Archive for the ‘Express 85’ Category

This Business of Reducing Emissions

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

This Business of Reducing Emissions

If Victoria’s “Grow Me the Money” program was replicated across the country, Australia would be a third of the way towards meeting its 2020 emissions reduction target,  while Dr Tim Flannery believes large animals like cattle and sheep are essential to restoring the health of the planet and reducing greenhouse gas levels.

Mathew Murphy in The Age (19 November 2009):

The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on its Australian counterparts to implement basic carbon-saving measures that it calculates could deliver a third of the Federal Government’s 2020 emissions reduction target.

An analysis by VECCI shows that about 46 million tonnes of carbon a year could be saved if Australian business was to match its business-run sustainability program.

VECCI’s ”Grow Me the Money” program, which began in 2007, is a free initiative aimed at helping Victoria’s small to medium-sized businesses become more sustainable while improving profits.

VECCI’s analysis shows participants are saving an average of $6600 a year and reducing their carbon footprint by 28 tonnes a year.

The chamber’s chief executive, Wayne Kayler-Thomson, said Australia’s 2 million businesses were responsible for half the nation’s 600 million tonnes of annual emissions.

He said that if the Grow Me the Money program was replicated across the country, the Federal Government would be a third of the way towards meeting its 2020 emissions reduction target of 138 million tonnes, or 5 per cent below 2000 levels.



Vernon Graham for The Land/Farmonline (18 November 2009):

ENVIRONMENTAL scientist, Dr Tim Flannery, believes large animals like cattle and sheep are essential to restoring the health of the planet and reducing greenhouse gas levels.

Dr Flannery said the planet and its atmosphere had evolved through the interaction between plants and animals.

He said 99 percent of gases we breathed were produced by plants and animals but about 200 years ago humans discovered fossil fuels which, “combined with our destruction of living things like forests and soils, had pumped tens of billions of extra tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere”.

The forum at which Mr Flannery was speaking last week was organised by Meat and Livestock Australia in a move to get on to the front foot in the increasingly noisy debate about whether people should become vegetarians to save the planet.

The five environmentalists on the panel were the Climate Institute’s Corey Watts, Murdoch University Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, Nick Costa, NSW livestock producer, Sam Archer, the MLA’s Beverley Henry and Dr Flannery.

There was general agreement with Professor Flannery that large farm animals helped retain fertility in the land and recycled carbon but also that they had to be better managed and bred to maximise their environmental benefit while reducing methane gas emissions.

He backed cell grazing where stock are rotated around paddocks to ensure desirable grasses and herbs survive.

Dr Flannery and Mr Watts opposed including agriculture in the Federal Government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS), saying such a regulatory framework would be a nightmare if imposed on family farmers.

Instead agriculture should be opened up for carbon offsets.

Dr Costa declared red meat could be “nutritious, clean and green” and MLA managing director, David Palmer, said livestock industries had cut greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5pc since 1990.

During the same time emissions from electricity generation had risen by 49.5pc and transport by 26.9pc.


Where the Rubber Meets the Road

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

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

A new generation of “green” automobile tires that can boost fuel efficiency without sacrificing safety and durability is in the research pipeline, while there’s a new Dutch treat on the way: a tax on how far and when you driver older, fuel in efficient cars to encourage less polluting, lower carbon-emitting transport. Pictured is Duracar Quicc! an all-electric delivery van developed in The Netherlands.

Michale Bernstein for the American Chemical Society:

Developing ‘green’ tires that boost mileage and cut carbon dioxide emissions

A new generation of “green” automobile tires that can boost fuel efficiency without sacrificing safety and durability is rolling their way through the research pipeline.

The new tires could help add an extra mile or two per gallon to a car’s fuel economy.

That’s the topic of the cover story of the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News, (C&EN) ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

C&EN Senior Editor Alexander Tullo explains that rolling resistance — the friction that tires encounter when rolling — are a major factor in a vehicle’s fuel economy. It can determine up to 20 percent of fuel economy.

