Sustainablog

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

22.9.09

Green Newsclips for 22 September 2009: Newsweek's green rankings, Climate business is big, and GHG pledges are not getting us there

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/22/hp-dell-jj-intel-and-ibm-top-newsweeks-inaugural-green-rankings/

HP, Dell, J&J, Intel and IBM Top Newsweek's Inaugural Green Rankings
Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Intel and IBM are the top five leaders in Newsweek's inaugural environmental rankings of America's 500 largest corporations.
The Green Rankings were the result of collaboration among environmental researchers KLD Research & Analytics, Trucost, and CorporateRegister.com that ranked the 500 largest U.S. companies based on their environmental performance, policies and reputations.
More than half of companies' overall Green Scores are based on their environmental policies and reputation, and industry-neutral metrics that helped even the playing field for companies in carbon-intensive businesses, said Newsweek.
Newsweek also used data from Trucost, which has developed a system for estimating emissions of companies that fail to provide them.
Here's a quick rundown on Newsweek's top five rankings.
Hewlett-Packard earned its number one position due to its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction programs, and was the first major IT company to report GHG emissions associated with its supply chain, according to the ranking. In addition, HP has made an effort to remove toxic substances from its products, though Greenpeace has targeted the company for not doing better.
Dell, which comes in at number two, ranks fourth among the top U.S. corporate users of renewable energy, and leads the industry with its product take-back and recycling programs. Its headquarters uses 100 percent renewable energy and all its desktop and laptop computers will consume up to 25 percent less energy by 2010, according to the ranking. Dell became carbon neutral in 2008 by using offsets and other methods and plans to maintain its carbon neutrality for the next five years, according to the report.
At number three, Johnson & Johnson has a strong environmental management strategy in place. The company also touts the largest fleet of hybrid vehicles in the world. However, it's a top emitter of toxic pollutants compared to other companies within its industry, according to the report.
Intel, ranked number four, is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the U.S., which is equivalent to 46 percent of the company's U.S. energy use. Rather than focusing solely on increasing speed, Intel aims to reduce energy consumption of its chips.
Rounding out the top five is IBM, which has had formal environmental policies since 1971, according to the ranking. IBM is the only company to receive EPA's Climate Protection Award twice. IBM participated in a pilot program to reduce Stockholm's traffic congestion, which led to 40 percent decrease in inner-city greenhouse gases, according to the report. London is next. The company is spending $1 billion a year to double the capacity of data centers by 2010 without increasing their power consumption.
The green ranking also evaluates the top 500 companies by sector. Here are a few examples. The top three companies in the food and beverage industry are Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola, and Brown-Forman; the top three retailers are Kohl's, Staples and The Gap Inc.; the top three utilities are PG&E, Pepco Holdings and Northeast Utilities and the top three health care companies are Baxter International, Medtronic and Becton-Dickinson.
Click here for the complete ranking

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/22/climate-related-business-could-top-2-trillion-by-2020/

Climate-related Business Could Top $2 Trillion by 2020
Global revenues from energy efficiency, renewables and other climate-related sectors could top $2 trillion by 2020, up from $530 billion last year, according toHSBC Global Research.
The $530 billion last year was the result of 75 percent growth over 2007, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
The 2008 figure has far exceeded the projections of a 2006 Stern Review study that predicted climate-related revenues to be $500 billion by 2050.
The U.S., Japan, France, Germany and Spain account for just over three-quarters of global climate revenues.
The HSBC report shows that the four major areas of climate-related revenues are:
  • low-carbon energy production
  • energy efficiency
  • control of water, waste and pollution
  • climate finance
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that tackling climate change can increase the global GDP, in a report from the Climate Group.
The report states that ambitious, coordinated efforts to cut emissions can:
  • Create as many as 10 million new jobs in 2020;
  • Generate additional economic growth worth as much as the green stimulus packages recently adopted by major governments; and
  • Enable a more than 15-fold reduction in carbon price (from $65 per ton of CO2 to $4 per ton of CO2).
http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/22/hp-sets-goal-of-40-energy-reduction-for-products-by-2011/

