Sustainablog

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

23.4.10

Water Newsclips Earth Day After Edition 2010

http://www.la-croix.com/Les-barrages-chinois-soupconnes-d-aggraver-la-secheresse-du-/article/2421214/55351
(English translation: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=fr&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http://www.la-croix.com/Les-barrages-chinois-soupconnes-d-aggraver-la-secheresse-du-/article/2421214/55351&sl=fr&tl=en )

Les barrages chinois soupçonnés d'aggraver la sécheresse du Mékong


Lors d'un sommet sur le Mékong, lundi 5 avril à Bangkok (Thaïlande), la Chine a promis plus de concertations aux pays d'Asie du Sud-Est, où le fleuve atteint des niveaux historiquement bas




Un couple de Cambodgiens traverse le Mékong près du village de Koh Touch, à une vingtaine de kilomètres au nord de Phnom Penh, au Cambodge (AP/Heng Sinith).

Le niveau du Mékong n'avait jamais été aussi bas en cinquante ans, dans le nord de la Thaïlande et au Laos. Depuis le début de l'année, le plus grand fleuve d'Asie du Sud-Est, dont dépendent 60 millions de personnes, est victime d'une sécheresse qui suscite inquiétudes et polémiques dans la région.

Dans la province thaïlandaise de Chiang Rai, frontalière du Laos, le niveau de l'eau n'atteint plus que 33 centimètres depuis février, au lieu des 2,2 mètres habituels en cette saison. Les bateaux ne peuvent plus circuler entre le Laos et la Thaïlande. Marchandises et touristes doivent emprunter la route. Les pêcheurs font face à une diminution de leurs prises. En temps normal, la zone est l'une des plus poissonneuses au monde.

Riverains et ONG de défense de l'environnement montrent du doigt les barrages chinois situés en amont du fleuve. Ils sont au nombre de huit, dont cinq encore en construction. Planifiés sans aucune discussion avec les pays en aval, ils auraient aggravé la sécheresse.

Pour Pékin, la baisse du niveau est liée aux conditions climatiques

« Le niveau de l'eau fluctue d'une manière qui n'est pas naturelle et pas saisonnière », estime Pianporn Deetes, une activiste thaïlandaise membre du réseau Save the Mekong et de l'ONG Rivers International. « Le remplissage du réservoir du barrage de Xiaowan, l'un des plus hauts du monde, coïncide avec le début de la sécheresse actuelle », a-t-elle souligné dans une tribune publiée par le Bangkok Post.

Lundi 5 avril, la question a dominé le premier sommet de la Commission du Mékong (MRC). Les chefs de gouvernement de la Thaïlande, du Laos, du Vietnam et du Cambodge étaient réunis à Hua Hin, en Thaïlande. Créée il y a quinze ans, la Commission est un organisme intergouvernemental censé « promouvoir la coopération et le développement durable » dans l'aménagement du fleuve. Face à l'ampleur de la polémique, la Chine – qui n'est que membre observateur de la Commission –, a dépêché sur place son vice-ministre des affaires étrangères.

Pour Pékin, la baisse du niveau du fleuve est uniquement liée aux conditions climatiques. « La situation est due aux faibles pluies en Chine et au bas niveau des affluents du fleuve », a affirmé également Jeremy Bird, président de la Commission du Mékong. Les autorités chinoises assurent même que les barrages ont contribué à atténuer les effets de la sécheresse, en relâchant de l'eau.

«Il y a d'autres moyens de produire de l'électricité»

En mars, Pékin a accepté de communiquer une partie de ses données sur le niveau des barrages, une première. Les écologistes s'en félicitent mais estiment le geste insuffisant. « Il faut que la Chine publie aussi les données antérieures à la construction des barrages », réclame Pianporn Deetes. Lundi, la Chine a néanmoins promis aux autres participants plus de concertation à l'avenir sur les projets hydroélectriques liés au Mékong.

Les inquiétudes autour du fleuve dépassent de loin les problèmes de sécheresse actuels. Plus de 80 projets de barrages sont en discussion, sur le fleuve et ses affluents. Les écologistes redoutent des conséquences dramatiques pour l'écosystème du fleuve.

« Le Mékong est à la croisée des chemins, estime Witoon Permpongsacharoen, directeur du Réseau Énergie Écologie Mékong. Les besoins en électricité sont souvent surestimés, notamment au Vietnam. Les barrages sont parfois mal adaptés aux besoins. Ils sont à sec pendant la saison sèche, quand la demande d'électricité est la plus forte. Il y a d'autres moyens de produire de l'électricité, sans endommager l'environnement. Il faut y réfléchir. »

Emmanuelle MICHEL, à Bangkok (Thaïlande)
http://planetark.org/wen/57416

China Says Dams Not To Blame For Low Mekong Levels
Date: 06-Apr-10
Country:
 THAILAND
Author:
 Ambika Ahuja


China Says Dams Not To Blame For Low Mekong Levels Photo: Chor Sokunthea
A man and his dog walk on the river bed of the Mekong river at Koh Dach district in Kandal province, east of Phnom Penh, March 17, 2010.
Photo: Chor Sokunthea

China on Monday denied that its dams were reducing water levels on the Mekong River and blamed problems along the river on unusually dry weather, but it also offered to share more data with its neighbors.
Leaders of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, badly hit by the Mekong's biggest drop in water levels in decades, met in the Thai coastal town of Hua Hin to discuss management of Southeast Asia's longest waterway. Some 65 million people depend on the river.
China sent vice foreign minister Song Tao to rebut criticism of the eight hydropower dams it has built or is building in its south.
"Statistics show the recent drought that hit the whole river basin is attributable to the extreme dry weather, and the water level decline of the Mekong River has nothing to do with the hydropower development," Song said in an official statement after the meeting.
The Mekong originates in the Tibetan plateau and flows 4,800 km (2,980 miles) through rice-rich areas of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia before emptying into the South China Sea off Vietnam.
Song said southwestern China was suffering its worst drought in decades. Beijing says the drought has left about 18 million people and 11 million animals with insufficient drinking water and affects 4.3 million hectares (10.6 million acres) of crops.
Activists and environmentalists say China has not provided relevant data to assess the impact of the dams on water flows.
But Song said it had given rainy season data since 2003 and dry-season data from two hydrological stations since March in response to requests from its four downstream neighbors through the intergovernmental Mekong River Commission (MRC).
Environmental organizations in the lower Mekong basin, particularly in Thailand, have long accused China of a lack of transparency in water management policies.
In particular, they are demanding more detailed data from Xiaowan hydroelectric dam on the upper reaches of the Mekong. Xiaowan, China's second-largest hydroelectric station, began storing water in its reservoir last October.
Government officials in the four Mekong countries are more guarded in their comments, mindful of trade and investment flows.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters the dialogue with China had been positive, commending the powerful northern neighbor for cooperation and for providing data.
"The heart of effective management of the water is information sharing. I am optimistic it will become more systematic and more consistent. It will allow for more effective management of the river as well as building of trust," he said.
ONE STEP FORWARD
Activists said giving data was a step in the right direction.
"We need more and we need effective management of available data. But simply breaking that silence is progress for us after years of very little information on what's going on upstream," said Pianporn Deetes, spokeswoman for the Save the Mekong Coalition, an alliance of environmental groups.
But Pianporn said the water level problem could not be put down simply to drought and more cooperation was needed.
"If the dams don't contribute to the loss of water level, China should publicly release information on water level flows that goes back several decades, not just the latest."
Song said China had responded to the concerns of downstream countries, even at the expense of some hydropower projects.
To prevent any impact on fish migration, Beijing canceled one hydroelectric plant, the Mengsong, on the upper reaches, Song said, and it was planning to build a counter-regulation reservoir to prevent abnormal downstream fluctuations in water level.


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Nonprofit (CDP) presses corporations to report water use

Greenwire, 7 April 2010 - A nonprofit organization that has persuaded some of the world's largest corporations to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions will press 302 international companies to take similar action detailing their water use today.

The effort by the Carbon Disclosure Project, an investor-backed group, aims to put the issue of water consumption on similar footing with carbon emissions as an area of concern for company shareholders.

Investors are eyeing water consumption as a "material" issue because scientists have forecast that climate change will exacerbate global water shortages, according to Marcus Norton, who will head up the new project, called C.D.P. Water Disclosure.

"It matters because long-term investors in particular see that water scarcity is going to impact companies' operations and supply chains," he said.

Norges Bank Investment Management in Oslo, which oversees $441 billion, is already looking at water-related obstacles down the road and has identified 1,100 companies in its portfolio facing water risks, according to Anne Kvam, global head of ownership strategies for the bank. Kvam said that knowing such information is an important issue for investors.

Acting on behalf of 137 international financial institutions, the Carbon Disclosure Project is asking 302 companies from industries with large water use to reveal what percentage of their operations are in water-stressed areas and the portion of their water use that comes from those regions. The group is also asking for more details on companies' recycling habits and discharges into or near water-related risk sites as part of an 11-page questionnaire. The questionnaire went out to companies in the pharmaceutical, auto, electric utility, food and beverage, oil, gas, and mining sectors.

Ford Motor Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Molson Coors Brewing Co. have already signed on to disclose their water practices.

"Unlike carbon, water use isn't fungible," said Bart Alexander, vice president for global corporate responsibility at Molson Coors, the global beer brewer. "You can't offset a water shortage in one region with credits in another region" (Todd Woody, New York Times, April 6)

http://planetark.org/wen/57659

Brazil Completes Controversial Amazon Dam Auction
Date: 21-Apr-10
Country:
 BRAZIL
Author:
 Raymond Colitt and Denise Luna

Brazil awarded a domestic consortium on Tuesday rights to build the world's third-largest hydroelectric dam in the Amazon rain forest in a chaotic auction amid criticism the dam is an environmentally hazardous money loser.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva likely faces a prolonged battle over the 11,000 megawatt Belo Monte dam that he has heavily promoted despite opposition from a range of critics including Hollywood director James Cameron.
Government leaders say the project, due to start producing electricity in 2015, will provide crucial power for Brazil's fast-growing economy, but environmentalists and activists say it will damage a sensitive ecosystem and displace around 20,000 local residents.
State power regulator Aneel said a consortium including state electric company Eletrobras and a group of Brazilian construction companies -- considered the weaker of the two consortia that participated -- won the bid.
Those results were blocked from being announced for more than two hours because a last-minute injunction trying to halt the project on environmental grounds.
The results of the auction are unlikely to affect overall electricity rates in Brazil because most of the electricity is already set aside for specific clients, with only a small remainder entering power markets.
PROTESTS
Financial analysts say the government set an artificially low price for the power to be generated by the dam, adding it faces considerable risks including cost overruns and the likelihood that protests will frequently halt construction.
Native Indians in the area are already promising just that.
Luis Xipaya, a local leader speaking to Reuters from the city of Altamira near the proposed dam site, said 150 Xikrin Kayapo Indians will move to a new village on the construction site by Wednesday.
"There will be bloodshed and the government will be responsible for that," Xipaya said.
Environmental activist group Greenpeace organized an early morning dump of several tonnes of manure at Aneel's gate to visually demonstrate "the legacy that the Lula government is leaving by insisting on this project."
The auction has for weeks been a stop-and-start process that by Tuesday had already been halted twice by court orders that the government quickly overturned.
The winning consortium, known as Norte Energia, will sell the power for 78 reais ($44.5) per megawatt hour, below the maximum price of 83 reais established by the government as the maximum.
Earlier this month two of the country's biggest construction firms walked away from Belo Monte, saying it financial returns were too low -- threatening the leave only one consortium in the running.
The Norte Energia consortium was formed at the last minute after the government added sweeteners including a 75 percent income tax write off and longer-term financing from the state development bank BNDES, which will finance 80 percent of the estimated cost of the project.
Slack investor interest also created the unusual situation of Eletrobras bidding in both consortia, though authorities said this was allowed under the bidding rules.
Official estimates put the construction costs at 19 billion reais ($11 billion) though private sector estimates go as high as 30 billion reais ($17 billion) for the project.
Originally conceived 30 years ago, progress on Belo Monte has been slowed over the years by protests, including an incident last year in which Kayapo Indians armed with clubs and machetes attacked a state electricity official.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Alternative Energy Newsclips - Eath Day After 2010 Edition

http://cebviews.com/uploads/2010/04/Energy-Management-Measures-in-Place.pdf

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

Electric cars can cut federal deficit by $336 billion -- study

ClimateWire, 8 April 2010 - Massively scaling up electric-drive cars would actually reduce the federal deficit once Americans' incomes rise and they start paying less at the pump, a new report out today finds.

The Electrification Coalition -- a group of utilities, electric-car makers, software and battery companies -- floated a $120 billion plan last year to aggressively promote electric cars and infrastructure. Today, it will release an economic analysis claiming the plan would also cut the federal deficit by $336 billion by 2030.

The analysis says driving on electricity is cheaper than gasoline, so it would save Americans money and allow them to spend on other things. Secondly, the report claims, the growing demand for electric cars, parts and infrastructure will generate jobs and pump up the economy. It also maintains the economy would be less vulnerable to the whimsies of world oil prices.

"That is, the policy package can be thought of as a self-financing insurance policy that will make the economy more robust in good times and more resilient when subjected to energy shocks," the report says.

Last year, the coalition published a "Roadmap" report proposing the government target a few "electrification ecosystems" with strong incentives like a tax credit to make a new plug-in hybrid car the same price as a gasoline car of the same size. It also proposed loan guarantees for automakers so they could retool their production lines.

The idea would be to accelerate the deployment of electric-drive cars far beyond current trends. According to the report released today, plug-in hybrids and electric cars are currently on track to make up 0.2 percent of all U.S. cars in 2030. The coalition says its plan can boost that figure to 42 percent -- 122.7 million cars.

The report doesn't specifically address how that many plugged-in cars would affect greenhouse gas emissions.

More cars, less emissions?

Electric-drive cars are thought to cause less emissions than gasoline-powered cars. But since the grid currently gets half its power from coal, plug-in cars still have a carbon signature.

According to a 2007 analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Electric Power Research Institute, no matter how a plug-in hybrid gets its power -- fully from coal power plants, from the national average fuel mix, or from renewable energy -- it always has a smaller carbon footprint than a gasoline car.

Thus, said Sam Ori, the Electrification Coalition's director of policy, millions of plug-in cars wouldn't raise emissions, but instead would probably reduce them.

David Friedman, research director for clean vehicles at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that given the current grid, plug-in hybrids' emissions signature roughly clocks in about the same as a top-end regular hybrid car today. These cars don't plug into a wall socket, but they do improve the efficiency of the gasoline engine.

In some parts of the country, where coal makes up a bigger part of the fuel mix, he said a plug-in hybrid could cause more emissions than a regular hybrid. But even in the coal-heaviest areas, he said, it would never exceed the emissions of a conventional gasoline car.

A separate question is whether millions of electric cars will mean more power plants, more transmission and a bigger price tag than the Electrification Coalition projects.

A 2007 paper from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory said that at night, when power demand slumps, there is enough spare power generation in the United States to power hundreds of millions of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs.

Charging time matters

So if people charge at night, Friedman said, the grid won't need a facelift. But researchers aren't yet certain how people will actually behave.

If people charge during the daytime, then that will add demand to the everyday load of people awake and at work, watching TV and using home appliances. To deal with the higher electricity demand, utilities would have to fire up backup generators -- which would most likely be natural gas.

"The long and short of it is, we really don't know when people will recharge, so we don't really know what the emissions will be. But a good estimate is that they will be similar to driving around in a really good hybrid," Friedman said.

Ori said the whole grid is generally trending toward natural gas and other, lower-emission sources anyway, so PHEVs and other cars with electric plugs will cause less and less emissions as time goes by.

"As the emissions profile of the power sector decreases, it has a spillover effect to your transportation sector ... so it is like killing two birds with one stone," he said.

The Electrification Coalition didn't clarify whether its proposal would mean new power plants, transmission or distribution costs that could possibly raise electric rates.

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

France to build charging networks for electric cars

ENDS Europe Daily, 14 April 2010 - The French government announced on Tuesday an agreement with 12 collectivités territoriales (local authorities) and carmakers Renault and PSA to develop charging infrastructures for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The agreement is part of an action plan on electric vehicles announced in October. A group of 20 companies including Air France, AREVA and Veolia also committed to buy 50,000 vehicles. The government hopes a total of 100,000 vehicles will be purchased by 2015 to encourage market take up.

The adoption of a draft law called "Grenelle 2", which will be debated by the lower house of the French parliament, the Assemblée Nationale , on 4 May, is expected to boost the development of charging infrastructures because it gives local authorities powers in this area. The proposal has already been debated in the senate.

Other EU countries are also very active in this area. Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero recently announced his government will invest €590m in the production of electric cars over the next two years. Spain plans to have 250,000 electric vehicles in circulation by 2014.

