Sustainablog

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

16.3.10

Green Newsclips for March 16th, 2010: Good news and bad news.

Bad news from ice fields
http://www.skepticalscience.com/New-observations-find-underwater-Arctic-Shelf-is-perforated-and-venting-methane.html

New observations find underwater Arctic Shelf is perforated and venting methane
One of the positive feedbacks from global warming is the thawing of Arctic permafrost. This releases methane, a greenhouse gas over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. Investigations into Arctic methane have tended to focus on land permafrost. However, there are also vast amounts of methane held underwater in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS). This encompasses over 2 million square kilometres, three times as large as the nearby Siberian wetlands, which have been considered the primary Northern Hemisphere source of atmospheric methane. Underwater permafrost acts as a lid to restrain methane stored in the seabed. Until now, it was thought the permafrost was cold enough to remain frozen. However, recent observations have found that over 80% of the deep water over the ESAS is supersaturated, with methane levels more than eight times that of normal seawater (Shakhova 2010). More than half of the surface water is supersaturated also. The methane venting into the atmosphere from this one region is comparable to the amount of methane coming out of the entire world's oceans.
To find out what was happening in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, field measurements, ice expeditions and a helicopter survey were conducted to measure methane levels in ESAS waters. They took 5100 samples from 1080 stations, the largest database for any ocean methane study. They found widespread supersaturation over the region. Most of the bottom waters are supersaturated and over half of surface waters are supersaturated. In some areas, the saturation levels reached at least 250 times that of background levels in the summer and 1,400 times higher in the winter.
Methane Levels in East Siberian Arctic Shelf, deep waters and surface waters
Figure 1: Summertime observations of methane levels in the ESAS. Top is dissolved methane in deep water. Bottom is dissolved methane in surface water (
Shakhova 2010).
To find out how much methane is escaping into the atmosphere, they measured the flux of methane at the ocean surface. Methane levels were elevated overall and the seascape was dotted with more than 100 hotspots. A helicopter survey further confirmed this, finding methane levels were 5 to 10% greater at 1800 metres height. Methane is not only being dissolved in the water, it's bubbling out into the atmosphere.
Yearly flux of methane venting into atmosphere over East Siberian Arctic Shelf
Figure 2: Yearly flux of methane venting into the atmosphere over the ESAS (
Shakhova 2010).
These findings tell us the large underwater permafrost "lid" over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is clearly perforated and methane is escaping to the atmosphere. Why is this a concern? The impact of positive feedback from ESAS methane is not currently included in climate model projections. However, we can deduce the role of methane feedback by looking at past climate change. About 11,600 years ago, the planet warmed very suddenly. This corresponded with strong increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, especially Arctic methane (Petrenko 2009Nisbet 2009). This indicates that the permafrost is sensitive to warming temperatures, having released it's methane in the past. This gives us much reason to be concerned about the trajectory of the vast methane stores leaking from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.
Update 7 Mar 2010: Real Climate offer some good perspective on methane feedback which echoes the theme in CO2 is not the only driver of climate:

"CO2 is plenty to be frightened of, while methane is frosting on the cake. Imagine you are in a Toyota on the highway at 70 miles per hour approaching stopped traffic, and you find that the brake pedal is broken. This is CO2. Then you figure out that the accelerator has also jammed, so that by the time you hit the truck in front of you, you will be going 80 miles per hour instead of 70. This is methane. Is now the time to get worried? No, you should already have been worried by the broken brake pedal. Methane sells newspapers, but it's not the big story, nor does it look to be a game changer to the big story, which is CO2."
http://planetark.org/wen/56789

Canada's Permafrost Retreats Amid Warming Trend
Date: 18-Feb-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON - The permanently frozen ground known as permafrost is retreating northward in the area around Canada's James Bay, a sign of a decades-long regional warming trend, a climate scientist said on Wednesday.
When permafrost melts, it can liberate the powerful greenhouse gas methane that is locked in the frozen soil. The amount of methane contained in permafrost around James Bay is slight compared to the vast stores of the chemical found in ancient, deep permafrost in the Yukon, Alaska and Siberia.
The southern edge of permafrost in the James Bay area has moved about 80 miles north of where it was 50 years ago, Serge Payette of Laval University in Quebec City said in a telephone interview.
It's a sign that warming is taking hold in this area that straddles the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. Payette said the sites he has studied have warmed by 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) in the last two decades.
And it shows what dying permafrost looks like.
"This is the end of the line for permafrost," Payette said.
To track the retreat, Payette and his colleagues looked at distinctive plant-covered mounds called palsas that form naturally over ice in the soil of northern peat bogs.
There were up to 90 percent fewer palsas in bogs around James Bay in 2005 than there were in 2004, the researchers found. And that was far fewer than those palsas shown in the area in aerial photographs taken in 1957, Payette said.
The trend cannot be conclusively linked to climate change, Payette said, citing a lack of data in this remote area, but he noted that this is the most likely cause. The research was published in the journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes.
The ability to figure out what happens when permafrost vanishes is important because of its possible impact on climate change.
Arctic emissions of climate-warming methane rose 30.6 percent from 2003 to 2007, researchers reported last month in the journal Science, a suggestion that global warming could unlock huge amounts of the gas from melting permafrost.
While too early to consider this a trend, this increase was the biggest percentage rise for any region of the world's wetlands, the Science study found. Methane has about 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, according to the International Emissions Trading Association.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
http://planetark.org/wen/56843

Climate Change Melts Antarctic Ice Shelves: USGS
Date: 23-Feb-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Deborah Zabarenko,

WASHINGTON - Climate change is melting the floating ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula, giving scientists a preview of what could happen if other ice shelves around the southern continent disappear, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said on Monday.
The ice has retreated so far from the land mass that Charcot Island, which has long been connected to the peninsula by an ice bridge, emerged as a real island again last year, a USGS scientist said.
"This is the first time since people have been observing the area, since the 1800s, that that ice shelf has not hitched together Charcot Island and the peninsula," scientist Jane Ferrigno said in a telephone interview.
The Antarctic Peninsula extends further northward than the rest of the roughly circular ice-covered continent, and it is warmer than the rest of Antarctica. But even in the peninsula's coldest, southern part, ice shelves are vanishing.
Research by the USGS was the first to show that every ice front on the southern section of the peninsula has been retreating from 1947 to 2009, with the most dramatic changes since 1990.
A study of the phenomenon by the USGS in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey and assistance from the Scott Polar Research Institute and Germany's Bundesamt fur Kartographie and Geodasie was posted at pubs.usgs.gov/imap/i-2600-c/ in February; a statement was released on Monday.
ICE SHELVES ACT AS GLACIER DAMS
Ice shelves act as dams to keep land-based glaciers from flowing unimpeded into the sea; when ice shelves melt, glaciers can move more quickly into ocean waters.
If all the land-based ice in Antarctica melted, scientists have estimated sea levels worldwide could rise from 213 to 240 feet, according to the study. If just the ice in West Antarctica melted, there would be a sea level rise of about 20 feet, threatening coastal communities and low-lying islands.
The land-based ice on the Antarctic peninsula is not enough to fuel a major rise in sea level, Ferrigno said. However, the dramatic disappearance of ice shelves there could give a clue of what could happen when glaciers are free to flow seaward.
This is important because the Antarctic ice sheet contains 91 percent of Earth's glacier ice, Ferrigno said.
Unlike Antarctic land-based ice, the ice that covers much of the Arctic Ocean would not contribute to sea level rise if it all melted, in much the way that a melting ice cube in a glass of water would not make the glass overflow.
But both the Arctic and Antarctic have major impact on weather in the temperate parts of the world.
http://planetark.org/wen/56997

Glacier Melting A Key Clue To Tracking Climate Change
Date: 05-Mar-10
Country:
 SINGAPORE/US
Author:
 David Fogarty and Yereth Rosen


Glacier Melting A Key Clue To Tracking Climate Change Photo: Marcos Brindicci/Files
The sun rises over Argentina's Perito Moreno glacier near the city of El Calafate, in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, December 16, 2009.
Photo: Marcos Brindicci/Files

SINGAPORE/ANCHORAGE - The world has become far too hot for the aptly named Exit Glacier in Alaska.
Like many low-altitude glaciers, it's steadily melting, shrinking two miles over the past 200 years as it tries to strike a new balance with rising temperatures.
At the Kenai Fjords National Park south of Anchorage, managers have learned to follow the Exit and other glaciers, moving signs and paths to accommodate the ephemeral rivers of blue and white ice as they retreat up deeply carved valleys.
"Some of the stuff is changing fast enough that we now have signs on moving pedestals," said Fritz Klasner, natural resource specialist at Kenai Fjords.
The vast amounts of water stored in glaciers play crucial roles in river flows, hydropower generation and agricultural production, contributing to steady run-off for Ganges, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus rivers in Asia and elsewhere.
But many are melting rapidly, with the pace picking up over the past decade, giving glaciers a central role in the debate over causes and impacts of climate change.
That role has come even more sharply into focus after recent attacks on the U.N.'s climate panel, which included a wrong estimate for the pace of melting for Himalayan glaciers in a major 2007 report.
The report said Himalayan glaciers could all melt by 2035, an apparent typographical error that stemmed from using literature not published in a scientific journal. Climate skeptics seized on the error and used it to question the panel's findings on climate change.
The evidence for rapid glacial melting, though, is overwhelming.
The problem is no one knows exactly what's occurring in the more remote Himalayas and parts of the Andes. Far better measurements are crucial to really understand the threat to millions of people downstream.
"There is no serious information on the state of the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayan-Tibetan complex," Kurt Lambeck, President of the Australian Academy of Science, told a climate science media briefing in late February.
The high altitude and remoteness of many glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes is the main reason.
DATA IN A DEEP FREEZE
To try to fill the gap, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last month the government would establish a National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology in Dehra Dun in the north.
In Europe and North America, glaciers are generally more accessible and there are more trained people to study them.
Switzerland's Aletsch glacier, the largest in the Alps, has been retreating for about 150 years.
But the glacier, which feeds the River Rhone, still stores an estimated 27 billion tonnes of ice, according to www.swissinfo.ch. That's about 12 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.
In 2008, a total of 79 Swiss glaciers were in retreat, while 5 were advancing, the Swiss Glacier Monitoring network says.
"There are a very small number of glaciers that are monitored," said veteran glaciologist Ian Allison, pointing to less than 100 globally for which there are regular "mass-balance" measurements that reflect how much a glacier grows or shrinks from one year to the next.
Such measurements are the benchmark and several decades of data is regarded as the best way to build up an accurate picture of what's happening to a glacier.
Glaciers originate on land and represent a sizeable accumulation of snow and ice over the years. They tend to carve their way through valleys as more and more ice accumulates until the point where more is lost through melting than is gained.
THAT SHRINKING FEELING
"We probably know less about the total volume of glaciers than we do about how much ice there is in the big ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctic because a lot of it is in small mass areas and a lot of it is inaccessible," said Allison, leader of the Australian Antarctic Division's ice, ocean, atmosphere and climate program.
The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Switzerland analyses mass balance data for just over 90 glaciers and says their average mass balance continues to decrease.
Since 1980, cumulative thickness loss of the reference glacier group is about 12 meters of water equivalent, it says in its latest 2007/08 report.
Estimates vary but glaciers and mountain caps could contribute about 70 cm (2.3 feet) to global sea levels, a 2009 report authored by Allison and other leading scientists says.
The "Copenhagen Diagnosis" report from the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales says there is widespread evidence of more rapid melting of glaciers and ice-caps since the mid-1990s.
That means run-off from melting glaciers and ice-caps is raising sea levels by 1.2 millimeters a year, translating to up to 55 cm (1.8 feet) by 2100 if global warming accelerates.
In Nepal, the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development says "mass-balance" measurements would provide direct and immediate evidence of glacier volume increase or decrease.
"But there are still no systematic measurements of glacial mass balance in the region although there are promising signs that this is changing," the center said in a recent notice.
It said that based on studies, the majority of glaciers in the region are in a general condition of retreat.
"Small glaciers below 5,000 meters (16,500 feet) above sea level will probably disappear by the end of the century, whereas larger glaciers well above this level will still exist but be smaller," it said.
Glaciers have almost vanished from New Guinea island and in Africa and many on Greenland, the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica are also melting quickly, dumping large amounts of ice into the sea.
BAMBOO STICKS
Part of the problem is that glaciers are fickle things to measure, said Allison, and requires legwork and lots of bamboo stakes. These are placed in holes top to bottom, a potentially dangerous job, although satellites and lasers fitted to aircraft are changing this.
After a year or so, stakes placed up high will have had snow build up on them, so you can estimate how much snow fell there.
Those down low will have lost mass due to melt and evaporation, so there would be more of the canes sticking out.
"So you can measure how much height is lowered down below, how much it's gained up top. You'll need to know the density of the snow and ice as well," Allison said.
But he said glaciers in one region can all apparently behave differently in response to the same climate signal. "Because the fluctuations that occur in the front depend on how long it takes to transfer the mass from the top of the glacier to the bottom."
"You might have an area where all the small glaciers are all rapidly retreating but big glaciers still coming forward because they are still integrating changes that happened maybe 50 years ago," he added.
For the millions that live downstream, it is the impacts that are of most concern and among them is the threat of sudden bursting of lakes created as glaciers retreat.
About 14 of the estimated 3,200 glaciers in Nepal are at risk of bursting their dams.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, from Khumjung village in the shadows of Mount Everest, said the Imja glacial lake could burst its dam anytime and wash away villages.
"When I was a child I used to take our yaks and mountain goats for grazing on grassy flat land overlooking Everest," Sherpa said.
"What was a grazing ground for yaks in 1960 has now turned into the Imja due to melting of snow," Sherpa, now a trekking and climbing entrepreneur, said in Kathmandu.
A glacial lake broke its dam 25 years ago destroying trekking trails, bridges and a hydroelectric plant in the region. Neighbouring Bhutan also faces the threat of bursting dams.
Just how much water melting glaciers contribute to major rivers such as the Ganges and Brahmaputra, though, remains unknown.
Richard Armstrong, a senior scientist of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, said it was nonsense to think that if glaciers melted there would be no water in the Ganges, a lifeline for millions in northern India.
"Even if the glaciers disappeared tomorrow it wouldn't have a huge impact on the water supply. The rest of the river flow comes from rain and melting seasonal snow."
He said the center has put in a proposal to NASA to use satellite data to build a better picture of the area and altitude of glaciers in the Himalayas.
"What we want to look at is what's the contribution of melting glacier ice to the downstream hydrology," Armstrong said. "It's really what's of primary importance to the socio-economic impacts of retreating glaciers."
Allison and Armstrong and many other scientists have dismissed the row over the U.N. climate panel error as overblown but said it served as a useful reminder of the gaps in global glacier monitoring and the need for a far better picture.
"It certainly brought attention to the problem," said Armstrong.
http://planetark.org/wen/56999

Arctic Melt To Cost Up To $24 Trillion By 2050: Report
Date: 05-Mar-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON - Arctic ice melting could cost global agriculture, real estate and insurance anywhere from $2.4 trillion to $24 trillion by 2050 in damage from rising sea levels, floods and heat waves, according to a report released on Friday.
"Everybody around the world is going to bear these costs," said Eban Goodstein, a resource economist at Bard College in New York state who co-authored the report, called "Arctic Treasure, Global Assets Melting Away."
He said the report, reviewed by more than a dozen scientists and economists and funded by the Pew Environment Group, an arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, provides a first attempt to monetize the cost of the loss of one of the world's great weather makers.
"The Arctic is the planet's air conditioner and it's starting to break down," he said.
The loss of Arctic Sea ice and snow cover is already costing the world about $61 billion to $371 billion annually from costs associated with heat waves, flooding and other factors, the report said.
The losses could grow as a warmer Arctic unlocks vast stores of methane in the permafrost. The gas has about 21 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide.
Melting of Arctic sea ice is already triggering a feedback of more warming as dark water revealed by the receding ice absorbs more of the sun's energy, he said. That could lead to more melting of glaciers on land and raise global sea levels.
While much of Europe and the United States has suffered heavy snowstorms and unusually low temperatures this winter, evidence has built that the Arctic is at risk from warming.
Greenhouse gases generated by tailpipes and smokestacks have pushed Arctic temperatures in the last decade to the highest levels in at least 2,000 years, reversing a natural cooling trend, an international team of researchers reported in the journal Science in September.
Arctic emissions of methane have jumped 30 percent in recent years, scientists said last month.
Thin ice over the Arctic Sea this winter could mean a powerful ice-melt next summer, a top U.S. climate scientist said this week.
And early findings from a major research project in Canada involving more than 370 scientists from 27 countries showed on Friday that climate change is transforming the Arctic environment faster than expected and accelerating the disappearance of sea ice.
Goodstein's study did not look at worst-case scenarios Arctic melting could have, such as warmer temperatures that trigger massive releases of crystallized methane formations in Arctic soils and ocean beds known as methane hydrates. It also did not look at sea ice erosion troubling people in the Arctic.
http://planetark.org/wen/56998

Methane Bubbles In Arctic Seas Stir Warming Fears
Date: 05-Mar-10
Country:
 NORWAY
Author:
 Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

Methane Bubbles In Arctic Seas Stir Warming Fears Photo: Reuters/NASA/Handout
In this file photo NASA satellite image from September 21, 2005 and released on September 21, 2007 shows Arctic summer sea ice coverage in 2005.
Photo: Reuters/NASA/Handout

OSLO - Large amounts of a powerful greenhouse gas are bubbling up from a long-frozen seabed north of Siberia, raising fears of far bigger leaks that could stoke global warming, scientists said.
It was unclear, however, if the Arctic emissions of methane gas were new or had been going on unnoticed for centuries -- since before the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century led to wide use of fossil fuels that are blamed for climate change.
The study said about 8 million tonnes of methane a year, equivalent to the annual total previously estimated from all of the world's oceans, were seeping from vast stores long trapped under permafrost below the seabed north of Russia.
"Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap," Natalia Shakhova, a scientist at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, said in a statement. She co-led the study published in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
The experts measured levels of methane, a gas that can be released by rotting vegetation, in water and air at 5,000 sites on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf from 2003-08. In some places, methane was bubbling up from the seabed.
Previously, the sea floor had been considered an impermeable barrier sealing methane, Shakhova said. Current methane concentrations in the Arctic are the highest in 400,000 years.
GLOBAL WARMING
"No one can answer this question," she said of whether the venting was caused by global warming or by natural factors. But a projected rise in temperatures could quicken the thaw.
"It's good that these emissions are documented. But you cannot say they're increasing," Martin Heimann, an expert at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany who wrote a separate article on methane in Science, told Reuters.
"These leaks could have been occurring all the time" since the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, he said. He wrote that the release of 8 million tonnes of methane a year was "negligible" compared to global emissions of about 440 million tonnes.
Shakhova's study said there was an "urgent need" to monitor the region for possible future changes since permafrost traps vast amounts of methane, the second most common greenhouse gas from human activities after carbon dioxide.
Monitoring could resolve if the venting was "a steadily ongoing phenomenon or signals the start of a more massive release period," according to the scientists, based at U.S., Russian and Swedish research institutions.
The release of just a "small fraction of the methane held in (the) East Siberian Arctic Shelf sediments could trigger abrupt climate warming," they wrote.
The shelf has sometimes been above sea level during the earth's history. When submerged, temperatures rise by 12-17 degrees Celsius (22-31 F) since water is warmer than air. Over thousands of years, that may thaw submerged permafrost.
About 60 percent of methane now comes from human activities such as landfills, cattle rearing or rice paddies. Natural sources such as wetlands make up the rest, along with poorly understood sources such as the oceans, wildfires or termites.
Most studies about methane focus on permafrost on land. But the shelf below the Laptev, East Siberian and Russian part of the Chuckchi sea is three times the size of Siberia's wetlands.


Other disquieting news
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/18/worlds-top-firms-environmental-damage

World's top firms cause $2.2tn of environmental damage, report estimates
Report for the UN into the activities of the world's 3,000 biggest companies estimates one-third of profits would be lost if firms were forced to pay for use, loss and damage of environment

• 
Andrew Simms: Putting a price tag on nature is meaningless
• 
Pavan Sukhdev: Paying for the value of nature could set scene for true green economy
Juliette Jowit
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 February 2010 18.19 GMT
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COP15 : Black clouds hover over the central Jakarta
Black clouds over the central business district, Jakarta. The report into the activities of the world's 3,000 biggest public companies has estimated the cost of use, loss and damage of the environment. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
The cost of pollution and other damage to the natural environment caused by the world's biggest companies would wipe out more than one-third of their profits if they were held financially accountable, a major unpublished study for the United Nations has found.
The report comes amid growing concern that no one is made to pay for most of the use, loss and damage of the environment, which is reaching crisis proportions in the form of pollution and the rapid loss of freshwater, fisheries and fertile soils.
Later this year, another huge UN study - dubbed the "Stern for nature" after the influential report on the economics of climate change by Sir Nicholas Stern - will attempt to put a price on such global environmental damage, and suggest ways to prevent it. The report, led by economist Pavan Sukhdev, is likely to argue for abolition of billions of dollars of subsidies to harmful industries like agriculture, energy and transport, tougher regulations and more taxes on companies that cause the damage.
Ahead of changes which would have a profound effect - not just on companies' profits but also their customers and pension funds and other investors - the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment initiative and the United Nations Environment Programme jointly ordered a report into the activities of the 3,000 biggest public companies in the world, which includes household names from the UK's FTSE 100 and other major stockmarkets.
The study, conducted by London-based consultancy Trucost and due to be published this summer, found the estimated combined damage was worth US$2.2 trillion (£1.4tn) in 2008 - a figure bigger than the national economies of all but seven countries in the world that year.
The figure equates to 6-7% of the companies' combined turnover, or an average of one-third of their profits, though some businesses would be much harder hit than others.
"What we're talking about is a completely new paradigm," said Richard Mattison, Trucost's chief operating officer and leader of the report team. "Externalities of this scale and nature pose a major risk to the global economy and markets are not fully aware of these risks, nor do they know how to deal with them."
The biggest single impact on the $2.2tn estimate, accounting for more than half of the total, was emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change. Other major "costs" were local air pollution such as particulates, and the damage caused by the over-use and pollution of freshwater.
The true figure is likely to be even higher because the $2.2tn does not include damage caused by household and government consumption of goods and services, such as energy used to power appliances or waste; the "social impacts" such as the migration of people driven out of affected areas, or the long-term effects of any damage other than that from climate change. The final report will also include a higher total estimate which includes those long-term effects of problems such as toxic waste.
Trucost did not want to comment before the final report on which sectors incurred the highest "costs" of environmental damage, but they are likely to include power companies and heavy energy users like aluminium producers because of the greenhouse gases that result from burning fossil fuels. Heavy water users like food, drink and clothing companies are also likely to feature high up on the list.
Sukhdev said the heads of the major companies at this year's annual economic summit in Davos, Switzerland, were increasingly concerned about the impact on their business if they were stopped or forced to pay for the damage.
"It can make the difference between profit and loss," Sukhdev told the annual Earthwatch Oxford lecture last week. "That sense of foreboding is there with many, many [chief executives], and that potential is a good thing because it leads to solutions."
The aim of the study is to encourage and help investors lobby companies to reduce their environmental impact before concerned governments act to restrict them through taxes or regulations, said Mattison.
"It's going to be a significant proportion of a lot of companies' profit margins," Mattison told the Guardian. "Whether they actually have to pay for these costs will be determined by the appetite for policy makers to enforce the 'polluter pays' principle. We should be seeking ways to fix the system, rather than waiting for the economy to adapt. Continued inefficient use of natural resources will cause significant impacts on [national economies] overall, and a massive problem for governments to fix."
Another major concern is the risk that companies simply run out of resources they need to operate, said Andrea Moffat, of the US-based investor lobby group Ceres, whose members include more than 80 funds with assets worth more than US$8tn. An example was the estimated loss of 20,000 jobs and $1bn last year for agricultural companies because of water shortages in California, said Moffat.

