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


Alternative Energy newsclips for 29 December 2009: Wind and Smart Grid trends, 2010-2013

Wind Trends to Watch for in 2010
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 28, 2009 @ 9:02 am In FeaturePredictionsStrategy & LeadershipWind Energy | No Comments
wind and skyWith wind turbine prices falling and government incentives rising, more businesses should be able to adopt wind power in the coming year, according to the American Wind Energy Association [1] (AWEA).

In identifying top wind trends for 2010, the AWEA notes that the 30 percent federal investment tax credit on small wind systems has been expanded for eight years.

Additionally, while some wind farms have been put on hold due to environmental concerns related to the proposed sites, the industry should expect some clarity in 2010. The Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to issue its guidance on the subject.

Here are some more predictions from AWEA:

- Wind power should continue its six-year trend as the second-leading source of new power generating capacity in the U.S., trailing natural gas power plants.

- Utilities and operators of electric grids will become more comfortable with integrating wind energy with minimal added costs. However, AWEA predicts that the fossil fuel industry may try some backdoor methods of imposing new or unfair costs on wind plants.

- Wind turbines will become more powerful in 2010, AWEA predicts. There are already more than 1,000 2 MW wind turbines in operation in the U.S., and a new wind project in Shephard's Flat, Ore., ordered 338 2.5 MW turbines from GE.

With regard to wind power progress in 2009, AWEA said [2] that strong support for a national renewable electricity standard in the House of Representatives was a highlight.

Additionally, AWEA noted that electricity from wind turbines installed through 2009 will save more than 20 billion gallons of water annually, which would otherwise be used for steam or cooling in conventional power plants.

To see more 2009 wind highlights, click here [2].

Globally, wind power is gaining a reputation for its potential to solve a multitude of problems.

For instance, as developed nations try to reduce their emissions, wind power can help achieve [3] as much as 65 percent of the cuts pledged by 2020, according to the Global Wind Energy Council [4].

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Smart Grid Market to Peak at $35B in 2013
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 28, 2009 @ 9:21 am In ChartsPredictionsResearch & TechnologySmart Grid | No Comments
smart gridRevenue from smart grid applications is expected to reach a short-term peak of about $35 billion in 2013, according to a new report from Pike Research [1].

At about $10 billion in 2009, the smart grid market should be worth about $18 billion in 2010 and rise steadily until 2013, according to the report "Smart Grid Technologies [2]."

Pike Research puts cumulative global spending on the smart grid from 2008 to 2015 at $200 billion.

Pike Research's predictions are more conservative than those from Zpryme [3], which suggests [4] that the U.S. market alone will be worth more than $42 billion by 2014.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) laid out guidelines for establishing a smart grid in a white paper delivered at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. The U.S.-based trade group said [5] smart-grid-enabled home appliances, through a fully functional smart grid, will significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and provide better integration and coordination of renewable energy resources.

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Plants and animals race for survival as climate change creeps across the globe
Plants and animals race for survival as climate change creeps across the globe
Lowland tropics, mangroves and deserts at greater risk than mountainous areas as global warming spreads, study finds
David Adam, Wednesday 23 December 2009 18.20 GMT
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Mangrove swamp
Mangroves are some of the areas most vulnerable to climate change, as a new study by the Carnegie Instuttion in California reveals the rapid movement of global warming across the world. Photograph: Corbis
Global warming creeps across the world at a speed of a quarter of a mile each year, according to a new study that highlights the problems that rising temperatures pose to plants and animals. Species that can tolerate only a narrow range of temperatures will need to move as quickly if they are to survive. Wildlife in lowland tropics, mangroves and desert areas are at greater risk than species in mountainous areas, the study suggests.
"These are the conditions that will set the stage, whether species move or cope in place," said Chris Field, director of the department of global ecology at the Carnegie Institutionin the US, who worked on the project. "Expressed as velocities, climate changeprojections connect directly to survival prospects for plants and animals."
The study, by scientists at the Carnegie Institution, Stanford University, the California Academy of Sciences, and the University of California, Berkeley, combined information on current and projected future climate to calculate a "temperature velocity" for different parts of the world.
They found that mountainous areas will have the lowest velocity of temperature change, meaning that animals will not need to move very far to stay in the temperature range of their natural habitat. However, much larger geographic displacements are required in flatter areas such as flooded grasslands, mangroves and deserts, in order for animals to keep pace with their climate zone. The researchers also found that most currently protected areas are not big enough to accommodate the displacements required.
Healy Hamilton, director of the centre for applied biodiversity informatics at the California Academy of Sciences, said: "One of the most powerful aspects of this data is that it allows us to evaluate how our current protected area network will perform as we attempt to conserve biodiversity in the face of global climate change."
He added: "When we look at residence times for protected areas, which we define as the amount of time it will take current climate conditions to move across and out of a given protected area, only 8% of our current protected areas have residence times of more than 100 years. If we want to improve these numbers, we need to both reduce our carbon emissions and work quickly towards expanding and connecting our global network of protected areas."
The study found that global warming would have the lowest velocities in tropical and subtropical coniferous forests, where it would move at about 80 metres a year, andmontane grasslands and shrublands - a biome with grass and shrubs at high elevations - with a projected velocity of about 110 metres each year.
Global warming is expected to sweep more quickly across flatter areas, such as mangrove swamps and flooded grasslands and savannas, where it could have velocities above 1km a year. Across the world, the average velocity is 420 metres each year. The results are published in the journal Nature.
Wildlife in areas with low projected climate change velocities are not necessarily better protected, the scientists point out. Habitats such as broadleaf forests are often small and fragmented, which makes it harder for species to move.
The study examines the movement of climate zones, not species, the scientists stress, which means it is difficult to predict what the impacts may be on individual trees, insects and animals. Some are more tolerant to changing temperature than others, and the movement of species can be difficult to track. While trees are estimated to have spread northwards through a warming Europe after the end of the last ice age at a speed of about 1km per year, this could be down to dormant seeds reseeding the landscape, which would not be possible if species are forced to shift to new territories.
The scientists say that global warming will cause temperatures to change so rapidly that almost a third of the globe could see climate velocities higher than even the most optimistic estimates of plant migration speeds.
Some plants and animals may have to be physically moved by humans to help them cope, the scientists say, while protected areas must also be enlarged and joined together.