Overcoming it accounts for 4 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.

For years, tire makers and their raw material suppliers have been eyeing lower rolling resistance as a way to boost fuel economy and promote a cleaner environment.

But they have been thwarted by a principle in the tire world called the “magic triangle of tire technology.” It holds that an improvement to rolling resistance has to come at the expense of wet-road grip and durability.

That barrier is now falling, thanks to the development of new materials, including new forms of silica and nanomaterials. These new materials include a nanogel that improves abrasion resistance, grip and rolling resistance of tires as well as a newly-developed resin that helps tires retain air longer.

But there’s a catch: Motorists still will have to keep tires properly inflated to take full advantage of the new technology, the article notes.

The full story is available at



Dutch Treat: Pay-As-You-Drive Taxation Proposed

By Bill Moore

When you think of The Netherlands, many images come to mind: the colorful canals of Amsterdam, the quaint windmills, the thousands-upon-thousands of bicycles.

But it also has nearly 8 million automobiles; and with a population 7.2 million households, which equates to at least one car per family. And it is not uncommon, according to the Dutch Roadgeek blogger, to see anywhere from 600 to 1,000 accumulated kilometers of traffic jams during rush hour across The Netherlands, based on Tom-Tom data.

In order to try and stem this polluting, enervating, productivity-robbing flood, the government ministry in charge of trying to solve the problem has proposed replacing the current automobile tax scheme, which levies fees when you buy the vehicle and annually when you register it, with a ‘pay-as-you-drive’ proposal.

A government-mandated GPS data logger will keep track what time of day you drove. Driving during rush hour will cost more than non-rush hour periods. Driving further will cost more than driving fewer miles.

But it gets even more interesting than that. In order to continue to encourage more efficient, less polluting, lower carbon-emitting cars, the Minister also is proposing the fees be adjusted as to how old the car is and how much carbon it produces. Older cars will pay more than newer cars. Lower carbon cars will pay less than higher carbon producers.

According to H.J. Bakker, the director of Elec-cars Nederland, the Dutch government still has to approve the scheme and if it does, it will first be implemented in commercial trucks (lorries) starting in 2011. Personal automobiles will be required to adopt the system in the 2012-2013 time frame.

He stresses, “The government can only see how many miles you drove and the time you did that, and not where you drove these miles,” hopefully allaying privacy concerns.

Of course, under this regime, small electric cars and trucks, like the Dutch-developed Duracar Quicc! delivery van pictured above, would score very high in not only low operating costs, but also in terms of its local emissions. What needs to be further clarified is how are emissions from the nation’s power plants calculated?

Here’s what the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Agency reports on The Netherlands’ electric power grid mix as of August 2009:

Year-to-date, coal-fired plants contributed 44.4 percent of the Nation’s electric power. Nuclear plants contributed 20.4 percent, while 23.2 percent was generated at natural gas-fired plants. Of the 1.1 percent generated by petroleum-fired plants, petroleum liquids represented 0.7 percent, with the remainder from petroleum coke.

Conventional hydroelectric power provided 7.1 percent of the total, while other renewables (biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind) and other miscellaneous energy sources generated the remaining 3.6 percent of electric power.

The city of Amsterdam has announced it wants to see 40,000 electric vehicles on its streets by 2020 and upwards of 200,000 EVs by 2040. Presumably they will qualify for the lowest fee rate compared to gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles based on their overall CO2 emissions per kilometer. If they travel, however, during rush hours, they likely are going to pay the same fee as their petrol-fueled counterparts.

Assuming the Dutch government approves the new “Pay-As-You-Drive” plan, it will be instructive for the rest of the world, especially in nations where traffic congestion is equally problematic.


Green with Envy for Gold Coast

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



Green with Envy for Gold Coast

Greenstock is a new event that will transform the Gold Coast from an icon of the high-carbon economy to a world leader of the low-carbon economy, says Colman Ridge, who is also organising this year’s Walk Against Warming in Brisbane on 12 December.  Look out for Captain Paul Watson at a Brisbane function for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on 24 November.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is inviting people to an evening with Captain Paul Watson.

