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August 23, 2012

US court overturns coal pollution ruling

A US appeals court overturned a key Obama administration rule to reduce harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants last Tuesday.

Columbia district circuit appeals court said in a 2-1 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency has exceeded its mandate with the rule to limit sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants. The EPA’ s rule was designed to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by 73% and nitrogen oxide by 54% at coal-fired power plants from 2005 levels, improving health for over 240 million people, the agency said.

The court sent the cross-state air pollution rule for revision, telling the agency to administer its existing clean air interstate rule ? in the interim. Power groups welcomed the court’s decision as they argued that they could not meet the deadline or bear the financial burden of installing costly new equipment.

Read more at Guardian Environment Network.

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category : Topics

August 23, 2012

Majority of UK unaware of smart meters, research shows

A series of government-commissioned surveys reveal that majority of people in the UK have never heard of the so-called smart meters that show energy use in real time. Despite the plans by the government and energy companies to install them in all of the country’s homes by 2019, more than half (51%) of the 2,396 people interviewed said that they have never heard of smart meters.

The devices do away with estimated bills and some can provide real-time energy use via small wireless displays that can be placed in more visible locations to make people aware of their energy consumption and to encourage energy saving.

The research shows widespread indifference to the new meters with nearly half (45%) saying that they had “no feelings either way”, and with 32% supporting them and 20% opposing their use. The two most cited downsides were expense and privacy concerns with the two main positives as reduction of waste and money savings.

Despite the current lack of public awareness, Mark England, CEO of smart meter company Sentec, claimed that the UK approach to smart meters would address the problem ? to educate customers about the energy and money-saving benefits of smart meters to encourage participation and retain their customers.

Read more at Guardian Environment Network.

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category : Topics

August 22, 2012

UN calls on nations to adopt urgent drought policies

Top officials with the UN weather agency said last Tuesday that the nations of the world need to adopt drought-management policies as farmers from Africa to India struggle with the lack of rainfall and the United States experiencing the worst drought in decades.

The World Meteorological Organisation says, the US drought and its ripple effect on global food markets show the need for policies with more water conservation and less consumption. A March meeting in Geneva is being called with ministers and other high-level officials being summoned to discuss systematic measures.

“Climate change is projected to increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts, with impacts on many sectors, in particular food, water, health and energy.” WMO secretary general Michel Jarraud said. “We need to move away from a piecemeal, crisis-driven approach and develop integrated risk-based national drought policies.”

Read more at Guardian Environment Network.

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category : Topics

August 22, 2012

New guide to identify most effective water tools helps business sustainably manage water

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and SustainAbility released Water for Business yesterday.

Water for Business is the first guide designed to help businesses identify the water tools and initiatives most suitable for their business and environmental sustainability. As global population continues to rise and global businesses continue to expand, more and more stress is put on local aquifers. This guide is aimed to help businesses use and manage water more effectively and support their efforts in adopting more sustainable solutions in their practices.

The guide is organized into four main sections: Key Messages, Understanding Water Management, Intuitive Factsheets and a Glossary of terms and definitions in the area of water management.

Read more at WBCSD.

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category : Topics

August 17, 2012

Sustainable Procurement in the Indian Railways

Indian Railways have been playing a pioneering role in reducing the environmental and social impacts that are created due to its operations. While planning strategies for growth, the authorities take efforts to allocate resources for improving the environmental performance of Indian Railways on the whole.

To make people aware about the various initiatives in context to sustainable public procurement which the Indian Railways have taken, Mr. Sanjay Kumar, IRSS, Deputy Chief Vigilance Officer, Northern Railways has produced a report 'Sustainable Public Procurement in the Indian Railways". To download this report, click here.

Indian Railways is one of the world's largest railway networks comprising a total of 114,500 kilometres (71,147 mi) of track over a route of 65,000 kilometres (40,389 mi) and 7,500 stations. IR carries over 30 million passengers and 2.8 million tons of freight daily.

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category : Topics

August 16, 2012

New European Union Directive on E-waste Comes into Force

The European Union (EU) has adopted new rules on handling electrical and electronic wastes (e-waste), now focusing on e-waste recovery and recycling. Stringent new rules officially came into effect August 13, 2012, overhauling how technology companies, retailers, recycling firms and consumers handle e-waste.

The updating of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive now imposes new recovery and recycling targets on the IT and electronics industry while also introducing stringent new penalties for companies and member states who fail to comply with the rules.

The directive aims to improve collection schemes in member states, where consumers can return used electronic and electrical items free of charge, thereby increasing recycling and re-use of products and materials. It introduces a collection target of 45 percent of electronic equipment sold from 2016, rising to 65 percent of electronic equipment sold or 85 percent of electronic waste generated by 2019.

Read more at UNEP News and at Guardian Environment Network

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category : Topics

August 14, 2012

US wind energy industry breezes past 50GW milestone

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) used the annual National Clean Energy Summit last week to confirm that the US wind energy sector had passed the 50GW installed capacity milestone. This is now providing enough capacity to power 13 million homes and is equivalent to the generating power of 44 coal-fired power stations or 11 nuclear power plants thus resulting in emission reductions that would equate removing 14 million cars off the road.

The milestone was achieved thanks to a surge in new wind farms coming online as developers rush to complete projects before the possible lapsing of the US Government’s crucial production tax credit (PDC). However, growing number of wind energy firms are concerned about the future of the incentive after Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney confirmed that if elected, he would not extend the PTC when it lapses at the end of the year.

Read more at Guardian Environment Network.

