Archive for the ‘Express 90’ Category

New Climate Hopes for 2010 & Decade Ahead

Posted by admin on January 8, 2010
Posted under Express 90

New Climate Hopes for 2010 & Decade Ahead

A random selection of our abc carbon express readers—a very important collection of people at the best of times —have responded to our invitation to express their hopes for the year and decade ahead.  Read what 35 business, scientific and community leaders have to say.

Here’s what some of our important readers had to say when asked what their hopes were for 2010 and decade ahead:

  1. That we face reality now and start to plan and act seriously to achieve a low carbon-emission future.

       Peter C. Doherty, Nobel Prize winner for Physiology and Medicine in 1996 and author of “A Light History of Hot Air”

2.     My hope is that governments here and around the world can provide the price signal and other incentives that will inspire to the inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders to drive the transformation to a low carbon, low polluting economy.

 Giles Parkinson, Green Chip Columnist, The Australian 

3.     My hope for 2010 is that the insane and politicised bickering over the validity of climate  science   is done and dusted and Australia, and indeed the world just get on with the hard job of progressing with the many real solutions on offer.  My hope for the decade ahead is that new technology and new economics give rise to clean, and equitable ways of achieving prosperity for all. We could aim for solar-energy surplus by 2020.  We could aim to replace fossil fuels completely by 2020.  By 2020 we could end poverty and protect the world’s forests forever.  We could do all this and more by 2020 if we had the global political will.  So that’s what I am hoping for.

       Dave Sag, Founder, Carbon Planet

4. During 2010 everyone will come to understand that we already have a process to remove billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere safely, quickly and cost-effectively – while at the same time reversing desertification, boosting biodiversity, enhancing global food security and improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people in rural and regional areas around our planet. This process is called changed grazing management and soil carbon.

     Tony Lovell, Founder, Soil Carbon

5.     I look forward to the first GW sized solar electricity plants permanently employing inland based Australians, in particular indigenous Australians, as a new focus for economic activity. In this coming decade, we will see the first solar plants that run 24 hours, clearing our air by avoiding emissions, running new electric vehicles, assisting the mining industry, and gradually eliminating our imports of petroleum fuel.

      Dr. David Mills, Chief Scientific Officer and Founder, Ausra


6. “I hope that the world, and Australia, starts to perceive and to act upon the reality that we all share a finite planet, and that the stability and security of our climate, water resources and ecosystems cannot be taken for granted.  I hope that by the end of 2010 we have an emissions reduction scheme in place, even an imperfect one, because time is short and it is more important to learn by doing than by arguing.” 

                        Dr Michael Raupach, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research & Global Carbon Project  

7. I already know that 2010 is going to be a great year.  Despite the political landscape we are seeing companies continue to take a leadership role and get on with redefining their business, becoming more sustainable and also influencing others.  Personally my aspirations and hopes are on this work continuing and that the leaders of the world get a reality check.  2010 is also a special year as in March I am due to be a first time dad and becoming a parent has brought some clarity to the work that I am doing and the importance of me being able to leave a legacy for future generations. 

       Lee Stewart, Director, Change2

8. I will attend the General Assembly of Green Cross International in Geneva in January. My hope is that the organisation, and its Australian namesake, will continue to be a catalytic force for global conflict avoidance and sustainability initiatives.

       Khory McCormick, Minter Ellison Partner and Chairman Green Cross, Australia

9. I hope that in 2010, and in the decade beyond, that resilience to climate change is further recognised as a crucial element of prudent business management.  I also hope that the Australian Government becomes a driver of binding targets at the Mexico COP16 negotiations.  A final wish is that in 2010 the Australian Government announces free university education for those choosing to study climate change mitigation and adaptation. Its going to be a busy decade and we need all the help we can get. 

       Donovan Burton, Head of Local Government and Planning, Climate Risk

10.   That businesses and individuals consider the carbon and environmental footprint not only of operational issues such as energy consumption in buildings and homes, but also the embodied impacts of products, materials and resources in their buildings and lifestyles.’

        David Baggs, Technical Director & Principal Consultant, EcoSpecifier

      11.  I hope that in 2010 the misinformation, poor science, sloppy thinking and downright bloody-mindedness of climate change denialists will be overcome. While it is a perfectly valid and defensible to view the science of climate change with some scepticism, it is morally irresponsible to ignore the overwhelming evidence and to make at least some preparations for the strong possibility that the science is right. It is unfortunate that the debate has become political – denialism has become an article of faith in some circles, based on a misguided belief that short-term advantage is preferable to long-term action.

             Graeme Philipson, Research Director, Connection Research

     12.    I like self-fulfilling prophesies, so for 2010 and the beginning of a new decade  – ideas, debate and action based on commonsense and injecting real value back into markets and policies.  We can have a future that isn’t dominated by short-termism, greed and collateral damage, but now – not tomorrow – is the time to act.

              Fiona Wain, CEO, Environment Business Australia

     13.   In 2010, Sustainability will increasingly move from being talked about to practical actions by individuals, families and communities.  Rising concern about the negative impacts of global climate change will lead to sharp increases in sustainability expectations and actions.  People will realise that they must act for themselves.  It’s no use waiting for ‘others’ to move first.  Government and big business will too slow and too selfish to act fast enough.  The sum of individual behaviours will drive change towards sustainability as people strive to reduce their personal  ecological footprints: bicycle by bicycle, veggie patch by veggie patch, tonne of carbon offset by tonne of carbon offset, vote by vote…

             Julian Crawford, Director, EcoSTEPS

      14.  First - a hope: that we avoid experiencing the full “price” of carbon - not as applied by laws and markets, but by Nature. Second - a suggestion: that we come to accept that realistic, timely action on climate change by governments (especially in international fora) is only ever likely to be an echo of, and should never be a condition precedent to, commercial initiative and human ingenuity. Third – my recommended reading for all who are interested in this subject in 2010 – “Ultimatum” by Matthew Glass.

             Andrew Beatty, Partner, Baker McKenzie

      15.  In 2010, I intend to vocalise my sustainability passions in my interactions at work and outside work even more as I believe most people are receptive to receiving catalysts to take stronger personal actions. And I hope the Federal Government (and Opposition) implement an Australian emissions trading scheme. In the decade ahead, pessimistically, I think the world needs a clear crisis to shock it into action, but optimistically, I believe the latent potential of humankind to respond to that crisis is almost limitless. Necessity will drive innovation.

              Dean Comber, Manager Sustainability, Ergon Energy

      16.  The road ahead will be a collective one with the whole world’s attention now on Greening our work place and our lifestyle. Our thinking and habits will change hopefully by choice without intervention by Governments and other outside forces. The future is in our hands so let’s us all make it a long one.

                           Dean Harman, Managing Director, Natures Paper

     17.   We are on the cusp of significant philosophical change- issues of sustainability are slowly becoming not just words but actions! Slowly but surely these actions are taking hold, they are being implemented for the right reasons, long term sustainability that has a holistic outcome. This momentum must be maintained for businesses to move from Industrial age thinking to Design age thinking and action. Actions that are consistent with a sustainable future. However cynicism is still extremely high as evidenced by the Copenhagen outcomes and closer to home the businesses that are in essence the purveyors of Green-wash! These are the businesses that only use Industrial age thinking to further their own ends and maintain general cynicism! In my opinion the next decade needs to be of action not rhetoric – a base has been built and we now need to continue to build from here! 

             Nick Alford, Director, City Smart, Brisbane

      18.  That people will stop being drawn into pointless arguments about global warming and instead get busy working together on (among other things) eliminating the inappropriate use of fossil fuels. 

             Janis Birkeland, Professor of Architecture, Queensland University of Technology

       19. My hope is that by the end of 2010, heads of state will sign a treaty to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and beyond, reflecting a tidal wave of support by people around the world for this result. I will continue to do my bit to help make this happen. I hope this comes true! Best wishes for the year ahead – hopefully a greener one that 2009.

                          Imogen Zethoven, Director, Pew Environment Group, Australia

       20. I hope 2010 sees the global community take a new tack with climate change issues.  This year I hope to see the G20 create a new governance framework for active cooperation on emissions reductions among its members (complementing not superseding the UN COP process).  Among its strategies would be an emphasis on mixing regulatory and market innovation, extensive public education and engagement on the issues, and an open minded approach to relevant technologies.  The main problem with climate change is that its solution means human change.  I would hope that because the major players (from both the developed and developing world) achieved a shared practical  agenda in the early years of the decade, the global community would be on track to achieve no worse than a 2 degree warmer Earth.  An optimist can hope for no more.

