This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.


A ‘Dow Jones’ For Climate: The Case for a Warming Index

A 'Dow Jones' For Climate:
The Case for a Warming Index

If a cap-and-trade bill passes Congress this year, it may include weak emissions targets and will likely need to be strengthened in the years to come. One way to guide future policy: create a Global Climate Change Index that could be used to track global warming's impacts.
by daniel r. abbasi

With the health care overhaul now consuming Washington, we are once again at risk of seeing the issue of climate change displaced from the national agenda. So, even if the U.S. Senate manages to adhere to its intended schedule by taking up the historic House-passed cap-and-trade bill in September, will the congressional leadership and the president have enough political capital to steer two economy-transforming bills to passage at once?

Many expect any climate change bill that survives this high-stakes moment to be weakened to the point that it will not achieve the scientifically grounded objective of avoiding dangerous global warming. Chief among the concerns is that the bill's emissions reduction targets won't be steep enough. After all,
the House bill's targets were weakened by the horse-trading that enabled its passage, and many expect the Senate to weaken them further.

Yet tucked away in the bill is a little-discussed, but ultimately crucial, provision informally referred to as the "scientific look-back." And that measure, strengthened by a nascent idea to create something I call the Global Climate Change Index (GCCI), could put teeth back into the legislation that will limp across the line in Congress.

The so-called look-back provision calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to report to Congress in 2013 on the latest scientific developments and emissions-reducing solutions. The National Academies of Science would review those findings one year later. These reviews would be repeated every four years, assessing whether the U.S. climate program is on track to hit its emissions targets and whether those targets should be altered.

The President could then recommend changes to Congress, but given the track record of congressional inaction on this issue, it's anyone's guess

An index could be used to obligate the President to tighten greenhouse gas emissions targets.
whether Congress would again act to tighten emissions targets. So the look-back provision, as it now stands, must be substantially strengthened in the bill being debated this fall. Otherwise it will mandate an impressive succession of reports, but no real action to keep our emissions targets and other action in line with the latest science.

This is a gap a well-designed Global Climate Change Index would fill. A group of top scientists would be charged with devising a continuously updated index of measurable climate change impacts to inform policy makers, business people, and the public at large about the severity and pace of climate change, and to provide guidance on whether caps on carbon should be raised or lowered. Think of it as a kind of Dow Jones Index for global warming.

The GCCI could be used to obligate the President to tighten greenhouse gas emissions targets if climate change impacts intensify, without requiring elusive future legislative action by Congress. The index's objectivity would help ensure that future changes in climate policy would be rooted in scientific data, and — as much as possible in a democracy — insulated from political calculations. Businesses, for their part, would have no grounds to complain about unanticipated toughening of emissions targets because they, too, would be able to continuously monitor the GCCI.

Among the data that could be used to compile the index and related sub-indices are the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, average global temperature, length and intensity of extreme heat days, frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, extent and thickness of sea ice and glaciers, changes in ice sheet volume, rate of sea level rise, incidence of climate-sensitive disease, ocean acidification, incidence of drought and flooding, and extent of permafrost thawing.

Scientists would need to design the index to winnow out variables prone to misleading, short-term oscillations. But, based on preliminary consultations with scientists, there appear to be enough reasonably stable indicators to choose from — especially if global averages are used — to smooth out much of the geographic variability.

The GCCI would have a timeliness lacking in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC produces voluminous reports every six years that are summarized for policy-makers and briefly contemplated by the public, but have patently failed to mobilize policy action commensurate to the threats they document. The GCCI would create a middle ground between the massive, episodic, and often-impenetrable texts like the IPCC report and the oversimplified news stories about the latest ice bridge collapse in Antarctica that lack context on the overall climate change problem.

Some might argue that monitoring the new index would impose an additional burden on businesses in an area in which they have little experience. But that is precisely the point. Executives today currently track dozens of macroeconomic indicators and government reports on the health

This index would eliminate the fiction that environmental indicators are separate from our economy.
of the economy — such as GDP, consumer prices, payroll numbers, housing starts, exchange rates, and interest rates — to inform their planning and investment decisions. This GCCI would eliminate the fiction that environmental indicators are ancillary or separate from our economy, and instead treat it as a core measure. In fact, as global warming intensifies, climate change is unfortunately going to impinge much more directly on business decisions, and smart executives are going to have little choice but to enhance their scientific literacy.

This proposal for a GCCI is distinct from the recent call by the
director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, Jane Lubchenco, to create a National Climate Service (NCS). Now included in the bill before the Senate, the NCS would translate climate impacts down to the regional and local level to help government officials, communities, and businesses react to climate impacts, such as whether to harden a power plant against weather disruption or where to site a wind farm. The GCCI would focus instead on global and national trends and would be primarily used to determine whether our national climate policies should be more (or less) stringent.

In initial consultations, some scientists have expressed legitimate concerns that reducing mounds of complex climate change data to a single number runs a serious risk of oversimplification and misuse. They point out that it will also be difficult in the short term to distinguish climate change impacts from natural variability in weather. There is no substitute, they argue, for the interpretive lens of a scientist as a guide to decision-making. This concern reinforces the importance of not having the GCCI mechanically drive future adjustments of emissions targets, but rather create a guide to action that could be modified by supplementary expert information.

It should also be noted that climate change scientists have so far confronted society with an opposite — and equally insidious — problem: In their scrupulousness to accurately reflect the complexity of climate change when communicating with the public and decision makers, scientists have overwhelmed many people, who have tuned out the science and relegated climate change to a matter of ideological opinion rather than fact.

Some argue that the GCCI would be intrinsically out of date, given that climate change impacts are always a time-lagged response to earlier

We should develop a mechanism to help people grasp the evolving risk of climate change and the rationale for carbon caps.
emissions. This could be addressed by including in the index not only current indicators of global impacts, but also average projections from a carefully chosen set of authoritative climate models — for example, the latest estimates of temperature sensitivity to a projected doubling or tripling of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases over pre-industrial levels.

In addition to the GCCI, we should develop a mechanism to communicate its significance to the general public, helping people grasp the evolving risk of climate change and the rationale for carbon caps that will affect the price of energy.

One related idea could be similar to the seven-story electronic "carbon counter" that Deutsche Bank erected in June in New York City. The counter displays the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere, with 800 tons being added per second due to our industrial activities. The


In June, Deutsche Bank introduced a real-time carbon counter outside Madison Square Garden in New York.

whirring numbers are a tangible way of driving home to the public the ceaseless momentum with which we are emitting planet-warming gases. This is a big contribution to public understanding, but it portrays only the cause — not the consequences — of global warming.

To fill that "consequence gap," we could display the GCCI by installing massive "global warning clocks" in major city squares worldwide. Such clocks would include numerical counters of greenhouse gas emissions – perhaps for that city and country, as well as globally – and juxtaposed above these numerical displays would loom the arresting centerpiece of the installation: a large, slowly rotating three-dimensional globe depicting planet Earth and real-time images — including satellite photographs — of the climate change impacts associated with each component of the GCCI.

The globe could also display computer simulations of past and future climates under different emissions scenarios. Few simulations are more sobering than watching the Arctic ice cap, a vital planetary air conditioner, largely disappear — as it is expected to do this century — while the interior of North America becomes a dark red, reflecting extreme temperatures and drought. This visualization of a future of unabated climate change would carry some urgent motivational power for those who observe it.

Innovations like the Global Climate Change Index and global warning clocks can help society confront the scientific truths that are writing our destiny. Indeed, the global warning clocks should be designed to tap the full spectrum of human motivations. Once each evening, the globe's sobering procession of climate change indicators should be suspended. In their place, an arresting image of Earth from space would appear, with our blue, cloud-swirled planet reminding us of the beauty of what we have, and what is at risk.

POSTED ON 24 Aug 2009 IN
Climate Policy & Politics North America 

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I am an enthusiast for raising public consciousness about climate change. Dan Abbasi's article advocating an innovative 'Dow Jones" index for climate change expresses an admirable sense of flexibility in what climate information would be presented and how it would be displayed. I like that.

I am also in favor of any ideas leading to reductions in science illiteracy. I think that continuing public education about climate change is key. For example, Dan Abbasi mentions "the Arctic ice cap, a vital planetary air conditioner." However, I suspect that the typical man in the street has no clear idea why the Arctic ice cap is vital or exactly how it acts as an air conditioner, among its important functions. Many people might think that getting rid of the Arctic ice cap would be terrific idea, opening up the fabled Northwest Passage to shipping, for example.

I think medical analogies are useful here, as is often the case in discussing climate change. People are used to getting all kinds of medical data at their annual checkup: weight and blood pressure and pulse, certainly, and maybe other numbers that people have learned something about, like cholesterol. But think of all those additional mysterious numbers that routinely come back from laboratory analyses of blood and urine, for example. How many of them are meaningful to lay people? And then think of the chest x-rays and mammograms that require a specialist to interpret. How many lay people are able to listen knowledgeably through a simple stethoscope? There is just no substitute for medical expertise. We trust our physicians to
interpret our data and to explain the implications to us.

Climate scientists are planetary physicians. Yet many people don't realize that and don't trust climate scientists or believe climate research. An active, highly professional, well-funded misinformation campaign encourages this distrust and denial. It is as though modern medical science were opposed by an energetic association of quacks and charlatans encouraging lay people to ignore their physicians. The subject is not helped by those irresponsible elements of the media that still frame climate change as a "debate" among quarreling scientific experts.

I think it is critical to vigorously refute the climate disinformation campaign and to explain convincingly how science has shown that climate change is real and serious. This message has to be reinforced and repeated constantly for many years, until almost everybody gets it, just as it took decades for the anti-smoking campaigns to be effective despite the disinformation efforts waged by big tobacco. Climate scientists themselves have a responsibility to take part in
this critical educational effort.

Once people are overwhelmingly persuaded of the significance and implications of climate change observations and research, then they will pay much more attention to imaginative efforts that convey the latest climate data vividly in real time. They will come to realize that climate change is already affecting everyone and that each of us has a huge stake in it. After all, who cares most about the Dow Jones and other stock indexes? Answer: people who have their money invested in the stock market.

Richard C. J. Somerville
Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Posted by Richard C. J. Somerville on 25 Aug 2009

A Climate Change Index is a brilliant idea but not good enough since the more efficient way to encourage people involving in the battle on Climate Change is to develop several voluntary carbon emissions exchanges in major industrialized countries and emerging countries. If people around the world can freely trade their personal carbon emissions reduction credits (verification of course is required), then without education on Climate Change, people will automatically try to reduce their personal carbon emissions to make money. Once a small group of people can get benefit from their involvement of carbon emissions reduction, more and more people will join the "market." So, the crucial point is how can we design a market institution which enables millions of participants to get benefit is thousand times more efficient than advocating public awareness on Climate Change. Nevertheless, emphasize on school education on Climate Change is much more effective than educating adults.

Posted by Feng Wang on 26 Aug 2009

This is a very intriguing communications innovation. But whether the GCCI exhibits a clear trend underlying the stochastic flutter of component indicators may depend on the details of its algorithms and construction.

And the GCCI trend would not help much with signaling possible approaches to thresholds of acute climate change, much like the Dow doesn't reveal lurking financial crises (indeed, can mask them, as we recently saw). Here the old Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of American Scientists , an index for assaying the risk of nuclear war and set by judgment of an expert panel, had much to recommend it as a public alert.

Good luck with the project.
Paul Raskin
Tellus Instittue

Posted by Paul Raskin on 27 Aug 2009

Increased energy efficiency not only helps industries save energy and money, it reduces their emission amounts.

Natural Gas Energy Efficiency is one method that is not heard of a lot. Most of our industries and also our government institutions consume natural gas to heat space and to produce steam and hot water, to process foods and beverages and textiles, and pharmaceuticals.

All of these natural gas appliances have a chimney, where 20% or more of all the natural gas consumed by these units is being blown into the atmosphere as HOT exhaust.

The technology of "condensing flue gas heat recovery" is designed to increase the energy efficiency of the natural gas appliances to over 90 percent. These appliances would then be venting COOL exhaust, and creating water that can also be utilized.

Hundreds of lbs/hr of CO2 would not be emitted into the atmosphere, per appliance.

