Archive for the ‘Express 94’ Category

Is anybody listening?

Posted by admin on February 2, 2010
Posted under Express 94

Is anybody listening?

It is probably not polite to point it out, but we notice (and report) that seemingly everything green and clean that the Australian Government attempts to promote, turns to dust not gold. Elected with a mandate to deal with climate change, and beyond the quick and symbolic gesture to ratify Kyoto, the Labor Government has had a succession of failures.  

A very complicated and costly CPRS is going back to Parliament this week. It is unlikely to pass muster. And this with a mere 5% emissions reduction target. The Greens and the Coalition have some alternative ideas worth listening to.    

The Renewable Energy Target for 2020 will not be reached without the Government making it worthwhile for investors. Its REC scheme is failing to do that and the industry wants it changed. 

The Green Loan scheme is the latest disaster, as we report this week. We have had earlier on again/off again solar panel incentives, leaving the suppliers and householders confused and annoyed, while the home insulation scheme has been rife with rogues, rorts and regrets.   

Voluntary carbon offset providers like Greenfleet are calling for clarity and direction, even though Government has already decided to demolish the very workable Greenhouse Friendly programme. 

Is anybody listening? What’s needed is some real leadership. In the meantime, read on. There is good news somewhere.

                                                 Ken Hickson

Profile: Sara Gipton

Posted by admin on February 2, 2010
Posted under Express 94

Profile:  Sara Gipton

Aren’t we lucky that trees don’t understand politics?  The trees we plant now will grow, taking more carbon from the atmosphere sooner, says Greenfleet’s CEO Sara Gipton. But the problem for Australian carbon offset providers like Greenfleet is that the Government’s ambitious, overarching and repeatedly delayed CPRS has created confusion among those most committed to action on climate change – participants in the voluntary carbon market. Besides Government has committed to dispose of the very workable Greenhouse Friendly programme without having an alternative in place.

Here’s the word from Sara Gipton, CEO of  Greenfleet:

Aren’t we lucky that trees don’t understand politics?  The trees we plant now will grow, taking more carbon from the atmosphere sooner.

Our climate doesn’t understand politics either.  Further delay on taking action means we will have to take greater action later.  The CPRS is a political compromise, but it is better than nothing.  In the meantime, Greenfleet will continue to plant biodiverse forests on behalf of our supporters.

Greenfleet was the first not-for-profit organisation to have forestry offset methodology approved under the Federal Government’s Greenhouse Friendly initiative. Its forestry methods, administrative processes and legal agreements have all been independently scrutinised to ensure they meet appropriate standards.  

Sara Gipton became CEO of Greenfleet in early 2007 after moving to the environmental sector in 2005.  Sara joined Greenfleet after holding senior financial roles at the Victorian Workcover Authority and prior to that worked in Ernst & Young’s Audit and Consulting Divisions for more than 12 years. Sara is a Chartered Accountant, with an Honours degree in Science and a Masters of Social Science focused on environmental management and planning.

Sara is Board member of the Voluntary Carbon Market Association, member of RMIT School of Social Science Environment Advisory Committee, and member of the Committee of Melbourne Boston Sister City Committee, as well as a member of other community organisations.

Ruth Williams had this article in The Age (26 January 2010):

WHEN Melbourne-based operation Greenfleet won the right to display the Federal Government’s Greenhouse Friendly logo in early 2008, the non-profit tree-planting organisation was personally congratulated by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

”Greenfleet’s biodiversity forest projects will not only result in a reduction of greenhouse gases, they will also provide valuable habitat for native fauna and assist in the regeneration of the Australian landscape,” Wong said at the time.

Greenfleet was, in fact, the first non-profit organisation to achieve Greenhouse Friendly accreditation as an ”approved abatement provider” – a title it won after a long, expensive and exhaustive process, says chief executive Sara Gipton. But for an operation trading in Australia’s fledgling voluntary carbon offsets market, one that relies on its reputation to convince supporters to buy its offsets, the credibility bestowed by Federal Government accreditation was worth every cent.

But slightly more than a year after Greenfleet was accredited, Wong announced that Greenhouse Friendly would be dumped, along with its logo of a grinning green pointy-roofed house. It would be superseded by the Government’s centrepiece green policy, the carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS), and replaced by a new national carbon offset standard – complete with a new, yet to be unveiled, logo.

It’s meant that Greenfleet’s return on its substantial investment in Greenhouse Friendly – the product of a year’s work – is much less than it should have been. But that’s not its only problem.

Under the Government’s current timetable, Greenhouse Friendly will cease to exist on June 30, at which point the carbon offset standard, which was released with little fanfare at the start of December, will come into force. The standard is designed to complement the CPRS, but there is substantial uncertainty about whether the CPRS will be passed by June 30.

No CPRS means no carbon offset standard and no Greenhouse Friendly – a situation that creates a huge regulatory vacuum for Greenfleet and its peers.

Meanwhile, CPRS regulations governing forestry are yet to be released, and are unlikely to be until after the CPRS legislation is put before the Senate next week.

So when Greenhouse Friendly ceases to be, so will any national, Government-backed method of accrediting forestry carbon offsets.

