Sustainablog

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

2.12.09

Munk Debate Sum-Up: Last night’s debate on Climate Change saw a spirited 2 hour exchange between George Monbiot and Elizabeth May versus Bjorn Lomborg and Lord Nigel Lawson.

As you'll gather from this email, this debate was good enough to have convinced a few people to switch sides in the "how much should we spend on climate change" debate. Note that this is not (at least isn't supposed to be) a debate on whether there is climate change, but rather a debate on whether we should spend lots of money on lowering carbon emissions. But they did wade into other related topics as well. I encourage you to watch the webcast if you enjoy lively but structured exchanges (this was not a free for all. well, most of the time)

I found it quite entertaining :-)
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The Munk Debates

Munk Debate Sum-Up

Thank you for signing up for the live streaming of the Munk Debate on Climate Change.

Last night's debate on Climate Change saw a spirited 2 hour exchange between
George Monbiot and Elizabeth May versus Bjorn Lomborg and Lord Nigel Lawson.

Going into the debate the audience vote on the resolution – be it resolved climate change is mankind's defining crisis and demands a commensurate response – was 61% in favour and 39% opposed.

At the end of evening, the opinion had shifted among the 1,100 attendees: 53% of people agreed with the monition and 47% were in opposition.

You can watch a free web-stream of the entire debate proceedings by clicking
here.

If you are based in the Greater Toronto Area please consider becoming a member of the Munk Debates. Membership is free and entitles you to tickets to each debate before they are made available to the general public. To become a member click
here.

Thank you for your interest in the Munk Debates.

Rudyard Griffiths
Co-Organiser
The Munk Debates

www.munkdebates.com

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Webcast replay/ e-proceedings: Creating Business Value with Integrated Sustainability Conference - October 29-30, 2009

For those of you at IBM Canada (and perhaps IBM US?), we have a corporate membership to the Conference Board - aside from the many reports you can find on their site, you will also find the e-proceedings from the IBM-sponsored "Creating Business Value with Integrated Sustainability Conference". IMHO the participants were outstanding :-)

-JFB


----- Forwarded by Jean-Francois Barsoum/Markham/IBM on 2009-12-02 11:50 -----




Dear Conference Participant:
 
We want to thank you for attending our Creating Business Value with Integrated Sustainability Conference that recently took place at the Hyatt Regency Toronto in Toronto.
 
We trust you enjoyed your participation at this conference and that you were pleased with the speakers' presentations as well as the conference format, including networking opportunities and sponsor exhibits. We are delighted, at this time, to provide you with the link to the e-Proceedings from this event.
 
Please follow this link to log onto our e-Library and access these e-Proceedings. If you already have an e-Library account you'll need only enter your logon name and password. If you don't already have an e-Library account, you simply need to confirm some information for us. For technical assistance, please visit our support page or contact e-Proceedings support at 1-866-711-2262.
 
  Creating Business Value with Integrated Sustainability
 
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the following organizations for their support in the delivery of this event:
 
IBM Canada Ltd. - www.ibm.com/ca/ ; Cascades Inc. - www.cascades.com; Enbridge Inc. - www.enbridge.com; Bullfrog Power - www.bullfrogpower.com; Zerofootprint - www.zerofootprint.net; Network for Business Sustainability - www.sustainabilityresearch.org; ReNew Canada Magazine - http://renewcanada.net/; Sustainable Waterloo - www.sustainablewaterloo.org
 
 
Office of the Registrar
Conference Programs
The Conference Board of Canada
 
PS: As an attendee of this event, you may be interested in IBM's just-released thought leadership paper on Corporate Social Responsibility.

Leading a Sustainable Enterprise: Leveraging Information and Insight to Act


Organizations have recently sharpened their focus on sustainability, primarily in response to consumer and stakeholder expectations. Consequently, they face an entirely new set of decisions. However, most lack the information required to make these strategic choices. Based on what we've learned from outperforming organizations and leading CSR organizations, we believe businesses should develop new sources of operational, supply chain and customer information to gain new levels of insight for meeting strategic sustainability objectives.

For more information on this report, or to download it, please click on
http://www.ibm.com/vrm/sustain1.

 
Have housing starts in Canadian cities hit bottom? Find out in the Conference Board's new Metropolitan Monthly Monitors -  Metropolitan Housing Starts November 2009, available from our e-Library.

1.12.09

Green newsclips for 1 december 2009: Flooding in NY and London.... perhaps we should start pumping CO2 out of the air. In the meantime, US industrial comapnies are looking for more (!) carbon regulation... and a special section on Climate Cover-Up

====================================================
Before you read this first article, and especially its concluding paragraph, I want to point out that the person cited in that last paragraph, Benny Peiser, is a social anthropologist, did his undergraduate work in English studies and sports science, and is a senior lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool's John Moore University. (If you're wondering how that makes him relevant in this article, well, so do I.)