Posted by Sid Abma on 27 Aug 2009

Geothermal is leaving Wind, Solar in the dust
Geothermal is leaving Wind, Solar in the dust

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Geothermal is leaving Wind, Solar in the dust

by Emma Ritch, Cleantech Group
GLOBE-Net (August 25, 2009) - Just $3.3 billion in R&D spending could propel geothermal energy to be the cheapest energy technology, even beating fossil fuels on a cost-per-kilowatt-hour basis, according to a new study.
The report from Melissa Schilling, a professor at New York University at Stern, indicates that geothermal has surpassed wind as the most efficient alternative energy technology. In addition, geothermal technology is improving at the fastest rate, the report says.
Those accomplishments are even more noteworthy considering that geothermal has been underfunded by the government and private sectors, indicating that geothermal has the biggest impact among alternative energies for each dollar of R&D spending, she said.
"Current capacity doesn't give you that much insight into what technology will win the race," Schilling said. "Instead, investors should be looking at the shape of the performance trajectory."
The study included data from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory on the cost per kilowatt-hour at active power generation projects in 2005:
Geothermal, $0.031 to $0.08
Wind, $0.043 to $0.055 
Biomass, $0.066 to $0.08
Solar, $0.11 to $0.31
Hydroelectric, $0.006 
Coal $0.021
Nuclear, $0.022  
Schilling's study examines various energy technologies and tracks their S-curves, which plot the performance of technology against the money invested to reveal the biggest technological payoffs. Schilling determined that geothermal is on track for significant future improvements in technology that will reduce the cost further.
Wind energy is just a few cents more than geothermal, but "the performance trajectory of wind is already slowing, while geothermal is exponentially increasing," Schilling said.
Meanwhile, solar lags significantly behind both technologies in cost  and projected improvement, according to the study. Hydroelectric is cheap but geographically constrained, while wave and tidal technologies are too immature to provide concrete data on cost, she said. Biomass is too land- and water-intensive to be competitive, she said.
"The findings are very surprising because most people are not paying attention to geothermal," she said. "We went into this really rooting for wind and solar, probably because they're the ones you hear about the most, and they're received a lot of investment, particularly solar."
The study also looked at fossil fuels, noting little-to-no improvement in efficiencies despite continued government investment. Schilling said the findings indicate that traditional fossil fuels have likely reached their performance limits.
Schilling called for governments to invest more evenly across energy technologies, calling both geothermal and wind underfunded relative to solar and fossil fuels.
"It doesn't make that much sense to be putting that much money in fossil fuels," she said. "If that money were directed to geothermal, it could move a lot faster. Solar is so far away from being cost effective, and tremendously far away from being efficient. Right now the bigger and quicker payoff is geothermal."
Last year, Google announced plans to invest $10 million in enhanced geothermal systems and to pressure the federal government to provide more funding for the sector (see Google pushes for enhanced geothermal). 
Two other recent studies also touted the benefits of geothermal (see MIT report says geothermal power not to be ignored and New USGS study pumps geothermal).
Schilling's study took into account the two types of geothermal technologies: hydrothermal and hot dry rock. Hydrothermal, also called hot water, is much cheaper right now because it's an easier technology, but its growth is limited because it's geographically constrained, she said. Hot dry rock is more complicated and more expensive but can be developed anywhere in the U.S., she said. The U.S. has enough hot dry rock resources to serve as the primary energy source for 30,000 years, the report said.
The study was based on the amount of public-sector spending on each technology, as well as the NREL's aggregate data on the cost per kilowatt-hour at active power generation projects, providing more accurate results than looking at individual companies' claims, Schilling said.
While most of the projects are located in the United States, the findings can be applied to other countries because the U.S. has broad spectrum of geographical terrains that can be found elsewhere, she said.
"It's not representative of the world, but the U.S. is not a specialized part of the world," she said. "At the end of the day, a certain cents-per-kilowatt-hour in Kansas would be the same as in Europe."
Schilling said that the projected growth trajectories could change if governments adjust their renewable energy spending. Additionally, an advantage for solar and wind is that they can be enacted on a small scale, while geothermal requires significant upfront investment and transmission lines. However, the study cites a report from NREL suggesting that the cost to build transmission lines is often overstated.
"I would not count wind out. I think it's a good idea to have a slightly diversified energy portfolio," she said. "But wind and geothermal are in a completely different class than solar thermal and solar photovoltaics. It will be a long time before they could be competitive."
Schilling said she's already working on a study to explain why certain energy technologies receive more attention and investment.
One factor, she said, could be whether existing companies would benefit from the emergence of a new industry with closely related technologies. She referenced semiconductor makers such as Applied Materials turning to solar, and turbine engine makers such as General Electric or Siemens embracing wind. However, the companies most equipped to develop geothermal are oil and gas developers, who would benefit the least from geothermal's success, she said.

Closing the carbon chasm

Closing the carbon chasm
By Ted Samson
Created 2009-08-26 03:00AM

An urgent deadline is approaching, one that the inhabitants of this little blue-green planet are on track to miss. Unfortunately, the consequences of letting this deadline slide by are likely far more dire than a citation or a fine. Think cataclysmic.

The deadline in question: The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) stated in 2007 that by 2050, developed economies must reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions by at least 80 percent in order to avoid dangerous climate change. Yet despite the efforts of global companies to cut emissions, Earthlings aren't on pace to meet the necessary reductions in GHGs until 2089, 39 years too late.

[ Follow IT's battle against global climate change [1]. | Learn about the inexact science of carbon neutrality [2]. ]

Such are the findings of "The Carbon Chasm" [PDF] [3], a report released this week by The Carbon Disclosure Project, a nonprofit organization that holds the largest database of corporate climate change information in the world. The report, written in conjunction with BT and drawing on data from and interviews with companies such as Cisco, Microsoft [4], IBM, and Nokia, isn't entirely doom and gloom. It provides recommendations for organizations to develop and hone GHG-reduction targets to help the global community meet the critical 2050 deadline.

One of the key recommendations from the CDP report: Every company should set a CO2-e (carbon dioxide equivalent, which covers the six major greenhouse gases, normalized to CO2) reduction target. As it stands, companies establish various types of goals that can fall under the umbrella of environmental stewardship. Some measure in terms of CO2 reduction ("We'll shrink our annual carbon emissions by X percent by 2015"), whereas others measure in terms of energy consumption ("We'll reduce energy consumption by X percent by 2015") or energy efficiency. Some organizations establish more than one type of target, though among the CDP's Global 100, CO2-e targets are most popular; 62 percent of the targets are CO2-related, compared to 15 percent based on energy consumption and 9 percent based on energy efficiency.

Yes, cutting GHG emissions is generally intertwined with reducing energy consumption or boosting energy efficiency. Using the latter as a target is "often favored because of the more direct link to reduction in energy costs as well as emissions." But by setting a clear target for shrinking your organization's carbon footprint, you elevate the critical task of cutting carbon emissions from a by-product to a key business priority.

Setting a target and tracking your progress does require rolling up your sleeves and digging into your organization's operations. As with any green project, measurement is critical to setting a starting point, developing targets, and assessing progress. It starts with establishing your baseline, then identifying hotspots for emissions reductions. Selecting a methodology and target scope follows, then you set your target.

According to the CDP, "most companies use the measurement process to identify the highest impact areas or best opportunities for reduction and targets are developed from there. The other major consideration ... is the assessment of what is reasonable, aggressive and achievable and will have the highest impact from an emissions-reduction perspective." Technology offerings from companies such as CA [5] and Microsoft [6] have emerged of late to help organizations measure and track eco-oriented projects.

Setting targets -- particularly specific targets over a long period of time -- can be a real challenge. For example, organizations must determine whether to set absolute missions reduction targets or intensity emissions reduction targets. An absolute target is firm -- that is, X tons of CO2 in 5 years. An intensity percentage target refers to a goal to "reduce over time the ratio of emissions relative to a business metric " such as revenue, sales, or production unit.

There are pros and cons to both types of targets. Absolute targets are clear and transparent -- but can be potentially restrictive to business growth. After all, if your organization enjoys a significant growth spurt, it's probable that you'll need to use more electricity, fuel, and/or other carbon-producing resources. Thus, you might face the choice of restricting growth or breaking a pledge to cut GHG emissions.

An intensity percentage target is vague and potentially unappealing to shareholders. However, it's flexible in that it allows for growth and even a potential increase in emissions. (The CDP found that among the Global 100, absolute targets outnumber intensity targets at a nearly two-to-one ratio.)

[ Last November, IBM reported cuts in energy consumption but increased carbon emissions [7]. ]

One final observation from the report: Long-term planning is essential, yet only "84 percent of target deadlines are set to 2012 or before. [This] suggests that businesses are waiting to hear outcomes of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen [8] this December, before setting longer-term reduction goals." Given that companies aren't looking far into the future when setting their carbon-reduction goals, the CDP suggests, "Governments need to agree on clear medium- and long-term reduction goals in Copenhagen to provide a framework for business to set required targets to stimulate companies to embrace longer-term targets."

[ Governments already have gotten involved [9] in steering companies toward cutting CO2 emissions. ]

Heartening though it may be to see more and more companies worldwide rising to the challenge to reduce GHG emissions -- sometimes prodded by customers, governmental bodies, or stockholders -- there's clearly plenty more work that needs to be done. 2050 may seem like a far-away date, and I certainly concede that the IPCC's deadline may be off by a decade. Maybe we'll know more in December as to what needs to be done by when.

In the meantime, it's incumbent on organizations to work harder to cut emissions and to be better environmental stewards -- and not necessarily because the government is telling them to. Yes, there are often cost savings and other potential business benefits associated with reducing CO2 emissions. Preserving the planet, however, is the biggest benefit of all.

Related content:
IT versus global climate change [10]
With a carbon cap-and-trade system on the horizon and the effects of climate change being felt, IT has a chance to shine

The inexact science of carbon neutrality [11]
Still in its early stages, carbon neutrality is a challenging and questionable achievement

Microsoft plans to reduce carbon footprint by 30 percent [12]
The company says it will achieve the reduction by improving energy use in buildings and operations, reducing air travel, and increasing its use of renewable energy

Microsoft offers tool to calculate carbon footprint [13]
New toolset for Dynamics AX is aimed at letting small to medium-size businesses figure out their environmental impact

Keep green projects on course [14]
CA's ecoSoftware equips organization with comprehensive tools to measure and manage green projects

IBM cuts energy consumption, increases carbon emissions [15]
Big Blue cites business growth as reason for C02 increase

A call to arms: IT must prepare for datacenter regulation [16]
Datacenter operators must unite to prevent senseless regulations limiting CO2 emissions

Green IT
carbon emissions
Initiatives and regulations

Source URL (retrieved on 2009-08-28 09:55AM):


Fw: Upgrading data centres can slash electricity costs

Thanks to Jim for sending it on

National Post column today – see  

Upgrading data centres can slash electricity costs
Jim Harris,  Financial Post 

Data centres consume 10 to 30 times more energy per square foot than regular office space, and at the extreme, up to 100 times more electricity. And the power consumed by data centres is rising exponentially.
Not only are companies adding more servers, the servers consume more power. The power consumed by an average server jumped from 150 watts in 1996 to 400W in 2006; total electricity consumed by data centres doubled between 2000 and 2005. By 2011, lifetime energy costs for powering and cooling servers will equal 71% of the server hardware costs.
U. S. data centres consumed 61 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2006, at a cost of $4.5-billion. This is projected to increase to 100 billion kWh in 2011, requiring another 10 power plants to be built. But all this could be avoided if data centres began virtualizing.
Distributed Wintel servers are energy inefficient, with utilization rates typically of 3% to 5%. By contrast, virtualized mainframes typically operate at more than 80% capacity.
IBM, the largest operator of data centres worldwide, is taking the applications on 3,900 distributed Wintel servers and virtualizing them on to 33 Linux system Z servers-- saving more than $450-million by 2013. By then, IBM will be saving five billion kWh a year. The savings are significant: an 80% reduction in electricity costs, 85% reduction in data centre square footage and 99% reduction in software licensing costs.
Cutting licensing costs is the kicker that's not immediately apparent whenconsidering savings. But think about it: 3,900 servers regularly need their operating systems patched and updated. A significant portion of an IT team's focus is on this non-value-added work.
Data centres are huge heat generators. Wherever electricity is burned, heat follows. So for each $1 that a data centre spends on a server it has to spend an equal amount on the capital and operating cost for the cooling system. Data centres require massive chillers.
Data centres also require massive, uninterruptable power supplies and back-up generators. So cutting energy use on the servers side has a significant multiplier effect because chilling and UPS requirements can be cut. These are the hidden savings become apparent through virtualizing.
The distributed server environment is grossly inefficient, and not only in terms of electricity use. Put another way: energy efficiency cost savings multiply quickly. A watt of power saved in consumption saves at two watts for cooling and power management.
It's vital to understand the forces slowing IT organizations from becoming dramatically more energy efficient: Measurement If an organization can't measure its electricity use it can't manage it. A significant number of CIOs don't even know how much power their operations consume because the facilities department pays for electricity.
Misalignment Why would an IT department go to the effort and cost of dramatically reducing electricity consumption if facilities receives the economic benefit?
Aligning goals Until energy efficiency is embedded in IT professionals' departmental and personal performance goals, data centres will remain grossly energy inefficient.
IT professionals may resist virtualization, thinking: "Virtualizing can reduce the number of servers by 99%, but what will happen to my IT staff?" In truth, IT professionals' role will become far more exciting. Instead of doing low-level work such as cabling and patching, they will be engaged in essential work adding to the bottom line -- by working with lines of business so that IT can become an real driver of growth.
Jim Harris is the author of Blindsided!, a No. 1 international bestseller, and a Toronto-based management consultant. His new book, A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste, will be published in 2010. You can reach him at



Recent columns:

Going Green Pays Dividends . . . . . . . . . . . .
Savings rise with efficient escalators . . .  . . .
Oil prices force turn to green . . . . . . . . . . . .