”At the moment we have massive regulatory uncertainty,” Gipton says. ”If the legislation doesn’t pass and Greenhouse Friendly is still shut down on the 30th of June, we have a problem because we don’t have a standard which we can tell our supporters, with certainty,that we operate to. It’s very important that we have that – people want to be assured that we are operating credibly.”

But the regulatory tangle doesn’t end there. Greenfleet offsets emissions with forestry, a method covered by the Kyoto Protocol. This is a crucial point, because were Greenfleet to do nothing, its forestry projects would be lumped in as counting towards Australia’s overall emission reduction target – its so-called ”cap”.

This means there would be less incentive for Greenfleet’s supporters to offset their emissions, because the offsets generated would not be ”additional” to the emission cuts Australia has already committed to. In effect, they would simply be facilitating the pollution of big emitters.

The way around this situation is for Greenfleet to participate, or ”opt in”, to the CPRS and ”retire” its permits on a yet-to-be-established national registry, so they can’t be counted towards the national target and can be considered truly additional. This is Greenfleet’s plan. Unfortunately, however, Greenfleet can’t agree to participate in something that doesn’t yet exist.

Greenfleet’s conundrum is one example of how the Government’s ambitious, overarching and repeatedly delayed CPRS has created confusion among those most committed to action on climate change – participants in the voluntary carbon market.

Caroline Bayliss, director of RMIT’s Global Sustainability Institute, is baffled as to why the Government set a firm date for the demise of Greenhouse Friendly when uncertainty surrounded its replacement. She says the forestry offset operators are now in an difficult position. ”What happens in terms of the whole market absent a CPRS is really a conundrum, especially when it comes to some offset types like forestry,” she says.

Dr Iain MacGill, from the University of NSW’s Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets, says the Government has failed to manage ”policy risk”.

”Even if you believe that you’ve found a single, all unifying policy (in the CPRS), if climate change is the critically important issue the Government keeps telling us it is, you don’t make progress hostage to the passage of this single piece of legislation,” he said. ”Making other policies hostage to the CPRS puts climate policy progress at risk; an issue that we’ve already seen with the expanded renewable energy target. We need a wide range of policies in place in case the CPRS doesn’t get passed or fails to deliver the changes required.”


For more on Greenfleet, visit the website and see its February e-news.  Find out how new car fuel efficiency averages in Australia compare to the rest of the world, plus read about trials of electric and solar vehicles.  


Green Investing: Low Carbon Energy Infrastructure

Posted by admin on February 2, 2010
Posted under Express 94

Green Investing: Low Carbon Energy Infrastructure

The World Economic Forum says that moving to a low-carbon energy infrastructure will require global annual investment of around US$ 500 billion, if the increase in global average temperatures is to be restricted to 2°C, while General Electric ranks first on the  sixth annual Global 100 list of the most sustainable firms, released in Davos.

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 28 January 2010 − In a report released today, entitled Green Investing 2010: Policy Mechanisms to Bridge the Financing Gap, the World Economic Forum reveals that investment in clean energy has held up better than expected during the financial crisis and resulting recession, but a considerable gap still exists between current levels of investment and what is needed to begin reducing the world’s carbon emissions.

In another report, Green Investing: Towards a Low Carbon Energy Infrastructure, the World Economic Forum stated that moving to a low-carbon energy infrastructure will require global annual investment of around US$ 500 billion per annum, if the increase in global average temperatures is to be restricted to 2°C.

Investment in 2009 was remarkably resilient at US$ 145 billion, down only 6% from US$ 155 billion in 2008, as the shortfall created by the financial crisis was largely filled by the launch of green stimulus initiatives around the world. In addition, the Copenhagen Accord, which was noted by the participants at the COP meeting in December 2009, contained a commitment by developed countries to invest US$ 100 billion in developing countries. While the next few years are likely to see record investment activities, a significant financing gap of US$ 350 billion still exists. To unleash adequate funds to bridge this gap, appropriate policy mechanisms are required.

The report’s authors, Anuradha Gurung and Max von Bismarck from the World Economic Forum, and Chris Greenwood and Michael Liebreich from New Energy Finance, state that “as a result of the continued financing gap, there is an urgent need for policy-makers around the world to implement measures at the regional, national and sub-national level, which will encourage investment in clean energy technology and projects. With this in mind, the report provides policy-makers with a toolkit consisting of 35 different policy mechanisms, which can be used to promote various clean energy sectors. The mechanisms can be chosen based on stage of technological development – R&D/proof of concept, demonstration and scale-up, commercial roll-out, diffusion and maturity – and also on stage of economic development.”

Policy mechanisms have to be tailored in the national, state and local context. Mechanisms for a financially viable shift to a low-carbon economy range from the establishment of national laboratories or research centres; requiring public entities to  procure clean energy or use emerging efficient technologies; programmes designed to reduce the cost of private lending and improve project economics; and microfinance.

A new set of ratings are used to evaluate the policy mechanisms and is based on how well they are likely to perform on three key criteria: whether they scale; whether they are economically efficient; and the extent to which each dollar of cost to the public purse catalyses private investment.

