Sustainablog

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

1.10.09

PwC listing of "green" government incentives in Canada

This list is useful because this area is an excellent example of what happens when governments have unclear strategies and little to no collabaration going... -JFB

http://www.pwc.com/ca/en/sustainability/green-incentives.jhtml

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Incentives to Go Green
View this page in: Français
PricewaterhouseCoopers identifies a concise list of federal and provincial sustainability-related incentives

Leading companies recognize that social, environmental, economic and ethical factors directly affect their business strategy and success. As sustainability becomes an integral part of the executive agenda, organizations need to find the right balance between generating profits and reducing the impact of operations on people and the environment.

Now for the first time in Canada, PwC has brought to the marketplace a clear, concise list of incentives that exist federally and provincially across Canada.

Going green is not an impossible task and many companies don't realize that there are many federal and provincial incentives that could help them make the switch, and even make money - critical in today's economy. While going green is not yet compulsory in Canada, it's only a matter of time before it is and those who make the right moves now will benefit in the future.

For more information about Canada's environmentally related incentives, listen to Episode 4 of ourTax Tracks podcast series — Going Green Incentives.

Click on the below list to find out the list of incentives that exist federally and provincially across Canada:

Select Federal Incentives — Part 1 (266 KB)
Download the full PDF.


Select Federal Incentives — Part 2 (266 KB)
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Select Ontario Incentives — Part 1 (256 KB)
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Select Ontario Incentives — Part 2 (280 KB)
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Select Ontario Incentives — Part 3 (227 KB)
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Select Alberta Incentives (292 KB)
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Select British Columbia Incentives — Part 1 (279 KB)
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Select British Columbia Incentives — Part 2 (242 KB)
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Select Manitoba and Saskatchewan Incentives — Part 1 (240 KB)
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Select Manitoba and Saskatchewan Incentives — Part 2 (234 KB)
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Select Quebec Incentives — Part 1 (288 KB)
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Select Quebec Incentives — Part 2 (288 KB)
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Select Atlantic Province Incentives — Part 1 (286 KB)
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Select Atlantic Province Incentives — Part 2 (268 KB)
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30.9.09

Alternative Energy newsclips for 30 September 2009: Smart meters aren't free even though they pay back, alternative energy pays a bundle, and how Canada, Hawaii and the US look at the future of cars


Utilities Bumping Rates to Cover Rising Costs, Smart Meters

While the cities of Fort Collins, Colo., and Milwaukee, Wis., are still debating proposed price hikes by local utilities, in some cases to pay for the installation of new technologies such as advanced metering, Xcel Energy in Minneapolis has received approval to raise prices in order to pay for rising costs of power distribution.

Despite opposition to utility price hikes across many U.S. cities, a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy indicates that increasing total energy capacity by adding energy-efficiency measures continues to be cheaper than adding new sources of electricity, such as conventional coal-fired plants.

The city of Fort Collins says in order to keep pace with costs and technology, it has proposed increases in water, wastewater and electric service rates in its 2010 budget that combined would add about $10 to monthly bills, reports The Coloradoan. About half of the increase would come from electricity through a 9.5 percent increase.

Officials say the increase is needed to cover higher expenses passed along by the city's wholesale supplier, Platte River Power Authority, or PRPA, as well as to invest in an updated system for measuring and monitoring electrical use, according to The Coloradoan. Installation of an advanced metering infrastructure, or AMI, which includes about 90,000 smart electric and water meters installed at every household and business, would cost about $21 million over two years, according to the newspaper.

We Energies in Milwaukee is proposing a $189 million increase for electricity as well as increases proposed for local natural gas charges and steam bought by Milwaukee and Wauwatosa businesses, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

Customers' concerns center on increases due to the utility's lost revenue and pension plans as a result of the recession, along with compensation paid to top officials, although several utility suppliers, business group leaders and utility employees testified in favor of the hikes, reports the local newspaper.

Under the Public Service Commission's proposal, We Energies' rates would rise by 4.9 percent, or $125.2 million from where they are today, down from an increase of 7.4 percent or $189 million, submitted by the utility, reports the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

Xcel Energy, which filed a request with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission last November to boost electric rates by 6.05 percent due to increasing costs of making and distributing power, received approval for a price hike at about 70 percent of what the company had first proposed, reports WCCO.com.


http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/30/hawaii-ontario-enact-feed-in-tariffs-for-renewables/

Hawaii, Ontario Enact Feed-in Tariffs for Renewables
Businesses in Hawaii and Ontario can adopt renewable energy technologies with greater assurance that the investments will pay off now that the state and province have enacted feed-in tariff programs.
Under feed-in tariffs, a set rate for electricity generated – usually above the cost of production – helps promote the adoption of renewable energy.
In Hawaii, the Public Utilities Commission will set a rate for 20-year contracts for solar, wind and hydroelectric sources. Hawaii is one of the sunniest states, and is attracting solar investment.
The PUC is expected to set the rates within the next few months. Rates will be tabulated based on project cost and reasonable profit for each operation, reportsBizJournals.
So far, other U.S. states to enact feed-in tariffs are: California, Florida and Vermont. Other states have introduced feed-in tariff legislation, only to see it shot down.
Meanwhile, in Canada, the important industrial province of Ontario has approved a feed-in tariff.
The move is part of Ontario's Green Energy Act, and it applies to projects that have a certain percentage of costs derived from Ontario labor and goods, reportsRisk.net.
Rates in Ontario would range from 10.3 cents per kilowatt hour to 80.2 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the type of installation.
Ontario has pledged to spend $2.3 billion (Canadian) to boost renewable power, reports the Calgary Herald.
Already, Samsung is in talks with Ontario to establish a renewable energy business there, reports the Canadian Press, via CTV.

http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MzU3OTY

Roadmap for Electric Vehicles

GLOBE-Net, 29 September 2009 - A roadmap containing a series of recommendations and strategic initiatives to help in the evolution of electric vehicles in Canada was formally presented to Natural Resources Canada Minister Lisa Raitt yesterday.

The Electric Vehicle Technology Roadmap for Canada , which culminates 15 months of cross-Canada consultations involving private sector companies in the electric vehicle industry, academics and government agencies, was presented by Electric Mobility Canada Chair Mike Elwood during the minister's visit to the annual Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Conference (PHEV'09) in Montreal.

Asserting that Canada is well positioned to capitalize on the clean transportation option, because of the country's significant amounts of renewable energy and growing electric vehicle industry, the roadmap calls on the combined efforts of governments and industry "to achieve the timely and effective commercialization of electric vehicles."

The roadmap estimates there will be at least 500,000 personal and commercial vehicles that rely exclusively or primarily on electric traction on Canadian roads by 2018. But to secure this vision, the roadmap recommends governments, industry, and other stakeholders make timely and substantial investments in Canadian development and manufacture of EVs and energy storage devices, to build on the country's strong presence in these industries.

The report adds that consideration should be given to the supplementing of federal and provincial mechanisms to promote the development, public acceptance, and procurement of personal and commercial EVs, and also the installation of charging infrastructure.

The roadmap also outlines 21 strategic initiatives, which if implemented, and combined with the adoption of the key recommendations, will contribute to the likelihood Canada will "retain its vibrant and growing EV industry and play a role in the transition towards a more sustainable energy mix."

The strategic initiatives touch on the areas of technology, standards and regulations, studies and assessments, education and outreach. One of the proposed technology initiatives calls on governments and the private sector to demonstrate vehicle use in real-world operation to assess the reliability and durability of energy storage and other components in Canadian settings. Educationally, the report proposes assessing the resource requirements for training, education and certification in skills related to the emerging EV industry.

Mr. Elwood, the co-chair of PHEV'09, which was organized by Electric Mobility Canada, cited support for commercial and private purchasers of plug-in hybrids or battery vehicles, as a priority initiative.

"As with all new technologies, the cost at the beginning is higher and because of the environmental and economic benefits of these vehicles, it makes sense for governments to offer financial incentives in the early stages," he noted. "Once sale volumes reach larger numbers, the unit costs will go down. There are no such incentives at the federal government level in Canada at this time as compared to other developed industrialized nations. Several provinces now offer incentives."

Mr. Elwood said it is equally important to provide support to the battery industry to further research, develop more rapid manufacturing techniques and to generally advance the state of the art of batteries. "The new battery chemistries - lithium ion, for example - are evolving and have not yet been demonstrated over long periods of time," he added. "More development is needed - and possible - to improve range and reduce costs. Several other nations are supporting their battery companies to make these needed improvements and Canada has to step up to the plate, otherwise, these companies may well move to other countries where more favourable support is now available."

http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MzU3MDI

White House unveils new vehicle rules

The International Herald Tribune, September 17, 2009 Thursday - The rules would impose the first nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and require a nearly 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. by 2016.

The administration of President Barack Obama is proposing rules that would impose the first nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and require an increase of nearly 40 percent in fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks sold in the United States by 2016.

Officials said Tuesday that the rules offered concrete proof of the administration's commitment to addressing global warming, just days before a series of international meetings on climate change is scheduled to open in Washington and at the United Nations. Broader legislation to deal with climate change is haltingly moving through Congress.

The government projects that the vehicle regulations would raise new car and truck prices by an average of $1,100 but that a driver would save $3,000 in fuel bills over the life of a vehicle. Officials also said the new program, which would take effect in 2012, would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly a billion tons and cut oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels from 2012 to 2016.

The regulations, 1,227 pages long, must go through a 60-day public comment period before they can become final early next year.

The emissions program was first announced in May by Mr. Obama as a way of resolving legal and regulatory conflicts involving several national agencies and a group of states, led by California, that wanted to impose stricter mileage and emissions standards than those set by Congress and a succession of presidents.

Automakers had complained that they faced a thicket of varying rules that were almost impossible to meet. The Obama compromise was endorsed by all the major auto companies, state officials and most environmental advocates.

Addressing auto workers at a General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, on Tuesday, Mr. Obama said the rules would benefit manufacturers, workers and consumers.

In addition to providing domestic and foreign auto manufacturers with a single national efficiency standard, the proposed rules would allow them to continue to build and import all classes of vehicles, from the smallest gas-electric hybrids to monster sport utility vehicles. The mileage standard would vary by vehicle size, but companies would have to achieve a fleet average of 35.5 miles a gallon, or 6.6 liters per 100 kilometers, in combined city and highway driving.

Automakers that sell fewer than 400,000 vehicles in the United States would be allowed to meet a weaker standard to keep per-unit costs down. This group includes Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Subaru.


http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MzU2MzA

German agency to accelerate electric car research

ClimateWire, 11 September 2009 - Germany is establishing an agency to coordinate and help fund innovation in electric cars, the country's research minister, Annette Schavan, announced Wednesday.

Some 30 different research institutes in Germany are working on electric cars, and the agency, with €44 million in funding, will coordinate this work, as well as set up a charging station infrastructure. Last month, the government set aside €500 million to fund such stations and battery research.

"The new agency will bring together representatives from politics, economics and industry so they can agree on joint strategies for electro-mobility," Schavan said.

Germany hopes to have 1 million electric cars on the road by 2020.

While German automakers were among the first to develop hybrid gasoline-electric cars, this research was neglected in favor of efficient diesel engines. Investment in the electric car now is essential for the country's dominant industry to stay ahead, according to Thomas Weber, director of research at Daimler AG.

"The electric car has enormous potential," he said. "We cannot stand still and watch as other countries get ahead of us" (Caroline Copley, Reuters, Sept. 9).

Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/business/energy-environment/30water.html?_r=5&pagewanted=print

Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water
By TODD WOODY

AMARGOSA VALLEY, Nev. — In a rural corner of Nevada reeling from the recession, a bit of salvation seemed to arrive last year. A German developer, Solar Millennium, announced plans to build two large solar farms here that would harness the sun to generate electricity, creating hundreds of jobs.

But then things got messy. The company revealed that its preferred method of cooling the power plants would consume 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, about 20 percent of this desert valley's available water.

Now Solar Millennium finds itself in the midst of a new-age version of a Western water war. The public is divided, pitting some people who hope to make money selling water rights to the company against others concerned about the project's impact on the community and the environment.

"I'm worried about my well and the wells of my neighbors," George Tucker, a retired chemical engineer, said on a blazing afternoon.

Here is an inconvenient truth about renewable energy: It can sometimes demand a huge amount of water. Many of the proposed solutions to the nation's energy problems, from certain types of solar farms to biofuel refineries to cleaner coal plants, could consume billions of gallons of water every year.

"When push comes to shove, water could become the real throttle on renewable energy," said Michael E. Webber, an assistant professor at the University of Texas in Austin who studies the relationship between energy and water.

Conflicts over water could shape the future of many energy technologies. The most water-efficient renewable technologies are not necessarily the most economical, but water shortages could give them a competitive edge.

In California, solar developers have already been forced to switch to less water-intensive technologies when local officials have refused to turn on the tap. Other big solar projects are mired in disputes with state regulators over water consumption.

To date, the flashpoint for such conflicts has been the Southwest, where dozens of multibillion-dollar solar power plants are planned for thousands of acres of desert. While most forms of energy production consume water, its availability is especially limited in the sunny areas that are otherwise well suited for solar farms.