The Spanish presidency of the EU is also pushing for a European plan on electric cars. The European Commission is working on a wider strategy to support clean and energy efficient vehicles. Its strategy, due to be published on 20 April, will set out an action plan for decarbonising the transport sector.

http://planetark.org/wen/57485

French Study Says Land Use May Cut Biofuel Benefits
Date: 09-Apr-10
Country:
 FRANCE
Author:
 Gus Trompiz

Changes in land use linked to the growing of crops like soybeans and palm oil may cancel out the benefits of biofuels in terms of emissions savings, according to an official French study released on Thursday.
Biofuels may even have a worse emissions profile than traditional fossil fuels, said the authors of the study commissioned by French energy and environment agency Ademe.
Factors such as the clearing of forests to grow crops could cut the emissions benefits of both non-European biofuel production, and also output in Europe through the indirect effect of importing biofuel components, they said.
Critics of the current generation of biofuels, made using grains, sugar or oilseeds, say they encourage environmentally damaging land clearance. This issue has also been raised by the European Commission in its own analysis.
"The significance of these effects ... warrants further work in order to establish how to take into account land use changes in the (emissions) balances of products made with agricultural raw materials," the French study said.
In an updated version of a study first released in October, the authors reiterated substantial emissions savings from biofuels versus standard fuels when land-use changes are not measured, with savings ranging from 24 percent to 91 percent.

http://planetark.org/wen/57493

Ontario Announces New Phase Of Green-Energy Push
Date: 09-Apr-10
Country:
 CANADA
Author:
 REUTERS

Ontario announced 184 contracts for green energy projects on Thursday that it says will lead to thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment in Canada's most populous province and top energy consumer.
When completed, the solar, wind, water and biofuel projects will power 600,000 homes, generating more than 2,500 megawatts of electricity, the provincial government said.
The contracts announced on Thursday are in addition to 510 "medium-sized" green projects already awarded by the government earlier this year.
"This is the big one," Brad Duguid, minister of energy and infrastructure, said of the latest announcement. "This is the 2,500 megawatts that's coming on line."
The two sets of projects will generate 20,000 direct and indirect green jobs and attract about C$9 billion ($8.9 billion) in private sector investment, as well as investment in new Ontario-based manufacturing, Duguid said.
Ontario plans to phase out all its coal-fired power stations by 2014 and replace them with cleaner energy sources.
Last October, it unveiled the most generous set of feed-in tariffs in North America to attract green energy projects and the manufacture of green energy equipment.
The incentives, part of the province's Green Energy Act, guarantee sellers of renewable power fixed, above-market prices for 20 years to feed their production into the electricity grid.
Some critics have complained that moving away from cheap coal power will add too much to the price of electricity.
"There is a higher cost to green energy," Duguid said in an interview. "It's not huge, but it's something that I think our generation is willing to accept because this gives us an opportunity to provide a cleaner environment and healthier lifestyle for our kids and grandkids and generate a green economy that is going to generate jobs for the future."
So far this year, two prominent green energy players -- South Korea's Samsung C&T Corp and Germany's Bosch Solar Energy AG -- have said they will set up manufacturing facilities in the province, and the government said it expects more to follow. ($1=$1.01 Canadian)


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China overtakes US in green investment: study

AFP, 24 March 2010 - China has surpassed the United States as the top investor in clean energy with the rising Asian power becoming a "powerhouse" in the emerging field, a study by environmentalists said.

The report said that China has shown determination to be on the frontline of green technology, while US investors have been put off by uncertainties amid the legislative battle on climate change.

Chinese investment in clean energy soared by more than 50 percent in 2009 to reach 34.6 billion dollars, far more than any other country in the Group of 20 major economies, the study led by the Pew Charitable Trusts said.

Total US investment was about half that at 18.6 billion dollars, the first time in five years that the world's largest economy lost the top spot in clean energy, the study said.

"China is emerging as the world's clean energy powerhouse," Phyllis Cuttino, global warming campaign director of the Pew Environment Group, told reporters on a conference call.

"This represents a dramatic growth when you consider that just five years ago their investment totaled 2.5 billion dollars," she said.

China has also overtaken the United States as the top emitter of carbon blamed for global warming and came under fire for its role in December's much-criticized UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

But the study found that China had made a strategic decision to invest in wind and solar technologies as it copes with sharply rising demand for energy -- and has set some of the world's most ambitious targets on renewable energy.

The study also found strong investment by Britain, which ranked third with 11.2 billion dollars for clean energy; Spain, which came in first in green investment when taken as percentage of gross domestic product, and Germany.

Nations seen as struggling in the clean energy competition include the United States, Australia and Japan, the study said. Cuttino said the three nations have "less consistent, clear and long-term policies in place."

US President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama have all championed climate action but none of the countries have set in motion nationwide plans to curb emissions.

But the study noted that Australia had potential in wind energy and said Japan was "one of the G-20's most promising growth markets" if the resource-poor nation carries out plans to ramp up solar and wind power.

The study found that even though the United States dominates technological innovation, its investment in clean energy tumbled 42 percent last year from 2008 levels.

The researchers partly blamed the global economic slowdown but also said there was a lack of direction. Climate legislation has been stalled in the Senate, although Obama allies have vowed to push it ahead now that Congress has completed the top priority of expanding health care.

John Woolard, chief executive officer of California-based solar plant builder BrightSource Energy Inc., said that the government needed to take action to create markets.

"We have never had certainty or predictability in the United States,"

Woolard said. "We have not had a thoughtful and coherent energy policy in this country for decades."

Obama and his congressional allies argue that curbing emissions will open up a new green economy, helping fuel the economic recovery.

Many Republican leaders are skeptical, saying that restrictions on carbon would only worsen a fragile economy.

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Renewables: Strong international competition in race for green jobs

Financial Times, 29 March 2010 - Clean energy and "green" jobs were a mantra for politicians across the developed world before the financial crisis struck, and the effects of the recession served only to intensify the rhetoric.

Meeting targets on greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy security will require hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in renewable technologies, and this opens up the attractive prospect of an explosive growth in jobs in these new industries at a time when more traditional jobs are disappearing.

But the big question for the developed world is where those jobs will be. While countries such as the US, the UK, Germany and Japan have all bid to be centres of green technological development, parts of the rapidly industrialising world have also seen the opportunity.

Last year, for the first time, China surpassed the US and all other G20 countries in investing in clean energy, according to a new study. China invested $34.6bn in clean energy in 2009, dwarfing the $18.6bn spent by the US.

Pew Charitable Trusts of the US, which led the study along with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a consultancy, said global investments in clean energy had risen threefold since 2005, with the G20 countries accounting for the vast majority.

Investment in the sector by nearly all of the G20 countries increased by more than half in the past five years, but China has surged ahead remarkably.

"The facts speak for themselves," says Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "China is now clearly the world leader in attracting new capital and making new investments in this area."

Although the recession took some of the shine off the growth that the clean energy sector had enjoyed in the good times, last year clean energy investments reached $162bn globally, according to the study.

Renewables, such as wind and solar energy farms, now account for 6 per cent of global energy. More than 250GW of renewable capacity has been installed around the world.

"Even in the midst of a global recession, the clean energy market has experienced impressive growth," says Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Environment Group's global warming campaign. "Countries are jockeying for leadership. They know that investing in clean energy can renew manufacturing bases, and create export opportunities, jobs and businesses."

Western governments are acutely aware of the need to build up their green industries quickly, or face being outdone by the rapid growth in China, particularly in the onshore wind turbine manufacturing and solar panel manufacturing industries.

In the UK, for instance, efforts are focusing instead on areas of green technology that are still not mature, such as offshore wind turbines, marine technologies such as tidal and wave power, and on nascent but promising ideas such as carbon capture and storage technology, an area where the British government believes the country's expertise and assets in North Sea oil and gas give it an edge.

The race is still relatively open. Although China surged ahead last year in investment, another study suggests the US may have a better showing next year. An HSBC report examined the effects of the "green stimulus" – the proportion of public sector stimulus funds awarded in the wake of the financial crisis to "green" projects.

The bank found that China was also ahead in this broader green market, which includes spending on projects such as high-speed rail and efficiency. Last year, China spent $61bn of public funds on a green stimulus, according to this analysis.

But Nick Robins, head of the HSBC climate change centre and author of the report, says other governments will have time to spend more of their allocated funds this year.

He notes that China benefited from a large proportion of "shovel-ready" projects, including some already under way that were reclassified as stimulus spending.

By contrast, other governments found it more difficult than expected to pump the money into useful environmental projects quickly.

"When we were first looking at the green stimulus, last February, we had not fully appreciated all of the administrative issues surrounding the disbursement of this money," Mr Robins says.

The US was on track to spend most of its stimulus this year, the bank found. However, Mr Robins warns, if money goes unspent this year, there is a high risk of it being axed "owing to austerity measures generally".

Although investment in renewable energy and other green technologies is tracked closely, it is much more difficult to discern whether the promised growth in "green jobs" has kept up with the investment levels.

Little research has so far been done on this area, and some of it is confusing. For instance, the UK government claims there are already 400,000 green jobs in the economy, but this includes a wide variety of roles, including waste collectors and cleaners, as well as water engineers and renewable energy specialists.

A clearer picture on green jobs will have to wait until more of the stimulus money has been spent.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7614934/Biofuels-cause-four-times-more-carbon-emissions.html

Biofuels-cause-four-times-more-carbon-emissions
By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Published: 7:30AM BST 22 Apr 2010

The European Union, including the UK, has set a goal of obtaining 10 per cent of its road fuels from renewable sources by 2020.
But a new report commissioned in Brussels found some biofuels can lead to four times more carbon dioxide polluting the atmosphere than equivalent fossil fuels.


 
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Biofuels have already been criticised for causing food shortages in countries where land for rice or wheat has been displaced by fields of soy beans or sugarcane for fuel.
Environmental campaigners say the latest report proves the renewable energy source is also bad for climate change, since carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that causes global warming.
The report for the European Commission, released under Freedom of Information rules, looked into the "indirect emissions" from biofuels caused by land use change. The worse example is soy beans in America. Because the land that used to grow soy beans for animal feed is now being used for biofuels, it means that more soy beans must be grown in the rainforests of Brazil to make up for the loss in the domestic market.
Soybeans grown in America therefore have an indirect carbon footprint of 340kg of CO2 per gigajoule, compared to just 85kg for conventional diesel or gasoline.
Biodiesel from European rapeseed has an indirect carbon footprint of 150kg of CO2 per gigajoule, while bioethanol from European sugar beet is calculated at 100kg – both much higher than conventional diesel because of indirect use of land in other countries to replace the food crops that are no longer grown in Europe.
By contrast, imports of bioethanol from Latin American sugar cane and palm oil from southeast Asia have relatively low indirect emissions at 82kg and 73kg per gigajoule respectively. But these biofuels have high direct emissions because although no land for food is being displaced, rainforest it being cut down to grow the crops in the first place.
The European Commission insisted that biofuels is a complex issue and further studies need to be done.
But Kenneth Richter, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said the report proves that biofuels are not the answer to tackling climate change.
"Most of the crops used for biofuels at the moment produce more emissions than fossil fuels therefore biofuel targets in Europe make no sense and are doing opposite of what they are supposed to be doing," he said.

Green Newsclips - Eath Day After 2010 Edition

http://www.environmentalleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Dakota-Whats-on-Your-Sustainability-Dashboard.pdf
 What's on Your Sustainability Dashboard?

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Sustainability at Marks & Spencer - how do new promises shape up?
Mallen Baker considers how the company is setting new targets on sustainability, and looks at what the company has achieved to date
British retailer Marks & Spencer used to be best known as a pillar of the establishment.

No fiery wild-eyed radical, it would do a select number of good things for the community, and it would steadfastly refuse to beat its own drum about it. All that has changed, and the measure of just how much could be seen with the retailer's recent pronouncement that it is aiming to become the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015.

In the hands of some companies, such promises would be seen as pure rhetoric. M&S has done enough over the last three years - since it first introduced its 'Plan A' action plan - to be taken seriously.

Besides, very few companies will even tread into this kind of territory. If you asked the majority of CEOs whether or not they aspired to be the most sustainable company in their sector, most would ultimately concede that they didn't.

Not that they would want to be unsustainable. They just don't want to put themselves out in front. It's too exposed. There are too many people determined to catch you out. Much more comfortable to be near the head of the pack, but very much with the pack.

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Novotel West Hotel, London, Evening of 4th May 2010

The Awards will be held at the Responsible Summit - 
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15–16 June, New York City
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So when a company with the seriousness of purpose of M&S declares this to be its intent, it is news.

Of course, 'world's most sustainable retailer' is a relative term - there is no one benchmark of what it takes to achieve, and it is not a stable destination that stands still once you get there. Nevertheless, there must be some serious actions to deliver on this short term, so it's worth just looking beneath the surface to see what these are.

Customer relationships


The most intriguing of the company's new promises focus on its relationship with its customers. 

First of all, it says, it intends that all of its products will have "at least one Plan A quality by 2020". That is, by the way, an awful lot of products. 2.7bn to be precise.

What does it mean, to have a Plan A Quality? In most cases, it will be a "well recognised external environmental and sustainability standard. For example, fish products from a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) source."

This would, in itself, put Marks & Spencer into a different league to its competitors, assuming none of them could match the promise by the same deadline. It is true, of course, that having one externally recognised mark of social or environmental quality is not the same as every product being fully sustainable. The fact that such an ambitious undertaking - which will be a struggle to achieve by the deadline - might be dismissed by some as not sufficiently ambitious is simply an indication of how far we have to go to achieve sustainability.

The other commitments relating to customers are ... interesting. Potentially revolutionary, and potentially mundane. The devil lies in the delivery.

Causes


The second promise is that the company will help its customers to "make a difference to the social and environmental causes that matter to them". It will do this by supporting causes with charitable donations and cause related marketing partnerships. The target - �15m per year - is respectable. But it is, ultimately, just about giving away money. I hate to describe it as mundane - obviously it is about not just the cash but engaging customers in the causes as well. 

M&S found new ways to do this when it provided incentives for customers to take their second hand M&S clothes to Oxfam. It was a clever device which was about engaging and mobilising customers. That made it more interesting than simply giving cash. Are there more of these to come?

Sustainable living


The third promise is that it will "help our customers live more sustainable lives". The idea of companies that have a strong relationship with their customers using their influence to change people's behaviour is a very exciting one. But what does it mean in practice?

We don't really know. Customers will be encouraged to create their own 'My Plan A'. That could be interesting - or just a gimmick. They will be encouraged to act differently via a continuous programme of plan A marketing communications. Social marketing, in other words. This has to be handled incredibly carefully. Even loyal M&S customers won't want to feel preached at or told how to live their lives. 

But a really smart campaign ... well, it could be important. 

Other areas of note - one of the new Plan A objectives is to integrate the approach throughout the company's systems and processes. Of course, everybody says they aim to do that. So what does it mean?

Well - some very interesting things. The successful delivery of Plan A will become part of the bonus plan for the management, for instance. The company is intending to introduce an "internal price of carbon" - presumably to create a set of incentives within the business to go with lighter carbon options. That is something I haven't heard attempted before, and it would be interesting to see if a model can be developed that makes it work without creating perverse incentives.

Because that's the problem with a lot of this "incentivising the right behaviours" stuff. As soon as you incentivise something, you change it. And if you don't get the incentives exactly right, you can find that you actually end up with counter-productive results.

Suppliers count


If you are a supplier to M&S, this is going to be your revolution as well. All the company's food suppliers will be measured on social and environmental issues, with an aim that at least 25 percent will achieve a top level of performance for these by 2015. 

All 10,000 farmers who supply the company will be part of its Sustainable Agriculture Programme by 2012. Agriculture, of course, faces some of the biggest challenges on climate change in coming years with areas such as meat production under pressure from the sector's contribution to emissions. 

These are just key highlights. There are a lot more detailed commitments. Such as free home insulation for employees to help them cut their own carbon footprint. And biodiversity action plans for all new store construction projects.

The timing of the announcement of the new Plan A is in itself significant. Sir Stuart Rose, the CEO that has overseen the beginning of this process alongside a general revival in the company's fortunes in the high street, is stepping aside. Whilst he takes the chairmanship, a new CEO takes up the reins - Marc Bolland, formerly of competitor Morrisons.

Leadership matters, and it takes a CEO with courage, vision and commitment to head up an operation that manages to get into the media spotlight as often as M&S does - and to retain the high level of ambition and commitment for sustainability as it has. That the commitment level is ramping up must at least be an indicator that Bolland is clear that this will be part of the delivery package, and not just some momentary aberration that characterised Sir Stuart Rose's tenure.

One assumes that some of the other retailers will not be happy to sit idly by and to allow M&S to bag the 'most sustainable retailer' mantle. It would be good if we saw some competitive pressure brought to bear on making real progress on social and environmental issues. 

It may well be that M&S, once that most respectable and quiet of retailers, has just made the act of seeking front-runner status a mainstream thing. That could even turn out to be its biggest contribution to change.


http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2010/04/05/pue-become-global-standard-data-center-efficiency

PUE to Become Global Standard for Data Center Efficiency
By GreenerComputing Staff
Created 2010-04-05 13:00

PORTLAND, OR — The Green Grid today announced a global effort to develop an Energy Star-like rating for data center energy efficiency, using its popular power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio as the benchmark for green data centers.

The Green Grid, a consortium of IT industry leaders that formed in 2007 to address IT energy use, is working with government agencies and departments around the world to create a consistent and reliable metric for measuring data center energy efficiency.

PUE divides the total amount of energy entering a data center by the amount going to power computing operations (as opposed to cooling and lighting and other non-computing functions) to come up with a single number for energy efficiency in data centers. A perfect PUE would be 1; major IT companies like Google and Microsoft have announced PUEs of around 1.12 in recent months, and one data center designer has claimed a 1.05 PUE for a data center.