On the 24th of November, Sea Shepherd Brisbane will be holding a fundraiser at the Museum of Brisbane from 6:30pm until 8:30pm, in support of Sea Shepherds upcoming Whale defense campaign, Operation Waltzing Matilda.

To reserve your tickets e-mail:

Silent Auction and news on the upcoming Antarctic Campaign with special guest speakers Terri Irwin & Amy Barker

Time Magazine proclaimed Captain Paul Watson as one of the top twenty environmental heroes of today.

By Graham Readfearn in Courier Mail (18 November 2009):

THE bureaucrat investigating the SuperGP debacle has been handed a blueprint for a festival that could revitalise Gold Coast tourism.

Greenstock could replace roaring V8s with a more planet-friendly event, with the potential to draw young environmentalists from around the globe to share knowledge and see acts such as Sting, Justin Timberlake, and Kings of Leon.

The $20 million plan by Brisbane-based entrepreneur Colman Ridge depends on a $5.8 million injection from the State Government, and has already secured the support of Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke, the United Nations and an international talent agency.

Mr Ridge proposes to roll his successful Greenfest yearly environmental expo, currently held in Brisbane, in with six music and film stages, a major green games event at Main Beach and an “Economy Hub” at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.

On Tuesday, Mr Ridge presented the Greenstock plan to David Williams, the Government-appointed consultant preparing a report on the future of the motor race for Premier Anna Bligh.

This year’s Super GP was hit with controversy when the drawcard international A1GP race was cancelled just days before the event.

“It will transform the region from an icon of the high-carbon economy to a world leader of the low-carbon economy,” Mr Ridge said.

“We are looking for half of what the Government put into the A1GP.

“With the motor race you have a very narrow demographic with fences and road blocks.

“Greenstock is gentler, more inclusive. It’s about having a good time that’s healthy for yourself, your family, the community and the planet.

“We expect to attract 200,000 in the first year and then grow significantly past Indy numbers from there. Super GP was down to just under 200,000 this year. We plan to hand back the highway to the residents of the coast.”

A letter of support from Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency states the company would be willing to help promote the event. Currently on CAA’s books are Justin Timberlake, Sting, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Santana, Kings of Leon and The Spice Girls. Australian acts include The Living End, The Veronicas, AC/DC and Keith Urban.

The United Nations Environment Programme has written to Ms Bligh encouraging support of Greenstock.

Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke, who met Mr Ridge’s team last Friday, said: “I think this is a great proposal – a wonderful alternative and a positive event that would attract great attention. I would be advocating this (to Premier Bligh) for sure.”


Where Angels Fear to Tread

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

Where Angels Fear to Tread

Britain’s small wind sector is booming despite the recession as many rural homes, farms or small businesses are putting up turbines to counter higher energy prices and blackouts, while for years one northern industrial city had a reputation blackened by coal dust, clanking shipyards and smoke-belching factories. Now Newcastle is Britain’s greenest city. The Angel of the North is Newcastle’s iconic statue.

Peter Griffiths for Reuters World Environment News (20 November 2009):

For decades, Newcastle upon Tyne was blackened by coal dust and known around the world for its clanking shipyards and smoke-belching factories.But after years of redevelopment following its industrial decline, the northern metropolis has been transformed and was named on Thursday as Britain’s “greenest” city.

It pushed last year’s winner Bristol down to second place, with Brighton on the south coast ranked third in the annual list compiled by Forum for the Future, an environmental think-tank.

Newcastle won praise for its excellent air quality, low levels of waste, low carbon emissions and high recycling rates.

“Cities with an industrial heritage face genuine challenges, but Newcastle’s success shows that it is possible to overcome the legacy of the past,” said forum Chief Executive Peter Madden.

The third annual “Sustainable Cities” study ranked 20 places based on 13 factors, including recycling, pollution and how they plan to respond to the threat of climate change.