White roofs save a trillion . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

Electronic devices wastes billions when "off" .

HDTVs create Super Bowl super spike . . . . .

Prius taxis save >$11,000 year in gas costs .

Dell saving $1.8M/yr turning off PCs at night .

Canada most energy inefficient of OECD . . .






Green newsclips for August 27, 2009: Only 5% of firms have a Chief Environmental Officer and few are ready for carbon disclosure, but they need to move twice as fast on climate change and might be able to do so by coating their buildings with slime. On another note, history can't teach us how to farm anymore.

Only 12% of Major Firms have Executive Team for Sustainability

road1Many large corporations are merely paying lip service to their environmental policies, according to a new report from the Sustainable Enterprise Institute.

Among companies in the Russell 1000 Index, only 125 have an executive level committee with responsibility for corporate social responsibility or environmental, health and safety oversight, according to "The Road Not Yet Taken" report (PDF).

Only 54 of the firms, or just above 5 percent, have a "C" level executive responsible for such oversight.

About 60 percent of the firms have company-wide environmental policies, although very few of those firms have formalized documents on the topic. Instead, most firms address CSR or EHS in a CSR report or language on the company Web site, with many of them "not particularly substantive" according to the report.

This table shows the extent to which corporate environmental policies adhere to industry-standard definitions of sustainability.

road2To completely and adequately address environmental concerns, the Sustainable Business Index suggests that firms' policies have these six elements:
1.        Board of directors has responsibility for the environmental policy.
2.        Policy specifically applies to all company operations.
3.        Policy includes commitments to quantifiable goals or targets.
4.        A commitment to public reporting.
5.        Policy addresses pollutant emissions.
6.        Policy addresses conservation of energy and/or water.

Only 40 percent of the firms in the Russell 1000 Index have at least one of the above aspects. Only eight firms have all six elements in their policy. Here's a table illustrating firms' commitment levels.


Carbon Disclosure Demands on the Rise: Is Your Organization Ready?
George Ahn

george-ahn2Home Depot battled negative headlines in May when shareholders voted down a resolution to enforce more rigid and transparent energy efficiency measures. The resolution proposed that the organization assess company-wide energy use from its buildings, transportation and supply chain. It also urged Home Depot to set energy use reduction targets and report findings and progress to shareholders.

While the measure did not pass, it received support from the $20 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust, the advisory firm RiskMetrics Group (RMG), and other investors in the $7 trillion Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR). Despite the outcome, the resolution foreshadows a future in which shareholders increasingly require reports on energy efficiency improvements and climate change risk. Organizations that fail to put the right systems in place today to meet these reporting requirements will suffer.

Findings from CERES, a coalition of investors, environmentalists and public interest groups, report that "the resolution filed with Home Depot is one of a record 67 global warming resolutions filed with 58 U.S. companies and two Canadian companies as part of the 2009 proxy season." The findings confirm that companies must start to disclose risks from climate change now and provide stakeholder groups with a plan to mitigate those risks.

Further, despite the evidence that climate change disclosure will quickly transition from a proposal to an imperative, many companies have not started to track or abate their carbon emissions.

In fact, according to a 2009 report co-authored by CERES, over 76 percent of the S&P 500 fail to even mention climate change in SEC filings. This is surprising given that, according to a September 2008 McKinsey survey of 1,453 international executives, 50 percent said that environmental issues ranked among the top three areas that would most affect shareholder value in the next five years. While organizations appreciate investors' concerns, they often lack the tools necessary to address them.

Further evidence that organizations will face more stringent demands from shareholders comes from INCR, an alliance of over 80 institutional investors and financial firms that collectively manage more than $7 trillion in assets. INCR has suggested that congress mandate climate change disclosure in SEC filings, and INCR Director and CERES President Mindy Lubber states, "climate change is a bottom line issue and investors have a right to know which companies are best positioned for the emerging clean energy global economy."

To meet shareholder climate risk reporting requirements, organizations need technology that not only measures their current carbon footprint, but also manages abatement opportunities, facilitates emissions reduction initiatives and tracks progress and ROI. To gain a sense of where and how to start reporting, consider real estate. Buildings represent 48 percent of energy consumption and present the most significant opportunities to reduce environmental impact, improve operating costs, and demonstrate carbon reduction accountability.

With a technology framework that can identify underperforming building locations, provide a set of analysis tools to evaluate different carbon reduction options, and manage those options through to completion, organizations can address even the most exacting shareholder resolutions.

Investors will use a number of tools to determine how well companies address risks from climate change, including the Global Framework for Climate Change Disclosure, the Carbon Disclosure Project, CERES, and SEC Filings. Companies should seek out technology solutions that provide flexible reporting platforms to facilitate carbon reporting to multiple agencies. All else being equal, companies that adequately disclose and address risks from climate change will be rewarded with higher valuations and a lower cost of capital.

As your organization evaluates shareholder demands, ask yourself this: do you have the right tools to disclose your impact on the environment, or will you, like Home Depot, face climate nondisclosure backlash and risk losing shareholder support?

George Ahn is President and Chief Executive Officer of TRIRIGA. He has more than 18 years of software industry leadership.

Use slime to save planet, say UK experts
By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent
Published: August 27 2009 01:57 | Last updated: August 27 2009 01:57
Slime-covered buildings and artificial trees are the best ways to cool the planet, according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
The engineering body has drawn up a 100-year plan on tackling climate change and concluded that removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere could be done with algae placed in pipes around the outside of buildings and by using chemicals to replicate the actions of trees in absorbing carbon dioxide.
"This could buy us the time we need while we are cutting emissions [from energy production]," said Tim Fox, head of environment at IMechE and chief author of the report.
He said an investment of £10m ($16m) in such "geo-engineering" ideas would kickstart a British industry in climate cooling that could create 500,000 jobs by 2020.
Algae absorbs carbon dioxide from the air, but current systems to use it require large open spaces. An alternative, according to IMechE, would be to make buildings literally green by piping algae around exterior walls in plastic "bio-reactors" where the slime uses sunlight as an energy source while absorbing carbon.
The algae can be collected before it starts to decompose and processed to remove the carbon, or simply burned to use as a fuel.
Artificial trees work by using chemicals to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and are also necessary because of the small amount of land available in the UK to grow new forests. The "trees", which are still at an early stage of development, and which could look more like enormous fans or like shipping containers, would absorb far more carbon per square metre than real trees.

History Can No Longer Guide Farmers, Investors: U.N.

Date: 27-Aug-09
Laura MacInnis

History Can No Longer Guide Farmers, Investors: U.N. Photo: Pascal Rossignol
A farmer harvests a field of wheat in Hirson, northern France, August 6 2009.
Photo: Pascal Rossignol

GENEVA - Climate change has made history an inaccurate guide for farmers as well as energy investors who must rely on probabilities and scenarios to make decisions, the head of a United Nations agency said on Wednesday.
Michel Jarraud, director-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said that water and temperature projections have become more valuable than the historical weather data that long governed strategy in agriculture, hydro-electric power, solar technology and other fields.
"The past is no longer a good indicator of the future," the WMO chief told a press briefing, describing climate modeling and prediction as key to fisheries, forestry, transport and tourism, as well as efforts to fight diseases such as malaria.
People looking to build energy infrastructure are especially hungry for specific environmental information that can affect the long-term profitability of their projects, he argued.
"If in 100 years there is not going to be water going into the dam, it's not a brilliant investment," Jarraud said.
In the farming sector, the Frenchman suggested that guidance passed down through generations about how to prepare and manage crops was becoming less relevant because of changing patterns of heat, humidity and water access around the world.
"This traditional knowledge is no longer adapted. It's exactly because your grandfather did this that you shouldn't do it, because the context has changed," he said.
"This is something completely new -- to make decisions not on facts or statistics about the past, but on the probabilities for the future," he said.
About 1,500 policy-makers, researchers and corporate leaders will meet next week in Geneva to seek to improve the way climate information is collected and shared, among governments and also with the private sector.
That August 31 to September 4 meeting, which will take the pulse of countries who will seek in December to clinch a new global climate pact, is due to include top U.N. officials including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and 80 ministers and 20 heads of state or government, mainly from the developing world.

World's Largest Firms Must Move Twice as Fast on Climate, Report Finds
By ClimateBiz Staff
Created 2009-08-25 14:24

LONDON, United Kingdom — The world's 100 largest companies may be making progress on lowering their greenhouse gas emissions, but they are significantly falling short of the recommended reductions scientists warn are needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

This won't likely change unless government leadership and action take place, according to "
The Carbon Chasm," a report produced by the nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and funded by telecom BT.

Based on the responses to the CDP, the world's biggest companies wouldn't meet the recommended emissions cuts until 2089 -- 39 years after 2050, when scientists say emissions need to be at least 80 percent lower.

"Most large companies now measure their carbon footprint and many have set carbon reduction targets," Chris Tuppen, chief sustainability officer of BT, said in a statement. "But how many of those targets are actually in line with the required reductions to prevent dangerous climate change?  The research highlights a significant gap between what is needed from the corporate sector and what's currently promised."

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According to the analysis, the world's 100 largest companies are on track to reduce emissions by 1.9 percent per annum. Reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050 will require an annual reduction of 3.9 percent.

Nearly three-quarters of the world's 100 largest companies have set goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including 71 percent of U.S. companies. The reasons for doing so vary: emissions used as a proxy for efficiency, risk minimization, shareholder and external pressure, and competitive advantage.

Some high-impact sectors, such as the energy industry, which includes oil and gas, are significantly lagging other sectors. For example, just 54 percent of energy companies have emissions reduction goals in place, compared to 100 percent of companies representing the carbon-intensive utilities sector. This puts pressure on other sectors to reduce more emissions to meet the scientifically recommended reduction goals.

A majority of companies have set an absolute emissions reduction goal, rather than a normalized goal, such as carbon intensity, which can make comparison difficult. Nearly 30 percent of companies in the Global 100 use intensity targets, all of which relate to the size of the business, such as sales volume or production.

The majority of companies use 2012 as the last target year, with just 16 percent looking beyond. Only five companies have targets to 2020.

The report emphasizes the need to harmonize the setting of targets with scientific recommendations.

"More consistency is needed across the whole of industry such that the laggards catch up with the leaders in undertaking major emissions cuts over the short, medium and long term," the report said, "in order to permanently close the Carbon Chasm."

51 Great Sites For Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Feel free to send me additional recommendations for an addendum to this list. I can already add Bob Willard's site (  . On Twitter, I also follow , and . I've made a couple of blog entries on  , but the best is yet to come ;-)

51 Great Sites For Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability
BY Chris JarvisWed Aug 26, 2009 at 3:55 PM

This blog is written by a member of our blogging community and expresses that member's views alone.
  • 10 'Must Have' sites on CSR.
  • 10 of the best blogs on CSR.
  • 31 websites with excellent resources, links, media, tools, news and much more.
  • 20 people to follow on twitter who will ensure you know everything there is to know about CSR and Sustainability.
The '10 Must Have' sites on CSR:

3BL Media: A recent newcomer, this site keeps getting better and better. TheCSRminute,
a daily video digest covering relevant CSR and Sustainability news, is
a fantastic idea. The 3BL team scours the global media to cover some of
the most important events and news in the world of CSR. I especially
have appreciated the aggressive
compilation of leading bloggers in CSR. You'll find them on twitter as theCSRfeed. They are very interactive and are collecting followers fast.