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Among the partners for the effort are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the Energy Star program; the European Union's Joint Research Center Code of Conduct; the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's Green IT Initiative; and Japan's Green IT Promotion Council. Together, the groups will work to bring the PUE measurement to data centers around the world.

The agreement comes out of a February 2nd meeting of all the groups, where the following goals were set:

      1. Measure the actual IT work output of the data center compared to actual energy consumption. It is of note that in the process to define IT work output, the following interim measurements are being defined and / or validated:
           1a. IT - Measure the potential IT work output compared to expected energy consumption; and measure operational utilization of IT equipment
           1b.
 Data center facility and infrastructure - Measure the data center infrastructure efficiency (PUE)
      2.
 Measure renewable energy technologies and re-use of energy to reduce carbon.

"The ultimate goal is to create a set of globally accepted metrics for data center energy efficiency," Tom Brey, IBM representative and Secretary of The Green Grid, said in a statement. "One of the first, and perhaps most important factors to successfully achieving this aim is establishing a unity of communication." 

The groups hope that by defining a consistent measurement for all data centers no matter where they're located, it will be easier to create widespread behavior change in the IT industry.

The Green Grid also announced today that it was opening a Program Management Office at the EPA's Energy Star program. The office will consist of members of the Green Grid's board of directors -- which include tech companies AMD, APC by Schneider Electric, Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle -- and will serve as advisors to the EPA's efforts to develop an official Energy Star rating for data centers.

The Energy Star program 
launched a rating for enterprise servers a year ago, although some industry watchers faulted it for falling short on key issues like blade servers. Energy Star is also currently at work on rating for data centers, which may be launched as early as this summer.

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

Canadian retailers see profits in going green

Reuters, 1 April 2010 - Canadian retailers have gone to great lengths recently to tout their environmental and social policies, motivated by the economic benefits as much as by altruism.

Wal-Mart Canada, Loblaw Cos and Canadian Tire are among the big retailers trumpeting aggressive policies to save energy and minimize packaging. Some are even publicizing efforts to protect depleted fish species and ensure decent working conditions at their suppliers.

The companies may have the best intentions but there's also no denying that green practices are simply good business. Saving energy cuts costs, while touting policies to protect the environment strikes a positive chord with consumers and investors alike.

"The primary reason is that they have come to recognize that there are significant business benefits in doing so. It is not altruistic," said Mel Wilson, who heads the sustainable business team at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Calgary.

"It's not like people just woke up one day and their personalities had changed. They have recognized that this is good for business."

Wal-Mart Canada, a subsidiary U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart Stores, said last month that it stands to save about C$140 million ($139 million) over the next five years through strategies aimed at energy reduction, waste diversion and its supply network.

"We continue to believe that sustainability is just as important to our business as it is for the environment," David Cheesewright, Wal-Mart Canada's president and chief executive, said at a recent conference in Vancouver dedicated to business and the environment.

Canadian Tire, the country's large automotive and household goods retailer, said last week that it would be among the first companies in the country to highlight its progress in its quarterly and annual reports.

"What we felt is that, if we ingrained it into the processes and how we do business, then sustainability in itself becomes sustainable," said Stephen Wetmore, the company's chief executive. "That's the way we've approached it, otherwise we didn't think we would have a long-term, viable approach to the environment."

Loblaw, the country's biggest grocery store chain, is working with environmental groups to ensure it only buys seafood that is sustainable and not at risk of depletion.

GREEN ENERGY BENEFITS

For most retailers, the simple cost of doing business is what has driven them to adopt the initiatives. With energy costs trending higher again, companies have looked to green forms of energy such as solar power to shave costs.

"What is driving it is the mechanism that gets their cost structure and their energy costs down," said Bill Chisholm, a retail analyst at Toronto investment adviser MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier.

"It's a bit of PR in terms of being green, but at the same time they are hoping to get their energy costs down."

Wal-Mart Canada estimates it will save about C$70 million in costs over the next five years just with its energy-savings plan including low-wattage light bulbs, energy-efficient cooling systems and solar panels.

"Companies do realize operational efficiencies even when it comes to paying attention to energy use. Just what they can do in terms of reducing energy right away is a cost advantage," said Bob Walker, vice-president of sustainability at Northwest Ethical Funds in Vancouver.

"The investment industry now sees companies moving in this direction, not as a bunch of tree-huggers or communists, but as smart businessmen."

Indeed, socially conscious investment funds and consumers are pressuring companies to make changes, and will shun the products of those they don't think are up to standards.

"The current generation of consumers brings more to the table when making purchasing decisions than just the price," said Wilson."

"If all else being equal and you have two items of comparable price, but one was made in a very socially, ethically and environmentally friendly way, the general tendency of the consumer is to go with that one over the other one."

With the economic benefits far outweighing other issues, Wilson sees sustainability remaining at the forefront.

"The fundamental thing is that it is good for the balance sheet. There is compelling evidence that this enhances your revenue and decreases your costs, so it is good for the financials," he said.

"But also from the reputation side of things, which will typically translate into a premium on your share value, there is good evidence to suggest that investors like this as well. Your share value is enhanced."

http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2010/04/08/seven-reasons-why-greening-hard-do

7 Reasons Why Greening Up is Hard to Do
By Anna Clark
Created 2010-04-08 07:02

Green business owners beware: don't buy into your own press. Although we are wont to focus on the oft-cited LOHAS stat "1 in 4 adult Americans cares about health and sustainability," the real ratio is less favorable, especially in cases where the green label costs more. And that still leaves an uninterested majority. How much more progress could we make if we learned to engage the other 75 percent in the green conversation? 

I've been trying to uncover the reasons why the majority doesn't value sustainability since 2005, and through my search I've made some surprising discoveries about the obstacles that we're facing.

The systemic barriers to positive change are entrenched and insidious, stretching far beyond the usual culprits of big industry and hyper-consumerism. Although my study was more anecdotal than quantitative, it reflects an investigation of those attitudes that don't appear in surveys. 

Among the cumulative challenges these obstacles pose is the ability to easily, frustratingly, reduce sophisticated CSR programs to lip service. And many of the genuine issues preventing sustainability from taking root are exacerbated by the proliferation of green marketing strategies -- a sad irony. It calls to mind Einstein's warning, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." 

Despite the discouraging nature of these findings, they do present opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs and conscious companies who can help consumers translate environmental awareness into action. Here are some observations that represent the most inconvenient -- and still largely unspoken -- truths standing in the way of a sustainable America.

Green, American Style book cover

1. The socio-economic rise of women speeds consumption.
 Over the next five years, the global incomes of women are estimated to grow from $13 trillion to $18 trillion. That incremental $5 trillion is nearly twice the growth in GDP expected from China and India combined, making women the biggest emerging market ever seen. This means a huge opportunity for consumer products companies. 

As one marketing strategist points out, "We are continuously doing research on 'why she buys' to give us insight into the impact that female consumers have on the marketplace." He goes on to suggest that delayed marriage, lower birthrates, divorce and higher incomes make women prime targets for goods in the convenience, luxury and technology categories. This spells serious un-sustainability.
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2. Conservation is antithetical to a consumer-based economy. 
When almost 70 percent of the economy is based on consumer spending, how can we expect people to understand conservation? Until we are no longer affected by the 3,000 advertising messages we inhale each day, we will continue to buy. When the economy is bad our consumption may decline, but this also makes people less willing to spend more for green. 

3. The environment remains stuck in the political divide. 
There remains a gaping chasm between the real and the pragmatic -- what should be done for the environment vs. what actually happens. But there is also the liberal vs. conservative divide. Many conservatives liken "enviro-preaching" to political correctness. Consequently, they react against things that are good, such as organic food and recycling. 

As long as people equate "green" with "left," we'll continue to see stymied sustainability strategies and ineffective environmental policies. 

4. Narrow-mindedness goes both ways. 
If in reading you are thinking how much you dislike conservatives, you are also part of the problem. Though I cannot relate to Fox News junkies as a group, on a personal level some of them aren't bad. My husband even watches it from time to time. While some of the headlines that come out of ultra-conservative news outlets are cringe-worthy, it's worth remembering that sometimes they are just filling a void in the mainstream media. 

When Climategate hit, the mainstream media did a less-than-effective job of reporting the story, leaving people to wonder, "If there was nothing to hide, why the silence?" This debacle only magnifies the research from groups such as the Pew Center, which find that belief in man-made climate change among Americans is sharply declining. 

5. Habits are hard to break.
 When I started my journey into sustainability, it was following the sickening revelation that, were my habits to be the norm, we'd be 
consuming five planets worth of resources

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Since that time, I've launched a sustainability consultancy, moved to a platinum-level LEED certified home, planted a garden, and adjusted my consumer habits considerably. I recently recalculated our ecological footprint to gauge how well I'm doing. Now we're down to three planets. 

My point? Natural living doesn't come naturally for most Americans, no matter how hard we may try. It requires change, which statistically only 2 percent of us will embrace. I happen to be one of the few that thrives on change, but consistently living green still challenges me. No matter how much we talk up benefits and allude to the triple bottom line, conscious behaviors for a healthier planet on the part of humans are far from habitual. 

6. Individuals are catalysts for change; institutions are not.
 Apathetic voters and zombie consumers are in effect leaving the future of the environmental up to institutions that are inherently anti-social. Where individuals have a conscience, large organizations must balance competing interests; frequently, money prevails over the interests of the public. 

From corporate America to Congress, people of power and influence easily fall prey to the belief that the rules don't apply to them, a phenomenon that author Terry Price describes as "exception making" in his book Understanding Ethical Failures in Leadership. No amount of green window dressing can overcome an unethical foundation in an organization (case in point, before Enron collapsed, it had a stellar sustainability program). 

As bad as gross negligence is, it has often been the catalyst to motivate companies to turn themselves around. However, many others continue to fly under the radar, undermining their sustainability departments with business-as-usual tactics from execs in pursuit of self-interest. No amount of good deeds on the part of large institutions can absolve individuals from personal responsibility. So far, mainstream consumers have yet to accept this.

7. Climate change creates inertia.
 With so many benefits we can promote on behalf of sustainability, why continue to harp on this hot-button issue? I speak as someone who entered this realm specifically for the purpose of stopping the Arctic from melting. 

I'm stubborn, but I finally realized that other issues are equally, if not even more, pressing: world hunger, habitat loss, and toxins in our air, food and water, for example. By talking up these other points and offering concrete, doable solutions that can be scaled up, we can push people towards positive action regardless of their political affiliation or financial situation.

What might environmental advocates gain when we extend a thoughtful and flexible approach towards those who are different, dare I say conservative? By waiting for them to get it, we sacrifice the opportunity to expand our market.
<!--pagebreak--> 
Many other issues -- such as cheap energy, a car-based culture, and even our democratic system of government -- hamper sustainable development. Ignorance and good old-fashioned greed are also to blame. But condemnation is unproductive in a world so desperate for solutions. 

Three Steps to Move Forward


Fortunately, the steps to a sustainable America are simpler than we think, and the positive ripples have the potential to put profits into our businesses, bolster our economy, increase national security, and improve our environment. 

These common-sense solutions cost companies little while fostering a sustainable future and restoring us to a position of leadership for the long haul:

1. Become energy efficient.
 Companies that reduce their energy consumption by 30 percent can add 5 percent in operating capital to their budgets. According to a 
McKinsey report, the U.S. economy has the potential to reduce annual non-transportation energy consumption by roughly 23 percent by 2020, eliminating more than $1.2 trillion in waste – well beyond the $520 billion upfront investment that would be required. The reduction in energy use would result in the abatement of 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually -- the equivalent of taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads. 

2. Practice conscious capitalism.
 The land of opportunity can be a profound lever of social change when we apply American ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to solving the world's most pressing problems. Businesses like 
TOMS, which purchase a pair of shoes for impoverished villagers for every pair it sells, prove that having a mission can drive success, not hinder it. 

Helping busy consumers make a difference through their purchases equals profit and positive change. Women, for example, make over 80 percent of the buying decisions in their households. Marketing good green ideas and healthy sustainable products to them helps channel their formidable spending power into a more sustainable society.

3. Don't divide, multiply!
 Don't get stuck in your silo marketing to a narrow group. Use your company's platform to build virtual communities among employees, colleagues, industry leaders and other stakeholders. Large companies such as 
Seventh Generation are creating interactive, virtual communities that are inclusive, educational and fun. Small companies can now do this online with a Facebook page and Twitter. 

Don't forget about your community, too. Many a local school or non-profit would be grateful for your company to support their green efforts. I recently spoke at a symposium hosted by Lakehill Preparatory School sponsored by Professional Bank, a local Dallas business. Not only did the event raise environmental awareness, it raised visibility for the school, dozens of vendors, and the bank itself. 

Of all the solutions I found in the various sectors I have explored, it is the personal and community levels -- where motivated individuals make simple changes in themselves and within their circles of influence -- where have I seen the greatest potential for genuine change. 

This experience has renewed my faith in the power of individuals to make a profound difference. My new book Green, American Style, is a testament to the many -- from CEOs to soccer moms -- whose contributions as leaders and consumers are creating the potential to move markets and transform our culture. 

Making informed decisions and incremental changes while reaching out to new people can improve matters considerably. The competitive advantages inherent in common-sense sustainability more than compensate for the cost in addressing the problems. Not everyone will follow through, but those who do are poised to profit. 

Anna Clark is president of EarthPeople, LLC and the author of Green, American Style. She contributes the Eco-Leadership blog on Greenbiz.com. Visit www.annamclark.com for more on all things green

http://planetark.org/wen/57616

Ice Cap Thaw May Awaken Icelandic Volcanoes
Date: 19-Apr-10
Country:
 NORWAY
Author:
 Alister Doyle


Ice Cap Thaw May Awaken Icelandic Volcanoes Photo: Arni Saeberg/Handout
An aerial handout photo from the Icelandic Coast Guard shows melting ice caused by a volcanic eruption at Eyjafjalla Glacier in southern Iceland April 14, 2010. The volcanic eruption on Wednesday partially melted a glacier, setting off a major flood that
Photo: Arni Saeberg/Handout

A thaw of Iceland's ice caps in coming decades caused by climate change may trigger more volcanic eruptions by removing a vast weight and freeing magma from deep below ground, scientists said on Friday.
They said there was no sign that the current eruption from below the Eyjafjallajokull glacier that has paralysed flights over northern Europe was linked to global warming. The glacier is too small and light to affect local geology.
"Our work suggests that eventually there will be either somewhat larger eruptions or more frequent eruptions in Iceland in coming decades," said Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a vulcanologist at the University of Iceland.
"Global warming melts ice and this can influence magmatic systems," he told Reuters. The end of the Ice Age 10,000 years ago coincided with a surge in volcanic activity in Iceland, apparently because huge ice caps thinned and the land rose.
"We believe the reduction of ice has not been important in triggering this latest eruption," he said of Eyjafjallajokull. "The eruption is happening under a relatively small ice cap."
Carolina Pagli, a geophysicist at the University of Leeds in England, said there were risks that climate change could also trigger volcanic eruptions or earthquakes in places such as Mount Erebus in Antarctica, the Aleutian islands of Alaska or Patagonia in South America.
MAGMA
"The effects would be biggest with ice-capped volcanoes," she said. "If you remove a load that is big enough you will also have an effect at depths on magma production."
She and Sigmundsson wrote a 2008 paper in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters about possible links between global warming and Icelandic volcanoes.
That report said that about 10 percent of Iceland's biggest ice cap, Vatnajokull, has melted since 1890 and the land nearby was rising about 25 millimetres (0.98 inch) a year, bringing shifts in geological stresses.
They estimated that the thaw had led to the formation of 1.4 cubic km (0.3 cubic mile) of magma deep below ground over the past century.
At high pressures such as under an ice cap, they reckon that rocks cannot expand to turn into liquid magma even if they are hot enough. "As the ice melts the rock can melt because the pressure decreases," she said.
Sigmundsson said that monitoring of the Vatnajokull volcano since 2008 suggested that the 2008 estimate for magma generation was "probably a minimum estimate. It can be somewhat larger."
He said that melting ice seemed the main way in which climate change, blamed mainly on use of fossil fuels, could have knock-on effects on geology. The U.N. climate panel says that global warming will cause more floods, droughts and rising seas.

http://planetsave.com/blog/2010/04/16/second-garbage-patch-confirmed-in-atlantic-ocean/

Planet Earth's oceans now have a second confirmed garbage patch filled with plastic detritus.