At public hearings from Albuquerque to San Luis Obispo, Calif., local residents have sounded alarms over the impact that this industrialization will have on wildlife, their desert solitude and, most of all, their water.

Joni Eastley, chairwoman of the county commission in Nye County, Nev., which includes Amargosa Valley, said at one hearing that her area had been "inundated" with requests from renewable energy developers that "far exceed the amount of available water."

Many projects involve building solar thermal plants, which use cheaper technology than the solar panels often seen on roofs. In such plants, mirrors heat a liquid to create steam that drives an electricity-generating turbine. As in a fossil fuel power plant, that steam must be condensed back to water and cooled for reuse.

The conventional method is called wet cooling. Hot water flows through a cooling tower where the excess heat evaporates along with some of the water, which must be replenished constantly. An alternative, dry cooling, uses fans and heat exchangers, much like a car's radiator. Far less water is consumed, but dry cooling adds costs and reduces efficiency — and profits.

The efficiency problem is especially acute with the most tried-and-proven technique, using mirrors arrayed in long troughs. "Trough technology has been more financeable, but now trough presents a separate risk — water," said Nathaniel Bullard, a solar analyst with New Energy Finance, a London research firm.

That could provide opportunities for developers of photovoltaic power plants, which take the type of solar panels found on residential rooftops and mount them on the ground in huge arrays. They are typically more expensive and less efficient than solar thermal farms but require a relatively small amount of water, mainly to wash the panels.

In California alone, plans are under way for 35 large-scale solar projects that, in bright sunshine, would generate 12,000 megawatts of electricity, equal to the output of about 10 nuclear power plants.

Their water use would vary widely. BrightSource Energy's dry-cooled Ivanpah project in Southern California would consume an estimated 25 million gallons a year, mainly to wash mirrors. But a wet-cooled solar trough power plant barely half Ivanpah's size proposed by the Spanish developer Abengoa Solar would draw 705 million gallons of water in an area of the Mojave Desert that receives scant rainfall.

One of the most contentious disputes is over a proposed wet-cooled trough plant that NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of the utility giant FPL Group, plans to build in a dry area east of Bakersfield, Calif.

NextEra wants to tap freshwater wells to supply the 521 million gallons of cooling water the plant, the Beacon Solar Energy Project, would consume in a year, despite a state policy against the use of drinking-quality water for power plant cooling.

Mike Edminston, a city council member from nearby California City, warned at a hearing that groundwater recharge was already "not keeping up with the utilization we have."

The fight over water has moved into the California Legislature, where a bill has been introduced to allow renewable energy power plants to use drinking water for cooling if certain conditions are met.

"By allowing projects to use fresh water, the bill would remove any incentives that developers have to use technologies that minimize water use," said Terry O'Brien, a California Energy Commission deputy director.

NextEra has resisted using dry cooling but is considering the feasibility of piping in reclaimed water. "At some point if costs are just layered on, a project becomes uncompetitive," said Michael O'Sullivan, a senior vice president at NextEra.

Water disputes forced Solar Millennium to abandon wet cooling for a proposed solar trough power plant in Ridgecrest, Calif., after the water district refused to supply the 815 million gallons of water a year the project would need. The company subsequently proposed to dry cool two other massive Southern California solar trough farms it wants to build in the Mojave Desert.

"We will not do any wet cooling in California," said Rainer Aringhoff, president of Solar Millennium's American operations. "There are simply no plants being permitted here with wet cooling."

One solar developer, BrightSource Energy, hopes to capitalize on the water problem with a technology that focuses mirrors on a tower, producing higher-temperature steam than trough systems. The system can use dry cooling without suffering a prohibitive decline in power output, said Tom Doyle, an executive vice president at BrightSource.

The greater water efficiency was one factor that led VantagePoint Venture Partners, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, to invest in BrightSource. "Our approach is high sensitivity to water use," said Alan E. Salzman, VantagePoint's chief executive. "We thought that was going to be huge differentiator."

Even solar projects with low water consumption face hurdles, however. Tessera Solar is planning a large project in the California desert that would use only 12 million gallons annually, mostly to wash mirrors. But because it would draw upon a severely depleted aquifer, Tessera may have to buy rights to 10 times that amount of water and then retire the pumping rights to the water it does not use. For a second big solar farm, Tessera has agreed to fund improvements to a local irrigation district in exchange for access to reclaimed water.

"We have a challenge in finding water even though we're low water use," said Sean Gallagher, a Tessera executive. "It forces you to do some creative deals."

In the Amargosa Valley, Solar Millennium may have to negotiate access to water with scores of individuals and companies who own the right to stick a straw in the aquifer, so to speak, and withdraw a prescribed amount of water each year.

"There are a lot of people out here for whom their water rights are their life savings, their retirement," said Ed Goedhart, a local farmer and state legislator, as he drove past pockets of sun-beaten mobile homes and luminescent patches of irrigated alfalfa. Farmers will be growing less of the crop, he said, if they decide to sell their water rights to Solar Millennium.

"We'll be growing megawatts instead of alfalfa," Mr. Goedhart said.

While water is particularly scarce in the West, it is becoming a problem all over the country as the population grows. Daniel M. Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, predicted that as intensive renewable energy development spreads, water issues will follow.

"When we start getting 20 percent, 30 percent or 40 percent of our power from renewables," Mr. Kammen said, "water will be a key issue."

29.9.09

Carbon newsclips for 29 September 2009: Improbable commercials are aimed at climate illiterates, while a complex and contradictory 200 page document is all that stands between us and catastrophic global warming.

Improbable commercials are aimed at climate illiterates, while a complex and contradictory 200 page document is all that stands between us and catastrophic global warming. Meanwhile,  businesses are asking for that extra regulation, which will provide many more jobs (and a planet to practice them on).

I am sure I'm not the only one that make sense of that. The question is, why isn't that clear to everyone? - JFB

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2009/sep/28/co2-is-green-tv-advert

CO2 is green: the TV advert making viewers choke
A TV advert paid for by an oil industry lobbyist telling Americans "more CO2 results in a greener earth" would be almost funny if it weren't so depressing

"Is this a joke?" splutters one of the comments underneath the YouTube video of a new 30-second TV advert that has started being aired in a handful of US states over the past few days telling viewers that "CO2 is green". Sadly not, it seems.
In a slick attempt to undermine the US Environmental Protection Agency's recent ruling that CO2 should now be classified as a pollutant because rising levels of the gas in the atmosphere will "endanger public health or welfare", a former oil industry executive has stumped up some of his cash to pay for these adverts to be shown in Montana and New Mexico. The ultimate aim of the advert, though, is to derail the forthcoming vote in the Senate on the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which now appears as if it might even impact on vital UN climate talks in Copenhagen this December.
So who's behind "CO2 is green" and this advert? One of its founders is H Leighton Steward who, until his retirement in 2000, was the vice chairman of Burlington Resources, a Houston-based oil and gas company bought by ConocoPhillips in 2006. Steward received the American Petroleum Institute's Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement in 2001 and remains an honorary director of the oil industry lobby group. In other words, we can conclude that this man boasts a particular pedigree within the oil industry.
The Washington Post (which admits it has taken a half-page advert from the "CO2 is green" group) is reporting that Steward, along with some associates, is now trying to establish the group as a charity:
Steward has joined forces with Corbin J Robertson Jr, chief executive of and leading shareholder in Natural Resource Partners, a Houston-based owner of coal resources that lets other companies mine in return for royalties. Its revenues were $291m [£184m] in 2008. They have formed two groups – CO2 Is Green designated for advocacy and Plants Need CO2 for education – with about $1m. Plants Need CO2 has applied for 501(c)(3) tax status, so that contributions would qualify as charitable donations, said Natural Resource Partners general counsel Wyatt L Hogan, who also serves on the group's board.
The advert (which varies slightly depending on the state) is really something to behold. Here's a transcript:
Congress is considering a law that would classify carbon dioxide as pollution. This will cost us jobs. There is no scientific evidence that CO2 is a pollutant. In fact, higher CO2 levels than we have today would help the earth's ecosystems and would support more plant and animal life. Please take action. Contact your senator and congressman today and remind them CO2 is not pollution and more CO2 results in a greener earth. Go to CO2isgreen.com, because we all need CO2.
The advert is ripe for spoofing. It's certainly tempting to laugh it off. (For extra merriment, visit the "CO2 is green" website and read the "Why do people believe these myths?" section: "They have been misinformed by people that benefit financially from propagating the myth." Oh, the irony.)
But the advert is also a juddering reminder there are still powerful, influential forces straining every last sinew and dollar they possess to deny that rising CO2 levels are a problem. That such efforts should so easily be traced back to oil industry operatives is not wholly surprising, but sobering nonetheless.
Far more depressing, though, is the fact that they have produced this"Plants need CO2" website to better inform the public about the "positive effects of additional atmospheric CO2 and help prevent the inadvertent negative impact to human, plant and animal life if we reduce CO2".
A word of caution before you click on the link: prepare yourself to be "educated".
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/28/us-climate-change-copenhagen-schnellnhuber/print

US inertia could scupper world climate deal in Copenhagen, says expert
Leading climate scientist criticises Bush administration and points to general ignorance of global warming in US public polls
David Adam, environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Monday 28 September 2009 18.06 BST


Pedestrians walk by the world's first real-time carbon counter in New York. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
US ignorance about the risks and reality of global warming could sink hopes of a new global deal to control greenhouse gas emissions at December's climate talks in Copenhagen, an advisor to the German government has said.
Professor John Schellnhuber, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said the US was "climate illiterate" and that the rest of the world may be forced to agree a new deal without it.
"Nobody should dream of the possibility that numbers and targets for countries will be sealed in Copenhagen," said Schellnhuber, one of the world's foremost climate scientists. "If the US doesn't move then nothing will happen."
He added: "The US in a sense is climate illiterate. It is a deeper problem in the US, if you look at global polls about what the public knows about climate change. Even in Brazil and China, you have more people who know the problem, who think that deep cuts in emissions are needed."
He predicted that it could be several years before the US would be willing to take on carbon cuts that were ambitious enough to persuade countries such as China to set targets of their own. At UN talks last week, China and India made small steps forwardon this issue, but Obama was unable to do the same.
"The political chances seem very slim that something will happen in Copenhagen and even in the years after," he said. "Maybe in the conferences following Copenhagen some countries – including China and the EU – whatever the US does, will say: we go ahead now. Why can't we save the world without the US? Why should that not happen?"
The US has some of the highest carbon emissions per capita in the world, and any deal without it would be significantly less effective at curbing global temperature rise.
Speaking on the fringes of a climate science conference at Oxford University today, Schellnhuber said the former US president, George Bush, was to blame for a decade of inaction on climate change, and that many in the Republican party and the wider US population still did not understand the need to act. European nations and others have been waiting for President Obama to engage with the issue in a way that Bush refused to.
Schellnhuber said: "Obama is aware of the problem and he personally wants to do something. The problem is: can he provide the leadership to overcome the system? Every top politician gets to do two or three unpopular things, and the right politicians choose the right things."
To convert a global deal on climate change into US law would require a two-thirds majority vote in the US Senate, something that many in Europe believe is unrealistic given Obama's ongoing troubles with healthcare reform. "It just may not be possible to overcome the American inertia," Scellnhuber said.
Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said: "It's vital for the climate that we get the Americans on board, but if we can't, then we can't just do nothing – we still need to make the biggest emission cuts that we can. If that means China and Europe and others going on without the Americans, then that may be the price we need to pay."
Schellnhuber's comments come as UN talks on a possible Copenhagen deal continue in Bangkok. Negotiators from 190 countries are wrestling with a draft treaty text, which runs to 200 pages and is riddled with alternate options and provisional text in square brackets.
His words reflect growing suspicion in Europe that the talks are crawling towards a unsatisfactory outcome, and that little progress is being made in the US. Earlier this month, the Guardian revealed a growing rift between Europe and the US over the latter's approach to how carbon targets could be set and met.
The Oxford conference is centred around the implications of a 4C rise in global average temperature, which scientists believe could be a possibility if serious carbon cuts are not agreed in Copenhagen.
Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, presented a study demonstrating that the world could see a 4C rise as soon as 2060-2070 – within the lifetime of many people alive today.
Nigel Arnell, a climate expert at the University of Reading, said a temperature rise on this scale would bring about colossal changes in weather conditions, affecting billions of people. Some 15% of land worldwide that is currently suitable for agriculture would become useless, he said. Available land would shift north, to regions such as Siberia, which is currently covered in forest.
• This article was amended on Tuesday 29 September 2009. In the article above we said that the US has by some distance the largest carbon emissions per capita in the world, what we should have said is the US has some of the highest carbon emissions per capita in the world. This has been changed.



http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/28/met-office-study-global-warming

Met Office warns of catastrophic global warming in our lifetimes
• Study says 4C rise in temperature could happen by 2060
• Increase could threaten water supply of half world population

David Adam, environment correspondent
The Guardian, Monday 28 September 2009
Article history

