it plans to cut its emissions 30 percent from what they otherwise would have been by 2020, which equates to a 4 percent reduction compared with 2005 levels. South Korea’s greenhouse-gas output has nearly doubled over the past 15 years.


Sang-Hyup Kim, who oversees South Korea’s Presidential Committee on Green Growth, said in a phone interview that his country hopes to cut its reliance on fossil fuels and foster a global climate pact. “We have no legal obligation to do so, but we are willing to do it to contribute to the international community,” Kim said.




WFF reports that the CPRS in Australian will help strong outcome at Copenhagen ( 20 November, 2009):


While it has become fashionable to downplay expectations for Copenhagen, there is strong evidence that world leaders will still deliver all of the key elements of a legally binding agreement, WWF said today.


“Despite some self-interested negativity from countries like Canada and Saudi Arabia, a great majority of countries are determined to make Copenhagen a success,” said WWF-Australia CEO Greg Bourne.


“Australia’s credibility in negotiating a deal at Copenhagen will be greatly increased if we have an environmentally effective emissions trading scheme in place.


“Taking action domestically has always put Australia in a stronger international negotiating position to achieve the best outcome. Reducing tariffs for example has strengthened our trade negotiations. Climate change is no different.


“The danger for the Australian Government is in browning-down the CPRS by providing further handouts to polluters. This would inevitably mean we will struggle to reach the emissions reductions needed to make a significant contribution to solving the problem of climate change.


“Responsible companies are still desperate for the Parliament to provide certainty, and those that embrace the necessary change will profit enormously.

The dinosaurs of big polluting businesses need to step out of the way.


“It’s time parliamentarians stopped listening to self-interested industry lobbyists who represent a minority of companies, and did what is best for all Australians, and our planet,” concluded Mr Bourne.



Fires & Floods Feature in Catastrophic Change

Posted by admin on November 21, 2009
Posted under Express 85

Fires & Floods Feature in Catastrophic Change

In a week when areas in Australia were declared “catastrophic” code-red for fire danger for the first time and the United Kingdom experienced the worst rains and floods ever, the latest work by scientists shows that the world is on course for “catastrophic” 6° rise in temperatures.

By ABC Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers (19 November 2009):

Firefighters have demanded federal politicians stop treating climate change like “a political football” and pass the emissions trading scheme.

Members of the United Firefighters Union of Australia have travelled to Parliament House today to urge both sides of politics to take action as senators continue to debate the scheme.

The union made a similar call for action in the wake of February’s devastating Victorian bushfires and Peter Marshall has today repeated the call as parts of South Australia are now declared catastrophic code-red areas.

With only five parliamentary sitting days left to pass the scheme, Mr Marshall has warned that without efforts to combat climate change, bushfires across the country will increase in frequency and intensity.

“We are not scientists but we are the people on the front line,” he said.

“If there is not action put in place now, Federal Government’s research says that places such as Canberra by 2050, the type of fires we’ve seen here in 2002 will happen on an eight-year basis.

“We are asking you very clearly, stop making this a political football, put in place the action that’s required to secure the future because by 2020 we are going to see a frequency like we’ve not seen before.”

He has called on coalition senators to pass the scheme but has also asked Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to show leadership and lift the emissions reduction targets to between 25 and 40 per cent.

“Pass legislation that’s required and we say pass it with the maximum standard not the minimum standard,” he said.

The Government has committed to a 5 to 25 per cent cut in 2000 emissions levels by 2020.

But the passage of the legislation this year is still uncertain.

Despite both sides expressing confidence in the progress of negotiations on amendments some coalition senators say they will never vote for the scheme and others are resistant to having it passed this year.

And final agreement in negotiations must be approved by the party room before a decision is made on how to vote on the scheme.

Opposition frontbencher Tony Abbott has today warned the Government will have to accept its amendments if it wants it passed.

“We didn’t put forward these amendments as some kind of ambit claim,” he said.

“We put forward these amendments because we think they are minimum necessary to improve a bad bill. So if the Government is fair dinkum about getting this legislation passed it’s going to have to accept our amendments.”

Both sides hope to have negotiations finalised by this weekend or early next week.


Associated Press Writer Scott Heppell (20 Novenber 2009):


Cockermouth, England – Raging floods engulfed northern England’s picturesque Lake District on Friday following the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in Britain, killing a police officer and trapping dozens in their swamped homes.


Military helicopters winched dozens of people to safety and emergency workers in bright orange inflatable boats rescued scores more after an unprecedented deluge.


British soldiers conducted house-to-house searches for those trapped by floods as deep as 8 feet (2.5 meters). Troops also dropped down on lines from Royal Air Force helicopters, breaking through rooftops to pluck people to safety.


Constable Bill Barker, 44, died as he joined rescue attempts, swept into the surging waters when a major bridge collapsed. Emergency services said more than 200 people were rescued in the hardest-hit town, Cockermouth and about 1,000 homes were flooded.


In a message to local officials, Queen Elizabeth II said she was “deeply concerned and saddened by the dreadful flooding across Britain.” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Barker “was a very heroic, very brave man.”


Britain’s Met Office said a record 12.3 inches (314.4 millimeter) of rain fell in 24 hours in the area — the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the U.K.


Cockermouth, a market town 330 miles (530 kilometers) northwest of London, lies at the junction of the Cocker and Derwent rivers and is known as the birthplace of poet William Wordsworth. The flood was “of biblical proportions,” local House of Commons lawmaker Tony Cunningham said.