APEsphere: The
name has multiple meanings, but is an acronym meaning "Agents of
Progressive Enterprise". The site has a broad range of topics within
CSR and sustainability. Good writing and helpful content. You can
follow the
Apebot on twitter or connect directly with the 2 founders Andrew Newton or Angela Peterson Newton

Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship
We are big fans of BCCC. They offer good research and are leaders in
the field of CSR and Community Engagement. But for some of the good
stuff, you have to have a membership, and it's not cheap. The lowest
price is $2000 - yikes!
They are on twitter, but are not too active at this point.

Business Respect:
This is Mallen Baker's site, and he offers a collection of current news
on CSR issues. Great resource section with reviews and rating system -
very helpful.
BusinessRespect is on twitter also.

This site has a huge following and is considered the standard for CSR
news. It is an attractive site and easy to use. You can even
participate as a member of the community by sharing your articles,
video, audio and commentaries. On twitter they are
CSRwire but they maintain a modest presence there.

A massive site with a plethora of free resources. You can create a
profile, interact with other members, view information by region, look
for jobs, even receive the content free on CD-ROm. Follow
Eldis on twitter.

Ethical Corporation:
This is the online version of the Ethical Corporation magazine
published 10 times each year. While the quality of the podcasts is not
always the best (background noise and other strange audio sounds) the
resources on this site are numerous and of superior quality. They are
on twitter as

Triple Pundit:
You'll find information and articles about sustainability and business.
With over 35 writers and guest bloggers, the perspective and scope is
wide and varied.
Follow them on twitter.

Business in the Community:
Located in the UK, this business-led coalition has been around since
1982 and has over 800 members. Good research, publications and case
studies. One of my favorite tools is the
Jargon Buster. On twitter, they are bitc1.

Sustainability Forum:
News, discussions, blogs, job postings - this site has it all. It is
managed by Fabian Pattberg who also utilizes twitter very well. You can
follow him as

10 CSR Bloggers you should know about:

David Coethica's Blog:
Based in the UK, David always offers insightful and meaningful blog
entries for his readers. I've even cross-posted some of his articles I
appreciate them so much! Follow David on twitter -

Business Musings:

Ramesh is from India, but lives and works in China. He is on a
sabbatical after many years of corporate life. As part of the process,
he has decided to discuss his thinking on business and corporate
responsibility via his blog. I enjoy reading an informed perspective
from the other side of the globe.

Corporate and Responsible:
Lucia Candu writes her blog from New York city, having recently
relocated from the Eastern European country of Moldova. She has a
wealth of experience in the business, nonprofit and government sectors
which is evident as she writes about CSR, sustainability, corporate
citizenship and ethical business.

Crane and Matten blog: Andrew Crane and Dirk Matten are professors at the Schulich School of Business
(York University located here in Toronto). They manage to offer a blog
that's both accessible and yet solidly academic. You can read this blog
with confidence, knowing that the perspectives and insights are well
Fabian Pattberg's blog is a companion to his Sustainability Forum site
and his twitter activity. His blog rounds out the picture nicely.
Follow Fabian on twitter -

Mallen Baker:
This site is a staple for anyone doing anything with CSR. Mr Baker
knows what he's talking about - and he's talking about pretty much
everything CSR. Follow Mallen on twitter -

Want to know how to read a CSR report? Wondering what a CSR report is
and what purpose it serves? Do you enjoy good writing about ice cream?
Then you have to read Elaine Cohen's blog (she writes a lot about ice
cream - she just likes it a lot). Follow Elaine on twitter - (and notice the icecream on her page!!)

CSR International:

Anyone interested in CSR will eventually come across Wayne Visser, a
professor of CSR at Cambridge, and the founder of CSR International. He
is very active in the field, and offers a unique and candid voice on
the topic. Follow Wayne on twitter -

The Business Ethics Blog: Chris
MacDonald teaches philosophy at Saint Mary's University in my hometown
of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Recently we got together and hosted a tweetup
here in Toronto. His is a well written and insightful blog, rounding
out the issues of CSR by looking at things from the perspective of
ethics. Follow Chris on twitter -

Evolving Choice:
Aaron Fu and Katherine Liew write a very accessible blog on
Sustainability and CSR. Having both been educated in Australia, and
with Aaron now working in Prague, there is a certain eclectic quality
in regional perspective (which I like). Follow Aaron on twitter - as well as Katherine -

30 (plus 1) sites to complete your CSR favorites list:

Accountability: A global Nonprofit pushing the CSR agenda forward.

Accountability-Central: A fantastic site, easy to use with great information, resources and links.

Business for Social Responsibility: A consulting company providing good information and perspective on events in the world of CSR.

B Corporation:
Limited resources and news information, but a 'must' site for any business serious about CSR.

Caux Round Table: Decent resources and a global perspective.

A new site I'm just making my way around, Chlorogy offers a diverse and extensive perspective on CSR and Sustainability.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing: Good news coverage and analysis. I've found some great free research on this site.

Corporate Knights:
A Canadian product, they may actually have the world's largest
circulation for a magazine with an explicit focus on corporate

CRO, Corporate Responsibility Officer: Decent information, but the site layout isn't my favorite.

Corporate Social Responsibility Europe: Basically CSR news from Europe. An attractive site with good news coverage, but you have to pay $70 for the research and articles.

Ethical Performance:
An okay site, but for the good stuff you need an expensive subscription.

Force for Good: I've just started using this site, and I'm enjoying the site's layout and accessibility.

Forum for Future: A focus on sustainability. Good resources.

Good Magazine:
This online version of the magazine is out to do some good. Period. Fun
and informative, there's not a stuffy attitude to be found here.

Goodness: Want to see how businesses stack up in the ratings? This site offers an interesting transparency and scoring system.

Global Reporting Initiative:
This reporting focused site is a necessary part of anybody's CSR resource list.

International Business Leaders Forum: A UK site covering Sustainability and business.

International Institute for Sustainable Development: A Canadian site with a focus on Sustainability.

Institute of Business Ethics: Not entirely helpful, and you pretty much have to pay for all the publications. Actually not sure why I am including this one.

Jantzi Research: If you're in Canada, you'll want to bookmark this link. If not, then probably not.

Kennedy School of Government, Harvard (The CSR Initiative): A decent selection of working papers and other research. Hey, it's Harvard.

Project Label:
I love this site. If you want to know how a company rates when it comes
to CSR, then this site's for you. You can even make contributions to
the rating profile. I spend way too much time here.

Social Innovations Conversations: Don't want to read your CSR news? Then this site's for you. Great topics, excellent guests and good quality.

Small Business Journey:
If you're a small to medium size business interested in CSR, then this site will be a very helpful resource.

Stanford Social Innovation Review:

This is the online version of Stanford's magazine (which is impossible
to find in Canada by the way). A decent site with good information for
the Nonprofit side of the discussion.

Sustainability: This global consultancy/think-tank offers decent research for free.

The Center for Corporate Sustainability:
All about Sustainability and environmental issues. I like the link
list, but I can't figure why it's not hyper-linked to the actual sites.

Transparency International:
These whistle blowers are all about putting the spotlight on corrupt
corporations and business practices around the world. They'll point you
in the right direction for news and articles related to corporate
transparency (or the lack of it).

World Business Council for Sustainable Development:
A bit boring layout, but good links and information.

UN Global Compact: This site needs to be in your bookmark list. Why? It's the United Nations for pete's sake!


Carbon newsclips for August 26, 2009: Leading up to Copenhagen, see if you can spot the difference. (1) France imposes a carbon tax, gradually increasing to 100 euros; (2) The US administration pleads for some sort of legislation before COP15; and (3) Australian and NZ businesses complain they are not sure what carbon trading means or how much it will cost.

French Minister Sees Carbon Tax In 2010 Budget
Date: 26-Aug-09
 James Mackenzie

PARIS - France's proposed carbon tax is expected to be included in the 2010 budget but will probably be set below the 32 euros per metric ton level recommended by a special advisory panel, Budget Minister Eric Woerth said on Tuesday.
The panel, headed by former Socialist Prime Minister Michel Rocard, has recommended billing 32 euros ($46) for every metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted in 2010 and lifting the levy progressively to 100 euros per metric ton by 2030.
That would add between 7 and 8 cents to the cost of a liter of petrol. The tax, heavily criticized by intensive fuel users such as farmers and fishermen, will affect all sectors that are not part of existing emissions trading programs.
There had been some uncertainty over whether the tax would be ready in time for next year's budget but Woerth confirmed it would be, although probably at a level lower than the recommendation.
"It will be in the 2010 budget because the carbon tax is an intelligent tax," he told i-tele television.
"Michel Rocard has named a figure, I have indicated that I think this figure of 32 euros per ton of carbon emitted is too high. I think the figure will be lower but it's up to the president and the prime minister to decide," he said.
Details of the carbon tax will be established after a debate when parliament resumes, with a host of details still unclear.
As well as the level itself, there is major uncertainty over compensation for poorer households or those who need to drive to work because they live in remote areas.
(Editing by Mike Peacock)

U.S. Needs Climate Law Before Copenhagen: Officials
Date: 26-Aug-09
 Ayesha Rascoe

U.S. Needs Climate Law Before Copenhagen: Officials Photo: Lucas Jackson
A layer of smog can be seen above Manhattan through the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York May 21, 2009.
Photo: Lucas Jackson

WASHINGTON - The United States needs to have a climate change law in place before international talks on a climate pact begin in December, two top Obama administration officials said on Monday.
The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed legislation in June to cut U.S. carbon emissions from utilities, manufacturers and others 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
The Senate is set to take up its own version of the bill in September when lawmakers return from their summer recess.
It is unclear whether the bill will make it into law before the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December. The highly contentious debate over health care reform is likely to crowd the legislative agenda in the fall.
"We think it is important for the president to be empowered to be able to say to the rest of the world that America stands ready to lead on this issue," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters after an energy briefing at the White House.
Groups from the oil industry, agriculture and manufacturing have lined up to oppose climate change legislation, saying it would add costs for producers, farmers and consumers without guaranteeing environmental gains.
Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with groups from the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states to press their message that a climate change law would be good for the environment and economy.
A U.S. Agriculture Department study shows farmers could boost their net income by $10 billion to $20 billion in the long term earning money from offsets -- contracts to plant trees or change the way they till land to lock more carbon in soils, Vilsack said.
Locke pointed out that many developing countries such as China are resistant to fighting global warming, even though they are large emitters of greenhouse gases.
"The United States needs to set a very firm and clear example if we are to be successful in getting the other countries to be equally aggressive in addressing climate change," Locke said.
Vilsack warned against delays for the climate bill.
"How are we going to be able to move other nations in the same direction we want to move on trade issues or on fighting extremists if we can't deliver on climate change, when the rest of the world is moving forward?" he asked.

Australia, NZ Firms Restless Over Carbon Uncertainty
Date: 26-Aug-09
 Mark Bendeich

MELBOURNE - Uncertainty over Australian and New Zealand plans to cut carbon emissions is hurting businesses in both countries, undermining stock market valuations and raising financing risks, big Australasian firms said on Tuesday.
Industry leaders from power generation to farming appeared at a carbon-trading conference in Melbourne to make urgent appeals to lawmakers on both sides of the Tasman Sea to agree on clear targets, timelines and rules for cutting greenhouse gases.
"You don't shift significant billions of dollars of investment on the basis of what's likely to happen," said Barry Harris, director of milk supply for Fonterra, the world's biggest dairy exporter and a pillar of the New Zealand economy.
"The financial consequences of reacting to the wrong signals are absolutely massive," he told the conference.
Australia and New Zealand have outlined separate plans to tackle carbon emissions by demanding that polluters buy emission permits on open markets, but both schemes have still to be finalized and are still vulnerable to strong lobbying and change.
The Australian government has already failed once to push its carbon-trading legislation through parliament while New Zealand effectively shelved its plans late last year after a change of government and is now awaiting the findings of a review.
There is speculation that a second defeat for the Australian legislation late this year could spark a snap election on the issue, throwing the debate wide open again.
International Power Australia, a unit of International Power and Australia's largest private-sector generator, said the uncertainty was a factor in talks with its lenders.
"We are in the middle of negotiations with our lenders and the design of the carbon pollution reduction scheme is very important to that," International Power Australia chief Tony Concannon told Reuters at the conference.
Concannon did not elaborate on how the uncertainty was affecting his own firm's refinancing talks, but a recent industry survey showed that Australia's energy supply network needs almost A$100 billion ($84 billion) in refinancing and new spending over the next five years at it shifts to low-emission technologies.
New Zealand's Fletcher Building Ltd, the world's biggest maker of laminates and steel roof tiles, said it was impossible for stock markets to price in carbon costs, even though carbon trading was due to start in Australia in 2011.
"The share market is now starting to value our company on 2011 and 2012 forecasts and most of them don't include carbon targets," Chief Executive Jonathan Ling told the conference.
"We need to get going now or there will be serious dislocation in equity markets."
Australia's prime minister has said it makes sense to harmonize the Australian and New Zealand schemes, but there are still so many unknowns and design differences that both sides on Tuesday played down the prospects of a unified carbon market.
"We are doing the work to explore options for harmonization," Australian Climate Minister Penny Wong told Reuters at the conference. But she added: "As a matter of principle the schemes are not required to be identical for us to link."
New Zealand Climate Minister Nick Smith said the two governments were in "pretty common space," but issues of price caps and international tradability of units would need to be resolved if the two schemes were to be brought closer.
Wellington is aiming to cut its carbon emissions between 10 and 20 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.
Australia's scheme aims to cut emissions by 5-25 percent over the next decade, with the higher target dependent on a matching agreement out of global climate talks in Copenhagen in December.
(Editing by James Thornhill)