Droughts and heatwaves are predicted to spread if average temperatures rise by 2C. The Met Office's study warns global warming could result in a rise of 4C by 2060. Photograph: Vinay Dithajohn/EPA
Unchecked global warming could bring a severe temperature rise of 4C within many people's lifetimes, according to a new report for the British government that significantly raises the stakes over climate change.
The study, prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change by scientists at the Met Office, challenges the assumption that severe warming will be a threat only for future generations, and warns that a catastrophic 4C rise in temperature could happen by 2060 without strong action on emissions.
Officials from 190 countries gather today in Bangkok to continue negotiations on a new deal to tackle global warming, which they aim to secure at United Nations talks in December in Copenhagen.
"We've always talked about these very severe impacts only affecting future generations, but people alive today could live to see a 4C rise," said Richard Betts, the head of climate impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, who will announce the findings today at a conference at Oxford University. "People will say it's an extreme scenario, and it is an extreme scenario, but it's also a plausible scenario."
According to scientists, a 4C rise over pre-industrial levels could threaten the water supply of half the world's population, wipe out up to half of animal and plant species, and swamp low coasts.
A 4C average would mask more severe local impacts: the Arctic and western and southern Africa could experience warming up to 10C, the Met Office report warns.
The study updates the findings of the 2007 report of theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which said the world would probably warm by 4C by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. The IPCC also listed a more severe scenario, with emissions and temperatures rising further because of more intensive fossil fuel burning, but this was not considered realistic. "That scenario was downplayed because we were more conservative a few years ago. But the way we are going, the most severe scenario is looking more plausible," Betts said.
A report last week from the UN Environment Programme said emissions since 2000 have risen faster than even this IPCC worst-case scenario. "In the 1990s, these scenarios all assumed political will or other phenomena would have brought about the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by this point. In fact, CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning and industrial processes have been accelerating."
The Met Office scientists used new versions of the computer models used to set the IPCC predictions, updated to include so-called carbon feedbacks or tipping points, which occur when warmer temperatures release more carbon, such as from soils.
When they ran the models for the most extreme IPCC scenario, they found that a 4C rise could come by 2060 or 2070, depending on the feedbacks. Betts said: "It's important to stress it's not a doomsday scenario, we do have time to stop it happening if we cut greenhouse gas emissions soon." Soaring emissions must peak and start to fall sharply within the next decade to head off a 2C rise, he said. To avoid the 4C scenario, that peak must come by the 2030s.
A poll of 200 climate experts for the Guardian earlier this year found that most of them expected a temperature rise of 3C-4C by the end of the century.
The implications of a 4C rise on agriculture, water supplies and wildlife will be discussed at the Oxford conference, which organisers have billed as the first to properly consider such a dramatic scenario.
Mark New, a climate expert at Oxford who has organised the conference, said: "If we get a weak agreement at Copenhagen then there is not just a slight chance of a 4C rise, there is a really big chance. It's only in the last five years that scientists have started to realise that 4C is becoming increasingly likely and something we need to look at seriously." Limiting global warming to 2C could only be achieved with new technology to suck greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. "I think the policy makers know that. I think there is an implicit understanding that they are negotiating not about 2C but 3C or 5C."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/28/copenhagen-climate-text/print

Copenhagen negotiating text: 200 pages to save the world?
Draft agreement being discussed ahead of December's crucial Copenhagen summit is long, confusing and contradictory

Interactive: Beginner's guide to the negotiating text
Help us interpret the document

David Adam, environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Monday 28 September 2009 16.37 BST


The draft document includes sections on the traditional sticking points that have delayed progress on climate change to date. Photograph: John Giles/PA
It is a blueprint to save the world. And yet it is long, confusing and contradictory. Negotiators have released a draft version of a new global agreement on climate change, which is widely billed as the last chance to save the planet from the ravages of global warming.
Running to some 200 pages, the draft agreement is being discussed for the first time this week as officials from 190 countries gather in Bangkok for the latest round of UN talks. There is only one short meeting after this before they meet in Copenhagen aiming to hammer out a final version.
The draft text consolidates and reorders hundreds of changes demanded by countries to the previous version, which saw it balloon to an unmanageable 300 pages. It has no official status yet, and must be formally approved before negotiators can start to whittle it down. Here, we present key, edited sections from the text and attempt to decipher what the words mean.
The text includes sections on the traditional sticking points that have delayed progress on climate change for a decade or longer.
• How much are rich countries willing to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, and by when?
• Will large developing nations such as China make an effort to put at least a dent in their soaring levels of pollution?
• How much money must flow from the developed world to developing countries to grease the wheels and secure their approval? How much to compensate for the impact of past emissions, and how much to help prevent future emissions?
According to the UN rules, for a new treaty to be agreed, every country must sign up – a challenging requirement. The new treaty is designed to follow the Kyoto protocol, the world's existing treaty to regulate greenhouse gases, the first phase of which expires in 2012. Because the US did not ratify Kyoto, the climate talks have been forced on to awkward parallel tracks, with one set of negotiations, from which the US is excluded, debating how the treaty could be extended past 2012. This new text comes from the second track, which lays out a plan to include all countries in long-term co-operative action.
Behind the scenes, pessimism about the Copenhagen talks is rising. Despite references in the text to a global goal and collective emission cuts of 25-40% by 2020 for rich countries, many observers believe there is little chance such an approach will succeed.
Stuart Eizenstat, who negotiated Kyoto for the US, said: "Copenhagen is more likely to be a way station to a final agreement, where each country posts the best that it can do... The key thing is let's not go into Copenhagen with all the same kind of guns blazing like we did in Kyoto."
A top European official told the Guardian: "We've moved on from the idea that we can negotiate on targets. That's naive and just not the way the deal will be done. The best we can get is that countries will put in what they want to commit to."
Once all the carbon offsets – buying pollution credits instead of cutting emissions – and "fudges" are taken into account, the outcome is likely to be that emissions in 2020 from rich countries will be broadly similar to those in 1990, he said. "That's really scary stuff."


http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/ariel-schwartz/sustainability/obvious-confirmed-switch-green-economy-produces-jobs

Green Economy Produces Jobs - But How Many?
BY ARIEL SCHWARTZFri Sep 25, 2009 at 5:55 PM


It makes perfect sense that overhauling our economy to fight climate change will inevitably produce jobs. After all, someone has to manufacture, produce, sell, and maintain all those turbines, solar panels, electric cars, and fuel cells. Now three new studies from theClimate GroupGreenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), and the Global Climate Network have confirmed that a green economy produces jobs.
The Global Climate Network study, released today, reiterates the conclusions of the first two studies--that millions of jobs could be generated from the war on global warming. But while Greenpeace estimates that climate change could produce 2.7 million jobs in the EU and the Climate Group predicts an influx of 10 million jobs worldwide by 2020, the Global Climate Network makes the ambitious claim that 30 million new jobs could be created by 2020, mostly in Germany, Japan, China, Brazil, and the U.S. (Forty million cleantech-related jobs are expected to be created, but 10 million jobs related to inefficient technologies will be lost in the same time period.)
There are a bunch of big "ifs" involved in the Climate Group's equation, however. The burgeoning green economy will only grow as fast as the Climate Group expects if renewable energy generation markets and a focus on low-carbon technology ramp up in China. And the study points out that "The dynamism of technology is inherently unpredictable and numbers of jobs created by prioritizing technology could be many times greater than current predictions suggest." Time to spruce up that resume and apply to the local solar company.

http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MzU1NTk

Business Calls on Governments to Reach Climate Change Agreement

Geneva, 4 September 2009 - The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Energy Council (WEC) today called on government leaders to reach a climate change agreement in Copenhagen during final negotiations there in December on a post 2012 framework.

The three organizations issued the call during theWorld Climate Conference (WCC-3) in Geneva , which brought together high-level policy-makers, scientists, climate service providers, global business leaders and decision-makers from more than 150 countries. The week-long meeting, organized by the World Meteorological Organization, sought to help nations cope with climate change by improving the way climate information is collected and shared among governments. The private sector was represented by ICC, WBCSD and WEC.

"This is a crucial year," said Laurent Corbier, Chair, ICC Commission on Environment and Energy. " The private sector urges government leaders to reach an agreement in Copenhagen on a post 2012 framework to provide business with a clear, predictable framework to stimulate investment in technologies that will enable a transition to a low carbon economy." Mr Corbier added that the WCC-3 was a stepping stone in this process, helping to raise awareness and provide momentum to develop climate related services which can assist governments and businesses in making better decisions.

On Wednesday, business experts and leaders from intergovernmental organizations met during the Business and Industry Forum to discuss how companies can develop durable solutions to the climate challenge.

Jacqueline Coté, ICC Special Representative in Geneva , opened the Forum saying that business is part of the solution and very much engaged in the fight against climate change. " Many companies have already made major changes in how they operate by introducing energy efficient processes or new products and services that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions," she said .

Juan Carlos Castilla-Rubio, Managing Director, Climate Change Innovation Group, Cisco, highlighted that complexity and uncertainty are hallmarks of the early 21 st century, as recent developments in the global financial markets demonstrate all too vividly.

"Responses to the financial crisis have featured demands for global coordination. Our economic woes, however, are dwarfed by the increasing threats of climate change, environmental degradation and a resource crunch," said Mr Castilla-Rubio. "Unprecedented global coordination and collaboration of the private sector with the pub lic and people sectors are the only way to address these challenges."

Jean-Yves Caneill, Sustainable Development Project Manager, Electricité de France (EDF) provided tangible examples of how EDF took a very early lead role by utilizing climate services to determine their exposure to climate variability. "We have learned how best to use weather and climate data information in our business," Mr. Caneill said. "Surviving extreme events like storms, droughts and heat waves over the past years has taught us that resilience is a fundamental skill we must have if we want to prosper and/or survive as a company."

Juan Gonzalez-Valero, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Syngenta, stated: "Better climate information helps business to focus our research and make the right long-term investments." He added: "If you think growing enough crops to feed the world won't be impacted by climate, you're dreaming. And developing crops which are adapted to a changing climate is a long term process." Furthermore, Mr Gonzalez said that "climate change impacts in agriculture are mainly felt though water availability. They have huge economic consequences as well. In 2006-2007, about USD 30 billion worth of crops was lost due to drought."

Mr Gonzalez also represented the private sector Wednesday in a separate working panel on Climate Change and Food Security. "Syngenta is working on understanding the response mechanism in plants that can enable them to better resist drought and other hardships," he said "We need to account for the embedded value of water within our crops."

During the Forum, Christophe Nuttall, Director, Hub for Innovative Partnerships, United Nations Development Programme, demonstrated how important partnerships are in the fight against climate change. Mr Nuttall highlighted the Territorial Approach to Climate Change (TACC), an innovative partnership model that brings together key stakeholders, including sub-national actors, to find innovative solutions to climate change. "100 % of adaptation policies will happen at the subnational level; indeed regional and local authorities are the real movers and shakers," said Mr Nuttall. "Through the TACC, the UN is partnering with regional and local actors, and is now seeking to enhance its engagement with the private sector through organizations such as WBCSD and ICC."

ICC, WBCSD and WEC will continue to work together on the road towards Copenhagen , bringing a wide range of business voices and expertise to help solve the climate challenge.

28.9.09

Green newsclips for 28 Sept 2009: Disappearing glaciers and multiplying green seals... Track them all with Google

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/28/proliferation-of-400-green-seals-detracts-from-message/

Proliferation of 400+ Green Seals Detracts From Message
There are so many seals and certifications related to "green" and environmental attributes of products and services that many such marks risk losing their effectiveness, according to 2009 Conscious Consumer Report from BBMG.
In fact, there are more than 400 such seals and certifications, BBMG found.
In general, consumers tend to trust government-approved and generic seals more than others.

---See the article for some interesting tables... JFB

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/ancient-glaciers-are-disappearing-faster-than-ever-1792274.html

Ancient glaciers are disappearing faster than ever
By Michael McCarthy environment editor
Satellite laser measurements show change in environment for the first time

Melting ice is pouring off Greenland and Antarctica into the sea far faster than was previously realised because of global warming, new scientific research reveals today.

The accelerating loss from the world's two great land-based ice sheets means a rise in sea levels is likely to happen even more quickly than UN scientists suggested only two years ago, the findings by British scientists suggest.

Although floating ice, such as that in the Arctic Ocean, does not add to sea-level rise when it melts as it is already displacing its own mass in the water, melting ice from the land raises the global sea level directly. At present it is thought that land-based ice melt accounts for about 1.8mm of the current annual sea level rise of 3.2mm - the rest is coming from the fact that water expands in volume as it warms. But the new findings, published online today in the journal Nature, imply that this rate is likely to increase.

High-resolution satellite laser measurements have shown that along both the Greenland and Antarctic coastlines, the glaciers and ice streams which for thousands of years have slowly carried ice into the sea are now rapidly thinning, meaning they are speeding up in their flow. In both cases, the increased flow rate is extending back far into the ice sheets' interior.

This is happening all the way around Greenland, even at the high northern latitudes, and around much of Antarctica, especially in West Antarctica and around the Antarctic Peninsula.

