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February 28, 2014

UK greenlights carbon capture from natural gas

The first industrial carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project from natural gas has been given the go-ahead by the British government with Shell as the contractor.

Shell UK is launching the design phase for Peterhead Carbon Capture and Storage in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It would capture over 85% of CO2 emissions that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and then transport it through an existing pipeline to be buried in a depleted gas field 2.5 kilometers beneath the North Sea.

After the design is completed next year, Shell and the government will decide whether to pursue the rest of the project. If it goes forward, it would capture 1 million tons of carbon emissions a year while providing electricity to over 500,000 homes.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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February 27, 2014

Recycling platform reaches a milestone

The European Recycling Platform (ERP) has hit a milestone of 2 million metric tons of recycled electronics since it began operations. ERP says this is the equivalent of removing 8 million cars from European roads for an entire year or eliminating 21.7 million metric tons of CO2 mostly through the effect of CFC elimination and raw materials recovery.

Read more at Environmetnal Leader.

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February 26, 2014

Electric vehicle chargers trial London smart grid hook up

The marriage of electric car and smart grid technologies are being trialed in London as developers look to reduce the impact of electric vehicles on existing grid infrastructure. London’s electricity distributor, UK Power Networks, announced that it is working with POD Point, Smarter Grid Solutions and Imperial College London on a comprehensive five month trial designed to overcome one of the potential long term barriers faced by the electric vehicle industry.

Experts have previously warned that while electric vehicles have the potential to slash greenhouse gas emissions from transport their widespread adoption would put significant pressure on ageing electricity grids.

Now the new trial, backed by Ofgem’s Low Carbon London fund, is seeking to identify how smart grid technologies and energy management software from Smarter Grid Solutions and POD Point respectively could automatically optimize electric vehicle charging to avoid excessive demand on the grid at peak times. The technology is being trialed at three sites across the capital, including five public charge points in the city, 10 in Beckton, and 50 of the most popular points in London.

Read more at Business Green.

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February 25, 2014

Support for green economy surges but crucial gaps remain

Governments, businesses, investors and others are embracing the ‘green economy’ idea, but differences in the way they interpret it pose barriers to sustainable development, according to a report published by the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Green Economy Coalition.

“The green economy concept is an antidote to the prevailing brown economy, which is a major driver of environmental degradation and inequality,” says Oliver Greenfield Convener of the Green Economy Coalition. “Its purpose is to improve both society and the natural environment. Right now though, the most powerful players are backing a narrower goal of ‘green growth’, which risks being discredited unless it more effectively tackles inequality.”

The report outlines ways to bridge this and other gaps that could jeopardize the transition towards inclusive, sustainable development.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 24, 2014

Energising green cities: Solutions to meet demand and spark economic growth

Cities in Southeast Asia (SEA) are growing twice as fast as the rest of the world and by 2030, it is expected that 70 percent of SEA population will live in cities. Given their size and dynamic growth, SEA cities today have a unique opportunity to also become global engines of green growth by choosing energy-efficient solutions for their infrastructure needs.

Improving energy efficiency isn’t just good for the environment; it’s good for economic growth, says a World Bank report, “Energising Green Cities in Southeast Asia ? Applying Sustainable Urban Energy and Emissions Planning.”

According to the report, there is a clear correlation between investments in energy efficient solutions in infrastructure and economic growth, based on a study of three cities ? Da Nang in Vietnam, Surabaya in Indonesia and Cebu City in the Philippines. By improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cities not only help the global environment, but they also support local economic development through productivity gains, reduced pollutions and more efficient use of resources.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 21, 2014

Ecolabels don’t influence consumer food choice, study says

Consumers are concerned about sustainability, but their understanding is limited and ecolabels rarely influence food purchases, according to a study by the European Food Information Council.

The study, “Sustainability labels on food products: Consumer motivation, understanding and use”, which surveyed 4,408 respondents living in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Poland says, consumers have a medium to high-level of concern with sustainability issues at a general level. That level of concern ? and understanding ? falls when it comes to making food and beverage choices.