32
votes

Buzz up!
The discovery of the first garbage patch is credited to Charles Moore, an ocean researcher who discovered the large patch of plastic floating in the Pacific in 1997. Now, the Atlantic can lay claim to a human produced waste patch of its own.
Wife and husband team Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in February between Bermuda and Portugal's mid-Atlantic Azores Islands. In the middle of the Atlantic is the Sargasso Sea, an area surrounded by various ocean currents, including the well known Gulf Stream. The pair took samples ever 100 miles (160 kilometres) and each time they pulled up their trawl it was full of plastic.
"We found the great Atlantic garbage patch," said Anna Cummins. "Our job now is to let people know that plastic ocean pollution is a global problem – it unfortunately is not confined to a single patch."
Why the importance on letting people know that this is a problem? Because there is no feasible way to go about cleaning up the ocean garbage patches.
This is not a new discovery, but rather a confirmation of long held beliefs and smaller studies. One such study is that by undergraduates at the Woods Hole, Massachusetts-based Sea Education Association, who have been collecting more than 6,000 samples on trips between Canada and the Caribbean over two decades. The lead investigator, Kara Lavendar Law, said they found the highest concentrations of plastics between 22 and 38 degrees north latitude, an offshore patch equivalent to the area between roughly Cuba and Washington, D.C.
"It's shocking to see it firsthand," Cummins said. "Nothing compares to being out there. We've managed to leave our footprint really everywhere."
Putting aside the sheer absurdity that humans believe we can just pollute the planet until it dies, these garbage patches provide a huge danger to animals, both water based and air based. Plastics entangle birds while fish unwittingly mistake small bits of plastic for plankton and other edible treats. Countless stories exist of fish being caught and their bellies being full of plastic debris.
Don't care about the animals? Listen to Lisa DiPinto, acting director of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "That plastic has the potential to impact our resources and impact our economy."
So pay attention next time there's a recycle drive in your area, or when you're down at the beach and finished with your bottle of water.

http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/20/green-save-time-money-forbes-woman-well-being-environment.html?feed=rss_home

How To Go Green Easily And Cheaply
Kari Molvar, 
04.20.10, 5:30 PM ET

Here's a surprising benefit of going green--and it doesn't involve composting or taking much more than a few minutes out of your busy day. Being more eco-conscious can actually save you time and money if you're smart about it.

Elizabeth Rogers, author of the penny-pinching eco-guide, Shift Your Habit, credits a desire to lower her bills and eliminate unnecessary clutter in her life as the real inspiration behind the book. "Helping the planet was the cherry on top," she says.

At the end of the day, being responsible should simplify your day, not add more stress to it. Read on for 12 simple ways to green-up easily and cheaply.

Approach your green makeover like a diet

Begin with some small changes--drastic measures can be daunting--to your basic, everyday habits, says Rogers. "Laundry is an easy one. Wash your clothes with cold water instead of hot. You'll save about $130 per year, since 90% of the energy used by a washing machine goes toward heating the water. And your clothes won't fade, so they'll last longer."

Think before you toss

"About 14% of the food we buy lands in the trash each year, which is such a waste for your wallet and the environment," says Rogers. Instead, freeze the last bit of pasta sauce in the ice cube tray for cooking later. Take leftovers to work in a glass container to re-heat for lunch and (we love this trick) bring stale cereals and chips back to life by baking them on a cookie sheet in the oven for a few minutes ("You'll get three extra days out of them," says Rogers). If your frugality helps you skip one $10 meal per week, that adds up to $520 per year.

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Trim food costs and beat the supermarket lines

You can easily go broke shopping at organic and natural food markets, wonderful as they might be. Instead, head to a nearby farmer's market to buy local fruits, vegetables, baked goods and homemade jams for lower prices. And as a general rule, food that's traveled less distance to reach your table will be fresher and taste 10 times more delicious than anything sitting under florescent lights for weeks, says green author, TV host and restaurateur Renée Loux.

Dig in and grow your own

Speaking of food, you don't need to be a barefoot contessa to grow something easy like tomatoes. In fact you don't even need a backyard--a simple pot in a sunny spot will do. "Once you taste a juicy, fresh tomato you'll never go back to store-bought," says Rogers. "I actually bring tomatoes as a hostess gift instead of wine, so that's a savings and less stress right there." And if you feel inspired to grow more produce, you can upgrade to a garden or rent a community plot.

Tackle your heating and utilities efficiently

Program the thermostat to remain at 68 in the winter and 78 in summer, depending on where you live. Don't touch it and don't think about it, says Paige Wolf, a green lifestyle expert. To conserve energy and prevent air from escaping, caulk and weather-strip your windows. It's easier and less costly than buying and installing insulated windows and it does the trick.


Forgo the flush 

The bathroom might sound like a green line you don't want to cross. But Rogers has this life-changing advice: "Three words: toilet bowl bags." Let us clarify. Drop one (price is in the $3 range) in your toilet tank and it expands so your tank doesn't fill up with as much water every time you flush." Doing so saves you about $35 per toilet per year (depending on your flush frequency). "In a home with four or five toilets, that's significant," says Rogers. 


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Transform the office into a green zone with a few clicks

For starters, put your computer in sleep mode each night (powering down requires more power to reboot, but sleep mode conserves energy), says Loux. Opt for double-sided printing and photocopying to save on paper, and adjust your printing color settings from black to gray to use less ink. You can even expand your margin widths to maximize page space. "And if you're getting half as many spam faxes as I am, only plug in the line when you're expecting something important," says Wolf.

Hydrate wisely

If you buy just one 16-oz bottle of water each day at $1.50 or more, you'll spend about $550 a year, not to mention the cost to the environment with all that plastic, says Wolf. Switch to a reusable steel or aluminum bottle and fill it with filtered tap (cost: $0 + price of bottle).

Go for the best of both worlds: green beauty

No matter how cheerfully green a beauty product is, it's useless if it doesn't work. Thankfully strides have been made since the days of funky rock deodorant and patchouli toothpaste. Reformulated organic and natural goods have longer shelf lives (for a range of options, search here), and shops like Origins offer incentives to recycle bottles from any brand in exchange for free samples. Consider it the kinder alternative to the old-school "gift with purchase" department store days.

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Fill it with regular

Speaking of gas, buying premium grade isn't doing the earth or your credit card any favors. According to the EPA, unless your ride requires high-octane fuel (i.e., it has a turbo-charged, 12-cyclinder engine--not your average Jetta), it may cause more pollution. The reason: High-octane fuel requires more refining, which may not burn entirely and leave deposits in the engine that make it run less efficiently and generate more emissions.

Hitting the road, protecting the air

Not to drone on about your carbon footprint (enough already!) but here are some less obvious eco-solutions you might not know about. For starters, book early morning flights. The global warming effect of the plane's contrails is twice as high at night as it is during the day. On the road, Loux recommends you fill your gas tank in the early a.m. or late p.m. when it's cooler outside. High temps cause fuel to evaporate faster, pumping out fumes and chemicals into the air, she notes. Lastly, driving between 55 to 65 mph on the highway burns less gas (and saves you countless speeding tickets).

Give up your television

What are you? Crazy? Amish? "Wait, I'm not suggesting you swear off TV shows but instead watch them on your computer," says Rogers. "It minimizes the amount of electronics you own, and I find that when you disconnect from your television set, you actually spend more quality time with friends and family."

Sounds pretty revolutionary.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/empty-skies-proved-that-airports-cause-pollution-say-researchers-1950672.html

Empty skies proved that airports cause pollution, say researchers
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor and Phil Boucher
Thursday, 22 April 2010
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Scientists have used the no-flying period caused by the ash cloud to show for the first time that airports are themselves significant causes of pollution. Although long suspected, the fact that mass take-offs and landings are large pollution sources could never be proved before, because aircraft pollution could not be measured as separate from the pollution caused by vehicles operating near by.
But an analysis of the first three days of the unprecedented closure of UK airspace, at Heathrow and Gatwick, shows that there is a definite air pollution caused by air traffic in the vicinity of airport hubs.
Related articles

Pollution near both airports dropped significantly during the first three days of the shutdown. During last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, levels of two major pollutants, NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) and NOx (the generic term for oxides of nitrogen, taken together) fell virtually to zero.
Such nitrogen pollutants can exacerbate breathing difficulties in older people and those suffering from cardiac conditions, and can react with sunlight to form an even more damaging pollutant, ozone, which causes the sort of "urban smogs" seen in Los Angeles. NOx and NO2 are particularly associated with jet aircraft, as they are produced by the high-temperature mix of aviation with fuel.
The new analysis has been produced by Ben Barratt and Gary Fuller of the Environmental Research Group at King's College, London. The group said yesterday: "This period of unprecedented closure during unexceptional weather conditions has allowed us to demonstrate that the airports have a clear measurable effect on NO2 concentrations, and that this effect disappeared entirely during the period of closure, leading to a temporary but significant fall in pollutant concentrations adjacent to the airport perimeters."
"We have always been fairly confident that there was this 'airport effect' but we have never been able to show it," Dr Barratt commented. "The closure gave us the opportunity to look at it, and there is a very strong indication that it is the case."
The researchers are also going to study the pollution effects of the fall in airport motor traffic during the shutdown. Ed Dearnley, of Environmental Protection UK, which specialises in airquality campaigning, said yesterday: "This has been an excellent opportunity to find out exactly what the environmental impact of airports really is."



http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/31/intel-amends-charter-sustainability-now-a-fiduciary-duty/

Intel Amends Charter – Sustainability Now a 'Fiduciary Duty'
Posted By Environmental Leader On March 31, 2010 @ 7:04 am In Finance & ReportingFinancialGreen Marketing | 1 Comment
intel-logoResponding to pressure from an environmental investment group, Intel said it would include "corporate responsibility and sustainability performance [1]" in the committee's overall policy responsibility. The company's charter now says it has a "fiduciary duty" to do so.

Intel had been pressured by a shareholder resolution from Harrington Investments. For the second year in a row, Harrington submitted a resolution to amend Intel's bylaws to create a "Board Committee on Sustainability."

At first, Intel opposed the resolution but after engaging in dialogue with Harrington, the computing giant agreed to change its corporate charter to require its Governance and Nominating Committee instead serve in that capacity.

Now the Governance and Nominating Committee will "review(s) and report(s) to the Board on a periodic basis with regards to matters of corporate responsibility and sustainability performance, including potential long and short term trends and impacts to our business of environmental, social and governance issues, including the company's public reporting on these topics."

Intel sought an outside legal opinion on Delaware Law, finding that directors have a fiduciary duty to address corporate responsibility and sustainability performance as specified in the committee charter.

"Intel has acknowledged in their committee charter, that directors must take into consideration corporate responsibility and sustainability performance, including long and short term trends and impacts on Intel's business, as part of their fiduciary duty," said John Harrington, President and CEO of Harrington.

Intel also had its outside legal counsel, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, construct a legal opinion confirming that pursuant to Delaware law, corporate responsibility and sustainability reporting based upon the committee's charter was part of the "fiduciary duty of company directors."

After that, Harrington said it would withdraw its bylaw amendment resolution.

Earlier in March, it was revealed that U.S. investor groups have filed 95 global warming shareholder resolutions [2] with public corporations, a 40 percent increase over last year.


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

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/31/intel-amends-charter-sustainability-now-a-fiduciary-duty/

URLs in this post:
[1] corporate responsibility and sustainability performance: http://harringtoninvestments.com/PressIntelSustainability033010.aspx
[2] filed 95 global warming shareholder resolutions: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/04/shareholder-climate-resolutions-up-40/

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/31/cloud-computing-ghgs-to-triple-by-2020/

Greenpeace Says Cloud Computing GHGs to Triple by 2020
Posted By Environmental Leader On March 31, 2010 @ 7:53 am In ChartsData CenterEmissionsHi-TechResearch & Technology | No Comments
cloudGreenpeace predicts that greenhouse gases associated with cloud computing functions will triple by 2020, according to its "Make IT Green [1]" report.

Cloud computing is projected to consume nearly 2 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity a year by 2020.

Expect Greenpeace to use this information to encourage emissions cutting at data centers, as well as adoption of renewable energy.

"Companies like Facebook, Google, and other large players in the cloud computing market must advocate for policy change at the local, national, and international levels to ensure that, as their appetite for energy increases, so does the supply of renewable energy," Greenpeace said in the report.

Citing information from the SMART 2020 [2] e-sustainability initiative, it's predicted that PC ownership will quadruple to 4 billion units between 2007 and 2020.

Mobile phone ownership is expected to double to 5 billion users by 2020, but that alone is expected to cause only a 4 percent rise in emissions. However, use of broadband for the devices is expected to double the emissions related to telecom infrastructure.

But others point out how cloud computing benefits the environment.

Emma Stewart and John F. Kennedy, both of Autodesk, in an Environmental Leader guest column [3] last year, made the following points:

  • At the macro-economic level, cloud computing helps achieve economies of scale by centralizing compute power and democratizing access.
  • At the CIO level, cloud computing helps shift the mindset to commoditize computing power, not servers, and therefore drive efficiencies via virtualization and greater utilization rates which allows systems to scale up or down due to load fluctuations.
  • At the data center level, cloud computing's drive towards consolidation paves the way for new standards for energy efficiency.
  • At the R&D level, cloud computing creates incentives for software engineers to code more efficient applications, as often their company will become the host for said applications,
Recently, IBM launched a new energy efficient data center [4] that, in turn, lowers the carbon footprint of clients who use it for cloud computing, compared to using an on-site data center.


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

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/03/31/cloud-computing-ghgs-to-triple-by-2020/

URLs in this post:
[1] Make IT Green: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/make-it-green-cloud-computing
[2] SMART 2020: http://www.smart2020.org/
[3] guest column: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/07/20/the-sustainability-potential-of-cloud-computing-smarter-design/
[4] launched a new energy efficient data center: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/02/05/ibm-cloud-computing-data-center-saves-15-in-energy-costs/

http://planetark.org/wen/57417

Arctic Thaw Frees Overlooked Greenhouse Gas: Study
Date: 06-Apr-10
Country:
 OSLO
Author:
 REUTERS


Arctic Thaw Frees Overlooked Greenhouse Gas: Study Photo: Andy Clark
A large iceberg is seen on the edge of a morning fog over Frobisher Bay, Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic August 21, 2009.
Photo: Andy Clark

Thawing permafrost can release nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, a contributor to climate change that has been largely overlooked in the Arctic, a study showed on Sunday.
The report in the journal Nature Geoscience indicated that emissions of the gas surged under certain conditions from melting permafrost that underlies about 25 percent of land in the Northern Hemisphere.
Emissions of the gas measured from thawing wetlands in Zackenberg in eastern Greenland leapt 20 times to levels found in tropical forests, which are among the main natural sources of the heat-trapping gas.
"Measurements of nitrous oxide production permafrost samples from five additional wetland sites in the high Arctic indicate that the rates of nitrous oxide production observed in the Zackenberg soils may be in the low range," the study said.
The scientists, from Denmark and Norway, studied sites in Canada and Svalbard off northern Norway alongside their main focus on Zackenberg. The releases would be a small addition to known impacts of global warming.
Nitrous oxide is the third most important greenhouse gas from human activities, dominated by carbon dioxide ahead of methane.
It is among the gases regulated by the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol for limiting global warming that could spur more sandstorms, floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels.
Nitrous oxide comes from human sources including agriculture, especially nitrogen-based fertilizers, and use of fossil fuels as well as natural sources in soil and water, such as microbes in wet tropical forests.
The scientists said that past studies had reckoned that carbon dioxide and methane were released by a thaw of permafrost while nitrous oxide stayed locked up.
"Thawing and drainage of the soils had little impact on nitrous oxide production," Nature said in a statement of the study led by Bo Elberling of Copenhagen University.
"However, re-saturation of the drained soils with meltwater from the frozen soils -- as would happen following thawing -- increased nitrous oxide production by over 20 times," it said.
"Nearly a third of the nitrous oxide produced in this process escaped into the atmosphere," it added.
(Editing by Philippa Fletcher)

http://www.physorg.com/news187877533.html

Researcher finds people will forgo luxury for green products when status is on mind
March 15th, 2010 in Other Sciences / Social Sciences
Environmentally friendly products are everywhere one looks. Energy efficient dishwashers, bamboo towels, the paperless Kindle and, of course, the ubiquitous Prius are all around. But why do people buy these "green" products? Do they care about the environment or is there something else at play? "Green purchases are often motivated by status," says Vladas Griskevicius, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "People want to be seen as being altruistic. Nothing communicates that better than by buying green products that often cost more and are of lower quality but benefit the environment for everyone."
In the recently published paper "Going Green to Be Seen: Status, Reputation, and Conspicuous Conservation," Griskevicius and co-authors find that people will forgo luxury and comfort for a green item. The catch? People will forgo indulging for themselves only when others can see it. "Many green purchases are rooted in the evolutionary idea of competitive altruism, the notion that people compete for status by trying to appear more altruistic," says Griskevicius. His research finds that when people shop alone online, they choose products that are luxurious and enhance comfort. But when in public, people's preferences for green products increases because most people want to be seen as caring altruists.
Nowhere is this clearer than the highly visible and easily identifiable Toyota Prius, which essentially functions as a mobile, self-promoting billboard for pro-environmentalism. "A reputation for being a caring individual gives you status and prestige. When you publicly display your environmentally friendly nature, you send the signal that you care," states Griskevicius.