With a regenerated quayside, new arts centers and a lively nightlife, Newcastle and neighboring Gateshead have radically changed since their industrial heyday.

J.B. Priestley once said the area was “blacker than Manchester and might have been carved out of coal.”

Newcastle rose from fourth place last year and eighth in 2007. Bottom of the pile for a second year running was Hull, followed by Glasgow, Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

Nao Nakanishi for Reuters World Environment News (20 November 2009):

LONDON – Britain’s small wind sector is booming despite the recession as many rural homes, farms or small businesses are putting up turbines in the yard to counter higher energy prices and blackouts.

Orders for turbines with less than 50 kilowatts capacity have soared before the introduction in April of feed-in-tariffs for small renewables, a system similar to those that have propelled wind farm growth in Germany or Spain.

“In terms of UK, orders have tripled already,” said Pete Allen, chief executive officer of Evance, which makes stand alone turbines with capacity of 5 kilowatts — enough to power two average homes in Britain.

“The UK market is set to double next year,” he told Reuters.

It is a sea change in the country, which has failed to speed up construction of onshore farms despite its plentiful wind. Onshore projects have often stalled due to local objections.

To help achieve an 80 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2050 from the 1990 level, the government announced in July it would introduce the feed-in-tariffs for small green generation of up to 5 megawatts. The tariff levels are yet to be decided.

It also comes at a time when a third of Britain’s power generators, including coal and nuclear, are starting to retire, triggering worries over possible power shortages next decade.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) calculated the feed-in-tariffs would cut pay-back time for turbines of less than 1.5 kilowatts at windy sites to less than 10 years and for 5-6 kilowatt turbines to less than five years.

“With fossil fuel prices inevitably going to increase sharply, interest in self-generation is going to increase,” said Alex Murley, small system manager at BWEA.

“The UK market is already the second biggest in the world, behind the U.S., accounting for 20-25 percent of the global demand,” he added.

The BWEA projects more than 12,000 units of small turbines to be deployed in Britain next year after about 3,500 units — or 7.2 megawatts — were installed last year.

Under the scheme, owners of small renewables are paid a fixed tariff for every unit of electricity they generate. They can avoid or limit purchasing power from the grid. They can also sell a surplus, if any, to the grid for a fixed rate.

“It is the fastest growing part of the wind market,” said Stephen Mahon from Low Carbon Investors UK, a venture capital investing in clean energy, including small wind.

“Globally the market is probably about 150 million pounds…We expect this to become a multi-billion pound market over the next five years,” Mahon told Reuters.

Growth will come mainly from Britain and the United States.

Though Britain has failed to attract leading large turbine makers, such as Vestas or Suzlon, it is home to 18 manufacturers of small wind turbines, including Scotland’s Proven Energy, a world leader in this category.

The country is already the world’s top exporter of small turbines and it is benefitting from generous subsidies in the United States, where the industry is projected to grow 30-folds to 1,700 megawatts by end-2013. It grew 78 percent last year.

BWEA expected British exports of small turbines to exceed 13,000 units next year after a forecast 2009 jump to around 9,500 units this year from around 32,000 units last year.

“We predict a dramatic increase in all regions, particularly the UK,” said Peter Griffiths, marketing manager of Proven Energy. “Certainly there will be a double digit growth in the run-up to UK feed-in-tariffs,” he told Reuters.

Proven Energy, taken over by investment company Low Carbon Accelerator Ltd in October, has sold about 2,500 units of its 3.2-15 kilowatt turbines worldwide since 1992, though most were installed in the past three years.


Driving Sustainable Message Home

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

Driving Sustainable Message Home

Sustainable Townsville has set itself some ambitious plans, but it is on the right track and deserves to succeed. With the leadership provided by Jenny Hill and Guy Lane, this tropical north Queensland city is well on its way to get the recognition it deserves. Ken Hickson reports on his visit.

By Ken Hickson

It’s people who make a city and people who make it sustainable.

