Sustainable goods and services offer developing countries new commercial opportunities that can help drive sustainable development though the “greening” of global trade, according to a major new UN report.
The new report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) acknowledges that international trade has played a key role in creating economic growth and helping eradicate poverty. But it also details how increasing trade volumes have put huge stresses on natural resources, land, oceans and biodiversity, while also leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions.
It argues that developing countries, particularly the group of least developed countries, still depend heavily on natural resource-based products and raw materials for their exports. But it also identifies “significant and real opportunities” for developing nations with abundant renewable resources to diversify their economies and position themselves to benefit from growing global demand for green goods and services. Along with agriculture and renewable energy, the report concludes that tourism, forestry, manufacturing and fisheries also offer promising markets for developing countries, which are well-placed to catalyze a move to more sustainable international trade.
“Transitioning to a green economy can facilitate new trade opportunities which in turn will help to make global trade more sustainable,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.
The rice husk (or hull) is the outermost layer of the paddy grain that is separated from the rice grain during the milling process. Around 20 percent of paddy weight is husk and rice production in Asia produces about 770 million tons of husk annually.
Rice husk was largely considered a waste product that was often burned or dumped on landfills, according to Martin Gummert, postharvest expert at the International Rice Research Institute. “In Vietnam, it used to be a waste some years ago and was dumped in the rivers, causing a big problem, but now it has value,” Mr. Gummert said. “In fact, in most countries, rice husk is not waste anymore.” Some enterprising companies are turning it into various products not only for eco-conscious market place but also for the industrial sector.
India, one of the biggest rice producers in the world, not surprisingly, also produces vast amounts of rice husk. For Mr. Gyanesh Pandey, an engineer and co-founder and CEO of Husk Power Systems (HPS), this was an inexpensive energy source to light up villages outside India’s industrial power grid. HPS is a rural empowerment enterprise that designs, installs, and operates mini power plants using a biomass gasification technology he co-developed. The mini power plants, operated by local villagers trained by HPS, can generate from 25 kW to 10 kW of electricity.
Another company is bringing rice husk back to the dining table, not as food but as the main material for producing disposable chopsticks. Algan Technology, a company that specializes in reusing waste products and by-products, has developed a new material that contains 90 percent rice husk and only 10 percent resin. This nontoxic material, called SOLIT RICEIT, can be used for manufacturing reusable and disposable chopsticks without cutting down a single tree.
Australian scientists have found a way of hugely increasing the efficiency of solar panels while substantially reducing their cost. The University of New South Wales researchers have come up with improvements in photovoltaic panel design that had not been expected for another decade. The breakthrough involves using hydrogen atoms to counter defects in silicon cells used in solar panels. As a consequence, poor quality silicon can be made to perform like high quality wafers.
The process makes cheap silicon “actually better than the best-quality material people are using at the moment”, the head of the university’s photovoltaic center of excellence, Professor Stuart Wenham, said. Silicon wafers account for more than half the cost of making a solar cell. “By using low quality silicon, you can drastically reduce that cost.”
At present, the best commercial solar cells convert between 17 to 19 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity. UNSW’s technique, patented this year, should produce efficiencies of between 21 and 23 percent.
The end of a 14-year ban on the sale and use of disposable food containers made of plastic foam has sparked concerns over pollution and potential health risks. The time was right for the ban to end, the National Development and Reform Commission said, as plastic foam could now be recycled to become raw materials in construction, paints and stationery.
A decision to ban plastic foam dinnerware was imposed in 1999 over environmental pollution concerns. The lifting of the ban on Wednesday has not met with universal approval.
Dong Jinshi, deputy general secretary of the Beijing Society for Environmental Sciences, said a recycling system had not yet been established and it was more dangerous to use such products today as many companies were using waste plastic to make dinnerware.
“There are no authorities supervising the issue, and there is a legal vacuum,” Dong said.
New York City has put two initiatives into effect to improve its waste and recycling efforts. The first is an expansion of its recycling program to include the recycling of all rigid plastics, including such items such as toys, hangers, shampoo bottles, coffee cups and food containers.