Professor John Cole, Director, Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development University of Southern Queensland

        21. In 2010 our choice is between being proactive and making the future we want, or having thrust upon us a future we may or may not want. It’s a choice between very hard work to create a better, fairer and more sustainable world, or waiting idly for the devils of unsustainability to roll their dice!

Richard Cassels, Director Climate Leadership

       22. We enter a decade where the politics of Asia will be formative for global environmental strategy.  Demand for Australia’s extractive industries driven by Asia is likely to ensure that we remain among the worst Greenhouse gas emitting culprits (per capita).  The USA (only 4.5% of the world’s population) and European Union (7%) are unlikely to achieve their desired emission reduction targets as they endeavour not to restrict their own economic recovery.   Developing nation population demographics and food supply are likely to re-emerge as core global issues central to the climate management debate and preparedness for humanitarian disaster relief.

Lloyd R. Johnson, Managing Director, Australasian Carbon Credits Ltd.


       23. My hopes for 2010 and the decade ahead are simple. Focus on sustainability and peace.  All else is irrelevant.

             Barbara Carseldine, author of “Creating a culture with a reverence for water”

       24. I’d like to see the world’s countries display more empathy towards the planet and come up with an agreement to suppress GHG emissions.         I hope that my organisation embraces the area of energy/carbon management more fully this year;  I see my career path changing this year, I want  to be fully involved in this area of great importance.

Lucas Skoufa, Lecturer in Energy and Carbon Management, University of Queensland

       25. I hope we stop talking and start acting.  I hope we stop waiting for someone else to fix things and start realising that we have all the climate change solutions we need.  I hope we stop worrying how hard it is and start seeing it’s really easy.  I hope we show how smart we really are.

Freddy Sharpe, Chief Executive Officer, Climate Friendly

       26. The negotiations at COP-15 did not fail because of scientific uncertainty or lack of policy options: all 193 national delegations understand the fact of human-induced climate warming and the myriad of ways of reversing people pollution.  There was no agreement because our leaders believe they have no mandate: they think we do not want to change.  In 2010 it is ESSENTIAL that we change this.

             Ann Henderson-Sellers, formerly Director of World Climate Research Program, now ARC Professional Research Fellow at Macquarie University

       27. My hope for 2010 and the decade ahead is that politicians and organisations will quickly stop treading water and stop spinning conflicting policies and actions. It is necessary to move forward positively to reap the benefits (including the necessity) of ceasing unstainable practices producing increases in Greenhouse gases before a possible tipping point for abrupt climate change is reached.

                         Lloyd Stümer, Managing Director, Wind Power Queensland Pty Ltd

       28. My hopes for 2010 and the decade ahead: We need to actively invest in the transition to a low carbon economy.  To that end I hope that the issues impacting on the low Renewable Energy Certificate price are resolved quickly, so that we start to see the necessary investment in large-scale renewable energy projects in Australia.

                          Megan Wheatley, Business Development Manager, Suzlon Energy Australia Pty Ltd

       29. “We believe the next decade will see the movement towards a low carbon economy and environmental sustainability reach a tipping point. Popular consciousness will reject insatiable consumption; traditional ideologies and institutions will be challenged. This decade will set the foundation for a new era of humanity.”

                          Adrian Vannisse & Werner Murray, Climate First          

       30. My hopes for 2010 and the decade ahead are that governments and businesses will not only take unprecedented actions to accelerate the change of mentalities toward a more environmentally responsible society (“less consumption, less pollution!”), but also strongly commit to support a rapid integration of clean technologies and renewable energies.

                          Philippe Reboul, Director, Electric Vehicle Conference

       31. For 2010 I want to see real action on climate change, not just talk.  I believe the CPRS is compromised but it is better than nothing so I would like to see the legislation passed.  My hope is that by the end of the next decade that we will accept that our choices can have dramatic impacts on the environment – good and bad – and then that everyone makes better choices as part of our every day, and  that the choices are as simple as putting on a seat belt in a car.  In so doing, that we all live more gently on the planet.

                         Sara Gipton, CEO, Greenfleet

       32. Within the next decade my hope is that geothermal energy will achieve its commercial potential providing Australia with base load, zero emission power allowing (amongst other things) zero emission, electric vehicles to become commonplace sights on Australia’s roads.

                          Damian McGreevy, consultant &  former Government policy advisor

      33. This year and this decade I’d like to see sustainable environmental management be considered for what it is: a serious and complex policy challenge instead of being variously treated as a cause, a fad, a fashion, a political opportunity or a vehicle for protest and dissent.  My hope is it assumes its rightful place as an unremarkable but essential pillar of good government and good business.

                         Matthew Warren, Chief Executive Officer, Clean Energy Council

       34. My your hopes for 2010 and the decade ahead are that business proactively lead the charge to the new low carbon economy in a practical and common sense manner. The ‘Lean and Green’ approach provides a practical framework which will deliver sensible, commercial outcomes for business. Businesses should be more pro-active in using  Lean to go Green!  

                          Grant Forsdick, Director, Level 5 Lean

       35. My hopes are that I work myself out of business! PAX’s mission is to help create a sustainable world by developing leaders that understand and work towards a sustainable future. Right now we’ve completed a market exploration survey that indicates that for-profit and not-for-profit organisations alike are struggling with simply understanding sustainability in their own contexts. There is no doubt that organisations need quite substantial help with this, but they are crying out for both meaningful and practical assistance, a difficult combination for experts who are usually good at either one or the other. There is an inherent problem with capitalism without meaning in a sustainable world. This is both a philosophical problem and an ethical leadership issue. I am looking forward to helping leaders and organisations through the labyrinth!

Louise Metcalf, Director, Pax Leader Labs

Leaders Must Respond to People Power

Posted by admin on January 8, 2010
Posted under Express 90

Leaders Must Respond to People Power

Australian climate change guru Professor Ian Lowe was heartened by what he experienced at Copenhagen but says now it is time for our leaders to follow the lead of the people, while a US analyst shows how the international accord matches his “Fab 5” desired outcomes.

First, Ian Lowe’s message of hope for 2010 & decade ahead:

“My main hope for 2010 is that the Australian government will recognise its responsibility and put forward a serious package of measures to produce real reductions of our greenhouse gas emissions. For the next decade, it is that we will become a global force for good by setting an ambitious domestic 2020 target of at least 40 per cent and working toward achieving it, by providing generous assistance to our Asia-Pacific neighbours to help them develop using clean energy and by committing to end the export of coal.

Second, an article by Ian Lowe:

The Copenhagen climate change conference was a significant step forward. Over 100 world leaders agreed that urgent concerted action is needed to slow climate change. For the first time, all the major greenhouse gas emitters have agreed to be part of a global accord to tackle the problem. That includes the USA, which never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and the large developing countries that had no obligations under that agreement such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa. The Accord still needs to be turned into a treaty with legal force. There is a clear timetable for that to happen by next year’s meeting in Mexico.

I was heartened at Copenhagen to find that everyone understood the importance of the issue. Nobody takes seriously the climate change denialists, a motley crew who don’t even agree among themselves on anything except their starting point that we should do nothing. Every week the science is clearer and more alarming. It says we have only five to ten years to turn the upward emissions trend into a downward trend. The arguments are about which nations or industries will do what, and who will pay for the transition.

To slow down climate change, two elements are necessary. The first is the commitment by major developing nations to rein in the anticipated growth of their pollution. The equally important component is that developed nations – including Australia – have to put forward serious plans for the scale of emissions cuts needed, toward 40 per cent by 2020. As US President Obama said at the last night of the conference, the targets being put forward today are not sufficient. The science demands more aggressive action. Kevin Rudd has to stand up to the big polluters and set serious emission reduction targets.

The good news is that technical studies presented here for the UK, Denmark, California, Europe as a whole and even the world all came to similar conclusions. Developed countries can halve their energy use in the next twenty years with no loss of material living standards. The reduced energy demand can be supplied entirely by a mix of renewable energy technologies. One Stanford University study found world demand in 2030 could be powered entirely by renewable energy. That requires governments to stand up to the coal industry and the used car salesmen peddling nuclear power. Those old approaches have no role in the clean energy future.

As well as reduction commitments from the industrialised world and corresponding commitments to meaningful action by the large developing, the Copenhagen Accord puts money on the table to help poorer countries adapt to climate change and manage the transition to clean energy.