Mr. Peiser spent over two years claiming to have debunked a scientific article authored by Dr. Naomi Oreskes. Mr. Peiser, contrary to what Dr. Oreskes wrote, claimed there were several peer-reviewed scientific articles documenting the fact that global warming was either not happening or not the result of human intervention. Dr. Oreske's original paper, "The scientific consensus on climate change"  can be found here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/306/5702/1686.pdf and a subsequent followup paper, published in 2007, can be found here: http://www.ametsoc.org/atmospolicy/documents/Chapter4.pdf

Mr. Tim Lambert (http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/10/peiser_admits_he_was_97_wrong.php ) eventually burst Mr Peiser's bubble, proving that Dr. Oreskes' analysis was correct. However, in the intervening time, Mr. Peiser managed to gain considerable fame as a "climate expert", quoted by the media, and US Senator James Inhofe, even though he appears to have no known research or academic credentials in the area of climate science. Apparently this credibility carries to this day, quoted in the London Times.

All this information I gleaned from James Hoggan's book, "Climate Cover-Up" (http://www.amazon.com/Climate-Cover-Up-Crusade-Global-Warming/dp/1553654854/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250889752&sr=8-1 ). Definitely worth a read if you want the inside scoop and understand what kind of an "expert" can possibly claim there is no climate change issue. I have to admit, if I hadn't been reading about Mr. Peiser 15 minutes before reading the Times article, I probably would have missed it. And that's really the problem, isn't it -- if we can't trust the media to interview reliable sources, who can we trust?

-JFB
===============================================

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6938356.ece

Major cities at risk from rising sea level threat
A storm at sea

(Mischa Keijser/Hollandse Hoogte/eyevine)


The predicted rise in sea levels would engulf island nations such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Tuvalu in the Pacific, devastate coastal cities such as Calcutta and Dhaka and force London, New York and Shanghai to spend billions on flood defences


Hannah Devlin and Robin Pagnamenta
Sea levels will rise by twice as much as previously predicted as a result of global warming, an important international study has concluded.
The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) calculated that if temperatures continued to increase at the present rate, by 2100 the sea level would rise by up to 1.4 metres — twice that predicted two years ago.
Such a rise in sea levels would engulf island nations such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Tuvalu in the Pacific, devastate coastal cities such as Calcutta and Dhaka and force London, New York and Shanghai to spend billions on flood defences.
Even if the average global temperature increases by only 2C — the target set for next week's Copenhagen summit — sea levels could still rise by 50cm, double previous forecasts, according to the report.
SCAR, a partnership of 35 of the world's leading climate research institutions, made the prediction in the report Antarctic Climate Change and Climate. It far exceeds the 0.59 metre rise by the end of the century quoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. This was based on a "business as usual" approach by governments that allowed temperatures to rise by 4 degrees. It will underpin the negotiations in Copenhagen.
SCAR scientists said that the IPCC underestimated grossly how much the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets would contribute to total sea-level rises.
One of the world's leading experts on climate science has called for the world to intensify efforts to control global warming by actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
In an interview with The Times, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said that geo-engineering, where carbon is stripped from the atmosphere using specialist technologies, would be necessary to control runaway damage to the climate. "At some point we will have to cross over and start sucking some of those gases out of the atmosphere."
He added that world leaders meeting in Copenhagen should aim for a tighter target of no more than a 1.5C rise in global temperatures.
The IPCC report predicted that the melting of ice sheets would contribute about 20 per cent of the total rise in sea levels, with the majority coming from the melting of glaciers and the expansion of the water as it warms. It said that it was not able to predict the impact of melting ice sheets, but suggested this could add 10-20cm.
The SCAR report uses detailed climate observations over the past century linking temperature to sea levels to produce a more sophisticated estimate. It puts the likely contribution from ice sheets at more than 50 per cent.
The calculations were carried out by Stefan Rahmstorf, Professor of Physics of the Oceans at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. Sceptics seized upon his figures as further evidence of the unreliability of climate change predictions.
"It's 50cm, 60cm, 100cm — 60m if you ask James Hansen from Nasa," said Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation . "The predictions come in thick and fast, but we take them all with a pinch of salt. We look out of the window and it's very cold, it doesn't seem to be warming. We're very concerned that 100-year policies are being made on the basis of these predictions"

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b097aaae-de18-11de-b8e2-00144feabdc0.html

Industrial groups warn over climate law
By Hal Weitzman in Chicago
Published: December 1 2009 02:00 | Last updated: December 1 2009 02:00