Interestingly, the study also shows that status motives increased desirability of green products especially when such products cost more—but not less—relative to non-green products. This explains why the Prius price tag and why old-fashioned items like hand operated reel lawn mowers are holding their price. "When you are motivated by status, you will forgo luxury features to obtain an inferior green product that tells others that you care," Griskevicius says.
For entrepreneurs and companies looking to capture the green market, the key may be getting the product to be purchased and used in public. When others can see you do good, both you and the environment benefit. But in the privacy of ones home, luxury and comfort is still the winner.
Vladas Griskevicius's teaching and research utilizes theoretical principles from evolutionary biology to study consumers' often unconscious preferences, decision processes, and behavioral strategies. The paper "Going Green to Be Seen: Status, Reputation, and Conspicuous Conservation," published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, was co-authored by Joshua Tybur (University of New Mexico) and Bram Van den Bergh (Rotterdam School of Management).
More information: The paper and more information on Professor Griskevicius can be found at http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu/marketinginstitute/vgriskevicius
Provided by University of Minnesota
"Researcher finds people will forgo luxury for green products when status is on mind." March 15th, 2010. www.physorg.com/news187877533.html


http://www.itac.ca/itaconline/apr10/inside.html#article_2

ICT is Green Technology
By Lynda Leonard, Senior Vice-President, ITAC
The ICT industry faces significant challenges relative to our environmental impact and our contributions to a more sustainable life here on earth.
First is the challenge of getting our own house in order. We have benefited from the acquisition of a relatively benign environmental reputation. We're not seen as a "smokestack" industry and that has bought us some grace. Let's hope our halo holds up until we can fully address the reality of our situation... which is that we are a serious emissions contributor (some servers can pump out carbon like an SUV). Fortunately we prize our green reputation and hold our reputation for non-complacency even higher. So there has already been a major effort across the whole industry to shrink this footprint as quickly as we can. Sustainability and energy efficiency feature prominently in the R&D programs and market engagements of virtually all major and many smaller ICT firms.
A second challenge lies in the proliferation and increasing superannuation and disposability of the tools and devices we use to connect our wired world. The alchemy of computing has involved some pretty nasty ingredients (like lead and cadmium). We can't be dumping that into landfills here or anywhere else. So once again we return to the lab to discover new ways to weave our magic with friendlier (and fewer) materials.
A third challenge lies in firmly establishing our place in the ranks of environmental technologies. With controversy swirling (yes, that was a pun) around the negative impacts of wind farming or around the actual yield from solar technology, it seems to me that ICT is the only environmental technology with a proven track record... producing greater efficiencies in power generation and distribution, conserving energy through sensor networks in smart buildings and by displacing the need for carbon-spewing commuting and business travel. As the OECD's Environmental Technologies Action Plan has observed... "the (ICT) industry can provide the tools to contribute to energy savings both within its own sector and in other areas. Even at a very basic level the energy management, monitoring and awareness-raising potential of ICTs mean they can offer huge savings across almost every industry."
The environmental issues confronting our industry are weighty and complex enough to fill days of discourse. So we thought we'd hold at least one. On April 27 we will hold the first ITAC Executive Forum on Green ICT. To give you a sample of the discussions we will have there, this issue of ITAC Online features three of our speakers. I hope you enjoy meeting them, either here or in person on the 27th.


Making the Business Case for Green IT
Melissa Alvares, Sustainability Programs Manager, Softchoice
Melissa Alvares, Sustainability Programs Manager, Softchoice


For any person or company looking to become more environmentally friendly, there are endless options for where to begin. And people like Melissa Alvares, Sustainability Programs Manager at Softchoice, can help.
Melissa's work with Softchoice was internally-oriented in the beginning: she lead a "Green Team" of 10 volunteers and created corporate recycling, energy use reduction, and transportation programs. But after researching the ICT industry's impact on the environment a little further, it quickly became apparent that the company could make its biggest green impact by reaching out to customers.
"We came across the scary stat that the IT industry actually contributes the same amount of carbon emissions as the entire airline industry," Melissa said. "We then realized that Softchoice, as an IT solutions provider that works with over 15,000 customers across North America – many of them a lot larger than we are – could have a much larger impact if we were able to help them green their IT departments, and use our knowledge and connections in the industry to change the way these customers do things in their IT departments. We also realized that there is a lot of information out there, and for many customers it becomes overwhelming, so our goal is to make it simple and get people started. Putting solar panels on your roof is not going to be the first thing you do; it'll be turning off your lights. So we want to help people discover their easy wins, then help them to build their entire green IT foundation."
To do this, Softchoice has divided the realm of green ICT into six categories: Energy Reduction, Paper Reduction, Travel Reduction, EcoMade products (i.e., anything designed from the start to be environmentally friendly), S.A.F.E. (Secure and Friendly to the Environment) Hardware Removal, and Data Centre Efficiency. Based on these categories, the company performs one-hour "EcoTech"
consultations with their customers, free of charge, with the goal of inspiring their clients to become more energy efficient. In the end, Melissa provides these clients with a report, outlining suggestions, tools, white papers, carbon calculators, or any other resource they need to get started.

Melissa said keeping environmental goals as top priorities has done wonders for her company's relationships with clients.
"With the customers we already have, it's definitely helping deepen our relationships, because instead of us trying to sell something, we're both in there together trying to solve a problem. That's what makes it such a different conversation," she said. "Anytime I'm on a call with a sales rep, and we're talking with a customer about their EcoTech Assessment, the sales rep is always so amazed by how engaged the customer is, because we're not trying to push a product. Instead, we're saying, "Okay, what problems are you having in your data centre around energy, space, power cooling? And are you having problems measuring that? Do you have a green strategy that you're trying to measure and report on carbon? Let's figure out a way to do it." A lot of what we talk about during these assessments doesn't give us any product sales. It's more a way to get them listening."
Melissa said she has learned a lot about the structural obstacles within many organizations trying to go green. For instance, IT departments are not often in close contact with those who manage an organization's facilities, so if an IT manager never sees a power bill, where does the motivation come from to reduce the company's technology-related energy use?
Melissa said the opportunities in green ICT are infinite, and that she thinks the industry must head in this direction – but it hasn't always looked this way.
"It's funny, in 2009, everyone that was focused on green when the hard economy hit thought we were all going to lose our jobs, that green initiatives would be the first things on the chopping block," she said. "But according to a report called 'The State of Green Business,' the focus on green actually remained quite consistent even during the economic downturn. I think that what most people don't realize about going green is that – while in the 1990s it was all about "hippies" and going organic, and you had to pay a premium if you wanted to go green – now, green is really about saving resources. In a time when the economy is tight, you don't want to waste things like energy, paper, travel for meetings and training; you want to reduce your impact because that is going to reduce your costs. Green is so aligned right now with efficiency, that it just makes business sense.
"At the same time, people are getting much more educated on these issues, and there is also much more government pressure, as both the Canadian and US governments are putting along of incentives and laws in place. For example, large corporations are going to have to start measuring carbon, probably within the next five to 10 years, so a lot of companies want to get an early start on this and figure it out. IT has got to lead the way when it comes to measuring the data and being able to figure out a carbon footprint. Data centres and PCs are going to make up a huge portion of a lot of businesses' carbon footprint that are not in manufacturing, so people have to figure out a way to measure and reduce it. It's becoming top of mind, as the laws, government, and corporate culture moves toward wanting to do things in a more environmentally sustainable way."
As is often the case with any type of widespread cultural change, Melissa says the biggest challenge right now is getting the right information to those in decision-making positions, and raising public awareness of the issue at large. And this means more than simply developing slogans for a marketing campaign.
"In terms of communication, and getting this information out to customers and having them easily find information about products' green attributes, that's really lacking. We find awareness is really low. People will talk about green in a marketing campaign, but green is a word that's slapped on so many things. People love to call things eco-friendly, but there's not a lot of regulation, and I think people need real information, calculators, and people that say, "This is what makes this green; this is the energy in kilowatts that's been reduced; this is the percentage of recycled material." In order for people to take these green products more seriously, we need to be more transparent in the reporting and benefits."
Green 2.0
Peter Corbyn, CEO, GreenNexxus
Peter Corbyn, CEO, GreenNexxus with Al Gore


People often find their calling by encountering a problem that needs fixing. That's what happened to Peter Corbyn, CEO at GreenNexxus.
"Online carbon calculators bothered me," Peter explained, "because they ask you to input all your information, then they tell you, 'your carbon footprint is 20.6 tons buddy – you're a pig!' The reality is that none of those sites motivate an individual or a company to realize that if they do something, they can reduce that footprint by x or y. So my first idea was to create what was initially called 'Green Energy Challenge,' where we focused on little things people could do to go greener, and quantify what those little actions are. So if I change a light bulb, I reduce my carbon footprint by 100kg, for example."
Peter is in charge of green initiatives, landing him the title of Chief GreenNexxian. And as he took their 'Green Energy Challenge' into the public realm, people quickly saw GreenNexxus to be equally innovative with their service design as they are with their vocabulary.
A few months later, Ryan Groom, GreenNexxus CTO, offered up the idea of adding a social networking functionality to the 'Green Energy Challenge,' an idea Peter latched onto, and resulted in the current form of the GreenNexxus website and online community.
Among the first clients GreenNexxus presented their product to were Cisco Systems and the CBC; he thought it was a perfect product to handle the back-end of Cisco's "One Million Acts of Green" campaign. "We showed Willa Black at Cisco, and George Stroumboulopoulos and the CBC team, and they said it was exactly what they needed – next thing you know we're doing business with them."
"We now provide Web 2.0 platforms for corporate and non-for-profit clients," he said. "We power micro-sites, or landing pages, for corporate and non-profit clients, and we maintain a brand. We are in the process of establishing our brand as the property of choice for building green social media campaigns.
"The benefit of working with us versus a "white label" back-end is this: picture a great big ball in the middle which is the entire GreenNexxus community, and then a bunch of portals or doorways into that community from different corporate clients. You get the experience of sharing information and such with people that came into the community from different portals, and we can offer all the functionality for clients that's already built, but also a branded experience for the user. For example, the GreenNexxus banner can change depending on which the portal from which the user enters."
Working with this current iteration of the service, Peter's reference list became only more impressive: GreenNexxus' first client to sign on to use the service was Al Gore and his non-profit organization, the Climate Project (TCP). After establishing this relationship, Peter and GreenNexxus built the back-end for TCP for Canada and India so that presenters of "The Inconvenient Truth" could communicate with one another, and so that people around the world could download the accompanying Power-Point presentation.
The bulk of the company's work, meanwhile, remains focused on helping their clients measure the impact they have on the environment, or better yet, the improvements they are making toward lightening their carbon footprint.
"We have customers who are doing similar project to the Million Acts of Green, but are doing it in-house. The general public would not know that these portals exist – they do it because pretty much every organization today wants to have a credible green story. So what we're capable of providing is an in-house, grassroots campaign to rally the employees and the troops. So to look at this in two phases: part A is to make sure we're on board in-house – and not just from your typical management systems, but employees are really getting it – and once you're confident your environmental commitment is in order, to take the story externally. Part B is the merging of social media and social networking. Since social media has really taken off, timing has served us well; we can offer a client something far beyond sticking something on Facebook. Plus they've got the ability to control their brand within our community as opposed to, say, a Facebook group."
A second area for environmental gains is in improving how the ICT industry disposes of its dying hardware, he said.
As for what keeps Peter motivated to keep fighting the green fight, it's simple:
"My daughter – she's eight. That's the personal motivator. The professional motivator is that I do not like waste, and we waste so much stuff it's scary. I've been involved in the environmental field for 20 years, and it was a job; it became personal in 2001 when Paige was born. So I'm motivated because I'm a father, and from the IT perspective, I'm excited by the fact that a team located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, can make an impact globally through the use of IT. For us to be able to extend our work globally is a pretty neat thing to do, and to do it in line with our passion for doing the right thing for the planet, what's more fun than that?"
Greening the Desktop
Mauro Lollo, co-founder, Unis Lumin Inc., Genuit Corp., NCS Corp.
Mauro Lollo, co-founder, Unis Lumin Inc., Genuit Corp., NCS Corp.


The worlds of virtualization - that is, the abstraction of computing resources – and remote collaboration are nothing new to the ICT industry. The full extent of the potential impact these operational models can have on the environment, however, is.
Mauro Lollo is a co-founder at Unis Lumin Inc., Genuit Corp., and NCS Corp., and much of his work revolves around delivering desktop platforms which significantly reduce a company's carbon footprint and operational overhead.
"We're heavily promoting and integrating unified collaboration systems for our clients –in essence, a platform that allows people to collaborate to enhance both the productivity and value of work teams," Mauro said. "By doing so, that productivity can be achieved pretty much without a fixed location. So mobility and telecommuting are very important things coming up, which quite probably have the biggest potential impact in the world of green. By switching people's work habits and enabling them to collaborate no matter where they might be – in particular, staying at home more often instead of running into an office every day – we can have a positive impact."
While remote collaboration represents one particularly rich area for potential steps toward a greener industry, Mauro's products also pay other environmental dividends.
"Look at information and technology infrastructure in and of itself, and the life cycle of products and technologies that are used in IT. Many organizations are obviously using full-blown desktop PCs today, which tend to be power-hungry devices, and as I see it, an old model of delivering applications and information out to workers. While that model has been around since about 1980 or so in its current iteration, it's ripe for change for a lot of reasons. Not only is it crazy overhead to maintain full desktops and everything around them, which has been well-demonstrated many times in the past, but from the green perspective we're talking about an energy footprint that's problematic. There are a whole bunch of other facets to that, but we're ideally driving toward a lighter, cleaner, greener desktop."
He says the ICT industry is taking steps in this direction, but not at the pace – or necessarily for the reasons – he would like.
"I don't believe the industry has been self-policing well enough. Most of it has been mandated from other sectors. So IT really has to start doing this, and I believe we're starting, at this point, simply because it's important to people's brands to be green. So in the world of IT, vendors especially need to recognize that they have to do more than just being forced to be 'Energy Star compliant' – because if they weren't necessarily forced to do that, they probably wouldn't, because there are costs involved in doing those sorts of things. But every change results in some amount of cost to be born by the people making the change."
Mauro said marketing-related benefits are not the only reasons why an ICT firm should want to position its brand as a leader in environmental sustainability. Other benefits from taking this approach to business, and implementing products and services like those Mauro's companies provide, also include reducing total costs of ownership of IT infrastructure, and enhancing data security.
"We can dramatically help reduce the cost of operational support of the standard desktop by slimming the desktop down, through thin client technology; and also, increasing the level of security – so basically managing information, and keeping information safe within a data centre as opposed to leaking it all over the place, on every desktop. It's just a by-product of keeping the data within the data centre, as opposed to having it stored on thousands of hard drives, laptops, and desktop machines.
"If you go back to the 60s and 70s with green screen terminals and such, apart from taking a photograph of the screen and writing it down yourself, you really couldn't extract data out of a mainframe – you had to have IT to do that for you. So that was a very secure environment, but obviously not necessarily user-friendly entirely productive. Now we've come full circle on that; it's now gone too far. We find ourselves looking for solutions to prevent data loss, so data loss prevention is an up and coming area, and that's a beneficial by-product of what we're talking about in this case."
For Mauro, greening the ICT industry is not something a few companies can take on alone – it must be a widely shared mission across the whole industry.
"We all have to live on the planet, so we all need to do our part. We have a responsibility, not only to customers and to ourselves, but to the world, to try and reduce the impact we have on the environment; and the best way we can do that is by minimizing our carbon footprint with energy reduction programs. Those types of programs would manifest themselves through certain types of ICT technologies – thin client and virtualization on the desktop, and of course virtualization in the data centre, being very important – which pretty much leads to private and public cloud computing. A lot of it is happening today – not necessarily because people want to be green, but because it makes so much economic sense to virtualize, lighten up, and get better usage out of the resources they have. So let's do our part to try and make that happen."





http://planetark.org/wen/57488

Grass-Fed Beef Packs A Punch To Environment
Date: 09-Apr-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 REUTERS

Grass-Fed Beef Packs A Punch To Environment Photo: Mike Blake
Cows feed on grass as they roam the hills near Pleasanton, California March 23, 2007.
Photo: Mike Blake

Gidon Eshel is a professor with the Physics department of Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. He is currently researching diet's effects on the environment. The views expressed here are his own. -
First it was slow. Then local, then organic. Now it is firmly grass-fed.
As a rare geophysicist studying diet's environmental consequences, I am asked daily by my colleagues - a bit bemused by my new field yet quantitatively astute and environmentally concerned - about the latest claim made about impacts of food production on the physical environment.
In this role, I get to keep a sensitive finger on the envirofood pulse. Unambiguously, grass-fed beef is all the rage now. Even the New York Times Op-Ed page featured a recent piece extolling the virtues of grazing cattle.
Depending on your guiding environmental objectives, grass-fed beef may indeed be the greatest thing since Guns n' Roses or the environmental equivalent of entrusting former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with military preparedness.
Yet on reasonably balancing the main geophysical dimensions of dietary choices, grass-feeding loses most of its touted allure, relegating its role in a rational food production system to the margins.
To be sure, the flesh of a healthy, thriving animal is clearly nutritionally superior to the biochemically compromised, microbiologically teeming ecosystem that is the bulk of the nation's meat supply.
Grass-feeding is also biogeochemically sensible. Unlike mammals, bacteria in the ruminants' digestive system can decompose cellulose, the sugar-based rigid structure into which most of the solar energy the biosphere absorbs is converted.
This decomposition converts the otherwise unavailable energy locked in the cellulose structure into metabolically readily available glucose. If it weren't for the absorption of glucose liberated by bacteria mediated cellulose breakdown inside ruminant bodies, most of this energy would have bypassed the animal kingdom altogether.
These demonstrated virtues, however, pale in comparison to overwhelming environmental liabilities.
To begin with, there is greenhouse gas emissions, the argument most often invoked to promote grass-feeding. Yet grass-fed meat is more, not less, greenhouse-gas intensive.
In this, simple chemistry is the Draconian ring master, dictating that every decomposing carbon-containing molecule ends up as methane if the decomposition is anaerobic, as it is in the largely oxygen free rumen, and as carbon dioxide if the decomposition occurs in the presence of oxygen, as befalls most cellulose not digested by ruminants.
Since grazing animals eat mostly cellulose-rich roughage while their feedlot counterparts eat mostly simple sugars whose digestion requires no rumination, the grazing animals emit two to four times as much methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
This, and the faster weight gain by feedlot animals, result in significantly higher greenhouse gas emissions per pound of meat by grass fed animals than by feedlot ones.
This is true, to variable a degree, for organic and non-organic, large- and small-scale grazing operations in the U.S. and overseas.
Then there is land. Upward of a quarter of the entire U.S. surface area is pasture or grazeland.
Grazing animals produce at most a quarter of the calories per acre typical plant based production systems do. While these facts are well established, they are often dismissed as irrelevant to the grass feeding question on the (partly correct) grounds that much grazing occurs on land that would otherwise produce no human destined calories.
But do we need more calories?
In recent decades, the U.S. has been consistently producing 3,800 kcal per person per year, almost twice the average person's needs.
Given biodiversity declines due to dwindling, fragmented, wilderness, allocating all this land to inefficiently producing needless calories is foolhardy.
Even if you irrationally consider those extra calories indispensable, because of corn's unrivaled caloric yield it makes more sense to produce them as a corn derivative on a fraction of the land, and still have some left for species protection.
Grazing cattle also compromise river systems in the fragile arid and semi arid environments in which they are disproportionately ubiquitous, and accelerate soil erosion.
Because they eat much more dry matter then feedlot animals, they also pressure dwindling local water supplies exactly where they are most vulnerable.
While some of those adverse impacts can be minimized by adequate management, most rigidly reflect cattle biology and north American geography.
Grass-feeding produces unnecessary low-quality calories at ostentatious environmental costs while displacing threatened wildlife.
While some grass-feeding may be reasonable on marginal lands near population centers in the rainy eastern U.S., the logical number of grazing cattle in the western U.S. is zero.
What we need is not grass fed cattle, but quantitative sophistication that readily distinguishes elixirs like grass feeding from actual environmental solutions.