Areas around the Greenland coast are hotspots of glacier thinning - in some cases the glacier surface level is dropping at a rate of half a metre per year, while in others it is a remarkable rate of a metre and a half.

It is the first time that a comprehensive view of the rate of thinning - and thus ice loss - all the way around the coast has been made possible. It has been put together by Hamish Pritchard and his colleagues from the British Antarctic Survey and the University of Bristol, by analysing millions of measurements from Nasa's high-resolution ICESat (Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite).

Launched in January 2003, ICESat examines changes in the world's ice and land masses. The satellite's lasers have measured the surface elevation of the Earth's ice sheets with unprecedented accuracy - and thus picked up how they are changing.

"The fact that the changes are so large is alarming, and you wonder how far they will go," Dr Pritchard said. "The thinning effect must be relatively recent, as it is so strong that it could not have been sustained previously without the glaciers melting away."

The scientists compared the rates of change in elevation of both fast-flowing and slow-flowing ice. In Greenland, they studied 111 fast-moving glaciers and found 81 thinning at rates twice that of slow-flowing ice at the same altitude. They found that ice loss from many glaciers in both Antarctica and Greenland is greater than the rate of snowfall further inland.

In Antarctica, some of the fastest thinning glaciers are in the west, where the Pine Island, Smith and Thwaites Glaciers are thinning by up to nine metres per year.

"We were surprised to see such a strong pattern of thinning glaciers across such large areas of coastline - it's widespread and in some cases thinning extends hundreds of kilometres inland," Dr Pritchard said. "This kind of ice loss is so poorly understood that it remains the most unpredictable part of future sea level rise."

* Humanity must stay within the defined boundaries of several of the Earth's natural processes or face catastrophe, a group of leading environmental scientists warns today. The scientists, who include James Hansen of Nasa, the world's leading climatologist, suggest in the journal Nature that nine Earth-system processes are among the planetary boundaries: climate change, ocean acidification, interference with the global cycles of nitrogen and phosphorus, freshwater use, changes in land use, atmospheric aerosol loading, chemical pollution and rate of biodiversity loss.

For three of these - the nitrogen cycle, the rate at which species are being lost and anthropogenic climate change - they argue that the acceptable boundary level has already been passed. In addition, they say that humanity is fast approaching the boundaries for freshwater use, for converting forests and other natural ecosystems to cropland, for acidification of the oceans and for the phosphorous cycle.

http://knowledge.allianz.com/en/globalissues/climate_change/climate_solutions/adaptation_wwf_vaughan.html

WWF-Interview: The Limits of Adaptation
WWF climate change adaptation expert Kit Vaughan talks about the limits of adaptation, and how climate change will shake the very foundations of our society.





Kit Vaughan, WWF Climate Change Adaptation Expert
"People fear living up to the truth that they will have to adapt." (Photo: Vaughan)


 
A certain amount of climate change is inevitable. How can we adapt to this? 
That's difficult to answer. We are not sure what the full extent of the effects will really look like and by when. What we are seeing now are the first easily observable effects, like glacial melt. But there is a certain scientific bandwidth regarding the projected changes. For example, there could be many meters of sea level rise or just 40 centimeters, although recently scientists said that current IPCC projections have underestimated sea level rise and we could be looking at as much as 1.5 meters by the end of the century and associated temperature increases. What we do know is that there is a scary future out there.  
 
Mankind has met adaptation challenges before. What makes climate change different? 
Adapting to climate change is not something new; we have been doing it as society for thousands of years. People and species have always adapted to changing climates. What is different is the speed and the scale of the changes we are facing. 
 
In the last 300 or 400 years, we have built our society and economies on an assumed stable environment. If you look at houses built near a river, you see that they are all built in what people considered to be a fairly safe place, a few meters above the water, the highest tide, etc. But that is now changing, and so the baseline for our society changes.  
 
So apart from thinking twice before buying waterfront property, what else will we have to consider? 
We have been building houses to withstand a certain maximum of temperature change in the summer. What we are going to see in a world that is three, four, five degrees warmer is that our houses, hospitals, and schools will be too exposed to sun and heat. The same is true for biodiversity, ecosystems, and species. They have adapted to fit certain niches, and these niches are now changing and so will they. They are either forced to adapt, migrate, or go extinct. 
 
The difficulty is how to support adaptation in a world with nine billion people, increased demands for food security and natural resources, and increasing climate stress, while you get more storms, more drought, and smaller crop yields and so on. The dynamics of our ecosystems and our societies are changing and we will have to learn how to adapt where possible. That is what adaptation is about: learning to live with these impacts, and learning to respond to these risks and building in resilience where possible. 
 
What are the best ways to adapt? 
For a society, good adaptation means good development. You would have to reduce other sources of stress on the system. Take a smallholder farmer society in Mali. They may have increased rainfall in the wetter season and less rain in the drier season. So they get more floods and then no rain and more droughts and temperature increases.
 
One of the ways to adapt could be to provide new seed varieties, and rainwater harvesting, but also develop new market and diversification opportunities to live with the new environment.  

Picture Gallery (click on the image to start)
See examples of how we can adapt to a changing climate


 
And how can cities adapt?  
If you look at adaptation in London, that would mean ensuring buildings are more resilient to heat extremes, changes in rainfall, and flooding. And you would have to build bigger infrastructure that helps control storm surges up the River Thames; better flood warning, more people with the capability to manage disasters at a local community level; and supporting people to respond more quickly and independently to disasters.  
 
What can humans do to protect other species and ecosystems from the impacts of climate change? 
The main thing would be to reduce the pressure that is already on these species and ecosystems. If we take a coral reef, for example, you would try to take the pressure off that reef. You would stop fishermen from dragging their nets, stop tourists from going there, remove the agricultural runoff - soil, toxics, and pesticides coming in there. But it would still suffer from climatic impacts. 
 
But for many species, it will be very difficult to adapt, because if they move out of their original environment, they won't find the other plants and flora that they depend on. If you think of a piece of woodland and you take 50 percent of all species out, many others will perish too, because they are interdependent on each other. Mostly the species that are not dependent will be able to adapt. Many varieties of plants, birds, insects and all wildlife will not be able to adapt in their current situation. 
 
Is there a limit to adaptation? How much global warming can we tolerate? 
Take the worst scenarios, that is six degrees Celsius of warming or more. What remains of society could  be living towards the poles as there will be very little else that's habitable. With six degrees of temperature increase, many environments will be difficult places to live in anymore. 
 
In general adaptation, it depends on who can tolerate what changes. There are already many people in this world who cannot tolerate the level of climate change we are already seeing. That might be the very poor people in the Mississippi Delta when its flooded, the people in the Sahel region of Africa when there is a drought, the people on small tropical islands like Tuvalu when the sea levels are rising. They can't afford the pumps and dikes to protect their environments or the new crop seeds, so they may have to migrate.  
 
It critically depends on adaptive capacity. How much capacity an individual, economy, and society would have to adapt to these impacts and to reduce risk and build in resilience. And that very much depends on the resources available.  
 
Why is adaptation not as talked about as mitigation?  
In the past, climate change mitigation and adaptation have been separated, but increasingly this is changing. People are now starting to say that adaptation is not something that we might have to do; it is something we will have to do now and it is fundamentally linked to mitigation.  
 
Adaptation also has a negative undertone – it means you acknowledge that we have failed to mitigate sufficiently. And people fear living up to the truth that they will have to adapt and that the earlier you reduce your emissions, the less you will have to pay to adapt, where possible. So we need to start now! 
 
How much money would it cost to adapt to climate change, and who should pay? 
There are very rough estimates for the costs of adaptation from anywhere between 50 to 130 billion dollars. The amount we have available at the moment is just paltry, just a few hundred million dollars. So the question is who is going to pay for this, and also how do we pay out this money. Which is the most vulnerable country? What mechanisms will generate this money?
 
Under the UNFCCC, people have signed up to something called the Principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Polluter Pays. If I as your neighbor mess up your garden, I have to pay for it. 
Related Articles
Adapting to Climate Change: Can We Do It Again?
Adapting Insurance to Climate Change
So, in a sense, the big hot political potato is pointing the finger and saying, "Hey, you guys caused this problem, and what you are doing is actually damaging large parts of the world and infrastructure, and as such you are liable for the damage, whilst at the same time incentivizing global society to rapidly reduce emissions.
 
editor: Thilo Kunzemann
publishing date: August 26, 2008

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/24/google-earth-tool-tracks-climate-change/

Google Earth Tool Tracks Climate Change
Multinational companies can track various climate change models through a new Google Earth tool.
The tool, which is a series of layers and tours showing the effects of different climate change models, would allow companies to see how climate change might affect their far-flung operations.
Google recently unveiled the tool at itsblog. The tool was developed in collaboration with the Danish government, with an eye toward using it at the upcoming Copenhagen climate talks in December.
The Google Earth plug-in is required to use the tool.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/24/twenty-trends-for-sustainability-in-2009-10/

Twenty Trends for Sustainability in 2009-10
Becky Willan
Head of Strategy
Clownfish