Pollution reductions must be measurable, reportable and verifiable. Everyone agrees with the principle. The challenge is finding mechanisms that command respect without infringing national sovereignty. The problems of nuclear technology remind us how difficult those requirements are.

While the Accord contains promising elements, including a commitment to try to keep the increase in average global temperature below two degrees, there is no stated target year for global emissions to peak. At least the conference rejected proposals to pervert the so-called clean development mechanism to include unproven technologies, like carbon capture and storage, and the proven dirty option of nuclear power.

Australia played a positive role at the conference, a great relief to me after the fifteen years when we actively obstructed progress. Our strong links with the USA, China and the European nations enabled us to propose creative solutions to the obstacles.

Kevin Rudd now has to produce a package of measures to effect real change in Australia. It must go well beyond the proposals in the watered-down CPRS. That was still too demanding for the Opposition and brought the denial faction to power in the Coalition, so the government has a real political challenge. But the conditions set by the Rudd government for going to a 25 per cent target have largely been met. The science says we should go further. There is no economic or social reason to delay.

Opinion polls show that the community understands the issue and wants to see concerted action. Tens of thousands of Australians joined the Walk Against Warming on 12 December. Huge numbers have insulated their houses, bought solar panels and shifted to public transport. Now it is time for our leaders to follow the lead of the people.

Ian Lowe is emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University and president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.


Third, Climate Change Insights from Jon Sohn:

Thanks to David Pointon of Sustainable Action for passing on this article by Jon D. Sohn, who attended Copenhagen for McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, an international law firm of attorneys and public policy advisors based in Washington, US.

Heading into Copenhagen, I provided a “Fab 5” of necessary outcomes for COP-15 to be a success.  The Copenhagen Accord took a number of pragmatic steps on finance, accountability and endorsing market-based approaches to tackling the challenge of global climate change.  The Accord will likely play well in the US Senate with a view to getting more support for domestic action through cap-and-trade legislation as it brings China, India, Brazil and South Africa along in bending the curve of business-as-usual emissions.  It also establishes accountability procedures for developing countries to report on those obligations through the Conference of the Parties.  Additionally, the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, never popular in domestic politics, appears dubious at best.  So these issues play well domestically.

However, in the trade-off for these pragmatic steps, the United Nations Conference of the Parties process was left in tatters.  While most countries signed on to the Copenhagen Accord, it was done so with a disdain for the process and skepticism for the result.  It will be difficult to regain the level of political momentum and multilateral engagement that was achieved in the lead up to Copenhagen through the UN.  Science-based targets to reduce emissions backed by a legally binding UN treaty to fulfill all commitments were lost, for now, in that effort.

President Obama is taking a lot of heat for the outcome.  Success for the Obama Administration now lies in proving it can actually deliver real action on 1. domestic mitigation, 2. international finance and 3. working positively with China and other emerging economies on real results, thus justifying their tough negotiating position in Copenhagen.  Otherwise, the Copenhagen Accord will be seen as all bark and no bite as many critics are already claiming.  Whether the bite is real depends on a mixture of Presidential leadership, domestic politics and international pressure.

Global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are in a fundamentally different place than they were before Copenhagen.  Pledges to reduce or curb emissions are now a global endeavor, not one just for developed nations.  At the end of the day, however, the Copenhagen Accord is a bunch of words on paper.  Emerging governance structures and actions to ensure fulfillment of the Accord will determine real success.  Perhaps, Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations assessed the wake of Copenhagen best: “The climate-treaty process isn’t going to die, but the real work of coordinating international efforts to reduce emissions will primarily occur elsewhere.”  The level of importance for the next COP in Mexico City remains to be seen.

Below the “Fab 5” goals are repeated with accompanying analysis of how they line up with language from the Copenhagen Accord.

1. Aggressive Emission Reduction Goals

Developed countries will need to agree upon on ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets.  The IPCC suggests that this implies a mid-term goal for 25-40 percent GHG cuts by 2020 based on a 1990 level baseline and 80 percent by 2050.  Collective action will need to be supplemented by individual national commitments such as those put forward by the United States and United Kingdom in recent days.  Likewise, developing countries will need to agree to taking GHG mitigation actions that are appropriate in their national development contexts ranging from shifting to low carbon power strategies to reducing rates of deforestation.  Some observers see a collective goal that recognizes the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels should not exceed two degrees Celsius as a more politically feasible outcome than the target cuts noted above.

Copenhagen Accord: “We agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity.”

Analysis: As predicted, the tougher decisions about collective commitments to reduce emissions by the above noted 2020 and 2050 targets were left for another day, in favor of a 2 degrees Celsius approach.  It is difficult to reconcile the scientific reality with the necessary policy goals set in the Copenhagen Accord.  There is now a February 2010 deadline for countries to sign up their individual commitments in an Annex to the Copenhagen Accord.  For the first time, both developing and developed countries will put forward such commitments, yet there is doubt they will add up to either the IPCC figures or the 2 degrees goal.

2. Climate Finance Commitments

Countries need to agree upon climate finance mechanisms that will provide “fast start” funds of approximately $10-$12 to developing countries from 2010 to 2012.  This is viewed as a down payment of good faith towards future actions by developing countries.  The architecture for longer-term, predictable funding for climate adaptation and mitigation – including forestry and technology support will also need to be put into place.  However, it is less feasible for specific dollar amounts, governance regimes and sources of funding to be agreed upon in Copenhagen with respect to longer-term climate finance.

Copenhagen Accord: “The collective commitment by developed countries is to provide new and additional resources, including forestry and investments through international institutions, approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010-2012 with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation.”

“In the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, developed countries commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries.”

“We decide that the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund shall be established as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention to support projects, programme, policies and other activities in developing countries related to mitigation including REDD-plus, adaptation, capacity building, technology development and transfer.”

Analysis: The Accord went further than I anticipated in terms of setting a 2020 target for $100 billion annually, and came in on target in terms of the “fast start” funds.  The challenge will be ensuring that these funds are truly “new and additional,” and words are followed by actions in the implementation of these measures.  The Green Fund concept provides an overarching framework and governance structure but will need significant negotiation on the road to a binding legal treaty.

3. Accountability for Commitments

Measurable, Reportable and Verifiable (MRV) national commitments and actions agreed at Copenhagen are a lynchpin of success.  If a global agreement will be more than rhetoric, there simply needs to be a standardized methodology to “trust but verify” with a view to equitable burden sharing in the transformation to a global low carbon economy.  Countries need to establish common international methodologies to track and report emissions and subsequent measures to reduce emissions.

Copenhagen Agreement: Developed countries: “Delivery of reductions and financing by developed countries will be measured, reported and verified in accordance with existing and any further guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties, and will ensure that accounting of such targets and finance is rigorous, robust and transparent.”

Developing countries: Mitigation actions will be subject to “provisions for international consultations and analysis.”  Mitigation actions that seek international support will be “record in a registry along with relevant technology, finance and capacity building support” and “subject to international measurement, reporting and verification in accordance with guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties.”

Analysis: The fundamental goal of moving towards a more transparent and accountable system for reporting and verifying emission reductions was achieved.  The language brings both developed and developing countries along.  Through a US political lens, getting China and other emerging economies to agree to this language will assist in efforts to persuade the Senate that all Parties will move towards reductions and thus lessen perceptions of competitive disadvantage.

4. Signals for a Global Carbon Market

Private capital needs to see signals that a process of linking nations in post-Kyoto Protocol market-mechanism efforts that reduce emissions will continue.  In order for private capital to continue the evolution of a liquid, cost-effective mitigation market begun under the Clean Development Mechanism and Emissions Trading systems, political signals of this approach must be provided in Copenhagen.  This will allow the evolution of so-called flexible mechanisms towards at scale reductions in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Copenhagen Agreement: “We decide to pursue various approaches, including opportunities to use markets, to enhance the cost-effectiveness of, and to promote mitigation actions. Developing countries, especially those with low emitting economies should be provided incentives to continue to develop on a low emission pathway.”

Analysis: Market mechanisms to reduce emissions and contain costs remained alive through the Copenhagen Accord.  However, the value of such mechanisms is only as good as the demand created by aggressive emission reduction targets and the rules that ensure environmental integrity of such approaches.  Copenhagen did not advance these goals and such mechanisms will largely fall to national approaches and a future legal treaty.

5. Political Agreement With a View to Legal Agreement

There is broad consensus that a political agreement is the likely outcome from Copenhagen but ultimately enforcement requires a legal agreement.  Towards this goal, it is anticipated the countries will politically commit to finalizing a more legally binding agreement in 2010.  In the US context, this approach allows the Obama Administration to sequence working collaboratively with the Senate on a final energy and climate legislative package prior to promising what cannot be delivered at the international level.