Interviews: Sharon Nunes -- Using technology to transform the water market

One of Sharons' many, many interviews, this one in "This is Africa"

Sharon Nunes
Using technology to transform the water market
As one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history of more than 100 years, IBM is a company that is familiar with adversity and the need for innovation.
Sharon Nunes, vice president of Big Green Innovations at IBM, explains why 'Big Blue' has decided to make a name for itself in the water market, and how its innovations may contribute to more efficient water management across the globe.
From its rise to one of the most recognized brands in the world in the 1980's, it was slow to respond to the desktop computer revolution of 1990's. By 1993 IBM's annual net losses reached a record $8bn, threatening the company's very existence, before it re-established itself as a provider of high value chips and hardware technology, as well as business solution driven consultancy and software services.
Driving down cost Today
IBM is establishing itself as a seemingly unlikely provider of innovative water management solutions for business and government. "We're the first to admit that we're not water experts," says Sharon Nunes, vice president of Big Green Innovations at IBM. "But we do recognise how information technology can help with efficiencies of operation, how that can be used to drive down cost and give you a better sense of what is going on in a system level view."
The company's involvement in the water market dates back to 2006, when it hosted a blogging event with 150,000 participants as part of an 'innovation jam' to explore new business opportunities. From an original 30,000 recommendations the company identified ten areas to be explored as potential businesses; one of which was the issue of water management.
"Most people think that water is abundant, but when you start to look down at the available freshwater it's a very different story," says Ms Nunes, pointing to the fact that while three quarters of the earth's surface is covered in water, it is estimated that less than one percent of that is suitable for use in human activity.
In 2008 IBM launched the Green Sigma business consulting service, aimed at providing companies with technology and expertise to facilitate the more efficient use of water in their operations. Based on the widely used Lean Six Sigma business management strategy, a structured methodology to analyse, improve and optimise business processes, Green Sigma extends this strategy to carbon emissions and water use.

"We have taken this methodology and applied it internally at our semiconductor plant in Burlington, Vermont, which is the major purchaser of water from the municipality there," she explains.
"Over a three to four year period we looked at all of the processes for our water use in part of the semi-conductor manufacturing process." As a result, the plant now saves 20m gallons of water per year, says Ms Nunes, with an increased manufacturing output of more than 30 percent.
"The tangible cost that is saved there is $3m per year, half of which is in energy cost," she adds.
"So we have started talking to businesses about water, trying to get companies to think about the commercial impact of their decisions on water and how they use it.
" Ms Nunes argues that while some companies have adopted a forwardlooking approach to water use, more awareness is required in the world of business about how to protect water as a critical resource.

"We're focusing on industries across the board that are large water users. we've had discussions with petroleum companies, chemical companies and food and beverage companies about how to help them understand where they use water in key process areas, and how we can come up with some recommendations that would help them to conserve water," she says.
Centres of excellence
Monitoring water systems is an important part of IBM's nascent water business. The company has set up two centres of excellence in the Netherlands and Ireland, and accompanying pilot projects in both countries designed to better understand their water systems. The Smartbay project in Ireland, in collaboration with the Marine Institute, monitors the Galway Bay, while the Dutch project is dedicated to developing intelligent sensor networks for the country's levée system.
Ms Nunes points out that these initiatives have generated interest from various regions around the world, including Australia, China and the European Union. She concedes that deploying such projects on the African continent would be problematic due to a strong reliance on existing infrastructure, often lacking or absent in sub-Saharan Africa. However, Ms Nunes stresses the fact that water management is a global issue, and argues that information and knowledge obtained through projects such as those in the Netherlands and Ireland allows for knowledge transfer to other regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa.
Collaboration is critical in IBM's approach to the water market says Ms Nunes. "The whole premise behind what we do is collaborative innovation. These problems are too big for one person or company to solve." Such collaboration led to the company unveiling a new desalination membrane at the world water Forum in Turkey in March 2009. Developed in IBM's Almaden, California research laboratory, together with Tokyo-based Central Glass and the King Abdul Aziz City for Science & Technology, Ms Nunes says that the new membrane has the potential to significantly reduce the energy requirement for desalination. The costs associated with these energy requirements are one of the reasons that has kept desalination technology out of the water market in sub-Saharan Africa.

Looking ahead, Ms Nunes argues that greater awareness and knowledge of how water systems function and are affected by human activity will become ever more important. "There is huge disparity today in the water use of a country like the USA and a region such as Africa, but as the middle classes of India, China and Africa grow, there will be more demands on water systems."
"If we don't manage and understand the supply and demand equation, the water system is close to being in a critical situation now, and in the next 10 to 20 years it is going to be unmanageable," explains Ms Nunes.
"Now is the time for technology to really help to transform the water market."


Does Carbon Labeling Confuse Consumers?
Does Carbon Labeling Confuse Consumers?

James Kanter/IHT

A pint of milk for sale at a Tesco supermarket in London displaying carbon footprint labels.

Tesco, a British supermarket chain, began festooning cartons of milk this month with information on the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production, processing, distribution and and use of each pint.
Tesco said putting the labels on milk pints – an iconic symbol of British life – helped to raise awareness about climate change and about the impact of store-bought goods.
But the idea of carbon labeling has been fiercely contested in Europe, and varying methods for measuring a product's carbon footprint have contributed to more general concerns in the food sector that introducing new labels will confuse and worry consumers.
In its statement, Tesco suggested that some of those concerns are overblown.
It said that research conducted independently showed that half of all customers surveyed now understood the correct meaning of the term "carbon footprint" compared to 32 percent of people surveyed in 2008. It also said the research showed that more than half of customers surveyed would seek lower carbon footprint products as part of their weekly shop compared to 35 percent last year.
The survey was conducted on August 3 and 4 and involved 2,024 respondents, Tesco said.
The supermarket said its pint of skimmed milk had a footprint of 716 grams of carbon dioxide, whereas a pint of whole milk had a footprint of 916 grams. A spokeswoman explained that the large difference was because of a larger portion of cream added back into whole milk in the production process.
Tesco said that most of the emissions associated with a pint of milk come from the agricultural stage, where the biggest factor was methane expelled by the cows.


Green newsclips for 24 August 2009: Green procurement, green CSR, green travel, and warming oceans

75% of Firms Incorporate CSR into Procurement Bidding Process
sustainable-procureAbout 90 percent of European procurement directors view sustainable procurement as "critical" or "important," and three-quarters of firms are integrating CSR into the supply chain bidding process, according to a sustainable supply survey from Ecovadis.
About 37 percent of companies have instituted sustainable procurement departments, although CSR evaluations of suppliers do not yet cover the entire supply chain, with only 11 percent of companies applying them to all suppliers, according to the "Sustainable Procurement: a Crucial Lever to End the Crisis?"report (PDF, registration required). The study was based on responses from 75 large European companies and 21 one-on-one interviews.
About 30 percent of firms allocate significant weight to CSR criteria in the grading and selection system (with an average weight of 10 percent), the study found.
Here are some more highlights of the report.
  • Sustainable procurement remains the No. 3 priority of procurement directors, after achieving savings on indirect and direct spending, respectively.
  • Only 11 percent of companies intend to reduce their sustainable procurement budget, while 35 percent will increase it despite the budget cuts affecting most companies.
  • Half of the companies have raised their buyers' awareness, or fully trained them, on sustainable development concerns.
  • The tools specific to sustainable procurement have evolved, with a focus on supplier evaluation and risk analysis tools for each procurement category or each country (+15 percent deployment over one year).
  • Three-quarters of firms are integrating CSR into the bidding process and 30 percent of them allocate significant weight to these criteria in the grading and selection system (with an average weight of 10 percent).
  • About 75 percent of firms use sustainable procurement performance measurement indicators although these indicators are still largely focused on processes and resources.

Supply Chain: Green Or Gold Or Both?
Keith Burgess
Simon Glass
IBM Global Business Services

ibmmugsCompanies face increased stakeholder pressure and government regulation to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. To address this issue, companies must take action within their supply chains, which account for the vast majority of their energy use and CO2 emissions.
But in a recent IBM survey of more than 400 supply chain executives, 89 percent of the respondents reported that cost reduction was either very important or critically important .
As companies struggle to address both concerns - particularly in the current economic climate - it's important that they view them as complementary, not conflicting. By executing the right sustainable business strategy, they can successfully improve efficiency, reduce energy use and costs, and lower environmental impact.
Sustainability in the new economic environment
There are three key factors driving sustainable business practices up the corporate agenda:
1. Laws, regulations, and standards — governments worldwide are committing to key environmental targets and introducing climate change legislation, supported by taxation frameworks to drive improvements. For example, emissions "cap and trade" requirements go into effect in the UK next year, and legislation with similar provisions is currently making its way through the U.S. Congress.
2.  Stakeholder pressures — increasingly, a company's "green" credentials are being used as selection criteria by a range of key stakeholders, such as customers, investors, business partners, and potential employees. For example, the Carbon Disclosure Project identifies green-focused investors with assets of more than $41 trillion.
And in our 2009 global survey of c-level executives on green and sustainability issues, half of the respondents said they are being compelled to adopt new CO2 standards by their business partners.
3. Costs — With volatile energy prices and other rising supply chain costs, CO2 emissions reduction and cost containment are increasingly compatible - when you burn less, you pay less and emit less, and the benefits can ripple further. Within our own company's experience, we estimate a $1 reduction in energy costs can lead to an additional $6-8 in operational savings.
Supply Chain Levers
As supply chain executives look at approaching these challenges, there are some common levers for reducing costs and CO2 emissions:
  • Transportation and supply — increased local sourcing may well increase the costs of raw materials, but this could be more than offset by reducing the distance travelled. It will also reduce exposure to certain supply chain risks, including volatile fuel prices, long and unreliable lead times, currency exchange risks, etc. The introduction of enhanced vehicle technology and design can also improve fuel efficiency. Such measures can help to reduce both emissions and total supply chain cost.
  • Product lifecycle management — How products are designed, assembled, labeled, packaged and recycled can have a profound effect on the carbon efficiency of the supply chain. For manufacturers, there may be product redesign opportunities that reduce energy consumption in manufacturing, distribution, or end use. Every conceivable change is an opportunity — from reducing the weight of the product to making it easier to disassemble. In some cases, innovation or new technologies may make it possible to eliminate some components or sub-components entirely and thereby eliminate discrete portions of the supply chain. Products that are recalled from the market, that must be upgraded or refurbished during their useful life, or must be recycled at the end of their life require some kind of reverse supply chain. By planning for these lifecycle events in the original design phase, it is possible to eliminate or reduce unacceptably high energy costs later and minimize the CO2 emissions of the reverse supply chain.
  • Low-emissions manufacturing — there are various opportunities to reduce cost and GHG emissions simultaneously in the manufacturing process. Applying Lean Six Sigma principles to streamline production steps can reduce water, energy and waste. Maximizing asset utilization through predictive maintenance, which can be aided by smart asset monitoring technologies that provide real-time analysis to help predict when an asset is going to fail, can improve efficiency and lower costs. Moreover, as legislation is introduced that taxes pollutants, toxic materials, and harmful emissions, organizations that reduce such issues also will reduce potential punitive costs.
  • Shipment — if service-level agreements with suppliers and customers contain unnecessary requirements, waste is the result. When agreements force small, expedited deliveries, energy use goes up dramatically. For example, our company recently worked with a major brewery to help redesign its trade terms with its customers. By incenting pubs and clubs to accept larger, less frequent deliveries, the brewery can increase full truck-loads, saving significant costs and simultaneously reducing GHG emissions. Furthermore, as the trend toward Internet shopping drives an increase in home deliveries, successful first-time deliveries will have a major effect, both on costs and carbon footprint. Organizations that take steps to improve first-time delivery success, will reduce both cost and carbon footprint, while improving the customer experience.
  • Packaging — intuitively, reducing the amount of packaging on a product might seem to be the best way to reduce both the cost of a product and its environmental impact. But not if it results in safety, spoilage, damage and return issues. Grocery retailers are constantly under pressure to reduce plastic packaging, but many have pointed out that a significant proportion of packaging is there to protect food safety and prolong shelf life. This reduces waste in the supply chain, which consequently reduces cost and environmental impact. Also, for manufacturing companies, typically up to 25 percent of packaging waste might be generated by returned or damaged shipments . Once a shipment is damaged, it is returned and another product shipped out, doubling the costs of packaging and fuel. A major US computer manufacturer has introduced the use of logistics bars and air bags between pallets to stabilize the loads, thereby reducing the number of damaged shipments to less than 1 percent, while improving customer service and eliminating packaging waste . So the best way to address this issue is increased investment in new packaging designs and technologies that reduce waste and maintain product safety.
Turning green into gold
The real winners in the new economic environment will be those who recognize that developing sustainable business practices is fundamental to saving money now and preparing for the future.
These leaders will seek out cost-effective, sustainable business opportunities to reduce environmental impact and business costs while identifying new opportunities to increase market share. A survey by Aberdeen group showed that the top green supply chain organizations had on average reduced supply chain energy costs by six percent in one year. Other supply chain costs had reduced on average by two percent. At the other end of the scale, laggards saw overall increases in supply chain costs.
In addition, environmentally responsible and energy efficient products are one of the few market sectors currently recording growth. So businesses that focus on process improvement, cost control, product and service innovation and reducing environmental impact will position themselves for leadership now and in the future.
Keith Burgess and Simon Glass are management consultants for IBM Global Business Services. They work with clients across a wide range of industries to identify opportunities to promote sustainable business practices, particularly in supply-chain management, as a fundamental element of core business strategy.