HP Sets Goal of 40% Energy Reduction for Products by 2011
HP has raised its goal for reducing energy consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions from its products. The new goal calls for a 40 percent reduction by 2011, compared to 2005 levels.
The company already had set – and met- a goal of a 25 percent reduction by 2010, according to a press release.
In addition to the new goal for its products, HP plans by 2013 to reduce absolute emissions from all its operations by 20 percent, compared to a 2005 baseline. The emissions reductions will come from energy efficiency measures, as well as investments in renewable energy.
Between 2005 and 2008, the company has reduced emissions by more than 4 million metric tons, through a combination of product innovations and operational changes.
The company still has work to do to meet its goal of reducing energy in its operations 16 percent by 2010, as it has achieved a nine percent reduction thus far.
Find the company's sustainability Web page here.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090921091751.htm

Current Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions Pledges Leave Climate Targets In The Red, Analysis Finds
ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2009) — Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions currently proposed by industrialized countries fall short of the pathway to reaching a 2 degree target as referred to by the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol negotiating group, despite the fact that the cost of meeting these pledges is much lower than anticipated, according to a new study.
The study by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) states that by 2020, total GHG emissions of industrialized (Annex I) countries would decline by between only 5% and 17%, relative to 1990, depending on the conditions associated with the pledges.
The aggregate proposal falls short of the 25-40% range referred to by negotiating Parties in 2007. In particular, a reduction by only 5% would merely carry forward the Kyoto Protocol targets to the next decade.
The analysis, conducted using IIASA's GAINS (Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies) model, suggests that with appropriate economic trading mechanisms, the 5% reduction implied by the conservative interpretation of pledges would involve no net costs to Annex I countries as a whole. Most of the nominal reductions could be satisfied through accounting of surplus emission permits that are implicit in the current pledges of some countries. Remaining emission cuts could be achieved through low-cost energy efficiency measures which pay for themselves over their lifetime (such as improved insulation of buildings or more efficient vehicles).
"Our analysis strongly suggests that the cost to Annex I countries implied by their current negotiation offers are indeed very low with respect to their GDP," says Dr Markus Amann, leader of IIASA's GAINS team.
"Even for the most optimistic 17% emissions reduction, our analysis suggests that mitigation costs would not exceed 0.01-0.05%, per annum, of the GDP of all Annex I countries, this is insignificant compared to a 42% increase in GDP that is assumed between now and 2020 for these same countries. At the same time, with fairly lenient targets, the carbon prices would remain low and developing countries would not benefit from the Clean Development Mechanism."
"A comparison of efforts by individual parties depends on the exact metric that is used. The current negotiation offers imply costs to some countries, while others would receive net revenues from an oversupply of emission allowances. Yet, if 'hot air'* emissions were excluded from the analysis and all Annex I Parties agree to small positive net mitigation costs, an overall reduction of 24% , instead of 17%, could be achieved by 2020," says Dr Amann." In addition, exclusion of 'hot air' would provide incentives to invest in measures in developing countries."
The analysis is based on projections made prior to the economic crisis. It is likely that post-crisis emissions will be lower than currently projected, and that the costs of reaching the emission reduction targets will be even less than suggested in this study.
IIASA's analysis also reveals significant co-benefits on local air quality as a result of reduced GHG emissions. Despite the low ambition, implied mitigation measures would cut SO2, NOx and particulate matter (PM) emissions by approximately 10% at no extra costs, which will reduce local negative health impacts from fine particulate matter (PM2.5) accordingly.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/science/earth/23climate.html?_r=1∂ner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

U.S. and China Vow Action on Climate Threat but Cite Needs
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

UNITED NATIONS — Some 100 heads of state gathered at the United Nations on Tuesday for an unprecedented daylong conference on combating climate change, with leaders like Presidents Obama and Hu Jintao of China acknowledging that agreement is an important goal, but also stressing their own needs.

Negotiators have been struggling to hammer out a deal to cut global emissions by December in Copenhagen, and the United Nations organizers are hoping that gathering the leaders will give the talks new political momentum.

Mr. Hu said that while China had made great strides in development, it still lagged relatively in terms of its wealth per individual, and that had to be taken into account in fighting emissions.