Here is a list of 20 sustainability trends that are changing the business landscape. We're keeping our eyes on these…
1. From economic collapse to a green economic recovery.
Interest in all things "green" continues to grow as the economy sinks. About 34 percent of people are now more likely to buy environmentally responsible products and 44 percent of consumers indicate their environmental shopping habits have not changed as a result of the economy (Cone Consumer environmental survey 2009).
Sustainability is coming into its own as a force to drive competitiveness. This development is substantiated by the stabilization of green jobs while others have collapsed (Environmental Leader 2009). Businesses are increasingly realizing the ability to minimize costs through environmentally conscious operations – boosting profits, developing brand value and building a strong position to beat less adaptive competitors when the recession ends.
2. From carbon footprint confusion to footprint awareness.
More than half of the global population is aware of the term "carbon footprint," up from 38 percent in 2007. U.S. consumers fall behind the UK in awareness – 96 percent of UK adults say they are aware of the term and many of us have used a carbon footprint online calculator. As this awareness grows, it is likely that consumers will drive the sustainability market by demanding low carbon products.
3. From carbon offset doubt to market development.
More companies will continue to offset carbon emissions. Point Carbon's Market Outlook expects the global carbon offset market to grow 20 percent in terms of volume in 2009. They forecast that 5.9 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) will trade this year, compared to 4.9 Gt in 2008. Despite this prediction, Clownfish hope that there will be a stronger trend for direct reductions rather than offsetting, as the old saying goes, "prevention is better than cure."
4. From carbon-centric to water-centric.
The UK has become obsessed with carbon footprints, but now the term water footprint has entered the corporate vocabulary. About 2.6 billion people have no access to clean water (FairHome 2008), a problem not isolated to developing countries. This has pushed water issues up the environmental agenda, and will become a new focus for 2009-10. European legislation is changing to achieve the Water Framework Directive's aim to have good or high quality water in the whole European Union by 2015. Businesses will no longer be able to ignore their water use and efficiency.
5. From direct water use to embedded water use.
There is an increasing focus on embedded water use, which will only continue in 2009.
According to Waterwise, the average person in the UK directly uses about 150 liters of water per day. But behind this direct use there is an indirect use, which is about 23 times higher at 3400 liters per day. Of those 3,400 liters, 31 percent is embedded in industrial goods and 65 percent embedded in food, with the other 4 percent relating to drinking water and water used for domestic purposes. To reduce this indirect usage, consumers will be calling on businesses to make changes to their products.
6. From high-energy use light-bulbs to light-sensors.
A recent survey of over 2000 lighting and electrical experts has found that occupancy sensors are the most recommended energy saving office tool. Among new building projects surveyed in the past two years, occupancy sensors were recommended in 55 percent of applications, which can save an average of 30 percent in lighting costs. Expect more companies to be adopting energy saving techniques this year, particularly as companies tighten their purse strings in the recession and energy bills continue to fluctuate.
7. From cheap to costly carbon car taxes.
European taxes on carbon emissions for new cars are becoming stricter; they are increasing to 130g/km by 2012, this target is likely to increase after 2012. Over the next year, suppliers will need to be engaged and made aware of the realities that they will face when this legislation is passed.
8. From fast fashion to slow fashion.
Fashion experts are predicting the days of fast fashion will soon dwindle. Consumers are beginning to steer away from cheap, disposable items and appreciate the value of investing in ethically-sourced, organic and fairtrade fabrics. In 2009, consumer awareness will continue to grow and shoppers will no longer consider products that cause environmental destruction or promote unethical practices to be the best on the high street. Luxury fashion will begin to associate environmentally and socially responsible products with status – lets hope the celebs won't just be wearing Gucci because of its price tag, but wearing Noir because it is ethically responsible – a price tag worth paying.
9. From landfill waste to lack of space.
Landfill sites for London's non-hazardous rubbish are likely to be full by the end of 2010, and other landfill sites will run out of capacity by 2013. As a result, UK Landfill taxes are increasing from £8/ton/year in 2009 to £48/ton/year in 2010. This is in line with European waste targets that hope to achieve a 75 percent reduction in landfill waste between 2005 and 2010, a further 50 percent by 2013 and 35 percent by 2020. So companies will have to seek reductions in waste or be forced to pay up.
10. From energy excess to energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency is set to become even bigger business this year; The July 2008 edition of The McKinsey Quarterly estimated that US$170 billion a year will be invested in energy efficiency between now and 2020, which could halve forecasted growth in global energy demand. That effort could also deliver up to half of the carbon dioxide emissions abatement needed to cap atmospheric greenhouse gases at 450ppm.
The EU's prEN 16001 energy efficiency standard, out in 2009, will extend the scope of the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 environmental standards into energy management to help companies set up continuous improvement processes for efficient energy use. The ISO is planning to do likewise with a new ISO 50001 standard by 2011. So stay up to speed with the energy efficiency trends – it is all changing!
11. From energy efficiency standards to legal requirements.
New energy laws are likely to be just around the corner. Alongside prEN 16001, a draft EU standard for energy efficiency services was published in March 2009 for public comment. It outlines standards for calculating energy consumption, energy audit methodologies, and energy certificates, which the EU hopes may be tradable in the future. These standards will have significant effects on management systems throughout Europe – even more so when the governments decide to implement some of the recommendations into law.
12. From fossil fuels to renewables.
Renewable energy is a focus of 2009 as the European Investment Bank increases lending to develop renewable energy schemes. According to Morgan Stanley's Green Market Penetration forecast (2007), the renewables trend is going to continue developing; revenue from alternative energies could top $500 billion in 2020 and world-wide sales from alternative energy sources could reach $1 trillion by 2030.
13. From printed papers to digital development.
Digital marketing has provided new tools for brands to reach their audiences; the development of online videos, social networks, podcasts and games, highlights that the digital marketing space will continue to expand. A consumer's online experience can significantly affect future behaviour; 81 percent of consumers are more likely to return to the website if they had a good experience (Cosmetics Design 2008).
Brands will increasingly use online spaces in 2009 to communicate with consumers. Digital means that today the brands that will win, will be those whose consumers and other stakeholders tell the best stories. It's no longer a one-way narrative, it's about a two-way conversation.
14. From greenwashing to green authentification.
Complaints about the misuse of green terminology in advertisements to the Advertising Standards Authority have increased dramatically in recent years. In 2006, the ASA received 117 complaints about environmental claims in 83 advertisements, but in 2007, there were 561 complaints about 410 advertisements ? almost a 500 percent increase. The most common claims being challenged are those referring to carbon reduction, cradle?to?grave and green energy sources. This year will see the development of advertising standards and an increasing requirement for brands to have claims that are underpinned by fact.
15. From creative carbon labels to consistent carbon labelling.
Carbon labelling schemes are up and running on lots of packaging, but there is a lack of transparency in the calculations and no international standardisation – Watch for this to be developed in 2009.
16. From offline to online.
Brands can no longer hide behind their TV ads or billboard posters because of the power of online search. Consumers can find information about anything, anytime, and they are actively seeking information about the brands with which they interact. In 2009, it is going to be increasingly important for brand image to match company behaviour. After all, 81 percent of UK consumers place more importance on what companies do than what they say (The Drum 2008). So it is about clear, genuine, authentic messages that promote transparency, as this research shows there is a positive correlation between transparency and trust – It's about being tangible.
17. From environmental sustainability to embedded sustainability.
In 2009 we will see stronger links between sustainability and well-being. The UN Development and Happiness Index, and the NEF Happy Planet Index integrate human well-being and environmental impact. The credibility of these indices will continue to increase, with the $200 billion Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) market expected to double by 2010 and quadruple by 2015, according to the Natural Marketing Institute. As awareness increases about the intertwined relationship between the environment and well-being, the public will rapidly demand environmental action.
18. From company claims to external verification.
Consumers no longer passively accept news and product information thrown at them by marketers, ads, or their peers. About 64 percent of consumers want third-party verification of green claims according to the GfK-Roper's 2007 report. Some unusual partnerships are already developing between NGO's and large organisations, for example McDonald's and Greenpeace, Coca-Cola and WWF and Vodafone Greece and Greenpeace. As this trend continues in 2009, there needs to be a balance between credibility and values for both the company and the NGO. This will help to retain the trust of consumers
19. From one renewable success to another.
Patents in wind, fuel cells, hydroelectric, tidal and geothermal were up in 2008 over 2007 with hydroelectric and tidal patents being at all time highs. In contrast, solar, hybrid/electric vehicle and biomass/biofuel energy patents fell slightly in 2008. In 2009, it will be interesting to see which renewable energy sources will continue to develop new technology.
20. From bins to bucks.
Gone are the days when consumers simply put something in the bin after using it. People are now opting to reuse, resell, donate or recycle old goods. Millions of us sell used goods on Ebay, which has recently launched "green team" and "world of good" websites to help users buy, sell and think green.
With tightening waste restrictions and legislations, we are beginning to see end use considered in the design stage of the products we buy. Manufacturers are reusing parts of returned products, essentially accomplishing two things: repurposing the materials and holistically extending the life of the product. This is an environmentalists' dream that will hopefully spread across the business world in 2009-10.
Becky Willan is Head of Strategy for Clownfish, a London-based marketing/communications agency that specializes in sustainability.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/23/office-depot-helps-large-customers-understand-greenness-of-purchases/

Office Depot Helps Large Customers Understand 'Greenness' of Purchaseso
Office Depot is stepping up its transparency in products it sells that have environmental attributes, including a special program for larger customers that helps explain the "greenness" of the customers' overall purchases. The program relies on Office Depot's Shades of Green labeling program.
Additionally, Office Depot reduced its facilities and transportation carbon footprint by 6 percent in 2008. The biggest chunk of the reduction came from reducing fuel use and GHG emissions from deliveries, with that combined figure dropping 14 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to Office Depot's 2009 Corporate Citizenship Report (PDF).
Office Depot, which has nearly 1,600 locations and $14.5 billion in annual revenue, sells more than 6,100 items in North America that have what it calls "green attributes." That's up from 5,200 in 2007 and about 4,000 in 2006.
To differentiate the environmental attributes of products, the company's Shades of Green labeling system was implemented. Here's a look at the Shades of Green scale.
All 6,100 items that have green attributes are tagged either "light green," "bright green" or "dark green," said Melissa Perlman, Manager of Public Relations for Office Depot.
For the most part, the products are tagged as to their shade of green in database form, not on the product packaging, she said. However, some in-store Office Depot Green brand items, including copy paper, hanging folders, envelopes, packing peanuts, paper products and CFL lights, utilize the labeling program in-store.
Also, Office Depot is rolling out to large customers a program to explain the environmental attributes of items the customers are buying. Dubbed the "Green Business Review," the program uses the Shades of Green Rankings.
The program was piloted in June and in October it will be rolled to more than 2 million large customers, Perlman said.
Here's a sample report.

The company in the past year built its first LEED Gold certified store, in Austin, Texas.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/23/csr-investments-up-despite-economy/

CSR Investments Up Despite Economy
The economic recession has not put an end to corporate citizenship. Based on current economic conditions, 15 percent of companies are increasing their research and development for new sustainable products; 11 percent are increasing corporate citizenship marketing and communications; and 10 percent are increasing local and/or domestic sourcing or manufacturing, according to a new study from the Hitachi Foundation and the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.
The study finds that about 54 percent of U.S. senior executives believe corporate citizenship is even more important in a recession with 54 percent now communicating with employees about it and 39 percent talking with stakeholders.
Another finding reveals a majority of U.S. companies are not making major changes in their corporate citizenship practices. Of those who made changes, 38 percent reduced philanthropy/giving, 27 percent increased layoffs, and 19 percent reduced R&D for sustainable products.
The study, Weathering the Storm: The State of Corporate Citizenship, also finds that large companies are responding to the recession much differently than small companies. For example, large companies significantly increased their investments and involvement in citizenship activities, but they were also more likely to lay people off. Small firms had minimal layoffs but they significantly decreased attention to other aspects of citizenship, such as volunteering or philanthropy.
The study also indicates that environmental sustainability efforts continue to grow during the recession. Twenty-nine percent of business leaders say their companies support environmental issues through their community investment strategy, which is a 10 percent increase since 2007.
Sustainability is now seen as a major business driver with 52 percent of companies (65 percent of large companies) designing and offering sustainable products or services, about 72 percent of American companies (85 percent of large) reducing costs through improved materials efficiency, and 58 percent (60 percent of large) manufacturing or sourcing domestically/locally.
In addition, 59 percent of large companies offer energy-efficient products and another 59 percent provide customers with more information about social and environmental impacts of their products and services.

Among large companies, 63 percent have goals and objectives around environmental responsibility, 58 percent measure the business impact of their environmental initiatives, and 47 percent report having environmental performance goals for individual managers.
This latest study supports the 2009 Greening of Corporate America Report, which found that twice as many companies see sustainability as centrally oriented to their business operations, including the sale of "green" products or services, as compared to 2006.

Carbon newsclips for Sept 28, 2009: The road is getting crowded en route to COP15


http://www.thisisafricaonline.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/80/Calling_Copenhagen.html

Calling Copenhagen
The early effects of climate change may already be impacting on Africa's development gains. As the international community gears up for climate negotiations, is the development community able to take on the challenge of adaptation?
In the courtyard of the Koulouck Farmers Union building in western Senegal there is a five metre tall flamingo tree that has not grown in a decade. "It should be 15m by now," says Saliou Guey. With a pair of bug-eye sunglasses permanently clamped to his face and a packet of Marlboros poking out of his top pocket, Mr Guey has spent years working with farmers here as an agricultural programme advisor for the development NGO, Oxfam. As such, he is acutely aware of the environmental degradation that the region has suffered in the past decade.
Moving in ever increasing orbits around the headquarters, he points out the shifting features of Koulouck. Clustered around a concrete well, a few neat rows of trees, each a few feet high. "Those are senna," he explains. "They use them for telegraph poles." The well is only one of 11 in the area that is still useable. The water table has dropped to the extent that in some parts of the region, holes have to be sunk 40m deep to reach water, where 10m used to suffice.
It is blisteringly hot and the wind picks up the sand and shoots it at speed between the sparse cover of baobab and cashew trees. Rising white dust from an open-cast basalt mine a few kilometres away adds weight to the flying debris. Seen today, Koulouck could almost be a caricature of development – were it not for the fact that a decade ago, this valley would have been impossible to reach along the dirt tracks now used by Oxfam. The wet season would have swollen the river, and the few sandblasted trees, their lower branches picked at by cattle and goats, would have been part of a tightly-packed fruit forest. "All of this was trees," Mr Guey says, pointing from horizon to horizon, "from there to there." Oxfam has encouraged reforestation, and some 10,000 trees have been planted, although in an area this vast, the effects are hardly visible.


What is happening in Koulouck also illustrates the problem of disaggregating the effects of systematic global climate change from local man-made environmental degradation. Deforestation is both a symptom and a cause of soil erosion, and it is exacerbated by the reduced incomes from the collapse of rain-fed agriculture and shifting patterns of grazing that result from constraints on pasture. At a macro level, the complexity of the interactions between ocean temperatures, coastal forest systems and the global climate are poorly understood. To claim that what is happening in Senegal is symptomatic of global climate change is objectively very difficult.
However, the anecdotal evidence is starting to look compelling, and while there is – as with any weather system – a huge amount of fluctuation in conditions year-on-year, there appears to be a clear trajectory emerging. Rainfall has consistently decreased, with a drop of between 20-40 percent in the latter half of the 20th century, according to a recent report from the UN's Intercontinental Panel on Climate Change. Local agencies report an acceleration of the trend in the past 10-15 years. This has hastened the encroachment of the desert into already fragile semi-arid areas of the Sahel region.
By moving farmers from their traditional rain-fed agriculture to grow hardier vegetables that can be monetised easily in the markets of Dakar or Thies, Senegal's second city, and by promoting techniques, such as drip irrigation, which conserve water, and assisting communities in consolidating family land into fenced-off allotments – somewhat dramatically titled "family survival farms" – Oxfam hopes that it will be able to begin the process of adapting to climate change.
Adaptation is a word that has not been too prominent in Western climate change discourse, but within the development industry there is a growing recognition that while negotiators and newspapers can focus on the abstractions of mitigation to prevent a future calamity, the early stages of global climate change represent a present threat to decades of development work.
Frank Pinto is a former coordinator of the Global Environment Facility, the financial institution set up in 1992 as a mechanism for coordinating and funding climate change projects within the international system. Since retired, he has returned to work for the United Nations Development Programme as an adviser to national governments.
Today, sitting in a café in Lusaka, Zambia, he has a disconcerting habit of smiling as he reels off headline statistics from the influential IPCC synthesis report from 2006, which compiled responses from 3000 scientists around the world: 75-250m people across Africa are going to face serious water shortages by the year 2020; agriculture fed by rainfall is likely to drop by 50 percent in some African countries in the same period; increased flooding in East and Southeast Asia; 30 percent decreases in crop yield in South Asia. "That means 500m could be at risk of hunger [in Asia] due to this. There go the Millennium Development Goals. There go all of the gains that have been made. There go all the efforts of the UN system to improve the livelihoods of the poor."