Copenhagen Agreement: “We call for an assessment of the implementation of this Accord to be completed by 2015, including in light of the Convention’s ultimate objective.  This would include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal referencing various matters presented by the science, including in relation to temperature rises of 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Analysis: There is no commitment to move towards a legally binding agreement in 2010, but rather just an assessment of the effectiveness of the Accord in 2015.  While nothing prevents the Parties from moving towards a legal treaty by the next COP in Mexico City, it is by no means a certainty.


Hottest Decade For Australia & Looming Global Climate Losses

Posted by admin on January 8, 2010
Posted under Express 90

Hottest Decade For Australia & Looming Global Climate Losses 

Australia experienced its hottest decade on record from 2000 to 2009 due to global warming, the nation’s bureau of meteorology announced, while Munich Re AG, one of the world’s largest reinsurers, said economic and insured losses caused by climate change will continue to grow, calling for a near-term deal for a substantial reduction in global greenhouse-gas emissions.

Michael Perry for Reuters World Environment News (6 January 2009):

SYDNEY – Australia experienced its hottest decade on record from 2000 to 2009 due to global warming, the nation’s bureau of meteorology said, as annual summer bushfires again burn drought lands and destroy homes.

The average temperature in Australia over the past 10 years was 0.48 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average, said the Bureau of Meteorology said in its annual climate statement.

And 2010 is forecast to be even hotter, with temperatures likely to be between 0.5 and 1 degrees above average.

“We’re getting these increasingly warm temperatures, not just for Australia but globally. Climate change, global warming is clearly continuing,” said bureau climatologist David Jones.

“We’re in the latter stages of an El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean and what that means for Australian and global temperatures is that 2010 is likely to be another very warm year — perhaps even the warmest on record.”

Environment Minister Peter Garrett used the report to attack opposition politicians for blocking the government’s key climate policy, a carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS) aimed at reducing greenhouses gases causing global warming.

“Australia is one of the hottest and driest inhabited places on earth and our environment and economy will be one of the hardest and fastest hit by climate change,” said Garrett.

“Today’s statement finds that the patterns of the last year and the decade are consistent with global warming. It (passing the ETS) is in the national interest and it is in the interest of the world,” he said in a statement.

The government has promised to reintroduce its ETS legislation to parliament in February, a move which may trigger an early election in 2010 if the legislation is again defeated.

An election is due in late 2010.


The year 2009 will be remembered for “extreme bushfires, dust-storms, lingering rainfall deficiencies, areas of flooding and record-breaking heatwaves,” said the bureau.

In fact, 2009 was Australia’s second warmest year on record, with the annual mean temperature 0.90 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average, driven by three record-breaking heatwaves that caused Australia’s most deadly bushfires, killing 173 people.

“To get one of them in a year would have been unusual. To get three is just really quite remarkable,” said Jones.

Outback Australia was warming more quickly than other parts of the country, with some inland areas warming at twice the rate of coastal regions, said the bureau.

But as Australia warmed, with large tracts of the country battling a decade-long drought, the northern part of the country was becoming wetter, said the bureau.

Floods now cover large parts of northern New South Wales state and the tropical state of Queensland.

“Australia as a whole has been getting warmer for about 50-60 years and it’s actually been tending to get wetter,” said Jones. “You see this paradox — the country, particularly in the north, it’s getting wetter but is also warming up.”


By Ulrike Dauer in Wall Street Journal:

FRANKFURT — Munich Re AG, one of the world’s largest reinsurers, said economic and insured losses caused by climate change will continue to grow, and called for a near-term deal to ensure a substantial reduction in global greenhouse-gas emissions.

“We need as soon as possible an agreement that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions because the climate reacts slowly and what we fail to do now will have a bearing for decades to come,” said management board member Torsten Jeworrek.

“In the light of these facts, it is very disappointing that no breakthrough was achieved at the Copenhagen climate summit in December 2009,” Mr. Jeworrek said, pointing to the marked increase–more or less tripling–in major global weather-related natural disasters since 1950.

Reinsurers and primary insurers provide insurance protection against losses caused by large natural and man-made disasters.

Munich Re said it will step up its own initiatives in the matter, including investments of up to €2 billion in renewable energy and a strong commitment to the Sahara solar power project Desertec, which aims to come up with a feasible plan for generating solar power in the Sahara within the next three years.

Munich Re said losses caused by natural disasters cost the global insurance industry around $22 billion in 2009, helped by substantially lower U.S. hurricane activity than a year earlier, when the insurance industry had to pay around $50 billion for damage caused by natural disasters such as winter storms, hurricanes, cyclones, floods and earthquakes.

The figures are similar to estimates by Swiss peer Swiss Reinsurance Co., which estimated at the end of November that the bill the insurance industry had to pay for natural disaster losses in 2009 amounted to around $21 billion.

Munich Re said “severe weather events accounted for 45%, or nearly half, of global insured losses” in 2009. It also said this year’s lower bill for natural disasters and the absence of “severe hurricanes and other mega-catastrophes” shouldn’t be taken lightly, as there was a large number of moderately severe natural disasters.

“In particular, the trend toward an increase in weather-related catastrophes continues, while there has fundamentally been no change in the risk of geophysical events such as earthquakes,” said Peter Hoeppe, who heads Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit. 

Earlier this month, leaders of the U.S., China and other major economies agreed on a new climate accord in Copenhagen, though many have said it wasn’t ambitious enough and a future round of negotiations is now required to hash out the details. The accord contained no specific targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A proposed 50% cut that was in earlier drafts was removed.

The pact calls on developed nations to provide $30 billion to help developing nations deal with the effects of climate change from 2010 to 2012. By 2020, rich nations aim to jointly mobilize $100 billion a year for poor nations.

Under the deal, countries have pledged to try to keep atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide low enough to keep average global temperatures less than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels; many scientists say breaching this threshold could have catastrophic consequences. But the agreement doesn’t specify how countries will achieve that goal.


Agricultural Revolution Plus Social & Economic Reforms

Posted by admin on January 8, 2010
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Agricultural Revolution Plus Social & Economic Reforms

Prime Carbon’s Ken Bellamy predicts 2010 will see the beginning of the 3rd Agricultural Revolution and the decade ahead will be a period of unprecedented social and economic reform.    “In-soil photosynthesis will, I believe, allow us to work around some of the critical hurdles we face.” The Economist has its say on the subject, too.

Contribution and comments from Ken Bellamy:

“In my view, 2010 and the decade ahead stand to be a period of unprecedented social and economic reform.   2009 saw an international revisiting of the concepts of Social Enterprise at a governmental, commercial and grassroots level which has not been seen since the industrial revolution.

 “The Copenhagen discussions — where, for the first time in modern history, 193 nations gathered to discuss social issues ahead of political agendas, and went away agreeing that the social issues outweighed the political–was a milestone for what I see as a groundswell movement which will drive economic and political planning for the next century.

 “There has never been a time where our survival was so clearly challenged.  We feared our survival was under attack in the atomic age.  Nature is now showing us how much pedantry we have been engaged in.  We do not shape our ecosystem’s destiny, we participate in it — and affect it negatively or positively.  Our choice now is to follow the dinosaurs or reinvent how we live in this dynamic, integrated, randomly organised system of life.

 “A key feature of 2009, which I believe will gain burgeoning strength in 2010, is a re-look at the scientific method and how that construct has been hijacked over the past few decades to make us slaves to an ever-less relevant set of data-controllers.  There is a clear need for generalised, non-conformist thought as we face decisions and barriers which cannot be solved by the current scientific model and must be addressed by thought which goes beyond the manner of knowledge gathering which got us into the fix we are in. 

“Science itself needs a re-think.  Most important in this is the fact that everyone can know, everyone can contribute to what we all know and we must go forward collectively in our learning, not wait for ‘scientists’ (or their economic controllers to dole out what we should think).  The ‘gate-keepers’ of data have produced thinly distributed benefits to a privileged slice of our society–along with a series of destructive forces and constructs which now threaten our very survival (GM-based food monopolies, Green Revolution food dependancies, un-killable super-bugs, depleted soils, vanishing soils, food without substance and ever-more-efficient means to kill each other all fill this space).  I believe the rest of society will inhabit what happens next.

“2010 will see the beginning of the 3rd Agricultural Revolution.  In-soil photosynthesis will, I believe, allow us to work around some of the critical hurdles we face.”