Carbon newsclips for 29 December 2009: China's role in scuttling COP15? And reduced demand for carbon offsets in 2009

How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room
As recriminations fly post-Copenhagen, one writer offers a fly-on-the-wall account of how talks failed

Ed Miliband: China tried to hijack climate deal
The key players and how they rated
Mark Lynas
Mark Lynas, Tuesday 22 December 2009 19.54 GMT
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A woman listens to Barack Obama's speech at Copenhagen climate change conference 18 December 2009
A woman listens to Barack Obama's speech at the Copenhagen climate change conference on 18 December. Photograph: Axel Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images
Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful "deal" so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen.
China's strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world's poor once again. And sure enough, the aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all took the bait. The failure was "the inevitable result of rich countries refusing adequately and fairly to shoulder their overwhelming responsibility", said Christian Aid. "Rich countries have bullied developing nations," fumed Friends of the Earth International.
All very predictable, but the complete opposite of the truth. Even George Monbiot, writing in yesterday's Guardian, made the mistake of singly blaming Obama. But I saw Obama fighting desperately to salvage a deal, and the Chinese delegate saying "no", over and over again. Monbiot even approvingly quoted the Sudanese delegate Lumumba Di-Aping, who denounced the Copenhagen accord as "a suicide pact, an incineration pact, in order to maintain the economic dominance of a few countries".
Sudan behaves at the talks as a puppet of China; one of a number of countries that relieves the Chinese delegation of having to fight its battles in open sessions. It was a perfect stitch-up. China gutted the deal behind the scenes, and then left its proxies to savage it in public.
Here's what actually went on late last Friday night, as heads of state from two dozen countries met behind closed doors. Obama was at the table for several hours, sitting between Gordon Brown and the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi. The Danish prime minister chaired, and on his right sat Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the UN. Probably only about 50 or 60 people, including the heads of state, were in the room. I was attached to one of the delegations, whose head of state was also present for most of the time.
What I saw was profoundly shocking. The Chinese premier, Wen Jinbao, did not deign to attend the meetings personally, instead sending a second-tier official in the country's foreign ministry to sit opposite Obama himself. The diplomatic snub was obvious and brutal, as was the practical implication: several times during the session, the world's most powerful heads of state were forced to wait around as the Chinese delegate went off to make telephone calls to his "superiors".
Shifting the blame
To those who would blame Obama and rich countries in general, know this: it was China's representative who insisted that industrialised country targets, previously agreed as an 80% cut by 2050, be taken out of the deal. "Why can't we even mention our own targets?" demanded a furious Angela Merkel. Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was annoyed enough to bang his microphone. Brazil's representative too pointed out the illogicality of China's position. Why should rich countries not announce even this unilateral cut? The Chinese delegate said no, and I watched, aghast, as Merkel threw up her hands in despair and conceded the point. Now we know why – because China bet, correctly, that Obama would get the blame for the Copenhagen accord's lack of ambition.
China, backed at times by India, then proceeded to take out all the numbers that mattered. A 2020 peaking year in global emissions, essential to restrain temperatures to 2C, was removed and replaced by woolly language suggesting that emissions should peak "as soon as possible". The long-term target, of global 50% cuts by 2050, was also excised. No one else, perhaps with the exceptions of India and Saudi Arabia, wanted this to happen. I am certain that had the Chinese not been in the room, we would have left Copenhagen with a deal that had environmentalists popping champagne corks popping in every corner of the world.
Strong position
So how did China manage to pull off this coup? First, it was in an extremely strong negotiating position. China didn't need a deal. As one developing country foreign minister said to me: "The Athenians had nothing to offer to the Spartans." On the other hand, western leaders in particular – but also presidents Lula of Brazil, Zuma of South Africa, Calderón of Mexico and many others – were desperate for a positive outcome. Obama needed a strong deal perhaps more than anyone. The US had confirmed the offer of $100bn to developing countries for adaptation, put serious cuts on the table for the first time (17% below 2005 levels by 2020), and was obviously prepared to up its offer.