Zambia is the final leg of a five-stage tour that has taken Mr Pinto to Kazakhstan, India, Thailand and Yemen. In each, he has been consulting with ministers and giving out practical – if alarming – advice. In Yemen, for example, he says: "Their rainfall was minimal, and it's reduced by half. They've drained 90 percent of the water from their aquifers. They don't know what to do. They're thinking that in 20 years time even the capital may have to move, because they can't find the water. Yet, every two or three years they have one massive flood." Mr Pinto's solution?
"I said: 'You'd better start digging huge reservoirs, because the next flood in two years may be the only water you're ever going to get.' If someone had told me that I'd give that advice five years ago, I'd have called them insane."
Zambia presents a less immediate, but perhaps no less extreme example of climate change vulnerability. Stung by its dependence on copper revenues when the economic crisis hit, the country is investing heavily in developing its agriculture sector. Mr Pinto warns that this plan could be unsustainable if climate change continues along its current path. "Wheat could disappear in Southern Africa," he says. "The amount of maize is going to reduce significantly. They're going to have to grow sorghum and other crops." The country could, like Yemen, be forced to consider promoting legumes, which can grow in arid conditions.
Taking this advice to Zambia seems incongruous with its status as one of the continent's most obviously water-rich nations. Crossed by major rivers and a large generator of hydropower, Zambia is still recovering from a succession of major flood events in recent years. However, the flooding is a symptom of new and unpredictable fluctuations in the water levels being reported in these rivers. In the emerging science of climate change adaptation, there is an established consensus that it is the change, as much as it is the climate, that has the most acute effects. In hydropower as in agriculture, too much or too early can be as damaging as too little or too late.
Mr Pinto says that years ago, when he was working day-to-day with governments on climate change, it was the ministries of energy, environment and industry that he engaged with, those who directly held an "environmental" portfolio. "But the key players here will be those ministries dealing directly with the normal, everyday lives of Zambians who use water, transport and so on. Because it is now a development issue. It is no longer an environment issue," he explains. It is also not simply an economic development issue or a rural issue, but one that impacts across a very broad range of human security indicators.
Perennial drought


The effects of perennial drought in northern Kenya are obvious from the air. The only greenery runs in thin, dark dendrites along the banks of empty river beds. The rest of the land is bone dry. Turkana is Kenya's northernmost district, bounded by Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. A predominantly pastoral area, Turkana is once again a stereotype of development, an area where NGOs seem to have a stronger presence on the ground than the central government and the majority of the district's almost 500,000 people live below the international poverty line. It is home to many Sudanese refugees in UN-run camps, and there are suggestions that it will soon take the overspill of Somalis from the districts to the east. The early summer rainy season lasted a day this year, and that only hit isolated areas of the region.
This fragile area has also seen degradation over the past decade. The land is no longer capable of supporting the volumes of livestock that it used to. Pasture, already a rare commodity, is becoming increasingly degraded, and unlike in Koulouck, where there is still some arable farming to fall back on, there is no sedentary tradition in Turkana. There is a huge challenge in introducing the notion of monetising livestock during periods of sustained drought in a culture where cattle are the principal indicator of status. And unlike in Koulouck, where the government is a visible presence, in Turkana there is little to stop the long-running conflict between Turkana herders and their neighbours, the Pokot, from escalating. The ready availability of Kalashnikovs from Uganda and Sudan has elevated the level of violence over the past few years, while the shrinking pasture has tightened its theatre.
Development NGOs, such as Practical Action, which is active across a range of projects in the region, are finding themselves having to make difficult decisions. Where once there was a certain clarity as to their role – poverty reduction through community-based projects – now they risk becoming caught up in the conflict in the areas where they attempt to intermediate between warring factions. Jan Coffey, the organisation's new regional director, visiting PA's local office, expressed considerable unease at being interposed between the two sides of what is increasingly a trans-national security issue.
The conflict is not constrained to the land. On Lake Turkana, the region's Unesco World Heritage site and the closest thing it has to a tourist attraction, Ethiopian and Kenyan fishermen have clashed over dwindling stocks of tilapia. Therecord haul was 17,000 tonnes, during the mid-1970s. Today, 1,500 tonnes would represent a good year. By the lakeside, an official from the local fisheries board shows the visible extent of the lake's shrinkage and the drying up of the shallows and rivers in which the fish spawned. Like many of the region's officials, he has a large vocabulary of development terms. He offers a solution. "We can bring carbon trading here to Kenya." That, he thinks, will start to replenish the lake and revive fish stocks. Education at the grassroots level still presents a barrier to, in development-ese, "mainstream" climate change adaptation into development.
The organisation's projects are increasingly having to take into account the effects of climate change. The influx of people and animals from other areas has brought new diseases, such as PPR, an affliction of livestock. Practical Action has set up veterinary drug distribution centres to try to assuage the problem.
Health issues
Livestock diseases are only part of the evolving problem. There are serious human health challenges posed by the shift in climatic conditions. As Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, a senior scientist in the department of public health and environment at the World Health Organisation, explains, there are a number of major worries, not least those associated with malnutrition. "Under-nutrition is the single largest contributor to the global burden of disease," he says. "It causes more ill-health than any other risk factor, and so anything that affects under-nutrition has a large impact on health."


Almost as concerning is the change in the distribution of disease vectors. Malaria, which is already responsible for around 900,000 deaths annually, could become more prevalent as warmer temperatures allow mosquitoes to breed at higher altitudes. Cities such as Nairobi, whose elevation has kept it well protected from malaria, could come under threat, if current models are correct. Some areas, such as the Sahel, could see reduced transmission as droughts remove the standing water needed for the mosquito population to survive, but, Mr Campbell-Lendrum says, "The studies suggest that on balance, taking into account both the positive and the negative… the net effect is probably already negative, and likely to get significantly more negative out of the next decade.
"So in fighting malaria, we're likely to be fighting an uphill battle, partly because of climate change," he concludes. "The other issue is that we are likely to be exposing populations that have no previous exposure to malaria. So they have no immunity to the disease, and there is evidence that you get much more severe disease when you have a lack of population immunity. The big epidemics of malaria that occur tend to do so at the edge of the distribution."
Mosquitoes, of course, are not the only vector whose distribution is likely to be altered by climate change. Human settlements are already under increasing pressure, their health and sanitation services straining to cope with the rural to urban migration that is exacerbated by – though not caused exclusively by – climate change. Overpopulation quickens the spread of waterborne and sexually-transmitted diseases, particularly in the poorly-organised informal settlements that are often the first port of call for migrants.
Migration will not be simply a national issue for countries affected by climate change. All projections are that migration to Europe, which informs so much of international development efforts, particularly in the Mediterranean, will increase. In March this year, more than 200 people drowned off the Libyan coast in a boat en route to Italy. Shortly afterwards, Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, issued a statement saying that the root cause of the disaster was the degradation of traditional farmlands caused by the worsening climate.
In late May 2009, a report released by the Global Humanitarian Forum attempted to quantify the human cost of climate change. The annual death toll due to climate change, it claims, currently stands at 300,000 people. 325m people are seriously affected, and economic losses amount to $125bn. The GHF claims that these estimates are conservative, though as ever, the complexity of climate systems and the intersection with other global trends mean that there will be questions about the methods used in calculating these figures.
What this does not address is the cost of adaptation. The cost of mitigation is hotly debated. Since the UNFCCC meeting in Kyoto in 1997 there has been considerable horse trading over emissions targets and the cost associated with reducing the rate of environmental damage, negotiations which will be revived in December at the multilateral meetings in Copenhagen.
"Although adaptation has been talked about from the very start of the negotiations, it's been sort of pushed off the table," says Anju Sharma, formerly the associate director at the Centre for Science and Environment in India and now Oxfam UK's climate change policy advisor. "There are probably several factors that have contributed to that. I think in the early days the discussion was dominated very much by the environmental sector and environmental NGOs, etc, and their focus was very much on mitigation, they weren't terribly interested in the adaptation aspect of it."
A number of adaptation funds were set up in the 1990s, partly, Ms Sharma says, as a means to quieten the demands of developing countries whose need for them was more acute, but who were being pushed into agreements on mitigation that they felt they could ill-afford. A proportion of the funding was conditional on the formulation of National Adaptation Programmes of Action – Napas – which countries had to submit in order to receive funding. Many, Ms Sharma says, found their applications initially turned down because their plans were felt to be too similar to existing development programmes.
The confluence of development and climate change adaptation work, far from facilitating efficiencies and synergies in the execution of programmes, is in fact posing significant organisational problems within the multilateral organisation. There is, as one senior official explains, "a fight for who owns climate change." The UN system is a case in point. Some see the wide-range of agencies – including a "secretary general's taskforce," comprising the heads of the UN Development Programme, Environment Programme, Climate Change Secretariat and Department for Economic and Social Affairs – as being representative of a broad and consistent approach. Others see the 24 agencies and associated bodies listed as actors as indicative of incoherence and a lack of clear leadership.


Speaking after the launch of the GHF report in May, Kofi Annan, the forum's chair and a former United Nations secretary general, said that the role of the UN was secondary to that of individual governments. In terms of financial commitments and mitigation policies, this may well be true. But this incoherence spreads well beyond the UN, and if adaptation funding is to be made available after Copenhagen – whether through direct commitments, through carbon markets or other such mechanisms – clear guidance will be needed to ensure its effective deployment.
"The issue is too big to retreat to turf fighting," says Veerle Vandeweerd, director of the climate and energy group at the UNDP. "Even if we bring all of the best of the UN to bear, we will not address one tenth of what we need to address.
"Due to climate change we will not just have ODA. Governments are asking for new and additional financing. That could be of the same order – around $100bn per year – or it could be quite a bit bigger. That will give us a new development paradigm… I think also the UN has to change, and the UN has to become more businesslike. The UN cannot spend two years discussing amongst ourselves how we are going to do a national plan."
Without a climate change equivalent to the Paris Declaration, which ostensibly aligned the development programmes of international donors, there is little coordination of efforts. Monique Barbut, CEO of the GEF, notes that she has counted 13 new adaptation funds in the past couple of years. "All those 13 funds each have their own guidelines, their own reporting and their own project cycle."
Just as there is a necessity for more funding, there is a need to at least begin to ascribe a framework under which that funding is used, one which goes beyond the GEF – although Ms Barbut suggests that the GEF could become the centralised reporting mechanism for global adaptation finance. Despite the calls of the development industry, it should also be segmented from existing development financing, says Oxfam's Ms Sharma – not least because it cannot be allowed to eat into the already faltering Gleneagles commitments of the developed economies.
"It's a very dangerous thing if adaptation finance is treated in the same way as development finance, because development finance comes with its own set of baggage," Ms Sharma says. "Irrespective of the finer trappings of it, development finance still functions along the paradigm of the donors, more or less, deciding what gets funded and how the money gets used. I think, particularly in the case of adaptation finance I think we need to break away from that governance."
Much of this discussion could prove moot if in Copenhagen no consensus can be agreed. In Kyoto, the previous iteration of December's meeting, the protocol was not ratified by the most important global players. This time around, the mitigation debate and the competitive economics of emission reduction could once again steal the headlines. Climate change remains an abstract notion in many parts of the world – and will seem even more so in the middle of a Danish winter.


If that blinds negotiators to the immediate necessity for adaptation funding, then the price, in lost development assistance, emergency relief, energy and fuel price fluctuations and conflict, could be far greater than that of lost industrial revenues or carbon taxes.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/22/epa-sets-jan-1-deadline-for-ghg-emissions-reporting/

EPA to Large Emitters: Start Collecting GHG Data Jan. 1
Large emitters of greenhouse gases will have to begin collecting their emissions data Jan. 1 under the new reporting system from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The program will apply to about 10,000 facilities that emit about 85 percent of the nation's greenhouse gases, said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, in her Sept. 22 announcement about the deadline.
The reporting system may play a role in any eventual cap-and-trade system adopted by the U.S.
The largest emitters will have to submit annual reports of their emissions, starting in 2011, with information from the 2010 calendar year.
Vehicle and engine manufacturers are getting a one-year reprieve. They don't have to start reporting until model year 2011.
For a list of reporting requirements, click here.
The Environmental Defense Fund was quick in its praise for EPA's move.
"The public has both a need and a right to know about the country's biggest emitters," said Mark MacLeod, director of special projects at Environmental Defense Fund. "The transparency provided today will inform smart policy that targets the biggest sources of heat-trapping emissions."
Increasingly, the EPA has threatened to declare carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant as a stick to help push climate-change legislation.
However, if the EPA draft ruling declaring carbon dioxide a pollutant goes through as written, it would regulate emissions only from large industrial sources.
EPA's new take on the "endangerment finding" would be 100 times less strict than the current rule under the Clean Air Act, which calls for facilities emitting more than 250 tons annually of a regulated pollutant to install the "best available" control technologies.
Instead, EPA is proposing to regulate only facilities emitting more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6846674.ece


European carbon trading market takes hit
Carl Mortished, World Business Editor
RECOMMEND? (3)
The Europe-wide carbon trading market suffered a severe blow yesterday when a European court issued a ruling that will weaken carbon prices and undermine efforts by the European Commission to curb carbon emissions further.
In a landmark decision, the European Court of First Instance ruled in favour of an appeal by Poland and Estonia for the right to be more generous in granting carbon emission allowances. In its surprise annulment of a Commission decision to cut the carbon quotas of the two countries, the court said: "The Commission exceeded its powers."
The decision is expected to weaken prices in Europe's troubled carbon market and undermine efforts by the Commission to impose a stricter regime on carbon polluters.
The court said that the Commission had no right to impose a lower cap on the emissions of Estonia and Poland when it rejected the national allocation plans (NAPs) submitted by the two countries.