"Due to their low development level and shortage of capital and technology, developing countries have limited capability and means to deal with climate change," he said. "Developing countries need to strike a balance between economic growth, social development and environmental protection."

Mr. Hu said his country would take four steps toward greener development, although he did not give any specific numerical targets. He said China would cut carbon dioxide emissions by a "notable margin" by 2020 compared with 2005 levels; drastically increase the size of forests; increase the use of nuclear or nonfossil fuels to 15 percent of power by 2020; and work to develop a green economy.

He did not say whether China would consider the cuts mandatory, and he also tied the emissions cuts to growth in the country's gross domestic product, meaning the overall level of emissions could go up even if the amount per person was less.

Mr. Obama also repeated his commitment to green growth while acknowledging the domestic battles that many countries will face. The world "cannot allow the old divisions that have characterized the climate debate for so many years to block our progress," he said, adding that forging any kind of consensus would come slowly. "And so all of us will face doubts and difficulties in our own capitals as we try to reach a lasting solution to the climate challenge."

He noted that the United States and others had tried to play down the crisis before but now recognized its gravity.

China is the largest emitter, followed by the United States, and they account for about 40 percent, split evenly between them. The United States has said that its willingness to accept mandatory emissions requirements is hinged to domestic law, and a new law, stalled by the health care debate, is awaiting Senate action.

Mr. Obama said he was committed to the United States making the largest-ever investment in renewable energy, setting new standards for reducing pollution from vehicles and making clean energy profitable, among other initiatives. He said developed nations must also provide financial and technical assistance to help the rest adapt to the impact of climate change and pursue low-carbon development.

Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, provided the scientific context, and warned that current emissions trajectories were propelling the world toward the panel's worst-case scenarios.

"Science leaves us no space for inaction now," he said.

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, appealed to the leaders to set aside their national interests and think about the future of the globe.

"Instead of demanding concessions from others, let us ask how we can contribute to the greater good," he said in remarks to the leaders gathered in the General Assembly hall, describing the talks as moving at "glacial" speed. "The world's glaciers are now melting faster than human progress to protect them — and us."

The conference on Tuesday, which is not a negotiating session but designed to push toward a strategy, focused on four outstanding hurdles.

Industrialized nations, while agreeing on cutting emissions in the long term — by 2050 — have failed to agree on a crucial midterm target for carbon emissions cuts by 2020. They have pledged to go roughly halfway toward meeting the ambitious target set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a 25 percent to 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020 — which environmental advocates say is not enough.

Developing powerhouses like China and India have agreed on the need to trim emissions, but they reject mandatory limits and demand financial and technical support in exchange.

Efforts to reach any kind of consensus around the issue of aid for the poorest countries to adapt to the impact of climate change have been shunted aside. Finally, there has been no agreement on which institutions would verify that targets were being met and supervise the financial and emissions targets.

The main hurdle is coming up with a plan over the next decade that will keep the temperature rise to about 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels. Even countries like India, which largely blames the developed world for the problem but has announced a package of cuts, admit that looking ahead to 2050 is not good enough.

"It is the height of dishonesty to have a target for 2050 because none of us will be around to be held accountable," Jairam Ramesh, the environment minister of India, told a news conference late Monday.

Some blocs of nations have their own targets. The small island states of the Pacific and the Caribbean want to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees because they fear being inundated by the sea rise that climate change could bring. Those states, along with many in Africa, are demanding billions of dollars in aid to assuage the damage they are already suffering.

During the speeches on Tuesday, the change in language coming from the United States was stark. Gone was the Bush administration's questioning about whether global warming is caused by mankind. Mr. Obama was quick to take responsibility on behalf of said mankind.

"John F. Kennedy once observed that 'our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man,'" Mr. Obama said. "It is true that for too many years mankind has been slow to respond to or even recognize the magnitude of the climate threat. It is true of my own country as well; we recognize that."

Mr. Obama struck a note of urgency, saying: "The security and stability of each nation and all peoples — our prosperity, our health, our safety — are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out."