Note from the Editor:

Ken Bellamy is the Townsville man we featured in a Profile in November, 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.

His early innovative work 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.


The Economist (30 December 2009):

FOR people who see stopping deforestation as the quickest climate-change win, Copenhagen seemed a success. Although there is still work to be done on the initiative known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), the deal struck in Copenhagen made it into a real thing, not just an idea. The notion of reducing net deforestation to zero was not explicitly mentioned, but it looks much more credible than it did two years ago.

As well as giving heart to the protectors of trees, this outcome is encouraging for people whose focus is not on forests but on fields. Climate and agriculture matter to each other in several ways.

On the downside, farming is a cause of deforestation, and also emits greenhouse gases in its own right—perhaps 14% of the global total. On the upside, agriculture can also dispose of heat-trapping gases, by increasing the carbon content of soils.

And because farmers (unlike say, coal-producers) feel the effects of the changes their activities may be causing, they have a role in adapting to climate change. Farms, particularly marginal ones, are the first to suffer when the climate shifts; increase their resilience and you help a lot of people. Whether the aim is adaptation to climate change or slowing it, there is an obvious need for more research on the benign contributions that agriculture can make. For people who are seized of this need, there was a welcome boost on December 16th when 21 countries pledged $150 billion to a Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.

One of the attractions of a focus on agriculture is that even poor countries have farms; in some cases credits for carbon newly locked away in their soil may be a more plausible way of attracting money than rewards for low-carbon industrialisation. A more remote possibility is that such countries will earn credits by hosting efforts to pump carbon dioxide out of the air and store it away.

Such “geoengineering” is still seen as far-fetched and in some circles misguided, but a reference to it was made in the Copenhagen documents. It was cited as a possible future direction for the Clean Development Mechanism, which provides credits for carbon-saving projects in poorer countries. In the aftermath of negotiations with a hint of slash-and-burn, new seeds may be taking root.


Drastically Cut Deforestation, Population & Fossil Fuel Use

Posted by admin on January 8, 2010
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Drastically Cut Deforestation, Population & Fossil Fuel Use

Flemming Bermann, Director of the UK’s –  Europe’s largest global warming and climate change website – hopes to see a complete stop to tropical deforestation,  a significant reduction in world population and a massive investment in green energy technology, reducing consumption of fossil fuels 60-70% within the next 10-20 years.

By Flemming Bermann:

What have we achieved in the last 10 years and what would we like to see happening in the next decade? 

The last 10 years has been largely wasted. The political establishment has spend the decade hiding behind the ineffective Kyoto protocol, while getting the scientific community to do all the hard work – proving beyond any argument that global warming is real and man-made.

And when finally there were no-where left to hide and our so called leaders had to deliver an effective agreement to reduce CO2 – in Copenhagen for just a few weeks ago - it became clear to everyone just how ineffective the political establishment, tools and process are for dealing with a global problem like global warming.  

In short, the political establishment failed. The political approach in Copenhagen - scoring points off each other, blaming anyone and everyone, and general horse trading to avoid just a few extra % reduction in CO2 emissions – exposed just how incompetent and rooted our leaders are in the capitalistic model, which are the very economic model that brought us to the brink of irreversible climate change.

So what do we wish for in the next 10 years?

Well, for one a more effective and grownup political process, which is focused on delivering real results (real reductions in CO2 levels) through a new approach to global corporation. Not rich versus poor. Not east versus west. But real corporation through the realisation that no-one wins if we don’t work together and stop treating this global problem as something that can be resolved by placing a bunch of capitalistic leaders in a room and hope for the best. 

We also hope that the political process will focus on a few major win-win areas such as:

- Complete stop to tropical deforestation and replanting of major forests in every country on the planet.

- Significant reduction in world population. A minimum of 25% by 2030 shared equally by all nations.

- Massive investment in green energy technology, which will see consumption of fossil fuel based energy reduced with 60-70% within the next 10-20 years.

These three measures will ensure that we can remove some of the existing CO2 already in the atmosphere, while rapidly reducing the possibility that any new CO2 is being released.

Anything less is really a waste of time and just delaying tactics or lack of understanding of the huge challenge facing us.

In the last 12 months has mainly focused on two projects:

1) We have entered into an important partnership with AEECL (A consortium of European Zoos and Universities dedicated to the conservation of Madagascar’s lemurs) and working with them to promote a conservation project that aims to save the remaining 3000 blue-eyed black lemurs from extinction.

The project focuses on planting 100000s of new tropical trees. The trees will provide much needed forest corridors between fragmented groups of lemurs as well as providing the population with food such as fruit and berries.

However, has become involved because the project has other benefits, which directly link with our own global warming goals.

The tree planting effort will:

  • Benefit the local economy (all trees planted is purchased locally). Villagers have come to realise that the trees and the blue-eyed black lemur have value. This mans a reduction in deforestation and hunting of the lemur for bush meat.
  • Extract tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. While this is not a carbon offsetting project, the benefit of planting 100000s of trees in the tropics are well documented. Any tree left standing or planted has a positive long-term benefit in our fight to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere.

2) We have also stayed true to our roots – to educate about global warming, climate change and sustainability.

In 2009, published a children’s e-book children’s book “Global warming for young minds”. 

The book is aimed at educating the next generation – boys and girls aged 6-10 years old – about what global warming is, what causes it and how everyone can help avoid the major problems that comes with global warming and climate change.

The book will be published by the AEG Publishing Group, and will be available from Amazon and other major online retailers in the early part of 2010.

“Global warming for young minds” will make it easier for parents to educate their children about these big and important issue in a fun and factual way, without scaring the child or confusing the young mind with “science” and difficult to understand concepts.


France’s Carbon Tax Hitch; Brazil’s Emissions Law Goes Ahead

Posted by admin on January 8, 2010
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France’s Carbon Tax Hitch; Brazil’s Emissions Law Goes Ahead

French ministers scrambled before year end to rescue a carbon tax aimed at cutting energy consumption, which was annulled by the Constitutional Court as there were too many loopholes benefiting major industrial polluters, while Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on signed into law a national policy to reduce emissions by between 36.1% and 38.9% by 2020.

Crispian Balmer for Reuters World Environment News (31 December 2009):

PARIS – French ministers scrambled on Wednesday to rescue a carbon tax aimed at cutting energy consumption, which was annulled by the Constitutional Court just 48 hours before it was due to come into force.

France’s highest court stunned President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government late on Tuesday by ruling against the tax, saying there were too many loopholes benefiting major industrial polluters.

The new tax was expected to raise 1.5 billion euros ($2.15 billion) next year and the court’s decision will put added pressure on the budget deficit, already forecast to come in at a high 8.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2010.

Ministers promised to present a revised text on January 20 but it could take weeks more to get the law back through parliament and badly needed cash flowing into state coffers.

“The government is going to persevere. It is a tough fight, but a worthwhile one,” government spokesman Luc Chatel told LCI television. “France has to remain in the forefront of the battle to protect the environment,” he added.

The carbon tax was promoted by Sarkozy as a cornerstone of his fiscal and environmental policy. It was set to come into effect on January 1, by imposing a levy on oil, gas and coal use amounting to 17 euros per ton of carbon dioxide emissions.

However, many of France’s biggest industrial polluters, as well as truckers, farmers and fishing fleets, were offered generous discounts, or exempted altogether.

The government argued that many of these sectors already faced European Union curbs and should not be placed at a disadvantage to their international competitors.

The Constitutional Court objected that 93 percent of industrial carbon dioxide emissions would be exempt, saying the measure would do nothing to combat global warming and went against the spirit of fostering equality amongst tax payers.

The opposition Socialist party had long complained that the tax would unfairly penalize low earners and crowed victory.

“This is a good decision and shows once again that Sarkozy’s way of doing things does not work,” Socialist parliamentary party leader Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Info radio.

“They announce a reform, listen to no one and produce a poor job. It’s a real mess … now they will have to start from scratch and oversee a fiscal reform that is more ecological and does more to protect the environment.”

The junior minister for trade and consumption, Herve Novelli, said the revised tax would offer fewer loopholes.

“It was perhaps shocking that the sectors given exemptions were those that polluted the most … We will therefore need to remedy that,” he told Europe 1 radio.


Hispanic Business Reports (30 December 2009):
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed into law the motion on the establishment of the country’s national policy on climate change. The motion got three vetoes before being signed by the president. The new law maintains the goal of reducing the national emission of greenhouse gases by between 36.1 percent and 38.9 percent by 2020, despite opposition from the country’s ministries of energy and environment. 