That’s the message I received loud and clear when I visited Townsville for the first time this week and met the people who want to make it a world leading sustainable city.

I flew into Townsville – one hour forty five minutes from Brisbane – with the express purpose of speaking at the very first event, organised by a group of people calling themselves Sustainable Townsville.

Meeting me at the airport was Guy Lane. Now there’s an enterprising, sustainable superman if ever there was one. He runs My Clean Sky, SeaO2 and Funnel Exchange. He is always promoting other businesses and ideas which are on the sustainable, low carbon track.

There was a Toyota Hybrid Prius waiting to run me around town, economically and sustainably, of course.

First stop was Mary Who? Bookshop in Flinders Street Mall. Not only was manager Sue Cole wanting for some of my books to be delivered, but on hand ready to buy the first one delivered to Townsville was Louise Scarrone, Managing Director of Sprout, the greener grocers.

Also waiting was the media. My visit had been given something of a build up by Guy Lane and others, so there was an interview first with Win Television News (Channel 9) and then Townsville Bulletin. Earlier in the day I had talked on air over the telephone to ABC Radio Townsville.

In fact, I know that at least one person had heard me on the radio and as he was there in the book shop. He wanted a chat and he ended up buying the book as well. He’d been in the mining business and was now retired. The subject of climate change, energy and the environment interested him greatly. (If anyone knows his name. please let me know!)

The next person I met was Jenny Hill. Alongside Guy, she’s the champion for Sustainable Townsville. A city councillor (since 1997) and previously deputy mayor, she is chairwoman of the burgeoning organisation. We chatted about plans for Townsville and checked out the venue – Vine 21 – for the first Sustainable event.

Jenny graduated from LaTrobe University with a Bachelor of Science in 1981, before moving to Townsville in 1982. Jenny also completed a Masters in Public Health and Tropical Medicine at James Cook University. Previously her employment included mining laboratories, DPI, James Cook University, and the Pathology Department of the Townsville Hospital in Microbiology.

She knows her science and she knows her city. And she knows what needs to be done to make the city move on and upward on the sustainability hit parade.

Here’s a report quoting her on ABC News:

A group promoting environmentally sustainable industries for Townsville says the north Queensland city could become a world leader in the field.

The chairwoman for Sustainable Townsville, Jenny Hill, says she hopes people who attended the group’s first major network event will now promote sustainability issues.

She says when people move to Townsville in the future, they might be attracted by the environmental practices of the city.

“I’d like to see Townsville as being the world leader in sustainable industries and processes, where if you move to this community you know that you’re not impacting on the environment, that the people here, that the processes we have, are not damaging our environment,” she said.

Ms Hill says raising awareness of how Townsville is addressing climate change issues is important to boost the population.

“By promoting Townsville as a smart city, as a sustainable city, we can draw more people into our community and we can show the rest of Australia that hey, you can do things, you can make changes that really don’t impact on your lifestyle,” she said.   


The meeting in question was a popular affair. About 40 people turned up. Ergon Energy was there to lend its support and talk up its initiative, the Network Demand Management programme for energy efficiency in and around the city.

I spoke for about 20 minutes on what’s happening in the world of sustainability, referring to other cities making claims and winning awards for becoming greener, low or zero carbon communities.

Opportunities for businesses to become more sustainable was emphasised and I gave a few good examples from the book and from my research. 

Design and architecture are both important to make our buildings more energy efficient, particularly in the tropics,  and there’s a job to be done to retrofit thousands of buildings around the city (and the nation) which currently accounts for around 20% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Townsville is already recognised as a leading solar city, but there’s a lot happening for the city to tap into with biofuels, carbon farming, transport – a move to hybrids and electric cars. Interestingly, Townsville already has one of the largest fleets of hybrid taxis in Australia.

Who else did I meet?

On hand was Lisa McDonald of Townsville Enterprise. We discovered that we had met two years’ previous at the Climate Change and Business Conference in Brisbane.