Various ministers and other officials said that if major powers like China, Brazil, Indonesia all gave conciliatory indications today at the United Nations, that would probably help Mr. Obama overcome domestic opposition.

Japan's newly elected prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, whose nation generates more than 4 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, said his nation would seek a 25 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, and said his country was ready to contribute money and technical help for poorer countries to cut emissions.

"I will now seek to unite our efforts to address current and future climate change with due consideration of the role of science," he said. "I am resolved to exercise the political will require to deliver on this promise."

Helene Cooper contributed reporting.

Office Depot Environmental Update

A very interesting set of initiatives... Thanks to Yalmaz for forwarding (for the IBMers in the list: Yalmaz is ex-PWC and ex-IBM)



 

September 22, 2009

Dear Office Depot Environmental Stakeholder,

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Office Depot's Environmental Update.

This is our latest effort to increase transparency with customers and stakeholders such as you.  It will help you learn the newest developments in Office Depot's environmental strategy, and how they may affect you.  

We hope it becomes a letter you look forward to receiving for the insights it contains and answers it provides - including answers you may be seeking for your own organizations' environmental programs. We'll be sending these no more than four times a year, and you can opt out any time.  

First, I'd like to introduce myself and summarize my role. My name is Yalmaz Siddiqui and I lead Office Depot's global environmental strategy. I hold a Masters in Environment & Development from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill. Most of my prior experience was as a management consultant: first with PwC, then with IBM Consulting.  At Office Depot I am ultimately accountable for ensuring we fulfill our vision "to increasingly buy green, be green and sell green." Our approach is to use a small green team to initiate, facilitate and communicate programs that are implemented by core Office Depot functions.

Key Environmental Updates

Corporate Citizenship Report 2009  Released: In September 2009 we released our latest Corporate Citizenship report. Within it you'll find highlights of our environmental programs in 2008 and an Environmental Dashboard of key environmental performance indicators.

Office Depot Recognized for Paper Leadership in 3rd Annual Green Grades Report Card: We are proud to announce that a recent report by ForestEthics and Dogwood Alliance recognized Office Depot as an industry leader in terms of environmentally preferable paper practices. We were recognized in the following way "Office Depot does the best job of tracking its forest sources, has the most detailed paper policy, has been the most systematic about avoiding paper from Indonesian Endangered Forest logger Asia Pulp & Paper, and does the best job of tracking its use of post consumer recycled paper."  

A Shades of Green Product System: One of the seemingly simple, but complex questions we consistently are asked by our customers is "what is a green product?" There's been a lot of discussion on this topic recently, including a WSJ article and Office Depot's own CEO suggesting a US Green Products Council. In the absence of a national or global standard today, we are developing a Shades of Green Product System using attributes as indicators of "green-ness." This system is being developed with input from Office Depot's global green team as well as some of our most advanced green customers in the U.S., including purchasing and environmental teams at the Cities of Seattle and Portland.

Our Shades of Green Product System strives for "imperfect simplicity" rather than "imperfect complexity" as you see from our approach to the recycled attribute. We are creating similar tiers for a number of other product attributes, such as energy efficiency and reduced harsh chemicals, and over time plan to depict these attributes on our websites as we already do in our Green Book catalog.  


Click on the image above to enlarge

Green Business Review (GBR): As part our strategy to "sell green," we want to help customers understand the environmental aspects of their purchases.  We've piloted this GBR successfully with a few customers, and are ready to roll it out to more large accounts. The GBR uses our Shades of Green Product System to categorize and visually depict green spend. Its goal is to help customers move their spend up the shades of green.

Click on the image to the right to enlarge

To learn more about Office Depot's green programs, please visit www.officedepot.com/environment. Thanks for your interest in Office Depot.