The study, which was published in Food Policy, tested environmental and ethical aspects against nutritional value and price and found sustainability had no meaningful impact on food choice, across all product categories.

Researchers say the results don’t necessarily imply that sustainability information will not play a role in future food purchases. However, compared to health and nutrition-related issues, sustainability is more difficult to grasp and, as a result, it struggles to be relevant in a consumer’s mindset during purchases.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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category : Topics

February 21, 2014

Earth’s green canopy gets online protector

A new online monitoring system will make it possible to quickly check the condition of tropical forests around the globe that were previously under no surveillance, potentially increasing pressure on governments to stop deforestation.

Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) will provide public access to the new tool to evaluate forests worldwide. Global Forest Watch (GFW) was developed by dozens of institutions with the help of Google Inc’s Earth Engine. It promises to improve scrutiny of changes in forest cover in vulnerable areas of Southeast Asia, Africa and the Amazon.

“With the exception f Brazil, none of the tropical forest countries have been able to report the state of their forests,” said Rebecca Moore, engineering manager with Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine. “Now it will be possible to have near real-time updates of the state of the world’s forests, open to anyone to use.”

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 20, 2014

New car labels would promote use of renewable fuels

“To increase consumer awareness regarding the use and benefits of alternative fuels,” writes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they will require car manufacturers to label vehicles indicating the kinds of fuels they can use: ethanol, biodiesel, vegetable oil, hydrogen or electric batteries.

In addition to a permanent label on the vehicle exterior, a second sticker will be on the fuel tank compartment, and text in the owner’s manual will provide information on the “capabilities and benefits” of using alternative fuels.

The rule applies to new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the US and is in addition to new EPA stickers that give information about the fuel’s fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming emissions in a way that can be easily compared across vehicles.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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February 20, 2014

Study: Wind turbines remain efficient for at least 25 years

Wind turbines can remain productive for up to 25 years, scientists have said, scotching claims that the devices have a more limited shelf life than other energy technologies. New researched published by the Imperial College Business School that analyses UK’s 4,246 wind turbines using local wind speed data from NASA showed turbines will last their full life of around 25 years before they need to be upgraded.

The study found even the earliest turbines built in the 1990s, are still producing three-quarters of their original output after 19 years of operation. This is almost twice the amount previously claimed and the researchers say the turbines will continue to operate effectively for up to 25 years ? comparable to the performance of gas turbines used in power stations.

More recent turbines are understood to perform even better as they age and could have a longer lifespan than first estimated, which the researchers said further strengthens the attractiveness of wind farms as an effective long-term investment.

The researchers reached their conclusion using data from NASA, collected over a 20-year period, to measure the wind speed and at the exact site of each onshore windfarm in the UK.

Read more at Business Green.

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February 18, 2014

Stronger push for ‘green’ cars

Buyers of cleaner and more efficient cars in Beijing can receive a maximum subsidy of 57,000 yuan from the central government as it targets 200,000 clean energy vehicles on the road by the end of 2017.

Beijing will offer 20,000 license plates for fully-electric cars through a lottery system in 2014 according to a clean air action plan released in late 2013. The transport authority said it will increase the quota to 30,000 in 2015 and double it to 60,000 in 2016 and 2017. In addition to the ease of licensing, both the central and local governments are offering generous subsidies to buyers of clean-energy models.

Despite the incentives, many are reluctant to buy a green-energy model, with their biggest concern the travel range. China News Service reported that there were about 70 charging stations in Beijing by the end of 2013, most of them serving buses, taxis and other public vehicles. The Beijing government announced it will build 1,000 charging stalls in 2014 with its long-term target to have stations within five kilometers of any locale in the city.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 17, 2014

Sustainable packaging market to hit $244 billion by 2018

Consumer demand, advances in material technology and legislation will push sustainable packaging to a $244 billion market by 2018, according to report by Smithers Para. The “Future of Sustainable Packaging to 2018” report found awareness among consumers is driving demand for sustainability, particularly packaging that has a smaller environmental footprint.

