Archive for the ‘Express 90’ Category

Carbon Pricing for Energy Efficiency & Cutting Emissions

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

Carbon Pricing for  Energy Efficiency &  Cutting Emissions

Singapore announced a more ambitious plan to cut carbon emissions growth by 16%, based on levels projected for 2020 and by 2030, 80% of all buildings will be energy efficient, with energy consumption cut by one third. But author Tim Harford says until there is a broad-based, credible carbon price as the foundation of any successful policy on climate change, we will all have trouble deciding how we can make a difference.

By Hoe Yeen Nie, Channel NewsAsia (26 December 2009):

Singapore introduces key measures to fight climate change

SINGAPORE : 2009 has been called the Year of Climate Change by the United Nations. And in Singapore, major initiatives were introduced to tackle global warming.

Blame the heavy monsoon rains on climate change, according to the weatherman. A warmer climate traps moisture in the atmosphere, bringing more intense rain and a higher likelihood of floods.

For residents of Bukit Timah, the problem of climate change hit home – literally – in November, when a freak downpour caused a canal to spill over, resulting in severe floods in the area.

One resident said: “The water does not go through, so the water has come all the way up, going into the restaurant. There is no solution.”

But there may be a way out.

In April, authorities unveiled a billion-dollar blueprint to map out how Singapore can develop in a sustainable manner. By 2030 for example, 80 per cent of buildings here will be energy efficient, and energy consumption will be cut by one third.

In December, the government announced a more ambitious plan to cut carbon emissions growth by 16 per cent, based on levels projected for 2020.

Professor S Jayakumar, Senior Minister and Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, said: “The measures which we will take to reduce our emissions growth will entail both economic and social costs and will require considerable domestic adjustments.”

At the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called on developed nations to take the lead in reducing carbon emissions.

He said: “They must also ensure adequate means to help developing countries to implement urgently needed adaptation measures without compromising sustainable economic growth.”

But some observers said Singapore should do more.

Associate Professor Shreekant Gupta, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, said: “Its total emissions are small, but in per capita terms, its ecological footprint is actually quite heavy. Singapore emits on average 10 tonnes per person, which is as high as the EU.

“It should be focused on promoting carbon markets and in general reducing the ecological footprint of the country – more of reduce, recycle and re-use.”

Professor Gupta wants to see bigger investments in green technologies, like solar power.

City planners have begun a S$31 million pilot programme to install solar panels in 28 public housing estates. And they too hope that it could shine further light into how the sun’s energy can be better tapped to power up our homes. – CNA/ms


By Tim Harford in Financial Times (2 January 2010):

Those of us resolving to lead a lower-carbon life in 2010 could do worse than acquire a copy of Prashant Vaze’s new book, The Economical Environmentalist, in which the author picks over the fine details of his life. He works out how much CO2 he could save by driving more slowly, installing loft insulation or becoming a vegetarian. The result will be a little dense for some, but it is delightfully geeky and has the virtue of being right more often than not.

This virtue is underrated. Environmentalists have been slow to realise that the fashionable eco-lifestyle is riddled with contradictions. The one that particularly exasperates me is the “food miles” obsession, whereby we eschew tomatoes from Spain and roses flown in from Kenya, in favour of local products grown in a heated greenhouse with a far greater carbon footprint.

Other less-than-obvious truths are: that pork and chicken have substantially lower carbon footprints than beef and lamb (yes, even organic beef and lamb); that milk and cheese also have a substantial footprint; that dishwashers are typically more efficient than washing dishes by hand; and that eco-friendly washing powders may be distinctly eco-unfriendly because they tend to tempt people to use hotter washes.

My conclusion is that a well-meaning environmentalist will make counterproductive decisions several times a day. I don’t blame the environmentalists: the problem is intrinsically complicated. Over a vegetarian curry in London recently, Vaze ruefully described to me the “six bloody months” he spent trying to research an eco-renovation of his home.