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guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/coral-reefs-in-danger-of-being-destroyed-1908544.html

Coral reefs in danger of being destroyed
Rising acidity of the oceans is threat to marine ecosystems, study warns
By Steve Connor, Science Editor in San Diego
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
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Healthy coral in the Red Sea which is home to a wide variety of wildlife
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All of the tropical coral reefs in the world will be disintegrating by the end of the century because of the rising acidity of the oceans caused by a build-up of man-made carbondioxide in the atmosphere, a study has found.
Coral reefs start to disintegrate when the acidity of the oceans rises beyond a certain threshold, and this point is likely to be reached before 2100, said Jacob Silverman of the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington.
Carbon dioxide in the air dissolves in the sea to form carbonic acid, which interferes with the ability of coral organisms to make their calcium carbonate shells which form coral reefs, Dr Silversman said. But once the shells stop forming, the reef quickly crumbles.
Related articles A mathematical model was used to study how 9,000 coral reefs from around the world would respond to rising levels of carbon dioxide and increasing ocean acidity, Dr Silverman told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.
"A global map produced on the basis of these calculations shows that all coral reefs are expected to stop their growth and start to disintegrate when atmosphere CO2 reaches 560 parts per million – double its pre-industrial level – which is expected by the end of the 21st-century," he told the meeting.
"Thus these ecosystems, which harbour the highest diversity of marine life in the oceans, may be severely reduced within less than 100 years."
The findings were based on a detailed study of how increasing acidity affects the metabolism and growth of a large area of fringing coral reef in the northern Red Sea. The scientists found that the ability of corals to form their calcium skeletons was strongly dependent on acidity and, to a lesser extent, temperature.
Coral reefs are sometimes considered to be the "rainforests of the oceans" because they are home to a wide variety of fish and other wildlife, supporting about a quarter of all marine organisms. They also provide food for about 500 million people around the world. Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are higher now than at any time in the last 650,000 years, and are continuing to rise as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. Between a third and a half of the CO2 produced since the start of the industrial revolution has dissolved in the oceans.
Scientists have estimated that some 118 billion tonnes of carbon released into the air as carbon dioxide between 1800 and 1994 has been taken up by the oceans.
Dr Simon Donner, of the University of British Columbia in Canada, said increasing ocean temperatures also make coral reefs more susceptible to "bleaching", caused by the loss of thephotosynthetic algae on which the coral organisms depend.
Corals have a symbiotic relationship with the microscopic algae that live in their tissues. As well as giving coral its vibrant colour, the algae provide the reef creatures with most of theirenergy.
Dr Donner said: "Even if we froze emissions today, the planet still has some warming left in it. That's enough to make bleaching dangerously frequent in reefs worldwide."
http://planetark.org/wen/56965

Climate Change May Extend Allergy Season: Study
Date: 03-Mar-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 JoAnne Allen

WASHINGTON - Sneezing, congestion, and runny noses from hay fever may be lasting longer because climate change may be extending pollen seasons, doctors in Italy said on Monday.
Pollen seasons as well as the amount of pollen in the air progressively increased during a 26-year study in Italy, the doctors told a meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in New Orleans.
The team at Genoa University recorded pollen counts, how long pollen seasons lasted and sensitivity to five types of pollen in the Bordighera region of Italy from 1981 to 2007.
"By studying a well-defined geographical region, we observed that the progressive increase of the average temperature has prolonged the duration of the pollen seasons of some plants and, consequently, the overall pollen load," Dr. Walter Canonica, who worked on the study, said in a statement.
The percentage of patients with reactions to the allergens increased throughout the study but it is not clear whether longer pollen seasons actually put more people at risk for developing allergies, the researchers said.
Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, is a reaction to indoor or outdoor airborne allergens, such as pollen.
"Longer pollen seasons and high levels of pollen certainly can exacerbate symptoms for people with allergic rhinitis and for those who previously had minimal symptoms," said the AAAAI's Estelle Levetin, who was not involved in the study.
About 25 million Americans, nearly half of them children, had hay fever in the past year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Editing by Maggie Fox and Vicki Allen)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/07/extinction-species-evolve

Humans driving extinction faster than species can evolve, say experts
Conservationists say rate of new species slower than diversity loss caused by the destruction of habitats and climate change
Juliette Jowit
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 7 March 2010 22.59 GMT
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Stuffed animal heads including giraffes, in the Natural History Museum
The IUCN lists west African giraffes as an endangered species. Conservationists say the rate of new species is slower than diversity loss. Photograph: Graeme Robertson
For the first time since the dinosaurs disappeared, humans are driving animals andplants to extinction faster than new species can evolve, one of the world's experts onbiodiversity has warned.
Conservation experts have already signalled that the world is in the grip of the "sixth great extinction" of species, driven by the destruction of natural habitats, hunting, the spread of alien predators and disease, and climate change.
However until recently it has been hoped that the rate at which new species were evolving could keep pace with the loss of diversity of life.
Speaking in advance of two reports next week on the state of wildlife in Britain and Europe, Simon Stuart, chair of the Species Survival Commission for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – the body which officially declares species threatened and extinct – said that point had now "almost certainly" been crossed.
"Measuring the rate at which new species evolve is difficult, but there's no question that the current extinction rates are faster than that; I think it's inevitable," said Stuart.
The IUCN created shock waves with its major assessment of the world's biodiversity in 2004, which calculated that the rate of extinction had reached 100-1,000 times that suggested by the fossil records before humans.
No formal calculations have been published since, but conservationists agree the rate of loss has increased since then, and Stuart said it was possible that the dramatic predictions of experts like the renowned Harvard biologist E O Wilson, that the rate of loss could reach 10,000 times the background rate in two decades, could be correct.
"All the evidence is he's right," said Stuart. "Some people claim it already is that ... things can only have deteriorated because of the drivers of the losses, such as habitat loss and climate change, all getting worse. But we haven't measured extinction rates again since 2004 and because our current estimates contain a tenfold range there has to be a very big deterioration or improvement to pick up a change."
Extinction is part of the constant evolution of life, and only 2-4% of the species that have ever lived on Earth are thought to be alive today. However fossil records suggest that for most of the planet's 3.5bn year history the steady rate of loss of species is thought to be about one in every million species each year.
Only 869 extinctions have been formally recorded since 1500, however, because scientists have only "described" nearly 2m of an estimated 5-30m species around the world, and only assessed the conservation status of 3% of those, the global rate of extinction is extrapolated from the rate of loss among species which are known. In this way the IUCN calculated in 2004 that the rate of loss had risen to 100-1,000 per millions species annually – a situation comparable to the five previous "mass extinctions" – the last of which was when the dinosaurs were wiped out about 65m years ago.
Critics, including The Skeptical Environmentalist author, Bjørn Lomborg, have argued that because such figures rely on so many estimates of the number of underlying species and the past rate of extinctions based on fossil records of marine animals, the huge margins for error make these figures too unreliable to form the basis of expensive conservation actions.
However Stuart said that the IUCN figure was likely to be an underestimate of the problem, because scientists are very reluctant to declare species extinct even when they have sometimes not been seen for decades, and because few of the world's plants, fungi and invertebrates have yet been formally recorded and assessed.
The calculated increase in the extinction rate should also be compared to another study of thresholds of resilience for the natural world by Swedish scientists, who warned that anything over 10 times the background rate of extinction – 10 species in every million per year – was above the limit that could be tolerated if the world was to be safe for humans, said Stuart.
"No one's claiming it's as small as 10 times," he said. "There are uncertainties all the way down; the only thing we're certain about is the extent is way beyond what's natural and it's getting worse."
Many more species are "discovered" every year around the world, than are recorded extinct, but these "new" plants and animals are existing species found by humans for the first time, not newly evolved species.
In addition to extinctions, the IUCN has listed 208 species as "possibly extinct", some of which have not been seen for decades. Nearly 17,300 species are considered under threat, some in such small populations that only successful conservation action can stop them from becoming extinct in future. This includes one-in-five mammals assessed, one-in-eight birds, one-in-three amphibians, and one-in-four corals.
Later this year the Convention on Biological Diversity is expected to formally declare that the pledge by world leaders in 2002 to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 has not been met, and to agree new, stronger targets.
Despite the worsening problem, and the increasing threat of climate change, experts stress that understanding of the problems which drive plants and animals to extinction has improved greatly, and that targeted conservation can be successful in saving species from likely extinction in the wild.
This year has been declared the International Year of Biodiversity and it is also hoped that a major UN report this summer, on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity, will encourage governments to devote more funds to conservation.
Professor Norman MacLeod, keeper of palaeontology at the Natural History Museum in London, cautioned that when fossil experts find evidence of a great extinction it can appear in a layer of rock covering perhaps 10,000 years, so they cannot say for sure if there was a sudden crisis or a build up of abnormally high extinction rates over centuries or millennia.
For this reason, the "mathematical artefacts" of extinction estimates were not sufficient to be certain about the current state of extinction, said MacLeod.
"If things aren't falling dead at your feel that doesn't mean you're not in the middle of a big extinction event," he said. "By the same token if the extinctions are and remain relatively modest then the changes, [even] aggregated over many years, are still going to end up a relatively modest extinction event."
Species on the brink of being declared extinct
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists 208 species as "possibly extinct", more than half of which are amphibians. They are defined as species which are "on the balance of evidence likely to be extinct, but for which there is a small chance that they may still be extant".
Kouprey (or Grey ox; Bos sauveli)
What: Wild cattle with horns that live in small herds
Domain: Mostly Cambodia; also Laos, Vietnam, Thailand
Population: No first-hand sightings since 1969
Main threats: hunting for meat and trade, livestock diseases and habitat destruction
Webbed-footed coqui (or stream coqui; Eleutherodactylus karlschmidti)
What: Large black frog living in mountain streams
Domain: East and west Puerto Rico
Population: Not seen since 1976
Main threats: Disease (chytridiomycosis), climate change and invasive predators
Golden coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus jasperi)
What: Small orange frog living in forest or open rocky areas
Domain: Sierra de Cayey, Puerto Rico
Population: No sightings since 1981
Main threats: Unknown but suspected habitat destruction, climate change, disease (chytridiomycosis) and invasive predators
Spix's macaw (or little blue macaw; Cyanopsitta spixii)
What: Bright blue birds with long tails and grey/white heads
Domain: Brazil
Population: The last known wild bird disappeared in 2000; there are 78 in captivity
Main threats: Destruction of the birds' favoured Tabebuia caraiba trees for nesting, and trapping
Café marron (Ramosmania rodriguesii)
What: White flowering shrub related to the coffee plant family
Domain: Island of Rodrigues, Republic of Mauritius
Population: A single wild plant is known
Main threats: Habitat loss, introduced grazing animals and alien plants
Source: IUCN and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. To mark the International Year of Biodiversity, the IUCN is running a daily profile of a threatened species throughout 2010. See iucn.org.
http://planetark.org/wen/57120

More Americans Say Global Warming Exaggerated: Poll
Date: 15-Mar-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Richard Cowan

More Americans Say Global Warming Exaggerated: Poll Photo: Jason Reed
A woman walks through heavy snow as she carries her coffee on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 11, 2010.
Photo: Jason Reed

A growing number of Americans, nearly half the country, think global warming worries are exaggerated and more people doubt that scientific warnings of severe environmental fallout will ever occur, according to a new Gallup poll.
The new doubts come as President Barack Obama pressures Congress to produce legislation significantly cutting smokestack emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for climate change problems.
Gallup's survey was released on the same day that the Obama administration unveiled in Texas a public-private report underscoring threats to birds as climate change alters their habitat and food supply, pushing many species to extinction.
With congressional elections in November, many lawmakers are hesitant to take on a controversial energy and environment bill, especially if voter interest is waning.
Around the world, concerns about climate change have dipped as economic worries took higher priority, according to a Nielson/Oxford University survey in December, which found the highest concern was in Latin America and Asia-Pacific countries like the Philippines, where typhoons are a big threat.
While U.S. worries about climate change fell significantly in the Nielson poll, they did not come close to some eastern European countries such as Estonia, which ranked bottom.
In response to escalating attacks from global warming skeptics, the Union of Concerned Scientists on Thursday released a letter they said was signed by more than 2,000 climate scientists and economists, including some Nobel prize winners, urging the U.S. Senate to pass a climate change bill.
"The strength of the science on climate change compels us to warn the nation about the growing risk of irreversible consequences ... as temperatures rise further, the scope and severity of global warming impacts will continue to accelerate," they wrote.
The Gallup poll, conducted March 4-7, indicates a reversal in public sentiment on an issue that not only involves the environment, but also economic and national security concerns.
Forty-eight percent of Americans now believe that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated, up from 41 percent last year and 31 percent in 1997, when Gallup first asked the question.
The survey follows reports that some of the scientific details of findings that went into international global warming reports were either flawed or exaggerated.
Supporters of a global effort to keep the Earth's temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels agree that scientists need to be more fastidious in their research, but there is overwhelming evidence that a warming planet will lead to ice melting, flooding, drought, refugees and the spread of disease.
The United States has made a non-binding pledge to seek a 17 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, from 2005 levels, mostly by switching to alternative energy, such as wind and solar power. But without legislation from Congress, that goal is unlikely to be met.
The Gallup poll of slightly more than 1,014 adults has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percent.
A majority still believes global warming is real but that percentage is falling, with the average American now less convinced than at any time since 1997.
Thirty-five percent said in the latest poll that the effects of global warming either will never happen (19 percent) or will not happen in their lifetimes (16 percent).
(Additional reporting by Ed Stoddard in Dallas, editing by Anthony Boadle and Chris Wilson)

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311141213.htm

Aquatic 'Dead Zones' Contributing to Climate Change

Mississippi dead zone in 2006. The increased frequency and intensity of oxygen-deprived "dead zones" along the world's coasts can negatively impact environmental conditions in far more than just local waters. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

ScienceDaily (Mar. 12, 2010) — The increased frequency and intensity of oxygen-deprived "dead zones" along the world's coasts can negatively impact environmental conditions in far more than just local waters. In the March 12 edition of the journal Science, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science oceanographer Dr. Lou Codispoti explains that the increased amount of nitrous oxide (N2O) produced in low-oxygen (hypoxic) waters can elevate concentrations in the atmosphere, further exacerbating the impacts of global warming and contributing to ozone "holes" that cause an increase in our exposure to harmful UV radiation.

"As the volume of hypoxic waters move towards the sea surface and expands along our coasts, their ability to produce the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide increases," explains Dr. Codispoti of the UMCES Horn Point Laboratory. "With low-oxygen waters currently producing about half of the ocean's net nitrous oxide, we could see an additional significant atmospheric increase if these 'dead zones' continue to expand."

Although present in minute concentrations in Earth's atmosphere, nitrous oxide is a highly potent greenhouse gas and is becoming a key factor in stratospheric ozone destruction. For the past 400,000 years, changes in atmospheric N2O appear to have roughly paralleled changes in carbon dioxide CO2 and have had modest impacts on climate, but this may change. Just as human activities may be causing an unprecedented rise in the terrestrial N2O sources, marine N2O production may also rise substantially as a result of nutrient pollution, warming waters and ocean acidification. Because the marine environment is a net producer of N2O, much of this production will be lost to the atmosphere, thus further intensifying its climatic impact.

Increased N2O production occurs as dissolved oxygen levels decline. Under well-oxygenated conditions, microbes produce N2O at low rates. But at oxygen concentrations decrease to hypoxic levels, these waters can increase their production of N2O.

N2O production rates are particularly high in shallow suboxic and hypoxic waters because respiration and biological turnover rates are higher near the sunlit waters where phytoplankton produce the fuel for respiration.

When suboxic waters (oxygen essentially absent) occur at depths of less than 300 feet, the combination of high respiration rates, and the peculiarities of a process called denitrification can cause N2O production rates to be 10,000 times higher than the average for the open ocean. The future of marine N2O production depends critically on what will happen to the roughly ten percent of the ocean volume that is hypoxic and suboxic.

"Nitrous oxide data from many coastal zones that contain low oxygen waters are sparse, including Chesapeake Bay," said Dr. Codispoti. "We should intensify our observations of the relationship between low oxygen concentrations and nitrous oxide in coastal waters."


Guest post: scrutinising the 31,000 scientists in the OISM Petition Project
In early 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) published their Petition Project, a list of names from people who all claimed to be scientists and who rejected the science behind the theory of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming (AGW). This was an attempt to by the OISM to claim that there were far more scientists opposing AGW theory than there are supporting it. This so-called petition took on special importance coming after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report, and specifically the Working Group 1 (WG1) report on the science and attribution of climate change to human civilization.
The WG1 report was authored and reviewed by approximately 2000 scientists with varying expertise in climate and related fields, and so having a list of over 30,000 scientists that rejected the WG1's conclusions was a powerful meme that AGW skeptics and deniers could use to cast doubt on the IPCC's conclusions and, indirectly, on the entire theory of climate disruption. And in fact, this meme has become widespread in both legacy and new media today.
It is also false.
According to the Petition Project "qualifications" page, "Signatories are approved for inclusion in the Petition Project list if they have obtained formal educational degrees at the level of Bachelor of Science or higher in appropriate scientific fields." The fields that are considered "appropriate" by the OISM are as follows:

  • Atmosphere, Earth, and Environment fields: atmospheric science, climatology, meteorology, astronomy, astrophysics, earth science, geochemistry, geology, geophysics, geoscience, hydrology, environmental engineering, environmental science, forestry, oceanography
  • Computers and Math: computer science, mathematics, statistics
  • Physics and Aerospace: physics, nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering
  • Chemistry: chemistry, chemical engineering
  • Biochemistry, Biology, and Agriculture: biochemistry, biophysics, biology, ecology, entomology, zoology, animal science, agricultural science, agricultural engineering, plant science, food science
  • Medicine: medical science, medicine
  • General Engineering and General Science: engineering, electrical engineering, metallurgy, general science
    oismpet-smThe OISM's qualifications for being a "scientist" are expansive, and as such there are a number of questions that have to be answered before we can take this list seriously. What expertise does a nuclear engineer or a medical doctor or a food scientist or mechanical engineer have that makes them qualified to have an informed opinion on the cause(s) of recent climate disruption? How many of these names are working climate scientists instead of science or math teachers or stay-at-home-mom's with engineering degrees? How many of these people has actually published a peer-reviewed paper on climate? How many people took a look at the card that served as a "signature" (click on the image to see a larger version) and realized that they could lie about having a science degree and their deception would never be discovered?
    At this point it's literally impossible to know because the names and degrees on the list cannot be verified by anyone outside the OISM. We can only take the OISM's word that they're all real names, that all the degrees are correct, and so on. This does not stand up to the most basic tests of scientific credibility.
    Unfortunately, the OISM's list has had its credibility fabricated for it by individuals and groups as diverse as Steve Milloy of Fox News (see this link for a S&R investigation into the background and tactics of Steve Milloy), L. Brent Bozell of conservative "news" site Newsbusters and founder of the conservative Media Research Center, Benita M. Dodd of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, the libertarian/conservative site American Thinker (a site that has regularly failed to fact-check their AGW posts), conservative commentatorDeroy Murdock (who works on Project 21 with the wife of one of Steve Milloy's long-time associates), RightSideNewsDakota VoiceDennis T. Avery of the Hudson Institute,Lawrence Solomon of the Financial Post, Michelle Malkin, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, to name just a few of the better known. As a result, the OISM's petition has been elevated to a level of credibility that is arguably undeserved.
    While it's not possible to test the validity of OISM list directly, it is possible to test the conclusions that have been drawn from the OISM list. Specifically, we can test what percentage the 30,000 "scientists" listed on the OISM petition represent when compared to the total number of scientists in the U.S. And we can then compare that to the percentage represented by the 2000 IPCC AR4 WG1-associated scientists as compared to the estimate number of U.S. climate-related scientists.
    According to the OISM website, anyone with a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctorate of Philosophy in a field related to physical sciences is qualified as a scientist. In addition, the OISM sent the petition cards pictured above only to individuals within the U.S. Based on this information, we can us the OISM's own guidelines to determine how many scientists there are in the U.S. and what percentage of those scientists are represented by the OISM petition.
    The U.S. Department of Education tracks the number of graduates from institutions of higher education every year, and has done so since either the 1950-51 or 1970-71 school years, depending on what specifically the Dept. of Ed. was interested in. This data was last updated in the Digest of Education Statistics: 2008. We're specifically interested in the number of degrees that have been awarded in the various scientific disciplines as defined by the OISM in the list above. This information is available in the following tables within the 2008 Digest: 296, 298, 302, 304, 310, 311, and 312. Table 1 below show how many graduates there were in the various categories defined by the Dept. of Ed. since the 1970-71 school year (click on the image for a larger version). The numbers have been corrected to account for the fact that PhD's will usually have MS degrees as well, and that both are preceded by BS degrees.
    oismtable1-sm
    As you can see, Table 1 shows that there were over 10.6 million science graduates as defined by the OISM since the 1970-71 school year. This is a conservative estimate as illustrated by the 242,000 graduates in biological and biomedical sciences from 1950-51 through 1969-70 alone, never mind the 166,000 engineering graduates, and so on. Many of these individuals are still alive today and would be considered scientists according to the OISM definition thereof.
    The OISM website lists how many signatures they have for scientists in each of their categories. Given the number of graduates and the number of signatures claimed by the OISM, we can calculate the percentage of OISM-defined scientists who signed as referenced to the total. These results are shown in Table 2 below.
    oismtable2-sm
    In other words, the OISM signatories represent a small fraction (~0.3%) of all science graduates, even when we use the OISM's own definition of a scientist.
    However, as mentioned above, it's entirely reasonable to ask whether a veterinarian or forestry manager or electrical engineer should qualify as a scientist. If we remove all the engineers, medical professionals, computer scientists, and mathematicians, then the 31,478 "scientists" turn into 13,245 actual scientists, as opposed to scientists according to the OISM's expansive definition. Of course, not all of them are working in science, but since some medical professionals and statisticians do work in science, it's still a reasonable quick estimate.
    However, it's not reasonable to expect that all of those actual scientists are working in climate sciences. Certainly the 39 climatologists, but after that, it gets much murkier. Most geologists don't work as climate scientists, although some certainly do. Most meteorologists do weather forecasting, but understanding the weather is radically different than understanding climate. So we can't be sure beyond the 39 climatologists, although we can reasonably assume that the number is far less than the 13,245 actual scientists claimed by the OISM.
    13,245 scientists is only 0.1% of the scientists graduated in the U.S. since the 1970-71 school year.
    We can, however, compare the number of atmospheric scientists, climagologists, ocean scientists, and meteorologists who signed this petition to the number of members of the various professional organizations. For example, the American Geophysical Union (AGU)has over 55,000 members, of which over 7,200 claim that atmospheric sciences is their primary field. The OISM claims 152 atmospheric scientists. Compared to the atmospheric scientist membership in the AGU, the OISM signatories are only 2.1%, and this estimate is high given the fact that the AGU does not claim all atmospheric scientists as members.
    The AGU hydrology group has over 6,000 members who call hydrology their primary field. The OISM list has 22 names that claim to be hydrologists, or 0.4%.
    The AGU ocean sciences group claims approximately 6,800 members. The OISM has 83 names, or 1.2%. And again, given that AGU membership is not required to be a practicing ocean scientists, this number is inflated.
    The American Meteorological Society claims over 14,000 members and the OISM claims 341 meteorologists as petition signatories. That's only 2.4%.
    It's clear that the OISM names don't represent a significant number of scientists when compared to either the total number of science graduates in the U.S. or to the number of practicing scientists who work in likely relevant fields. But that's not all.
    Over recent years, various organizations have set out to estimate just how widespread the supposed "scientific consensus" on AGW actually is. Two recent efforts were conducted by the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) at George Mason University and by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The STATS survey found that 84% of climate scientists surveyed "personally believe human-induced warming is occurring" and that "[o]nly 5% believe that that human activity does not contribute to greenhouse warming." The STATS survey involved a random sampling of "489 self-identified members of either the American Meteorological Society or the American Geophysical Union" and it has a theoretical sampling error of +/- 4%.
    The Pew survey was taken in early 2009 and asked over 2000 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) their opinion on various scientific issues, including climate disruption. 84% of AAAS respondents felt that "warming is due to human activity" compared to only 10% who felt that "warming is due to natural causes." The AAAS has over 10 million members, and the results of the survey are statistically valid for the entire population with a theoretical sampling error of +/- 2.5%.
    84% of 10 million scientist members of the AAAS is 8.4 million scientists who agree that climate disruption is human-caused. 84% of the climate scientists (conservatively just the members of the atmospheric science group of the AGU) is, conservatively, 6,000 scientists who have direct and expert knowledge of climate disruption. The 13,245 scientists and 152 possible climate scientists who signed the OISM petition represent a small minority of the totals.
    The IPCC AR4 WG1 report was written and reviewed by approximately 2000 scientists. If we assume that the 20,000 AGU members who claim to be atmospheric scientists, ocean scientists, or hydrologists represent the pool of potential experts in climate science in the U.S., then approximately 10% of all climate scientists were directly involved in creating the over 1000 page report.
    That compares to less than 1% of all OISM "scientists" who mailed a pre-printed postcard.
    A more recent survey of earth scientists asked the question "Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?". 97.5% of climatologists who were actively publishing papers on climate change responded yes.(Doran 2009). What is most interesting about this study was that as the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does agreement that humans are significantly changing global temperatures.

    Figure 1: Response to the survey question "Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?" (
    Doran 2009) General public data come from a 2008 Gallup poll.
    Ultimately, The OISM petition will continue to rear it's ugly head until its fabricated credibility has been thoroughly demolished. Social conservatives and libertarians, each of which has their own ideological reasons to push the OISM petition, have been effective at keeping the "30,000 scientists reject warming chicken-littleism of IPCC" meme circulating throughout conservative media outlets, even as climate disruption-focused media have worked at limiting the damage from the OISM petition. But given the fact that the science supporting a dominantly anthropogenic cause for climate disruption is overwhelming, it's only a matter of time before the OISM petition wilts in the heat.
    Acknowledgements to Brian Angliss at Scholars and Rogues who guest wrote this post.
Green consumerism (is it real?)
http://www.newscientist.com/movie/green-companies

Hey, green spender: Consumer perception vs environmental realities
New Scientist's exclusive investigation reveals that there can be a massive gulf between how green the public believes a company to be and how green it actually is. You can explore the differences for yourself with our interactive graphic: choose a sector from the list at the top or click one of the dots to get started. 

The graphic is based on the companies' Earthsense and Trucost scores. Earthsense asked 30,000 US consumers to rate companies' and products' greenness on a scale of 1 to 10 in a 2008 survey. A company's Trucost score is the estimated cost of its environmental impact under a "polluter pays" system, as a percentage of its annual revenue. 