Heavy rain and gales also brought widespread flooding to Ireland, as more than 3 feet (1 meter) of water shut down the center of the country’s second-largest city, Cork, and more than a dozen towns and villages. The Irish army was used to rescue the stranded from waist-deep floodwaters and a helicopter winched to safety a County Galway family of five, including the 87-year-old grandmother.


Floods caused transport chaos along Ireland’s western coast. At the Lake Hotel, on the shores of the fabled Killarney Lakes in County Kerry, about 170 guests at the Victorian period building were evacuated by tractor, as staff carried period furniture upstairs.


Irish weather forecasting service Met Eireann said parts of southern and western Ireland suffered their most intense and sustained rainfall in 30 years.





By Steve Connor and Michael McCarthy in The Independent(18 November 2009):

World on course for catastrophic 6° rise, reveal scientists

Fast-rising carbon emissions mean that worst-case predictions for climate change are coming true

The world is now firmly on course for the worst-case scenario in terms of climate change, with average global temperatures rising by up to 6C by the end of the century, leading scientists said yesterday.

Such a rise – which would be much higher nearer the poles – would have cataclysmic and irreversible consequences for the Earth, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable and threatening the basis of human civilisation.

We are headed for it, the scientists said, because the carbon dioxide emissions from industry, transport and deforestation which are responsible for warming the atmosphere have increased dramatically since 2002, in a way which no one anticipated, and are now running at treble the annual rate of the 1990s.

This means that the most extreme scenario envisaged in the last report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2007, is now the one for which society is set, according to the 31 researchers from seven countries involved in the Global Carbon Project.

Although the 6C rise and its potential disastrous effects have been speculated upon before, this is the first time that scientists have said that society is now on a path to meet it.

Their chilling and remarkable prediction throws into sharp relief the importance of next month’s UN climate conference in Copenhagen, where the world community will come together to try to construct a new agreement to bring the warming under control.

For the past month there has been a lowering of expectations about the conference, not least because the US may not be ready to commit itself to cuts in its emissions. But yesterday President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China issued a joint communiqué after a meeting in Beijing, which reignited hopes that a serious deal might be possible after all.

It cannot come too soon, to judge by the results of the Global Carbon Project study, led by Professor Corinne Le Quéré, of the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey, which found that there has been a 29 per cent increase in global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel between 2000 and 2008, the last year for which figures are available.

On average, the researchers found, there was an annual increase in emissions of just over 3 per cent during the period, compared with an annual increase of 1 per cent between 1990 and 2000. Almost all of the increase this decade occurred after 2000 and resulted from the boom in the Chinese economy. The researchers predict a small decrease this year due to the recession, but further increases from 2010.

In total, CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have increased by 41 per cent between 1990 and 2008, yet global emissions in 1990 are the reference level set by the Kyoto Protocol, which countries are trying to fall below in terms of their own emissions.

The 6C rise now being anticipated is in stark contrast to the C rise at which all international climate policy, including that of Britain and the EU, hopes to stabilise the warming – two degrees being seen as the threshold of climate change which is dangerous for society and the natural world.

The study by Professor Le Quéré and her team, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, envisages a far higher figure. “We’re at the top end of the IPCC scenario,” she said.

Professor Le Quéré said that Copenhagen was the last chance of coming to a global agreement that would curb carbon-dioxide emissions on a time-course that would hopefully stabilise temperature rises to within the danger threshold. “The Copenhagen conference next month is in my opinion the last chance to stabilise climate at C above pre-industrial levels in a smooth and organised way,” she said.

“If the agreement is too weak, or the commitments not respected, it is not 2.5C or 3C we will get: it’s 5C or 6C – that is the path we’re on. The timescales here are extremely tight for what is needed to stabilise the climate at C,” she said.

Meanwhile, the scientists have for the first time detected a failure of the Earth’s natural ability to absorb man-made carbon dioxide released into the air.

They found significant evidence that more man-made CO2 is staying in the atmosphere to exacerbate the greenhouse effect because the natural “carbon sinks” that have absorbed it over previous decades on land and sea are beginning to fail, possibly as a result of rising global temperatures.

The amount of CO2 that has remained in the atmosphere as a result has increased from about 40 per cent in 1990 to 45 per cent in 2008. This suggests that the sinks are beginning to fail, they said.

Professor Le Quéré emphasised that there are still many uncertainties over carbon sinks, such as the ability of the oceans to absorb dissolved CO2, but all the evidence suggests that there is now a cycle of “positive feedbacks”, whereby rising carbon dioxide emissions are leading to rising temperatures and a corresponding rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Our understanding at the moment in the computer models we have used – and they are state of the art – suggests that carbon-cycle climate feedback has already kicked in,” she said.

“These models, if you project them on into the century, show quite large feedbacks, with climate amplifying global warming by between 5 per cent and 30 per cent. There are still large uncertainties, but this is carbon-cycle climate feedback that has already started,” she said.

The study also found that, for the first time since the 1960s, the burning of coal has overtaken the burning of oil as the major source of carbon-dioxide emissions produced by fossil fuels.

Much of this coal was burned by China in producing goods sold to the West – the scientists estimate that 45 per cent of Chinese emissions resulted from making products traded overseas.

It is clear that China, having overtaken the US as the world’s biggest carbon emitter, must be central to any new climate deal, and so the communiqué from the Chinese and US leaders issued yesterday was widely seized on as a sign that progress may be possible in the Danish capital next month.

Presidents Hu and Obama specifically said an accord should include emission-reduction targets for rich nations, and a declaration of action plans to ease greenhouse-gas emissions in developing countries – key elements in any deal.