“The world needs a substantial increase in private investment flows into clean energy and energy efficiency if we want to avoid severe impacts of climate change,” said Jack Ehnes, Chief Executive Officer, CalSTRS, and Member of the Expert Committee. “This report not only lays out key opportunity sectors for private investors but also identifies very concrete tools for governments to bridge the climate investment gap.”

This year’s report provides an up-to-date description of 10 emerging, large-scale clean energy sectors that will form part of any low-carbon energy system of the future. It also describes the four key enablers that are required if these clean energy sources are to be integrated into the existing infrastructure: smart grids, power storage, advanced transportation and carbon, capture and storage. Given the importance of energy efficiency in moving to a more sustainable energy mix, the report also includes a separate chapter on energy efficiency.

The report is the result of a year-long collaboration between the World Economic Forum and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Close to 30 public and private sessions explore climate change and low-carbon economic growth issues at this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters. Topics range from industry-focused discussions on scaling up green investing, energy efficiency, smart grids, and carbon capture and sequestration demonstrations, among others, through to business conversations with governments and expert organizations on the broader policy environment that is most useful to focus the private sector on green growth following the outcomes of the Copenhagen Climate meeting in December.

One particular area of discussion at this year’s Annual Meeting involves the design of a high-profile platform involving international organizations, multilateral financial institutions and investor networks, with an aim to launch innovative mechanisms for financing low-carbon energy infrastructure in developing countries in 2010.


By GreenBiz Staff (29 January 2010):

DAVOS, Switzerland — General Electric Company, the PG&E Corporation and Tnt Nv, an international express and mail delivery service based in the Netherlands, rank first, second and third place respectively on Corporate Knights magazine’s sixth annual Global 100 list of most sustainable firms.

The magazine released the roster for 2010 on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum’s conference in Davos, Switzerland.

This year’s list of 100 companies hail from 24 countries, employ about 3 million people and represent a collective value $4 trillion.

The United Kingdom is home to the greatest number of companies on the list. It is the headquarters for 21 this year and had 20 companies on the list in 2009. Twelve firms are based in the U.S. this year, compared with 20 last year. The next highest number of companies are based in Canada and Australia, which each have nine this year. Overall, 50 percent of the firms that made the cut in 2009 are on the list for 2010.

The top 10 firms this year are:


PG&E Corp.


H & M, Hennes & Mauritz, of Sweden

Nokia Corporation of Finland

Siemens Ag of Germany

Unilever Plc of the United Kingdom

Vodafone Group Plc of the UK.

Smiths Group Plc of the U.K.

Geberit of Switzerland

Corporate giants that rank among the leading 20 companies in the Global 100 include Henkel Ag of Germany (at No. 11), which was on the top 10 list recently compiled by green mutual fund group Portfolio 21; U.S. firm Procter & Gamble (No. 13); Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. (14); Koninklijke Philips Electronics (17) of the Netherlands, better known simply as Philips; and Shell, or more formally, Royal Dutch Shell Plc of the U.K.

The firms were culled from a pool of 3,000 global stocks and reviewed against 11 metrics to qualify for inclusion among the top 100 this year.

The performance indicators were:

Energy, carbon, water and waste productivity — ratios of sales to total direct and indirect energy consumption, total carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, total water use and total waste produced, respectively;

Leadership diversity, which was gauged by the percentage of women on a company’s board of directors;

A comparison of the highest paid executive’s compensation to average employee compensation;

The percentage of total reported tax obligation that was paid in cash;

A score for sustainability leadership that was based on whether the firm has a sustainability committee and whether a director is part of the group;

Sustainability remuneration, which was determined by whether at least one senior officer’s pay is linked to sustainability;

Innovation capacity, expressed as a ratio of R&D and sales; and

Transparency, which was measured by the percentage of data points for which the company provided information and its level of GRI disclosure.

GE, whose businesses to foster and focus on sustainability are embraced by its ecomagination line, went to the top of the list with an array of high scores. They included $729,685 in sales per tonne of waste produced, which placed the company in the 89th percentile among firms in the capital goods industry group.

Almost a quarter of GE’s directors are women. In addition, the firm doubled its carbon productivity from 2006 to 2008 by cutting total carbon emissions from 10.8 million tonnes to 6.5 million tonnes, while increasing sales from $150 billion to $181 billion.

The full list of Global 100 companies and details about their rankings are available at


Presidential order: Emissions cuts by 17% & 28% by 2020

Posted by admin on February 2, 2010
Posted under Express 94

Presidential order: Emissions cuts by 17% & 28% by 2020

The United States pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020 from 2005 levels under an international climate agreement, though it made its commitment contingent on passing legislation at home, while in the same week President Obama ordered his government – “the largest energy consumer” – to reduce its energy use, by cutting everything from the electricity used in office buildings to the petroleum used in fleet vehicles, in an effort to slash its greenhouse gas emissions 28% by 2020.

By Michael Burnham of Greenwire in the New York Times (29 January 2010):

President Obama ordered the government today to reduce energy use — cutting everything from the electricity used in office buildings to the petroleum used in fleet vehicles — in an effort to slash its greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent by 2020.