Back to article
http://www.nbs.net/Docs/NBS_Consumerism_2009.pdf

We think we know a lot about socially conscious
consumerism. Countless anecdotes and surveys suggest
thatmany consumers will purchase sustainable products
and services and at great premiums. But anecdotes do
not apply widely, and surveys are poor predictors of
actual consumer behaviours.
There is a lack of conclusive, empirical evidence
that consumers will pay more for socially responsible
products or services. Indeed, recent research seems to
assume they will not, as consumers will buy responsible
products only if "quality, performance, and price are
equal" (Deloitte 2008). And yet, research also suggests
that the group of consumers most interested in socially
responsible products is growing across the world
(Globescan 2007).
Despite this knowledge gap, there are some things
we do know. This systematic review synthesizes 30 years
of research on whether consumers are willing to reward
firms for their positive sustainability actions either by
changing their behaviour or by paying a price premium.
From a broad search of 1700 academic and practitioner
articles, we selected 91 articles, based on a variety of
quality and relevance criteria, to summarize the
knowledge in this area.
Will consumers pay a premium? If so, how much?
How do they behave when faced with trade-offs?
There has been very little reliable research, using
appropriate methods, that examines the premium
possible for socially conscious production. The findings
that do exist indicate a wide range, with a typical average
premium being about 10%. Some evidence suggests that
As firms implement
sustainability
strategies, an elusive
question remains
unanswered: are
consumers willing
to reward firms for
their sustainability
actions with
price premiums
or increased
purchases?
consumers will demand a discount for 'unsustainability'
and that it is greater than the premium for sustainability.
Consumer willingness to change their behaviour
(towards the socially conscious choice) is more common
than their willingness to pay a premium. Consumers
often appear to expect the socially better choice to be
of the same quality and price—it does not appear that
they will trade-off functionality. This assumption is one
explanation for the oft-reported evidence of a gap
between positive attitudes and consumer behaviours.
What social and environmental attributes are most
considered in purchase decisions?
The environment appears to be an important driver
of socially conscious consumerism. But, really, the
question is inappropriate because there are so many
different socially conscious consumers.
There is no coherent view of who a socially
conscious consumer is. All the usual descriptors used in
consumer research, such as demographics (age, gender,
income, education, country), psychographics (attitudes,
lifestyle, morals, etc) have provided conflicting results
thus far.
There is some evidence to suggest that factors
other than sustainability attributes are more important
in driving consumer behaviour. For example, prompting
consumers, making their purchases decisions visible,
and making them feel like their purchases will make a
difference may be more important than having the right
sustainability attributes to your products and services.

Good news from around here
http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/02/ibm-first-to-eliminate-pfos-and-pfoa-in-chip-processes/

IBM First to Eliminate PFOS and PFOA in Chip Processes
Posted By Environmental Leader On March 2, 2010 @ 8:56 am In ChemicalsHi-TechMajor PlayersManufacturingProducts & PlanningSupply Chain | No Comments
IBMChipMfgIBM has met its goal to eliminate [1]perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) compounds from its integrated chip (IC) manufacturing processes in 2010 as part of its design for the environment program, which includes  developing and using [2] environmentally-preferable materials.

IBM eliminated PFOS and PFOA in its wet etch processes at the end of 2008, and eliminated them in its photolithography processes as of January 31, 2010, by working with its suppliers to develop alternative formulations. The semiconductor manufacturer claims it is the first in the industry to eliminate both compounds from its chip-making processes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with other groups in the European Union and other countries, placed restrictions on the manufacture and use of these chemicals in consumer products, where they were commonly uses as a stain or water repellent, says IBM. These compounds are considered to be bioaccumulative, where they can gradually increase in concentration over time in the environment.

In January, the EPA took [3]preliminary steps to set standards by 2013 or ban four types of chemicals including perfluorinated chemicals such as PFOAs over health and environmental concerns.

Although these compounds are still permitted for use in semiconductor manufacturing, the semiconductor industry has been working to eliminate these two compounds from chip-making processes for several years, says IBM.

In June last year, IBM launched [4] its Green Sigma coalition, which leverages Lean Six Sigma principles and practices to help companies make better decisions about energy and water usage, waste and GHG emissions to improve efficiency, lower costs and reduce environmental impact.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/02/ibm-first-to-eliminate-pfos-and-pfoa-in-chip-processes/

URLs in this post:
[1] eliminate : http://www.ibm.com/ibm/environment/news/pfos_pfoa_elim_2010.shtml
[2] using: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/07/06/ibm-recycling-performance-wanes/
[3] took : http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/01/05/epa-rules-to-impact-manufacturers-utilities/
[4] launched: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/06/23/ibms-green-sigma-coalition-lines-up-industry-leaders/

http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=31679&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+zdnet/BTL+(ZDNet+Between+the+Lines)

IBM, Stanford reach green chemistry breakthrough
Posted by Larry Dignan @ 2:18 am
Categories: GeneralIBMInnovation
Tags: PolymerStanfordPlasticsIBM Corp.Larry Dignan
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IBM and Stanford University this week will outline a green chemistry breakthrough that may lead to biodegradable and biocompatible plastics.
In a nutshell, IBM and Stanford have applied "organocatalysis" to green polymer chemistry. The general theme is to make more environmentally friendly and degradable plastics.

The breakthrough could mean that disposable plastic bottles can be recycled beyond two generations. Typically, recycled plastic bottles wind up in items like carpet and playground that can't be reused again and ultimately wind up in a landfill. By using organic catalysts it's possible to create biodegradable molecules from renewable sources.
IBM's expertise in science and chemistry derives from microelectronics. The material used in this breakthrough was used for polymers as insulators for on-chip applications.
The find will be detailed in a paper published in the American Chemical Society journal Macromolecules. One area of promise would be biomedical applications such as drug delivery. With organic custom polymers a drug could be delivered directly to a cancerous cell.
IBM claims that its recycling process can be more energy efficient that producing plant-based and PET plastics. Ultimately, IBM and Stanford are betting that its process breakthrough will create less expensive plastics. For instance, corn-based plastics are popular in places like San Francisco, but too expensive for wide adoption.
SourceSmart Planet: IBM, Stanford hit green chemistry milestone
http://www.smart2020.org/case-studies/stockholm-congestion-tax-system/

STOCKHOLM CONGESTION TAX SYSTEM

KEY FACTS
To make the charging system work, the SNRA and the city had to find a way to recognize, charge and receive payment from vehicles. With help from IBM and its partners, a plan was devised to charge vehicles as they passed control points on the way in or out of the Stockholm city center during weekday, rush hour times. The city implemented a free-flow roadside system using laser, camera and systems technology to seamlessly detect, identify and charge vehicles. 
As part of the free-flow roadside plan, 18 roadside control points located at Stockholm city entrances and exits identify and charge vehicles depending on the time of the day. The tax per passage was SEK 10, 15 or 20 (about $1.50 to $3.00) depending on the time of day. The highest amount charged was during rush hours, from 7:30 to 8:29 a.m. and 4:00 to 5:29 p.m. The maximum amount per vehicle and day was SEK 60, or about $8.50.
Key aspects of the solution include: 
When crossing into the inner city via one of 18 entry gates, cameras take a photo of the front and rear license plates, using optical character recognition (OCR) to identify vehicles through a central database in Copenhagen.
There is a second OCR engine reading the number plates if the first system can't identify it. Success rate is >99%.
There is also an onboard RFID transponder, which receives a signal from the gate transceiver, capturing the time, date and tax amount.
The project took 12 months to implement
It was successful for the citizens because it was easy to see, they saw the benefit from day one. It is also very important to ensure accuracy and confidence with the system.
WHAT WAS THE IMPACT?
Comments on energy savings
Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide have fallen by 40 percent in the inner city and by two to three percent in Stockholm County
Comments on other resources saved
By the end of the trial, traffic was down nearly 25 percent
reduction in air pollution by 8-14%
The government's plan is to devote revenue from the tax to completing a ring road around the city.
The project has independent verification for results
MAKING IT HAPPEN
The following regulations or incentives allowed the business case to be more attractive
Stockholm, Sweden is a city of islands, meaning they cannot keep building to keep up with population growth (Stockholm County is growing at a rate of around 20,000 people a year). Traffic congestion has been a growing aggravation for years, with over half a million cars traveling into the city every weekday. So the City Council decided to implement a congestion pricing system on a trial basis in 2006, and it was voted to be made permanent in 2008.
Barriers experienced during the initiation of the project
Technology was difficult to access
Comments regarding barriers
Optical character recognition (OCR) was a difficult problem, but IBM identified software through their global R&D centers, and had a solution in 2 months
What were the key lessons learnt?
The success of the congestion tax in Sweden is the result of a very close cooperation between the people at the Swedish Road Administration and IBM.




Other hopeful news
http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2010/02/12/when-its-more-profitable-leave-tree-alone-cut-it-down

Making It More Profitable To Leave a Tree Alone Than to Cut It Down
By Marc Gunther
Created 2010-02-11 17:29

Editor's Note: Marc Gunther also conducted a podcast interview with Jeff Horowitz, the co-founder of Avoided Deforestation Partners. You can listen to their conversation on GreenBiz.com: "Growing Money on Trees"] 

The Sierra Club and American Electric Power, the nation's largest coal-burning utility, don't agree on much, but there is this:

Money does grow on trees.

Along with other big environmental groups and such businesses as Duke Energy and El Paso Corp., they are part of a coalition that wants to use markets to protect the world's forests and curb climate change.

The coalition -- called 
Avoided Deforestation Partners, a name that will never win a branding contest -- is the brainchild of Jeff Horowitz, a 58-year-old architect and newcomer to the environmental movement who has quietly become an influential player as climate change legislation inches its way through a divided Congress.

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Why Employees Should Be Part of Any Green Solution

Protecting forests "is our single most important strategy, with respect to solving the climate crisis," Horowitz says. "If we don't tackle forestry immediately, we can't buy enough time to get at the technological advances we need and scale them."

I met Jeff in December at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, and visited him last week at his office in a lovely, hilly neighborhood of Berkeley. A mechanism to protect forests by steering millions of dollars from the developed world to poor countries, known as 
REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), was endorsed by governments in Copenhagen, so Horowitz felt good about the climate talks. "As far as we're concerned, Copenhagen was a tremendous victory," he told me.

Now he wants to make sure that forestry offsets are part of a U.S. climate bill. That will enable regulated polluters in the U.S. to offset their carbon emissions by paying to protect forests elsewhere. Protecting forests is a cheaper and quicker way to curb emissions than by switching from coal or natural gas to low-carbon energy sources like nuclear, wind or solar power.

While offsets are controversial, no one doubts is that protecting forests matters: Scientists estimate that nearly 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, as trees are slashed and burned to make way for agriculture. Standing forests also act as carbon sinks by absorbing CO2. Environmentalists and governments from Norway to Brazil have for decades tried to stop deforestation, but they  have made limited headway.

Neither afforestation (planting trees) nor avoided deforestation (stopping trees from getting cut down) were part of the Kyoto climate agreement, largely because of opposition from enviros. They argued that forest protection could not be reliably monitored and verified and that offsets would allow polluters to avoid mending their ways.

Critics of forestry offsets worry about arcane concepts known as "leakage" (paying to save one forest only to have another one nearby cut down) and "additionality" (how do you know the forests would not have been saved anyway?). They're right that if mismanaged, offsets could do more harm than good.

Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, which released a 
28-page report attacking offsets last fall, said: "Offsetting does not lead to promised additional emissions cuts in developing countries while it delays essential structural change in the U.S. economy."

<!--pagebreak--> 
But the politics of offsets have shifted in the last year or two, in part because of Horowitz's persistent behind the scenes efforts. Early on, he enlisted the support of Nobel Peace prize winner 
Wangari Matthai, the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which planted trees across Africa. Her fellow Nobel laureates Al Gore and Oscar Arias came around as well. A key turning point, in retrospect, came when Carter Roberts, the president and CEO of  the World Wildlife Fund U.S., spoke in favor of market mechanisms at an ADP event. The WWF had previously opposed offsets.

Last year, Horowitz and ADP -- other members include Conservation International, Environmental Defense, NRDC, The Nature Conservancy among green groups, and PG&E, Marriott, Starbucks and Walt Disney among companies -- developed "consensus principles" on forest offsets. They call for both public and private money to be steered to forestry protection.

Horowitz argues that the best way to overcome objections to offsets is to regulate forestry projects to insure that they are real, verifiable and long-lasting. Besides lobbying in Washington, ADP is developing a protocol to help poor communities seek financing to protect and monitor forests. "This allows indigenous groups to team up with NGOs, without hiring expensive lawyers they can't afford," he says.

Meanwhile, he explains, there are three categories of companies that can profit from forestry offsets.

If climate legislation passes, regulated utilities and their customers will save money by using offsets rather than shutting down coal or natural gas plants.

Branded consumer companies like Marriott, Disney and Dell, whose emissions are not regulated, use offsets to establish their green cred and burnish their reputations. (See my 
blogpost about Marriottand this press release from Disney, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund.)

Finally, a entire industry of project developers, carbon traders, verifiers and regulators has emerged to create and manage offsets. "There is profit all along that food chain," Horowitz says, "and in my view that's good."

A native New Yorker, Horowitz designed large-scale projects around the world as an architect and became concerned about deforestation. He previously founded a nonprofit called Urbanists International, which provides design  and land planning services to developing countries, and was vice chair of Equator International, a forest carbon firm. He and his wife, Lynn,  own Rio Lago Ranch and Vineyard, which produces cabernet sauvignon grapes for the Clos du Bois Winery of Sonoma.

But his energies now are focused on forestry, with the goal of making it more profitable to preserve forests than it is to cut them down.

Thereby proving that your parents were wrong.

Disclosure: I was paid in Copenhagen by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations to host a celebration of REDD.

http://planetark.org/wen/56938

M&S Aims To Be Most Sustainable Retailer By 2015
Date: 02-Mar-10
Country:
 UK
Author:
 Kate Holton


M&S Aims To Be Most Sustainable Retailer By 2015
People walk past a Marks and Spencer store in Leicester, central England, November 4, 2009.

LONDON - Britain's Marks & Spencer is to step up its plans to go "green" by opting for more sustainable ingredients and agreeing a living wage for suppliers in its bid to become the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015.
M&S said in a statement Monday its new plan would extend its original green targets that were introduced in 2007 and would make the company more efficient, develop new markets and build customer loyalty.
"It's therefore not just the right thing to do morally but also makes strong commercial sense," Chairman Stuart Rose said.
"Since we launched our eco plan, Plan A, in 2007 we've reduced our environmental impact, developed new sustainable products and services, helped improve the lives of people in our local communities and saved around 50 million pounds by being more efficient."
"Our extended Plan A will reach further and move us faster - covering every part of our business and reaching out to forests, farms, factories, lorries, warehouses and into our customers' and employees' homes."
M&S said its new commitments would include making sure all 2.7 billion food, clothing and home items carried at least one sustainable or ethical quality such as being fair-trade or free range.
It will also seek to determine and agree a fair, living wage for workers in such markets as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India, and provide training and education programs.
http://planetark.org/wen/56953

Top 5 Greenest Cities In The World
Date: 03-Mar-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Beth Hodgson

Top 5 Greenest Cities In The World Photo: Bob Strong
Photo shows a lifeguard dressed against the chill watching over bathers at Iceland's Blue Lagoon hot springs just outside Reykjavik, as a thermal electricity plant looms in the background on Sept. 13, 1998.
Photo: Bob Strong

Over the last few months, we've seen serious discussions taking place globally as countries and cities pledge to go green.
Some cities have made greener strides than others, which puts them at the top of the list for sustainability goals.
The five greenest cities in the world aren't necessarily those that are nothing but green space, but they're on the right track to improving their footprints.
5. Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver has been recognized for trying to make the Winter Olympic games sustainable, but it's their day-to-day focus that really allows this Canadian city to earn its ranking. Ninety percent of Vancouver is powered by hydroelectricity.
Wind, solar, wave and tidal energy all help ensure that this city remains green. Plus, they've got even greater goals for the future.
4. Malmo, Sweden
This is one international city that is focused on green space. They are well-known for their parks, but also upon sustainable urban develop. It's one of the largest cities in Sweden and it's truly urban. They've been transforming neighborhoods to make them environmentally friendly.
3. Curitiba, Brazil
This Brazilian city focuses upon maintenance using green methods, for example, parks that are trimmed by sheep. They are also known for one of the best transit systems, so commuters are encouraged to leave their cars at home.
2. Portland, Oregon, United States
Although many U.S. cities are now jumping on board, this was the first to focus upon alternative transit with light-rail and extensive bike path networks to encourage people to leave their cars in the driveway! It was also one of the first to pledge to reduce emissions and start transitioning buildings to use sustainable materials.
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
This city is run entirely on green power, including geothermal and hydroelectricity. Their transit system also uses hydrogen buses and it's motivated to become Europe's cleanest city.
http://www.nbs.net/Docs/ImpactReport_Feb_10.pdf
The New Normal: Sustainable Practices Your Future Employees Will Demand

http://planetark.org/wen/57147

4 Keys To A Successful Sustainability Strategy
Date: 16-Mar-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Greener World Media

Consider these morsels from last week's Wall Street Journal: "By 2050, there could be two billion cars on the road -- twice as many as there are today." "Energy demand is expected to be 35 percent higher in 2030 than in 2005." "Pollution of drinking water is Americans' No. 1 environmental concern."
If you're of the mind that the global economy is an Energizer battery that will simply go, go, go -- without needing outside attention -- think again.
Our world economy faces unprecedented challenges, whether from soaring population growth, resource constraints, a warming climate and myopic financial markets.
Solutions to these challenges are right in front of us, and a few were even suggested in the WSJ: "40 percent of new cars could be electric (by 2050)." "Energy efficiency is, more than ever, a critically important 'energy source.'"
Some companies see opportunity from these challenges and are pursuing bold projects that take sustainability to a new level -- projects like Frito-Lay's planned zero emissions potato chip plant in Arizona; Interface's closed-loop systems for recycling carpets; ZipCar's pay-by-the-hour model for car driving; Intel making environmental metrics a component of every employee's compensation.
But what's missing is totality. Business innovation to scale sustainable solutions exponentially -- across entire business models, across all products and services -- is what we need to put our global economy on a sustainable path. Scattered shoots of sustainability will not do the job.
How do we achieve such sweeping change?
First, companies must recognize that making themselves more sustainable will make them more successful in the 21st century.
Consider the example of climate change: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the levels scientists say are needed will require a massive shift to clean, energy-efficient technologies in the coming decades. Businesses that put themselves in front of this trend -- whether in their operations and supply chains, or products and services they offer -- will benefit the most.
"We are looking for companies that are managing these risks and developing opportunities," said Anne Stausboll, who oversees more than $200 billion of investments at the nation's largest public pension fund, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS).
Second, corporate success on sustainability will require comprehensive strategies that extend to all aspects of the business -- from the board room, to employees, to suppliers, to consumers.
Among the key components of any successful strategy:
· Elevate sustainability in company governance, including direct board oversight and accountability over environmental and social issues, more diversity and special expertise on boards, and linking executive and other employee compensation to sustainability goals;
· Robust regular dialogues with key company stakeholders on sustainability challenges, including employees, investors, NGOs, suppliers and consumers;
· Open reporting on sustainability strategies, goals and accomplishments;
· Systematic performance improvements to achieve environmental neutrality and other sustainability goals across the entire value chain, including operations, supply chains and products.

The global economy will surely grow, but so must our stewardship of the planet we rely on. The best performing companies of the 21st century will be those that recognize this evolving new order, and invest and act now.



 

Alternative Energy Newsclips for March 16th, 2010

http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=Mzc0NzI

Microsoft co-founder Gates tackling climate change

AFP, 13 February 2010 - Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has broken from philanthropic work fighting poverty and disease to take on another threat to the world's poor -- climate change.

"Energy and climate are extremely important to these people," Gates told Friday a TED Conference audience packed with influential figures including the founders of Google and climate champion Al Gore.

"The climate getting worse means many years that crops won't grow from too much rain or not enough, leading to starvation and certainly unrest."

Gates said he is backing development of "terrapower" reactors that could be fueled by nuclear waste from disposal facilities or generated by today's power plants.

He broke down variables in a carbon-dioxide-culprit formula, homing in on a conclusion that the answer to the problem is a source of energy that produces no carbon.

"The formula is a very straight forward one," Gates said. "More carbon dioxide equals temperature increase equals negative effects like collapsed ecosystems. We have to get to zero."

To dramatize his point, Gates pulled out a large jar of fireflies in playful flashback to when he unleashed mosquitoes on a TED audience a year earlier while discussing battling malaria.

"They won't bite," Gates joked of the fireflies. "As a matter of fact, they might not even leave this jar."

Gates touted terrapower as more reliable than wind or solar, cleaner than burning coal or natural gas, and safer than current nuclear plants.

"With the right materials approach it could work," Gates said. "Because you burn 99 percent of the waste, it is kind of like a candle."

Nuclear waste fed into a terrapower reactor would potentially burn for decades before being exhausted.

"Today we are always refueling the reactor so lot of controls and lots of things that can go wrong," Gates said. "That is not good. With this, you have a piece of fuel, think of it like a log, that burns for 60 years and it is done."

Researching and testing terrapower will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, with the building of a test reactor likely to cost in the billions.

Once the technology is proven, market forces will drive down costs, Gates predicted.

Work on terrapower hos been done in France and Japan, and there has been interest in India, Russia, China and the United States, according to the famed philanthropist.

Gates said that if he were allowed a single wish in the coming 50 years, it would be a global "zero carbon" culture.

"If I could pick a president or a vaccine, which I love, this is the wish I would pick," he said.

"We need energy miracles. The microprocessor and Internet are miracles.

This is a case where we have to drive and get the miracle in a short time-line."

Gates dismissed climate change skeptics, saying terrapower would render arguments moot because the energy produced would be cheaper than pollution-spewing methods used today.

"The skeptics will accept it because it is cheaper," Gates said. "The might wish it did put out CO2, but they will take it."

The world is at "an extraordinary moment" in the struggle to save the climate balance, according to former US vice president Gore.

A vital step will be to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions so the cost of polluting the air gets factored into the global economy.

Legislation to do that has cleared the US House of Representatives and must fight its way through the Senate, where it needs only a few more supporters to send the law on to the willing pen of President Barack Obama, Gore said.

"A price on carbon dioxide emissions can help us make the right decision, not only on nuclear, solar, and wind but on the gamut of energy alternatives available to us," Gore said.

Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection has organized groups in 22 US states with "swing senators" in the hope getting the legislation passed "before the political season gets completely wild."

"These next few months represent the last feasible political window for quite some time to get this done," Gore said. "So much is at stake we have to double down."

This article is reproduced with kind permission of Agence France-Presse (AFP) For more news and articles visit the AFP website.



http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/02/energy-management-systems-hold-14-market-penetration/print/

Energy Management Systems Hold 14% Market Penetration
Posted By Environmental Leader On March 2, 2010 @ 7:57 am In ChartsEnergy EfficiencyEnergy ManagementPredictionsResearch & Technology | No Comments
pikeSo far, just 14 percent of the market potential for energy management systems is being realized, meaning there is room for growth, according to the report on "Energy Management Systems for Commercial Buildings [1]" from Pike Research.

Pike Research predicts that the market could grow nearly $8 billion between 2010 and 2020.