If two degrees is generally accepted as the threshold of dangerous climate change, it is clear that a rise of six degrees in global average temperatures must be very dangerous indeed, writes Michael McCarthy. Just how dangerous was signalled in 2007 by the science writer Mark Lynas, who combed all the available scientific research to construct a picture of a world with temperatures three times higher than the danger limit.

His verdict was that a rise in temperatures of this magnitude “would catapult the planet into an extreme greenhouse state not seen for nearly 100 million years, when dinosaurs grazed on polar rainforests and deserts reached into the heart of Europe”.

He said: “It would cause a mass extinction of almost all life and probably reduce humanity to a few struggling groups of embattled survivors clinging to life near the poles.”

Very few species could adapt in time to the abruptness of the transition, he suggested. “With the tropics too hot to grow crops, and the sub-tropics too dry, billions of people would find themselves in areas of the planet which are essentially uninhabitable. This would probably even include southern Europe, as the Sahara desert crosses the Mediterranean.

“As the ice-caps melt, hundreds of millions will also be forced to move inland due to rapidly-rising seas. As world food supplies crash, the higher mid-latitude and sub-polar regions would become fiercely-contested refuges.

“The British Isles, indeed, might become one of the most desirable pieces of real estate on the planet. But, with a couple of billion people knocking on our door, things might quickly turn rather ugly.”


Working Women Hardest Hit

Posted by admin on November 21, 2009
Posted under Express 85

Working Women Hardest Hit


Women are more vulnerable to climate change than men and will continue to bear the brunt of extreme weather conditions unless more is done to educate and empower them. Poor women in poor countries are among the hardest hit by climate change, says UNFPA executive director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid.


By Valkerie Baynes for AAP  (18 November 18, 2009):


WOMEN are more vulnerable to climate change than men and will continue to bear the brunt of extreme weather conditions unless more is done to educate and empower them, a report has found.


The State of World Population 2009 report, released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today, says women have been overlooked in discussions on how to combat rising seas, drought and melting glaciers.


According to the report, women are most vulnerable to climate change because in many countries they make up a larger proportion of the agricultural workforce and have fewer income-earning opportunities.


“Women manage households and care for family members, which often limits their mobility and increases their vulnerability to sudden weather-related natural disasters,” the report said.


“Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes.


“Girls drop out of school to help their mothers with these tasks. The cycle of deprivation, poverty and inequality undermines the social capital needed to deal effectively with climate change.”


While women represent half the world’s adult population, they constitute a larger proportion of its poor, whose dependence on agriculture puts them at greater risk of losing their food sources and livelihoods in a disaster.


Poorer communities also tend to live in marginal areas, prone to flooding, rising seas and storms.

The report suggested education and health programs aimed at women could help in the fight against climate change.


“Girls with more education, for example, tend to have smaller and healthier families as adults,” it said.


“Women with access to reproductive health services, including family planning, have lower fertility rates that contribute to slower growth in greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run.”


UNFPA executive director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said next month’s climate change summit in Copenhagen must focus not only on how best to reduce carbon emissions and financial responsibilities.


The talks must also take into account the power of individuals to reverse the effects of global warming.


“Poor women in poor countries are among the hardest hit by climate change, even though they contributed the least to it,” she said.


“With the possibility of a climate catastrophe on the horizon, we cannot afford to relegate the world’s 3.4 billion women and girls to the role of victim.”



Australia Leads in Per Capita Emissions

Posted by admin on November 21, 2009
Posted under Express 85

Australia Leads in Per Capita Emissions

Emissions are continuing to rise at 2% a year, even though carbon dioxide levels are slightly lower than previous years due to the global financial crisis.  But Australia still holds the lead with the highest per capita among developed nations, Dr Michael Raupach of the Global Carbon Project reports.


On ABC AM (18 November 2009)::


TONY EASTLEY: It’s an annual global snapshot that gives world leaders a solid idea of how the planet is tracking with its carbon emissions.


And the latest audit, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, has found that emissions are continuing to rise at 2 per cent a year, and Australia still holds the lead with the highest per capita among developed nations.


There’s some good news though, carbon dioxide levels are slightly lower than previous years due to the global financial crisis.


But as environment reporter Sarah Clarke explains, that good news, may be short lived.


SARAH CLARKE: It’s one of the few positives out of the global financial crisis – a hope that a slowdown in the economy may translate to a reduction in the planet’s emissions.


But the latest audit by the Global Carbon Project has found carbon dioxide levels from human activities are still on the increase at around 2 per cent per year or 1.3 tonnes of carbon per capita.


However, that’s slightly down on previous years, but it’s a trend that’s unlikely to stay. Dr Michael Raupach is from the CSIRO and one of 30 scientists contributing to the audit.


MICHAEL RAUPACH: That’s a little bit less than through the previous seven or eight years when they’d been increasing at over 3 per cent per year. So there has been a slow up, it’s partly the beginning of the effect of the global financial crisis.


By 2011 emissions will have recovered to something like 3 per cent per year – roughly what they were before the financial crisis began.


SARAH CLARKE: Scientists blame an increasing use of coal for the continuing rise in carbon emissions, and growth from developing countries like China where exports and the production of manufactured goods are booming.


MICHAEL RAUPACH: China at the moment has a growth rate for both its economy and its emissions of the order of 10 per cent per year.


So with growth rates like that it’s pretty well inevitable that there’ll be a continuing increase in that fraction of fossil fuel emissions coming from developing countries.


SARAH CLARKE: But Australia didn’t come out clean either – the 2008 assessment found the nation’s CO2 levels are continuing to rise, and among developed nations Australia has the lead on a per capita basis.