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IBM Demands Smaller Supply Chain Footprint

GreenBiz.com, 14 April 2010 - IBM's 28,000 suppliers will need to start tracking, reporting and reducing their environmental impacts, reports The New York Times. 

The company's suppliers, spread across 90 countries, will need to monitor their energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and recycling with data management systems, and then turn around and ask their subcontractors to track their own performance as well. 

IBM is not setting any specific reduction targets, but suppliers will need to set goals on those main topics and publicly show their progress. 

John Patterson, IBM's global supply vice president and chief procurement officer, told The New York Times' Green Inc. blog, "We will be amongst the first, if not the first, with these broad-based markers on our supply base and we're going to have to spend an appropriate amount of time and money to help our suppliers do what we're asking them to do." IBM buyers and procurement engineers will be the main contacts working with suppliers on the project. 

IBM's new initiative is similar to Walmart's broad supplier-focused efforts like its
Packaging ScorecardSustainability Index (for rating individual products), and its latest push to have suppliers cut 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions out of product lifecycles and supply chains by 2015. 

Just as suppliers that rate subpar on any of Walmart's assessments might no longer see their products on store shelves, IBM suppliers that perform poorly might find themselves cut out of the company's supply chain. 

"Ultimately, if a supplier cannot be compliant with requirements on the environment and sustainability, we'll stop doing business with them," Patterson told Green Inc. 


http://www-03.ibm.com/procurement/proweb.nsf/ContentDocsByTitle/United+States~Letter+from+IBM+Chief+Procurement+Officer+to+suppliers+on+supply+chain+and+environmental+responsibilities?OpenDocument&Parent=Global+Procurement



Letter from IBM Chief Procurement Officer to suppliers on supply chain and environmental responsibilities
Dear IBM Supplier:

IBM has expected its suppliers to operate in an environmentally responsible manner for decades. Accordingly, our management system has included various environmental and supply chain social requirements for our suppliers. In addition, in 1998, IBM explicitly encouraged its suppliers to align their own environmental management systems with International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 and to pursue registration under this international standard. In 2004, IBM published its 
Supplier Conduct Principles to articulate the company's overall supply chain social and environmental requirements.

These early initiatives and actions - taken well before the present day focus on "green" -- have served IBM and its suppliers well, underscoring how effective environmental management makes good business sense. As we begin a new decade and in recognition of the continually growing imperative for environmental and corporate responsibility across supply chains, I am writing to inform you about some new requirements we are now setting for our suppliers in this important part of business. 

Specifically, IBM will now require all of its suppliers to:

  • define, deploy, and sustain a corporate responsibility and environmental management system;
  • measure performance and establish voluntary environmental numeric goals
  • publicly disclose results associated with these voluntary environmental goals and other environmental aspects of the management system

Many of you have already been doing this for several years, and you have recognized -- like IBM -- that environmental leadership fosters business efficiency and effectiveness. You have also accepted that environmental responsibility and accountability resides at home, in your own business operations. For others, these requirements may represent a new way of doing business. Nevertheless, we trust you are familiar with the underlying issues since we previously wrote about ISO 14001 and IBM's Supplier Conduct Principles. What may be new, therefore, is taking the next steps to establish a formal management system, measure performance, set goals, and disclose results. 

There are certain basic elements that are necessary to put these requirements into action. We have stated them in the attachment below. IBM's own practices are built upon them, yet they are certainly not exclusive or limited in applicability to any one company or any particular industry sector. Although we are now asking you to include these elements in your work, we are not prescribing a uniform set of programs and goals. We realize there is not a "one size fits all" solution. Instead, we ask each supplier to deploy a management system, measure performance, set goals, and disclose results in a way that reflects your company's particular intersections with corporate responsibility and the environment.

Whether these requirements are new to you or not, IBM believes they are important and expects its suppliers to meet them. Questions pertaining to these requirements should be directed to your IBM procurement contact person.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

John Paterson
Vice President, Global Supply and Chief Procurement Officer


Carbon Newsclips - Eath Day After 2010 Edition: Rises in carbon prices; 3C rise in temps by 2100; will there be cap-and-trade in the US?

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Climate change: The runes of Copenhagen are hard for industry to read

Financial Times, 29 March 2010 - The Copenhagen summit on climate change last December was the biggest meeting of world leaders ever to discuss issues such as global warming. Its effects on the energy sector will be far-reaching – but what those effects will be is unclear.

Derided by environmentalists for producing an agreement worth "less than a bus ticket", in the words of Greenpeace, the environmental group, the summit nevertheless produced an accord that requires the world's biggest economies to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

Those limits vary widely. The European Union has pledged cuts of 20 per cent in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, compared with 1990 levels.

The US has pledged 17 per cent compared with 2005 levels, though this will depend on the passage of domestic legislation which is now looking more difficult.

China has agreed only to cut its "carbon intensity" – that is, emissions per unit of economic output – by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020, a target that means its emissions will continue to grow. The country strongly resisted pressure from developed economies to set a year when its emissions would peak.

Although the targets were lower than environmental groups would have liked, meeting them – and the tougher 2050 targets set by developed countries – will still require require a rapid restructuring of the global energy industry, with efficiency, renewables and nuclear power all playing big roles.

But although the Copenhagen accord marks the first time that developed and developing countries have jointly agreed to limit emissions, the summit failed to answer important questions.

The accord is not a legally binding treaty, and so could be hard to enforce if countries decide to renege on their promises. The document itself contains little detail on how emissions cuts are to be achieved.

It promises financial flows of $100bn a year from the developed to the developing world by 2020, to help poorer countries cut emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change, but there is no detail on how these sums are to be provided, and how much will come from the private or the public sector.

Other questions left hanging include whether the Kyoto protocol would be continued beyond 2012, and how international carbon markets would work.

The nations that have ratified the Kyoto treaty – almost every country except the US – met to discuss whether there should be another "commitment period" beyond 2012, when the current one ends. That would entail developed countries signing up to more explicit emissions targets between now and 2020.

If there is no agreement on this, it is difficult to see what will happen to the carbon markets set up under the protocol. These allow developed countries to meet their emissions reduction targets more cheaply by funding emissions-cutting projects in developing countries.

The market in carbon credits, awarded to such projects, was worth €17.5bn ($23.3bn) last year, according to Point Carbon, a consultancy.

For the energy sector, reading the runes of the Copenhagen summit is difficult. There may not be a new fully fledged global treaty on climate change for years, even though such a treaty would provide more of the kind of certainty that markets would like to see.

But Yvo de Boer, the UN's top official on climate change, who announced his resignation in February, says that companies should be guided by the clear direction of policy that the summit signalled. "Copenhagen did not provide us with a clear agreement in legal terms, but the political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming," he says.

That should provide enough of a message for energy companies to see they must invest in improving efficiency, renewable energy sources and other low-carbon forms of energy, and in technologies such as carbon capture and storage, he says.

Others disagree. Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said this year: "There still is no clear signal for the energy sector after Copenhagen, and that means that the uncertainty in energy sector investments continues, particularly in the developing world."

That lack of a clear investment signal was dangerous for the climate, he said. "Investors still have the incentives to build the kind of conventional coal-fired plants that lock in significant amounts of carbon emissions for many years to come."

One indicator that disappointed clean energy companies was the sudden drop in carbon prices under the EU emissions trading scheme, immediately after the summit ended. Carbon prices fell 8 per cent to about €12.40 on the first day of trading after the summit.

That was a bearish indication that companies would not be persuaded to invest in clean energy, according to Trevor Sikorski, director at Barclays Capital. "I see nothing [in the accord] that should drive investment in low-carbon technology."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8635765.stm

'Paltry' carbon curbs point to 3C
By Richard Black 
Environment correspondent, BBC News 

Pledges made at December's UN summit in Copenhagen are unlikely to keep global warming below 2C, a study concludes.

Writing in the journal Nature, analysts at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research in Germany say a rise of at least 3C by 2100 is likely.

The team also says many countries, including EU members and China, have pledged slower carbon curbs than they have been achieving anyway.

They say a new global deal is needed if deeper cuts are to materialise.

"There's a big mismatch between the ambitious goal, which is 2C... and the emissions reductions," said Potsdam's Malte Meinshausen.
It is like racing towards the cliff and hoping you stop just before it 
Dr Malte Meinshausen

"The pledged emissions reductions are in most cases very unambitious," he told BBC News.

In their Nature article, the team uses stronger language, describing the pledges as "paltry".

"The prospects for limiting global warming to 2C - or even to 1.5C, as more than 100 nations demand - are in dire peril," they conclude.

Between now and 2020, global emissions are likely to rise by 10-20%, they calculate, and the chances of passing 3C by 2100 are greater than 50%.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this implies a range of serious impacts for the world, including

  • significant falls in crop yields across most of the world
  • damage to most coral reefs
  • likely disruption to water supplies for hundreds of millions of people.
More than 120 countries have now associated themselves with the Copenhagen Accord, the political document stitched together on the summit's final day by a small group of countries led by the US and the BASIC bloc of Brazil, China, India and South Africa.

The accord "recognises" the 2C target as indicated by science. It was also backed at last year's G8 summit.

Many of those 120-odd have said what they are prepared to do to constrain their greenhouse gas emissions - either pledging cuts by 2020, in the case of industrialised countries, or promising to improve their "carbon intensity" in the case of developing nations.

Some of the pledges are little more than vague statements of intent. But all developed countries, and the developing world's major emitters, have all given firm figures or ranges of figures.

The EU, for example, pledges to cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020; China promises to improve carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020 compared against 2005; and Australia vows an emission cut of 5-25% on 2000 levels by 2020.

The Potsdam team concludes that many of the detailed pledges are nowhere near as ambitious as their proponents would claim.

They calculate that the EU's 20% pledge implies an annual cut of 0.45% between 2010 and 2020, whereas it is already achieving annual reductions larger than that.
EUROPE'S 'AMBITIOUS' CARBON CUTS 

  • The Potsdam team calculates that the EU's emissions have fallen on average by 0.6% per year since 1980
  • During 2009, emissions from the bloc's power sector alone fell by 11% owing to the recession
  • Consequently, the current 20% by 2020 pledge equates to 0.45% per year - less than the historical average 
China's 40% minimum pledge also amounts to nothing more than business as usual, they relate; and among developed countries, only pledges by Norway and Japan fall into the 25-40% by 2020 range that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends as necessary to give a good chance of meeting the 2C target.

Hot air

Whereas many countries, rich and poor, have indicated they are willing to be more ambitious if there is a binding global deal, the Potsdam team notes that in the absence of a global deal, only the least ambitious end of their range can be counted upon.

Writing in the BBC's Green Room this week, Bryony Worthington from the campaign group Sandbag argues that the EU can easily move to its alternative higher figure of 30% - and that it must, if it wants to stimulate others to cut deeper.

"Many countries are looking to Europe to show how it is possible to achieve growth without increasing emissions," she said.

"Only when they see that this is possible will they be inclined to adopt absolute reduction targets of their own."

An additional factor flagged up in the analysis is that many countries have accrued surplus emissions credits under the Kyoto Protocol.

Countries such as Russia and other former Eastern bloc nations comfortably exceeded their Kyoto targets owing to the collapse of Communist economies in the early 1990s.

Without a binding global agreement preventing the practice, these nations would be allowed to put these "banked" credits towards meeting any future targets - meaning they would have to reduce actual emissions less than they promised.

These "hot air" credits could also be traded between nations.

Stern words

This is not the first analysis of the Copenhagen Accord pledges, but it is one of the starkest.

Lord Stern's team at the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment in London has also run the figures; and although their conclusions on the numbers are similar, they do not see things in quite such a pessimistic light.

"You cannot characterise an emissions path for a country or the world by focusing solely on the level in 2020 or any other particular date," said the institute's principal research fellow Alex Bowen.

"It is the whole path that matters, and if more action is taken now to reduce emissions, less action will be required later, and vice versa."

The Potsdam team acknowledges that if emissions do rise as they project, it would still be possible to have a reasonable chance of meeting 2C if very strict carbon curbs were applied thereafter, bringing emissions down by 5% per year or so.

"In an ideal world, if you pull off every possible emission reduction from the year 2021 onwards, you can still get to get to 2C if you're lucky," said Dr Meinshausen.

"But it is like racing towards the cliff and hoping you stop just before it."

They argue that positive analyses may "lull decision-makers into a false sense of security".

The UN climate process continues through this year, with many countries saying they still want to reach a binding global agreement by December.

But stark divisions remain between various blocs over emission cuts, finance, technology transfer and other issues; and it is far from certain that all important countries want anything more binding than the current set of voluntary national commitments.

Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk

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European carbon trading survives key tests

Financial Times, 8 April 2010 - A funny thing has happened to carbon dioxide prices in the past few days: they have failed to collapse.

Hours before most traders departed for their Easter break last week, the European Commission issued data showing the carbon market, under the European Union's emissions trading scheme (EUETS) was oversupplied.

Owing to the recession, Europe's heavy industries used far less energy than expected in 2009, and so had a surplus of the carbon dioxide permits they need to comply with the EU's environmental rules.

Preliminary data showed industry emissions at 1.882bn tonnes of carbon in 2009, down just over 11 per cent from 2.120bn tonnes a year earlier, according to the Commission. However, permits covering 2.037bn tonnes were issued for 2009. Not all of those will have been traded in the market, but there is still estimated to have been a surplus of more than 80m tonnes. Final data will be released next month.

Environmental campaigners reacted angrily, arguing a lower ceiling on emissions was needed to encourage investment in low-carbon technology. Joss Garman, of Greenpeace, says: "The new data confirms that we strongly need to tighten the cap."

But rather than dropping sharply - as they have done in similar circumstances in the past - prices for carbon permits rose slightly to about €13.50.

One reason prices held steady is that the bad news was already priced in. Another was that companies can hold on to the permits they received for this year, and use them as the economy picks up over the next few years.

Kjersti Ulset, manager at Point Carbon, says: "Market participants had feared even lower emissions in 2009 and confidence improved once the data was released."

The unexpected uptick in prices came as a small fillip to the carbon markets, which have been battered in recent months by a series of blows. Revelations of hacking and fraud, the effects of the recession and political setbacks have all taken their toll on a market that is particularly vulnerable to shocks, as it is still in its infancy, and exists only as the result of regulatory fiat.

For example, in 2006, a year after the scheme began to operate, when emissions from the industries covered were verified for the first time, traders discovered member states had been far too generous in allocating free permits. There was a large surplus in permits - a disaster, for a market that depends on scarcity for its existence. Prices dropped almost to zero amid international ridicule.

The Commission ensured fewer permits were issued in the second phase, from 2008 to 2012, but the financial crisis and recession destroyed its calculations.

Henry Derwent, president of the International Emissions Trading Association, says the problem of bureaucrats trying to second-guess the economic cycle to set the level of permits should abate in the third phase of the scheme, which runs from 2013 to 2020. "Looking out to 2020 is a long time away, even in terms of economic cycles," he says. Officials will be able to base their permit issuance instead on a calculation of how far the EU needs to cut its emissions to meet its target of a 20 per cent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020.

Even more damaging, in the past few months there have been a series of technical problems over the way trading is conducted. In January, hackers on a "phishing" expedition managed to break into some of the registries where permits are stored. Although the problem was swiftly contained, it drew attention to the security standards across member states.

Worse followed last month when it emerged the Hungarian government had "recycled" carbon credits that had already been used to fulfil companies' emissions obligations.

Under the EUETS, companies can increase their emissions quota by buying cheap carbon credits from overseas, issued by the United Nations under the Kyoto protocol. The Hungarian government accepted about 1.7m such credits - worth nearly €20m - and then resold them into the market, taking advantage of a legal loophole.