Pike puts the market potential for all buildings in the U.S. at more than $37 billion in 2010. By 2020, Pike predicts the market to be worth more than $45 billion.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/02/energy-management-systems-hold-14-market-penetration/

URLs in this post:
[1] Energy Management Systems for Commercial Buildings: http://www.pikeresearch.com/research/energy-management-systems-for-commercial-buildings

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7044708.ece

Green fuels cause more harm than fossil fuels, according to report
Ben Webster, Environment Editor


Female Orangutan

The expansion of plantations has pushed the orang-utan to the brink of extinction in Sumatra, where it takes 840 years for a palm oil plantation to soak up the carbon emitted when rainforest is burnt


Using fossil fuel in vehicles is better for the environment than so-called green fuels made from crops, according to a government study seen by The Times.
The findings show that the Department for Transport's target for raising the level of biofuel in all fuel sold in Britain will result in millions of acres of forest being logged or burnt down and converted to plantations. The study, likely to force a review of the target, concludes that some of the most commonly-used biofuel crops fail to meet the minimum sustainability standard set by the European Commission.
Under the standard, each litre of biofuel should reduce emissions by at least 35 per cent compared with burning a litre of fossil fuel. Yet the study shows that palm oil increases emissions by 31 per cent because of the carbon released when forest and grassland is turned into plantations. Rape seed and soy also fail to meet the standard.
The Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation this year requires 3¼ per cent of all fuel sold to come from crops. The proportion is due to increase each year and by 2020 is required to be 13 per cent. The DfT commissioned E4tech, a consultancy, to investigate the overall impact of its biofuel target on forests and other undeveloped land.
The EC has conducted its own research, but is refusing to publish the results. A leaked internal memo from the EC's agriculture directorate reveals its concern that Europe's entire biofuels industry, which receives almost £3 billion a year in subsidies, would be jeopardised if indirect changes in land use were included in sustainability standards. A senior official added to the memo in handwriting: "An unguided use of ILUC [indirect land use change] would kill biofuels in the EU."
The EC hopes to protect its biofuel target by issuing revised standards that would give palm plantations the same status as natural forests. Officials appear to have accepted arguments put forward by the palm oil industry that palms are just another type of tree.
A draft of the new rules, obtained by The Times, states that palm oil should be declared sustainable if it comes from a "continuously forested area", which it defines as areas where trees can reach at least heights of 5m, making up crown cover of more than 30 per cent. "This means, for example, that a change from forest to oil palm plantation would not per se constitute a breach of the criterion," it adds.
Clearing rainforest for biofuel plantations releases carbon stored in trees and soil. It takes up to 840 years for a palm oil plantation to soak up the carbon emitted when the rainforest it replaced was burnt. The expansion of the palm oil industry in Indonesia has turned it into the third-largest CO2 emitter, after China and the US. Indonesia loses an area of forest the size of Wales every year and the orang-utan is on the brink of extinction in Sumatra.
Last year, 127 million litres of palm oil was added to diesel sold to motorists in Britain, including 64 million litres from Malaysia and 27 million litres from Indonesia. Kenneth Richter, biofuels campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "The billions of subsidy for biofuels would be better spent on greener cars and improved public transport."

http://planetark.org/wen/56954

Sustainable Energy Bets On Ontario Solar Market
Date: 03-Mar-10
Country:
 CANADA
Author:
 Nicole Mordant

VANCOUVER - Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd, a solar equipment maker that recently relocated to Toronto from Calgary, may soon land its first large-scale orders in its new home province, the world's newest "go-to" region for solar power.
The company, whose shares have risen 150 percent in the past year, also expects to announce a tie-up soon with a top European solar panel maker to supply the Ontario market with thin-film panels carrying Sustainable Energy's power inverters, its chief executive said on Monday.
Inverters are key components of power systems that turn the sun's rays into electricity as they convert the direct current output generated by the solar panels into the alternating current that the power grid runs on.
"We have been approaching the major thin-film suppliers in Europe. ... We have developed substantive relationships with those European suppliers, which are major names in the market place," said Chief Executive Officer Robert Bucher.
"We expect to have an announcement soon on that for the Ontario marketplace," he told Reuters in an interview.
Ontario last October launched the most comprehensive and generous set of feed-in tariffs in North America, piquing the interest of Canadian and foreign renewable energy companies at a time when Europe is starting to roll back its support for the sector.
Ontario's incentives guarantee sellers of electricity produced from the sun and other renewable sources fixed, above-market prices for 20 years, with the rooftop solar industry -- Sustainable Energy's main market -- getting some of the most mouth-watering rates.
"We see Ontario as taking over most of our investment this year and next year even though we will continue in Spain and Greece," Bucher said.
Sustainable Energy, which sells its inverters in Spain and Eastern Europe, is a small fish in a big pond housing competitors like Germany's SMA Solar Technology AG, the world's No.1 inverter company with more than 50 percent of the market.
But the 11-year-old Canadian company, which started off life in the fuel cell industry, has won some fans who like its technology. Unlike most competitors' systems, Sustainable's cuts out the need to have an inverter on every solar panel, which is expensive.
"We definitely think it's the most compelling inverter out there in the market right now," said Khurram Malik, research analyst at Jacobs Securities, a Toronto-based renewable energy brokerage.
Sustainable Energy recently moved its head office from Calgary to Toronto to take advantage of Ontario's lucrative green energy incentives.
It plans to have a production facility up and running in Ontario by the summer producing 60 megawatts of power. It expects to double capacity to 120 MW in 2011.
Bucher expects the first Ontario orders for commercial rooftop systems of 200 kilowatts or higher in the next few days or weeks, a step toward the company's targeted revenue this fiscal year of between C$40 million ($38.4 million) and C$60 million.
That is a massive increase on 2009's revenue of just C$82,443.
Sustainable Energy's stock closed down 1 Canadian cent, or 2.86 percent, at 34 Canadian cents on the TSX Venture Exchange on Monday.



http://planetark.org/wen/56960

Europe All Mouth And No Money In Green Tech Race
Date: 03-Mar-10
Country:
 BELGIUM
Author:
 Pete Harrison - Analysis

Europe All Mouth And No Money In Green Tech Race Photo: Marcelo del Pozo/Files
A general view shows a ''solucar'' solar park in Sanlucar La Mayor, near Seville, in this November 6, 2008 file photo.
Photo: Marcelo del Pozo/Files

BRUSSELS - Europe's plan to lead the green technology race has a gaping financial hole for the next four years, handing the advantage to rivals China, Japan and the United States.
Even after 2014, when the European Union budget should have been thoroughly overhauled, there is no guarantee that green tech will have triumphed in a battle for funds versus the powerful farming lobby.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso lays out his vision for the next decade on Wednesday, and he is expected to champion green growth as a means of protecting the climate and boosting jobs.
"The market for green technologies is forecast to triple by 2030," says a leaked draft of Barroso's strategy, seen by Reuters. "The EU was largely a first mover in green solutions, but its advantage is being challenged by strong growth in other markets, notably China and North America."
Industry experts say the EU currently has a pot of around 7.5 billion euros ($10.2 billion) available for green tech research.
The number may look big, but it is less than 1 percent of the total current EU budget, which weighs in at 862 billion.
The European Commission estimates 80 billion euros must be raised over the next decade to stay ahead in the green tech race.
Easier said than done.
While China's authoritarian government has little trouble mobilizing research funding, and the United States and Japan have a strong track record, the 27-nation European Union has a convoluted funding process to navigate.
TECHNOLOGY RISK
Industry says it cannot -- and will not -- make the necessary investments on its own.
"A low carbon economy does not come cheap," says Giles Dickson, an EU affairs expert at French engineer Alstom.
"There's a huge commercial and technology risk for companies that spend money on demonstrating technologies that are not yet commercially viable," he added. "Industry will pay most of this bill, but we cannot pick up this bill on our own."
A one-off injection of 400 billion euros will also be needed to roll out that technology on a pan-European scale, he adds.
Many politicians had hoped that the EU's Emissions Trading System, which forces companies to buy pollution permits, would have made traditional fossil fuels so expensive that firms would steadily shift to greener sources.
That change is not happening fast, with the price of permits to emit carbon dioxide hovering at a paltry 13 euros per tonne, and most decision-makers have accepted the need to speed the shift by subsidizing green technology.
BAD RECORD
Funding from national coffers is not seen as a realistic option as the EU's 27 countries emerge from the deepest economic crisis since the 1930s.
Furthermore, if European countries were to fund their own research programs they would run the risk of wasteful duplication.
The answer is funding at a pan-European level, and in the long term that means tapping the EU budget.
"The best thing that could happen is to transfer some of the funds that are locked into agricultural support," said Anders Wijkman, a member of the European Parliament until last year.
Agriculture takes up 40 percent of the EU budget, with French farmers accounting for about a fifth of that. But with a new budget looming in 2014, Britain, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands are pushing for change.
The battle is not expected to be easy.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged colleagues to embark on an "offensive strategy" to control the debate, and support is expected from Poland, Italy, Spain and Greece.
In Brussels, Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos from Romania and Budgetary Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski from Poland are seen as likely allies.
Ahead of that fight, money is also scarce.
The European Commission launched its flagship "Strategic Energy Technology" funding plan last October with a vision of spending 8 billion euros a year on green tech research -- 5 billion more than current levels.
"There're instruments that can provide around 2.5 billion euros a year, but what they're looking for is 5 billion a year for strategic energy technologies, so there's still a gap," says Jesse Scott of environment think tank E3G.
"When it comes to putting its money where its mouth is, the EU is failing miserably."

http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=Mzc2NzY

After 5 years of trading, experts say European carbon prices are too low to spur renewables

ClimateWire, 3 March 2010 - As some U.S. senators and the Obama administration grope for a way to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions, their only point of comparison -- the E.U. Emission Trading System, or ETS -- has so far failed to reach the carbon price level most experts say is needed to encourage investments in renewable energy.

The problem continues to spark heated debate and guesswork in Europe as experts ponder how the trading should be restructured five years after it was set up.

Since early last year, carbon has traded in Europe in a narrow range around €14 per tonne. Traders, government officials and E.U. regulators speaking at a conference organized here by market analysis firm Point Carbon said that economic uncertainty was likely to keep the price low. They disagreed strongly on how the planned phased introduction of auctions for carbon allowances would affect the market and how it should be done.

"The price signal should point to the kind of investments needed for the future," said Jim Benson, a carbon and commodities trader at BP. "It doesn't seem to be doing that right now." Many experts estimate that carbon capture and storage technology, for example, which would lock CO2 from coal power plants underground, needs a carbon price of at least €40 per tonne to be profitable.

With the economic recovery still anemic and the United States not close to introducing a carbon trading system that could connect to the European one, prices are likely to remain low in the near term, said Ruben Benders, head of global carbon markets at Mabanaft, the trading arm of privately owned petroleum company Marquard & Bahls AG.

"If you have a low price for a long time, it doesn't stimulate people to make the investments in clean energy that are needed," he said. "For future abatement, this price level is on the lower side. If the economic recovery is good, the prices will go up. That's the key driver for the whole commodity spectrum, not only carbon. Auctioning is also important, but the key questions are: When do they start, and will they be centralized or decentralized?"

Europeans set plans for a €15 billion auction

The European Commission is expected to answer at least some of those questions this month, when it publishes long-awaited details of its plans to auction carbon permits. Under the E.U. climate and energy package agreed to in December 2008, power plants are supposed to pay for all carbon permits starting in 2013, with some exceptions for Eastern European countries. Factories in other industries will still get 80 percent of their permits for free that year, with auctions phased in fully by 2027.

This means that the ETS will go from only 3 to 4 percent of carbon allowances auctioned now to more than 50 percent auctioned in 2013. Draft regulation for the auctions was due last month, but the European Commission has delayed it as E.U. members argued whether the auctions should take place on one or more exchanges and whether they should only include spot or also futures.

"We want to transition to large-scale auctions without interrupting the liquid and well-functioning secondary market in carbon allowances," said Peter Zapfel, a member of the commission's directorate on the environment and one of the architects of the ETS. "A single E.U.-wide auction platform minimizes costs born by member states and assures them they receive fair value for their allowances. It also minimizes transaction costs for the companies buying allowances at these auctions."

Zapfel said centralized auctions would best protect the integrity of the carbon market and make "any form of discrimination virtually impossible." He said the European Union expected the auctions to produce revenue of €15 billion per year, which would go to the member states' coffers.

Germany and U.K. oppose a single auction platform

"Every couple of years, we'll put out for a tender to find out who will run the platform," he said. "We want to auction allowances spot to avoid the interference with secondary market. The auction volume will be smaller and smaller compared to the secondary market volume."

While refusing to commit to a starting date for the auction, Zapfel hinted that the commission would likely wait until 2013. "We do acknowledge in principle the arguments in favor of early auction, but in practice, we also want to make sure we don't disturb the secondary market," he said.

One of the main players on that market currently is BlueNext, the environmental exchange owned by NYSE Euronext and Caisse des Depots on which carbon dioxide can be traded currently through E.U. allowances, or EUAs. One EUA is equivalent to 1 ton of carbon allowance. BlueNext wants to be the single platform on which the European Union auctions its carbon permits in the third phase of the ETS.

"Use the existing infrastructure," said Serge Harry, CEO of BlueNext. "It would be better to go for a kind of beauty contest and choose one of the existing platforms." He added that he preferred all auctions be spot, as a large part of the participants likely will only need that approach to manage their carbon needs.

Germany and the United Kingdom are the biggest opponents of the single-platform idea because they are already running auctions of their own. The United Kingdom auctions off 4 million tons of carbon once a week, while Germany auctions 870,000 tons in two weekly installments. France prefers a centralized platform. BlueNext is based in Paris.

"The auctioning approach should stay open and flexible for the next few years," said Meike Söker from the German Environment Ministry. "Maybe someday we'll end up with a centralized approach, but maybe it's too early at the moment. It's much safer than to stop existing processes and starting anew. Competition should be enhanced and not distorted. The German weekly tenders show that there are several high-quality exchanges on the market."

Steel and cement industries ponder moves to China

Whatever the auction system, energy-intensive companies such as those from the cement and steel industries are vocally complaining that even phasing in the auctions over 17 years will still put them at a disadvantage with competitors who don't have to buy carbon credits, such as Chinese companies.

"China has more than half of the world's emissions associated with steel production. We have a distinct difficulty in maintaining a competitive position for the European steel industry," said Markus Weber, manager of emissions trading for German steel producer ThyssenKrupp.

He said: "The only area with significant carbon costs is Europe. We have the highest emissions reduction obligation, the highest CO2 costs and the worst competitive situation. Carbon leakage is therefore a real possibility in the steel industry. First go the profits, then the investments, then the sites. The aluminum industry will be the first to move because they're very energy intensive."

Weber added that the only way to avoid having European heavy industry move en masse to China is an international agreement that would include all the major producing countries, he said. "The Chinese steel industry in the end has to accept a similar burden as the European one."

European cement makers may also consider moving outside the continent, said Manuela Ojan, climate protection manager at Italcementi, the fifth-largest cement producer in the world. "We don't have a lot of carbon reduction potential, because most of the emissions come from the production process," she said.

"It's not very easy to pass the carbon cost to our clients. We're facing competition from rivals that don't have to pay for carbon. We don't know the future price of electricity and fuel. We don't know our production volume, our fuel mix and our emissions, so therefore, there is a carbon leakage risk."

Meanwhile, Europe's carbon players are also watching the cap-and-trade debate in the U.S. Senate, hoping successful legislation there could boost carbon prices over the Atlantic.

"If Obama cannot pass cap and trade before the end of the year, it will be a very bearish sign for the European carbon market," said Eric Boonman, head of origination of energy, carbon and commodities at Fortis Bank.

Water Newsclips for March 16th, 2010

http://www.smart2020.org/case-studies/smart-grid-smart-water/

SMART GRID, SMART WATER

KEY FACTS
Combining leadership, lean manufacturing and Smart infrastructure IT tools to develop a culture of continuous improvement to drive significant improvements around water and energy efficiency at a wafer manufacturing facility that consumes 3.5 million gallons of water per day.
Reducing waste generation and improving process efficiencies in its semiconductor manufacturing operations has been a continual focus at IBM Burlington. In order to achieve water and energy savings, which resulted in reduction in associated CO2 emissions, the company brought together the following components:
Smart Water & Electrical Grid
Statistical Process Control
Peak Power Management
Effective use of sensor data
ISO 14001 Compliance
Lean Manufacturing Tools
Employee Participation & Awareness
The project took 24 months to implement
For the overall solution, the likely ROI is less than 12 months. For approximately 100 individual projects implemented annually, most projects executed had an ROI less than 12 months
In addition to cost savings, benefits included:
Improved morale
Acknowledged as Center of Excellence for the IBM Corporation
Recognized IBM leader in continuing innovation
External Recognition
Manufacturing process optimization
Water treatment process improvements
Water quality improvements
Reduced Chemical usage
Reduced Waste Generation
Improved Relationship with Regulatory Agencies.
The actual (or likely) cost of the project is approximately $1M US/yr to implement all projects
The actual (or projected) savings from the project are
an average of $3M/yr US in water and water associated energy
For 2001-2009, first-year savings from energy conservation projects have reached $27 million, with an additional $21 million in cost avoidance, for total program savings of $48 million over the period
The primary sponsor for the project was Janette Bombardier, Site Operations Manager and John DiToro, Semiconductor Solutions Vice President, Burlingotn Semiconductor Manufacturing and Site Location Executive
WHAT WAS THE IMPACT?
Did you use a specific methodology or third party to calculate CO2e or KWh savings?
Electricity and fuel savings are either metered or calculated; CO2e savings from fuel are based on EPA emission factors; CO2e savings from electricity are based on utility-specific carbon footprint data
342,000,000KWh of energy have been saved on this project
Comments on energy savings
The solutions have led to savings of 5.9 million kWh per year, or 342,000,000 KWh for the period 2001 - 2009. These are ongoing savings. The reported energy conservation metrics count only 12 months of savings from each project, although project lifetime and associated savings typically are much greater (5 to 30 years).
In addition, other savings result from: 
Ultra Pure Water treatment generated energy reductions, 4 million kwhr/yr.
The Thin Film Composite RO membrane conversion resulted in 81% reduction (510 kw to 93 kw) in electrical power required for the Reverse Osmosis process.
Waste water related energy savings of 1.1 million kwhr/yr
Elimination of raw water pumps had an energy savings of 0.77 million kwhr/yr. This was a 100% elimination of pumping needs by fully utilizing the kinetic energy provided to us by the local water utility when we purchase raw water.

37,234 t CO2has been saved on this project
Notes about Carbon savings/calculations
Savings accrued over 2001 -2009. Indirect CO2e emissions from electricity use are low due to utility purchases from low carbon power sources.
186,000 litres of Diesel has been saved on this project
Comments on fuel savings
Diesel saved: 186,000 MMBTU total fuel savings (Natural Gas, #2 Fuel Oil and #6 Fuel Oil) CO2e savings from fuel are calculated based on natural gas as primary fuel (#6 fuel oil and #2 fuel oil are backup fuels) from 2001 - 2009.
Comments on other resources saved
27% reduction in raw water purchases since 2001 (9% since 2005), representing over 400 million gallons per year saved 
45,000 pounds of reduced waste from the waste water treatment plant
Phosphorus: 50% reduction (2,049 pounds)
Total Suspended Solids: 46 % reduction (10,006 pounds);
Iron: 13 % reduction (135 pounds)
Fluoride: 38 % reduction (33,311 pounds)
The project has independent verification for results
MAKING IT HAPPEN
The following regulations or incentives allowed the business case to be more attractive
State of Vermont Efficiency program, ISO 14001 Standard, Increasing utility and energy costs
Barriers experienced during the initiation of the project
Other
Comments regarding barriers
Barriers also included 'Maintaining continuous operation of the facility'. Our primary job is to ensure that our semiconductor manufacturing area has no impact on the quality of the commodities we supply (such as power, ultrapure water) or the reliability of the supply (24 x 7 x 365). All improvements in energy and water need to be assessed and implemented without impacting quality and reliability, and with minimal downtime. In addition, ideas that require implementation within the manufacturing area may require extensive process chemistry analysis and experimentation to ensure no subtle changes to our processes which will have an impact on product yield or quality. Barriers are overcome by doing thorough engineering analysis of the proposed projects, conducting risk mitigation and having well defined and coordinated implementation plans.
Other comments regarding barriers preventing the successful completion of the project
Perceived barriers require breakthrough thinking to overcome or patience to wait for an opportune moment. Our experience shows perceived barriers can vanish when:
Emerging technologies provide new opportunities for savings.
Increasing cost of energy justifies larger investments.
Changes occur in the regulatory climate
Business ROI requirements change
How were they overcome?
This is an ongoing project, one should never be viewed as complete. Barriers are overcome by doing thorough engineering analysis of the proposed projects, conducting risk mitigation and having well defined and coordinated implementation plans.
What were the key lessons learnt?
Critical Success Factors:
Infrastructure to provide data on usage
IT tools to extract important information from the data
Process for improvement not just a list of projects
Clear measurable goals for all stakeholders
Broad employee involvement to generate quality ideas



http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/01/us/01water.html

Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Foiling E.P.A.
By CHARLES DUHIGG and JANET ROBERTS
Thousands of the nation's largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act's reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators.
As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising.
Companies that have spilled oil, carcinogens and dangerous bacteria into lakes, rivers and other waters are not being prosecuted, according to Environmental Protection Agency regulators working on those cases, who estimate that more than 1,500 major pollution investigations have been discontinued or shelved in the last four years.
The Clean Water Act was intended to end dangerous water pollution by regulating every major polluter. But today, regulators may be unable to prosecute as many as half of the nation's largest known polluters because officials lack jurisdiction or because proving jurisdiction would be overwhelmingly difficult or time consuming, according to midlevel officials.
"We are, in essence, shutting down our Clean Water programs in some states," said Douglas F. Mundrick, an E.P.A. lawyer in Atlanta. "This is a huge step backward. When companies figure out the cops can't operate, they start remembering how much cheaper it is to just dump stuff in a nearby creek."
"This is a huge deal," James M. Tierney, the New York State assistant commissioner for water resources, said of the new constraints. "There are whole watersheds that feed into New York's drinking water supply that are, as of now, unprotected."
The court rulings causing these problems focused on language in the Clean Water Act that limited it to "the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters" of the United States. For decades, "navigable waters" was broadly interpreted by regulators to include many large wetlands and streams that connected to major rivers.
But the two decisions suggested that waterways that are entirely within one state, creeks that sometimes go dry, and lakes unconnected to larger water systems may not be "navigable waters" and are therefore not covered by the act — even though pollution from such waterways can make its way into sources of drinking water.
Some argue that such decisions help limit overreaching regulatory efforts.
"There is no doubt in my mind that when Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 they intended it to have broad regulatory reach, but they did not intend it to be unlimited," said Don Parrish, the American Farm Bureau Federation's senior director of regulatory relations, who has lobbied on Clean Water issues.
But for E.P.A. and state regulators, the decisions have created widespread uncertainty. The court did not define which waterways are regulated, and judicial districts have interpreted the court's decisions differently. As regulators have struggled to guess how various courts will rule, some E.P.A. lawyers have established unwritten internal guidelines to avoid cases in which proving jurisdiction is too difficult, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former E.P.A. officials.
The decisions "reduce E.P.A.'s ability to do what the law intends — to protect water quality, the environment and public health," wrote Peter S. Silva, the E.P.A.'s assistant administrator for the Office of Water, in response to questions.
About 117 million Americans get their drinking water from sources fed by waters that are vulnerable to exclusion from the Clean Water Act, according to E.P.A. reports.
The E.P.A. said in a statement that it did not automatically concede that any significant water body was outside the authority of the Clean Water Act. "Jurisdictional determinations must be made on a case-by-case basis," the agency wrote. Officials added that they believed that even many streams that go dry for long periods were within the act's jurisdiction.
But midlevel E.P.A. officials said that internal studies indicated that as many as 45 percent of major polluters might be either outside regulatory reach or in areas where proving jurisdiction is overwhelmingly difficult.
And even in situations in which regulators believe they still have jurisdiction, companies have delayed cases for years by arguing that the ambiguity precludes prosecution. In some instances, regulators have simply dropped enforcement actions.
In the last two years, some members of Congress have tried to limit the impact of the court decisions by introducing legislation known as the Clean Water Restoration Act. It has been approved by a Senate committee but not yet introduced this session in the House. The legislation tries to resolve these problems by, in part, removing the word "navigable" from the law and restoring regulators' authority over all waters that were regulated before the Supreme Court decisions.
But a broad coalition of industries has often successfully lobbied to prevent the full Congress from voting on such proposals by telling farmers and small-business owners that the new legislation would permit the government to regulate rain puddles and small ponds and layer new regulations on how they dispose of waste.
"The game plan is to emphasize the scary possibilities," said one member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition, which has fought the legislation and is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Home Builders and other groups representing industries affected by the Clean Water Act.
"If you can get Glenn Beck to say that government storm troopers are going to invade your property, farmers in the Midwest will light up their congressmen's switchboards," said the coalition member, who asked not to be identified because he thought his descriptions would anger other coalition participants. Mr. Beck, a conservative commentator on Fox News, spoke at length against the Clean Water Restoration Act in December.
The American Land Rights Association, another organization opposed to legislation, wrote last June that people should "Deluge your senators with calls, faxes and e-mails." A news release the same month from the American Farm Bureau Federation warned that "even rainwater would be regulated."
"If you erase the word 'navigable' from the law, it erases any limitation on the federal government's reach," said Mr. Parrish of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "It could be a gutter, a roadside ditch or a rain puddle. But under the new law, the government gets control over it."
Legislators say these statements are misleading and intended to create panic.
"These claims just aren't true," said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland. He helped push the bill through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "This bill," he said, "is solely aimed at restoring the law to what it covered before the Supreme Court decisions."
The consequences of the Supreme Court decisions are stark. In drier states, some polluters say the act no longer applies to them and are therefore refusing to renew or apply for permits, making it impossible to monitor what they are dumping, say officials.
Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis, N.M., for instance, recently informed E.P.A. officials that it no longer considered itself subject to the act. It dumps wastewater — containing bacteria and human sewage — into a lake on the base.
More than 200 oil spill cases were delayed as of 2008, according to a memorandum written by an E.P.A. official and collected by Congressional investigators. And even as the number of facilities violating the Clean Water Act has steadily increased each year, E.P.A. judicial actions against major polluters have fallen by almost half since the Supreme Court rulings, according to an analysis of E.P.A. data by The New York Times.
The Clean Water Act does not directly deal with drinking water. Rather, it was meant to regulate the polluters that contaminated the waterways that supplied many towns and cities with tap water.
The two Supreme Court decisions at issue — Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 and Rapanos v. United States in 2006 — focused on the federal government's jurisdiction over various wetlands. In both cases, dissenting justices warned that limiting the power of the federal government would weaken its ability to combat water pollution.
"Cases now are lost because the company is discharging into a stream that flows into a river, rather than the river itself," said David M. Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michiganwho led the environmental crimes section of the Justice Department during the last administration.
In 2007, for instance, after a pipe manufacturer in Alabama, a division of McWane Inc., was convicted and fined millions of dollars for dumping oil, lead, zinc and other chemicals into a large creek, an appellate court overturned that conviction and fine, ruling that the Supreme Court precedent exempted the waterway from the Clean Water Act. The company eventually settled by agreeing to pay a smaller amount and submit to probation.
Some E.P.A. officials say solutions beyond the Clean Water Restoration Act are available. They argue that the agency's chief, Lisa P. Jackson, could issue regulations that seek to clarify jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.
Mrs. Jackson has urged Congress to resolve these issues. But she has not issued new regulations.
"E.P.A., with our federal partners, emphasized to Congress in a May 2009 letter that legislation is the best way to restore the Clean Water Act's effectiveness," wrote Mr. Silva in a statement to The Times. "E.P.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers will continue to implement our water programs to protect the nation's waters and the environment as effectively as possible, including consideration of administrative actions to restore the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act."
In the meantime, both state and federal regulators say they are prevented from protecting important waterways.
"We need something to fix these gaps," said Mr. Tierney, the New York official. "The Clean Water Act worked for over 30 years, and we're at risk of losing that if we can't get a new law."