The expansion of plastics recycling, which began last week, is part of the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan and is made possible, part, through a partnership with SIMS Municipal Recycling. SIMS’ recycling facilities are equipped to handle this broad range of plastic recycling, according to the city. The expansion is expected to result in more than 50,000 additional tons of waste a year no longer ending up in landfills. It will also save taxpayers almost $600,000 each year in export costs, says Mayor Bloomberg.
Mayor Bloomberg also announced the Food Waste Challenge, a new program aimed at reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills. The initiative is expected to help meet NYC’s goal of diverting 75% of solid waste from landfills by 2030. More than 100 restaurants will participate in the challenge and they have pledged to reduce 50% of the food waste they send to landfills through composting and other waste prevention strategies. Food waste comprises one-third of the city’s more than 20,000 tons of daily refuse and restaurants account for 70 percent of commercial food waste.
The survey of more than 2,000 people carried out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) last month found that public support for onshore wind power reached a 12-month high.
The fifth Public Attitudes Tracking Survey, which DECC has been running since March last year, confirms support for the use of renewable energy rose from 79 percent at that start of the year to 82 percent in March. Significantly, onshore wind power saw support increase by four percentage points since the start of the year to 68 percent, meaning support is now at its highest level since the surveys began. Opposition to onshore wind power, meanwhile, has fallen two percentage points since January to 11 percent.
According to the survey, solar power remains the most popular renewable technology garnering 85 percent support, an increase on the 82 percent support secured last June. The survey also reveals a significant increase in public awareness of fracking, likely driven by a surge in media reports about the emerging technology and its potential to exploit UK shale gas reserves. Awareness of the practice rose to 52 percent, from 42 percent last year, but the survey did not ask whether people were in favor of shale gas development or not.
Nuclear power also saw levels of support rise three percentage points to 40 percent since the start of the year, although it also confirmed that 23 percent are opposed and 35 percent neither support nor oppose its use.
Recent research supports the conclusions of a controversial environmental study released 40 years ago: The world is on track for disaster. So says Australian physicist Graham Turner, who revisited perhaps the most groundbreaking academic work of the 1970s, The Limits to Growth .
Written by MIT researchers for an international think tank, the Club of Rome, the study used computers to model several possible future scenarios. The business-as-usual scenario estimated that if human beings continued to consume more than nature was capable of providing, global economic collapse and precipitous population decline could occur by 2030.
However, the study also noted that unlimited economic growth was possible, if governments forged policies and invested in technologies to regulate the expansion of humanity’s ecological footprint. Prominent economists disagreed with the report’s methodology and conclusions. Yale’s Henry Wallich opposed active intervention, declaring that limiting economic growth too soon would be “consigning billions to permanent poverty.”
Turner compared real-world data from 1970 to 2000 with the business-as-usual scenario. He found the predictions nearly matched the facts. “There is a very clear warning bell being rung here,” he says. “We are not on a sustainable trajectory.”
A new report by Australia’s Climate Commission says that China is one of the world’s bright spots in global action to curb the effects of climate change. Though China remains the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, the report, The Critical Decade: global action building on climate change, found that in 2012, China reduced carbon intensity of its economy more than expected and almost halved the rate of growth for electricity demand.
Last year, China also cemented its position as a renewable energy powerhouse, expanding solar power capacity by 75 percent, and investing more than USD65 billion in clean energy, 20 percent more than in 2011 and far more than any other nation. The report predicts China could see its emissions peak sooner than expected if investement continues to accelerate, driven by new initiatives such as seven planned carbon markets that are due to launch from June in a number of cities.
China and US together produce approximately 37 percent of world emissions, but both nations are on track to meet their international commitments to tackle climate change, the report states. In recent months, they have each signaled they will be strengthening their efforts and in April they reached a historic agreement to tackle climate change together.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 399.72 parts per million (ppm) and is likely to pass the symbolically important 400ppm level for the first time in the next few days.
Readings at the US government’s Earth Systems Research laboratory in Hawaii, are not expected to reach their 2013 peak until mid May, but were recorded at a daily average of 399.72ppm on 25 April. The weekly average stood at 398.5 on Monday. Hourly readings above 400ppm have been recorded six times in the last week, and on occasion, at observatories in the high Arctic. But the major Mauna Loa station, sited at 3,400m far away from major pollution sources in the Pacific Ocean, has been monitoring levels for more than 50 years and is considered the gold standard.