The move caused turmoil in the markets, and two exchanges - Bluenext and Nordpool - temporarily suspended trading.

Although the EU moved to close the loophole, Mr Derwent says the scandal was damaging as it made the EUETS look unstable to overseas observers.

That is now the crucial battleground. If the carbon markets are to fulfil their potential, other countries will have to develop their own trading systems to link to the EUETS, creating a global market and a level playing field that should encourage business to invest in low-carbon technology.

Hopes that such a global market could be forged in the short term were dashed at last year's Copenhagen climate summit, when governments could agree only a limited accord, committing to emissions cuts without providing any detail on mechanisms to achieve them. But the EU is spearheading efforts to put carbon trading - or "market-based mechanisms", in the UN jargon - at the heart of a new global climate treaty.

That will be hard. The prospects for carbon trading in the US nearly disappeared under the weight of strong opposition from Republicans and some Democrats, though President Obama's administration is attempting to resurrect the idea in a modified form. In Japan, Canada and Australia, moves towards carbon trading have also hit problems.

It is up to the EU to persuade other countries that carbon trading can be steady and reliable, giving businesses the long-term certainty needed for large infrastructure investments. Fortunately for the EU, trader reaction to last week's news has shown a much-needed degree of stability and maturity.

How the EU system operates

The European Union's emissions trading scheme (EUETS) is the world's biggest carbon trading system, worth about €70bn ($93bn) last year, according to analysts at Point Carbon.

Companies covered by the scheme - including electricity generators, oil and gas companies, cement-makers, paper and pulp companies and glassmakers - are issued with a quota of permits to produce carbon dioxide.

This quota is ratcheted downwards in successive phases of the scheme, which has been running since 2005. Companies that need to produce more than their allocation must buy spare permits from cleaner businesses.

They may also buy a small number of "carbon credits" from abroad. These are certificates issued to emission-reducing projects in the developing world, such as wind farms or solar power units, by the United Nations.

Thus, EUETS is designed to reduce CO 2 emissions from European industry at the lowest possible cost.

In the first phase of the scheme, from 2005-2007, EU member states handed out all the permits that companies needed for free. Too many were issued, causing a collapse in prices.

In the second phase, from 2008-2012, companies have had to buy a proportion of their permits at auction. They will have to buy even more at auction in the third phase from 2013-2020.

The initial surplus of permits has now been mostly eliminated, but prices have been depressed by the recession.

http://planetark.org/wen/57503

New Climate Talks Set For 2010; Gloom For Treaty
Date: 12-Apr-10
Country:
 GERMANY
Author:
 Alister Doyle and Gerard Wynn


New Climate Talks Set For 2010; Gloom For Treaty Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl
A United Nations flag is raised at the United Nations multi-agency compound near Herat, November 5, 2009.
Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl

About 175 nations agreed a plan on Sunday to revive climate talks after the fractious Copenhagen summit but the U.N.'s top climate official predicted a full new treaty was out of reach for 2010.
Delegates at the April 9-11 talks, which reopened splits between rich and poor nations from Copenhagen, agreed to hold two extra meetings each at least a week long in the second half of 2010 after the December summit fell short of a binding deal.
The extra sessions, and a linked agreement to prepare new texts about fighting climate change, are meant to help pave the way to the next annual meeting of environment ministers in Cancun, Mexico, November 29-December 10.
And the U.N.'s top climate official, Yvo de Boer, said governments should focus on practical steps in 2010, such as aid to help poor nations cope with the impact of climate change or to promote clean technologies.
"I don't think Cancun will provide the final outcome," de Boer told Reuters on the sidelines of April 9-11 talks, the first since Copenhagen and intended to build trust.
"I think that Cancun can agree an operational architecture but turning that into a treaty, if that is the decision, will take more time beyond Mexico," he said, predicting "many more rounds" of talks to reach an ultimate solution.
Delegates asked the chair of the talks, Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe, to come up with a new draft text by May 17 about ways to combat global warming to help negotiations on a new treaty in 2010.
It was not decided where and when the extra meetings would be held. The meetings will be in addition to a session in Bonn from May 31-June 11.
"We have made substantial progress in the resuscitation of a positive spirit," said Dessima Williams, who chairs the Alliance of Small Island States, despite wrangling between rich and poor. "Multilateralism is very slow and complicated."
"It has been a difficult process," said Wendel Trio of Greenpeace. "We have agreement on a minimum programme. It's a start but not an extremely good start."
The U.N. talks among senior officials were meant to build trust after the December summit merely agreed the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, which has backing from about 120 of 194 U.N. member nations, including all top greenhouse gas emitters.
TWO DEGREES
The Accord aims to limit a rise in average world temperatures to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 F) from pre-industrial times. But it does not spell out how and some poor nations say it is too weak to avert dangerous impacts.
The Accord also pledges $30 billion from 2010-2012 to help developing nations cope with climate change, such as floods, droughts, mudslides and rising seas. Aid is meant to rise to $100 billion a year from 2020.
The United States praised the Accord as a basis for guiding talks in 2010. But many developing nations say that rich nations should do far more to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions.
The head of the European Commission delegation said a cause of gridlock was that neither China nor the United States, the top emitters of greenhouse gases, were willing to take on legal commitments to curb emissions unless the other did.
"That's where the problem lies in the end," Artur Runge-Metzger said.
(Editing by Michael Roddy)


http://planetark.org/wen/57508

Eco-Centre Sets Sights On Carbon-Free Britain
Date: 12-Apr-10
Country:
 WALES
Author:
 Peter Griffiths

In a remote, rain-soaked former quarry in Wales, environmentalists are putting the finishing touches to a plan to tackle climate change by weaning Britain off fossil fuels within 20 years.
The Center for Alternative Technology (CAT), a sprawling eco-complex set up during the 1974 oil crisis, will publish proposals in June to eliminate emissions from oil, gas and coal.
While Britain was the first country to set legally-binding targets to cut emissions, by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, CAT's strategy goes further.
"We are saying 100 percent by 2030," CAT researcher Alex Randall told Reuters at the tourist attraction and research center on the southern tip of Snowdonia National Park.
"We can't keep burning fossil fuels."
The authors of CAT's report, Zero Carbon Britain, hope to influence policy-makers and spark a wider public debate.
Under their plans, energy demand would be halved and renewable energy expanded. It generates only six percent of Britain's electricity today.
Wind, wave, solar and other renewable sources would replace coal, gas and nuclear power, while electric cars and more energy-efficient homes would help to cut emissions.
The Labour government and the opposition Conservative Party, ahead in opinion polls before a May 6 election, both support a move to a low carbon economy, but they want to keep nuclear power.
Critics say renewables are too costly, unreliable and unlikely to produce sufficient power.
World leaders are arguing about how deep the emissions cuts will be and who will pay for them. Hopes of a deal were low as U.N. climate talks resumed in Bonn on Friday.
RED KITES
The late ecologist Gerard Morgan-Grenville founded CAT in an old slate quarry near the town of Machynlleth, west Wales, after spending a year studying American hippies.
The center aims to show people how to protect the planet by using less power, cutting pollution and living sustainably.
The once bare quarry is now rich in wildlife. Polecats and dormice live in the woods, while red kites circle overhead. Only the roar of fighter jets on training runs disturbs the calm.
Two water-powered funicular railway carriages take visitors up the hillside from the car park to the center, where displays give tips on everything from composting to green toilets.
CAT, which attracts around 65,000 people a year, is about to open a new education center, with earth walls in the lecture theater, that will offer training and post-graduate courses.
The area's member of parliament Lembit Opik, a Liberal Democrat who rides a Segway electric scooter to meet voters, supports the zero carbon report and says bold action is needed.
"It's doable, it's only a question of political will," he told Reuters. "How brave are we? How much are we as politicians willing to lead opinion rather than follow it?"

http://planetark.org/wen/57510

Giving Up Climate Treaty May Unblock U.N. Deal
Date: 12-Apr-10
Country:
 GERMANY
Author:
 Gerard Wynn and Alister Doyle

The prospect of a global climate treaty is fading as the world's top two carbon emitters, China and the United States, avoid legally binding action. Experts say a shift to a less ambitious goal might help.
Less focus on a new treaty might resolve a tangle of disputes over the legal framework and drive concrete action, for example to preserve rainforests or to help developing nations cope with droughts, heatwaves, floods or rising seas.
U.N. climate talks to try to agree a tougher, wider successor to the present Kyoto Protocol entered their third year at an April 9-11 meeting in Bonn, Germany, the first since a fractious summit in Copenhagen in December.
Copenhagen was billed as the world's best chance to agree a new treaty. Failure to achieve a treaty or the smaller goal of binding carbon cuts for rich nations has sapped momentum and is forcing a search for less ambitious solutions.
"We can't afford only to keep coming back year after year, we have to explore other options," said Annie Petsonk, international counsel at the U.S.-based Environmental Defense Fund, adding that a treaty was still possible.
Annual U.N. climate meetings have failed to achieve any major breakthrough since signing the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The present round of that pact expires in 2012.
Experts note a less formal deal, outside a legal framework, may now emerge, building on the actions of individual nations.
More than 100 countries have backed a non-binding Copenhagen Accord to mobilize $30 billion in climate aid from 2010-2012 to help poor nations face the impacts of climate change, underscoring what could be agreed outside a legal framework.
"It used to be said that countries would only act if there was a treaty, but that's not the case," said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director at Natural Resources Defense Council.
"A lot is happening even though we don't have an international agreement," he said, referring to the accord.
MEXICO
Mexico, which will host the next annual talks after Copenhagen in Cancun in late 2010, said that demands for a legally binding treaty should not get in the way of progress at that meeting.
"We do not want to get ensnared in the legal stuff so that we will be prevented from moving. What we want is to achieve a sensible global mobilization," Mexico's chief delegate Fernando Tudela said.
"If a legally binding treaty is possible and helps, we are all for it. But it's not a pre-condition for moving in the right direction." One senior developing country delegate accepted privately that the U.N. process may never agree a legal pact.
The difficulty of agreeing a binding treaty centers on the United States and China, who "remain in a dance about this issue," said Jennifer Morgan, from the World Resources Institute.
"There's not a legal treaty until you break this Gordian knot of the U.S. and China in particular having very different views of what it means to be legally binding," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
U.S. legislation to cut emissions is stalled in the U.S. Senate. And the United States will balk at binding targets unless China makes its own actions accountable in some international way.
Another roadblock to any treaty is a requirement for unanimity in U.N. talks -- absent in Copenhagen and which remained elusive in Bonn, as developing nations notably Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela rejected any attempt to build agreement in smaller groups.
One of the reasons why a treaty has been the goal, especially of developing countries, was because it allows for sanctions on rich countries which miss their targets. Enforcing a non-binding deal is far more difficult.
Petsonk advocated an approach where rich nations tied developing countries and each other to certain minimum action before benefiting from a $125 billion carbon market.
That would draw upon a voluntary World Trade Organization model which has widened free trade by offering the benefits of WTO membership.
The biggest buyer of carbon offsets, the European Union, has already laid plans to limit its financing of carbon-cutting projects in emerging economies which do not bolster climate action. The United States, Japan and Australia plan cap and trade schemes which would scale up that carbon finance carrot.
Without such an approach the only crutch to a non-binding deal may be international criticism. "Naming and shaming may be what we end up with," Meyer said.
(Editing by Alison Williams)

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Measure, Manage, Report: How Companies Can Prepare for a Low-Carbon Economy

SocialFunds.com, 7 April 2010 - The Environmental Defense Fund publishes a roadmap to help companies navigate the transition to greenhouse gas reductions and meaningful sustainability reporting.

In January, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued guidance on disclosure of climate change risks and opportunities at publicly traded companies. Stating that "certain existing disclosure rules…may require a company to disclose the impact that business or legal developments related to climate change may have on its business," the guidance directs companies to evaluate and disclose the physical impacts of climate change on their operations. 

The guidance issued by the Commission did not provide a framework for such evaluation and disclosure, and in the absence of one, companies may be tempted to "skip straight to flashy green solutions with a feel-good story," according to the
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) . In order to help companies develop meaningful initiatives, the EDF has published A Roadmap to Corporate GHG Programs.

Observing that "Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be one of the most important, and most effective, steps that a company can take to reduce its environmental impact and save money," the five-page roadmap describes four steps for companies to take in order to gain "credible and lasting GHG reductions." An especially helpful feature of the roadmap is its inclusion of organizations with considerable experience in guiding companies on a path toward GHG reductions and reporting. 

Without effective measurement, meaningful management of GHG emissions cannot be accomplished, and as a first step the EDF recommends that companies conduct a "comprehensive evaluation of emission sources" in the form of a carbon audit. According to the roadmap, it is important that an audit adhere to recognized accounting standards such as the 
Greenhouse Gas Protocol

When companies complete their measurement of emission sources, they should then proceed to the establishment of "aggressive, yet achievable goals for reducing emissions." The setting of emissions reduction goals will help engage such key stakeholder groups as employees in the effort, and signal to investors that a long-term plan addresses the risks and opportunities presented by the transition to a low-carbon economy. 

In order to meet aggressive reduction targets, the roadmap recommends a combination of energy efficiency measures, the use of renewable energy sources, and carbon offsets. Offsets involve investment by companies in emissions reduction projects to balance out emissions they cannot reduce in their own operations. 

Finally, companies should issue sustainability reports that support their commitment to transparency. Noting that the SEC already "requires companies to disclose potential climate risks to investors," the roadmap recommends that such reports adhere to guidelines provided by the 
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The GRI's sustainability reporting framework was used by more than 1,000 companies in 2008.

The roadmap concludes with the recommendation that companies publicly support robust energy and climate policies. One way to accomplish this is through membership in the 
US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) or Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), described by the roadmap as "the two most prominent business coalitions that call for national action on climate change."

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Bonn climate talks agree more sessions

Point Carbon, 11 April 2010 - Climate change negotiators on Sunday agreed additional meetings are needed this year.

Following three days of negotiations, representatives from more than 170 nations meeting in Bonn were finally able to push through a draft text on a work schedule that culminates at this year's annual meeting in Cancun late in November. 

They agreed, among other things, to hold two meetings to be held between the May-June session in Bonn and the one in Mexico, although the locations and dates have yet to be specified. 

But much of the 9-11 April conference was clouded by talks about whether the non-binding Copenhagen accord reached in December should or could fit into existing UN texts in progress since 2007. 

"In terms of the Copenhagen accord that seems to be in everyone's mind, but difficult to take to your lips given how it came about in Copenhagen," Yvo de Boer, the UN climate change chief told reporters earlier today. 

Observers said negotiators spent much of this weekend raising old arguments and venting their frustration at the disappointing outcome in Copenhagen, where the leaders of the US and several developing nations had stitched together the accord that was only 'noted' by the 194 parties on the UN climate convention. 

"Instead of focusing on making progress on how to promote climate solutions too many of the negotiators present chose to focus on divergence and problems," Greenpeace said in a statement.  

"Now is the time to focus on concrete actions on forest protection, clean energy, adaptation and their financing," said Wendel Trio, Greenpeace International Climate Policy Coordinator.   

Since December, some 120 nations have expressed their support for the accord, leaving some observers to question the future role of the UN process. 

"Crucial test" 


"The UN climate negotiations are facing a crucial test over whether this process can serve as the global guidance system for tackling climate change," said Annie Petsonk, international counsel at US-based Environment Defense Fund said. 

"There is still momentum in the UN process, but it is fragmenting," Petsonk said in a statement. 

The accord aims to limit global warming temperatures to below 2C compared to pre-industrial levels and calls for fast-track financing of $30 billion from 2010 through 2012, scaling up to $100 billion annually by 2020. 

Yet political declaration is vague on many points, such as the role of market-based mechanisms. 

And the current pledges not only fall short of the 2C goal but also well short of the 1.5C goal pushed by small island nations. 

Meanwhile, US-based World Resources Institute estimates developed countries' pledges – based on public statements rather than official commitments to the accord – amount to only $23.5 billion. 

Treaty in question  


The main headache for UN negotiators going forward is to find a way to include big emitters US and China into a legally-binding pact, while at the same time seeing the continuation of the Kyoto protocol, which the US has not ratified, after 2012.  

Jos Cozijnsen, a consulting attorney focusing on emissions trading, agrees that the accord gives negotiations a perspective for how things could fit together. 

"But how to turn it into a legal text, is difficult," he said, adding that a legal text could be in the form of either an international treaty or bound by comparable rules between different countries. 

"Do you need a treaty or comparable rules? It's more important that countries are treated the same way," he said. 

"I wouldn't rule out having two treaties and cross reference those treaties by having an overarching framework agreement that all parties can sign up to," said Alexander Sarac, general counsel for carbon transactions at Ecosecurities, a developer of emission-reduction projects. 

"For a lawyer that's a technical solution. It doesn't look pretty, but it's possible. What's important is that one or multiple treaties have binding commitments and enforcement mechanisms built in; the stronger the better."


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Don't think that cap and trade is over

The International Herald Tribune, April 12, 2010 Monday - Predictions that carbon trading is headed for the scrap heap of history are almost certainly wrong, because it is on the cusp of generating mammorth amounts of money for governments.

Profiteering, tax fraud, theft and dubious claims of emissions reductions are just some of the problems plaguing carbon trading.

That litany of woes has helped prompt many commentators to proclaim that carbon trading is imminently headed for the scrap heap of history.