Even the experts can tie themselves in knots. Duncan Clark, author of The Rough Guide to Green Living, unveiled “10 eco-myths” in a Guardian podcast in November. Many of them were well chosen, but unfortunately his number one “myth” was not a myth at all: that switching off lights will reduce CO2 emissions. Clark’s logic is seductive: some European carbon emissions, including those generated by electricity, are subject to a cap. Clark is right to say that conserving electricity will allow other sectors to take up the resulting slack, because they will be able to buy permits to emit more cheaply than if we left our lights blazing.

Where Clark goes wrong is in assuming the cap will remain fixed forever. If we all turn out our lights, the price of permits will fall and politicians will find it politically easier to tighten the cap. So, keep installing those energy-efficient light bulbs. (Another less-than-obvious truth is that it’s not worth waiting for your old bulbs to burn out before you fit the new ones.)

After picking through the ideas of Vaze, Clark, David MacKay (a Cambridge physicist) and others, my view is that it is hopeless to expect that volunteers will navigate this maze of decisions.

That is why a broad-based, credible carbon price will be the foundation of any successful policy on climate change. The price would affect the cost of every decision we make; it would take away the guesswork. Current carbon pricing schemes, such as the European emissions trading scheme, are a good start, but they leave out too many sectors, and permits are too cheap.

And a final admission: not every feature of the low-carbon lifestyle is impossibly obscure. I felt rather smug when I realised I could stop drinking cappuccino in favour of espresso, saving 90kg of CO2 a year. Then I totted up my carbon footprint from air travel in 2009. It is the equivalent of almost 50 tonnes of CO2 – or more than the entire footprint of a typical British family of three. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to shrink that particular footprint. This year I shall do better.

Tim Harford’s latest book is ‘Dear Undercover Economist’ (Little, Brown)


Greenhouse Shows Woodford is More than a Folk Festival

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

Greenhouse Shows Woodford is More than a Folk Festival

The extremely efficient and insightful GREENhouse program at Woodford Folk Festival from 27 December to 1 January involved 43 sessions and more than 50 speakers, including scientists, authors, intellectuals, environmentalists, inventors and politicians. Ken Hickson joined Dr Mike Smith and Ulrike Schuermann to discuss Business’s Role in the Future on 31 December. 

Here’s the essence of Ken Hickson’s paper. A pdf of the Powerpoint is available on and most of the presentations at Greenhouse can be found on

Where’s the climate change strategy? Ken Hickson asked in his presentation in the Greenhouse session on Business’s Role in the Future.

  1. Carbon and climate are on a collision course and there’s been a serious communication breakdown in developing and presenting climate change awareness and action. Therefore it cannot be left to the scientific community or Governments. In his book The ABC of Carbon as well as through abc carbon express he regularly draws attention to climate change impacts on countries and companies. What is essential is corporate sustainability and greening of the workplace. All this must be directed towards creating a low carbon economy.
  2. Cartoon showing a Noah’s Ark positioned on the top of Mount Everest, surrounded by rising seas! The sign board says: Climate Change Summit 2040 Mount Everest. The keynote speaker announces: “We finally have a binding international agreement to control greenhouse gases!”
  3. Dr David Susuki, Canadian environmentalist, geneticist , broadcaster and author says:

“We are upsetting the atmosphere upon which all life depends… the signs of change have accelerated alarmingly.

“The vast majority of the world’s scientists will only admit to being 90% certain that our carbon emissions are causing global warming on such a scale that we face global catastrophe if we fail to change our ways.

“If nine out of 10 doctors said your child needed an immediate operation, would you wait until all 10 agreed?”

  1. Case studies – best practices by business globally and in Australia
  2. I is for Interface, the largest carpet manufacture in the world, with Seven Steps to Mission Zero:   Zero Waste , Benign Emissions , Renewable Energy , Close The Loop, Resource Efficient Transportation, Sensitivity Hookup  & Redesign Commerce.

Run by Ray Anderson, Time Magazine Environmental Hero, interviewed on ABC and Sky News and occasional visitor to Australia.

InterfaceFLOR’s Mission Zero™ is simple – it is our pledge to leave zero footprint by the year 2020.

  1. N is for News and News Corp – the world’s largest media organisation – Fox, News Limited and many more.

Rupert Murdoch announced March 2007 that News Corp would be carbon neutral by 2010.