Brazil emitted nearly 1.47 billion tons of greenhouse gases in 1994. Emission figures for last year were not available. Environment Minister Carlos Minc said that in meetings of local authorities scheduled for early 2010, academics and entrepreneurs would be drawn into discussing the targets of emission cuts in every sector to be included in the presidential decree. 

The energy ministry vetoed the proposed replacement of fossil fuel energy resources in the country. 

Activists have suggested that Brazil’s 2007-2010 investment program did not pay enough attention to the issue of climate change. The program, known as the Growth Acceleration Program, invests nearly 250 billion U.S. dollars in oil production as well as in hydroelectric plants, nuclear energy plants, and plantation of oil- bearing crops to produce biofuels. 

The investment also goes to road construction, enlargement of sea ports and airports, and shipbuilding. 


Sustainability Awards & New Green Building Standards

Posted by admin on January 8, 2010
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Sustainability Awards & New Green Building Standards

The Common Carbon Metric for measuring energy use and reporting greenhouse gas emissions from building operations was officially launched at COP15 in Copenhagen, while Stockland has been named Sustainable Company of the Year at the 9th Australian Sustainability Awards for Australian Securities Exchange-listed companies.

Stockland cleans up sustainable company of the year award

Stockland has been named Sustainable Company of the Year at the 9th Australian Sustainability Awards at a luncheon in Melbourne.

The Awards, hosted annually by Ethical Investor magazine, recognise outstanding achievement by Australian Securities Exchange-listed companies in a range of areas of corporate sustainability.

Stockland received the award for its ongoing commitment to sustainability, balancing environmental, social and economic outcomes.

Stockland Managing Director Matthew Quinn said the company was delighted to have been recognised by Ethical Investor for its commitment to operate ethically, responsibly and in a sustainable way.

“We have achieved a great deal this year by creating a more robust sustainability strategy for our Residential and Retirement Living businesses, as well as continuing to focus on improving the sustainability performance of our assets,” said Mr Quinn.

Stockland was also recognised for its commitment to creating sustainable and vibrant communities through stakeholder engagement, community development and community involvement.

“At Stockland, we aim to create sustainable and vibrant communities by engaging with the local community and other key stakeholders,” Mr Quinn said.

This approach has been formalised over the past year with the development of a Stakeholder Engagement Framework and clear stakeholder engagement plan templates for all of its projects.

“We are currently refining our community development plans and aim to introduce world-class initiatives on social sustainability.

“Our community investment program has been developed by our people and allows us to make a positive impact in the communities in which we operate,” said Mr Quinn.

Stockland contributed $3.4 million in community investment in FY09, with more than 44 percent of employees volunteering time to mentor students and support local communities.

Stockland environmental highlights from the past year include:

• Achieved ‘Gold’ membership of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index World in early 2009. The Index represents the top 10 percent of the leading companies globally, with four property companies awarded ‘Gold’ status. Stockland is also included in the FTESE4Good Index which recognises organisations that apply and demonstrate outcomes against environmental, social and governance principles.

• Listed in the Australian Climate Leadership Index in 2009 which rates companies with advanced strategies on climate change.

• Two projects, Stockhome and 2 Victoria Avenue, Perth, attained their final Green Star accreditation with both achieving 6 Stars (‘World Leadership’).


The Green Building Council of Australia passes on some important news to come out of Copenhagen:

 The Common Carbon Metric for measuring energy use and reporting greenhouse gas emissions from building operations was officially launched at COP15 in Copenhagen on 11 December 2009. The event was hosted in the EU Pavillion by the Ministry of the Environment of Finland and the Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Buildings and Construction and organized in cooperation with UNEP-SBCI, UNEP FI and ADEME. It was well attended by representatives from delegations and observer organizations, including several senior level representatives.

… “No government – let it be in an industrialized or in a developing country – can leave buildings out of its policy toolbox if it wants to save energy and reach serious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets”, stated the Minister of Housing of Finland, Mr. Jan Vapaavuori, who opened the meeting. UNEP DTIE’s Director, Sylvie Lemmet, then presented the new UNEP SBCI report “Buildings and Climate Change – Summary for Decision Makers” highlighting the opportunities for drastic emission reductions in the building sector and outlining a step-by-step approach to harnessing these opportunities. She also called upon the negotiators at COP15 to make the building sector count in the outcome of negotiations, and to put in place an agreement that will support emission reduction in the building sector at international, national and local levels.

Professor Diana Urge-Vorsatz, lead author for the buildings chapter in the 4th IPCC report, presented new research showing that the emission reduction potential in buildings is in fact much higher than was presented in the IPCC report. Every new building we build and every building we renovate have the promise to make or break a low carbon footprint for decades to come – this is an opportunity we simply cannot afford to lose, she said. Mr. Hewson Baltzell, of UNEP’s Finance Initiative presented the overwhelmingly positive business case for emission reductions from buildings, using the landmark building Empire State Building in new York as an example.

The chairman for SBCI’s think tank on climate change, Mr. Stéphane Pouffary of ADEME, introduced the Common Carbon Metric, highlighting the importance of now finally having one common tool – a common language – in place to provide an internationally coherent and consistent method for measuring the climate footprint of buildings. A big thank you was given to all the many organizations and experts who have contributed to establishing this metric. Finally, Ms. Priyanka Kochhar from TERI in New Delhi presented the situation in India, confirming that the opportunity for emission reduction in buildings is also recognized and pursued in Indian policy making.

The participants to the event had several questions and comments, which were welcoming the Common Carbon Metrics as an important step forward. The event was followed by a press conference at the main media center in COP15.

The event is the fifth time UNEP-SBCI and partners formally organize side events as part of the UNFCCC negotiation process. In COP15, as in previous meetings, the side event is complemented with bilateral discussions and informal information meetings with delegations.


Fuel Efficiency & Electric Cars Get the Green Light

Posted by admin on January 8, 2010
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Fuel Efficiency & Electric Cars Get the Green Light

New Scientist summed up 2009 as a good year for the electric car, with some researchers looking at ways to convert gas guzzlers to electricity. The Australian says manufacturers are certainly heading in the right direction in terms of making our cars more efficient, but there’s still a huge distance to go on CO2.

By Colin Barras in New Scientist (26 December 2009):

Although the world’s governments meeting in Copenhagen struggled to agree on a plan of action to curtail carbon dioxide emissions, the green technology innovations reported by New Scientist during 2009 suggest reasons for optimism.

Transport continued to be a big target for green ideas despite tough economic times. In the US the sector is the second largest contributor to emissions, responsible for 28 per cent of the country’s total.

Of those, 60 per cent are from road vehicles – indeed, a study this year concluded that the average fuel efficiency of the US vehicle fleet has risen by just 1.3 kilometres per litre (3 miles per gallon) since the days of the Ford Model T.

That looks set to change soon though. A wide range of possible solutions were on show in Las Vegas, Nevada, as the teams competing in this year’s Automotive X Prize were announced. The prize challenges teams to make a production-ready vehicle able to travel 100 miles on the equivalent energy of a gallon of petrol. See a gallery of teams taking part,

It’s been a good year for the electric car. Governments bailed out the largest auto companies with the proviso that they pump resources into battery-operated vehicles, and as a result 2009 was the year that battery chemistry became cool. Such is the buzz around electric cars that some researchers are even developing ways to convert gas guzzlers to electricity.

Hydrogen or methanol?

Elsewhere, the quest to power transport using hydrogen continued. One team showed that existing gas power stations could be easily modified to pump out hydrogen, but transporting and storing hydrogen still pose major technological hurdles.

Perhaps the methanol economy is more achievable – the alcohol is a liquid at room temperature, like petrol, so the existing infrastructure could be easily adapted, according to some.

Ways to make the aviation industry leaner and greener were also on show in 2009. They included the suggestion that aircraft wing tips could morph mid-flight to give extra lift and cut fuel consumption.

But greening air travel is also about land operations. Plane manufacturer Airbus started to investigate if robotic trucks to tow aircraft could reduce the $7 billion and 18 million tonnes of CO2 that result from using jet engines designed for flight to trundle from runway to terminal and back.

Of course, finding ways to avoid travel – videoconferencing, for example – will also cut transport emissions. A system to project your animated features onto a blank-faced dummy was one method suggested to make virtual travel closer to the real thing.

Internet footprint

But sending data through the internet has a carbon footprint of its own. Spam is not only an inconvenience to the individual, but globally produces emissions equivalent to burning 9 billion litres of petrol annually. Yahoo’s proposed email postage stamp system could take a chunk out of the net’s carbon footprint – if users can be persuaded to start giving money for charity for every email they send.