Guide to Help Businesses Improve Travel-related CSR Metrics
nbta5stepsA new guide released by the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) will help companies establish travel-related corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives based on a five-step implementation plan. The enhanced NBTA CSR Toolkit offers businesses added insights into emerging CSR concepts, said NBTA.
The interactive resource guide provides corporate travel managers with various solutions to help them meet their sustainable travel management goals. These include integrating technologies such as video web meetings and telepresence systems, and adding responsible procurement to their sustainable initiatives.
The guide also provides a list of questions that address suppliers' sustainability credentials, which are organized by travel sector including airlines, ground transportation, and meetings and events. A vendor response evaluation process is also provided.
The toolkit also provides guides to calculating carbon footprint and offsetting emissions. NBTA's own CSR efforts include carbon offsetting the carbon footprint of its annual convention with

World's ocean temps warmest recorded
At 62.6 degrees in July, that's a full degree above 20th Century average
The Associated Press
updated 5:47 p.m. ET, Thurs., Aug 20, 2009

WASHINGTON - Steve Kramer spent an hour and a half swimming in the ocean Sunday — in Maine.

The water temperature was 72 degrees — more like Ocean City, Md., this time of year. And Ocean City's water temp hit 88 degrees this week, toasty even by Miami Beach standards.

Kramer, 26, who lives in the seaside town of Scarborough, said it was the first time he's ever swam so long in Maine's coastal waters. "Usually, you're in five minutes and you're out," he said.

It's not just the ocean off the Northeast coast that is super-warm this summer. July was the hottest the world's oceans have been in almost 130 years of record-keeping.

The average water temperature worldwide was 62.6 degrees, according to the National Climatic Data Center, the branch of the U.S. government that keeps world weather records. June was only slightly cooler, while August could set another record, scientists say. The previous record was set in July 1998 during a powerful El Nino weather pattern.

At a full degree above the 20th century average of 61.5 degrees, "the global ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the warmest on record," the center said.

Large portions of many continents had substantially warmer-than-average temperatures, the center stated.

"The greatest departures from the long-term average were evident in Europe, northern Africa, and much of western North America," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the center. "Broadly, across these regions, temperatures were about 4-7 degrees F above average."

El Nino, emissions as factors
Meteorologists said there's a combination of forces at work: A natural El Nino system just getting started on top of worsening man-made carbon emissions tied to global warming, and a dash of random weather variations. The resulting ocean heat is already harming threatened coral reefs. It could also hasten the melting of Arctic sea ice and help hurricanes strengthen.

"Arctic sea ice covered an average of 3.4 million square miles during July," the center said. "This is 12.7 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent and the third lowest July sea ice extent on record, behind 2007 and 2006."

The Gulf of Mexico, where warm water fuels hurricanes, has temperatures dancing around 90. Most of the water in the Northern Hemisphere has been considerably warmer than normal. The Mediterranean is about three degrees warmer than normal. Higher temperatures rule in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The heat is most noticeable near the Arctic, where water temperatures are as much as 10 degrees above average. The tongues of warm water could help melt sea ice from below and even cause thawing of ice sheets on Greenland, said Waleed Abdalati, director of the Earth Science and Observation Center at the University of Colorado.

Breaking heat records in water is more ominous as a sign of global warming than breaking temperature marks on land, because water takes longer to heat up and does not cool off as easily as land.

"This warm water we're seeing doesn't just disappear next year; it'll be around for a long time," said climate scientist Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria in British Columbia. It takes five times more energy to warm water than land.

The warmer water "affects weather on the land," Weaver said. "This is another yet really important indicator of the change that's occurring."

Georgia Institute of Technology atmospheric science professor Judith Curry said water is warming in more places than usual, something that has not been seen in more than 50 years.

Add to that an unusual weather pattern this summer where the warmest temperatures seem to be just over oceans, while slightly cooler air is concentrated over land, said Deke Arndt, head of climate monitoring at the climate data center.

The pattern is so unusual that he suggested meteorologists may want to study that pattern to see what's behind it.

The effects of that warm water are already being seen in coral reefs, said C. Mark Eakin, coordinator of NOAA's coral reef watch. Long-term excessive heat bleaches colorful coral reefs white and sometimes kills them.

Bleaching has started to crop up in the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — much earlier than usual. Typically, bleaching occurs after weeks or months of prolonged high water temperatures. That usually means September or October in the Caribbean, said Eakin. He found bleaching in Guam Wednesday. It's too early to know if the coral will recover or die. Experts are "bracing for another bad year," he said.

The problems caused by the El Nino pattern are likely to get worse, the scientists say.

An El Nino occurs when part of the central Pacific warms up, which in turn changes weather patterns worldwide for many months. El Nino and its cooling flip side, La Nina, happen every few years.

During an El Nino, temperatures on water and land tend to rise in many places, leading to an increase in the overall global average temperature. An El Nino has other effects, too, including dampening Atlantic hurricane formation and increasing rainfall and mudslides in Southern California.

Warm water is a required fuel for hurricanes. What's happening in the oceans "will add extra juice to the hurricanes," Curry said.

Hurricane activity has been quiet for much of the summer, but that may change soon, she said. Hurricane Bill quickly became a major storm and the National Hurricane Center warned that warm waters are along the path of the hurricane for the next few days.

Hurricanes need specific air conditions, so warmer water alone does not necessarily mean more or bigger storms, said James Franklin, chief hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Energy newsclips for 24 August 2009: Solar collapse, Leap-forgging in Africa, the Empire state building and more

Price collapse and overcapacity hit solar sector results

Environmental Finance, 13 August 2009 - Falling prices and demand for solar cells and modules is causing pain for the largest companies in the solar sector, who may have to wait until 2010 to feel the benefit of renewable energy stimulus packages.

Germany's Q-Cells, the world's largest crystalline silicon cell manufacturer, today announced a restructuring programme that would cut 500 of its 2,600 workforce and shut down older, high-cost production lines at its site in Thalheim, Germany.

It reported first-half sales of €366 million ($523 million), down 37% on the same period last year, and losses of €47 million – despite keeping production steady at 272MW.

Citi analyst Andrew Benson said the firm's orientation towards utility-scale solar plants is a high-risk strategy, since these installations are having trouble finding financing. "The problem is that too many of its customers have relied on the growth of the ground-mounted market, which has been badly damaged by the credit crunch."

Q-Cells shares, listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, traded at €13.04 this afternoon, down 7% on the previous day's close.

REC, the largest of the integrated solar firms, reported further deterioration of the market in the second quarter of 2009. It blamed the general economic downturn, reduced availability of funding for solar installations and a sharp reduction in demand from Spain, which had buoyed the market in 2008.

While there were "certain signs" of improving sales volumes, REC noted "continued significant pressure on module prices due to considerable overcapacity" in its results statement on Tuesday.

The Norwegian firm had cut its wafer production capacity by 35% in the second quarter, and its cell/module capacity by 50%. For the first six months of 2009, revenue increased year-on-year by 11% to NKr4,321 million ($717 million). But it slipped to an operating loss of NKr97 million in the second quarter, compared with NKr716 million profit in the same quarter of 2008.

Oslo-listed REC traded at NKr46 today, up 1.8% on Monday's close of NKr45.16.

Meanwhile, German integrated producer SolarWorld shipped 239MW of wafers and modules in the first half of 2009 – an increase of 26% on the first half of last year. It bucked the negative trend since its area of focus, European rooftop installations, was the only solar segment to grow strongly this year.

However, it also noted that installation prices had dropped by 25% compared with last year, and its first-half sales revenues dipped 6% to €402 million while its earnings margin fell to 20.7% from 25%.

SolarWorld shares traded at €16.30 this afternoon, down 5% on yesterday's close.

Citi's Benson said he expected government incentives and improved credit conditions "will not have much impact in the second half of 2009, but will help from 2010".

A push for energy leap-frogging in Africa

The International Herald Tribune, August 18, 2009 Tuesday - Just as millions bypassed landline telephones and, instead, adopted mobile devices, the thinking goes, so too might undeveloped villages pass over fossil fuels in favor of renewable sources of energy.

As renewable-energy systems become more efficient and less expensive, many environmentalists hope to incorporate the technologies into development models around the world. Just as millions of people in Africa bypassed landline telephones and adopted mobile devices instead, the thinking goes, so too might undeveloped villages pass over fossil fuels in favor of renewable sources of energy.

Advocates note that this process, known as ''energy leap-frogging,'' would both hasten electrification and set the stage for the adoption of a low-carbon energy infrastructure.

On the ground, however, prospects for leap-frogging are dimmer. ''I just don't see it happening,'' said Darren Legge, a volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps who is working in rural Togo on natural resource management. ''The technology is out of reach to all but the richest.''

Electrifying an entire town with solar energy is already very expensive - and with high government customs taxes, ''it seems like an insurmountable cost barrier,'' Mr. Legge said.

These obstacles have not stopped Claude Amouzou-Togo, who has spent the past three years hawking solar energy systems in Kpalimé, Togo. ''There's a lot of business to be done,'' he said, because ''the government doesn't do anything to provide electricity to much of the population.'' Despite the large potential market, Mr. Amouzou-Togo attracts just one customer per month on average, a low number that he puts down to high initial capital costs and nonexistent governmental support for renewable energy.

Despite these difficulties, solar panels have distinct advantages in rural villages that are off the power grid. Rather than waiting for decades to raise money to connect the entire community to the grid, villages can give priority to certain buildings - like hospitals and schools - and quickly acquire electricity. Investing in these community buildings ''distributes the cost and benefits to the entire village,'' Mr. Legge said.

Savings potential scales new heights

Financial Times, 21 August 2009 - When the Empire State Building began a $500m retrofit this year to make it more energy-efficient, it captured the country's attention.

The retrofit, which will include 6,500 better insulated windows, as well as high-tech lighting, furnaces and air conditioners, is expected to reduce the building's energy use by almost 40 per cent.

"You have one of the marquee buildings in the United States demonstrating an old building can increase its energy efficiency," says Branko Terzic, energy and resources regulatory policy leader for Deloitte, the consultancy.

Such high-profile efforts are helping to make energy efficiency "cutting edge", according to Mr Terzic.

The global potential for energy efficiency is vast.

This year, McKinsey calculated that in the US alone an investment of $520bn would cut non-transportation energy in the country by 23 per cent of projected energy demand – which would save the US economy more than $1,200bn.

Japan and western Europe are more efficient, but still have hundreds of billions of potential savings, while fast-emerging economies such as China and India have typically grown without much regard for efficiency until now.