Sincerely,


Yalmaz Siddiqui
Director, Environmental Strategy, Office Depot


21.9.09

Carbon newsclips for 21 Septmber 2009: Carbon emissions hurt poorest countries most, climate reductions don't hurt business and needn't stifle development

Carbon emissions hurt poorest countries most, climate reductions don't hurt business and needn't stifle development... Getting to a solution in Copenhagen should be easier than it appears it will be. Where's the logic? - JFB



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A bad climate for development

The Economist, September 19, 2009 - The World Bank looks at the impact of climate change on developing countries

Poor countries' economic development will contribute to climate change. But they are already its greatest victims

IN LATE April Mostafa Rokonuzzaman, a farmer in south-western Bangladesh, gave an impassioned speech at a public meeting in his village, complaining that climate change, freakish hot spells and failed rains were ruining his vegetables. He didn't know the half of it. A month later Mr Rokonuzzaman was chest-deep in a flood that had swept away his house, farm and even the village where the meeting took place. Cyclone Aila (its effects pictured above) which caused the storm surge that breached the village's flood barriers, was itself a plausible example of how climate change is wreaking devastation in poor countries.

Most people in the West know that the poor world contributes to climate change, though the scale of its contribution still comes as a surprise. Poor and middle-income countries already account for just over half of total carbon emissions (see chart 1); Brazil produces more CO2 per head than Germany. The lifetime emissions from these countries' planned power stations would match the world's entire industrial pollution since 1850.

Less often realised, though, is that global warming does far more damage to poor countries than they do to the climate. In a report in 2006 Nicholas (now Lord) Stern calculated that a 2°C rise in global temperature cost about 1% of world GDP. But the World Bank, in its new World Development Report*, now says the cost to Africa will be more like 4% of gdp and to India, 5%. Even if environmental costs were distributed equally to every person on earth, developing countries would still bear 80% of the burden (because they account for 80% of world population). As it is, they bear an even greater share, though their citizens' carbon footprints are much smaller (see chart 2 on next page).

As December's Copenhagen summit on climate change draws near, poor countries are expressing alarm at the slow pace of negotiations to replace the Kyoto protocol. Agreed (partially) in 1997, this bound rich countries to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions by 5.2% from 1990 levels by 2012.

Counting the cost of global warming is hard because no one really knows how much to attribute to climate change and how much to other factors. But one indication of its rising costs is the number of people around the world affected by natural disasters. In 1981-85, fewer than 500m people required international disaster-assistance; in 2001-05, the number reached 1.5 billion. This includes 4% of the population of the poorest countries and over 7% in lower-middle-income countries (see chart 3 on next page).

In all, reckons the World Health Organisation, climate change caused a loss of 5.5m disability-adjusted life years (a measure of harm to human health) in 2000, most of it in Africa and Asia. Estimates by the Global Humanitarian Forum, a Swiss think-tank, and in a study in Comparative Quantification of Health Risks, a scientific journal, put the number of additional deaths attributable to climate change every year at 150,000. The indirect harm, through its impact on water supplies, crop yields and disease is hugely greater.

The poor are more vulnerable than the rich for several reasons. Flimsy housing, poor health and inadequate health care mean that natural disasters of all kinds hurt them more. When Hurricane Mitch swept through Honduras in 1998, for example, poor households lost 15-20% of their assets but the rich lost only 3%.

Global warming aggravates that. It also increases the chances of catching the life-threatening diseases that are more prevalent in poorer countries. In many places cities have been built just above a so-called "malaria line", above which malaria-bearing mosquitoes cannot survive (Nairobi is one example). Warmer weather allows the bugs to move into previously unaffected altitudes, spreading a disease that is already the biggest killer in Africa. By 2030 climate change may expose 90m more people to malaria in Africa alone. Similarly, meningitis outbreaks in Africa are strongly correlated with drought. Both are likely to increase. Diarrhoea is forecast to rise 5% by 2020 in poor countries because of climate change. Dengue fever has been expanding its range: its incidence doubled in parts of the Americas between 1995-97 and 2005-07. On one estimate, 60% of the world's population will be exposed to the disease by 2070.

Next, as Mr Rokonuzzaman's story showed, poor countries are particularly prone to flooding. Ten of the developing world's 15 largest cities are in low-lying coastal areas vulnerable to rising sea levels or coastal surges. They include Shanghai, Mumbai and Cairo. In South and East Asia the floodplains of great rivers have always been home to vast numbers of people and much economic activity. Climate change is overwhelming the social and other arrangements that in the past allowed countries and people to cope with floods. National budgets can ill afford the cost of improving defences. The Netherlands is also affected and is spending $100 per person a year on flood defences. In Bangladesh that sum is a quarter of the average person's annual income.