CO2 atmospheric levels have been steadily rising for 200 years, registering around 280ppm at the start of the industrial revolution and 316ppm in 1985 when Mauna Loa observatory started measurements. The increase in the global burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of the increase.
“The 400ppm threshold is a sobering milestone, and should serve as a wake-up call for all of us to support clean energy technology and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, before it’s too late for our children and grandchildren,” said Tim Lueker, an oceanographer and carbon cycle researcher with Scripps CO2 Group.
Rainwater harvesting and car wash water reclaim systems have helped Sainsbury’s halve its water consumption across its stores over the last eight years. The company yesterday announced it has reduced its operational water use by 50 percent relative to its growth, resulting in water savings equivalent to nearly one million cubic meters of water annually, or 393 Olympic sized swimming pools.
Sainsbury’s said the achievement was made by finding and eradicating underground water leaks using automatic meter loggers, installing rainwater harvesting in all new stores as standard, and retrofitting rainwater harvesting units in existing stores. The retailer also installed water reclaim units at car washes in 66 of its stores, saving 22,674 square meters of water a year, while low flush toilets and pre-rinse spray taps have similarly helped to save water across its estate.
The efforts form part of Sainsbury’s long term strategy to source water sustainably across its supply chain by 2020. Sainsbury’s head of sustainability, engineering, energy and environment, Paul Crewe, said the strategy would help the company to reduce its impact on the environment and ensure the long-term sustainability of the business.
Schemes that encourage recycling by offering gift vouchers and rewards points could soon be rolled out more widely, after Greenredeeem today announced the acquisition of the UK arm of recycling rewards scheme operator Recyclebank. Greenredeem confirmed it had acquired the UK division of Recyclebank adding that the two firms will shortly combine to create a “powerful consumer superbrand” offering bespoke recycling services for the UK market.
Recyclebank’s UK operation, known as Recycle Rewards, offers households rewards, such as gift voucher and retail offers for recycling a range of different materials. The company works with a number of councils across the UK and this week launched a new scheme to encourage food waste recycling with the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. In contrast, Greenredeem, rewards people who recycle on the go, by placing drinks cans and bottles in kiosks in public places, such as Legoland and Thorpe Park.
For the next few months, the two companies will continue to operate as normal, but later this year, they plan to launch a new service that rewards people for recycling both home and when out and about.
A UK company claims to have produced a new type of packaging that is not only 100 percent recyclable, but also actively removes CO2 from the atmosphere. The new Polyair material developed by Polythene UK is made from sugar cane and uses photosynthesis to capture CO2 and release oxygen. The company claims that for every one ton of the product manufactured, 2.5 tons of CO2 will be removed.
James Woollard, managing director at Polythene UK, said Polyair could be used in a range of products including bags, covers, tubes, films, wraps and stretch film, and reduces the amount of polythene waste these generate.
“Using a bio-based material, such as Polyair, at a percentage of 60 percent in film reduces the CO2 emissions to zero even when you take into consideration the energy used for manufacture and shipping,” he added in a statement. “Put simply, Polyair is truly the greenest material we know of.”
Woollard added that the company initially designed the Polyair material as a degradable polythene, but changed tack in 2011 after deciding the benefits of such material were limited. He said that having found an alternative, the company has now re-launched the product aiming specifically at FTSE500 companies looking to reduce their emissions.
Time is not far when you would be living in a ‘five or three-star home’, certified by the government recognizing energy efficiency.
The Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), under the Ministry of Power, has developed a star rating program for buildings which is based on the actual performance of a building in terms of its specific energy usage in kilo watt hour per square meter a year. As per the program, office buildings are given ratings from 1 to 5 stars based on their energy efficiency. Soon, this is likely to be applicable for homes. The rating is as per the Energy Conservation Building Code by the BEE.
Executive director of the International Energy Agency, Maria van der Hoeven, batted for more “visibility” on green initiatives by member countries. Following which the idea of giving “star ratings” for homes came up for discussions. Responding to this, the planning commission of India Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia indicated that India has already taken steps toward the concept of star-rated homes and has started implementing the “starring process first on government buildings”.