IBM and Google also unveiled plans to cut the environmental damage done by internet infrastructure, but individual web users could have their own part to play in creating a green internet. One of the world’s biggest manufacturers of routers is trialling a system to store some web data in the homes of broadband subscribers to cut the power use of the huge data centres on which the internet currently relies.


Andrew Main in The Australian (4 January 2010):

AS the developed world winces over the woolly and inconclusive outcome of the Copenhagen climate summit, there’s some modest consolation to be had in looking at the opposite end of the resource use spectrum: hugely improved technical efficiency, with more certainly to come.

Take the pace of development of low-consumption automobiles. This isn’t the motoring column but such an issue is an economic one and as of early December, Ford announced in Australia a new diesel-powered, four-cylinder Fiesta. Its officially tested fuel consumption is 3.7 litres per 100km. As the television adverts enjoy pointing out, that pips the Toyota Prius hybrid’s 3.9.

Independent of whatever emissions trading scheme we may end up with, our cars are gradually consuming less, and emitting less, because of technical advances.

Just by way of comparison, the original Leyland/BMC Mini’s consumption figure, back in 1959 admittedly, was 6.49 litres, or almost twice as much.

There were many endearing features about the original Mini, not least its small size, but what is quite startling is that the older car had less than half the engine power output (25 kilowatts against 66) of the new EcoNetic Fiesta, which is a much bigger and heavier car all round. The Fiesta’s had a number of technological tweaks, such as low-resistance tyres, but in design terms it’s still fairly conventional.

I’ve been looking in vain for a CO2 emission number for the older car, probably because they hadn’t thought of such things back in those days, but one clue is that the car had to cease production (after about five million Minis) mainly because of tightening emission control rules. For the uninitiated, there’s a direct correlation between fuel economy and CO2 output. According to Australia’s National Transport Commission, one litre of petrol will produce 2289 grams of CO2 and a litre of diesel will produce 17 per cent more CO2, about 2695g.

On those numbers, the old Mini had a CO2 output of about 148g per kilometre.

The new Ford is one of the first cars available in Australia to produce less than 100g of CO2 per kilometre. Its 98g output isn’t as low as the Toyota Prius hybrid’s 89g, but they’re both measurably lower than the cars of just 10 years ago. They knock everything else in Australia into a cocked hat since the Smart C451, the boxy two-seater, was by a narrow margin the best performer in Australia in 2008 with 103g/km.

Which means the new Ford, with its common-rail diesel engine and tall gearbox ratios, is particularly frugal.

By comparison, the current-day six-cylinder Falcon produces 256g, an improvement of about 9 per cent over its 2005 equivalent, while the Holden Commodore produces about 272g.

Toyota’s new hybrid Camry, which will hit showrooms in March and will be locally made thanks to a $35 million grant from the federal government’s $1.3 billion Green Car Innovation Fund, is a product that doesn’t get close to the Fiesta or Prius’s low emissions, but in the words of the old saying, it’s a major improvement. Both fuel consumption and CO2 output from the hybrid will be “35 per cent lower” than the all-petrol Camry, according to the manufacturer.

We’ve found an official CO2 number of 229g for a conventional Camry and the manufacturer says CO2 output will be “less than 150g” per kilometre.

There are all sorts of macro arguments against building cars in Australia that make up a separate debate all of their own, but it’s common knowledge that every major manufacturer in Australia (now only Toyota, GMH and Ford) has had hefty subsidies from the government at different times.

A scary conclusion that emerges from a recent study by the NTC is that the average car in Australia may have reduced its consumption (and CO2 output) significantly in recent years but it still uses significantly more fuel than the average car in Europe.

For instance, Australia’s average CO2 output per car in 2008, the latest date when full figures were available, was 215g per kilometre, which is 55 per cent higher than Portugal’s average (138g) and 23 per cent higher than the highest European average, Sweden’s, which is 174g.

That is quite startling because although Australian motoring conditions are different, the long distances and straight roads that we have should if anything lower our average consumption, not raise it. All those jokes about Swedes wasting fuel as they drive around in big solid Volvos are looking very sick: they’re simply not true.

The killer applications, according to the NTC, are that the high fuel prices in Europe, caused by higher fuel taxes, encourage consumers to buy fuel-efficient cars and the fact that diesel fuel is cheaper in Europe than petrol (unlike in Australia) is a further inducement to European car buyers, who proportionately buy many more diesel vehicles than we do.

Conclusion?  Australian manufacturers are certainly heading in the right direction in terms of making our cars more efficient, but there’s still a huge distance to go on CO2.


Rare Earths & Waste-to-Energy from the Middle Kingdom

Posted by admin on January 8, 2010
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Rare Earths & Waste-to-Energy from the Middle Kingdom

Unusual elements called “rare earths” can drive green technologies: Tiny quantities of dysprosium can make magnets in electric motors lighter by 90%, while terbium can help cut the electricity usage of lights by 80%. China is the primary source, where there are also unbounded opportunities for waste to energy projects.

Keith Bradshe for Business Day (27 December 2009):

SOME of the greenest technologies of our time – from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to large wind turbines – are made possible by a group of unusual elements called rare earths. The world’s dependence on these substances is rising fast.

Just one problem – these elements come almost entirely from some of China’s most environmentally damaging mines, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs.

Western capitals are suddenly worried about China’s near monopoly, which gives it a potential stranglehold on technologies of the future. In Washington, Congress has just ordered a study of potential alternatives to the Chinese rare earth materials that are crucial to the US military.

In Guyun Village, a small community in south-eastern China fringed by lush bamboo groves and banana trees, the environmental damage can be seen in the red-brown scars of barren clay where emerald rice fields once grew.

Miners scrape off the topsoil and shovel golden-flecked clay into dirt pits, using acids to extract the rare earths. The acids wash into streams and rivers, destroying rice paddies and tainting water supplies.

There are 17 rare-earth elements, some of which, despite the name, are not particularly rare. However, two heavy rare earth elements, dysprosium and terbium, are in especially short supply, mainly because they have emerged as crucial ingredients of green energy products.

Tiny quantities of dysprosium can make magnets in electric motors lighter by 90 per cent, while terbium can help cut the electricity usage of lights by 80 per cent. Dysprosium prices have climbed nearly sevenfold since 2003, to $53 a pound. Terbium prices quadrupled from 2003 to 2008, peaking at $407.

China mines more than 99 per cent of the world’s dysprosium and terbium. Most production comes from about 200 mines in Guangdong and in neighbouring Jiangxi province.

Half the heavy rare earth mines have licenses and half are illegal. Western importers don’t know where the minerals they buy have come from.

”I don’t know if part of that feed, internal in China, came from an illegal mine and went in a legal separator,” said David Kennedy, president of Great Western Technologies in Michigan, which imports rare earths.


Susan Kraemer for Reuters World Environment News (30 December 2009):

Here’s an opportunity to wisely spend some of the $100 billion that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised at Copenhagen to cut the greenhouse gases of developing nations by aiding in the development of renewable energy infrastructure to by-pass fossil fuel dependence.

Apparently one in four Chinese cities and seven out of 10 counties are without sewage-treatment plants, according to the People’s Daily. While there are many ways to treat sewage or municipal waste; one of the newest is the use of municipal solid waste to make renewable energy.

Converting waste to energy is done in several ways. One is making bio-gas from sewage (human or animal) to run gas-turbine driven electric power plants.

Another is to create a biofuel, such as that used by nearly every vehicle in Sweden’s fifth largest city Linkoping. Greenhouse gas emissions there were reduced as much as 90% with the technology. It helped Sweden achieve a 9% below-Kyoto emissions cut with simultaneous 44% economic growth.

This presents an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone; by building the infrastructure in the developing world that uses municipal solid waste to make renewable energy. This would cut the greatest source of the rise expected in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use in the next decades: from fast-developing nations like India and China.

The developed world evolved water treatment technologies well before our knowledge of climate change drove us to invent uses for municipal solid waste as a source of renewable energy with no greenhouse gas emissions.

But now, nations that do not already have any sewage treatment infrastructure in place are well placed to leapfrog the developed world, which is only just starting to tap into waste-to-energy from municipal solid waste, or sewage.