The biggest vulnerability is that the weather gravely affects developing countries' main economic activities—such as farming and tourism. Global warming dries out farmland. Since two-thirds of Africa is desert or arid, the continent is heavily exposed. One study predicts that by 2080 as much as a fifth of Africa's farmland will be severely stressed. And that is only one part of the problem.

Global warming also seems to be speeding up the earth's hydrologic cycle, causing both floods and droughts (more rains fall in shorter periods, with longer gaps between). In addition, by melting glaciers, global warming reduces nature's storage capacity. Two-thirds of the world's fresh water is stored in glaciers. Their melting leaves poor countries with less of a buffer to protect farmers against changing weather and rainfall patterns.

This kind of increasing unpredictability would be dire news at the best of times: hit by drought and flood, the land becomes less productive. It is compounded by another problem. The higher-yielding, pest-resistant seed varieties invented in the 1960s were designed to thrive in stable climes. Old-fashioned seeds are actually better at dealing with variable weather—but are now less widely used. Reinstituting their use will mean less food.

In India the gains from the Green Revolution are already shrinking because of local pollution, global warming and waning resistance to pests and disease. A study for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology forecast that yields of the main Indian crops would decline by a further 4.5-9% over the next 30 years because of climate change. A recent assessment based on a large number of studies of what might happen in the long run if carbon continues to be pumped into the atmosphere found that world farm production could fall by 16% by the 2080s, and possibly by as much as 21% in developing countries. Although the timescale makes such figures no more than educated guesses, there is not much doubt that climate change is undermining the gains from intensive farming in developing countries—at the very time when population growth and greater wealth mean the world will need to double food production over the next three or four decades. By 2050 the world will have to feed 2 billion to 3 billion more people and cope with the changing (water-hungry) diets of a richer population. Even without climate change, farm productivity would have to rise by 1% a year, which is a lot. With climate change, the rise will have to be 1.8%, says the bank.

If these myriad problems have a silver lining, it is that they give developing countries as big an interest in mitigating the impact of climate change as rich ones. As the World Bank says, climate-change policy is no longer a simple choice between growth and ecological well-being.

In principle that shift should make a climate-change deal in Copenhagen more likely, by increasing the number of countries that want an agreement. But two big problems remain. First, the poor countries want large amounts of money. To keep global warming down to an increase of 2°C, the World Bank calculates, would cost $140 billion to $675 billion a year in developing countries—dwarfing the $8 billion a year now flowing to them for climate-change mitigation. The $75 billion cost of adapting to global warming (as opposed to trying to stop it) similarly overwhelms the $1 billion a year available to them.

Second, poor countries see a climate-change deal in fundamentally different terms. For rich countries the problem is environmental: greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere and must be cut, preferably using the sort of binding targets recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. For developing countries the problem is one of fairness and history: rich countries are responsible for two-thirds of the carbon put into the atmosphere since 1850; to cut emissions in absolute terms now would perpetuate an unjust pattern. Poor countries therefore think emissions per head, not absolute emissions, should be the standard.

Moreover, targets set at national level have little effect in poor countries where public administration works badly. So rich and poor also disagree about the conditions attached to any money for mitigating or adapting to climate change. The rich see this as a sort of aid, designed for specific projects with measurable targets, requiring strict conditions. Poorer countries see the cash as no-strings compensation for a problem that is not of their making.

The cost of climate change gives developing countries a big interest in a deal at Copenhagen. But what sort of deal they want—and how hard they push for it—is another matter altogether.


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Businesses unharmed so far by EU CO2 scheme-survey

Reuters, 17 September 2009 - The European Union's flagship emissions trading scheme has had no negative impact so far on business costs or competitiveness, a survey by non-governmental organisation The Climate Group said on Thursday.

But costs could rise as the EU's ETS develops and free emissions permits are phased out for some emitters, the survey found.