Sustainability programs are increasingly seen as a source of innovation that can serve as a platform for new product ? for instance, packaging materials ? and market development, the report says. The report also forecasts that downsizing or lightweighting, increased recycling and waste recovery, increased the use of recycled content, improvement in packaging and logistical efficiency and increased use of renewable-sourced materials are the five most common trends in sustainable packaging.

Demand for sustainable packaging in China and India and a growing middle class aware of health and the environment is driving growth in Asia. The Smithers Para report forecasts that Asia will be the largest market for sustainable packaging in the world by 2018, accounting for 32 percent of the overall market, reported PackWorld.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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February 12, 2014

New York Green Bank confirmed as “open for business”

New York has officially launched its Green Bank, confirming plans to boost investment in environmental technologies and renewable energy, such as wind farms and solar panels. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the bank officially started operations yesterday, outlining how it will invest alongside other parties in clean power and energy efficiency projects.

In the long term, the Green Bank is expected to be capitalized with $1 billion, which, like the UK’s Green Investment Bank, will be used to leverage additional private investment. It opened with $210 million funding, $165 million of which has been redirected from unallocated government funds such as surcharges on utility bills that the state already collects to fund energy efficiency programs and $45 million that has been raised through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative emissions trading scheme.

The bank said it expects to support a wide range of businesses and technologies, including solar, wind and other renewable energy generation technologies, as well as energy efficiency measures and onsite generation.

Read more at Business Green.

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February 11, 2014

Online registry tracks credits

Ecometrica’s online tracing and registry software addresses the need to ensure that certified products or certificates of environmental benefit can be traced back to a specific farm, forest, plantation, ecosystem or mining operation.

Trace to Source is an online registry platform for managing environmental credits and certified materials. It allows the users to trace certificates and materials at any point in the supply chain back to their source. This reduces potential overlapping claims and facilitates verification of origination. The registry functionality ensures that products or certificates or certified material cannot be diverted or “double-counted” through the chain of custody and allows traceability to source to be applied at any stage of the chain.

The software is integrated with Ecometrica’s geospatial data platform, Our Ecosystem, which allows any source are to access relevant geospatial information ? such as land use changes, extreme weather events, vegetation condition, fires or other hazards.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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February 7, 2014

Taiwan promotes new green, healthy plastic

A special polylactic acid (PLA) resistant to temperatures of more than 100 C has been developed by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), with possible applications including food and drink containers that promise to contribute greatly to food safety and the environment.

According to the government-funded R&D body in Hsinchu County, researchers spent eight years perfecting the use of non-toxic nucleating agents in producing the special PLA to create molded plastic that is heat and deformation-resistant, non-toxic and rapid-setting. PLA can be manufactured from a variety of biological sources, such as corn starch. The modified PLA also readily decomposes into carbon dioxide and water in soil, making it environmentally friendly.

Manufacturers are already cooperating with ITRI in commercialization of the new technology to create safe, heat-resistant utensils for children. Other applications, such as high-density electronic devices, transparent plastic bags, as well as coatings for paper cups and wooden lunchboxes, are also in the pipeline.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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February 3, 2014

Sustainable label programs enjoy 40 percent boost

Production of certified sustainable goods, such as those carrying Fairtrade or organic labels, jumped more than 40 percent in 2012, increasing their market share across a raft of product categories.

A new study of the 16 most prevalent green standards initiatives across 10 commodities sectors records the rapid expansion in the development and use of voluntary standards over the past decade, transforming them from instruments for supporting niche markets into globally recognized names. In 2012, certified or verified production across the 16 standards reached an estimated trade value of $36.1 billion, while the market grew at a rate that was 20 times that of the corresponding conventional commodity markets.

However, while the report highlights strong growth in both production and sales of green labeled products, it also identifies a “persistent oversupply of standard-compliant products,” despite a growing number of companies making commitments to source sustainably. As a result, many products that could be sold as certified are not marketed as such.

The overarching message of the report is that while sustainability standards make and important contribution to the green economy by driving investment in sustainable technologies and practices, they cannot be assumed to deliver sustainable outcomes on their own. Bill Vorley of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said, complementary policies are required ? on top of business-led initiatives and sustainable sourcing policies ? to ensure labeling schemes are raising standards across entire sectors.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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