Michael Raupach from the CSIRO again:


MICHAEL RAUPACH: In the basket of developed countries we compare obviously with the US whose emissions are almost flat at the moment, countries like Canada, with the European Union. And in almost all of those cases we exceed the emissions rates of those countries.


SARAH CLARKE: Based on this latest audit, these scientists say the planet is continuing to track close to the worst case scenario with carbon dioxide emissions estimated to have increased by 41 per cent since 1990 levels.


Professor Matthew England from the University of New South Wales warns if those levels aren’t stabilised, or reduced, then the outlook for the planet looks bleak.


MATTHEW ENGLAND: We’re looking toward, say at the end of this century, being at a global average warming of up to 7 degrees Celsius if this goes on for many more decades. And that level of climate change is in some sense unthinkable.


TONY EASTLEY: Professor Matthew England from the University of New South Wales ending that report from environment reporter Sarah Clarke.


Source: and

Business Recognises Costly Climate Risks

Posted by admin on November 21, 2009
Posted under Express 85

Business Recognises Costly Climate Risks

Business people are not scientists or politicians. But they are paid to evaluate risk and to recognise opportunity. That’s why business has a strong interest in a successful conclusion to next month’s climate change conference in Copenhagen. This from Richard Lambert, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry.

Richard Lambert is Director-General of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry)

 Business people are not scientists or politicians. But they are paid to evaluate risk and to recognise opportunity. That’s why business has a strong interest in a successful conclusion to next month’s climate change conference in Copenhagen.

Either the world moves together in an orderly fashion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by way of the legally binding obligations of an international treaty, or it risks a disorderly transition, with countries moving at their own pace and making their own arrangements. At the extreme lies the risk of belated — and therefore very costly — reactions to sudden shifts in climate conditions around the world.

Globally co-ordinated actions are important for businesses based in Britain. The EU is committed to ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and to making polluters pay. If other regions do not follow, European industry would be at a serious competitive disadvantage, and manufacturers of commodities such as steel or cement would shift production elsewhere, risking many thousands of jobs. We would still need lots of cement in this country: shipping it in from distant ports would not help the planet.

The opportunity for business lies in the immense new markets opening up for low-carbon goods and services. The potential is measured in trillions of dollars, and countries such as China and Korea are now moving aggressively to build capacity in the green economy. UK businesses aspire to be leaders in this new world, and want a clear regulatory framework on which to base investment plans. Sectors where the UK could build a competitive advantage and create jobs include offshore wind, low-carbon vehicles, carbon finance and clean coal.

So the big question for business is: what will success next month look like? We will not get a fully fledged treaty: there is too much unfinished business to complete the job. But the meeting can produce positive results, provided it hits five prime targets.

First, the momentum of negotiations must be maintained. That means presidents and prime ministers must attend in person and deliver a firm political agreement that will be the stepping stone to a treaty as soon as possible next year. Worthy declarations of intent will not be enough to drive investment in research and technology on the enormous scale required to build a new kind of economy.

So Barack Obama must, as a minimum, commit to delivering the provisions of the Waxman-Markey climate change Bill, and leaders from the developed and developing world must guarantee the promises they have already, or will shortly, make to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

The numbers will have to be clear: global emissions should peak around the year 2020, then decline steadily to a point where, by 2050, they are less than half today’s levels. Change on this scale will require carrots and sticks, best achieved by putting a price on emissions that rewards efficiency and punishes profligacy.

So the second big challenge will be to lay the foundations for a global market for carbon, by developing schemes that cap emissions and create a market for trading in carbon permits, suchas the EU’s Emission Trading System. The value of a global carbon market could be well over $2 trillion by 2020.

Next, Copenhagen must reach outline agreement about the scale of the resources that rich countries will pass to the developing economies to ease their transition. China is setting its financial demands too high, and the US has yet to put a realistic offer on the table. They will probably need to converge on about €100 billion a year by 2020, with roughly half of that coming from the proceeds of emissions trading. Negotiating how this bill will be carved up among the rich countries will be one of the trickiest tasks of the conference.

Technology resources will have to be transferred to the poorer countries, as well as cash. But businesses would strongly object if governments from the developed countries agreed simply to hand over intellectual property, which is not theirs to give away.

Establishing a cross-border regime to curb emissions from aviation and shipping is target No 4. A way will have to be found to include them in a global cap and trading scheme to provide incentives for fuel efficiency.

Challenge No 5 is particularly important for businesses in the UK. The EU has undertaken to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, or 30 per cent in the event of a successful global agreement. The higher figure would encourage others to be more ambitious, and would provide powerful incentives to develop new technologies and to drive energy efficiency.

But the big worry is that the higher target — coming on top of the EU’s costly renewable policies — could drive carbon-intensive industries out of Europe. So other countries would have to make strong commitments to contain emissions before British business agreed that this extra step was justified.

All this adds up to a very complex set of negotiations next month, and will call for political leadership of the highest order. Businesses in Britain are clear about the risks of failure and the rewards of success, and are developing products and services that will enable consumers everywhere to make the choices that will lead to a sustainable and rewarding future. Muddling through is not an option.

Having studied history at Balliol College, Oxford, Richard Lambert joined the Financial Times in 1966. He edited the Lex column in the 1970s, becoming financial editor in 1979. In 1982 he moved to New York as the bureau chief, returning to the UK a year later as deputy editor. He became editor of the Financial Times in 1991 and during his 10 years in this role launched the US version of the newspaper.

In August 2002 Richard spent a semester at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In 2003 he was asked by the chancellor to write the Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration.