Energy efficiency is benefiting strongly from the government stimulus packages globally, many of which single out efficiency as a key target for spending. Of a total of $350bn so far allocated to green endeavours under the stimulus packages, the energy efficiency sector is due to receive more than half.

Little wonder, then, that energy efficiency stocks have been outperforming not just the market, but other clean technology stocks, according to recent research from HSBC.

Energy efficiency and energy management specialists enjoyed the strongest sectorial return in clean tech, up 16 per cent on the first half of the year, according to HSBC.

The sector is exceptionally broad, encompassing software start-ups, engineers, management consultancies and a host of multinational manufacturers.

Ian Simm, of Impax, a green investment company, points to companies such as Ricardo, which offers energy efficiency services to the automotive industry, and Kingspan, a maker of insulation materials, as being particularly high profile within the sector.

A look at another refit of a landmark building reveals some of the range of products that come under the energy efficiency banner.

Evolve Energy has been recruited to cut energy use at the Savoy hotel in London, replacing old boilers and heat transfer equipment.

It will introduce ultra high-efficiency hot water and heat recovery systems, low-energy air conditioning, intelligent building controls, insulation, glazing, more efficient appliances, smart metering and 24-hour monitoring and targeting of energy use.

A single supplier of energy efficiency products can also span dozens of client industries. Alfa Laval of Sweden has long made improving customers' energy efficiency a focus. Recent customer projects include a new brewery in Hyderabad for Asia Pacific Breweries, the first in India to incorporate an energy-saving high-gravity brewing line technology.

Relatively few of the companies involved in energy efficiency are "pure plays". Companies such as General Electric, Honeywell, Siemens, Philips, Johnson Controls and ABB have strong interests in the sector through activities as diverse as lighting products, building controls and more efficient appliances.

Many companies involved in energy efficiency implementation are likely to be winners from the renewed focus on energy efficiency in the stimulus packages.

In the US, for instance, President Barack Obama has pledged to spend stimulus funds on making government-owned and other public buildings more efficient.

Chevron is the only oil major to offer an energy-efficiency service and has carved out a niche serving the US public sector, improving efficiencies at places including public schools, military bases and federal government offices.

Furthermore, new government regulations in some parts of the world are also expanding the market.

For example, the European Union has decided to phase out incandescent bulbs in favour of energy- efficient models, transforming the market at a stroke.

Michael Weinhold, chief technology officer for Siemens Energy, points out that lighting accounts for 17 per cent of worldwide energy consumption, making it a big source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Philips sees a large new market in LEDs, which are much more efficient than conventional lighting.

By the end of this year, the worldwide market for inorganic LEDs in business and residential applications is expected to be worth $4.5bn, more than triple its value in 2005.

In the UK, the introduction of a new regulation – the Carbon Reduction Commitment – from next year is likely to encourage the owners of commercial premises to make buildings much more efficient.

Shops, public buildings, leisure facilities and some offices will be among the more than 5,000 companies to be covered by the new rule, which will reward companies for cutting their energy use and penalise them if they fall below their industry benchmark.

As travel budgets have shrunk, another set of winners from the increased focus on energy efficiency include companies with video conferencing technology, such as Cisco, HP, Intel and Polycom. These companies are now marketing their wares as a "green" alternative to air and road miles.

A Rare Peek at Green Energy Economics


Bloomberg News

What does it take to make this happen on a large scale?

California regulators have approved contracts for more than 8,600 megawatts of renewable energy, to be generated mostly by big solar power plants for the state's largest utilities. But the details of those deals and the emerging economics of green energy often remain shrouded in secrecy, subject to confidentiality agreements.
That black box cracked open a bit on Thursday, when the California Public Utilities Commission gave the green light to two 25-year power purchase agreements between Pacific Gas & Electric and BrightSource Energy, a solar power plant builder based in Oakland, Calif.
When approving contracts for 310 megawatts of solar electricity, the utilities commission also signed off on an apparently first-of-its-kind technology royalty agreement between BrightSource and PG&E.
Under the contracts approved Thursday, BrightSource will generate electricity from two of seven solar thermal power plants the company is building in the Mojave Desert, to supply PG&E with a total of 1,310 megawatts. In an unusual twist, the utility has agreed to pay BrightSource a higher electricity rate if the start-up fails to secure a Department of Energy loan guarantee to help finance the construction of the two power plants.
The loan guarantee program is designed to promote development of renewable energy by allowing companies like BrightSource to obtain lower-cost financing for the billions of dollars needed to build large-scale solar farms.
"Given the current credit crisis, new renewable energy projects face financing risk," wrote the utility commissioners. "We believe that the milestones achieved to date on its D.O.E. Loan Guarantee application and BrightSource's project development experience will put it at an advantage when seeking financing."
The deal prompted an unsuccessful protest from the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, a state agency that promotes utility customers' interests. The ratepayer advocate argued that BrightSource did not receive such favorable terms when it agreed to provide 1,300 megawatts of electricity to Southern California Edison, another state utility, using the same technology.
Utility commissioners also approved an agreement between BrightSource and PG&E that calls for the start-up to pay the utility royalties based on the worldwide sales and licensing of BrightSource's solar "power tower" technology.
A spokesman for BrightSource, Keely Wachs, said he could not provide any details of the royalty agreement or why it was struck due to confidentiality provisions of the deal.
This is the first royalty agreement PG&E has made in connection with a power purchase agreement, according to Jennifer Zerwer, a spokeswoman for the utility. She said the utility could not disclose whether the royalty contract was tied to the electricity rates PG&E will pay BrightSource.
"We're contractually not permitted to discuss the negotiated terms of the royalty agreement," Ms. Zerwer wrote in an e-mail message.

Carbon newsclips for 24 August 2009: Airlines not flying under the radar, Coaxing Carbon Cuts in China, Anybody and everybody can track carbon, and time running out before COP15

China responds better to policy shifts than to caps, climate group says

ClimateWire, 24 August 2009 - Energy policies, not carbon caps, are ultimately what's most important for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in developing countries, an international climate group asserts.

Clean technology policies can have significant effects on emissions from developing countries, even when no carbon cap is in place, said Mark Kenber, international policy director of the Climate Group.

China has become the leader of clean technology among developing nations in the past few years because of rigorous government policies, according to a report published yesterday by the U.K.-based nonprofit.

Such policies have led the country to produce a third of the world's solar panels, double wind installations last year to have the world's fourth-largest capacity, and contain 60 percent of the world's solar water heaters, among other areas of growth. The sector has contributed to economic growth, while making China a major exporter of clean technology, the report says.

Kenber said such technologies have cut emissions from business-as-usual scenarios, though he did not have numbers on what percentage those emissions reductions amount to.

"There's an outdated understanding of where China is in terms of its energy and environmental situation," said Julian Wong, senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. "I think the picture that a lot of people have in their mind is maybe China of five to 10 years ago, and the reality is that it's only in the past three, four, five years that we're starting to see a lot of new and aggressive steps taken to promote energy efficiency, to promote the deployment of newborn energy."

Wong said that environmental, economic and national security concerns have driven China to focus on clean energy of its own accord.

Misunderstood internationally

But a lack of understanding internationally of China's energy activities has fueled a stalemate in multilateral climate negotiations, as countries believe China is not interested in cutting carbon emissions, Kenber said. The United States has called on China to set a cap on its carbon emissions before the United States will cut its own emissions, but developing countries have said a cap would stunt their economic growth. Recent talks between the United States and China have shown a willingness to negotiate, though no concrete agreement has been formed.

Kenber said that industrialized nations should not fixate on making developing countries set carbon caps, but instead their efforts should focus on promoting clean energy policies.

"We're looking at it the wrong way," Kenber said, explaining that negotiations continue to focus on "who bears the brunt" of the cost of mitigation. Instead, parties should be "going into the negotiations thinking, how can we create an agreement that unlocks this" potential.

The current five-year plan was when China first began to home in seriously on energy, Wong said.

Environmental problems like air and water pollution have been major problems in China, Wong said. In recent years, energy security also became a concern. China currently imports 40 percent of its oil.

In 2007, some parts of China began importing coal, a resource that is not evenly distributed.

"The reason why China's taking all these actions is not from external pressure," Wong said.

Unleashing a package of internal incentives

Policies the government has adopted span the energy economy, from transportation and buildings to industry and power generation, Kenber said. Specific policies range from incentives to farmers to trade in high-emitting vehicles, to government procurement rules that support low-carbon vehicles, to preferential lending to clean energy projects and subsidies for clean technology development. The five-year plan also includes overarching energy efficiency and renewable energy standards.

Kenber said that the government has been effective at developing, as well as implementing, policies -- as opposed to many other developing country governments -- because it has a history of playing a major role in the economy.

"It's not a command-and-control economy anymore," Kenber said. But "having that central direction backed up by regulations that to a great deal the government is able to enforce is a great advantage."

Its influence over the economy, along with a culture of entrepreneurship in China that has come from the continual rapid growth of the nation's economy, has spread into the clean technology realm. The sector, the report says, has been an economic boon.

Targeting international markets

Beyond the domestic market, China has also homed in on producing clean technologies for export.

"If you want to break into these markets, you've got to be producing the kinds of vehicles that are going to be demanded," Kenber said.

Kenber said that while China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, it is important to recognize that the country is making efforts to develop a relatively greener economy.

Based on hearing Chinese government officials talk, he said, he expects the next five-year plan, which will start in 2011, to include even tougher clean energy policies, a prediction with which Wong agreed.

He said he thinks it is possible that China's clean energy policies will become so stringent that emissions would peak and start falling by the 2020s -- without a cap.

"Economywide caps is a very top-down approach," Wong said. "What if you did it from the bottom up?"

Many developing countries are afraid to cap first, and then set policies, Wong said. "You can commit to a lofty number, but can you actually execute?" he said. China's approach, he said, has been to take practical steps. "They're not going to commit to something that they don't think they can achieve," he said.

Wong said that China's tone has also begun to shift recently in its international climate negotiations language. Two weeks ago, China's top climate negotiator said that the country would cut its emissions by midcentury -- the first time the country has given any indication of agreeing to a cap.

But Kenber said the cap should not be a sticking point. Ultimately, even if a country sets an emissions cap, it must craft policies that achieve those greenhouse gas reductions. He said that a cap on carbon brings the added benefit of sending the right market signals. But for developing countries, he said they are not practical right now.

At the launch of the China report in Beijing last Thursday, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has worked closely with the Climate Group, expressed a similar view. "I think the way we consume has to change, but I think it is completely unrealistic to say to people you can't have a car, you can't use a motorbike," he said, according to a statement from the group. "If you were to say to people in China that we in the West have grown our economies and consumed all this, but you must live in poverty for the sake of the planet, they will say 'No, I will not.'"

Small market for carbon tracking is growing fast

Reuters, 10 August 2009 - A growing list of companies, from tiny start-ups to some of the world's biggest corporations, is investing in products that will help them cash in on a mad dash for businesses to track their carbon footprints.

Giant software concerns Microsoft Corp and SAP AG along with U.S. manufacturer Johnson Controls Inc and UK-based carbon offset firm Camco International Ltd ,are among those piling into what is now a small but fast-growing market for tools to measure environmental impacts.

Until now, companies eager to prove their green credibility have voluntarily measured the greenhouse gas emissions of assets and operations such as buildings, delivery fleets, employee travel and factories.

Corporate behemoths including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Coca-Cola Co and Tesco Plc are among those that already track their carbon footprints, and Wal-Mart's announcement last month that it would measure the social and environmental impact of all the products it sells is sure to kick-start carbon measuring efforts by its 60,000 suppliers.

And while pressure from corporate partners will play some role in spurring development of the market, the specter of legislation is calling more and more companies to action.

"Tens of thousands of directors will realize their firms carry carbon assets and liabilities on the books and face shockingly large fines for failure to report emissions," a study this month by London research group Verdantix said.

More and more firms are snapping up carbon-measuring products in anticipation of a mandatory program in Britain called the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) that forces some 5,000 businesses to cut their emissions and reduce energy consumption starting next year. In addition, many expect a similar program in the United States won't be far behind.

"Our customers are more interested in calculating their carbon footprint now than they were 12 or 24 months ago," said Tom Arnold, vice president of energy efficiency and carbon solutions at EnerNOC Inc, a Boston company that acquired carbon management software maker eQuilibrium Solutions Inc in June. "Many of them want to go through it in a voluntary market before they have to do it in a compliance market."

A recent study by Groom Energy Solutions, a U.S. firm that helps companies reduce energy consumption, estimated that about half of the Fortune 500 companies have calculated their carbon footprints, compared with just 4 percent five years ago.