 ”As the largest energy consumer in the United States, we have a responsibility to American citizens to reduce our energy use and become more efficient,” Obama said in a statement. “Our goal is to lower costs, reduce pollution, and shift federal energy expenses away from oil and towards local, clean energy.”

Obama’s emissions target comes more than three months after he signed Executive Order 13514, which required each federal agency to submit a 2020 target for cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. The order also required federal agencies to conserve water, cut waste, support sustainable urban development and use their buying power to promote the growth of “environmentally responsible” products and technologies.

The nation’s largest landlord, the General Services Administration owns or leases more than 340 million square feet of office space in more than 8,500 buildings. The Energy Department estimates that all public and private buildings account for about three-quarters of the nation’s electricity consumption and half of its greenhouse emissions.

The emissions goal announced today is an aggregate of 35 agency targets, uses 2008 as a baseline and encompasses direct emissions only. The cumulative effort will cut emissions by about 88 million metric tons, energy use by about 646 trillion British thermal units, and energy costs by between $8 billion and $11 billion, Obama administration officials estimate.

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley said in a conference call with reporters.

By June, each federal agency must send the White House Office of Management and Budget a sustainability plan. Several federal agencies are already using federal stimulus money to trim their carbon footprints; their efforts include installing solar panels on rooftops and buying hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, Sutley explained.

“We believe that much of this is already paid for,” she added.

Several agencies’ emissions-reduction goals surpass the overall target. The Treasury Department plans to cut its emissions 33.3 percent during the next decade. The Defense Department plans to cut its “carbon bootprint” in noncombat areas by 34 percent, said Dorothy Robyn, the agency’s deputy undersecretary for installations and environment.

Base buildings and vehicles account for about 25 percent of DOD’s energy use but almost 40 percent of its emissions. Field operations, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, account for the bulk of DOD’s emissions. However, setting an emissions cap on those operations would “not be responsible,” she underscored.

“Energy can be a matter of life or death in a combat setting,” Robyn added.

The president’s executive order includes an exception for the Defense Department. Federal agencies should ensure that 95 percent of new contract actions — with the exception of weapons systems acquisitions — meet Energy Star and other federal energy-efficiency benchmarks. Such products should also be water-efficent, bio-based, and low or nontoxic, according to the order.

Consistent with those rules, U.S. EPA plans to buy plug-in electric cars and other alternative-energy vehicles, ultimately cutting petroleum consumption 30 percent during the next decade. The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado plans to cut data center electricity consumption by 65 percent.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management,Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, called Obama’s overall emissions-reduction target “aggressive, but realistic.”

“The best thing about reducing energy use is that it’s not just good for the environment — it saves money, too,” Carper added in a written statement.

Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope used the occasion to urge the Senate to pass legislation that would set economywide targets for cutting emissions and generating renewable energy. The House passed such a bill last summer ((H.R. 2454 (pdf)), and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are crafting companion legislation.

“In addition to slashing our dangerous dependence on oil and creating millions of new jobs, clean energy legislation will restore American industry, rebuild the middle class, and rescue our economy by putting it back on a path to long-term, sustained prosperity,” Pope said.

The United States will promise the international community that it will reduce emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, State Department climate envoy Todd Stern said yesterday. The Obama administration’s target, which comes as part of an international climate accord brokered in Copenhagen last month, is consistent with the House bill’s target (E&ENews PM, Jan. 28).


By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post (29 January 2010):

The United States pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels under an international climate agreement, though it made its commitment contingent on passing legislation at home.

The Obama administration submitted its much-anticipated reduction target to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat under the Copenhagen Accord, a non-binding deal brokered by the United States last month at the U.N.-sponsored climate talks. Under the deal President Obama helped secure in Copenhagen, major emitters of greenhouse gases are expected to “inscribe” their reduction targets by Jan. 31.

The commitment states that the United States will cut its emissions “in the range of 17 percent, in conformity with anticipated U.S. energy and climate legislation, recognizing that the final target will be reported to the Secretariat in light of enacted legislation.” It remains unclear if Congress will pass a comprehensive climate bill this year.

Ned Helme, president of the D.C.-based Center for Clean Air Policy, said as the deadline approaches, it is becoming clear that the world’s biggest carbon emitters are going to follow through on voluntary pledges they made in the run-up to last month’s talks.

“Now the smoke has cleared, people are now taking the Copenhagen Accord more seriously,” Helme said. “You’re going to see all the major players sign up.”

Several key developing nations, such as China and India, have not yet indicated what they will commit to under the agreement.

Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy on climate change, said in a statement Thursday the administration expects “that all major economies will honor their agreement in Copenhagen to submit their mitigation targets or actions as provided in the Accord.”

On the same day the United States made its pledge public, the low-lying Marshall Islands announced it would reduce emissions 40 percent by 2020 under the accord. “If one of the smallest and most vulnerable island states can take action, the largest countries have no excuse not to follow our example,” said Marshall Islands Foreign Minister John Silk.