A member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee from Spring 2003 until Spring 2006, Richard took up the post of director-general of the CBI in July 2006.

Among a number of other non-remunerated roles, Richard is also a trustee of the British Museum and became chancellor of the University of Warwick in August 2008.

Source: and

Carbon Capture Through Bio-Sequestration

Posted by admin on November 21, 2009
Posted under Express 85

Carbon Capture Through Bio-Sequestration

The opportunity for Australia to remove 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the atmosphere will be lost if the Government does not include agricultural and biological sequestration offsets in the emissions trading scheme. So says Environment Business Australia CEO Fiona Wain.


Bio CCS – commercial scale demonstration of biological sequestration of CO2


The opportunity for Australia to remove 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the atmosphere will be lost if the Government does not include agricultural and biological sequestration offsets in the emissions trading scheme.


Members of Environment Business Australia’s Bio-CCS group say that biological sequestration methods provide cost effective and environmentally beneficial  ways of safely drawing vast amounts of ‘legacy’ carbon from the atmosphere.  By 2020, or much earlier with a strong policy framework, more than a quarter of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions can be abated or drawn back into biological and terrestrial cycles.


EBA’s Bio-CCS group says a price on carbon is vital to ensure that offsets have market value and to cover the initial cost of ‘natural infrastructure’ development.  But once this is developed the lifecycle cost of carbon offsets can be provided for a fraction of the predicted costs of other solutions such as geological sequestration. 


The proposed Bio-CCS approaches include algae sequestration of CO2 from coal-fired power plants; improved rangeland management to encourage photosynthesis of CO2 to below ground sequestration in root systems;  selection of crops that offer high ‘plantstone’ yield where carbon is encapsulated permanently in silica; application of brown coal, other organic residues, and naturally occurring nutrients/biology to boost soil resilience and improve crop growth and soil carbon; and direct algal sequestration of CO2 from the atmosphere over deep ocean areas to  sequester carbon in the deep ocean and promote fish stocks.


The Bio-CCS group emphasises that including biological offsets in the CPRS does not require agriculture’s emissions to be included in the near term.  The benefits include the opportunity to repair seriously degraded soils and increase agricultural productivity and drought/salinity resilience.  Farmers would also benefit by providing commercial offsets while industry makes the transition to a low carbon future. 


The group has been meeting with politicians keen to see responsible amendments to the CPRS to facilitate biological sequestration because of the national benefits to Australia and the opportunity to export knowledge and technology to other countries with soil degradation problems in particular Africa, China, India, Middle East and the USA.


Biological sequestration can offer solutions at scale and at speed, however, they should be part of a holistic approach to tackling climate change that includes energy efficiency; reduction of emissions from industry sectors, transport and cities; and fuel and energy switching to low/zero carbon emission sources.


Australia’s current greenhouse gas emissions are close to 600 million tonnes per annum.  The Bio CCS approach could cut Australia’s total emissions by at least 25% within a decade and has great application for other countries especially China, India, Africa and the USA.


The companies outlined below are the initial proponents of three major Bio CCS demonstration projects in Australia that will demonstrate the scope, scale and speed of biosequestration of carbon dioxide at point of emission and drawdown of ‘legacy’ carbon from the atmosphere.  The projects are in Victoria, South Queensland and Western Australia – and are open to all biosequestration systems, companies and farmers.


Each of these regional Bio CCS projects offers the opportunity to sequester 50 million tonnes of CO2 per year, and in the process to rebuild more productive agricultural soils, and to give farmers access to the carbon offset credits market.  And in the case of oceans – to help rebuild dwindling fish stocks.


However, this potential will only be realised with Government leadership on far-reaching policies including early incentives to catalyse change and unleash investment into capital expenditure – costs that will be recouped as operating costs decline, agricultural productivity increases, and a price on carbon takes effect giving value to biosequestration offset credits.


By treating CO2 as a feedstock and removing excess CO2 from a waste and pollution chain, biosequestration of carbon in soils, plants and oceans offers major commercially viable offset credits to the carbon market.  It is therefore very important that biosequestration be included in Australia’s emissions trading scheme. Reductions of CO2 created by all forms of biosequestration should receive similar legislative recognition as afforded to geological sequestration.


Australia has some 450 million hectares of grasslands and 25 million hectares of cropping lands and around 120,000 innovative, adaptable farmers.  Australia’s stable political and economic status also allows us to be genuine world leaders in regenerative grazing management and biological farming/fertilisation systems.  This is an opportunity to:

•           Improve the environmental, financial and social sustainability of farming enterprises

•           Create high quality long-term jobs in regional and rural Australia

•           Show that an energy intensive nation can make the transition to a low carbon economy.


The original UNFCCC agreement in 1992 stipulated that all carbon sinks (biological – terrestrial and oceanic) should be included within the framework so that the full carbon cycle is appropriately represented. Australia is well placed to lead the world in implementing all forms of biological sequestration and to transfer this knowledge to the developing world – Bio CCS should therefore form an integral part of the CPRS.


UNFAO are calling for soil carbon to be recognised in Copenhagen to provide incentives to farmers worldwide to improve food supp Richard Lambert is Director-General of the CBI ly/security.  The CSIRO  has confirmed that at least 25% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by biosequestration.  CSIRO has also confirmed that soil carbon can be measured – an international protocol is now needed to coordinate accountancy. 


Over a multi-year cycle Australian Government carbon accounting estimates show that drought and bushfires do not increase the average greenhouse gas emissions – in fact, biosequestration systems improve agricultural resilience to these natural events. In the USA the Waxman-Markey Bill includes agricultural offsets and soil carbon benefits. Scientists are increasingly warning that the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases must peak as quickly as possible and then be reduced.  