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Under Europe's Emissions Trading System (ETS), each state submits a plan setting out how many carbon allowances (EUAs) it will issue to industry each year.
The court's ruling astounded carbon traders in Europe yesterday and the price of EUAs traded on the ETS fell 60 cents a tonne before recovering to €13.40 a tonne.
Carbon traders said that there was a risk of a further 50 million tonnes in EUAs coming on to the market as the two countries exploited the court's ruling against the Commission's authority.
"It means two things — possibly more allowances in the market and more uncertainty," Emmanuel Fages, a carbon analyst with Société Générale, the investment bank, said. "It's another blow because people will say the market doesn't work."
The ETS was set up to create a market incentive for businesses to reduce CO2 emissions by enabling companies to sell surplus carbon allowances for cash in the market. In its first phase, governments gave away too many allowances, depressing the price of EUAs and reducing incentives. In an effort to boost the ETS in its second phase, the Commission sought to rein in the volume of EUAs distributed by governments.
The ruling is a victory for Central and Eastern European states that fought against the Commission's attempts to cut carbon emission quotas. Poland argued that its dependence on a Soviet-era coal and power industry deserved special treatment when it submitted its NAP to the Commission for approval. The Commission rejected the NAPs of several states, including Poland and Estonia, and ordered those two countries to reduce the number of EUAs by 27 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively.
However, the European Union's court said that the Commission's power of review was "very restricted". The Commission could reject an NAP only if it failed to conform with criteria set out in the EU directive concerning greenhouse gas emissions. By imposing a different quota ceiling, the Commission was "encroaching on the exclusive competence which the directive confers on the member states", the court said.
The Commission said that it was "extremely disappointed" and hinted that it would appeal against the ruling.
Other EU states that suffered cuts in their NAPs in the second phase may now challenge the Commission. The Polish and Estonian cases were supported by Hungary, Lithuania and Slovakia. The ruling will raise further questions about the effectiveness of market-based carbon trading systems in bringing about reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/we-will-back-a-global-deal-to-cut-emissions-says-obama-1791691.html

We will back a global deal to cut emissions, says Obama
By David Usborne and Andrew Grice in New York
President signals intention to abandon intransigence of his predecessor - but admits it will be tough to get treaty through the Senate

Barack Obama insisted at a climate change summit yesterday that the US was committed to a new global treaty on greenhouse gases - explicitly distancing himself from George Bush - even while acknowledging that he faced an uphill task getting the necessary legislation passed in Washington. Listing actions taken in the US to curb carbon output since he took office, the President called his pledge "an historic recognition on behalf of the American people and their government. We understand the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations".

Even with bursts of encouraging rhetoric from leaders at the UN gathering in New York and some new commitments to act, notably from China, the mood among delegations was sombre. There was no hiding the acute awareness that talks towards sealing a new global pact on cutting emissions at another summit in Copenhagen this December are in deep trouble.

The Chinese President, Hu Jintao, addressed criticism, partly from the US, that the largest developing countries were not doing enough to contribute to the pact. For the first time, he pledged "mandatory national targets for reducing energy intensity and the discharge of major pollutants". He was referring to new targets that will reduce carbon output per unit of production in China.

While Mr Hu offered fewer numerical specifics than some would have liked, his promise to "integrate actions on climate change in its economic and social development plan" is a major shift by the Chinese leadership. The speech was meant partly to serve notice at home that combating climate change will now be one of China's priorities along with economic growth.

The Chinese offer goes to the heart of the struggle that is playing out between developed and developing nations. The latter argue they are being asked to sacrifice their ambitions for economic stability. In the US, conservatives argue they will not commit to emissions cuts unless developing countries such as China and India shoulder their part of the bargain.

A rift has opened among developed nations, with the EU increasingly frustrated that the US, so preoccupied by healthcare reform, has yet to adopt legislation enshrining the emission cuts it will need to have in place to make a new treaty work.

Mr Obama did not attempt to hide the difficulties ahead of Copenhagen. His proposals for a cap-and-trade system to effect cuts in the US have been adopted by the House of Representatives but face long delays in the Senate, possibly even until after the mid-term elections in November next year.

Without Senate action, it will be hard for Mr Obama to sign any treaty in December. "It is work that will not be easy. As we head towards Copenhagen, there should be no illusions that the hardest part of our journey is in front of us," Mr Obama said. "All of us will face doubts and difficulties in our own capitals as we try to reach a lasting solution to the climate challenge."

Mr Obama called on developing nations to accept sacrifice. "Rapidly growing developing nations that will produce nearly all the growth in global carbon emissions in the decades ahead must do their part... they need to commit to strong measures at home and agree to stand behind those commitments just as the developed nations must stand behind their own."

Arriving in New York yesterday, Gordon Brown chaired a meeting on the issue of how much industrialised nations should pay developing countries to combat climate change. He has already proposed a $100bn-a-year (£61bn) payment by 2020.

Mr Brown urged fellow world leaders to attend the talks in Copenhagen in December on a new global deal. He fears that the issue is so complicated that the traditional negotiating tactic, of nations not declaring their hand until they get to Denmark, would end in failure.

British officials travelling with the Prime Minister do not believe there will be a formal agreement on climate change at this week's UN and G20 meetings, but hope they will provide momentum towards one. One said: "This is not the point at which a deal is done, but the point at which leaders look each other in the eye and say we must do a deal in Copenhagen."

British Government sources said the issue was "too important to be left to officials" and that leaders should start negotiations now to avoid running out of time in Copenhagen. "It's too complex to leave to a couple of days in Copenhagen. We have to see countries converging before then," one said.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/25/g20-leaders-debate-ending-fossil-fuel-subsidies-to-curb-global-warming/

G20 Leaders Debate Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies to Curb Global Warming
Group of 20 leaders are close to an agreement on phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels in an effort to curb global warming, though no fixed dates have been set, reports Reuters.
Several G20 countries subsidize fuel such as coal and oil, at a cost of about $300 billion, to keep prices artificially low for consumers, which boosts both demand for hydrocarbons and emissions, reports Reuters.
Obama aide Michael Froman told Reuters that phasing out fossil fuel subsidies worldwide could cut greenhouse gases by up to 12 percent by 2050, citing estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Energy Agency. He said United States would agree to the cuts as well.
The United States is urging developing nations such as China, India and Russia to cut those subsidies in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But some, like India, want to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels over time, citing the needs of the nation, reports Bloomberg News.
Shyam Saran, India's special envoy on climate change said in the article that a strong message from leaders on carbon pollution limits would have a favorable impact on talks at the United Nations meeting in Copenhagen in December.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/24/caterpillar-fedex-join-debate-over-carbon-tax-vs-cap-and-trade/

Caterpillar, FedEx Join Debate Over Carbon Tax Vs. Cap and Trade
Industry-leading businesses and associations are locking horns over the merits of a carbon tax versus a cap-and-trade program as passed in the House's climate legislation in June. Those in favor of a carbon tax include Caterpillar and FedEx. However, globally, shippers prefer a cap-and-trade program.
The chief executives of Caterpillar Inc. and FedEx Corp. said at an energy conference in Washington that they prefer a tax on carbon dioxide emissions and criticized the cap-and-trade measure being debated in Congress, reportsBloomberg News.
Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx, said in the article that the legislation approved by the House in June gives certain industries free pollution permits that would distort the market.
George David, chairman of Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp., told Bloomberg that the carbon tax has been revived in part because of the complexities and loopholes in the cap-and-trade legislation. United Technologies owns Carrier, Sikorsky, Otis and Pratt & Witney, among others.
Some executives have said that measure doesn't create a direct enough disincentive to pollute, reports Bloomberg.
However, five shipping industry associations said in a study that a global cap-and-trade scheme is the most effective way to cut carbon emissions, reportsReuters.
Under cap-and-trade schemes, companies or countries face a carbon limit and if they exceed their limit they can buy allowances from other polluters which stay under their cap.
The national ship industry associations of Australia, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and the UK have jointly released a paper arguing that a cap-and-trade scheme is best for the whole industry, and provides two options for the mechanism, reports Reuters.
Robert Ashdown, head of the UK Chamber of Shipping's technical division, said in the article that an emission trading scheme would cost the seaborne industry 5 billion euros ($7.39 billion) to 6 billion euros a year, depending on the price of carbon.
The first option treats shipping as a country in its own right which means the sector would be given a specific amount of carbon credits, while the second option allows for the number of credits earmarked to be determined by the number of sales of bunker fuel sold by governments at auction to shipping firms, according to Reuters.
The proposals did not set targets.
UK Chamber of Shipping President Jesper Kjaedegaard told Reuters that some shipping nations and industry associations might have "different ideas"  but the industry "can no longer take an ostrich approach."


http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/28/un-even-with-emissions-cuts-planet-to-warm-6-3-degrees-by-2100/

UN: Even With Emissions Cuts, Planet to Warm 6.3 Degrees by 2100
Climate researchers now project the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if industrialized and developing countries meet their most ambitious climate commitments, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), reports The Washington Post.
Michael MacCracken, one of the scientific reviewers for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and a contributor to the UNEP report, said in the article that even if developed nations cut their emissions by half and the developing countries continued on their current path, or vice versa, the world would still experience a temperature increase of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050.
The new global warming research, Climate Change Science Compendium 2009, aimed at garnering political support for a new international climate pact by the end of the year in Copenhagen, highlights recent scientific assessments that have moved up the time table for predictions released by the IPCC in 2007.
The research is divided into five categories: Earth Systems, Ice, Oceans, Ecosystems and Management.
Robert Corell, who chairs the Climate Action Initiative and reviewed the UNEP report's scientific findings, told The Washington Post that the increase is nearly double what scientists and world policymakers have identified as the upper limit of warming the world can handle in order to avert catastrophic climate change.
Some scientists also are concerned that that thresholds may now be reached in a matter of years or a few decades including dramatic changes to the Indian sub-continent's monsoon, the Sahara and West Africa monsoons, and climate systems impacting ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest, according to the report.
The report also indicates concern by scientists that the planet is committed to some damaging and irreversible impacts as a result of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. As an example, the report cites shifts in the hydrological cycle resulting in the disappearance of regional climates with related losses of ecosystems, species and the spread of drylands northwards and southwards away from the equator.
Climate researchers at the Vermont-based Sustainability Institute, Massachusetts-based Ventana Systems and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who collaborated with Corell, revised its estimates since the release of the U.N. report, reports The Washington Post.
The group took the upper-range targets of nearly 200 nations' climate policies and found the average global temperature is likely to warm by 6.3 degrees, reports The Washington Post.
Other findings indicate that the sea level might rise by as much as six feet by 2100 instead of 1.5 feet, as the IPCC had projected, and the Arctic may experience a sea-ice summer by 2030, rather than by the end of the century, reports The Washington Post.
While the Obama administration is pushing for an end to fossil-fuel subsidies as part of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, activists such as 350.org director Bill McKibben told the Washington Post that politicians worldwide are not taking aggressive enough steps to address climate change.
McKibben's group aims to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm), well below the 450 ppm target that leaders of the Group of 20 major nations have supported, reports the newspaper.


http://atrisk.net/companies-recognizing-climate-change-as-business-risk/

Companies Recognizing Climate Change as Business Risk

September 23, 2009


On Monday, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) released its annual S&P 500 Report, and the results indicate that companies are increasingly willing to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their plans for emissions reduction.

What's more, the data also shows me that companies are increasingly beginning to recognize the business risks associated with climate change.

Consider this: The CDP received 332 responses, representing 66% of the S&P 500 –that's up slightly from 65% in 2008. Of these, 79% now disclose GHG emissions and more than half (52%) report emissions reduction targets (nearly doubling from 32% last year).

Here are a few other key findings:

  • 68% of respondents reported board or executive-level responsibility for climate change oversight.
  • Even though regulatory risks loom large, the companies in the study cited more climate change business opportunities (86%) than risks (82%).
  • Reporting of indirect (Scope 3) emissions –such as those caused by the supply chain –rose a whopping 215.5%.  At last. The majority of a company's carbon footprint is embedded in its supply chain, and it's exciting to see that awareness about Scope 3 emissions is finally taking hold.
  • More than one-third of those polled (35%) are linking corporate compensation incentives programs to the achievement of climate change related goals.
As an article in Monday's Washington Post points out, companies are starting to appreciate the threat that global warming poses to their bottom lines.