News Limited to save around 30,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases across Australia.

In its first year, One Degree campaign had exceeded targets – reducing own carbon footprint, inspiring staff and community to take action.

News Limited has so far identified around 125 new initiatives to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, to be carbon neutral by 2010.

  1. V is for Virgin – Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin empire.

The profits from his five airlines and train company – US$3 billion through the next 10 years -  be invested in developing energy sources that do not contribute to global warming.

Virgin Group of 200 companies are seeking ways to save energy or produce fuels, including aviation fuel, not derived from coal and oil.

“It is in our hands whether our children and their children inherit the same world. We must not be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment.”   Branson

  1. W is for Wind and Wave Energy

More people employed in wind energy business than in coal industry in the US.

In Western Australia, Carnegie Corporation is developing the most innovative wave energy project, combined with a desalination plant.

Wave energy can generate at least 35% of Australia’s power needs.

The southern coasts have a potential wave energy resource of up to 171,000 MW, four times the total capacity of power generators currently installed nationwide.

  1. Climate Change/Carbon New Business Categories:

Ken Has identified 18 new categories of business which have developed on the past 2 years:

    1. Investment advisors & brokers – Carbon Value, Macquarie
    2. Carbon offset providers/facilitators – Carbon Planet, Climate Friendly
    3. Educators/trainers– Sustainability Challenge, Change2
    4. Carbon trading for voluntary & mandatory markets – GCX, FEX, ACX
    5. Providers/organisers of carbon credits – Prime Carbon, Carbon Conscious
    6. Renewable energy initiators – Carnegie, Ceramic Fuel Cells, Ausra
    7. Commercialisation & financial investors – Austrade, Banks
    8. Building & property advisory services– Ecospecifier, FWR Group
    9. Adaptation advisors and engineers – Climate Risk, Arup, Hatch
    10. Management consultants (adaptation & mitigation) – KPMG, PWC, EY
    11. Energy efficiency advice & audit services – Fieldforce, Govt agencies/assessors
    12. Measurement & reporting software providers – EnviroChart, CarbonView
    13. Communication advice & services – ThomsonReuters, Carbon Market
    14. Clean energy providers – Origin, AGL, Energex, Ergon
    15. Clean transport & infrastructure providers/advisors – Better Place, EcoMotion
    16. Green products & services – ecoKinetics, Envirofriendly, eNerwise
    17. Specialist media – Green Pages, Eco Voice, abc carbon express, ecogeneration
    18. Carbon farming/biosequestration – BDM, Soil Carbon, VRM
  2. Is it pie in the sky for Australia to achieve a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020? or do we have to settle for a pathetic 5%?

What can business do to prevent disastrous warming, extreme weather & greater climate risk?

  1. Ken sets out his proposal for a 5 x 5 = 25 strategy (also illustrated in pie graph form):

CPRS as simple as ABC. As each of the five sectors is responsible for approximately 20% of the nation’s emissions, each sector is required to produce emissions reductions of 25% in each sector which amounts to 5% of the total emissions reductions, making a national 25% reduction is emissions quite feasible.

a.    Industry emissions reductions

  1. Buildings & energy efficiency
  2. Switching to renewable energy
  3. Land use, farming & forestry
  4. Transportation comes clean
  5. a.     Communication/education is the key
  6. b.    Opportunities to work with business
  7. c.      Develop good green best practices
  8. d.     Partnerships will prosper
  9. e.      Business must provide leadership
  10. f.       Positively promote sustainability
  1. Ken also proposes setting up a one stop shop for climate change consumer education & energy efficiency, modelled on Choice, the national consumer organisation. He has also been instrumental in setting up a new global NGO for communicators – GECO – Green Earth Communicators Organisation.
  2. Ken has suggested to Queensland’s Minister of Climate Change and Sustainability Kate Jones that he bring together all the enterprising innovators in the State to showcase its green capability. This will happen in February. The enterprises will include: the FWR Group, eNerwise, Q solar, Little Green Genie, Climate First, Wind Power Queensland, eco-Kinetics, My Clean Sky, Envirofriendly, Greenfest, Prime Carbon, Ecospecifier, Super Green Me, and Sustainable Insight. (More will be invited and others are welcome to propose participation.)
  3. Ken sums up his presentation thus:



Many Walls & Roofs Make Light Work

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

Many Walls & Roofs Make Light Work

Wall lighting that is two and a half times more efficient than energy saving bulbs could make a big contribution to meeting Britain’s target of cutting carbon emissions by 34% by 2020, while the Sunshine Coast Environment Council announces an initiative to launch the 10 000 solar roof challenge together with Maleny Credit Union and Ingenero.

Ben Webster, Environment Editor, The Times (30 December 2009):

Organic LEDs could kill off the light bulb, first created by Thomas Edison

Light-emitting wallpaper may begin to replace light bulbs from 2012, according to a government body that supports low-carbon technology.

A chemical coating on the walls will illuminate all parts of the room with an even glow, which mimics sunlight and avoids the shadows and glare of conventional bulbs.

Although an electrical current will be used to stimulate the chemicals to produce light, the voltage will be very low and the walls will be safe to touch. Dimmer switches will control brightness, as with traditional lighting.

The Carbon Trust has awarded a £454,000 grant to Lomox, a Welsh company that is developing the organic light-emitting diode technology. The trust said it would be two and a half times more efficient than energy saving bulbs and could make a big contribution to meeting Britain’s target of cutting carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020. Indoor lighting accounts for a sixth of total electricity use.

The chemical coating, which can be applied in the form of specially treated wallpaper or simply painted straight on to walls, can also be used for flat-screen televisions, computers and mobile phone displays.

As the system uses only between three and five volts, it can be powered by solar panels or batteries. Lomox, which will use the grant to prove the durability of the technology, believes it could be used in the first instance to illuminate road signs or barriers where there is no mains electricity.

Ken Lacey, the chief executive of Lomox, said that the first products would go on sale in 2012. “The light is a very natural, sunlight-type of lighting with the full colour range. It gives you all kinds of potential for how you do lighting,” he said.

Although organic light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been available for several years, Mr Lacey said that concerns over cost and durability had prevented further development. He said that Lomox had developed a much cheaper process and discovered a combination of chemicals that were not vulnerable to the oxidation that shortened the operating life span of other types of organic LEDs.

Mr Lacey said the technology could be used to make flexible screens that could be rolled up after use, or carried into a presentation, for example.

Mark Williamson, director of innovations at the Carbon Trust, said: “Lighting is a major producer of carbon emissions. This technology has the potential to produce ultra-efficient lighting for a wide range of applications, tapping into a huge global market.

“It’s a great example of the innovation that makes the UK a hotbed of clean technology development.”


Maleny Credit Union supports SCEC Solar Challenge

The Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC) announces an initiative to launch the 10,000 solar roofs challenge (over 3 years) to residents on the Coast together with Maleny Credit Union and Ingenero.

Maleny Credit Union (MCU) throughout its 26 year history has been a strong supporter of financial initiatives to preserve our precious environment through its design of innovative loan products linked to environmental loan purposes.

Greg Stevens CEO Maleny Credit Union said “MCU was thrilled to be approached by the Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC) to participate in its initiative to launch 10,000 solar roofs challenge (over 3 years) to residents on the Sunshine Coast together with Ingenero, a locally based solar provider.

“Together with Ingenero, the Credit Union designed the MCU Solar Loan, designed to have power savings to contribute to loan repayments over a 10 year loan term. The MCU Solar Loan was designed to be a low cost loan to assist householders obtain a loan for either or both the installation of PV and/or Solar hot water.”

The key features of the MCU Solar loan are:

•           Unsecured Personal Loan;

•           No application or ongoing or exit fees or early repayment penalties;

•           10 year loan term;

•           Attractive variable loan rate of 7.99% p.a. (comparison rate 7.99% p.a.);

 “The Credit Union is proud to be associated with this Solar initiative to increase the use of renewable energy”, said Greg Stevens CEO Maleny Credit Union.

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