Biosequestration provides a large part of the solution to achieving this reduction in GHGs in time to avoid dangerous climate tipping points.



The Bio CCS group acknowledges the important work being done nationally and internationally on forestry, re-afforestation and deforestation land-clearing avoided but emphasises that soil, ocean, crop, native vegetation sequestration of carbon should be given the same policy support domestically and internationally.


Founding members of the Environment Business Australia Bio CCS group:


MBD Energy

Andrew Lawson, Managing Director

Email –

Phone – 03 9415 8711

Website –



Ignite Energy Resources/LawrieCo

Dr John White & Adrian Lawrie

Email –

Phone – 03 8600 7000

Websites – &



Soil Carbon

Tony Lovell, Managing Director

Email –

Phone – 07 5553 7900

Website –



Plantstone Technology

Professor Leigh Sullivan, Southern Cross University

Email –

Phone – 02 6628 1521

Website –


Ocean Nourishment

John Ridley, Managing Director

Email –

Phone – 02 9518 6150

Website –


Environment Business Australia

Fiona Wain, CEO

Email –

Phone – 02 9358 1800

Website –

Anna, Algae & Anglo All Together

Posted by admin on November 21, 2009
Posted under Express 85

Anna, Algae & Anglo All Together


Queensland Premier Anna Bligh officially opened a world-leading algal bio-fuel research and development facility at Townsville’s James Cook University, on the same day mining giant Anglo American snapped up a 20% stake in Melbourne-based MBD Energy, which is developing multi-billion-dollar algae farms to capture and sequester emissions from coal-fired power stations.


Queensland Government announcement (20 November 2009):


Premier opens new green technology facility in Townsville



Premier Anna Bligh today officially opened a world-leading algal bio-fuel research and development facility at Townsville’s James Cook University, that could hold the key to rapid reductions in carbon emissions from coal fired power stations.


Ms Bligh said the revolutionary algal carbon capture and storage (BIO-CCS) technology is already proving successful in trials and will soon be rolled out at three coal fired power stations, including Tarong Power Station near Kingaroy.


“This technology has the potential to revolutionise carbon capture in Queensland and around the world,” Ms Bligh said.


“The facility is doing important work, using algae as a carbon-capture method, which will add to our options in dealing with Co2 emissions.


“Essentially, the algae eats the Co2 and excretes biofuel and stockfeed – so the Co2 is captured and turned into something we can use.


“It’s another great example of the ground-breaking research that’s occurring in Townsville and throughout Queensland.


“As our state continues to grow and coal remains a key export, it is essential we come up with new ways to manage the impact of that growth on our environment.


“There has been much talk about preventing climate change, but here in Queensland, we are taking action.


“We are getting on with finding solutions through smart state thinking that could open whole new opportunities for our industries, as well as local communities.”


Ms Bligh said the 5000 square metre research plant has proven capable of producing 14,000 litres of oil and 25,000 kilograms of algal feed for livestock from every 100 tonnes of carbon consumed.


“My Government kick started this research in May last year with a $160,000 grant and there has also been significant private investment leading to the opening this new facility.


“The emerging success of this project is great news for the people of Townsville, building a reputation for the city as the home of emerging green technology.”


The Premier congratulated MBD Energy and James Cook University for leading the world in this research.


“BIO-CCS will now step into the next phase of development with MBD partnering to construct test facilities at our Tarong Energy Power Station, along with two other coal fired power stations in NSW and Victoria.


“MBD will be investing $2.5 million to help bring this technology to life at Tarong Power Station.


“The trial aims to capture 700 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually and if successful could expand over the next five to ten years to consume more than half of Tarong’s problem flue-gas emissions.


“Its early days for this technology – but this is carbon capture which has massive potential. It’s in Queensland’s interests to make coal plants cleaner.”


MBD Energy Limited Chairman, Jerry Ellis predicted that BIO-CCS and Algal Synthesiser technology would emerge as a vital and viable CO2 abatement technology option for all existing coal and gas fired power stations, smelters and refineries around the world.


“Our fully enclosed and continuous cycle system has been designed to mimic the fundamental processes of the Earth’s natural carbon cycle but do the job in a matter of hours rather than millions of years,” Mr Ellis said.


“Best of all, the valuable commodities produced by Bio-CCS with an MBD Algal Synthesiser, more than pays for the comparatively modest infrastructure investment required.”


James Cook University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Sandra Harding, said that the University’s specialist Algal Synthesiser team, led by Professor Rocky de Nys and Associate Professor Kirsten Heimann, have provided a tangible demonstration of the JCU’s commitment to high quality and high impact work that will make a difference.


“With the strong support of the Queensland Government we have forged a partnership between academia and industry through MBD Energy which will have long term and far reaching consequences,” she said.


“Professor de Nys and Associate Professor Heimann and the team they’ve pulled together from around the world are helping create a new and sustainable industry that has the potential to be a major contributor to reducing greenhouse gases.”


Professor Harding said that the Facility was already creating jobs and providing crucial practical experience for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.


Source: and 


The Australian reported (20 November 2009):

MINING giant Anglo American has snapped up a 20 per cent stake in Melbourne-based MBD Energy, which hopes within five years to be developing multi-billion-dollar algae farms to capture and sequester emissions from coal-fired power stations.

The emergence of Anglo American as a cornerstone investor in MBD Energy is the latest in a series of deals in which mining groups and utilities have taken positions in new technology that could cut their greenhouse emissions.