Government Green Loans Scheme on the Mat and Counting

Posted by admin on February 2, 2010
Posted under Express 94

Government Green Loans Scheme on the Mat and Counting

One of the Rudd Government’s key climate change initiatives – the $70 Million Green Loans scheme – is close to collapse amid claims of widespread rorting and mismanagement. It will be lucky to survive past March. Similarities are already being drawn with the bungled $3.2 billion home insulation subsidy scheme, as a Senate inquiry probes accusations of malpractice, rorting and mismanagement. Tuck Thompson reports in the Courier Mail.

Tuck Thompson in the Courier Mail (30 January 2010):

ONE of the Rudd Government’s key climate change initiatives is close to collapse amid claims of widespread rorting and mismanagement.

Just six months after its launch, the $70 million Green Loans scheme to get Australians to install energy-efficient products will be lucky to survive past March without millions more in taxpayer funding.

Similarities are already being drawn between Green Loans and the Government’s bungled $3.2 billion home insulation subsidy scheme. A Senate inquiry into the insulation rebate scheme is probing accusations of malpractice, rorting and mismanagement.

The much-vaunted Green Loans program was supposed to run for three years but is being bled dry by a flurry of unregistered operators.

So far, there have been just 1000 subsidised loans approved for solar power and water-saving and energy-efficient products.

Now thousands of people who paid $3000 each to become Green Loans assessors will be thrown on the unemployment scrapheap if the scheme collapses.

Instead of using only registered training organisations, unregistered groups were allowed to conduct audit training courses, with one earning $300,000 in one weekend by packing 200 people in a class at $1500 a head.

The Opposition’s environment spokesman, Greg Hunt, yesterday called for a “full-scale investigation”, claiming the program had been a fiasco.

But the Federal Government yesterday defended the scheme, with a spokesman for Environment Minister Peter Garrett saying it had “stimulated significant growth in the market for household sustainability assessors”.

He said the scheme’s future would be considered “in the context of Budget deliberations”.

Brisbane’s Gillian Steele said she thought the project had “a lot of merit” when she paid $3000 for herself and her daughter to be trained as Green Loans assessors.

“I’m frustrated and disappointed,” she said yesterday.


Met Misses as Media Makes the Message from Monckton’s Mouth

Posted by admin on February 2, 2010
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Met Misses as Media Makes the Message from Monckton’s Mouth

Over recent months we have witnessed a sustained assault on the reputation of Australian climate scientists led by the Australian newspaper, which magnifies and gloats over every real or confected mistake by the IPCC and promotes the opinions of every mad-eyed denier, including Monckton. Throughout this trashing of scientists, the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology have been missing in action. This from Clive Hamilton.

By Clive Hamilton on (28 January 2010) says Fran Kelly on Radio National falls for Monckton’s media manipulation:

Fifty metres from where I sit at the ANU, 300 meteorologists and oceanographers are listening to the latest research on climate change at the annual conference of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.

But you wouldn’t know it. Instead of sending someone over to hear what the scientists are saying, Radio National this morning decided to give over its program to a charlatan, Lord Monckton, who expounded unchallenged his bizarre theories.

He earnestly told Fran Kelly on Radio National that decades of climate science research could not be believed because the scientists are being paid by governments and governments want to cede national sovereignty to a “world government”.

He compared climate scientists, like those at the conference next door to me, to the eugenicists of Nazi Germany and to the Soviet scientific fraud Trofim Lysenko. It was one of the most shocking slanders ever heard on the ABC.

Fran Kelly allowed Monckton to present himself as a credible scientific voice, and could not challenge his repeated absurdities. She did not ask him what his qualifications were. She did not ask him why he lied about being a member of the House of Lords, or why he claims to be a Nobel laureate.

She did not ask him about his preposterous claims to have won the Falklands war or to have invented a cure for Graves’ disease, multiple sclerosis, and HIV.

Nor did she ask Monckton why Kevin Rudd, Barack Obama and the leaders of Europe, Japan and the developing world would participate in a process designed to relinquish national sovereignty to a communist world government.

Monckton’s views are so extreme that even some of Australian’s hardened climate deniers will not go near him. Tony Abbott will not meet him. Even Barnaby Joyce regards him as too dangerous to associate with.

Janet Albrechtsen, the Australian’s right-wing attack dog, laments the fact that “…while Monckton has mastered the best arts of persuasion, he also succumbs to the worst of them when he engages in his made-for-the-stage histrionics.”

Most of Australia’s leading climate scientists have declined requests to debate Monckton on air because they understand that debating him on the science carries the implication that Monckton is a scientist with something worthwhile to say.

They also know that what Monckton lacks in credibility he more than makes up for in showmanship. In a 10-minute radio or TV debate the showman who is willing to lie brazenly will usually come out on top, especially against a scientist hamstrung by the quaint belief that truth emerges from the careful presentation of the evidence.

One of his former editors said of Monckton that he has the ability to talk nonsense in a very compelling way; some naïve members of the public lap it up.

Fran Kelly is not the only journalist suckered by the denialists, although one would expect the ABC to have a better understanding of the scam than Channel 7’s Sunrise.

Some in the profession have been known to express bewilderment at the rise and rise of climate denial. When Al Gore was interviewed on Lateline a while back, Leigh Sales spent the first half of the interview asking him to respond to the claims of the sceptics.