For all kinds of municipal waste-to-energy companies, this presents a huge opportunity. The developed world has pledged $100 billion to develop renewable energy in the developing world. As I noted here, that money is not charity – as it is incorrectly framed in most media reports (previous story), but it will go to the renewable energy companies from those nations that get there first. This waste-to-energy plant pictured is from a New Zealand company that has apparently already built numerous large facilities throughout Asia.

Source: Gets Excited About Green Initiatives

Posted by admin on January 8, 2010
Posted under Express 90 Gets Excited About Green Initiatives

“Thinking about your company’s green initiatives for 2010, what are you most excited about?”, the US-based business voice of the green economy, asks its business friends and partners. Anticipating another year of innovation and forward-thinking, shares the tricks some 16 enterprises have up their sleeves.

By GreenBiz Staff

Oakland, California — “Thinking about your company’s green initiatives for 2010, what are you most excited about?”

As the sun began to set on 2009, we asked that question to some of our friends and partners, who were nice enough to share their innovations, commitments, and passions for the coming year. Much like their answers to our earlier question about their greatest green achievements of 2009, this one offered a chance for sustainability leaders to boast a little — or, in some cases, a lot.

That’s a good thing. These individuals — and many of you — have a lot to be proud of. It’s a shame to relegate those achievements to a corporate report or the occasional press release. So, in anticipation of another year of innovation and forward-thinking, we’re pleased to share the tricks some of your colleagues have up their sleeves.

Michelle Mann, SVP, Human Resources, Adobe Systems:

In 2010, one way Adobe will expand its commitment to environmental sustainability is by investing in alternative energy sources. Adobe will install 20 Windspire vertical axis wind turbines at its downtown San Jose headquarters. The energy produced will be used to help power the buildings. Adobe is also exploring the use of natural gas-fired fuel cells. The fuel cells would generate electricity on site from natural gas. Adobe would purchase an equal amount of methane from dairy farms in the Central Valley of Calif. Capturing that methane would keep it from going into the atmosphere and it would then be put it back into the Pacific, Gas & Electric pipeline in the Central Valley, effectively making the energy generated by the fuel cells carbon neutral.

Lynelle Cameron, Director of Sustainability, Autodesk:

Autodesk will be expanding the Clean Tech Partner Program beyond North America to Greater China and potentially parts of Europe in 2010. In North America, the program has granted $150,000 of software to almost 100 early-stage clean-technology companies that are solving some of the earth’s most pressing environmental challenges. The question is whether clean-technology companies will effectively learn from past sustainable design blunders of other industries. Our goal in 2010: to accelerate smart design for “sustainable clean tech.”

Leo Raudys, Senior Director, Environmental Affairs, Best Buy:

I’m eager to see our ambitious consumer electronics recycling program grow, and grow, and grow. We kicked off the program in February of 2009 and feel great about the progress we’ve made so far. By the end of 2009, we collected over 50 million pounds of electronics for recycling. And, it’s been a hit with our customers. 2010 will be even better: more recycling, more innovation, and most importantly, happier customers.

Michael Meehan, President & CEO, Carbonetworks:

Because Carbonetworks provides sustainability management software, all of our initiatives are green — but we are most excited about the market itself in 2010. We have seen an inflection point in the way companies are dealing with carbon and energy reductions, and we are excited to see demand grow very rapidly in our space. For 2010, we have a number of product releases planned that will help our companies achieve their sustainability goals more efficiently and cost-effectively than ever.

Bill Morrissey, VP – Environmental Sustainability, The Clorox Company:

1. LEED certification of our general office building — hope to get this by summer 2010

2. Setting public goals for water and waste reductions — targeting February 2010

3. Issuing our first formal Sustainability report — slated for September 2010

Fred Roselli, Communications Manager, Coca-Cola Enterprises:

We’re most excited about continuing the engagement with our stakeholders, but expanding it up our supply chain. Like most companies, we’re looking to see how we can work better with all of our business partners to green our business, not just the end-users.

Jeff Rehm, Sustainability Manager, Grainger:

As a leading supplier of Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) products and services, Grainger is excited about plans to provide even more sustainable solutions to our customers in 2010. Since the start of 2009, we’ve more than doubled the number of green products we offer and acquired Alliance Energy Solutions (an energy services company) to help us better meet our customer’s sustainability service needs. In addition, we continue to train our sales force on the topic of sustainability as they deliver solutions to those who keep workplaces safe, efficient, and functioning.

Mac Agan, Director of Marketing Corporate Affairs Group, Intel Corp:

There is so much to be excited about! We will see continued Intel investment in energy efficient performance products, measured sustainability gains in operations and innovation in Clean Tech. Our new environment site has rolled out on ( – check it out and come back often to find out about the cool things going on at Intel!

Kathy Gerwig, Environmental Stewardship Officer, Kaiser Permanente:

I’m excited about the opportunities with both climate change and safer chemicals. Related to climate change, we will use 2010 to craft a long-term strategy to achieve carbon neutrality in our buildings through both demand (energy efficiency) and supply (renewables) actions. To promote the use of safer chemicals in the products we purchase, we will more broadly apply a robust supplier disclosure mechanism that will help us embed environmental considerations in our product selection.

Marcus Chung, Director, Corporate Citizenship, McKesson Corp:

McKesson will be introducing a companywide paper-reduction campaign to help all our employees connect their daily work with sustainability. With 32,000 employees worldwide, even small changes in behavior can have a huge impact and we’re using this campaign to engage employees at every level of the company. This is a particularly exciting initiative because so many employees want to get involved in our corporate citizenship work, and it’s not always possible for them to play a role. By using a creative, humorous campaign, I hope that we can start to shift all our employees’ mindset to realize that no action is too small and we each play a part in preserving our planet.

Adam Lowry, Co-Founder and Chief Greenskeeper, Method:

Our revolutionary new laundry product, which launches on January 11th. The product is the purest expression, not just of method’s greenness, but of our ability to delight people with truly amazing product experiences. I can’t share the details quite yet, but this product is going to shake up the laundry category in a big way. It is the most innovative and green product we have developed to date.

Kim Marotta, Vice President Corporate Social Responsibility, MillerCoors:

We’re looking forward to building on the environmental priorities we established in 2009, particularly in regards to water. We’ll focus our efforts on making more beer while using less water and will work with our local communities to protect our water resources through investments and volunteerism. We’ll be sharing our environmental story on our new corporate responsibility Web site:

Dennis Salazar, President, Salazar Packaging:

In our Globe Guard product line we have accomplished much in the past with 100% recycled content corrugated board, but in 2010 our focus will turn to “reuse” as the forgotten “R” in sustainability. As recycling programs are stalled, underused and undervalued, we believe extending the usable life of some packaging products may be the best way we can contribute to an environmental solution.

Brandi McManus, Vice President of Energy Solutions, Schneider Electric:

I continue to be excited about Schneider Electric’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions, both for our customers and for our own business. Schneider Electric has made the commitment to reduce our annual CO2 emissions by 30,000 tons per year by reducing waste, energy consumption and international freight. That is the equivalent to planting 5 million trees!

Angela Nahikian, Director, Global Environmental Sustainability, Steelcase:

Maybe I’m a hopeless optimist, but I’m most excited about the innovation potential around sustainability within the company — and in general. History has shown that meaningful innovation often follows constrained, sub-optimal conditions. Conditions could not have been much more constrained or sub-optimal for business than during the past couple of years. I see glimpses of things to come and get very excited.

Albe Zakes, Vice President of Media Relations, TerraCycle:

I am most excited about our international expansion. After great success with our Upcycling programs here in the U.S., we are excited to bring our concept to Mexico, Canada, Brazil, the U.K. and soon Europe. It will be exciting to see if we can turn TerraCycle into a worldwide phenomenon. Also, our newly refined ability to turn wrappers into plastic and pouches into cement really mean the sky is the limit.

Stephen H. Wenc, President & Managing Director, UL Environment:

I am most excited about the development of UL Environment’s standards for sustainable products and the companies that make them — the first sustainability standards in Underwriters Laboratories’ 115-year history. We expect to publish standards for products like wallboard, ceiling materials and systems, insulation, roofing materials, doors and windows. I am looking forward to working with industry, retailers, consumers, regulators and other key stakeholders like the U.S. Green Building Council to create standards that will help define what makes a product green, reduce confusion and greenwashing in the marketplace, and encourage innovation.™, Business Voice of the Green Economy, is the leading source for news, opinion, best practices, and other resources on the greening of mainstream business. Launched in 2000, its mission is to provide clear, concise, accurate, and balanced information, resources, and learning opportunities to help companies of all sizes and sectors integrate environmental responsibility into their operations in a manner that supports profitable business practices.