The report comes as policymakers in the United States debate legislation for their own emissions trading scheme. Many U.S. firms and lobby groups believe that scheme would hinder the ability of U.S. businesses to compete in international markets.

The EU ETS began in 2005 and caps emissions from European utilities and energy intensive industries, forcing them to trade emissions permits when they have a surplus or shortfall.

The Climate Group surveyed British utility Centrica, Johnson & Johnson, British retailer Tesco, cement producer Lafarge, a British glass manufacturer, a German engineering firm, a global steel maker, a global aluminium firm and a financial services company.

The companies either could not quantify any negative effect on their bottom line from the EU ETS or found no effect at all, the survey found. Fluctuations in energy prices and the economic downturn had more substantial effects on businesses.

Most companies surveyed by The Climate Group said the allocation of free permits to the scheme's most energy-intensive participants has so far helped to stem cost increases.

But some companies said that might change with economic recovery and under revised rules of the EU ETS' second and third phases, running from 2008-2012 and 2013-2020 respectively.

An EU climate plan agreed last December will force most utilities to buy all their permits at auction from 2013.

"In sum: today no costs, but tomorrow yes. We think that Phase 2 will generate substantial costs," Lafarge said.

The majority of respondents said free allocation to some intensive energy users was better than trade measures to alleviate any harmful effects on competitiveness until all firms face the same constraints under a global climate pact.

Respondents from the steel and aluminium sector said the EU ETS had affected the competitiveness of their operations, but did not pinpoint where and to what extent.

Relocating operations to countries with lower energy costs was not yet on the agenda of the companies surveyed, although some indicated that carbon pricing will be a key element in their future plant investment decisions.

Three companies said higher energy costs and, to a lesser extent carbon pricing, contributed to their decision to invest in low-carbon sources of energy.

For the steel company, however, carbon pricing has not had a great impact on low-carbon investment decisions, due to the low price of carbon emissions permits.

Prices for emissions permits ranged from a peak of 30 euros ($44.27) a tonne last summer to a low of 8 euros this February. (Editing by Sue Thomas)

($1=.6777 Euro)

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Climate mitigation needn't stifle development, says report

SciDev.Net, 14 September 2009 - Countries can develop while curtailing climate change if they are 'climate-smart', the World Bank has said in a major new report.

The world need not make a decision between growth and prosperity or preservation, it argues in the latest edition of the authoritative World Development Report, so long as it takes action immediately, works together, and transforms its energy systems.

The report, 'Development and Climate Change', was launched at the Overseas Development Institute in London, United Kingdom, this week (14 September).

The authors say that climate change should not be seen as an insurmountable problem.

"We talk about a climate-smart world as opposed to a climate-resilient world because resilience is a fairly passive concept, it assumes that there's a big bad threat out there that we need to protect ourselves against and there's not much we can do to avoid that threat," said Marianne Fay, co-director of the report and incoming chief economist of the World Bank's Sustainable Development Network, at the launch.

Countries can continue to develop by employing climate-smart policies that reduce vulnerability to climate change while pursuing low-carbon growth, says the report.

"Climate change will affect the comparative advantage of a number of nations, particularly if those nations are first-movers. Therefore there will be opportunities as well as costs," said Fay.

"We will need to call on all the ingenuity and innovation that we are capable of," she added.

Lord Anthony Giddens, professor emeritus at the London School of Economics said: "This is a huge intellectual task that we face, of thinking what kind of society will have to come into being … if we are to have a chance of containing climate change within reasonable limits".

"It's not just a matter of on-the-ground facts, it's also a matter of imagination … [the society] has to look different from the current one. We're at the beginning of a long intellectual road."

Creating new and distributing existing technologies is a major part of achieving a climate-smart world, says the report. Investment in R&D needs to be drastically increased, from a total of US$53–73 billion per year to several hundreds of billions.

Increasing public funding — from US$13 billion a year — will not be enough, they say. Incentives need to be created for both the public and private sectors to pursue innovative solutions.

"The energy sector invests 0.5 per cent of its revenue in R&D. That's in contrast to innovative industries such as telecommunications which spend eight per cent and pharmaceutical sector which spend 15 per cent. Clearly the energy sector is not an innovative industry today."