Changes in both global climate and resources availability will require companies to adapt –if they want to succeed. Your business needs to start identifying and planning for appropriate responses and solutions, such as strategic sighting of production centers and  re-thinking materials and resource use/resuse.

http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2250098/global-low-carbon-markets


Report touts global low carbon job boost
Think tanks call on G20 leaders to act together to create the efficient low carbon markets

Tom Young, BusinessGreen25 Sep 2009

G20 Governments meeting in Pittsburgh this weekend could create tens of millions of new jobs by agreeing to invest in low carbon technologies, according to a new report published today by the Global Climate Network of think tanks.

The report argues that bold government policies to promote rapid growth in climate-friendly innovations and industries represent one of the most effective means of tackling rising unemployment.

It concludes that measures to creating markets for low carbon technologies will serve the dual purpose of creating extra jobs in renewable energy, information technology and service sectors, as well as helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Policies the report recommends include ambitious renewable energy targets, increased R&D funding for clean technologies, the creation centres of excellence for low carbon technology, financial support mechanisms such as feed-in tariffs, phasing out subsidies for carbon-intensive industries, and taxing carbon emissions.

The report argues that the positive economis and environmental benefits of such policies will be significantly multiplied if they are adopted in a globally co-ordinated manner, instead of being enacted within separate countries.

"Governments have to be bold, smart and collaborative in the way they approach creating stable markets in low carbon technologies," said Andrew Pendleton, coordinator of the Global Climate Network."The G20 in Pittsburgh is the perfect opportunity to begin this work."

While jobs will be lost in conventional, carbon-intensive sectors, Global Climate Network's research shows that more jobs will be created than lost provided that policies are ambitious enough.

For example, the study predicts China's existing plans to decouple emissions from economic growth and develop new low carbon industries could lead to the creation of over 40 million new jobs. In contrast, there may be 10 million fewer new jobs created due to closure of factories with inefficient technologies in the manufacturing, construction and transport sectors.

The findings echo earlier research from Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the UK member of the GCN, which suggested that up to 70,000 long-term jobs could be created in the UK offshore wind industry with strong government support.

Similarly, a recent study from Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council predicted that shifting from a high to a low carbon energy infrastructure could deliver a net increase in EU employment of 2.7 million jobs by 2030.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/24/pge-quits-u-s-chamber-of-commerce-over-climate-change-nike-applies-pressure/

PG&E Quits U.S. Chamber of Commerce Over Climate Change, Nike Applies Pressure
Citing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "extreme position on climate change," Pacific Gas & Electric has quit the chamber, reports the New York Times. Nike also is taking umbrage with the chamber's position, according to various news outlets.
The move by PG&E, a major California utility, follows similar moves by Duke Energy and Alstom to quit the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy in recent weeks, reports SocialFunds.
The Chamber of Commerce has threatened a lawsuit to challenge the science behind global warming.
PG&E sent a letter to the chamber, parts of which are excerpted on the PG&E blog post "Irreconciable Differences."
In the letter, PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee wrote: "We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another."
Darbee wrote that he feels the Chamber of Commerce has "forfeited an incredible chance to play a constructive leadership role on one of the most important issues our country may ever face."
Nike, meanwhile, is becoming more critical of the chamber's stance.  Erin Dobson, Director of Corporate Responsibility Communications at Nike, copied the Natural Resource Defense Council on a statement it has made about the chamber's stance.
"Nike fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce's position on climate change and is concerned and deeply disappointed with the US Chamber's recently filed petition challenging the EPA's administrative authority and action on this critically important issue.
"Nike believes that climate change is an urgent issue affecting the world today and that businesses and their representative associations need to take an active role to invest in sustainable business practices and innovative solutions to address the issue. It is not a time for debate but instead a time for action and we believe the Chamber's recent petition sets back important work currently being undertaken by EPA on this issue."
The chamber continues to defend its position. From a recent blog post on the chamber's site: "Preserving and protecting our economy and our environment for future generations is one of the top priorities of the U.S. Chamber. American business is the single largest investor and innovator in clean energy solutions and remains committed to propelling this nation to a prosperous and lower carbon future. We support sound policies that incentivize innovation and new business opportunities rather than the approach coming out of the House and the EPA which will strangle business with thousands of new regulation and stifle America's competitiveness."

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/23/deloitte-reports-tax-implications-for-u-s-ghg-regulations/

Deloitte Reports Tax Implications for U.S. GHG Regulations
Whether the U.S. chooses a cap-and-trade scheme as passed in the House's climate bill in June or adopts a carbon tax, there will be tax implications for all types of businesses in many aspects of their operations, according to a white paper from Deloitte.
The Deloitte whitepaper, A Climate for Change? Tax Implications of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Regulation, describes general approaches to climate change legislation and the resulting implications for tax policy. The paper focuses on a cap-and-trade program and the role of taxes in efforts to directly limit GHG emissions.
A cap-and-trade system raises two tax-related issues, according to the white paper. The first is whether a tax designed to discourage activities that result in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be more desirable than a regulatory approach, and the second is whether the tax treatment of various assets, liabilities, and transactions under a cap-and-trade system is sufficiently defined, according to the paper.
Some have suggested a carbon tax as an alternative to a cap-and-trade system, which would reduce emissions by placing a direct tax on the production, distribution, or emission of carbon and possibly other GHGs, reports Deloitte. This could be done at the same points at which a cap-and-trade program would require allowances, according to the paper.
In theory, a GHG tax could achieve the same results as the granting of free allowances and offset credits by providing tradable GHG tax exemptions, according to the paper. However, to meet the desired GHG reductions under a carbon tax system, the actual tax on GHG emissions would have to be set at a level sufficient to make excess emissions more costly than mitigation strategies, cites the paper.
Deloitte says it would not be surprising to see climate change regulation, in terms of its business impact, to be regarded in the same way as securities regulation, food and drug safety regulation, financial services regulation or employee retirement income security rules.

Alternative Energy newsclips for Sept 28, 2009: California moves ahead, Canadian wind picking up, and Smart Grids actually work

http://www.reuters.com/articlePrint?articleId=USTRE58N70520090924

California sets biggest energy efficiency plan
Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:10pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California said it had approved the most aggressive energy efficiency plan among U.S. states on Thursday, earmarking $3.1 billion to retrofit homes and other programs that will cut power needs equivalent to three medium-sized power plants.

Conservation and efficiency have become national buzzwords as the economy has failed, since such investments have some of the quickest paybacks of any in 'green' industries.

The California Public Utilities Commission set a three-year budget for utilities 42 percent higher than the previous plan. The state pioneered the concept of letting utilities raise rates as they spurred conservation, which still is not the case in many U.S. states.

Edison International's unit Southern California Edison, PG&E Corp's main unit Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric Co and its Southern California Gas Company will funnel the money into a dozen statewide programs and some extra smaller initiatives.

The energy saved through the programs would be the same amount of power produced by three 500 megawatt power plants, according the California Public Utilities.

The programs will also avoid 3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and create between 15,000 and 18,000 jobs.

The move by regulators follows California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's order earlier this month that the state get a third of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020.

The most populous state is also the biggest U.S. alternative energy market, and its environmental standards, including car pollution rules and green building regulations, are models for national and international policies.

To reach California's goals, however, broader programs that have "holistic approaches" to energy efficiency are key, said Michael Peevey, the commission's president, in a statement.

"Capturing the full energy efficiency potential in the state requires more than simply providing rebates to support the installation of the latest and greatest widget," Peevey said.

The funds will kick off the largest residential retrofit effort in the United States. Called CalSPREE, the program aims to cut energy use by 20 percent for up to 130,000 homes in the state by 2012.

The budget also includes $175 million for innovative programs to make zero net energy homes and commercial buildings; $260 million for local efforts to retrofit public sector buildings and save energy; and more than $100 million for education and training programs.

It also phases down subsidies for basic compact fluorescent lamps, shifting to solid state lighting and other efficient light technologies.

http://planetark.org/wen/54786

Key Facts About Wind Power In Canada
Date: 23-Sep-09
Country:
 CANADA
Author:
 Nicole Mordant and Susan Taylor

The Canadian Wind Energy Association is holding its annual conference and trade show in Toronto this week. It is expected to draw more than 2,000 attendees, 200 exhibitors and more than 100 speakers.
Below are facts about wind power in Canada:
* Canada has 2,854 megawatts of installed wind energy capacity, enough to provide power to 860,000 Canadian homes. That is equal to about 1 percent of the country's electricity demand.
* Because of its vast size and geography, Canada has the world's second-largest wind energy potential after Russia.
* Canada ranks 12th in the world for installed wind power capacity and percentage of electricity generated from wind.
* This year will be a record year for wind energy development in Canada with new installed capacity from projects totaling 790 MW. By year-end, Canada will have 3,159 MW of installed capacity.
* Every province in Canada generates some electricity from wind, with Ontario having the most wind farms.
* The Canadian Wind Energy Association has a vision of supplying 20 percent of the country's electricity needs from wind by 2025. That would require installation of about 55,000 MW, more than 20 times what is in operation now. It would involve putting up 22,000 turbines over 450 locations across Canada.
* Achieving this goal would cost a projected C$132 billion ($122 billion), create 52,000 full-time jobs and reduce Canada's annual greenhouse gas emissions by 17 megatons of carbon dioxide a year.
* Canadian wind projects depend almost exclusively on European and U.S. suppliers for turbines and other key components.

http://www.greenercomputing.com/news/2009/09/22/ibms-smart-grid-test-run-cuts-power-use-15-percent

IBM's Smart Grid Test Run Cuts Power Use by 15 Percent
By GreenBiz Staff
Published September 22, 2009
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Tags: Clean TechEnergy & ClimateMore...

ARMONK, NY — IBM yesterday unveiled the results of a smart grid pilot project that aims to show how much energy savings are possible through the use of electricity monitoring devices.

In partnership with Consert, IBM installed controller devices in 100 businesses and residences on appliances and other energy-intensive items. The controllers conveyed energy usage to the Fayetteville Public Works Commission (FPWC) over the course of six months.

The results show significant savings available from relatively easy changes to behavior. After six months of the pilot project, the average savings at homes and businesses was 15 percent; after the six-month trial period Consert has measured energy savings of as much as 40 percent in some participating homes.

A key to the project was the use of personalized, web-based displays for each business or residence that allowed facility managers or homeowners to log in and see how much energy their appliances and gadgets are using in real-time. the project also allows the FPWC to manage energy use from these devices during high electricity demand periods.

The companies' goal with the pilot project was to highlight the energy used by "ghost" devices: air conditioners, water heaters, and other devices that are using electricity even when no one is around. With the instant information provided by the smart meters, individuals and businesses are able to see when unecessary energy is being used, and turn those devices down or off.



In addition to saving companies on their energy bills, electric utilities are pushing for smart grid technology as a way to reduce demand on the electric grid during peaks. With technologies like those at work in the IBM/Consert pilot project in place, a utility can cycle devices on and off for short intervals to cut down on energy used by any given location.

"The only way we're going make energy grids greener is to add instrumentation and intelligence. Projects like these illustrate that with the right technology and partnerships, it can be done," said Chris O'Connor, an IBM vice president. "Technology is at the core of the next generation of smart grids and IBM is making significant investments into research, skills development and partners to make smart grids a reality." 

IBM has also unveiled a new project to take smart grids to the next level. Last week, the company announced a partnership with the city of 
Dubuque, Iowa, to turn that city into a keystone in IBM's "Smarter Planet" initiative.

The project will incorporate a host of smart sensoring technologies to help city officials, local businesses and residents measure and manage their resource use, with an end goal of minimizing the environmental impact of the city of 60,000 people.

The first two phases of the Dubuque partnership involve IBM's construction of a "Platform for Real-Time Integrated Sustainability Monitoring," allowing city officials to oversee current energy and water use as well as general city services. 

At the same time, the city is incorporating into its ongoing citywide water-meter replacement project a device called the "Unmeasured Flow Reducer," which gives end users highly accurate measurements of water use and pinpoint areas that can benefit from greater water efficiency.

All told, the project will bring as many as 1,300 green jobs to Dubuque, through iBM's new technology services delivery center in downtown Dubuque.




"The results of this partnership will empower citizens with decision-making tools to change how they impact the world," said Iowa Governor Chet Culver. "The State of Iowa is a proud partner in this undertaking to contribute to global sustainability efforts."

For more information on IBM's Smarter Cities project, visit
www.ibm.com/smartercities; and to see a demonstration of the company's North Carolina smart-grid technology, Consert has posted a short video on YouTube.

NBS: Socially Conscious Consumerism report findings now available

FYI






The Network's Socially Conscious Consumerism report is now available in a number of formats. The findings reveal that consumers are willing to pay an average 10 per cent premium for sustainable goods and services. It also suggests how marketers can translate consumer intentions into actual purchases of sustainable products and services.

 

The project looked at over 30 years of research on what we know and don't know about socially conscious consumerism. It also found that surveys are poor predictors of consumer behaviour. Real-life experiments are a much better way to understand and predict shoppers' buying behaviours.

 

Please feel free to distribute the report and executive briefing among your personal contacts.

 

Regards,

 

Jo Ann Robinson
Communications Manager
Network for Business Sustainability
Business. Thinking. Ahead.
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