Above all, Obama needed to be able to demonstrate to the Senate that he could deliver China in any global climate regulation framework, so conservative senators could not argue that US carbon cuts would further advantage Chinese industry. With midterm elections looming, Obama and his staff also knew that Copenhagen would be probably their only opportunity to go to climate change talks with a strong mandate. This further strengthened China's negotiating hand, as did the complete lack of civil society political pressure on either China or India. Campaign groups never blame developing countries for failure; this is an iron rule that is never broken. The Indians, in particular, have become past masters at co-opting the language of equity ("equal rights to the atmosphere") in the service of planetary suicide – and leftish campaigners and commentators are hoist with their own petard.
With the deal gutted, the heads of state session concluded with a final battle as the Chinese delegate insisted on removing the 1.5C target so beloved of the small island states and low-lying nations who have most to lose from rising seas. President Nasheed of the Maldives, supported by Brown, fought valiantly to save this crucial number. "How can you ask my country to go extinct?" demanded Nasheed. The Chinese delegate feigned great offence – and the number stayed, but surrounded by language which makes it all but meaningless. The deed was done.
China's game
All this raises the question: what is China's game? Why did China, in the words of a UK-based analyst who also spent hours in heads of state meetings, "not only reject targets for itself, but also refuse to allow any other country to take on binding targets?" The analyst, who has attended climate conferences for more than 15 years, concludes that China wants to weaken the climate regulation regime now "in order to avoid the risk that it might be called on to be more ambitious in a few years' time".
This does not mean China is not serious about global warming. It is strong in both the wind and solar industries. But China's growth, and growing global political and economic dominance, is based largely on cheap coal. China knows it is becoming an uncontested superpower; indeed its newfound muscular confidence was on striking display in Copenhagen. Its coal-based economy doubles every decade, and its power increases commensurately. Its leadership will not alter this magic formula unless they absolutely have to.
Copenhagen was much worse than just another bad deal, because it illustrated a profound shift in global geopolitics. This is fast becoming China's century, yet its leadership has displayed that multilateral environmental governance is not only not a priority, but is viewed as a hindrance to the new superpower's freedom of action. I left Copenhagen more despondent than I have felt in a long time. After all the hope and all the hype, the mobilisation of thousands, a wave of optimism crashed against the rock of global power politics, fell back, and drained away.

Chinese Hackers May Have Leaked 'Climategate' E-mails
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 29, 2009 @ 1:28 am In AsiaClimateHi-TechPolicy & Law | No Comments
computerThe hacking of computers containing climate change-related e-mails may have come from China, in the hopes of scuttling the Copenhagen climate talks, suggests an article from the Daily Mail [1].

The hack-job that came to be called "Climategate [2]" initially had been attributed to Russia, which in addition to China had little to gain from a successful Copenhagen.

However, the Russian security service released information that allowed the original e-mail traffic to be retraced. According to the article, the e-mails went through a computer company in Siberia, but originated from a computer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

An open-access server run by Malaysian telecom firm Telekom Malaysia Berhad, which supplies internet access to nearby China, was the source of the e-mail leak.

Because the open server does not require a password, the company said that it could not identify the sender. That has not stopped speculation that China was behind the leaked e-mails.

The IP address used to post the messages is linked to one used by a Chinese environmental institute, the Research Institute of Forest Ecology and Environment Protection, reports the Daily Mail.

Several professors from that institute have shared a platform with the University of East Anglia experts whose e-mails were hacked, according to the Daily Mail.

Many countries and analysts blame China for blocking the adoption of a climate change treaty in Copenhagen in December. The Copenhagen meeting resulted [3] in a non-binding agreement with specifics to be determined in 2010, which angered the poorest nations and some Western groups who wanted an ambitious commitment.

One journalist wrote [4] that China blocked the open negotiations for two weeks and then made sure that the "closed-door deal" made it look like the West failed to help the world's poor again.