As an effort towards green buildings, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) through Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is into the building of green homes which utilizes less water, optimizes energy savings, consumes less natural resources, brings better access to day-lighting and has enhanced construction management.
Builders of Tokyo Skytree, the 65 billion yen ($656 million) broadcast tower almost double the height of the Empire State Building, say they aim to make their mark on more than just the Japanese metropolis’ skyline.
The complex, the world’s largest broadcasting tower at 634 meters (2,080 feet), reflects pressure to conserve energy across Japan since the tsunami triggered by an earthquake in March 2011.
Tokyo Skytree, which was under construction before the earthquake, has the first district heating and cooling plant in the nation using a ground-source heat pump. A combination of heat pumps and water tanks for its district heating and cooling systems aims to reduce carbon emissions as much as 48 percent compared with similar projects without a centralized system, said Shinichiro Konno, the managing director of a company that helped developed the Skytree. “Having a central system for heating and cooling increases efficiency,” said Konno.
Tokyo Skytree is among 141 areas in Japan authorized to distribute heat under the country’s Heat Supply Business Act, according to the Japan Heat Supply Business Association. The heating and cooling systems at Skytree produce and distribute hot and cold water to the tower as well as shops, restaurants and offices in the 10.2 hectare area, located 5 kilometers (3 miles) northeast of Tokyo’s central train station, Konno said.
The coffee chain Starbucks is introducing a reusable cup which UK customers can keep, in a move designed to encourage them to be more environmentally conscious while saving money. The reusable cup is based on the design of the brand’s distinctive white green paper cups and will cost £1.
Customers who use their reusable cup will receive a 25p discount off their Starbucks drink every time they use it. The cup is made of a high-quality material which is lighter than the Starbucks ceramic tumblers, which will still be available. The reusable cups will be available in selected stores nationwide from today but will be rolled out gradually elsewhere.
Ian Cranna, vice-president of UK marketing for Starbucks, said: “We know that our customers really care about saving money and doing their bit for the environment; between 2008 and 2012, the number of people using a Starbucks reusable tumbler increased by 235 percent and our new reusable cup is a low-cost, high-impact way to help make a difference on reducing waste.”
Globally, the chain is aiming for five percent of drinks made in its stores to be served in reusable cups by 2015 and the company says its move in the UK is a key step towards reaching this goal.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a plan to reduce the use of plastic bags in the country as part of the efforts to protect the environment.
Under the plan, by 2020, the quantity of plastic bags used at supermarkets and trade centers will be reduced by 60 percent against 2010 and by 50 percent at traditional markets. The plan targets the collection and recycling of 50 percent of plastic bags that are thrown away every day by 2020.
To meet the plan’s targets, several campaigns will be carried out to raise public awareness about the impact of plastic bags in the environment. Households, traditional markets, supermarkets and trade centers will be encouraged to use environmentally-friendly bags the production of which will receive considerable policy support.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has been tasked with implementing the plan in cooperation with relevant ministries, sectors, provinces and cities.
Developing sustainable urban infrastructure benefits not just the environment, but can also boost economic growth and social stability, according to a United Nations report which stresses the need to transition to resource-efficient technologies in cities, given scarce natural resources.
“To date, the trend towards urbanization has been accompanied by increased pressure on the environment and growing numbers of urban poor,” said the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Achim Steiner, at the launch of the report in Nairobi, Kenya. “But unique opportunities exist for cities to lead the greening of the global economy by increasing resource productivity and innovation, while achieving major financial savings and addressing environmental challenges,” Mr. Steiner said.
The report, ‘City-level Decoupling: Urban Resource Flows and the Governance of Infrastructure Transitions,’ argues that sustainable city infrastructures can sustain economic growth while using fewer resources. The study says much greater effort is needed to support new and improved infrastructure for water, energy, transport and other sectors – generally located in and around cities – to wean the world off unsustainable consumption patterns and avoid serious economic and environmental implications for future generations.