http://planetark.org/wen/56915

Desperate California To Get More Water At Last
Date: 01-Mar-10
Author:
 Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES - Drought-stricken farmers and cities across California were granted a measure of relief on Friday when federal and state officials said they expected to supply significantly more water this year than last.
The announcements came as welcome news in the nation's No. 1 farm state, where dramatic cutbacks in water deliveries by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the state Water Resources Department had idled thousands of farm workers and 300,000 acres of cropland.
Shortages have also forced cities and counties to ration water, raise rates and impose strict mandatory conservation measures that turned lawns brown and left cars unwashed.
But a series of strong winter storms that could mark the end of a three-year drought has left several feet of snow on the Sierra Nevada mountain range that serves as California's principal source of surface water.
In light of that deluge, this year the Bureau of Reclamation will supply most California users with 100 percent of the water they are contracted to receive, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said.
Irrigation districts south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which represent farmers on the west side of the state's Central Valley, would get 30 percent of their allotment, or three times more than last year.
The Central Valley is one of the country's most important agricultural regions, and the state produces more than half of the fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the United States.
Separately, California officials said they were increasing the amount of water they expected to deliver from the State Water Project this year from 5 to 15 percent of normal.
If average precipitation continues for the rest of the winter, a California Department of Water Resources spokesman said, the state's finally allocation for the year could rise to 35-45 percent of requested amounts.
NOT OUT OF THE WOODS
"This is an important step for California and San Joaquin Valley farmers," Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a written statement.
"I raised this critical issue during my meeting with President Obama this week, and am very glad to see this action from his administration...," he said. "Now we must direct our attention to the long-term improvement of our water infrastructure to avoid these year-to-year uncertainties."
Meanwhile state water officials said that California's long struggle to supply its people with water was not over.
"After three years of drought conditions and a number of mandated pumping restrictions, even a wet year won't get us out of the woods," Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said. "We need increased conservation, a more reliable water delivery system and a comprehensive solution for California's water crisis."
The dire straits of Central Valley farmers had prompted U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein to draft legislation that would ease environmental restrictions to allow more water to be pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta for growers -- a plan the lawmaker said she would now drop.
"I will watch this situation very carefully and I am placing my proposed amendment on hold," Feinstein said in a statement released through her office. "However, I reserve the right to bring it back should it become necessary."
Feinstein's plan would have temporarily loosened Endangered Species Act rules designed to protect salmon and smelt and it became the latest flashpoint in California's long-running water wars -- infuriating fishing groups, environmentalists and even members of the powerful Democrat's own party.
Opponents had charged that the senator's plan could ultimately lead to the extinction of Sacramento River salmon and the collapse of the Pacific Coast fishing industry.
The state supplies more than 25 million people and over 750,000 acres of farmland with water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which is fed by rainfall and snow-melt runoff from the Sierra Nevadas.
California water officials say the series of storms that have clobbered the normally sunny state have left snowpack at above-normal levels, but they have so far stopped short of calling an official end to the drought.
(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Carbon Newsclips for March 16th, 2010

This is what happens when I go on vacation -- you get several weeks' worth of news in one go. Here's to not getting news-indigestion...



http://www.theclimategroup.org/our-news/news/2010/2/2/major-emitters-meet-accord-deadline/?dm_i=ADZ,3PQA,1KUE0H,BJNZ,1

All major emitters meet Accord deadline


February 2, 2010




Fifty-five countries have met the UN's 31st January deadline for submitting their intended climate mitigation commitments under the Copenhagen Accord. Crucially, submissions have been received by all major emitters, including the US, China, the EU, and India.
Sunday's deadline was agreed at last month's UN climate conference and required developed countries to submit emission reduction targets for 2020, while developing countries had to provide information on the mitigation actions they intended to take over the same period. Further submissions are expected over coming weeks following an earlier statement from the UN's Chief Climate Official that Jan 31 was essentially a 'soft deadline'.
The submitting countries cover around three quarters of global emissions and account for over 85% of world GDP. This is an improvement over the Kyoto Protocol's 55% coverage of emissions, although unlike the Protocol the Accord's commitments are not binding.
As expected, countries have not gone beyond the pledges that many of them made at or before Copenhagen. China for example, has reiterated its commitment to reduce its carbon intensity by 40-45%, while the US has stuck to its 17% emission cut from 2005 levels by 2020. The EU and Australia have kept their emission target ranges, signalling their intent and willingness to increase their ambition depending on what the rest of the international community chooses to do.
Perhaps most importantly, however, key countries have retained the level of ambition in their earlier pledges, thereby setting a floor for building additional commitment over the coming year and beyond.  This is vital, as current commitments fall far short of the kind of emission reductions climate scientists have recommended for avoiding dangerous temperature increases of above 2oC. Canada is a notable exception, reducing its earlier 2020 target from a 20% to 17% cut, thereby aligning it with the US.
What still remains unclear is what happens next. Although the commitments send an encouraging signal that all the major emitters support the Accord, there is still disagreement over how to move negotiations forward. The BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) last week reaffirmed their support for concluding the two-track Bali Roadmap negotiation in Mexico in December. However, concerns over the progress of climate and energy legislation in the US, and developed country frustration with a dysfunctional UNFCCC process means that such an outcome remains uncertain.

Country Commitments
Developed countries
See: 
http://unfccc.int/home/items/5264.php

Developing countries

See: 
http://unfccc.int/home/items/5265.php



http://www.theclimategroup.org/our-news/news/2010/1/26/basic-countries-set-to-shape-international-climate-action/?dm_i=ADZ,3PQA,1KUE0H,BJNZ,1

BASIC countries set to shape international climate action
The first official meeting of the BASIC group of countries (China, India, Brazil, South Africa) concluded in New Delhi yesterday.  The meeting underlined that this new negotiating group is here to stay and likely to be pivotal in shaping future international climate talks.
The Group, which played a central role in negotiating last month's 'Copenhagen Accord', set out a range of positions in a joint statement. 
In keeping with the long-held position of all developing countries, the Group reaffirmed the primacy of the UNFCCC negotiating process and underlined its commitment to conclude a new climate agreement at the next UN climate conference in Mexico in December.   This will reassure the UN's chief climate official, Yvo de Boer, who last week tried to play down suggestions that other forums were better suited to agreeing action on climate change.
The Group stated that the 'Copenhagen Accord provided the high-level political guidance for achieving any agreement, but also made clear that the negotiations had to be conducted under the 'two-track Bali Roadmap process, which failed to conclude its work in Copenhagen.   To this end, the Group called on Denmark, as the ongoing COP President, to convene at least five meetings for the negotiating groups before Mexico.  This is the first formal request from any country or group or countries since Copenhagen, and is an indication of how proactive the BASIC group intends to be.
No mention was made of other processes, such as the G20 or Major Economies Forum (MEF), which many developed countries have spoken about as alternatives to the complex UNFCCC process.   This underlines that important differences still exist amongst key countries as to how best to move climate talks forward.
The Group also called on developed countries to fulfil their commitment to provide $10 billion in short term funding as soon as possible for least developed countries, small island states and African countries.   By reiterating that this financing is for the most vulnerable developing countries, the BASIC group will have calmed any lingering concerns developed countries may have  about where this funding should go. 
The statement also noted that each country would "communicate information on their voluntary mitigation" under the Accord by the Jan 31st deadline agreed in Copenhagen.  The statement is ambiguous as to whether such information will definitely include the voluntary targets announced by each BASIC country in the lead-up to COP-15.  The inclusion of these earlier commitments will be important in calibrating the overall ambition of pledges under the Accord.
Ministers have also agreed to establish regular quarterly meetings of the BASIC countries.  While stating that they will work with the G77 in the lead up to Mexico, it seems highly unlikely that this wider developing country group will retain the same influence in light of the BASIC groups emergence.
Perhaps most positively, the statement concludes by noting the BASIC countries desire to use the group not only for negotiating purposes but also to cooperate on mitigation and adaptation and enhance "South-South" cooperation on climate change generally.   This underlines how the BASIC countries see themselves as leaders on climate change, unencumbered by any need for developed country support.

http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=Mzc2NTM

30+ carbon footprint guidelines baffle companies

Environmental Finance, 25 February 2010 - Companies are struggling to comprehend the thirty-odd number of guidelines for reporting their carbon footprints.

Executives at a meeting of lobby group the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in London this week reiterated the need to agree a common method for measuring and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This comes as governments worldwide are introducing emissions legislation and major companies, such as Wal-Mart and Tesco, begin to demand that suppliers report the carbon impact of their products.

Ben Murray, director of Carbon Smart, a London-based sustainability consultancy, said he was aware of at least 30 different guidelines. "There are a couple of dozen general approaches and some relevant to specific activities – but nonetheless it's a mess," he told Environmental Finance .

The widely used GHG Protocol, developed by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, is seen as a good basis for measuring, reporting and disclosing emissions, the CBI said, but claimed it is not sufficiently specific to deliver consistent reporting across companies. The CBI is campaigning to develop a common approach.

Murray said the GHG Protocol and the ISO 16064 standard were the de facto references. However, he argued that there is "little merit" in comparing companies against each other, as there are a huge number of factors that can influence carbon footprints. "Doing a comparison within a sector is fraught with difficulty. We are a long way from having data to compare businesses."

Herman Kok, executive for energy and climate at mining giant Rio Tinto, said the proliferation of guidelines is a "major concern". He said that reporting of 'Scope 3' emissions – those that come from outsourced activities or from purchased materials and fuels – in particular was "a minefield. It needs to be sector specific."

Under GHG Protocol guidance, Scope 1 covers all direct GHG emissions and Scope 2 covers indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam.

Kok added that organisations typically have twice as many people looking at carbon compared with all other environmental issues combined.

http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=Mzc2ODA

Businesses want more guidelines on green issues

The Irish Times, March 3, 2010 Wednesday - ABOUT 50 per cent of America s top business leaders believe a lack of clarity on climate legislation is negatively impacting upon the ability of the US to compete in the global market.

This is the key finding to emerge from a survey of Fortune 500 senior executives undertaken by Irish renewable energy group NTR, which has established a foundation to support climate change initiatives.

The majority of the 130 respondents to the poll, which was conducted by Brunswick, said they did not require a legal framework to commit to specific actions or to create so-called green-collar jobs.

Business leaders said corporations should take a greater role in the climate policy debate.

Commenting on the findings, NTR chief executive Jim Barry said: The results clearly show the business community considers the climate change challenge to be real and is responding, irrespective of government action.

Seventy per cent of the respondents said climate change would be an important part of their commercial decision-making within five years. But almost three in four of the business leaders said security of energy supply was a more pressing issue for them than climate change.

The NTR Foundation will be launched in New York tomorrow, with former US president Bill Clinton acting as keynote speaker.

NTR has committed EUR 5.5 million to the venture, and shares in the company.


https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Corporate_Finance/Capital_Management/A_new_look_at_carbon_offsets_2533

A new look at carbon offsets
Carbon markets will continue to play a role in pricing—and limiting—emissions, but the opportunity in developing markets may be less promising than once expected.
February 2010 • Marcel Brinkman
Source: Climate Change Special Initiative
The CFOs of any company that uses or produces energy were naturally interested in the outcome of the recent Copenhagen round of global climate negotiations, for both the potential new costs and new opportunities. Although the conference did not lead to the legally binding global carbon reduction treaty that a lot of climate watchers had hoped for, many are still watching closely as regional (rather than global) carbon markets continue to evolve. For despite the uncertainty in Copenhagen, current global carbon market arrangements will probably survive. The pricing that these markets set for carbon emission allowances will continue to be increasingly important for businesses—in particular, those facing the cost of buying allowances (so-called carbon credits) or developing projects for which carbon credits are anticipated sources of revenue.
Emission caps and related carbon trading in developed nations are a very effective way to reduce carbon emissions if supported by other forms of regulation, such as energy-efficiency standards. Moreover, developed nations will continue to be bound by domestically defined emission caps and can trade their carbon allocations among each other and through the offset market for developing nations.
However, the role of carbon markets in developing nations (through offset financing) is still unclear and might be relatively limited compared with their role in developed nations. The difference is a result of both the large potential of and requirements for emission reduction in developing countries and the limited demand for offsets from developed nations, given the current proposals on the table. This imbalance may limit the ability of companies in developed markets to benefit from offset credits for investments in developing nations. Indeed, if carbon markets do not take off in developed nations in a major way, companies could be left holding credits for which there is no demand.
The economics of offset markets
Even though a global deal remains elusive, domestic and regional carbon markets will continue to grow—from slightly less than €100 billion in 2008 to around €800 billion in 2020, according to recent McKinsey estimates. The European Union, for example, already has a domestic carbon market—currently the only one of its size, with trading volumes expected to increase as the market matures and liquidity increases. The United States is poised to establish one, with climate change legislation awaiting action this year. And a number of other countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand, are considering the introduction of domestic carbon markets. At the same time, multiple regional markets exist (within the United States, for example) or are being considered (as in China), mostly voluntary in nature.
Companies in these markets have a choice of reducing their own emissions to stay within their caps, buying credits from other companies, or buying international offsets. Abatement achieved through domestic carbon markets counts toward the economy-wide targets, as do purchased international offset credits. Without a mechanism linking the various domestic carbon markets, prices, driven by local market conditions, will probably vary significantly.
The offset market plays a key role, as it is the de facto international carbon price mechanism, in the absence of direct market linkage. In theory, an originator of offset credits—say, an offset project developer—can sell its credits to a government in an Annex I country1 (which will use these credits to offset its carbon reduction commitments) or to a company in a domestic carbon market. These activities can create price arbitrage between various domestic carbon markets and the international carbon market.
Two factors hamper price equalization among the offset market, domestic carbon markets, and the global market as envisioned by the assigned amount units (AAU) established in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

  • On the one hand, countries have limited the amount of offsets that can be imported into domestic carbon markets. For instance, the European Union will allow only 1.6 metric gigatons2 (GT) of offset credits to be imported into its market from 2008 to 2020, or on average 0.1–0.2 GT per annum. As this quota will probably be exhausted by 2015, prices on the European carbon market might start to deviate from offset market prices.
  • On the other hand, the demand for offsets from Annex I countries is less certain, as the global market is oversupplied with "hot air,"3 which limits the need to buy offset credits. Therefore, national demand for offset credits is typically seen as "soft."
    Offset market supply also plays a key role in offset market prices. Initially, offsets were based on relatively cheap sources; for instance, many reductions in levels of greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide require little upfront investment. As the market matures, more expensive sources of abatement, often requiring an upfront investment, will be pursued. Supply will also be determined by the offset market's future structure. Currently, carbon offsets are project based, which requires independent verification of projects—a slow and bureaucratic process. There are also concerns about the so-called additionality of project-based offsets.4
    Multiple proposals have been put on the table to scale up offset markets. Key options include a reformed project-based mechanism, a programmatic mechanism that would award policies with credits, a sector no-lose mechanism that would reward abatements but not punish their absence, outright sector caps, or any combination of the above. The eventual supply of credits and their relative cost will be determined by the choice of mechanism, as well as the type of offset credits allowed (for example, whether they include carbon capture and storage, nuclear power, or efforts to cut emissions by reducing deforestation and the degradation of forests).
    McKinsey has developed a carbon market model based on the firm's most recent greenhouse-gas-abatement cost curve.5 This tool models all domestic and international carbon markets over time and estimates emission reductions and long-term fundamental carbon price levels by markets, as well as the flows among them. The model is not a price-forecasting tool but does help users understand relative price differences between markets and the fundamental factors that explain those differences. The "hard" demand for offsets is expected to be around 1.4 GT by 2020—adding up demand from domestic carbon markets, including the European carbon market and the expected US one. Additional soft demand from Annex I countries, arising from their reduction commitments, could add a further 0.5 GT of demand but depends critically on the resolution of the hot-air overhang from the 2008–12 Kyoto period and the absence of hot air after 2012.
    The model calculates that 2020 carbon prices in the EU emission-trading system (around €29 a ton) will be well above the price in the offset market (around €13 a ton, which reflects the exhaustion of the system's offset quota). The US carbon market price (€16 a ton) is much closer to the offset market price. The difference results from the offset discount factor proposed in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.6
    Abatement: A modest role in developing countries
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that the global community needs to limit emissions to 44 GT in 2020 in order to limit global warming to two degrees.7 That goal would require global cuts of up to 17 GT of emissions by 2020. A large share of this decline will have to take place in developed nations, but their potential is limited to 5 GT by 2020. Faster-growing developing nations have more room to make low-carbon choices in energy efficiency and power (6 GT by 2020), as well as most of the emission reduction potential of preserved forests (roughly another 6 GT by 2020).
    McKinsey's carbon market model offers a view on the likely outcomes of the global regulatory debate, and in particular the role played by carbon markets. To do so, the model assesses the effectiveness of existing and proposed climate change regulations, including those outside the emissions directly capped by carbon markets. Emission reductions of all kinds influence carbon market outcomes. As an example, energy efficiency in European buildings (not covered by the EU Emission Trading System) will reduce demand for power and thereby the power sector's emissions (which are covered). In a similar fashion, climate change regulation in developing nations can influence the availability of offset supply, particularly in sectorwide offset programs.
    A detailed assessment of all proposals from Annex I and non–Annex I countries currently on the table8 shows that the world will be able to realize only about half of the emission reduction potential required to limit global warming to two degrees (exhibit). Of this emission potential, three GT of reductions will be achieved as domestic abatements in Annex I countries, up to two GT will be international offsets (which count toward the domestic abatement of Annex I countries), and a further three GT will be achieved by autonomous action from developing nations, potentially with financial support from Annex II nations.9



    Back to top
    Actions currently envisioned by developing countries include a 70 percent reduction of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 2017 (which Brazil has proposed) and the increase of renewable power in China to 15 percent of its energy mix in 2020. In reality, most developing nations are unwilling to make stringent commitments before that year, while some have proposed quantified caps thereafter. South Africa, for instance, proposes to let its emissions peak in 2025 before reducing them after 2035.
    Offset demand of up to 2 GT represents significant growth compared with 2008, when 140 megatons of offset credits were issued. Yet 2 GT is a relatively modest amount in light of the up to 17 GT of abatement required to limit global warming to two degrees.
    We need to be critical of this assessment, however, as the scenario modeled is only one possible outcome of ongoing discussions. In coming years, countries could markedly improve their proposals for domestic emission caps. The European Union has offered to reduce emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels if other countries make similar commitments. Japan has already announced a target of reducing emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Although that goal is conditioned on the willingness of other countries to take similarly bold action, it is much more ambitious than the country's previous goal.
    Furthermore, developed nations proposed substantial financial support for developing ones in the nonbinding political Copenhagen Accord: $30 billion in the period from 2010 to 2012 and up to $100 billion a year by 2020. This money might make developing nations more willing to reduce emissions and could therefore raise global performance. However, it might not be possible to achieve the recommended environmental outcome even given a more ambitious scenario with stricter national targets.
    As a result of this uncertainty, companies are likely to move away from projects—such as the capture of gases other than carbon dioxide and the reduction of emissions from cooking stoves,10 which are responsible for up to 18 percent of global warming—that rely completely on offsets as their income stream. Instead, they will look for projects that also have other income streams, such as power market revenues and government subsidies, even if these projects require significantly more investment.11 


    About the Author
    Marcel Brinkman is an associate principal in McKinsey's London office.
    Back to top
    Notes
    1 Under the Kyoto Protocol, Annex I countries are those 37 industrialized nations that committed themselves to a reduction of greenhouse gases.
    2 Metric tons: 1 metric ton = 2,205 pounds.
    3 Russia, Ukraine, and various other Eastern European nations have emission caps above their current emission levels, because of the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union. The result is a significant overhang of credits.
    4 In other words, some projects might have been undertaken without any revenue from carbon credits and therefore may not have any "additional" environmental advantages.
    5 McKinsey's global greenhouse-gas-abatement cost curve assesses the technical potential to reduce carbon emissions and the cost by country, industry, and lever. For a full description, see "Pathways to a low-carbon economy," available free of charge on mckinsey.com.
    6 Sponsored by US Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, the act includes provisions on clean energy (and the transition to an economy based on it), energy efficiency, global warming, and agriculture- and forestry-related offsets.
    7 This scenario assumes that carbon content in the atmosphere is reduced to 450 parts per million (ppm) by 2100, with an overshoot to 510 ppm in the intermediate period.
    8 The proposals in the assessment include the recent submissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (January 31, 2010), the European Union's commitment to reduce carbon emissions to 20 percent below the 1990 level by 2020, and the targets in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, passed by the US House of Representatives in 2009 and awaiting consideration by the Senate.
    9 An Annex I subset of nations that have made a commitment to pay the incremental cost of mitigation and adaptation for developing (non–Annex I) nations. Annex II nations are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
    10 See Elisabeth Rosenthal, "Third-world stove soot is target in climate fight," New York Times, April 15, 2009.
    11 A company can claim offset income, however, only if a project is not otherwise expected to make a hurdle rate of return. The upside of such investments is therefore capped.

    http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/04/shareholder-climate-resolutions-up-40/print/


Shareholder Climate Resolutions Up 40%
Posted By Environmental Leader On March 4, 2010 @ 10:21 am In FeatureFinance & ReportingFinancialPeople | 1 Comment
stock tickerU.S. investor groups have filed 95 global warming shareholder resolutions with public corporations, a 40 percent increase over last year, according to a press release [1] from the Investor Network on Climate Risk.

The resolutions, lodged with 82 U.S. and Canadian companies, seek a range of concessions, from improved sustainability reporting to energy efficiency efforts.

The Investor Network on Climate Risk is backed by investor group Ceres. In all, the network of 80 institutional investors manages $8 trillion in assets.

"As the SEC recently affirmed with its disclosure guidance, climate change presents clear material risks and opportunities for U.S. businesses – and investors have a right to know which companies are well prepared and which are not," said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres.

"We want our companies to closely look at the impact climate change legislation and regulation have on them, to realistically assess those risks, and to consider the indirect consequences of climate change-driven regulation and business trends on their activities," said Jack Ehnes, CEO of CalSTRS, which manages $131 billion dollars in assets.

So far this year, the investors have been able to convince enough companies to make changes that 28 shareholder resolutions have been withdrawn, according to the release.

Among the resolutions, CalSTRS, a public pension fund, filed a resolution with ConocoPhillips, protesting its oil sands operations.

A similar resolution over oil sands processing was filed by Green Century Capital Management against ExxonMobil.

See a complete list of the resolutions here [2].

Last year, Ceres put companies including Exxon Mobil Corp., General Motors and coal miner Massey Energy Co. on a "Climate Watch" list [3], citing concerns that the firms' long-term competitiveness could be hurt by their lack of action on climate change.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/04/shareholder-climate-resolutions-up-40/

URLs in this post:
[1] release: http://www.incr.com/Page.aspx?pid=1222
[2] here: http://www.incr.com/resolutions
[3] "Climate Watch" list: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/02/19/investors-target-exxon-gm-massey-for-lack-of-climate-action/

http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/010988.html

Defining a 'Carbon Neutral' City
WORLDCHANGING TEAM, 22 FEB 10

by Justus Stewart and Pete Erickson

Last November, Alex Steffen gave a two-night talk at Seattle's Town Hall. In those talks, he issued a challenge to the government and the residents of Seattle: to be bigger and bolder with our goals; to stake our claim as the environmental and civic leaders of the bright green future. He challenged us to conceive of Seattle as the first carbon neutral city in North America, and to get there by 2030.

Since then, the idea has spread, and been debated, among Seattle's civic leaders and innovative thinkers. One question that moved immediately to the fore is this: What does carbon neutral even mean? A critical first step in pursuing 'carbon neutrality' is defining it.
Of the many considerations that go into defining carbon neutrality for a city the size of Seattle, a few stand out for their significance.

1. How does carbon neutrality relate to the global limits that scientists warn us we must not exceed – 350 ppm CO2 (or 2 degrees C over pre-industrial levels)?

2. Would a city have to actually quit emitting greenhouse gases, or could it use offsets (purchase carbon credits) to reach its goal?

3. Are we trying to account for only emissions that occur within city limits, or all emissions for which Seattleites are responsible?

This is wonky stuff; catnip for the carbon emissions accounting crowd (yes, they exist, and yes, there are technically enough of them to constitute a crowd…). Let's take them one at a time.

How does Seattle's goal relate to the global limits that scientists warn us we must not exceed – for example, 350 ppm (or 2 degrees C)?

Well over 1,000 cities in the US have adopted greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. Many of those cities, including Seattle, express their goals in alignment with a science-based goal of an 80% reduction (from 1990 levels) by 2050. This "80 by 50" target is reflected in some national policies as well. However, we often lose sight of the fact that this is a global goal, not a local one. Meeting an aggressive global goal (whether 350 ppm, 450 ppm, or whatever is required to limit warming to 2 degrees C) will require the rich countries of the world to reduce their emissions at least 80% by 2050 -- and in addition, to help finance emission reductions in poor nations. If we only hit 80% of our own emissions by mid-century -- and don't help poor nations invest in clean energy and other emission-reducing projects -- then we overshoot our global emissions target, with potentially devastating consequences.

What does this mean? It means we may want to define carbon neutrality in a way that accounts for both our actual emissions and our fair share of global emissions. This does not have to be guesswork: frameworks exist to apportion emissions according to measures of historical responsibility and capacity to act. These frameworks - often called burden sharing or carbon budgeting -- suggest that to contribute equitably to a 2 degree goal, the U.S. may need to take responsibility for emission reductions greater than its total emissions. One calculation found that the U.S. would need to go well below zero (substantially "carbon negative") by 2030.