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China Defends Wen Jiabao's Role In Copenhagen Talks
Date: 29-Dec-09
 Lucy Hornby

China Defends Wen Jiabao's Role In Copenhagen Talks Photo: Bob Strong
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao addresses the session of United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen December 18, 2009
Photo: Bob Strong

BEIJING - China on Friday defended the role played by premier Wen Jiabao at climate change talks in Copenhagen this month after a barrage of international criticism blaming China for obstructing negotiations.
The Copenhagen meeting ended with a broad political agreement but left specifics to be ironed out in 2010, angering many of the poorest nations as well as Western groups who had hoped for a more ambitious commitment.
China insisted that firm targets agreed to by European nations not be included in the final deal, and Wen himself was absent from a final round of direct negotiations between national leaders. British climate minister Ed Miliband said China and its allies had "hijacked" talks, according to the Guardian newspaper.
In a long account of the Copenhagen meeting, Xinhua gave Wen credit for "the last minute attempt to exchange ideas and reach consensus" despite his belief that it was "impossible" to reach a legally binding agreement.
"China showed the greatest sincerity, tried its best and played a constructive role," Xinhua said.
Issues of verification of emissions cut pledges plagued the meeting, with rich nations saying China's efforts to slow greenhouse gas growth should be subject to international verification to ensure that Beijing is keeping its word. China has said such checks would violate its sovereignty.
"On the transparency issue in self-mitigation actions, Wen said China was willing to conduct talks and cooperation," Xinhua said.
China has made its own pledges to reduce carbon intensity, or the amount of emissions produced per unit of GDP, but blocked European countries from including their commitment to cut absolute emissions by 80 percent by 2050, as well as commitments to specific dates when emissions would peak.
Other Reuters sources had also said China blocked the inclusion of specific targets.
Xinhua acknowledged Wen's absence from the late night meetings on Dec 17, saying that Wen had not been informed, and had learned the Chinese delegation was included in the meeting list from another, unidentified foreign leader.
"Premier Wen felt quite astonished and was vigilant," Xinhua said, adding that China sent a vice foreign minister instead.
The U.S. administration has played up President Barack Obama's role in breaking through a deadlock by arriving unannounced at a meeting of the heads of China, Brazil, India and South Africa, all powerful developing countries concerned that emissions concessions could impede growth.
Xinhua said that meeting -- which occurred as the U.S. sought a meeting with China and was rebuffed from meeting the others -- represented Wen's efforts to reach consensus before bringing a final deal to the Western nations and poorest developing nations.
(Editing by David Fox)

Voluntary CO2 Offset Market Ends Year On Down Note
Date: 24-Dec-09
 Nina Chestney

LONDON - Demand for voluntary carbon offsets declined in December, traditionally one of the market's busiest months, as a slow year meant retailers did not face the usual scramble to square their books, market players said.
"There has been a lack of last-minute December activity. Offset retailers usually buy any missing volumes from customer orders in the year but that was largely absent," Grattan MacGiffin, head of voluntary carbon markets at brokers MF Global in London, said on Wednesday.
"The general decline in volumes effectively gave retailers more time to get their books settled."
The unregulated voluntary market operates outside mandatory emissions cut schemes such as the United Nations' Clean Development Mechanism or the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme.
Despite a pickup from September to November, demand for offset credits called verified emissions reductions (VERs) generally stalled this year as companies cut expenditure to reduce their carbon footprint because of the global economic slump.
VER prices were largely stable this month, except for industrial credits which were slashed to around $1.50 from $3 in an attempt to attract more buyers.
"Overall the voluntary market has bucked previous years' trends of sustained growth. Estimates are that 40 to 50 percent of volume was traded in 2009 versus 2008, as corporate social responsibility buying has been constricted," MacGiffin added.
On Tuesday, the Brazilian Securities, Commodities and Futures Exchange canceled its voluntary credit auction due to lack of participants.
Demand should pick up again in 2010, when the United States Senate may pass climate legislation enabling a federal emissions trading scheme. Market players hope the scheme will include some voluntary offset credits.
"The paradox of a failed Copenhagen deal makes the realization of a U.S. cap-and-trade scheme more achievable as it will not be in the shadow of strong international targets, meaning some of the Republican senators might go along with a weakish, unilateral market," MacGiffin said.
This week, Nedbank and Wildlife Works Incorporated signed a multi-million pound deal to launch the first African carbon credit scheme. Over 2.5 million tonnes of credits will be generated by a Kenyan avoided deforestation scheme. The project is seeking registration from the Voluntary Carbon Standard registry, the companies said.
Earlier this month, UK-based financial information provider Markit and clean energy project developer C-Questor launched a new carbon standard for low-carbon energy projects.
The Carbco Platinum Carbon Standard will give extra certification and validation to clean energy projects in the voluntary and regulated U.N.-backed carbon markets.
(Editing by Anthony Barker)