But most of those measurements so far have been done internally, the study found, rather than with commercial software products. That, however, is bound to change as carbon legislation requires ever more data and analysis.

"Fortune 500 companies can't continue to go on managing this stuff with an Excel spreadsheet and two people in the corporate office," said Paul Baier, vice president of consulting at Groom Energy and an author of the study.

Indeed, companies including EnerNOC and Canadian start-up Carbonetworks Corp are targeting British firms scrambling to comply with the nation's CRC, which goes into effect in April.

"We are going after organizations which are just becoming aware of their commitment to the CRC and don't have the systems or expertise to support it," said Stephen Mooney, vice president of corporate development for Carbonetworks.

Mooney pointed to an Opinion Matters/ survey from earlier this year that found only 29 percent of UK senior managers, directors and board members were aware that their organizations would be affected by the CRC.

"The level of readiness is quite shocking," Mooney said.

Enter the providers of carbon management software. More than 50 companies offer software products that measure carbon footprints, Groom Energy's study found. Estimates of the size of the market vary wildly, though Groom Energy's Baier pegs it at about $50 million -- with the promise of reaching several billion dollars in three to four years as U.S. carbon legislation promised by the Obama Administration takes shape.

"The market is not a 2009 market, probably not a 2010 market. Maybe it will be a 2011 market. For now I don't think anyone is banking on this," Oppenheimer & Co analyst Sam Dubinsky said. "When the legislative and regulatory environment changes, it creates a big market opportunity."

But with dozens competing for a slice of what is still a fledgling market, long-term winners are difficult to call.

The Groom Energy study listed SAP, Johnson Controls, business information company IHS Inc and private companies Enviance, Environmental Support Solutions Inc, PE International and ProcessMAP Corp as the market leaders; but it said new products from Microsoft and CA Inc had recently been rolled out, and new leaders would yet emerge.

SAP, which bought two-year-old carbon management software maker Clear Standards in June, declined to say whether the business is making money yet, though its pipeline of orders has at least quadrupled since the acquisition.

"It's one of the markets that is in its nascent stages but is large enough to move the needle for a company like SAP," said Anirban Chakrabarti, who founded Clear Standards and now manages SAP's carbon impact group.

EnerNOC executives said their carbon management product will one day be a $100 million business but for now makes up a fraction of its overall business. Microsoft stepped into the market by adding its Environmental Sustainability Dashboard, a tool for mid-sized businesses to manage their carbon footprints, to its Dynamics AX business software for free.

Airlines will be first U.S. industry to confront cap and trade

Greenwire, 12 August 2009 - The first U.S. industry to face a cap on its greenhouse gas emissions is not, as may be expected, the coal-burning power utilities. It's not the oil refineries, churning through crude. It's not the automakers, manufacturing again.

It's the airline industry.

Sometime this month, the European Union will release a list of airlines it will regulate under its existing cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide. Beginning in 2012, all international flights landing in the region must abide by the regulations. And several airlines on that list will have a decidedly New World feel: Delta, United and American.

They are not alone. A preliminary version of the list released earlier this year included more than 700 airlines registered in the United States, out of some 2,800 airlines total. While this number is expected to dwindle -- weaning out small-scale operations -- all large U.S. carriers flying into Europe expect to be on the finalized list.

The move to regulate what is an international business typically governed by treaty has raised hackles from airlines and governments around the world. Many see its position as a violation of national sovereignty -- or simply bad for business.

The European Union is seeking to "substitute its judgment for other parts of the world," said Nancy Young, vice president of environmental affairs at the Air Transport Association, the lobbying group for U.S. airlines.

"I'd say virtually every airline in the world opposes the unilateral European approach -- including the European airlines," Young said. At a certain point, she added, "the Europeans are going to have to decide whether they're playing in the sandbox or not."

E.U. legislators have enthusiastically supported taxing airline emissions, approving the law last year. While planes account for up to 3 percent of the bloc's total CO2 output, without caps these emissions could almost double within a decade, counteracting the European Union's ambitious low-carbon goals, said Philip Good, an environmental policy expert at the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union.

"Aviation is a part of the economy that traditionally has been outside the scope of climate policies," since it was not included in the Kyoto Protocol, Good said. "Bringing aviation into the [scheme] normalizes the situation."

The airline industry is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the E.U. scheme is shortsighted in taking a regional solution to international transport, said Quentin Browell, assistant director of aviation environment at the International Air Transport Association, which represents 230 airlines worldwide.

"What concerns us is there's no coordinated approach," Browell said. "We take responsibility for our emissions. It's perfectly valid for us to pay the cost of those emissions. But we should pay just once."

Of particular concern to U.S. carriers are fears of double taxation, given the provisions in the House's recently passed climate bill that would be tantamount to an indirect tax on aviation. While the bill is focused on stationary emissions, transportation fuel -- including jet fuel -- will be regulated at the point of sale, potentially raising the collective bill of U.S. airlines by $5 billion, according to Young.

The provisions that increase fuel prices for aviation could be revised in the Senate climate debate. Already, the Air Transport Association managed to insert a provision into the House bill that called for working "with foreign governments towards a global agreement that reconciles foreign carbon emissions reduction programs to minimize duplicative requirements."

European officials argue that fears of double counting are unfounded, as when another nation adopts similar caps, the bloc will take steps to exclude international flights from its system, according to Sophie Knight, spokeswoman for the United Kingdom's Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The E.U. 'model'

The European Union is "providing a model that the rest of the world could choose to implement," the European Commission's Good added. "Once developed, similar mechanisms could be linked together to give global coverage of aviation emissions."

This model is well under way.

In the next month or two, the European Commission will release the baseline used to cap airline emissions. Based off averages from 2004 to 2006, sources say the commission initially arrived at a figure north of 200 million tons of carbon dioxide. The commission delayed releasing the baseline this month, citing the need for data accuracy.

Beginning in 2012, total aviation emissions will be capped at 97 percent of the baseline, falling to 95 percent in 2013. Eighty-five percent of the CO2 allowances will be freely granted, and the rest will be auctioned. Unlike other parts of the trading scheme, it is not a hard cap, and airlines can buy as many emission credits as they like, if they're willing to pay.

The overall cost to the industry could be €1.1 billion, according to Andreas Arvanitakis, an analyst at the carbon market monitor Point Carbon who recently co-authored a report on the scheme.

In fact, Delta and United will likely face the highest carbon shortfalls of any airline operating in Europe, at 3.5 million tons and 3.3 million tons, respectively, according to Point Carbon's analysis -- higher than British Airways, at 3 million tons.

Unlike utility companies, which have the option of investing in renewable energy, commercial alternatives to oil-based jet fuel are in their infancy. The international standards board for fuels and chemicals last week approved the use of synthetic jet fuel for commercial flights, a move that could pave the way for approval of renewable jet fuels.

Instead, airlines facing carbon shortfalls have several alternatives. They can purchase additional permits from the European market or invest in clean development mechanisms. And there are leaps to be made still in fuel efficiency, with many believing improvements in air traffic control and plane technology each could net more than 10 percent fuel savings.

Airlines themselves, once united in their opposition to CO2 regulations, are beginning to separate somewhat, with several airlines, notably British Airways, aggressively pursuing environmental goals, said Martin Staniland, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs who has extensively studied the sector.

"It's a bit like a marathon," Staniland said. "Some people are taking off to the front."

Partly this is a function of economics: U.S. airlines remain in shaky financial condition, which has allowed their European competitors to purchase newer, more efficient fleets, Staniland said. Neither United, Delta nor American returned inquiries related to the European scheme, but reports indicated they are planning to comply with the European system.

Both regulators and the airlines opposing them are now, like so many others, pinning their hopes on the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen this December. Britain will press that targets for aviation emissions be a part of any deal struck, Knight said.

Meanwhile, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the U.N. agency that has traditionally overseen global flight, will be defending its turf. The agency has recently released proposals focused on improving fuel efficiency to fight climate change. The regulations are voluntary, however, and do too little, from the European view.

Without a Copenhagen treaty that addresses aviation emissions from a global stance, it is likely that a country -- be it the United States, China, Japan or elsewhere -- will file suit against the E.U. scheme, the Air Transport Association's Young said.

Even with a new U.S. administration that is far more aggressive in its approach to climate change, the aviation regulations remain unappealing simply due to issues of sovereignty.

"What right does the European Union have to charge a U.S. carrier for its emission over U.S. airspace?" said Browell of the International Air Transport Association.

Young argued that if the Europeans have such rights, then, for example, the United States could decide to restrict airlines from countries with poor labor laws. "Where does it stop?" she said.

While legal challenges remain, it is clear that the European Union has spurred a coalescing debate on the shape of a global emissions scheme, Staniland said.

"The E.U. action is quite crucial," he said. "It has provided a model. Whether anyone will adopt that model, I don't know."

EU: Nearly 4,000 Airlines Must Reduce Emissions or Face Ban
usairwaysThe European Union (EU) has released a list of nearly 4,000 companies including commercial airlines, private jet operators and air forces around the globe that must reduce their emissions or face a European airport ban, reports
Last year, the EU adopted a new policy that requires airline emissions in Europe to drop by three percent by 2012, and five percent by 2013. Aircraft emissions currently represent three percent of Europe's CO2 output, reports
The new European law will go into force on Jan. 1, 2012. In order to meet the target, airlines named on the new list in the Official Journal of the European Union must reduce their emissions or face penalties, reports Thelist includes transportation giants such as Lufthansa, Alitalia, Quantas, KLM, Emirates, US Airways and United as well as manufacturers Airbus and Dassault, hundreds of private business jet operators, the U.S. Navy and the air forces of Israel and Russia.
The EU adopted its new policy in January despite pressure from the majority of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) member countries and companies belonging to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Companies will be able to buy permits from the European market or invest in clean development programs if they do not meet targets.

UN climate talks: time, money in short supply

AFP, 14 August 2009 - Developing countries will need billions to curb carbon pollution and cope with its consequences and who will foot the bill emerged as a major hurdle at UN climate talks that ended in Bonn on Friday.

The five-day negotiating session made scant progress with only four months until the Copenhagen conference slated to deliver a planet-saving treaty, prompting the UN's climate chief to warn that time was running out.

"If we continue at this rate we are not going to make it," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said in a webcast press conference.

The best that can be expected from the December meeting, said several delegates, is an "interim agreement" that lays out the basic framework of a post-Kyoto accord, with hard numbers to be filled over the course of 2010.

The provisions of the Kyoto Protocol run out in 2012.

Efforts this week to whittle down an unwieldy 200-page document into a draft treaty have been stymied by a deep rift between rich and poor nations.

Disagreement over how deeply wealthy economies must slash their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and whether commitments by developing nations should be binding, have helped deadlock the process.

The more than 180 nations engaged in talks cannot even agree on a procedure for drafting the text.

"There really isn't a very strong climate of confidence," said France's climate ambassador, Brice Lalonde.

But the most critical point of blockage today, say many participants, is money.

"The fact that there are no proposals for financing on the table is preventing progress," said Jose Romero, a negotiator from Switzerland. "This is the big issue."

The UN has estimated that, by 2020, the cost of mitigating and adapting to climate change will rise to 200 billion dollars and 100 billion dollars per year.

On Friday, a bloc of least developed countries and small island states said rich nations should earmark one percent of GDP, some 400 billion dollars annually, to help poor countries cope.

Top UN climate official de Boer has called for a first pledge in Copenhagen of 10 billion dollars, to help poor nations map out "solid strategies to limit the growth of their emissions."

But even that figure has caused wealthy nations -- dealing with stalled economies and concerned about the money will be managed -- to balk.

"So far, only less than one billion dollars has been made available to address urgent needs for adaptation," Dessima Williams, UN ambassador for Grenada said at a webcast press conference in Bonn, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States.

It is not just the amount that matters, but the framework, de Boer told AFP as the negotiating session got underway.

"The thing that I find most worrying today is that there is little or no clarity on how financial resources are going to be mobilised to allow developing countries to engage," he said.

With the UN process bogged down, several participants are quietly dialing down their expectations for Copenhagen, even if they say they remain optimistic in the long run.

"The general impression is that in Copenhagen we are not going to have the complete and perfect accord," Lalonde told AFP. "We are moving toward the idea that we may wind up with a political accord, one that will continue to evolve."

"The best likely outcome in Copenhagen may be an interim agreement nailing down the basic architecture," said Elliot Diringer, vice president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a Washington-based think tank with close ties to the Obama administration.

But if the crafting of a global treaty spills into 2010, it should not necessarily be seen as a setback. "Far from a failure, that would actually be a huge step forward," he said

Retail - the sustainability Pivot Point

Thanks to Kevin for this one