Developing countries are vital to this innovation process. "You don't just go and helicopter-drop a new technology into a country. You need that country to have developed the ability to have identified the technology they need, to adopt it and to implement it," Fay told SciDev.Net.

The report acknowledges that low-carbon technology transfer to developing countries has so far been modest. Technology transfer could be boosted, by including joint production and sharing agreements for technology in any new climate deal — thus ensuring developing countries are part of the innovation process.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/21/ibm-makes-cities-and-utilities-smarter-with-new-technologies/

IBM Makes Cities and Utilities Smarter with New Technologies
Moving forward with its strategy for a Smarter Planet, IBM is helping cities and utilities become smarter by providing new technologies and tools to help them better manage their resources, while reducing cost, increasing reliability and lowering energy and water consumption.
A new report from the IBM Institute for Business Value, "A Vision of Smarter Cities," makes the case that cities must use new technologies to transform their systems to optimize the use of finite resources.
As an example, IBM and the City of Dubuque, Iowa, with a population of 60,000, are collaborating to make Dubuque the first "smarter" sustainable city in the U.S. IBM and Dubuque outlined their plans to develop new "smarter" technologies and implementation strategies to create an international model of sustainability for communities of 200,000 and under, where over 40 percent of the U.S. population resides, said IBM.
Dubuque has made sustainability a priority since 2006, and has identified 11 principles of sustainability to guide the city's actions and policies. IBM, Dubuque, and other partners will revitalize the city's systems to become smarter and more efficient in order to meet the city's vision for sustainability.
The first phase of the smart city partnership includes two projects that focus on energy consumption and water management, in order to reduce costs and the overall carbon footprint. IBM will build a platform for real-time integrated sustainability monitoring to provide the city with an integrated view of its energy management, including energy consumed by the electric grid, water system, and general city services.
IBM's technology will interface with the city's water systems to provide real-time visibility into its water consumption. IBM Research will also build new service systems integration, data management, and analytic technologies that will create new insights for consumers and city policymakers.
IBM also opened a new technology services delivery center in downtown Dubuque, Iowa, which will employ up to 1,300 people by the end of 2010.
IBM, with business partner Consert, also announced the completion of installations for a smart-grid pilot project in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Through a partnership with the Fayetteville Public Works Commission (FPWC), the six-month pilot has helped nearly 100 local businesses and residents achieve up to a 40 percent energy savings.
The pilot aimed to reduce "ghost" consumption on devices such as air conditioners and water heaters that draw energy when no one is home to use them. Click here for a demonstration of the Consert and IBM technology.
Real-time energy monitoring and modifications can help the typical consumer save, on average, 15 percent or more of their normal energy use with no change in comfort or lifestyle, according to IBM. In addition, the FPWC now can calculate carbon savings at the device level, rather than at the point of generation.
To make it easier for utility companies to operate more efficiently and to speed up the development of their smart utility programs, IBM has developed a new standards-based software platform.
The new IBM Solution Architecture for Energy and Utilities Framework (SAFE) is part of the IBM Smarter Planet strategy, which provides a common vision for how utility companies can combine new and existing technologies to improve efficiency, said IBM. This includes adding new green technologies such as emissions monitoring and smart distribution, as well as renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro, solar and biofuels.
IBM said this open platform will help utilities reduce costs to protect their digital distribution networks against hacking and lower customer costs with new tools to manage consumption.
This new framework uses elements of IBM's entire software portfolio including WebSphere, Tivoli, Rational, Lotus and Information Management products, and offers technologies centered around seven focus areas faced by every utility including asset lifecycle management, informed decision making, business process automation, improved customer experience, security, as well as asset, device and service monitoring and regulatory, risk and compliance management. Click here for more information about IBM's smart utility services.

Carbon footprint of milk calculation... from today's WSJ

Thanks to Guy Blissett for this one... JFB
=============




Link to related article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125322734427521091.html#mod=todays_us_page_one

Carbon footprint of milk calculation... from today's WSJ

Thanks to Guy Blissett for this one... JFB
=============




Link to related article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125322734427521091.html#mod=todays_us_page_one