Frank Dallmeyer of Tropical Energy Solutions introduced himself and bought be a drink. He told me his company identifies, promotes and supplies solutions that are clean, reliable, affordable and suit the tropical environments of Australia and the Pacific Region.

Two fine chaps from Environmental Asset Services – Tony Nielson and Warren “Wazza” Mathieson – were interesting to talk to and they bought my book!.

Michelle Russell, who had been living and working in the area for many months as line producer for the film “Beneath Hill 60”, was back to see how Townsville was facing up to sustainability.

City Councillor and chairman of the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee for Townsville – Vern Veitch – was there to keep up with what the business community is wanting to do for the city.

I talked to Peter Kirkham, who’s currently with Watpac – an active developer in the area -  about his ideas for a sustainable eco tourism resort north of the city.

Daniel Post is an enthusiast for LED energy efficient lighting and works with Ecolight Queensland. He’s also an enthusiast for collecting and restoring old furniture. He also managed to get a copy of my book on ebay for an incredibly insulting price!

With some amazing energy saving solutions up his sleeve is Dion Borg of eNerwise. He assured me the world will hear more soon on what this North Queensland business is up to.

Debra Burden, who I met when she was previously with Prime Carbon, is now a Bank Manager with Westpac. On a visit to her bank office, we discovered not only the indepth knowledge she has of the whole carbon finance/trading business, but what Westpac is doing to be the nation’s most sustainable bank.

John Lyons is a delight. A former Price Waterhouse partner, he is now retired, but cannot keep his mind and his hands off helping business people progress. He also wanted me to visit his 101 year old house which is surprisingly energy efficient, with its high ceilings and wide verandas, as well as wonderful views over the bay. He is also ambassador for Queensland Museum Foundation

He introduced me to John Patteson, a mature gentleman with young ideas and an energetic plan to deal with plastic waste. In time there will be more to report on this.

Ken Bellamy attended the meeting but as I had a visit planned the next day to his VRM Biologik plant, we caught up then. I heard all about his photosynthesis discoveries, his work in carbon farming and Prime Carbon. I learnt so much about him that he features this week as our profile. Also met Teresa Jessup.

With a bit of light relief but with sustainability still in mind, Guy and I visited Katelyn Aslett, a textile and fashion designer, rapidly gaining an international reputation for turning recycled materials and natural fibres (wool) into fashion statements.

Zingspace came into view as well, meeting Nigel Grier and his team who’ve just moved into a new space. We talked about his landscape and environmental design work, including work with WWF and indigenous communities further north. He’s also a fan of Greenroofs and other sustainable building design practices.

In a busy schedule of a little more than 24 hours, there wasn’t much time for sightseeing, but I was able to appreciate that Townsville has a lot going for it. Its seaside location – close to many of the attractions of the Great Barrier Reef – its busy port and ever-present military base, all add to its industriousness, as well as its opportunities to become more sustainable.

It is also a city full of enterprising men and women, young and old, who want to see the place not only grow, but to be a very liveable city.

Last port of call before the airport was the James Cook University where we sighted the biosequestration research project which is underway. It was to be officially opened by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh on Friday (see separate article). It is good to know the university is in such good hands with Sandra Harding as Vice Chancellor.

I promise you’ll be hearing more of Townsville as it journeys on its road to greater sustainability and gains recognition for its efforts.

Here are some words I expressed after my visit:

Sustainable Townsville has set itself some ambitious plans, but it is on the right track and deserves to succeed.

I was impressed by the level of innovation and enterprise evident from the people and organisations I met in Townsville.

With the leadership provided by Jenny Hill and Guy Lane, and the early support you are getting for Sustainable Townsville, I expect to see it achieve a lot.

There is competition at home and abroad for cities and communities to be ranked as “sustainable”, but Townsville has every chance to do this better than most.

It is important to get Government support and funding for projects that you can undertake.

Not only should you be working with your Council and other locals institutions – the University, Townsville Enterprise – but also highlight the work of some of your leading businesses, like Prime Carbon.