Algae is being discussed with great enthusiasm among the energy utilities, which see it as a cheaper, more effective and more immediate solution to reducing greenhouse emissions than geological carbon capture and sequestration.

Privately owned MBD will today announce that Tarong Energy is to become the third coal-fired utility in Australia to agree to install a pilot plant for its technology, along with Eraring in NSW and Loy Yang A in Victoria.

MBD hopes to have all three pilot plants up and running within six months, followed by 80ha facilities by 2011.

If the plants prove successful, MBD Energy managing director Andrew Lawson said, the company would be able to commit to multi-billion-dollar projects that could capture half the utilities’ emissions and produce valuable bio-products such as fuel, plastics and feedstock.

A 5000sq m test facility at James Cook University has produced 14,000 litres of oil and 25,000kg of algal meal from every 100 tonnes of CO2 consumed.

Anglo American is also considering MBD technology to reduce emissions from its coal mining operations, although this time using oxidising bacteria rather than algae to capture methane.

“Despite the usual risks associated with emerging technology, the MBD Energy project has the potential to mitigate Anglo American’s carbon footprint,” Anglo chief commercial officer Neil Dhar said.

Mr Lawson said two energy companies – one a leading Australian group and the other an international group – were also conducting due diligence on becoming cornerstone investors alongside Anglo, with only one likely to be chosen.

Anglo American’s initial investment is believed to be less than $10 million, but it has agreed to provide expansion funds as its rolls out its technology.


Searching for the Yellow Brick Road

Posted by admin on November 21, 2009
Posted under Express 85

Searching for the Yellow Brick Road


Starting two to four years from now, the world will need to build the equivalent of all the world’s existing renewable energy capacity every year just to compensate for the decline of oil. So says Chris Nelder in the Green Chip Review.


What Peak Oil Can Do for Climate Change


By Chris Nelder in Green Chip Review (20 November 2009):


With all eyes focused on the Copenhagen climate summit in less than three weeks, perhaps it’s time for the peakists to find a new purpose.  The reason is simple. Money isn’t interested in problems; it’s only interested in solutions. And wherever capital goes is where the changes will be made.


The public also has little appetite for unpleasant stories, even true ones. The message is: Don’t tell us what we can’t consume — tell us what we can consume. Tell us our grid power costs are going to go up because of climate change and we’ll fight it. But help us buy efficiency improvements and renewables that will pay for themselves in fuel savings, and we’ll support it all the way.


A new Pew study on “apocalypse fatigue” highlights the problem nicely. The public’s confidence in the global warming problem has fallen sharply this year, even as momentum built toward Copenhagen.


Guilt and deprivation simply don’t sell like opportunity does. That’s why trillions of dollars are pouring into cleantech annually, while the peak oil community continues to go begging for a few dollars to staff a small office and keep a web server running, all while battling a constant onslaught of misinformation placed in the top mainstream media by very deep-pocketed vested interests.


That’s why I said last week that the IEA was shrewd to turn its annual World Energy Outlook into a stalking horse, masquerading its alarm about peak oil as an earnest appeal to address climate change.


It’s also why I applaud Chevron’s new commitment to offer mentoring, resources, and financial support to the Cleantech Open through its $240 million venture capital arm. Chevron has long held the lead among its peers, I think, for engaging with the public on the energy challenges ahead with their “Will You Join Us?” campaign.


Oil industry, take note: That’s how you bridge the great divide between the Greens and the Browns — by putting some oil industry profits into the solutions for a world after cheap and easy oil. Here are a few key concepts from the peak oil study that should inform climate policy.


All of the Above


First, solving the energy crisis isn’t an either Green or Brown proposition, but all of the above. There is a dangerous paradox here that the peakists can help the world avoid.


Climate activists need to realize that the renewable energy revolution can only be built on the back of fossil fuels. It will take vast amounts of oil, gas, and coal to mine raw ores, crush them, transport them, smelt them down and turn them into stock, transport them again, and turn them into end-products. . . then transport them again. We have no idea how to do all that without petroleum fuels, gas, and coking coal.


Therefore, in order to build a vast new infrastructure of solar and wind generation, ubiquitous rail transport, plug-in and natural gas vehicles, the next-generation grid, and so on, and do it at a reasonable price, we’ll have to ensure that fossil fuels receive vigorous and sustained investment.


Here’s a rough, rule-of-thumb way of expressing the supply dilemma:

We have to fill a 25% gap in 25 years, a 50% gap in 50 years, and we need to be off fossil fuels completely by the end of the century.


Here’s another rule of thumb: Starting two to four years from now, the world will need to build the equivalent of all the world’s existing renewable energy capacity every year just to compensate for the

decline of oil.


Meeting that challenge with renewables and efficiency would solve the emissions problem as a side effect, only it would do so by harnessing the profit motive — not by penalizing production. That’s how capitalism works best.


If we allow climate policy to pour cold water on the fire of fossil fuels, we would extinguish the growth in renewables too. Failing to maintain a steady supply of fossil fuels, even as they peak and decline, their prices rise, and their availability shrinks, would subject the cleantech industry to devastating boom and bust cycles.


Count on Less Fuel. . . and Less CO2


It’s fairly astonishing, but none of the climate change models take the peaking of any fossil fuels into account. They all project — over a period of 30 years or more! — fairly simple growth curves for population and the global economy, assuming that sufficient oil, gas and coal will be available to satisfy demand at historically normal prices.