She then asked “Why do you think the sceptics are so influential?”, apparently unaware that she had answered her own question by spending half of the interview talking about them.


IPCC’s Heroic Days Over? What is its Future Role?

Posted by admin on February 2, 2010
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 IPCC’s Heroic Days Over? What is its Future Role?

The serious error that led to the inclusion in an IPCC report of mistaken claims about how fast Himalayan glaciers are melting is undoubtedly damaging to the panel’s reputation. But it does not in any way undermine the conclusion that human-induced climate change is happening, is dangerous and requires urgent action. But the New Scientist thinks the organisation also needs to be more focused on providing the science that will address emerging policy challenges.

Editorial in New Scientist (27 January 2010):

LET’S hear it for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A big round of applause, please. Really. It has done amazing, Herculean work.

The IPCC was tasked by the governments of the world to deliver an encyclopaedic consensus on the state of knowledge about one of the most far-reaching yet divisive questions of our time. And this grouping of thousands of scientists, taking time out from their regular jobs has, for more than two decades, delivered. Thanks to the IPCC’s work, the world’s nations have come together to decide that we must prevent our planet warming by more than 2 °C – even if achieving that goal is proving difficult, to say the least.

The serious error, reported two weeks ago, that led to the inclusion in an IPCC report of mistaken claims about how fast Himalayan glaciers are melting is undoubtedly damaging to the panel’s reputation. But it does not in any way undermine the conclusion that human-induced climate change is happening, is dangerous and requires urgent action.

However, the IPCC’s heroic days are probably over. The case for anthropogenic climate change has been established; the Nobel prize is won. So it is time for a rethink of where the IPCC is going, and what its future role should be. Two years ago, in the aftermath of the last major assessment report, many scientists argued that the task should have begun then. It is no less urgent now.

We still need the IPCC to serve as a seeker of truth whose deliberations are open to scrutiny. There is plenty of new science to assess. But it makes little sense to have to wait six years between assessments: though reflection, and time for the replication of findings, are essential, why not have an annual report?

The organisation also needs to be more focused on providing the science that will address emerging policy challenges. Its best recent work is in its special reports on topics such as aircraft emissions. A special report on geoengineering would be invaluable, as would a dispassionate assessment of how to measure and verify national greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon sinks such as soils and forests.

Should the IPCC remain as an intergovernmental body – in other words, answerable to national governments from around the world? Yes, it probably should. It was the US, during the Reagan presidency back in the 1980s,that insisted on this. At the time, many scientists were dismayed, fearing political interference in the panel’s published reports. But these fears largely failed to materialise, and the fact that national governments all sign off each report has reinforced the IPCC’s authority. But public attitudes to science are changing. The IPCC was established before the internet revolution. Like it or not, its closed world of peer review is no longer possible, let alone desirable.

The job of scientists is to test theories to destruction, which inevitably makes science adversarial at times. Dispute is good; consensus stultifies. It is neither surprising nor disturbing that disputes about the science break out, within the IPCC and outside it, and such disagreements need to be out in the open.

Many scientists were unhappy about what they saw as excessive caution in the last assessment – reflected, for instance, in under-reporting of emerging science on how disintegrating polar ice sheets might accelerate sea level rise beyond anything yet revealed in climate models. Such argument should be open to public view. A wider discussion of the uncertainties here would have been more honest and avoided giving a false reassurance.

So let the IPCC embrace such debates, rather than retreat from them in the name of spurious consensus. Climate scientists have felt under siege from critics, as leaked emails last year amply demonstrated. But that is no reason to dismiss all criticism as necessarily unwarranted, uninformed or politically motivated.

Some argue that the views of an untutored blogger, or even a scientist from another discipline, should never carry the same weight as those of someone with a lifetime’s expertise in a relevant field. But if occasionally the emperors of the lab have no clothes, someone has to say so. The wider review of science made possible by the blogosphere can improve science and foster public confidence in its methods. Scientists should welcome the outside world in to check them out. Their science is useless if no one trusts it.


Ice Energy Cools the Air On Top & Intel Puts Solar Power Inside Out

Posted by admin on February 2, 2010
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Ice Energy Cools the Air On Top & Intel Puts Solar Power Inside Out

The Southern California Public Power Authority and Ice Energy are launching a project to shift 53 megawatts of peak-time power consumption to hours of lower demand by deploying units that make and use ice to run air conditioners, while Intel, looking to be a leader in the green energy movement, is getting ready to begin construction on eight solar power installations in separate facilities in four American states.

By GreenerBuildings Staff (27 January 2010):

PASADENA, CA, and WINDSOR, CO — The Southern California Public Power Authority and Ice Energy are launching a project to shift 53 megawatts of peak-time power consumption to hours of lower demand by deploying units that make and use ice to run air conditioners.

SCPPA, which represents 11 municipal utilities and an irrigation district serving about 2 million customers, and Ice Energy, based in Colorado, announced their agreement to work on what they describe as the first utility-scale, distributed energy storage project in the United States.

“We now have a convenient and cost-effective solution for addressing peak demand,” SCPPA Energy Systems Manager David Walden said in a webcast news conference.