Industrial companies operating in the US are warning that they will face a heavy regulatory burden should US Congress fail to pass climate change legislation.
The companies fear that without legislation, the US Environmental Protection Agency would impose its own rules on greenhouse-gas emissions or states would introduce different carbon pollution regimes.
Peter Molinaro, head of government affairs at Dow Chemical, the largest US chemicals group, told the Financial Times that the proliferation of such initiatives would present "an enormous administrative burden" for companies that operate across different regimes.
"Manufacturers are having enough trouble in this country competing with foreign companies," Mr Molinaro said. "We'd be adding administrative and cost burden where we shouldn't."
Alison Taylor, vice-president of sustainability for the Americas at Siemens, the German engineering group, said businesses needed to know the price of carbon for planning reasons. "How do you have one price of carbon if you've got four or five different regimes?" she said.
President Barack Obama had hoped that Congress would pass cap-and-trade legislation before next week's United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen.
However, the focus on healthcare and the economy means he will arrive in Denmark empty-handed.
Nevertheless, Mr Obama is expected to pledge that the US will cut carbon emissions.
A climate bill was squeezed through the House of Representatives in June, but a bipartisan proposal that could be presented in the Senate as soon as this week faces an uphill battle.
"The chances of getting a bill passed continue to be very uncertain," said David Brown, head of federal affairs at Exelon, the biggest operator of nuclear power plants in the US.
That raises the prospect that US states or regions could initiate their own mandatory regimes or that the Environmental Protection Agency could impose greenhouse-gas emissions limits.
The US already has one mandatory regional cap-and-trade programme in the form of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which includes 10 north-eastern states.
Without federal legislation, similar schemes are likely to spring up elsewhere.
California last week announced a plan for its own cap-and-trade system.
The climate change issue has split the business world.
Trade associations such as the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and big energy groups such as ConocoPhillips and Chevron oppose the climate bill that passed the House, saying it will kill off US manufacturing jobs.
That stance has alienated companies that support the measure.
Nike and Apple are among the businesses that have withdrawn from the US Chamber of Commerce over its stance on the issue.
www.ft.com/crookblog



http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6938298.ece

Carbon must be sucked from air, says IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri
Artificial trees in road
Robin Pagnamenta, Energy Editor
Drastic cuts in carbon emissions may not be sufficient to avoid the worst ravages of global warming and the world will need to suck carbon from the atmosphere to avert permanent damage to the climate, according to a leading world authority on climate science.
In an interview with The Times, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), proposed that new techniques should be applied to help to mop up atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide that have been pumped into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.
"There are enough technologies in existence to allow for mitigation," he said. "At some point we will have to cross over and start sucking some of those gases out of the atmosphere."
Speaking days before the start of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Dr Pachauri, who collected the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC with Al Gore, said that such a strategy needed to be pursued as a matter of urgency.
The Indian scientist, 69, also said that the target adopted by the 192 governments that are due to attend the conference, of restricting average global temperature rises to less than 2C (3.6F), may be insufficient to prevent catastrophic warming impacts such as a rise in sea levels of between 0.5m and 1.4m (1.6ft and 4.6ft) and enough to devastate many coastal cities around the world such as Shanghai, Calcutta and Dhaka. Instead, he said, a 1.5C rise was a safer target.
Dr Pachauri raised the prospect of so-called geo-engineering, whereby carbon dioxide is actively stripped from the atmosphere. A range of techniques have been proposed including seeding artificial clouds over oceans to reflect sunlight back into space, sowing the oceans with iron ore to boost plankton growth and using carbon capture and storage technology to fix emissions from power stations.
About 27 billion tonnes of pure carbon dioxide are pumped into the atmosphere every year — equivalent to 7.3 billion tonnes of pure carbon.
Total atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are now at 387 parts per million, up from an historic average of 180 to 280 ppm. Even if radical cuts were adopted by world governments in Copenhagen and adhered to, the lowest level at which they could be expected to stabilise is 450 ppm, say scientists. To prevent a further temperature rise of more than 2C, emissions would need to be stabilised around that level.
Dr Pachauri, speaking to The Times on Saturday before travelling to Paris to brief President Sarkozy, suggested that the fossil fuel lobby could be behind a hacking incident last month that led to the publication of thousands of leaked e-mails between climate scientists. He said that it was entirely possible that "corporate interests" had had a hand in the leak.
Dr Pachauri, who was in London for a lecture at the Wellcome Trust organised by the BBC World Service, demanded an immediate investigation into the hacking of e-mails from the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit, which he branded an "illegal act".
He said: "One needs firstly to find out personally who is responsible, who the culprits are and what were their motives. And unless we do that it is likely that similar things will happen in the future."
A prominent climate change sceptic, Steve McIntyre, told The Times yesterday that he was "unaware of any evidence that the fossil fuel lobby had anything to do with this and I doubt that they did".
Dr Pachauri dismissed the suggestion that biased research had crept into the IPCC's most recent report on the science of climate change. A complex system of checks and balances was in place to prevent bias being insinuated into the panel's work, he said.
The third way
Governments have focused their attention on mitigation — reducing their carbon output — and more recently on transition — redeveloping existing assets to ensure carbon control. According to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, there is a third way, geo-engineering; measures that do not just reduce emissions, but take them out of the environment:
Artificial trees These 12m boxes, filled with absorbent materials, soak up and store carbon. The devices, which could be placed by roads, would be emptied regularly and the carbon buried. About 100,000 artificial trees would require about 600 hectares of land, but the carbon that they remove from the atmosphere would be equivalent to all the non-stationary and dispersed emissions to the UK
Algae-coated buildings Strips of algae are fitted to the outside of buildings in units called photobioreactors. Algae naturally absorbs C02 through photosynthesis. Periodically the algae are harvested and used for biofuels that have an energy rating similar to coal. This solution requires no extra land use
Reflective buildings Between 10 and 50 per cent of solar radiation can be reflected back out of the atmosphere by painting buildings and road surfaces in light colours