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category : Topics

August 11, 2012

UN launches Sustainable Development Solutions Network to help find solutions to global problems

On 9 August 2012, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a new independent global network of research centers, universities and technical institutions to help find solutions for some of the world’s most pressing environmental, social and economic problems.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) will work with stakeholders including business, civil society, UN agencies, and other international organizations to identify and share the best pathways to achieve sustainable development. It will cooperate in close coordination with the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

“The post-2015 objectives will help the world focus on the vital challenges of sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network will be an innovative way to draw worldwide expertise in the campuses, universities, scientific research centres and business technology divisions around the world,” Mr. Ban said.

According to the news release, politics often focuses on short-term issues while governments lack necessary information needed for long-term sustainable development strategies. The SDSN is expected to provide and independent global, open and inclusive process to support and scale up problem solving at local, national and global levels.

Read more at UNEP

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category : Topics

August 10, 2012

Fukushima disaster paves way for new geothermal plants

Before last year’s disaster in north-east Japan, Tsuchiyu Onsen caters to tens of thousands of tourists in search of recuperative qualities of its piping hot spring water. Almost 18 months after the nuclear accident at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi power plant, this spa resort will use its natural resource into a source of renewable energy.

By spring of 2014, Tsuchiyu located 9 miles from Fukushima, will be generating 250 kilowatts of electricity which is about a quarter of the city’s total needs via geothermal power plant. The plant will be the first ever built inside a national park after the Ministry of Environment recently relaxed regulations on developing protected areas. This controversial move will help the town become self-sufficient in power generation and also revive its role as a tourist destination after lingering fears over radiation.

In the past, hot-spring operators have been among the fiercest opponents of geothermal energy as many fear that the plants would affect the flow and quality of water. In Tsuchiyu, however, where half a dozen hotels remain closed due the earthquake damage, spa owners are among the new geothermal generator’s keenest backers. “The plant won’t affect the water quality or the temperature,” said Kazuya Ikeda, General Manager of the Tsuchiyu Onsen Tourist Attraction. “We have surveyed the town and no one has raised any objections.”

Resistance to geothermal power, coupled with the pre-Fukushima faith in nuclear energy means that Japan has not tapped into this resource that energy experts believe has huge potential. But now, with the opposition to restarting nuclear power, this alternative is being looked into.

Read more at Guardian Environment Network.

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category : Topics

August 5, 2012

Water has been ignored globally as the engine for green growth, says Joppe Cramwinckel, Director Water, WBCSD

In an interview with Director Water at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development by Aparna Khandelwal, a sustainability consultant, they talk about the role of water as an important resource in sustainable development. The interview proceeds on about how water has not yet been fully realized as a commodity that may be, in the future, be found lacking.

“Water has been ignored globally as the engine for green growth. Notion is that water is always there and there is right to access hence there are no economic incentives to develop water infrastructure.”

Director Water stresses that people fail to recognize that water-energy-food are related. Water issues and challenges have not been communicated properly to all sectors but proper attention is being given gradually. Awareness is now increasing and with the recent Rio+20 Summit, considerable focus is now being given to water challenges.

Read the interview at Sustainable Outlook.

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category : Topics

August 4, 2012

Sainsbury's claims title of biggest solar power generator in Europe

Sainsbury's, a major retailer in UK, revealed that it has installed over 69,500 solar panels in its stores, claiming the title of Europe’s top solar generator. The company boasts of its 16MW solar capacity spread across 169 of its 572 UK supermarkets collectively being the largest solar array in Europe. The combined solar panels can cover 24 football pitches, effectively reducing the supermarket’s giant carbon footprint at an estimated value of 6,800 tonnes per year.

Chief Executive Justin King, urges other retailers to look into investing in solar energy. “Supermarkets have the equivalent of football fields on their roofs, many of them underutilized.” King further explains, “Big contracts like this support job creation in the renewable energy sector and are essential for our solar industry to thrive. We believe that we’ll see the cost of solar energy reaching parity with the grid on commercial installations like this in the next two and four years, and that may well herald a new boom in solar industry.”


Read more in Guardian Environment Network.

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category : Topics

August 3, 2012

UNEP Welcomes Appointment of New Global Environment Facility CEO

Dr. Naoko Ishii, who previously served as Japan’s Deputy Vice Minister of Finance, succeeds Monique Barbut as CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) congratulated Dr. Naoko Ishii on her appointment and stressed the facility’s key role in supporting the transition to a low carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy as one important way to realize a sustainable century.

Dr. Ishii said that under her leadership, the GEF would become a more vocal advocate for the innovative environmental finance that is needed to meet the development challenges of the 21st century.

“The GEF has established a record of great achievement, yet the world remains on an unsustainable path and needs new ways to manage the global environment. It is urgent and critical to forge trusting and productive partnerships among governments, international partners, the private sector, and civil society organizations,” she said upon her appointment.

Read more about this article and GEF here.

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August 1, 2012

Global warming may lead to ‘Miami Beach in Boston’ situation unless urgent action is taken

In an interview with Ambassador Richard H. Jones, Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the way energy is being produced and consumed must change if the world is to respond to wide-ranging energy security, economic and environmental changes. He warned that if the current situation in energy policies does not change, enough carbon dioxide will be emitted to reach 1,000 parts per million in the atmosphere equating to 6 degrees Celsius increase in temperature by the end of this century. “That’s basically Miami Beach in Boston,” he said.

The IEA Deputy Executive Director stressed that there is no single solution that will combat climate change and address all of today’s other energy challenges. In relation to balanced energy policies, energy security, economic development and environmental sustainability should always be considered.

“There is no one magic bullet. There is no one technology you need, because the world is different in different places. In some places, solar is great because the sun shines all the time… In some places, it’s windy all the time, and that’s great for wind [power]. You’ve got to do a real cradle to grave analysis.”

Read more about the interview at IEA and watch the full interview at Switch.

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