The reasoning behind a burden-sharing approach is simple: because wealthy nations (and their wealthy cities) are responsible for the lion's share of historical emissions, which helped fuel our prosperity and now threaten the whole planet, we must take greater action to reduce those emissions than poor countries with less responsibility and less capacity to act. After all, we cannot ethically (or even legally) restrict emissions from developing nations if it means they remain in poverty. If they are to reduce their emissions, we must help fund their cleaner path to prosperity. That's point two.

Does the City have to actual quit emitting greenhouse gases, or can it use offsets (purchase carbon credits) to reach its goal?

While carbon emissions in Seattle can be reduced significantly from their current levels, it is unrealistic to actually stop local emissions completely. Doing so would be prohibitively expensive. In terms of achieving global targets, then, it is at some point more cost effective to reduce emissions in other places than here in Seattle. Furthermore, as described above, we may want to accept a greater share of global responsibility for emission reductions, perhaps going beyond zero, and financing emission reductions (likely as offset credits) in poor nations. But how do we determine where the threshold should be between our own reductions and those we fund elsewhere as offsets? How deep of a reduction should Seattle make in its own emissions? Considerations include whether to honor Seattle's existing 80% by 2050 goal, cost-effectiveness, global responsibility, the value of branding Seattle as a global leader in green innovation, and other in-city benefits promoted by advocates of carbon neutrality.

Are we trying to account for only emissions that occur within city limits, or all emissions for which Seattleites are responsible?

Finally, and crucially, is the distinction between the elimination of emissions within the geographic boundary of the city, and the elimination of emissions for which the city and its citizens are responsible, wherever in the world they occur. Both methods -- termed "production-based" and "consumption-based" inventories, respectively -- have their merits in emissions accounting. For a goal of neutrality, the latter approach -- based at least partly on consumption -- should at least be considered. One traditional example used to support a consumption-based approach is this: imagine a cement plant operating within the city limits, with significant GHG emissions. If we attempt to reduce those emissions while accounting only for what's emitted within city limits, then we simply move the cement plant! It's now operating in another city, and no longer our problem. Taking a broader view of the emissions for which Seattleites are responsible, and therefore accounting for emissions associated with our food, our clothes, or are gadgets, does provide a more complete picture of the role of Seattle residents in global emissions, and would make every choice we make count: our meals, our trip to work, our new phone. Would counting emissions in his way unlock the potential for radical innovation and currently unimagined ways of living well in this city? Or would it be just too difficult to count in a meaningful way and distract from things we can more easily influence?

prod-cons_inventory_venn.jpg

IMAGE CAPTION: Greenhouse gas emissions sources in both Production and Consumption-based inventories.


There are many other issues to be tackled as well, in this process of crafting a definition. Who takes responsibility for military bases? For ports that ship goods all over the country? For regional airports that draw from many cities? Do you include the mines that dug the ore, or just the plant that made the car? What about deforestation indirectly induced by purchasing crops or biofuels? These and other decisions are made on a case-by-case basis; if that sounds a little ad-hoc remember that no city has done this before…

To engage the task of creating a working definition for climate neutrality that addresses the above concerns and provides a scientifically sound path forward, a citizen-led technical working group is beginning to form, with the goal of crafting a definition for Seattle.

Want to weigh in on the choices above? Want to help? If you have expertise in the field of climate emissions accounting and want to be a part of this group, or would like to submit comments to the group, please email the Climate Neutral Seattle Technical Working Group at cnstwg@gmail.com.

Image source: Stockholm Environment Institute

http://www.climatebiz.com/news/2010/02/17/nike-and-starbucks-among-large-companies-trying-build-climate-bill-momentum

Nike and Starbucks Try to Build Climate Bill Momentum
By ClimateBiz Staff
Created 2010-02-17 05:21

BEAVERTON, OR — A group of companies and nonprofits that includes NikeStarbucks and Ceres launched a virtual coast-to-coast race Tuesday in a bid to create momentum for passing U.S. climate change legislation.

The "Race for American Jobs and Clean Energy Leadership" kicked off at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., Tuesday, the first stop of a coast-to-coast virtual tour with stops over the next three weeks in Colorado, Ohio, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.

The race is sponsored by "We Can Lead," a campaign launched by the Clean Economy Network and Ceres' Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), whose members include Nike, Levi Strauss & Co., Starbucks, Sun Microsystems, The Timberland Company, Aspen Skiing Company, Clif Bar & Company, eBay, Gap Inc., Jones Lang LaSalle, The North Face, Seventh Generation, Ben and Jerry's, Eileen Fisher, Stonyfield Farm Inc., and Symantec.

Related News & Blogs

Tesco, Nestle Among UK Firms Planning Big Packaging Cuts  GreenBiz.com
Record Number of Shareholder Actions Target Climate Change
Even Houston, the 'Petro Metro,' Loves Electric Cars  GreenBiz.com
Obama's Nuclear Madness and the Future of 'Clean' Energy  GreenBiz.com
Companies Cutting Carbon Despite Lack of Laws

Along the way, the campaign will collect the signatures of business leaders from across the county who support the resurrection of climate change legislation in Congress. The Waxman-Markey climate change bill narrowly passed the House of Representatives last summer, but another version introduced in the Senate in late 2009 is now stalled. A trio of Senators is also working on a separate bill it hopes can attract support from both sides of the aisle, but the economic recession and 2010 election cycle present major barriers to passage of any legislation.

At the same time, companies are complaining that federal inaction is putting the U.S. at a disadvantage in the international clean energy race, while also missing opportunities for creating domestic jobs.

"We believe that building sustainable business practices will help fuel the economy and the environment," Sarah Severn, Nike's director of stakeholder mobilization, said in a statement Tuesday. "The time to act is now. The U.S. needs legislation that gives clean energy entrepreneurs an even playing field to compete globally for innovation and job creation."

Various studies in recent years point to the promise of green jobs that could be created in the wake of strong clean energy legislation. The American Solar Energy Society, for example, estimates the nine million renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs in the U.S. in 2007 could balloon into 37 million jobs by 2030 under the right blend of federal and state policies.

At the virtual race's last stop in Washington, D.C., the signatures will be handed over to Congress by participating business leaders, who will also hold policy meetings with the Obama Administration and various members of Congress.

http://planetark.org/wen/56838

EPA May Soften Greehouse Gas Permit Requirement
Date: 23-Feb-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday it was considering reducing the number of big industrial plants that would be required to get permits to fight climate change.
In September, the EPA said it would require large facilities, like coal plants and refineries, emitting more than 25,000 tons a year of greenhouse gases to obtain permits demonstrating they were using the best technology available to reduce emissions blamed for warming the planet.
"EPA is considering raising that threshold substantially to reflect input provided during the public comment process," the agency said in a release.

http://planetark.org/wen/56834

Bonn To Host Extra U.N. Climate Talks, Treaty Unsure
Date: 23-Feb-10
Country:
 NORWAY
Author:
 Alister Doyle

OSLO - Germany will host an extra session of U.N. climate talks in April but it is too early to say if the world will agree a new treaty this year after falling short at a summit in Copenhagen in December, Denmark said on Monday.
"The negotiations are picking up speed again after Copenhagen," Danish Climate and Energy Minister Lykke Friis, who presides over the U.N. negotiations, told Reuters by telephone.
She said that 11 representatives of key nations decided at a one-day meeting at the headquarters of the Bonn-based U.N. Climate Change Secretariat to add an extra session of senior officials from 194 nations in the Germany city from April 9-11.
"There was a positive and constructive atmosphere and all parties were eager to move forward with the negotiations," she said of the first formal meeting since Copenhagen.
Until now, the calendar had been limited to a session of officials in Bonn from May 31-June 11 and ministerial talks in Cancun, Mexico from November 29-December 10. That was a sharp slowdown from the five preparatory talks last year before Copenhagen.
Friis said she was unsure if U.N. talks would end this year with a new U.N. treaty to combat global warming and succeed the existing Kyoto Protocol. "We are working for an agreement in Cancun but it's too early to say," she said.
TREATY
Last year, many nations had hoped that the Copenhagen summit would agree a legally binding treaty to slow rising emissions of greenhouse gases blamed by the U.N.'s panel of climate experts for floods, droughts, mudslides, heatwaves and rising seas.
The summit ended with the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, which seeks to limit a rise in temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times. It also promised $10 billion a year in aid from 2010-12, rising to $100 billion a year from 2020.
The April meeting, of senior government officials, would be preceded by one-day preparatory talks among key groups of nations. The April talks would also decide if more U.N. meetings were needed before Cancun.
Many nations have become gloomy about Mexico, partly because U.S. carbon-capping legislation seems stalled in the Senate. President Barack Obama wants to cut U.S. emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, or 4 percent below 1990 levels.
In Nusa Dua, Indonesia, the head of the U.N. Environment Programme said developing nations could be able to apply within three months for some of the $30 billion in climate aid promised by rich nations for 2010-12 under the Copenhagen Accord.
Rules for disbusing aid are unclear in the Accord and Achim Steiner said that one developing nation recently asked him if there was a phone number to ring to ask about the cash.
"If, in three months' time, there still isn't a phone number then I expect that part of the accord to be in trouble, but I expect there to be one," he said in an interview on the sidelines of a major U.N. environment conference in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian island of Bali.
(With extra reporting by David Fogarty in Singapore and Sunanda Creagh in Nusa Dua, Indonesia; editing by Jon Boyle)

http://planetark.org/wen/56883

China Envoy Says Deep Divides Threaten Climate Talks
Date: 25-Feb-10
Country:
 CHINA
Author:
 Chris Buckley


China Envoy Says Deep Divides Threaten Climate Talks Photo: nts Kalnins
Main Image Main Image China's special representative on Climate Change Negotiations ambassador Yu Qingtai speaks during news conference in Copenhagen December 15, 2009.
Photo: nts Kalnins

BEIJING - Rich and developing countries have little hope of overcoming key disagreements over how to fight global warming, China's climate change ambassador said on Wednesday, warning of a year of troubled negotiations.
China's Special Representative for Climate Change Negotiations, Yu Qingtai, said as nations seek a new global treaty on climate change by the end of 2010, major players are unlikely to budge on the issues that stymied stronger agreement at the contentious Copenhagen climate summit in late 2009.
"There may be some adjustments and shifts in the positions and tactics of the various sides, but I personally believe that on some core issues, the positions of the major parties will not undergo any substantive changes," Yu said at a meeting in Beijing on China's climate change policies.
After they failed to agree on a comprehensive pact at Copenhagen, negotiators now hope to put together a binding treaty through meetings culminating in Mexico late this year.
Yu was not hopeful.
"We can expect that in the coming year, there'll still be a mix of consensus and conflict, of cooperation and struggle, on the stage of climate diplomacy," he said. "The progress of the international negotiations faces very many difficulties."
Yu's comments added to recent gloomy forecasts for the climate negotiations, an issue that could add to tensions with the United States.
Agreeing a U.N. climate treaty in 2010 will be "very difficult," the head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, Yvo de Boer, said on Tuesday.
DISPUTES
China has passed the United States to become the biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. Yet China is a developing country with average greenhouse gas output per person far lower than in wealthy countries.
That dual status has put Beijing at the heart of disputes with the United States, European Union and other rich economies about how developed and big developing countries should share out burdens for controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
Also crucial is how much international scrutiny should apply to the emissions actions of big developing nations.
In Copenhagen, China and other poorer countries accused the West of offering too little in the way of emissions cuts and climate funds and technology to the Third World.
Britain, Sweden and other countries accused China of obstructing stronger agreement at the Copenhagen summit, which ended with a non-binding accord.
China should not expect wealthy countries to change their tune this year, said Yu.
"I believe that there won't be any substantive change in the developed countries' settled policy of shifting blame to the developing countries," he said.
"They will continue pressuring the developing countries to shoulder unreasonable responsibilities."
The speeches by Yu and other Chinese climate policy officials were published online by an official news website (www.china.com.cn).
Yu said China and other developing countries would defend their right to grow their economies without taking on internationally binding emissions targets.
Chinese President Hu Jintao said on Tuesday he was committed to fighting climate change and pressing forward with a domestic goal to cut carbon intensity.
China has vowed to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide -- the main greenhouse gas from human activity -- emitted to create each unit of economic worth by 40-45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.
This goal would let China's greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, but more slowly than economic growth.
But Hu also said Beijing was committed to the "common but differentiated" principle: that developing countries should take action to fight climate change, but not assume the internationally binding emissions targets that developed countries must shoulder under U.N.-backed climate treaties.
Yu said negotiators should not expect China to budge.
"When it comes to responsibilities that we should not assume, that harm our national interests, we will resolutely hold out, no matter how much pressure there is in the negotiations," said Yu.
(Editing by David Fogarty)


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/business/energy-environment/26walmart.html

Wal-Mart Unveils Plan to Make Supply Chain Greener
By STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM

Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, announced on Thursday that it would cut some 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain by the end of 2015 — the equivalent of removing more than 3.8 million cars from the road for a year.

The company plans to achieve that goal by focusing on popular product categories with the highest embedded carbon — milk, bread, meat, clothing — and by pressing its suppliers to rethink how they source, manufacture, package and transport those goods. Essentially, suppliers are being asked to examine the carbon lifecycle of their products, from the raw materials used in manufacturing all the way through to the recycling phase.

Wal-Mart's sustainability executives will work with suppliers to help them figure out what measures to take. Any costs related to making products more energy-efficient — redesigning packaging or using a different fertilizer — will be the responsibility of each supplier, not of Wal-Mart.

Jim Stanway, who oversees Wal-Mart's supplier initiatives involving energy, said in an interview on Thursday that suppliers would be willing to spend money if "it's an investment where everybody's sure it makes the supplier more profitable."

And while the initiative may be good for the environment, it may also be good for Wal-Mart. Driving costs out of the supply chain could result in savings for Wal-Mart that can be passed along to consumers — enabling the company to uphold its reputation as a destination for rock-bottom prices.

Also, as Michael T. Duke, Wal-Mart's president and chief executive, said in a Web cast on Thursday, "We know we need to get ready for a world in which energy will only be more expensive."

At the beginning of the decade, Wal-Mart began taking an industry-leading role in environmental sustainability, in part to burnish its image. Soon, Wal-Mart was wielding its heft to change industry practices.

Wal-Mart said supplier participation in its effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would not be mandatory. But the giant retailer — with sales of more than $400 billion last year — made it clear that it was interested in doing business only with suppliers that share its goals.

Critics argue, though, that rather than change its business model, Wal-Mart pressures suppliers to change theirs — which can lead them to cut corners and produce shoddier products.

"You can't argue with asking companies to reduce packaging," said Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, an advocacy group. "But if durability is not part of what matters in retailing anymore — and Wal-Mart arguably has been the leader in making that the case — that's something we have to grapple with."

Ms. Mitchell added that large stores have been shown to encourage consumers to drive farther from home, increasing emissions. And as Wal-Mart accelerates its growth overseas, putting more stores around the world, its carbon footprint will expand.

Wal-Mart has started many environmental initiatives in recent years, from improving the efficiency of its truck fleet to creating a global index to measure the environmental impact of products. In the last couple of years, the chain worked with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, which produces DVDs, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the plastic knob in the center of its CD cases.

For the latest initiative, Wal-Mart is collaborating with organizations including the Environmental Defense Fund, PricewaterhouseCoopers, ClearCarbon, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas. The groups will help advise Wal-Mart and its suppliers, as well as evaluate and measure reductions.

Already, Wal-Mart is working to change the labels on clothing it sells to indicate the products can be washed in cold water (therefore lowering customers' electricity bills), and to sell private labelcompact fluorescent light bulbs in Mexico. The company said the 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions it intends to cut from its supply chain by the end of 2015 is 150 percent of the estimated growth in carbon emissions from its own operations over the next five years.

Matt Kistler, Wal-Mart's senior vice president for sustainability, said the initiative was also a way of getting ahead of pending energy legislation. For "suppliers who could be adversely affected," he said, "this will just put them further ahead."

http://planetark.org/wen/57018

Japan Rift Risks Watering Down Climate Bill
Date: 08-Mar-10
Country:
 JAPAN
Author:
 Chisa Fujioka

A rift within Japan's government over legislation to fight climate change has raised the risk of it watering down plans for an emissions trading system that is at the core of its drive for greener policies.
In its latest draft for a climate bill expected to be submitted to parliament next Friday, the environment ministry is vague on details of how the scheme would set emission limits and when trading would start.
The environment ministry has favored setting volume caps on emissions. But the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has called for caps per unit of production, which would allow emissions to rise when businesses increase output.
METI is under pressure from companies worried about limits on greenhouse gas emissions restricting growth.
"We are not ruling out volume caps, but considering the need for economic growth, carbon intensity targets should also be included in the scheme," METI minister Masayuki Naoshima told a news conference on Friday.
A national scheme that sets tough targets on greenhouse gas emissions could be a major boost for the carbon market, depending on the design.
Greenhouse gas emissions in Japan, the world's fifth biggest emitter, totaled 1.29 billion metric tons in the fiscal year to March 2009.
Since the Democratic Party won power in an election last August, Japan has pushed for tougher climate policies including a "cap-and-trade" scheme setting mandatory caps on emissions.
But companies, worried about volume caps, have called for the bill to drop the phrase cap-and-trade when referring to the trading scheme.
The government is also likely to be mindful of the failure of the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to win support in the Senate for a sweeping climate bill that would also include a national cap-and-trade market.
LACKING DETAILS
The idea of cap-and-trade is to set a limit on emissions that becomes tougher over time. This forces companies to invest in steps to cut their carbon pollution or face having to buy permits for every metric ton of emissions that they are over their target.
The latest draft makes no mention of cap-and-trade, merely citing the government would implement separate legislation to introduce a domestic emissions trading system.
A deadline for legal steps was still under discussion, according to the draft. Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa has hoped to launch the trading system next year, but has said more time may be needed to design the scheme.
The draft also includes Japan's goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels on condition a global climate deal is reached, along with its plan to consider imposing an environment tax from 2011.
The ruling Democratic Party, its ratings slipping ahead of an election for parliament's upper house likely in July, is under pressure to look proactive on tackling climate change while allaying fears of new policies that would hurt the economy.
The climate bill is set to clear parliament by the time the current session ends on June 16 given the ruling coalition's majority in both houses of parliament, but a carbon market expert worried about the lack of details.
"If details are omitted, as media reports have suggested, then there are worries and questions about how the absolute volume will be regulated," said Tsuneo Takahashi, representative director at Natsource Japan Co, a joint venture of a New York-based carbon trader, Mitsubishi Corp. and Tokyo Tanshi Co.
"Carbon intensity cannot be measured until a year later, meaning trading will not take off until then. So that raises questions about how active actual trading will be."
Others said the bill was merely meant to set a direction for policy while leaving details for later, but the wording on emissions trading risked creating a system that would not lead to a significant drop in emissions.
"There is no reason for the government to avoid referring to the trading scheme as being cap-and-trade," said Naoyuki Yamagishi, climate change program leader for WWF Japan.
"So leaving that wording vague could clear the way for a system using carbon intensity targets, and that would be a problem."
(Additional reporting by Chikako Mogi; Editing by David Fogarty)



http://www.nbs.net/News.aspx?iid=6ada74fc-9719-4777-96f7-60409227ffce&aid=de520b8c-f5c2-4a6a-9fba-f790a9447a82

After Copenhagen: Early implications for business

Expert Opinion

It's one step forward and two steps back for global climate policy in the wake of the Copenhagen talks. 


At the December 2009 meeting of the parties to the 1994 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (
UNFCCC), grand aspirations for a global post-Kyoto agreement gave way to pragmatic political realities. The international leaders in attendance did reach some agreement on long-term goals - such as the acknowledgment that global warming must not be allowed to exceed 2 degrees Celsius. However, there remains little agreement regarding how nations should apportion the responsibility for reducing greenhouse gases in order to reach this target. 

The voluntary targets adopted after Copenhagen by Canada and other countries (so-called "bottom-up" approaches) remain fanciful diversions in the absence of a clear global policy framework. Such a framework would serve to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and build resilience in the face of a changing climate. 


The implications from Copenhagen are numerous for business. 

First, clarity over carbon limits and pricing mechanisms remain elusive at a global scale. This uncertainty will continue to cloud strategic and long-term corporate decisions around energy into the foreseeable future, possibly delaying large-scale investment in both traditional and clean energy technologies. 

Second, it's reasonable to expect that a myriad of national, regional, and municipal climate policies will continue to emerge in the absence of a global policy consensus. Businesses will need to become even more astute followers of climate and energy policies across all their operating jurisdictions. 

Third, the failure of the Copenhagen talks is reverberating throughout North American politics. The Canadian government 
declared their intent to align policy with that of the United States in the lead-up to Copenhagen. Yet there remains no clear path forward in the United States. Serious discussions continue regarding whether or not the U.S. will proceed with a cap-and-trade under legislation through the Senate (e.g., the Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, H.R. 2454, or some variant such as cap-and-dividend) or greenhouse gas regulations through the executive authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

The bright side, however, is that businesses have the opportunity to embrace short- and medium-term uncertainty in corporate decisions affected by climate policy. The long-term trends for a carbon-constrained economy and increased costs for greenhouse gas emissions remain in place, but the near-term picture is no clearer after Copenhagen. 

Stephen Hill, PhD
Network Topic Editor - Business Adaptation to Climate Change


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The benefits of going green: Lower your firm's cost of capital by managing environmental risks

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After 5 years of trading, experts say European carbon prices are too low to spur renewables

ClimateWire, 3 March 2010 - As some U.S. senators and the Obama administration grope for a way to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions, their only point of comparison -- the E.U. Emission Trading System, or ETS -- has so far failed to reach the carbon price level most experts say is needed to encourage investments in renewable energy.

The problem continues to spark heated debate and guesswork in Europe as experts ponder how the trading should be restructured five years after it was set up.

Since early last year, carbon has traded in Europe in a narrow range around €14 per tonne. Traders, government officials and E.U. regulators speaking at a conference organized here by market analysis firm Point Carbon said that economic uncertainty was likely to keep the price low. They disagreed strongly on how the planned phased introduction of auctions for carbon allowances would affect the market and how it should be done.

"The price signal should point to the kind of investments needed for the future," said Jim Benson, a carbon and commodities trader at BP. "It doesn't seem to be doing that right now." Many experts estimate that carbon capture and storage technology, for example, which would lock CO2 from coal power plants underground, needs a carbon price of at least €40 per tonne to be profitable.

With the economic recovery still anemic and the United States not close to introducing a carbon trading system that could connect to the European one, prices are likely to remain low in the near term, said Ruben Benders, head of global carbon markets at Mabanaft, the trading arm of privately owned petroleum company Marquard & Bahls AG.

"If you have a low price for a long time, it doesn't stimulate people to make the investments in clean energy that are needed," he said. "For future abatement, this price level is on the lower side. If the economic recovery is good, the prices will go up. That's the key driver for the whole commodity spectrum, not only carbon. Auctioning is also important, but the key questions are: When do they start, and will they be centralized or decentralized?"

Europeans set plans for a €15 billion auction

The European Commission is expected to answer at least some of those questions this month, when it publishes long-awaited details of its plans to auction carbon permits. Under the E.U. climate and energy package agreed to in December 2008, power plants are supposed to pay for all carbon permits starting in 2013, with some exceptions for Eastern European countries. Factories in other industries will still get 80 percent of their permits for free that year, with auctions phased in fully by 2027.

This means that the ETS will go from only 3 to 4 percent of carbon allowances auctioned now to more than 50 percent auctioned in 2013. Draft regulation for the auctions was due last month, but the European Commission has delayed it as E.U. members argued whether the auctions should take place on one or more exchanges and whether they should only include spot or also futures.

"We want to transition to large-scale auctions without interrupting the liquid and well-functioning secondary market in carbon allowances," said Peter Zapfel, a member of the commission's directorate on the environment and one of the architects of the ETS. "A single E.U.-wide auction platform minimizes costs born by member states and assures them they receive fair value for their allowances. It also minimizes transaction costs for the companies buying allowances at these auctions."

Zapfel said centralized auctions would best protect the integrity of the carbon market and make "any form of discrimination virtually impossible." He said the European Union expected the auctions to produce revenue of €15 billion per year, which would go to the member states' coffers.

Germany and U.K. oppose a single auction platform

"Every couple of years, we'll put out for a tender to find out who will run the platform," he said. "We want to auction allowances spot to avoid the interference with secondary market. The auction volume will be smaller and smaller compared to the secondary market volume."

While refusing to commit to a starting date for the auction, Zapfel hinted that the commission would likely wait until 2013. "We do acknowledge in principle the arguments in favor of early auction, but in practice, we also want to make sure we don't disturb the secondary market," he said.

One of the main players on that market currently is BlueNext, the environmental exchange owned by NYSE Euronext and Caisse des Depots on which carbon dioxide can be traded currently through E.U. allowances, or EUAs. One EUA is equivalent to 1 ton of carbon allowance. BlueNext wants to be the single platform on which the European Union auctions its carbon permits in the third phase of the ETS.

"Use the existing infrastructure," said Serge Harry, CEO of BlueNext. "It would be better to go for a kind of beauty contest and choose one of the existing platforms." He added that he preferred all auctions be spot, as a large part of the participants likely will only need that approach to manage their carbon needs.

Germany and the United Kingdom are the biggest opponents of the single-platform idea because they are already running auctions of their own. The United Kingdom auctions off 4 million tons of carbon once a week, while Germany auctions 870,000 tons in two weekly installments. France prefers a centralized platform. BlueNext is based in Paris.