“This is a historic day for the utility industry and in recognition for the role that energy storage will continue play” in reducing peak demand,” said Chris Hickman, Ice Energy’s executive vice president of utility solutions.

For utilities, energy storage systems are considered key Smart Grid components because of their capacity to store energy efficiently and dispatch it when and where needed.

Founded seven years ago, Ice Energy developed its Ice Bear Distributed Energy Storage System to work with standard rooftop air conditioning units on small to midsized commercial buildings.

At night, when demand on the grid is low, the Ice Bear goes in to “ice charging” mode, freezes 450 gallons of water and stores it.

During the day when the grid reaches peak demand levels, typically between noon and 6 p.m., the Ice Bear goes into “ice cooling” mode. It takes over from the air conditioner’s energy-intensive compressor and cools the hot refrigerant using the ice made the night before. The cooling cycle lasts at least six hours until the ice completely melts, at which point the AC compressor goes back on the job and the ice making and cooling cycles begin again.

Installation for SCPPA will begin in the first half of the year and rolling deployment will take about two years. About 1,500 government, commercial and industrial buildings — retrofits and some new construction — will be involved, Hickman said.

The power authority and the company say that the project will permanently reduce demand peak electricity demand and, when complete, can shift as much as 64 gigawatt hours of on-peak consumption to off-peak times annually. The power authority estimates that the shift can offset enough peak demand to serve the equivalent of 10,000 homes.

The benefits cited include an increase in systemwide efficiency in addition to improved efficiency at the end-load or building level; increased grid reliability; better reliability for the integration of energy from renewable resources, which are intermittent and largely available at off-peak times; and a buffer for customers against prices for power during peak periods.

When asked, Walden of SCPPA said the system costs about $2,000 per kilowatt of capacity.

Ice Energy leaders said they have tested the technology with 20 utilities in the United States and Canada and they are looking forward to other major projects.

“We believe that this contract represents just the tip of the iceberg — while it’s very big for us, it’s very small compared to the problem we’re seeking to address,” said Ice Energy CEO Frank Ramirez.

In terms of energy storage systems, thermal energy storage sits at the end of the spectrum favoring capacity and usage over a period of time with flywheels providing high-end, fact-acting response and batteries filling the middle range, Hickman acknowledged.

Though Ice Energy’s applications are relatively new, thermal energy storage has been around for decades.

CALMAC, founded in 1947, has its IceBank energy storage system in place at more than 3,300 sites around the world. The New Jersey-based company and the Sarasota County School System recently announced that the Florida schools have saved more than $8 million in energy costs in the past 18 years by using the company’s thermal energy storage equipment.

In a prepared statement about the Ice Energy and SCPPA project, Jeffrey Byron of the California Energy Commission said the venture meets the state’s requirement that utilities consider energy efficiency and demand-side management solutions before investing sources of generation. “This project includes all of the aspects we look for: managing electrical consumption, improving system efficiency, reducing greenhouse gases, and creating regional jobs for our communities,” Byron said.


By Sharon Gaudin in Computerworld US (30 January 2010):

Intel, looking to be a leader in the green energy movement, is getting ready to begin construction on eight solar power installations in separate facilities in four states.

The chip maker announced this week that one solar installation will go up in New Mexico, two in Arizona, two in California and three in Oregon. With building contracts in place and required permits obtained for nearly all the projects, construction is expected to begin within a week and a half, according to Marty Sedler, Intel’s director of Global Utilities and Infrastructure.

“We’re extremely excited,” Sedler told Computerworld . “We’ve been buying renewable energy for a few years now. That was kind of our first step in trying to demonstrate some leadership. That was good, but it was always the intention that we would follow that up with more action… It’s certainly the right thing to do, in terms of leadership in helping the environment and sustainability. It’s good for our shareholders and employees… really everyone.”

Sedler noted that the largest installation, planned for Folsom, Calif. , is designed to be a 1-megawatt solar field covering six acres. The smallest installation will produce 100 kilowatts and will cover 13,000 square feet of a rooftop on an Intel campus building.

All of the energy produced by the solar arrays will be used by the Intel facilities on site.

“People don’t really understand how land-intensive these projects are,” Sedler said. “It’s a lot of space. It’s difficult for people to do really large projects. If we’re talking about property on a particular business campus, it’s tough.”

He declined to say how much Intel is paying for the eight different construction projects, which he said should be wrapped up by this coming June. Weather in Oregon could delay those three projects, he noted.

The arrays, at best, will supply about 7% of the energy each facility consumes every year, Sedler said. Together, they should produce enough energy to power 9,000 average U.S. homes. They also should reduce carbon emissions to equal taking 600 cars off the roads.

Intel has been putting some focus on green technologies and the environment.

Last July, Intel announced it had invested $10 million in five companies that develop technologies to reduce electric bills and greenhouse gas emissions in homes and data centers.

Intel Capital, the company’s investment arm, has invested in companies that develop technology to enable active monitoring of electricity usage in homes and data centers.