As the peakists know, nothing could be further from the truth.  If my current understanding of the situation is even close to correct — peak oil circa 2005-2012; peak gas 2015-2020 and peak coal 2025-2030 — then the climate models are not accurately modeling 78% of the global energy supply over the next 30 years.


Accordingly, the CO2 projections must be wrong. Ultimately, the population-based forecasts must also be wrong. The peak oil study can help correct these glaring flaws by offering better data to the CO2 emissions models.


Easier to Switch than Fight


Resisting the policy focus on climate change, and resisting the truth about peak oil, the fossil fuel industry has become its own worst enemy.By perceiving these issues as threats, the Browns have created a vicious cycle.


Fighting the renewable energy revolution sows public opposition, adds cost, and delays the deployment of renewables, which makes the CO2 problem worse. The worse the CO2 problem gets, the more it costs them.


If instead the Browns acknowledged that the future of fossil fuels will be increasingly difficult and expensive, and that CO2 is a problem they need to own, it would feed a virtuous cycle.


Peak-adjusted fuel models would lower the projected CO2 emissions, reducing the cost of mitigation and buying a bit more time for the transition to renewables. It would give the energy industry a clear mandate to invest more in renewables, and do so in a measured, less disruptive way. In turn, the accelerated adoption of renewables would reduce CO2 projections and feed further investment, reducing CO2 even more.


Hopefully, the peakists can help the fossil fuel industry come to terms with a decarbonized future, and in so doing, ensure its long term survival.


Incentivize, Don’t Penalize


Perhaps the most important way that the peakists can help the climate change cause is by changing the focus to what goes into the engine, instead of what comes out of the tailpipe.


By contrast, focusing on the renewable generation side — what goes into the engine — results in increasing amounts of power that was clean to begin with, at ever-declining costs, and could create a long-term growth opportunity for the energy industry.


Follow The Yellow Brick Road


It doesn’t really matter if Copenhagen is deemed a failure or a success. And it doesn’t really matter if we take a backwards approach to the renewable energy revolution. The only thing that matters is that the world continues to make progress in the right direction. Here, the peakists have an important

role to play.


Somewhere over the rainbow, down a long and winding Yellow Brick Road, is energy’s Emerald City, and we’ll need the pragmatic peakists to lead us there. With their help, the Greens can get their heads out of the clouds, the Browns can move their rusting limbs again and learn some compassion for the earth, and the policymakers can find some courage.



Global Language for Green Buildings

Posted by admin on November 21, 2009
Posted under Express 85



Just weeks before the crucial climate talks in Copenhagen, the world’s leading green building organisations we have reached a landmark agreement to begin to speak one international language to describe the carbon footprint of buildings in a robust and consistent way. Romilly Madew, Chief Executive of the Green Building Council of Australia reports.


Green Building Council announcement (16 November 2009):


Today the world’s leading green building organisations have reached a ground-breaking

agreement to adopt a common global language for the measurement of the carbon footprint of



Just weeks ahead of COP15 in Copenhagen, this is a critical and timely step that will enable the

world to realise the unparalleled, cost-effective carbon mitigation potential of buildings, which

account for around 40% of the world’s energy use and 33% of global greenhouse gas emissions.


The ‘common carbon metric’ will be piloted by the leading green building rating tools, and made

available to all those who are dedicated to promoting the understanding and development of a

green, low-carbon and sustainable built environment.


The metric is recognised by the UNEP Sustainable Building and Climate Initiative, and will be

highlighted before decision-makers at the conference in Copenhagen in December.


Tony Arnel, Chair of the World Green Building Council said:


“The significance of this agreement should not be underestimated. The coming together of so

many leading green building organisations is unprecedented and appropriate at this critical

moment in the world’s response to the global challenge of climate change.


“Buildings account for a third of global carbon emissions and as the IPCC has demonstrated, provide by far the most cost effective carbon reduction potential.


“The World GBC is delighted to have been able to play a part in this historic development and to welcome BREEAM to work in partnership with the family of leading rating tools operated by Green Building Councils.”


Romilly Madew, Chief Executive of the Green Building Council of Australia said:


“Just weeks before the crucial climate talks in Copenhagen, we have reached a landmark

agreement – to begin to speak one international language to describe the carbon footprint of

buildings, in a robust and consistent way.


“The coming together of the world’s leading rating tools and other organisations that represent the best scientific and technical minds and advocates of green, low carbon buildings from around the globe, is a real and timely breakthrough. It demonstrates the importance of the World Green Building Council and its member Councils which have played a key role in facilitating this.”


Andrew Aitken, Green Star Director of the Green Building Council and involved in the technical

development of the metric said:


“With the development of rating tools worldwide, it is crucial we speak of carbon in a consistent

and common way. This agreement to will go a long way in supporting Developing Countries to

develop a consistent framework.”


Donna McIntire, Program Officer for Buildings and Climate Change, the UNEP Sustainable Building

and Climate Initiative (SBCI) said:


“UNEP is delighted to represent the importance of this work in Copenhagen through its

Sustainable Building & Climate Initiative to support the critical role of buildings in reducing carbon

emissions. Common metrics are the keys to consistent measurement and reporting of

performance – opening the door for flexible mechanisms and entry into the carbon market. Thisagreement around the common carbon metric is timely and poised to transform the building

sector to a position of true leadership for the development of a sustainable built environment.”


Alfonso Ponce, Secretary of the Sustainable Building Alliance (SB Alliance) said:


“This represents an important moment in the evolution of the science and practice of green

building. A coming together of technical minds, worldwide experience and a collaboration of

organisations with global reach, provide a robust and dynamic launch pad to take buildings to the

heart of global carbon mitigation action.”