Such predictions are almost certainly wrong. Carbon trading, also known as cap and trade, is on the cusp of generating mammoth amounts of money for governments - money that could start flowing just in time to help nations emerge from the worst financial crisis in a generation.

The prospect of those earnings is one of the key reasons that nations are determined to stick by carbon trading, despite the setbacks and scandals.

Such revenues also help to explain why Australia, Japan and the United States are still exploring how soon they can set up such a system.

Under carbon trading, companies exceeding a ''cap'' on their emissions must purchase additional permits to pollute more. Companies that pollute less can ''trade'' or sell their surplus permits.

So far, governments in the European Union, which has operated the world's largest mandatory system since 2005, have repeatedly overestimated the amount of gases that companies emit. That has undermined the creation of an effective cap on pollution.

E.U. governments have also given away most permits, rather than making companies buy them. That has allowed some of the bloc's dirtiest industries, like coal-fired power utilities and cement manufacturers, to rake in billions of euros in windfall profits from a system that was originally meant to penalize them.

There have been other hiccups. Last year, swindlers took advantage of the system by stealing money that they should have paid in value-added tax to governments on transactions in carbon markets. Lost revenues amounted to about (EURO)5 billion, or $6.7 billion, according to Europol.

In other cases, rogue traders have resold expired permits while lax regulators have approved bogus carbon-reduction projects and cyberthieves have used fake e-mail messages to steal permits and sell them on electronic trading markets.

Defenders of carbon trading say that the European Union had to give away excessive numbers of permits at the start of the system, and keep it loosely regulated, in order to make it acceptable to powerful industry lobbies, which would have otherwise resisted any form of climate control.

Defenders of the system also acknowledge that, like the leaders of the European Union, President Barack Obama would probably have to agree to give away the majority of permits during the first few years of any U.S. carbon trading system because of similar pressure from industrial lobbies in Washington.

Now the European Union is tightening the cap and is obliging governments to start selling far larger numbers of permits.

According to an internal working paper released with little fanfare last week by the European Commission, E.U. member states stand to make (EURO)26 billion annually by 2020 through regular sales, or ''auctions,'' of emissions permits.

The paper said E.U. governments could begin earning as much as (EURO)928 million a year starting in 2012 by auctioning permits to airlines, which will become the next companies to join the system.

The paper noted that Germany had already auctioned some permits, in 2009, earning about (EURO)230 million that it allocated to development programs.

The potential sums are so substantial that sales of emissions permits could be one of the ways governments balance their books in the aftermath of the largest budgetary deterioration the Union has experienced. Such revenues could play a similar role in the United States, the paper said.

Under legislation before Congress that would create a U.S. version of cap and trade - although is highly unlikely to be passed into law in its current form - the U.S. government would earn a minimum of about $8 billion each year through 2020, the paper said.

In Europe, the first major auctions will probably be held in 2011.

Electric utilities in Western Europe are expected to have to buy a majority of the permits they need, and those sales could generate as much as (EURO)13 billion a year for governments, said Abyd Karmali, the global head of carbon markets for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

But companies that manufacture steel, cement and glass can still argue that they need all their permits for free to counter international competition. That made it too early to estimate the value to E.U. governments of sales of permits to those industries, said Mr. Karmali.

In the European Union, nations must use all the revenues earned from selling permits to the aviation sector for investments in climate and energy.

Some of that money is expected to be used by governments to make good on a promise to give $10 billion to developing countries to help them begin tackling climate change between now and 2013, and to contribute to a similar fund, which is supposed to be worth $100 billion by 2020, that would help nations most vulnerable to the effects of global warming.

But nations need use only half the revenues from selling permits to the power and industrial sectors for those kinds of climate-related projects, leaving plenty of money for other purposes - and that means carbon trading should soon look like manna from heaven for cash-strapped treasuries.


http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/04/22/climate-bill-lacks-industry-support/

Climate Bill Lacks Industry Support


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Despite working with Senators on a compromise for climate legislation, major industry associations including the American Petroleum Institute and the National Mining Association are not saying whether they support the Senate climate bill, set to be released next week (April 26),  reports Reuters.

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Despite working with Senators on a compromise for climate legislation, major industry associations including the American Petroleum Institute and the National Mining Association are not saying whether they support the Senate climate bill, set to be released next week (April 26),  reports Reuters.
Major sticking points include offshore oil drilling, the Environmental Protection Agency's climate regulations, gasoline taxes, the upper limit for carbon pricing, and a border tax.
As an example, offshore drilling is opposed by many Democrats including Senators Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey, while coastal states support it. In addition, big oil companies want to be protected from endangered species lawsuits such as the one that cites industry emissions are causing erosion in a coastal Alaskan town, reports Reuters.
However, EPA's climate regulations and gasoline taxes may no longer be issues. According to recent reports, the Senate climate bill is expected to prohibit the EPA from regulating carbon emissions, and despite rumors of a gas tax increase to pay for the energy and climate bill, the White House has said that Senators and the White House do not support a gas tax increase.
Opposition to President Obama's "green" agenda is also spreading to chemical companies, which will also be impacted by proposals to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reports The Guardian.
Leading the charge is a secretive group called the Coalition for Responsible Regulation Inc. (CRR), which is connected to Solvay, a leading European chemical company in Europe, according to the article. The group has joined more than a dozen states and several industry groups in 17 legal challenges against the EPA.
In February alone, several industry groups, conservative think tanks, lawmakers and three statesfiled 16 lawsuits against the EPA's endangerment finding, which allows the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
The filings with the Texas authorities indicate that CRR was founded on November last year, a day after the EPA announced its endangerment findings, reports The Guardian. 
Eric Groten, an attorney for the coalition, said in the article it plans to file at least three more legal challenges against the EPA.
The court documents list six companies and trade associations representing mining and beef interests as members, and although Solvay is not listed, Groten told the newspaper that there were more corporate and individual members.
At the same time, the White House is reviewing the EPA's rule on which factories and power plants will be subject to GHG regulations, reports Reuters.
The EPA requires 31 industries, which accounts for 85 percent of the annual production of U.S. greenhouse gases in the country, to track and report emissions, starting with the largest emitters on Jan. 1.
The EPA's "tailoring rule" sets emissions thresholds for big emitters including coal-fired power plants as well as cement, glass and steel makers.
The Obama Administration has said it prefers that Congress pass legislation to limit greenhouse gases but without legislation the EPA is the back-up plan to regulate emissions, which many U.S. lawmakers and industries are against, reports Reuters.

 http://planetark.org/wen/57710

Jackson Riles Business, Lawmakers With Carbon Rules
Date: 23-Apr-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Ayesha Rascoe

Jackson Riles Business, Lawmakers With Carbon Rules Photo: Bob Strong
Lisa Jackson, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, listens to a question at a news conference at the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen December 9, 2009.
Photo: Bob Strong

From Texas lawmakers to top coal mining executives, a wide array of business and political interests would like to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ambitious and solo plan to tackle climate change.
But standing in the way is an energetic former chemical engineer who has vowed to press ahead with a raft of changes that only Congress or the courts can block.
The first African-American to head EPA, Lisa Jackson is now the poster woman for 21st century environmentalism and standing firm against critics who say her agenda is too radical for an economy emerging from a steep recession.
"I'm sick of the same old tired arguments," Jackson said in an interview with Reuters at her Washington office. "I don't buy into this idea that we can't have economic progress...and we can't have a strong environment. I believe it's a false choice."
Although the Obama administration has said it would prefer that Congress address global warming through legislation, Jackson's agency could play a sweeping role in transitioning the United States to a low carbon economy if Congress is unable to get its act together.
Just a few months into the new administration, EPA issued a historic finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health, which compels the agency to regulate carbon under the Clean Air Act.
But this doesn't sit well with groups such as the National Mining Association, who argue that the EPA is ill-equipped to handle the enormous task of limiting greenhouse gases.
The agency said it will "tailor" its carbon reduction rules to affect only the largest polluters, but many industry groups believe this narrow rule would not survive court challenges and the damage will be felt more widely.
"Once you start the truck down the hill, it's hard to stop it," said Carol Raulston, a mining association spokeswoman.
Critics warn that if the so-called tailoring rule is struck down by the courts, the EPA will be forced to impose cumbersome and costly rules on virtually every source of greenhouse gases -- from churches to schools and coal plants to farms.
And there is growing concern that Congress will not be able to pass a climate bill, because of the haggling between Republicans and Democrats.
NIGHTMARE SCENARIO?
Jackson, a self-described pragmatist with a master's degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University, disputes these claims. She said the point of the tailoring rule is to avoid the "nightmare scenario" envisioned by opponents where the agency regulates everything in sight.
"When it comes out you'll see that we're making good on our word," Jackson said of the rule to be released by May.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1962, Jackson was adopted and raised in the impoverished lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana. She is no stranger to the energy industry, working summers at a big oil company in her youth.
"I'm an environmentalist who worked three summers in a row for Shell Oil Company in gas plants and oil field work. I don't see those in any way as mutually exclusive," she added.
As an engineer, Jackson said she strongly believes technological innovations can play a major role in helping to solve the clean energy problem.
Jackson worked at the EPA for 16 years before eventually becoming the Commissioner of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection.
JACKSON'S CHEERING FANS
After years of feeling like outcasts at the EPA, environmentalists say they have found a true champion with Jackson now at the helm of the EPA.
"It's so invigorating to see the Environmental Protection Agency back on its feet and doing it's job again," said David Doniger, a policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center.
Since coming to office, Jackson has impressed environmentalists by tightening standards for mountaintop mining, proposing new air quality rules, and approving California's request to crack down on vehicle emissions.
Doniger noted Jackson received a standing ovation last year when she spoke to environmentalists at the Copenhagen climate meeting shortly after finalizing the agency's greenhouse gas decision .
"I hadn't experienced anything quite like that," Doniger said. "She was a rock star at Copenhagen."
Green groups also herald the administration's effectiveness in pushing the nation's ailing auto industry to begin producing more fuel efficient vehicles, striking a deal with automakers last year to impose the first U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rules on vehicles.
EPA administrators have the challenge of following science and the law and keeping politicians happy, said Sierra Club chairman Carl Pope. "It is not easy and nobody has ever done it as well as she is doing it," he added.

http://planetark.org/wen/57714

Derivatives Bill Calls For U.S. Carbon Market Study
Date: 23-Apr-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Timothy Gardner and Roberta Rampton

A tough new proposal to regulate U.S. markets calls for top regulators and government officials to conduct a study on transparency in emerging U.S. carbon markets as part of the financial reform package.
The heads of the Treasury Department, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and other U.S. agencies would be required to study oversight of existing and prospective carbon markets, according to the proposal, part of a bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee this week.
The goal of the study is "to ensure an efficient, secure, and transparent carbon market, including oversight of spot markets and derivative markets," the bill said.
Senator Blanche Lincoln's Agriculture Committee voted to advance the bill this week. It will be merged with the Senate Banking Committee's financial reform package, expected to be debated next week, which will likely include a crackdown on the unregulated $450 trillion derivatives market.
Emerging carbon markets are either voluntary or regional because the U.S. government does not limit emissions of gases blamed for warming the planet, considered a requirement before the launch of a national market.
Ten states in the U.S. Northeast operate a carbon market on power plants. In addition, the Chicago Climate Exchange also runs voluntary carbon markets.
Some critics of carbon markets say that not all of the credits that are traded in them represent true emissions reductions.
Senators John Kerry, a Democrat, Lindsey Graham, a Republican and Joe Lieberman, an independent, hope to unveil a climate bill on Monday that is expected to include a carbon market on power plants beginning in 2012, which could be expanded to the manufacturers years later.
Other agency officials required to participate in the study would be the heads of the Agriculture Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Energy Information Administration, the independent statistics arm of the Department of Energy.
The interagency group would be required to submit a report to Congress on their study within six months after the report becomes law.

http://planetark.org/wen/57656

Dairy Sector Adds 4 Percent To Man-Made Emissions: FAO
Date: 21-Apr-10
Country:
 ITALY
Author:
 Svetlana Kovalyova

Dairy Sector Adds 4 Percent To Man-Made Emissions: FAO Photo: Jeff Green
Healthy Holstein dairy cows feed at a farm in central Washington in this December, 24, 2003.
Photo: Jeff Green

The dairy sector accounts for 4 percent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report.
The dairy sector emitted 1.969 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2007, of which 1.328 billion tonnes were due to dairy production and 151 million tonnes to meat from culled dairy animals, the FAO said.
Global milk production, processing and transportation accounted for 2.7 percent of the world man made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the FAO said.
The dairy sector could boost biogas output to cut emission of methane, which accounts for about 52 percent of GHG emissions the sector produces, and carbon emissions could be captured if grassland management were improved, the FAO said.
Recommendations on how to cut GHG emissions from the dairy sector will come at a later stage, when the programme of biophysical and economic analysis of mitigation options is completed, the Rome-based agency said.
The report, covering production systems from nomadic herds to intensified dairy operations, was posted on FAO's website www.fao.org.
FAO's report on livestock emissions in 2006 established that 18 percent of all GHG emissions were caused by the livestock sector.

http://planetark.org/wen/57680

States Fear Devil In Details Of U.S. Climate Bill
Date: 22-Apr-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Peter Henderson

California and other states with aggressive environmental agendas said on Wednesday they fear a federal climate bill may unacceptably weaken their power, in a new sign of uncertainty over compromise legislation being crafted by U.S. Senator John Kerry and his allies.
Democrat Kerry, independent Senator Joseph Lieberman and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham are expected to unveil a bill next week to cut greenhouse gas emissions that navigates among competing interests groups, after a previous effort failed.
"There is a gray area there where there could be mischief or litigation," California's top climate change regulator, Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, told reporters on a conference call, outlining concerns.
"We want the statute to be clear that unless there is very explicit reason to the contrary, that states are encouraged to move forward."
States fear the bill could include a ban on state and regional carbon trading markets, the loss of California's ability to set clean car standards, and vague language that could lead courts broadly to curtail state action, said Emily Figdor, global warming program director of Environment America, a non-governmental group.
Fuel composition standards and performance standards for big polluters were examples of areas at risk, she said.
Analysts including researcher Point Carbon see the federal legislation as a longshot for passage this year, and states that favor strong federal action are in a delicate position. They do not want to lose the ability to try new regulations or take action if the federal efforts don't meet their goals.
At a meeting of the Western Climate Initiative last week, state representatives discussed fears that any criticism of the federal bill could be used by opponents to block it.
The federal bill is expected to include a key provision for a cap-and-trade program, which limits total greenhouse gas emissions and lets big polluters trade permits to emit.
Similar state plans are expected to be forbidden. That would be more drastic than a moratorium on state cap-and-trade considered in a bill passed by the House of Representatives.
The U.S. northeast has such a system working and California and the Western Climate Initiative plan their own market to begin trading on January 1, 2012.
"To just have one program that would preempt states and have a one-size-fits all federal approach really not only ignores the whole history of success in the environmental area but also would not be the wisest way to go in terms of either maximizing greenhouse gas reductions or to maximize the amount of job creation," said Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Doug Scott.

http://planetark.org/wen/57684

China-Led Bloc To Consider Kyoto Climate Pact Future
Date: 22-Apr-10
Country:
 INDIA
Author:
 Krittivas Mukherjee

China-Led Bloc To Consider Kyoto Climate Pact Future Photo: Kham
A sunset is seen in the background of a chimney of a concrete factory in Hanoi April 19, 2010.
Photo: Kham

A bloc of the world's fastest growing carbon emitters, seen as key to a global deal on climate change, appears for the first time willing to discuss the future of the Kyoto Protocol to get the United States on board.
Kyoto binds about 40 rich nations to cut emissions by 2008-12 and developing countries want a tougher second commitment period. That demand is opposed by many developed nations that want to jettison Kyoto to include emerging markets like India and China.
Next week's meeting of the environment ministers of Brazil, South Africa, India and China - the so-called BASIC nations - will look at ways to bridge a trust deficit with rich nations, according to its agenda, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
"How long will the Kyoto Protocol survive? Could we envisage a shorter second commitment period designed solely to secure carbon markets?" said the agenda of the meeting to be held in South Africa on April 25-26.
"If no second commitment period, what would replace Kyoto?" was another question listed on the agenda.
Unmitigated distrust between rich and poorer nations about who should do how much has stalled negotiations for a global deal to fight climate change. Officials say they are less hopeful of a broader deal in Mexico in November.
So a willingness on the part of the BASIC nations to soften their stand on the Kyoto Protocol could help break the negotiations logjam and bring on board the United States which never ratified the protocol.
An Indian negotiator said the agenda was "realistic" and aimed at exploring "all options to get a good deal for all."
The BASIC meeting agenda also said it would consider how elements of the Copenhagen Accord, a political pact that the bloc helped broker last year along with the United States, could be included in the current negotiating process.
The Copenhagen Accord sets a non-binding goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times and a goal of $100 billion in aid from 2020.
It also lists steps by dozens of nations, including all the top greenhouse gas emitters, to either cut or curb the growth of their emissions by 2020.
The Copenhagen conference was originally meant to agree the outlines of a broader global pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
The South Africa meeting's agenda also will consider whether the BASIC bloc of nations could be expanded and whether smaller groups of powerful nations such as the G20 bloc and the 17-nation Major Economies Forum could be useful platforms for negotiations.
Poorer nations want negotiations to continue on two tracks -- one working on a successor to Kyoto from 2013 and the other looking at longer term actions to fight climate change by all nations.
(Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Ron Popeski)