"The auctioning approach should stay open and flexible for the next few years," said Meike Söker from the German Environment Ministry. "Maybe someday we'll end up with a centralized approach, but maybe it's too early at the moment. It's much safer than to stop existing processes and starting anew. Competition should be enhanced and not distorted. The German weekly tenders show that there are several high-quality exchanges on the market."

Steel and cement industries ponder moves to China

Whatever the auction system, energy-intensive companies such as those from the cement and steel industries are vocally complaining that even phasing in the auctions over 17 years will still put them at a disadvantage with competitors who don't have to buy carbon credits, such as Chinese companies.

"China has more than half of the world's emissions associated with steel production. We have a distinct difficulty in maintaining a competitive position for the European steel industry," said Markus Weber, manager of emissions trading for German steel producer ThyssenKrupp.

He said: "The only area with significant carbon costs is Europe. We have the highest emissions reduction obligation, the highest CO2 costs and the worst competitive situation. Carbon leakage is therefore a real possibility in the steel industry. First go the profits, then the investments, then the sites. The aluminum industry will be the first to move because they're very energy intensive."

Weber added that the only way to avoid having European heavy industry move en masse to China is an international agreement that would include all the major producing countries, he said. "The Chinese steel industry in the end has to accept a similar burden as the European one."

European cement makers may also consider moving outside the continent, said Manuela Ojan, climate protection manager at Italcementi, the fifth-largest cement producer in the world. "We don't have a lot of carbon reduction potential, because most of the emissions come from the production process," she said.

"It's not very easy to pass the carbon cost to our clients. We're facing competition from rivals that don't have to pay for carbon. We don't know the future price of electricity and fuel. We don't know our production volume, our fuel mix and our emissions, so therefore, there is a carbon leakage risk."

Meanwhile, Europe's carbon players are also watching the cap-and-trade debate in the U.S. Senate, hoping successful legislation there could boost carbon prices over the Atlantic.

"If Obama cannot pass cap and trade before the end of the year, it will be a very bearish sign for the European carbon market," said Eric Boonman, head of origination of energy, carbon and commodities at Fortis Bank.

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Highs and lows - Monitoring greenhouse gases

The Economist, March 6, 2010 - Monitoring greenhouse gases

You might think that measuring the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would be a priority. If you did think that, though, you would be wrong

IN NEGOTIATIONS on nuclear weapons the preferred stance is "Trust but verify". In negotiations on climate change there seems little opportunity for either. Trust, as anyone who attended last year's summit in Copenhagen can attest, is in the shortest of supplies. So, too, is verification.

Barack Obama was asked when he was in Copenhagen whether a provision by which countries could peek into each others' assessment processes was strong enough to be sure there was no cheating. He answered reassuringly that "we can actually monitor a lot of what takes place through satellite imagery". That statement conjured up thoughts of the sort of cold-war satellite system that America used to identify and count Russian missiles. But the president was being a bit previous; at the moment, no such system exists, because America's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), a satellite that would have fulfilled the role, was lost on launch this time last year. The purpose of OCO was to work out the fate of carbon dioxide that is emitted by industrial processes but does not then stay in the atmosphere—about 60% of the total.

America is planning to build a new OCO. In the meantime, however, a small group of scientists labours away on Earth, doing its best to monitor emissions at ground level. At the end of February a number of these researchers met at the Royal Society in London, to discuss what they were up to.

Measuring gas levels day in, day out can look a little humdrum to outsiders, including those who hold the purse strings. They tend to prefer scientists to experiment and test hypotheses, not just tally things. But that attitude galls the greenhouse-gas measurers, and not only because it denies them money. It also ignores the fact that careful measurement is a way of discovering new things, not just of checking the status quo. Monitoring is not just a necessary handmaiden of science—it is the real thing.

Governments are required by treaty to inform the world about their greenhouse-gas emissions. To do this, they take a bottom-up approach, using data about how much of the relevant gases all sorts of activities, from steelmaking to dairy farming, are expected to produce and how much of each of those activities is going on. The researchers at the meeting work top down, looking directly at what is in the atmosphere, and how quickly it accumulates.

Ray Weiss of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, has been studying the difference between these approaches. In most cases, he has found that the top-down estimates are appreciably higher. In some, such as that of sulphur hexafluoride, a powerful greenhouse gas that is used as an insulator in high-voltage electronics, the trends as well as the values are different: bottom-up accounts say emissions are falling; top-down analysis says they are going up.

Andreas Stohl of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research and his colleagues have been looking at weather patterns to discover where some of these gases are emitted. The level of a gas seen at a particular monitoring station depends on where it came from and which way the wind was blowing, so if you have a number of stations and some data on how their readings change with wind directions, you can have a good guess at the source.

Among Dr Stohl's conclusions is the positive one that China now seems to be emitting less HFC-23, a powerful greenhouse gas produced by the refrigeration industry, than it did in 2005. This suggests that the large amounts of money invested through carbon markets in reducing such emissions may be having an effect. More detailed studies might show precisely which industrial regions the gases are coming from, and thus reveal what is going on with specific HFC-23-mitigation projects.

For gases that are sometimes or always produced biologically, such as carbon dioxide and methane, a less geographic way of assigning sources is possible. Living things treat carbon atoms of different weights slightly differently, and these differences show up in the weights of the gases they churn out. So it is possible to distinguish, for example, between methane that has been stored in permafrost and methane that is made by rotting vegetation.

This is the sort of technique with which one could evaluate the release of methane from permafrost beneath the warming Arctic Ocean, a phenomenon that was reported in this week's Science by Natalia Shakhova of the University of Alaska and her colleagues. If, that is, one had the chance. Euan Nisbet of Royal Holloway, part of the University of London, who was one of the organisers of the meeting, has not had his funding for work on monitoring Arctic methane renewed.

Indeed, for all the noise that is made about climate change, much of this research is done with next to no money. Asked how she paid for her monitoring of various greenhouse gases in Baden Württemberg, Ingeborg Levin of Heidelberg University replied "by stealing"—meaning not that she robs banks, but that the monitoring work is cross-subsidised by grants intended for other studies.

That is slowly changing. A European project called the Integrated Carbon Observation System, which will set up a network of monitoring stations, is on the verge of being approved by the European Union, though individual member states (which will have to cough up most of the money) have yet to give it the nod. One of the benefits of systems like ICOS is that their measurements will provide "ground truth" to calibrate the readings of the reborn OCO.

Unfortunately, OCO is a one-off. Its potential successors, such as a European mission called CarbonSat that could identify and quantify emissions from large power plants around the world, remain, at the moment, on the drawing board. Dr Nisbet's hope is that realising Mr Obama's belief in remote verification means changing that, and will lead to a monitoring system with numerous ground-based and space-based components. Accurate measurement is the beginning of all science. It is a shame that so little attention has been paid to it in such an important field.


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Steps to Stop Carbon Trading and Emissions Offset Fraud
Posted By Environmental Leader On March 8, 2010 @ 8:43 am In Carbon ManagementComplianceGuest ColumnStrategy & Leadership | No Comments
woelk, michael, picarroRecently, the cover of Harper's Magazine featured a story on how easy it is to perpetrate carbon trading and emissions offset fraud. The article, by prominent investigative journalist Mark Schapiro, takes a hard look at ongoing practices in carbon markets and the rising tide of fraud that is tarnishing the sector. The fraud is hardly a surprise. Any asset market comprised of buying and selling non-physical, hard-to-measure goods is a con man's dream. This has set the stage for the coming carbon market meltdown – an event that will eclipse in severity and destructiveness the sub-prime real estate crash that plunged the world into its deepest recession in 80 years.

There is a relatively quick, easy and permanent fix. That is to put in place a global carbon emissions measurement network. For roughly $5 billion, the world could put in place such a network that would let governments and market makers actually measure GHG emissions down to a granularity of 10 kilometers. Such a network would allow for verification that local carbon offset programs are working as advertised and would make a market built on the buying and selling of tiny molecules in the air a rock-solid, quantifiable asset class.

Sounds expensive? Actually, that amount for a global carbon measurement network is insanely cheap. By some estimates, the global carbon market will hit $3.5 trillion in annual trading value in the next 20 years. Without a credible verification system in place, then global carbon markets will be subject to continuous shocks as any hint of fraud or malfeasance roils the sector. A group of large investment banks could quite easily underwrite the full cost of such a monitoring network without even batting an eye. And they should. A rock solid insurance policy is certainly worth an investment of less than five percent of one year's projected trading volume in global carbon markets.

The idea of a global carbon measurement network is quite technologically feasible. Researchers at Boston University, Penn State University, and the Max Planck Institute, and many other top-notch institutions are using advanced spectroscopic measurement techniques to do precisely these sorts of measurements. The Chinese Meteorological Administration is currently gearing up for its first phase of precisely such a measurement network. In Europe and India, groups are gearing up with proposals to connect existing GHG measurement stations and add new ones to build out a comprehensive measurement effort. And the state of California is in the process of building its own emissions measurement network for methane.

The private sector, likewise, is taking an interest in the area. Cisco System, the enormous network equipment player (which could actually fund a network like this quite easily) is a partner in a new effort called Planetary Skin that aims to build out a sensor network to gauge the environmental health of the world. And in Japan, cell phone giant NTT DoCoMo has plans to build out a country-wide network of air quality and emissions measurement stations housed on communications towers. So lots of players are already moving in the direction of creating a GHG measurement system that allows for true market fidelity and trust.

That said, there is a clear need for speed. Schapiro is hardly alone in expressing these concerns. In the fall of 2009, the United Nations shut down one of the world's most prominent carbon offset trading and verification companies after it was unable to cleanly verify $100 billion in carbon offsets it had given the gold stamp of approval. These types of carbon market sleight of hand even reach down the retail level with enterprising traders buying and selling small batches of carbon credits and reselling them in ways that take advantage of the structure of the European Value-Added-Tax.

As a steady media drumbeat of carbon fraud grows louder, public and government skepticism of carbon markets continues to increase. Meanwhile, the technology sector continues to offer false promises such as carbon accounting and carbon inventory measurement as solutions to this problem. These technologies, primarily based on human estimates guided by complex software programs, can provide a false sense of security that is equally as damaging as carbon fraud. A software program can't measure what's coming out of a smokestack. And humans will always underestimate or underreport emissions. We've seen this time and again in self-reported emissions systems for benzene, sulfur hexaflouride, and other anthropogenic compounds.

And here's a final thought. If a $400 billion plunge in the market of the U.S. real estate market tipped us into an enormous recession, what would happen if a $3 trillion global carbon market crashed to nearly zero? Would such a plunge perhaps trigger an even deeper economic downturn? We can buy an insurance policy for a cool $5 billion. Sounds like a good investment to me.

Michael Woelk is the CEO of Picarro, Inc. [1], a maker of greenhouse gas detection and measurement equipment based in Sunnyvale whose customers include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Chinese Meteorological Administration, the World Meteorological Organization. and the California Air Resources Board.


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California to Regulate Potent GHG Emitted By Utility Equipment
Posted By Environmental Leader On March 10, 2010 @ 9:24 am In EmissionsGovernmentPolicy & LawU.S.Utilities | No Comments
electricityCalifornia will regulate the emissions of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) from electric utility equipment starting in 2011, reports the New York Times [1]. SF6 is used to insulate switches typically found in high-voltage transmission systems, which accounts for about 80 percent of California's total SF6 emissions.

"Although it is only used in small amounts, sulfur hexafluoride is the most potent of all the gases that cause global warming," said Mary D. Nichols, California Air Resources Board's (CARB) chairwoman, in a statement [2].

Starting on Jan. 1, 2010, the CARB measure sets an initial emission rate at 10 percent of the utility's SF6 capacity, which will be followed by reductions of one percent each year from 2012 to 2020. CARB targets a 70 percent reduction of SF6 emissions, which is equivalent to about 250,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020.

CARB says there are several emission reduction techniques that utilities can implement now to reduce SF6 emissions, including leak detection and repair using handheld sniffer devices and cameras, and refurbishing or replacing existing equipment. The total cost to utilities over the ten-year period will be about $4.5 million to $7.5 million, which will be passed on to utility consumers at a rate of one cent per month.

A spokesman for the board, Stanley Young, told the New York Times that California is the first state to set mandatory reductions in SF6 emissions for utilities.

In 2007, CARB approved [3] measures to reduce SF6 emissions from the non-electricity sector including manufacturing processes with aluminum, magnesium and semiconductors, as well as a tracer for air quality and vehicle studies, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

Emissions reductions in the U.S. utility sector have been voluntary through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's SF6 Voluntary Partnership for Electric Power Systems program, reports the New York Times. Eighty-one utilities participate in the program, accounting for 47 percent of the nation's high-voltage transmission systems.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/10/california-to-regulate-potent-ghg-emitted-by-utility-equipment/

URLs in this post:
[1] New York Times: http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/california-to-regulate-most-potent-greenhouse-gas/
[2] statement: http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/2010/nr022510.htm
[3] approved: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2007/10/26/california-air-board-approves-measures-to-reduce-emissions/


http://www.enn.com/energy/article/41084

China and India endorse Copenhagen Climate Accord
China and India joined almost all other major greenhouse gas emitters Tuesday in signing up to the climate accord struck in Copenhagen, boosting a deal strongly favored by the United States.
More than 100 nations have now endorsed the Copenhagen Accord, a non-binding agreement reached after two weeks of tortuous wrangling at a 194-nation summit in December.
The accord plans $100 billion a year in climate aid for developing nations from 2020 and seeks to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times, but produced no timetable of emission limits to reach that goal.
Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told parliament that India would also let its name join the list of "associated" countries on the three-page document.

"This will strengthen our negotiating position on climate change," Ramesh said.
Chinese negotiator Su Wei wrote a one-sentence letter to the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn saying that it could "proceed to include China in the list."
China, the United States, the European Union, Russia and India are the main emitters of the greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming -- mostly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Only Russia has yet to associate with the deal.
The endorsements are a small boost for the Accord, which environmentalists say was a bare-minimum outcome from a summit that many nations hoped would end with a broad, legally binding pact to fight climate change.
But they offer little indication of how, or when, rich and poor nations might agree on a binding mechanism for combating climate changes that scientists say will multiply droughts, floods, storms and heatwaves, and dramatically raise sea levels.
China and India have preferred since Copenhagen to stress the supremacy of the 1992 U.N. Climate Convention, agreed in Kyoto, which puts the emphasis on rich nations cutting emissions.
Article continues: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6283A120100309

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ce8f6e56-2cac-11df-8abb-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

Climate panel work faces review
By Harvey Morris at the United Nations
Published: March 11 2010 02:00 | Last updated: March 11 2010 02:00


The United Nations yesterday appointed international experts to review the work of its climate change panel after errors in the body's last report were seized on by sceptics to challenge its scientific evidence for global warming.
Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, said "a very small number of errors" in a report by the UN's Nobel-prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, did not undermine the fundamental scientific consensus. Evidence collected since the 2007 report suggested climate change was accelerating, he said.
Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chief who has come under fire after acknowledging an error in his panel's fourth report, said he welcomed the independent review. "It is critically important the science in our report is accepted across the world. . . so that this challenge can be met effectively," he said.
An error in the landmark 2007 report that claimed Himalayan glaciers could almost disappear by 2035 was traced by the New Scientist to an interview it conducted with an Indian glaciologist in 1999. The claim was not repeated in any peer-review study, and was rebuffed by other glaciologists, who maintain the glaciers could take centuries to vanish.
Other alleged mistakes, such as that crop yields in some African countries could drop by 50 per cent by 2020, remain disputed.
The review will be independent of the UN. It will be undertaken by the Inter- Academy Council, an Amsterdam-based scientific advisory body. Robbert Dijkgraff, its co-chairman, said the review of the procedures of the IPCC, which is starting work on a fifth report, would be completed by August.
"The panel will look at how the evidence was used and how errors can be avoided in future," he told reporters.
In Beijing yesterday, Xie Zhenhua, China's chief climate change negotiator, urged the US to make stronger commitments on climate change and to help developing countries.



http://planetark.org/wen/57064

Voluntary Carbon Offset Buying Still Stagnant
Date: 10-Mar-10
Country:
 UK
Author:
 Nina Chestney

Voluntary Carbon Offset Buying Still Stagnant Photo: Andrew Winning
A church spire stands in front of a glass fronted office buildings in the city of London February 16, 2009.
Photo: Andrew Winning

LONDON - Buying activity in the voluntary carbon market remains slow due to seasonally weak demand in the first quarter.
"There aren't a lot of deals getting done," said Grattan MacGiffin, head of voluntary carbon at brokers MF Global in London.
"When people buy credits, they don't need them tomorrow, but sometime this year, to make good a promise they made last year. So timing isn't so important," he said.
The first quarter is a traditionally quiet period for the voluntary market, with activity usually picking up in the second and third quarters.
Many market participants were at a carbon conference last week which affected very recent activity.
The voluntary market, unlike regulated markets, relies on businesses to self-regulate their carbon emissions in the absence of a legally-binding climate pact and individuals' need to offset their carbon footprint.
Buyers are still focused on large volumes of industrial voluntary carbon units or small clips of exotic recently issued voluntary carbon standard credits, brokers said.
Activity on the Chicago Climate Exchange was also quiet, with no transactions reported last week.
"With all the CFI spot contracts at 10 cents there is little incentive to trade," said MF Global in a note.
Asia could be the growth driver for the voluntary market, according to The Climate Group's managing director Jonathan Shopley.
Fear of Western-imposed carbon tariffs on goods and services from Asia is likely to drive growth in offsetting emissions by large firms in the region, he told Reuters in an interview.
Asia's biggest online business platform, Taobao.com, joined the climate change organization last week to develop a low-carbon corporate strategy and influence its 170 million registered users to adopt low-carbon lifestyles, The Climate Group said.
Other Chinese companies that have recently joined The Climate Group include China Mobile, Suntech, Broad Air Conditioning, Lenov, CEICC and Tiptop Real Estate.
(Editing by Amanda Cooper)

http://planetark.org/wen/57062

U.S. "Cap And Trade" Rebranded "Pollution Reduction"
Date: 10-Mar-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Richard Cowan

Like a savvy Madison Avenue advertising team, senators pushing climate-control legislation have decided to scrap the name "cap and trade" and rebrand their product as "pollution reduction targets."
A clunky and difficult term to define for laymen and some politicians, "cap and trade" had become dirty words on Capitol Hill in recent months.
Republicans called the plan nothing more than "cap and tax" and one influential senator took great pains last week to declare cap and trade "dead."
Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent trying to draft a bipartisan bill, said, "We don't use that term anymore."
Instead Lieberman said, laughing: "We will have pollution reduction targets."
But Lieberman did say it was still possible utilities may be subject to a cap and trade system. Senator Thomas Carper, who chairs a clean air panel in the Senate, told Reuters on Tuesday that cap and trade for utilities was the way to go.
Under cap and trade, or whatever it's called, Washington would impose steadily declining limits on carbon pollution that companies could emit, in the hopes of battling global warming. The pollution permits they would be required to hold would be traded in a regulated financial market.
A bill passed by the House of Representatives last year would impose an economy-wide cap and trade program. That bill has been stuck in the Senate since last year.
Since then, other ideas have been discussed for controlling carbon emissions, including a carbon tax, "cap and dividend" and even "cap and trade with training wheels," where an independent board would set a narrow price range for carbon for eight years to give markets experience in trading permits before going to a full-blown cap and trade.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
© Thomson Reuters 2010 All rights reserved

http://www.skepticalscience.com/scrutinising-31000-scientists-in-the-OISM-Petition-Project.htmlhttp://planetark.org/wen/57126

Japan Faces Rocky Path To Emissions Trading System
Date: 15-Mar-10
Country:
 JAPAN
Author:
 Chisa Fujioka

Japan Faces Rocky Path To Emissions Trading System Photo: Issei Kato
Steam spew from chimneys at an industrial complex in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo October 23, 2009.
Photo: Issei Kato

Japan faces a rocky path to launching an emissions trading system after the government approved legislation on Friday that was vague on how the scheme would set limits on emissions.
The proposed climate bill, set to be enacted in parliament by mid-June, set a one-year deadline for the world's fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter to draft legislation outlining details for a mandatory trading scheme.
A national scheme setting emissions targets could be a major boost for carbon trading in Japan, which only has a voluntary carbon market at the national level based on companies' pledged goals.
But designing the new market risks becoming complicated as the climate bill leaves room for the trading system to set caps on emissions per unit of production, which would allow rises in emissions when output grows.
While an early draft of the bill by the Environment Ministry proposed a "cap-and-trade" scheme that sets absolute volume caps on emissions, the bill was watered down after complaints from businesses that volume caps would stifle growth.
Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa tried to play down worries on Friday that the bill risked doing little to lower emissions.
"The important thing is that we achieve the 25 percent target and that we boost economic growth with environment (policies)," he said, referring to Japan's target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels on condition a global climate deal is reached.
Ozawa hinted on Thursday that he still envisioned a system based on volume caps, saying the government was likely to adopt a methodology that used industries' carbon efficiency to set absolute emission limits.
He added, however, that nothing had been decided and that details of the scheme would be worked out over the next year.
INDUSTRY PRESSURE
Cap-and-trade, which sets limits on emissions that becomes tougher over time, would force companies to invest in steps to cut their carbon pollution or face having to buy permits for every metric ton of emissions that they are over their target.
Businesses, struggling with a fragile economic recovery and deflation, have instead favored carbon intensity goals, which would encourage them to boost energy efficiency but still allow them to increase output.
Industry groups have put pressure on the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in protest at volume caps, posing a dilemma for the government as it struggles with declining support ahead of an election for the upper house expected in July.
METI denied on Friday that the climate bill, which calls for the government to set volume caps in principle but to also "consider carbon intensity," restricted debate simply to using carbon intensity as a tool to determine volume caps.
"We have checked and that is not the interpretation of the wording," a METI official told reporters.
The vagueness of the climate bill, along with uncertainties over the fate of climate legislation in the United States, could lead to a drawn-out process in designing the trading scheme, an analyst said.
"Designing the emissions trading scheme will be complicated, because debate from now won't just involve cabinet ministers but other officials from various ministries," said Yasushi Setoguchi, deputy general manager of environment, natural resources and energy at Mizuho Information and Research Institute.
"In the meantime, companies will find it harder to plan their strategies ahead."


http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1971379,00.html

Tropicana: Trying to Make a Greener Orange Juice
By Bryan Walsh

Correction Appended: March 12, 2010

How green is your orange juice? A couple of years ago, PepsiCo, which owns the orange-juice brand Tropicana, tried to size up the carbon footprint of the popular morning tonic. It found that each half-gallon carton of OJ is responsible for 3.75 lb. of CO2.

What was particularly surprising was where much of that CO2 was coming from. The single biggest contributor to Tropicana's carbon footprint wasn't the transport of the juice to stores or the energy required to operate a modern citrus farm. Rather, it was the fertilizer used to grow the orange trees. A great deal of natural gas is used to make nitrogen fertilizer, and a great deal of fertilizer is used on citrus trees — so much that fertilizer accounted for 35%, the largest share, of the carbon footprint of orange juice. "We thought it might be transport or packaging," says Tim Carey, director of sustainability and beverages for PepsiCo. "But the agricultural aspects of the operation are more important than we expected." (See the top 10 green ideas of 2009.)

To make a greener orange juice, PepsiCo needed a greener fertilizer — and that's exactly what the company is experimenting with. Working with a pair of agricultural companies — Yara International and Colorado-based Outlook Resources — PepsiCo will test low-carbon fertilizers at one of its producer farms in Bradenton, Fla. If successful, the greener fertilizers could lower the carbon footprint of PepsiCo's citrus growers by as much as 50% and reduce the total carbon footprint of Tropicana orange juice by up to 20%. Given how much fertilizer is used throughout the U.S. farming system as a whole — more than 13 million tons of nitrogen in 2007 alone — a greener way to help plants grow could put a serious dent in U.S. carbon emissions.

Inorganic nitrogen fertilizer — the sort used by most farms in the U.S. — is made through the Haber-Bosch process, which fixes nitrogen to make ammonia, which is then used to make the nitrates and other chemicals that feed plant growth. It requires a lot of natural gas to help make the ammonia; agriculture eats up as much as 5% of global natural-gas consumption. As a fossil fuel, natural gas has a high carbon content, which means nitrogen fertilizer has it too. (Conventional fertilizer also releases nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that has about 300 times the warming power of CO2.) The need for natural gas also puts a strain on farmers; fertilizer prices are closely linked to natural-gas costs, leaving farmers vulnerable to huge price swings, especially if gas begins to be used more frequently for electricity. "It's something we always have to worry about," says Mac Carraway, who runs SMR Farms in Bradenton, which is hosting PepsiCo's fertilizer trial.

Yara and Outlook Resources are trying to cut carbon by reducing the need for natural gas in their fertilizer. Yara, the world's largest fertilizer company, is experimenting with calcium-based fertilizer that would almost completely eliminate nitrous oxide emissions, cutting its overall greenhouse-gas impact. The company is also working on improving the energy efficiency of its production plants, which further cuts the carbon attributed to its fertilizer. "The fact is, we now have the technology to reduce emissions," says Sandro Pippobello, director of premium offerings at Yara North America. "We think this can work for a variety of crops, especially high-value ones." (See pictures of the world's most polluted places.)

Outlook Resources, by contrast, looks to make fertilizer through more renewable resources, eschewing imported natural gas in favor of organic, locally sourced feedstocks. The local sourcing helps cut the carbon emissions associated with transport, while the use of organic and renewable feedstocks like biofuels cuts carbon emissions further. Outlook also claims that its fertilizer is more efficient, so less of it has to be used — which helps prevent the water pollution associated with fertilizer runoff. "Eighty percent of the fertilizer in the U.S. is imported," says Scott Dyer, the chief of scientific solutions for ERTH Solutions, which is making the fertilizer for Outlook. "Local sourcing is a food-security issue."