Indonesia Green Investment Fund Will Drive Emission Cuts of 26%

Posted by admin on February 2, 2010
Posted under Express 94

Indonesia Green Investment Fund Will Drive Emission Cuts of 26%

Hoping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign Governments, Indonesia’s “Green Investment Fund” will finance an ambitious development programme designed to simultaneously boost economic growth while reducing emissions blamed for climate change. Expressions of interest have already come from United Kingdom, Australia, France, Japan and the United States

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia is hoping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign governments to fund “green infrastructure” projects, a finance ministry official said Wednesday.

The “Green Investment Fund” would finance an ambitious development programme designed to simultaneously boost economic growth while reducing emissions blamed for climate change, senior investment official Langgeng Subur said.

Letters promoting the fund had been sent to several embassies in Jakarta, and Britain had already expressed its willingness to participate, he said.

“So far, the UK has replied saying it’s ready to assist. It has also stated an amount but at this point I won’t reveal how much,” he told AFP.

Expressions of interest also had come from countries including Australia, France, Japan and the United States, he added.

“It’s still in the early stages but we plan to launch it this year,” Subur said.

“The fund will help to drive infrastructure developments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia is committed to fulfilling our target of cutting emissions by 26 percent by 2020.”

Edward Gustely, a foreign adviser to the finance ministry, said the goal was to raise a billion dollars with an initial deposit of 100 million dollars from the Indonesian government.

“What we want to do is to scale greater investment in green infrastructure and market deployment of clean technology to address immediate and future needs of climate change,” he said.

“Our goal is to launch it within this year but we don’t know how fast we can do this.”

Projects eligible for the funds would be things like new geothermal or hydro power stations, bio-waste technologies and water distribution projects — which might struggle to raise capital through market channels, he said.

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, thanks mainly to massive deforestation for the timber trade and to make way for palm oil plantations.

Greenpeace awarded Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono the “World Cup of Forest Destruction” on Tuesday as the real football Jules Rimet Trophy passed through Jakarta.

Environmentalists say the government has done almost nothing to stop deforestation — much of it illegal and linked to corrupt officials — which would go a long way to achieving its emissions targets.

A report by Human Rights Watch last month said corruption in the Indonesian forestry sector cost the government two billion dollars a year and supported a lucrative black market in timber products.

The US-based watchdog said graft would undermine Indonesia’s ability to attract foreign finance for greenhouse mitigation schemes like reduced deforestation.

But Gustely said the Indonesian government was strongly committed to “seriously address the effects of climate change and… reduce its current emissions”.

Countries which invested in the proposed fund would measure returns on the basis of “verification of greenhouse gas reductions”, he added.


Korean-Queensland Partnership for Smart Grid, Smart City Solar Bid

Posted by admin on February 2, 2010
Posted under Express 94

Korean-Queensland Partnership for Smart Grid, Smart City Solar Bid

A Queensland Government consortium has launched a bid for A$100 million in federal funds to build a demonstration smart electricity grid for Australia. Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Stephen Robertson said Queensland’s demonstration grid would show how promising new technologies could be successfully applied to the Australian lifestyle, climate and geography.

Government announcement (28 January 2010):

Queensland bid for smart grid dollars

A Queensland Government consortium has today launched a bid for $100 million in federal funds to build a demonstration smart electricity grid for Australia.

Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Stephen Robertson said Queensland’s demonstration grid would show how promising new technologies could be successfully applied to the Australian lifestyle, climate and geography.

He said a sustainable future electricity industry would require better use of renewable energy sources and greater understanding of how we use energy.

“The Queensland Smart Communities bid would incorporate renewable energy technologies into the electricity network, along with information technology that will help consumers make better-informed and smarter choices about their energy use,” Mr Robertson said.

“New technologies include a solar thermal storage technology pilot, which captures heat from the sun and stores it for future electricity generation.

“Another technology to be trialled is the coupling of solar photo-voltaics with applications that will fit them to modern power grids, proving their worth as a reliable source of clean, green energy,” he said.

The Federal Government’s $100 million National Energy Efficiency Initiative will gather data for a broader industry rollout of smart grids in Australia and build awareness of the economic, technological and environmental benefits.

The Queensland Smart Communities bid was developed by an alliance between the Queensland Government Office of Clean Energy and electricity provider ENERGEX, led by regional electricity provider Ergon Energy.

“If the bid is successful, the CSIRO and Queensland’s tertiary sector will share in our expanding energy efficiency knowledge through real-life trials, with demonstrable community outcomes,” Mr Robertson said.

“The Queensland Smart Communities bid proposes to build a large-scale demonstration Smart Grid, Smart City project in Townsville, with several stand-alone smart grid projects at Zillmere (in Brisbane’s north) and Toowoomba,” he said.

“Technologies to be deployed in Townsville would bring a number of new benefits – from giving electricity suppliers a better picture of customer electricity use, to automatically diverting around network faults and allowing a faster response to outages.

“The Korean Government-owned electricity giant KEPCO has earlier this week agreed to work with Queensland Smart Communities consortium, exchanging knowledge on smart grid technologies.

“We hope this will create business opportunities to help power developing Asian economies within defined carbon emissions targets,” Mr Robertson said.

The Federal Government will announce the winning bid of its National Energy Efficiency Initiative in April, with funds to be released in July 2010.