PepsiCo will use the two alternative fertilizers for a multiyear pilot study at SMR Farms to see whether the switch could cut Tropicana's carbon footprint without losing crop yield, which would raise overall costs. If the study is successful, PepsiCo might be able to start using greener fertilizers throughout its agricultural supply chain, which could have a major impact on U.S. farming and the corporation itself. And if natural-gas costs rise in the future, which is a serious possibility if utilities come under pressure to switch from cheaper but more polluting coal, it could help cut costs. "There have to be commercial advantages as well," says Carey. "But sustainability is ultimately about being a better company."

The original version of this article misstated that more than 13 billion tons of nitrogen were used in fertilizer in the U.S. in 2007. In fact it was 13 million tons.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/12/rggi-auction-volume-up-42/

RGGI Auction Volume Up 42%
Posted By Environmental Leader On March 12, 2010 @ 10:25 am In Carbon Finance & OffsetsCarbon Offsets/RECsEmissionsFeatureFinance & Reporting | No Comments
emissions red buildingTrading of carbon permits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative rose 42 percent in the most recent trading session.

More than 40.612 million allowances were auctioned [1] March 10, up from 28.591 million allowances sold Dec. 2 [2].

This, the seventh such auction, brought a price of $2.07 for permits and $1.86 for futures. That compares to $2.05 for permits and $1.86 for futures in December, which was about 6 percent lower than the September auction [3], which netted $2.19 per ton.

In the June 2009 auction [4], the average price was $3.23 per allowance.

Each permit represents a metric ton of emissions.

To date, the auction has generated $582.38 million in proceeds. Ten states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont – participate in the auction.

The slight gain in prices brought relief to carbon traders, reports Reuters [5].

In other emissions trading news, carbon exchange operator the Climate Exchange has showed its first pretax profit, reports Reuters [6].

Climate Exchange made $3.3 million in 2009, whereas in 2008 it posted a loss of more than $3 million.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/12/rggi-auction-volume-up-42/

URLs in this post:
[1] auctioned: http://www.rggi.org/co2-auctions/results
[2] sold Dec. 2: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/07/rggi-carbon-auction-suffers-from-low-demand/
[3] September auction: http://www.environmentalleader.com../2009/09/10/ghg-allowances-fall-32-to-2-19-in-rggi-auction/
[4] June 2009 auction: http://www.environmentalleader.com../2009/06/19/rggi-carbon-allowance-auction-price-falls-8-to-323/
[5] Reuters: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKN1213139120100312
[6] Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62B0RW20100312


http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1120328820100312

Western U.S., Canada go own way on carbon trading
Thu, Mar 11 2010
* Trade would start Jan 1, 2012
* California and Ontario, Canada are powerhouse economies
* Many details still to be sorted out
By Peter Henderson
SAN FRANCISCO, March 11 (Reuters) - As U.S. prospects for a national climate change bill fade, five U.S. states and Canadian provinces are on track to start a cap-and-trade market for carbon dioxide in 2012, say officials who see fading federal momentum boosting regional efforts.
California, the keystone market with the eighth-largest economy in the world, New Mexico, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec all plan to join the system meant to combat climate change and boost economies by creating green jobs such as for workers who build alternative energy equipment.
There is already a working U.S. cap-and-trade system in the Northeast, although the five Western partners' market would be roughly four times bigger when fully implemented.
Cap-and-trade systems put limits on pollution -- in this case, gases that suck up heat and warm the planet -- which are decreased year by year. Polluters must acquire emissions credits, which can be bought and sold. If a factory can make changes to cut pollution for less than the price of a credit, it is likely to do so, then sell unneeded credits at a profit.
Many members would prefer strong national systems, but at the moment they are not getting them.
"If things continue to stall in Washington D.C., then I think there's some renewed energy around getting the authority to do this at the state level," said California Environmental Protection Agency's Michael Gibbs.
The 11-member Western Climate Initiative had planned a bigger effort to cover most Western U.S. states and four of the 10 Canadian provinces, but Arizona says it won't join cap-and-trade, and states like Washington and Montana have failed to get necessary legislative approval so far.
The contention that green policies like cap-and-trade are good for jobs is still a source of debate. Many businesses concerned with costs are mounting an effort to reverse the plan, and Republican candidates for California governor agree.
Such a move could roil the entire system, since smaller players can't make an efficient market on their own.
CRITICAL MASS NEEDED
"The governor and many others believe that the future of New Mexico's economy is in green jobs and renewable energy and clean-tech, and so we think that cap-and-trade will only support those types of companies," said Sarah Cottrell, adviser to Democratic Governor Bill Richardson.
But the state may put conditions in its plan to make sure there is a critical mass for a robust market. "New Mexico does not want to be trading on its own," she said.
If the current five stay on track, emissions from power plants and other big stationary sources will be traded in 2012, with transportation included in 2015 to cover up to 90 percent of their greenhouse gas emissions. The market for the five would be equal in size to roughly a tenth of U.S. emissions.
"The economic bulk is going to be in it," said Paul Cartwright, senior energy analyst and adviser to the governor in Montana -- which has not received legislative approval for cap-and-trade and won't make the 2012 start.
California's Gibbs said the five states and provinces in January had said they were ready to go and accounted for some two-thirds of WCI emissions. Other states and provinces unlikely to join the first cap-and-trade round are Manitoba, Oregon, and Utah.
British Columbia already has a carbon tax that must be harmonized with the cap-and-trade system.
California has come a long way but has yet to make key decisions such as how to apportion the allowances to pollute. A panel recently recommend that all allowances be auctioned -- as opposed to giving some to power plants and other emitters -- and that most of the proceeds be given back to households.
A big key is the price of carbon. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the northeastern United States is trading carbon at low prices around $2 per ton -- about a tenth of what prices in Europe have been at times.
A 2008 analysis estimated the western U.S. could produce a price of $24 per ton for a system with a broad scope and the use of credits for projects that soak up greenhouse gases, offsetting pollution. A revised version of the economic analysis is due soon. (Additional reporting by Allan Dowd in Vancouver; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/12/western-u-s-canada-move-forward-with-carbon-trading-plans/print/

Western U.S., Canada Move Forward with Carbon Trading Plans
Posted By Environmental Leader On March 12, 2010 @ 10:28 am In Carbon Finance & OffsetsEmissionsNorth AmericaPartnershipsPolicy & Law | 2 Comments
emissions-6As prospects for a U.S. national climate change bill looks less and less promising, five U.S. states and Canadian provinces are moving forward with plans to establish a regional cap-and-trade market in 2012 for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reports Reuters [1]. The market would be about a tenth of U.S. emissions.

California, with the eighth-largest economy in the world and plans [2] to cut emissions 30 percent by 2020, New Mexico, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec will work together to establish a system that will be about four times larger than the U.S. cap-and-trade system in the Northeast — the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, [3] according to the article.

The Western Climate Initiative [4] initially had more participants but Arizona dropped out and Washington and Montana failed to get necessary legislative approval, reports Reuters.

Business Week [5] is also reporting that the Utah Legislature just passed a resolution to pull out of the Western Climate Initiative. Plus there is some disagreement across the states as to whether cap-and-trade will actually drive job creation and what kind of impact it will have on the economy.

One of the biggest concerns is the price of carbon, reports Reuters.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is trading [6] carbon at just above $2 per ton, while a 2008 analysis pegged the carbon price at $24 per ton in the western U.S. A revised projection is expected, according to the article.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/12/western-u-s-canada-move-forward-with-carbon-trading-plans/

URLs in this post:
[1] Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1120328820100312
[2] plans: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/06/26/california-unveils-ambitious-emissions-plan-30-cut-by-2020/
[3] Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/09/25/rggi-holds-first-mandatory-co2-auction/
[4] Western Climate Initiative: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/07/25/western-climate-initiative-unveils-draft-of-2012-cap-and-trade-program/
[5] Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9ECM1L80.htm
[6] trading: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/12/rggi-auction-volume-up-42/

CSR newsclips for March 16th, 2010

http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=Mzc2Mzc

Oil industry's increasing focus on CSR

Petroleum Economist, February 2010 - Are oil companies acting responsibly yet? Professor Jedrzej George Frynas from Middlesex University Business School writes

GIVEN HALF a chance, oil executives like to publicise their social and environmental credentials. BP calls itself Beyond Petroleum; ExxonMobil advertises the environmentally friendly aspects of natural gas. Some people may react with cynicism, yet companies have made progress. But where has progress been made? And where have they fallen short? Are some companies better than others?

Companies and countries define corporate social responsibility (CSR) in different ways. Some oil executives prefer other names, such as sustainable development. But essentially CSR is about recognising that companies have a responsibility for their effect on society and the natural environment, often beyond that of legal compliance.

The oil and gas sector has been among the industries that have championed CSR, partly because of the negative effects of day-to-day operations, such as oil spills, and the resulting protests by civil-society groups and indigenous people.

For energy companies, CSR not only means averting possible criticism, but also reaping business benefits. Shell's former chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer, described it as a "genuine source of differentiation from our competitors". Whatever the motives of oil executives, CSR is here to stay.

The story so far

In 1995, Shell faced criticism over the planned sinking of the Brent Spar platform in the North Sea and over its activities in Nigeria. In 1996, BP faced criticism over alleged complicity in human-rights abuses in Colombia. These experiences and the realisation of the rising importance of social and environmental issues led Shell and BP to re-think their involvement in society. Shell and BP are now considered among the most responsible oil companies.

Other oil companies have gradually followed suit. ExxonMobil, for example, has moved from a position of not even acknowledging the existence of global warming towards discussing the merits of a carbon cap-and-trade system versus a carbon tax. Since the mid-1990s, oil companies have joined various international initiatives aimed at improving sustainable development, including the Global Reporting Initiative (1997), UN Global Compact (1999), Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (2000), Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI - 2003) and Combat Climate Change 3C Initiative (2007).

CSR has not only grown among European and US companies; Brazil's Petrobras and South Africa's Sasol also have sophisticated CSR programmes (see Table 1). Fifteen of the world's 20 biggest oil companies publish extensive CSR reports, including Chinese companies Sinopec and China National Offshore Operating Corporation. However, approaches to CSR vary. While Shell observes strict human-rights policies, for example, Sinopec continues to operate in Myanmar (Burma) and Sudan, where oil companies have been implicated in serious human-rights abuses.

The spread of CSR has inevitably been uneven. National oil companies (NOCs) have generally made less progress than international oil companies. The social and environmental records of state-owned oil companies are under less scrutiny from civil-society groups and the media, so they are under less pressure to adopt CSR principles.

However, a few NOCs have made considerable efforts towards embedding CSR within their business, including Norway's Statoil and Petrobras. Unlike most NOCs, which tend to be domestically focused, Statoil and Petrobras depend on their international reputations and international markets. Titus Fossgard-Moser, Shell's senior integration advisor, upstream Americas, says non-Western companies adopt Western-style CSR tools to gain "international credibility", or because it is simply "part of the trend and expectations". Experience shows companies are more likely to adopt CSR, the more they internationalise.

CSR and the environment

The most encouraging evidence on environmental improvements is provided by a historical comparison of oil spills from oil tankers at sea. Since the 1970s, the number of large oil spills (above 700 tonnes) caused by oil tankers and other vessels has decreased from 25.2 spills a year in 1970-79 to 3.4 spills a year in 2000-08 (see Figure 1). The volume of oil spills has also decreased significantly over the last three decades. These improvements may not have happened without government pressures, for example, to introduce double-hull tankers (PE 3/09 p22). But these are impressive improvements, nonetheless.

Some companies have reduced their own greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. In 1997, for example, BP set itself a target of cutting emissions from its own facilities by 10% from 1990 levels by 2010. After introducing an internal cap-and-trade scheme in 2000, it reached the goal in 2001. However, progress has not been even across the industry. In 2002-06, BP's GHG emissions declined by another 22%. In the same period, Petrobras' emissions increased by 66%, despite that company's oil and natural gas production increasing by a smaller percentage.

CSR can generate significant financial benefits through environmental improvements. For example, BP estimated that it saved $0.65bn by cutting down on the venting and flaring of natural gas in 2000, following the introduction of its cap-and-trade scheme.

Once CSR is introduced, company staff often discover a convergence of environmental and business interests. The introduction of better quality materials or equipment to reduce the likelihood of environmental damage also reduces the costly, long-term need for maintenance.

Some non-governmental organisations say the oil and gas sector can never become sustainable because the consumption of oil and gas products is inherently harmful to the environment and causes climate change. Nonetheless, companies have great potential for lessening their environmental impact.

CSR and local communities

Oil and gas operations involve numerous interactions between companies and local communities. This has resulted in demands on oil companies to invest in the development of their local communities. State-owned companies such as Venezuela's PdV, Saudi Aramco and Russia's Gazprom spend billions of dollars on community investments.

In 2008, Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron spent a combined $0.66bn on community investments. Initiatives range from occasional financial donations to schools/hospitals, to the construction of new schools, skills training and micro-credit schemes. Almost every company makes some investments in community health and education (see Table 2).

However, in contrast to environmental reporting, disclosure on local community investments is weak. CSR reports contain only input and no output measures: companies provide information on how much they have spent on education or philanthropic activities or how many local stakeholders participated in a project, but they provide no measures of how effectively the money was spent. It is, therefore, difficult to quantify the benefits to the local people. And there is evidence that many community projects have been badly planned and are ineffective. "CSR is a red herring in terms of development projects," says a manager at an oil major.

Part of the problem is that oil companies operate in difficult and corrupt environments. In countries such as Nigeria or Yemen, community engagement may also be seriously impeded by civil conflicts.

Community investments have deeper problems. Short-term corporate objectives and long-term development objectives sometimes do not match. Community investments are often undertaken to improve external perceptions, to keep government officials and employees happy or to gain local support for oil operations. Not surprisingly, many corporate social initiatives do not go beyond narrowly philanthropic gestures and short-term planning horizons, in contrast to the long-term needs of communities. There have been some projects with clear benefits for the community, but there have been more projects with questionable benefits.

The managerial and engineering background of oil company staff can also be a problem. Oil executives are highly capable of dealing with technical and managerial tasks and this orientation is reflected in their approaches to CSR. Oil companies can perform CSR tasks to a high standard when they are technical in nature. For instance, BP's target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions was backed by appropriate performance-related bonuses, and staff worked hard and enjoyed the technical challenge of suggesting changes to the company's plant and equipment.

Also, treating community investments from a technical and managerial perspective may lead firms to speed up discussions with local communities in order to achieve an immediate goal (such as a written list of local demands) rather than patiently to build relations with the community and spend long periods discussing the causes of problems.

CSR and the economy

Oil companies realise that their main contribution to host societies is through providing jobs, investment and paying tax. For example, in 2008, ExxonMobil paid $116bn in taxes and royalties to governments and almost $286bn to contractors and suppliers, but just $225m on community investments.

However, many oil-producing countries have suffered from economic underdevelopment, political mismanagement and military conflict - the resource curse. Large inflows of oil revenues lead to currency appreciation, which makes it more difficult to export agricultural and manufacturing goods. Host governments reap so many taxes from oil companies that they have few incentives to pursue pro-growth economic policies and improve the quality of government agencies.

CSR does little to address these bigger issues, even though they are directly related to the way the sector operates. Peter Utting, deputy director of the UN Research Institute for Social Development, says: "CSR generally attempts to curb specific types of malpractice and improve selected aspects of social performance without questioning various contradictory policies and practices."

Seventeen oil companies formally support the UK government's Extractive Industry's Transparency Initiative (EITI). The EITI was launched in 2003 to improve the transparency of revenues paid by oil, gas and mining companies to host governments. This, in turn, is supposed to limit corruption related to such revenues. Host countries must involve civil society and independent auditors, which helps to properly oversee the implementation of the EITI in a given country.

EITI's main limitation is its focus on revenues, not government spending. There is no scientific basis for the assumption that revenue transparency by itself leads to better social or economic outcomes. Azerbaijan is one of only two countries that have so far complied with EITI criteria (the other is Liberia). The State Oil Fund, supported by the EITI, is considered the most transparent government body in Azerbaijan. But, "accountability is lost once the funds are transferred for use into the state budget," according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

A flaw in the EITI is that is does not encourage firms to take a stance on governance and corruption. But if they do not address these issues at a political level, any good work they do is likely to be undermined by government failures and the bad environment in which they operate.

Prospects

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) often criticise CSR programmes. After all, even CSR leaders such as BP are not perfect. BP's safety and environmental record in the US in recent years has been poor, following the lethal explosion at its Texas City oil refinery and oil spills in Alaska (PE 11/09 p10). But companies have certainly made visible progress since Petroleum Economist assessed CSR practices five years ago (PE 8/05 p18).

Barnaby Briggs, head of Shell International's social performance management unit, says pressure on oil companies to develop oilfields quickly can lead to decisions that are expedient in the short term, but not over the long term. But this carries a business risk as well as an environmental one. "Clearly CSR or sustainable development thinking on its own is not enough. But it is important to Shell, and we are building it into the way things get done at the operational, day-to-day level. If we are successful, we will build successful businesses."

Corporate reporting on the environment is steadily improving and new environmentally friendly technologies are being developed. Tangible improvements can be made by companies, provided the appropriate incentive systems are in place.

In contrast, CSR is less effective at addressing the effect of oil operations on local communities. Christian Aid says: "CSR is simply not sufficient to guarantee good business practice." It belongs to a network of NGOs arguing for legally binding obligations for business. But NGOs seem to ignore the many historical failures of formal regulatory approaches to social and environmental issues, especially in developing countries, where many oil companies operate. If governments did their work properly, there would be little need for CSR.

Firms will continue to be pressured to engage with social and environmental issues and may also benefit from the business opportunities that CSR offers. The focus on CSR, therefore, is likely to grow, including by state-owned companies


http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/18/worlds-top-firms-environmental-damage

World's top firms cause $2.2tn of environmental damage, report estimates
Report for the UN into the activities of the world's 3,000 biggest companies estimates one-third of profits would be lost if firms were forced to pay for use, loss and damage of environment

• 
Andrew Simms: Putting a price tag on nature is meaningless
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Pavan Sukhdev: Paying for the value of nature could set scene for true green economy
Juliette Jowit
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 February 2010 18.19 GMT
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COP15 : Black clouds hover over the central Jakarta
Black clouds over the central business district, Jakarta. The report into the activities of the world's 3,000 biggest public companies has estimated the cost of use, loss and damage of the environment. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
The cost of pollution and other damage to the natural environment caused by the world's biggest companies would wipe out more than one-third of their profits if they were held financially accountable, a major unpublished study for the United Nations has found.
The report comes amid growing concern that no one is made to pay for most of the use, loss and damage of the environment, which is reaching crisis proportions in the form of pollution and the rapid loss of freshwater, fisheries and fertile soils.
Later this year, another huge UN study - dubbed the "Stern for nature" after the influential report on the economics of climate change by Sir Nicholas Stern - will attempt to put a price on such global environmental damage, and suggest ways to prevent it. The report, led by economist Pavan Sukhdev, is likely to argue for abolition of billions of dollars of subsidies to harmful industries like agriculture, energy and transport, tougher regulations and more taxes on companies that cause the damage.
Ahead of changes which would have a profound effect - not just on companies' profits but also their customers and pension funds and other investors - the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment initiative and the United Nations Environment Programme jointly ordered a report into the activities of the 3,000 biggest public companies in the world, which includes household names from the UK's FTSE 100 and other major stockmarkets.
The study, conducted by London-based consultancy Trucost and due to be published this summer, found the estimated combined damage was worth US$2.2 trillion (£1.4tn) in 2008 - a figure bigger than the national economies of all but seven countries in the world that year.
The figure equates to 6-7% of the companies' combined turnover, or an average of one-third of their profits, though some businesses would be much harder hit than others.
"What we're talking about is a completely new paradigm," said Richard Mattison, Trucost's chief operating officer and leader of the report team. "Externalities of this scale and nature pose a major risk to the global economy and markets are not fully aware of these risks, nor do they know how to deal with them."
The biggest single impact on the $2.2tn estimate, accounting for more than half of the total, was emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change. Other major "costs" were local air pollution such as particulates, and the damage caused by the over-use and pollution of freshwater.
The true figure is likely to be even higher because the $2.2tn does not include damage caused by household and government consumption of goods and services, such as energy used to power appliances or waste; the "social impacts" such as the migration of people driven out of affected areas, or the long-term effects of any damage other than that from climate change. The final report will also include a higher total estimate which includes those long-term effects of problems such as toxic waste.
Trucost did not want to comment before the final report on which sectors incurred the highest "costs" of environmental damage, but they are likely to include power companies and heavy energy users like aluminium producers because of the greenhouse gases that result from burning fossil fuels. Heavy water users like food, drink and clothing companies are also likely to feature high up on the list.
Sukhdev said the heads of the major companies at this year's annual economic summit in Davos, Switzerland, were increasingly concerned about the impact on their business if they were stopped or forced to pay for the damage.
"It can make the difference between profit and loss," Sukhdev told the annual Earthwatch Oxford lecture last week. "That sense of foreboding is there with many, many [chief executives], and that potential is a good thing because it leads to solutions."
The aim of the study is to encourage and help investors lobby companies to reduce their environmental impact before concerned governments act to restrict them through taxes or regulations, said Mattison.
"It's going to be a significant proportion of a lot of companies' profit margins," Mattison told the Guardian. "Whether they actually have to pay for these costs will be determined by the appetite for policy makers to enforce the 'polluter pays' principle. We should be seeking ways to fix the system, rather than waiting for the economy to adapt. Continued inefficient use of natural resources will cause significant impacts on [national economies] overall, and a massive problem for governments to fix."
Another major concern is the risk that companies simply run out of resources they need to operate, said Andrea Moffat, of the US-based investor lobby group Ceres, whose members include more than 80 funds with assets worth more than US$8tn. An example was the estimated loss of 20,000 jobs and $1bn last year for agricultural companies because of water shortages in California, said Moffat.

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guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010



http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/11/how-to-measure-the-roi-of-your-sustainability-csr-efforts/

How to Measure the ROI of Your Sustainability, CSR Efforts
Posted By Environmental Leader On March 11, 2010 @ 9:18 pm In Guest ColumnSustainability | 1 Comment
muratta, sam, sanyoEnvironmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) among businesses are no longer "nice to have" ideologies. They are important parts of a company's overall growth strategy. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study [1] documented ways in which companies that report their sustainability efforts get better returns on their assets than companies that do not. Also according to a TIME poll [2] conducted in 2009, 40 percent of consumers said they bought products or services because they liked the social or political values of the company. Nearly half of Americans in the poll said protecting the environment should be given priority over economic growth, and this comes in the midst of a recession.

However, taking actionable steps to become a sustainable and socially responsible company also typically requires a significant amount of capital and resources investment. Therefore, it's critical to be able to demonstrate the value and return on investment (ROI) that putting environmental and CSR reforms into practice will provide. So what are the best ways to measure the ROI of a company's sustainability and CSR efforts and effectively convince senior management these activities are worth the investment?

1. Begin with small projects:

Consider making small reforms over time rather than tackling multiple, large projects simultaneously. Through gradual transformations throughout the organization, it becomes easier to not only secure funding for the sustainability and CSR efforts but to also benchmark their impact. For example, consider making a company-wide commitment to replace all dry-cell battery supplies throughout the office with rechargeable batteries. Then in three to six months measure how using rechargeable batteries has impacted overall energy costs and battery supply costs.

2. Poll your customers:

Customer surveys and polls can be useful in helping to gauge how changes in your organization's sustainability and CSR practices affect their perceptions of your company and brand loyalty. Ask them if they notice and value any particular sustainability and CSR initiatives and how that has impacted their perceptions of the products or services your company offers. Once you've determined what specific sustainability or CSR initiatives your customers value most, you can then refine your offerings to meet their specific preferences.

3. Leverage the success of other companies' green efforts:

Highlight the successes of other large organizations which have already made significant investments in their sustainability and CSR initiatives. By sharing examples of these types of success stories it will become easier to convince your management team of the importance of applying those same principles to your own organization. For specific examples of America's most sustainable companies, a good source to reference is Newsweek's "2009 Green Rankings" [3], a rating of the 500 largest U.S. companies on their sustainable practices.

4. Publicize your green initiatives:

Perception is reality. Therefore, publicizing your sustainability and CSR initiatives will add tremendous value and credibility to those efforts. Take advantage of opportunities to make others aware of your commitment to being conscious of the environment and a socially responsible company through all marketing, public relations and sales activities.

5. Have realistic goals:

Recognize that the tangible ROI benefits of your sustainability efforts won't happen overnight, so it's important to set realistic and achievable goals that can then be built upon over time.

Mr. Sam Murata serves as a President of SANYO North America Corporation as well as Vice President of SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. His clearly defined objectives include expanding the finished goods business and promoting SANYO's brand image as "A Leading Company for Energy and Environment." To learn more about SANYO North America, please visit www.us.sanyo.com [4].


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/11/how-to-measure-the-roi-of-your-sustainability-csr-efforts/

URLs in this post:
[1] PricewaterhouseCoopers study: http://globalbestpractices.pwc.com/Home/Document.aspx?skipgbpsmgateway=y&Token=Challenge2
[2] TIME poll: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1921444,00.html
[3] "2009 Green Rankings": http://greenrankings.newsweek.com/
[4] www.us.sanyo.com: http://www.us.sanyo.com/