The report, which was produced by the UNEP-hosted International Resource Panel (IRO), features 30 case studies around the world that show how sustainable infrastructures have created scores of green jobs and reduced environmental degradation. The report also provides recommendations for city planners to minimize environmental damage and maximize the potential or using resources more sustainably.
The development of low-carbon energy is progressing too slowly to limit global warming, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. With power generation still dominated by coal and governments failing to increase investment in clean energy, top climate scientists have said that the target of keeping the global temperature rise to less than 2C this century is slipping out of reach.
“The drive to clean up the world’s energy system has stalled,” said Maria van der Hoeven, the IEA’s executive director, at the launch of the agency’s report on clean energy progress.
Global clean energy investment in the first quarter fell to its lowest level in four years, driven by cuts in tax incentives at a time of austerity, according to a separate report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The IEA said that coal-fired generation grew by 45% between 2000 and 2010, far outpacing the 25% growth in non-fossil fuel generation over the same period.
With the world still reliant on fossil fuels, the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is critical, but there are no commercial plants in operation. The IEA has envisaged that CCS, which buries and traps CO2 underground, should play a major role in cutting global emissions and had forecast 63% of coal power plants should be equipped with the technology by 2050. However, there are only 13 large-scale demonstration projects in operation or being built, with the capacity to store about 65 million tonnes of CO2 a year. This represents only a quarter of the storage capacity needed by 2020.
Government policies and the EU’s emissions trading scheme need to be strengthened to enable more energy efficiency and clean technology uptake, the IEA said.”Unless we get (carbon emissions) prices and policies right, a cost-effective clean-energy transition just will not happen,” the report said.
Just how a company assesses, measures and values the natural resources it relies on every day can have major impacts on its bottom line, and presents significant opportunities for improving sustainability outcomes, according to a new report released by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
The report, Eco4Biz – Ecosystem services and biodiversity tools to support business decision-making , encourages companies to explore the tools that can help them better incorporate nature into business decision-making. The guide has been developed as a ‘one-stop resource kit’ to help environmental managers and companies navigate and choose from a range of available tools in order to better understand how they rely on nature, leading to more informed and better sustainability decisions.
“Assessing the impact and dependence on nature and natural capital may be complex, but it can also pay very good long-term dividends, both for the company bottom line and for our global environment,” said Eva Zabey, WBCSD Manager, Ecosystems and Natural Capital.
Eco4Biz features a decision tree, which helps cluster tools around the scale of assessment that an organization may need and the type of outputs the organization would prefer. Tools are identified primarily focusing on either ecosystem services or biodiversity. The toolkit will be updated on a regular basis to keep pace with developments as more companies proactively measure, manage and mitigate their impact and dependence on nature.
A changing climate with more frequent weather events requires today’s businesses to plan for an unpredictable and inconsistent water supply via more sophisticated water management practices, according to a new report released by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
Sharing Water: Engaging Business, emphasizes the crucial role of business in ensuring responsible management of water resources and encourages greater collaboration across sectors. The report finds that leading companies have begun shifting their perspective beyond merely managing operational water use to becoming more conscious of how corporate actions impact local and regional water resources and, conversely, how water resources and watersheds impact business.
The report cites alarming findings from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that, under business as usual, water demand will increase by 55 percent globally by 2050, leaving little scope to meet increasing water demands while respecting the needs of ecosystems. With no improvement in the management and use of freshwater resources, the world could face a 40 percent supply gap by 2030.
According to the report, the challenge of water management is complicated by the localized nature of water quality and quantity, which are determined by a range of local factors including geography, geology, climate, demography, infrastructure, competition and regulation. No two watersheds are the same, and, as such, some regions are less susceptible to water constraints while others face scarcity and pollution challenges.
“Collaboration is urgently needed. Business alone cannot ensure sustainable water use across a watershed,” said WBCSD President Peter Bakker. “To accelerate the impact of a watershed approach, companies must advocate for and contribute to an efficient regulatory environment that governs all water use in a watershed.”
Developers and owners of high-rise buildings will have their building permit applications denied if they fail to comply with the “green” building code that will take effect by the end of the month.
Jakarta Building Supervision and Regulation Agency head, I Putu Ngurah Indiana, said on Friday that the environmentally-friendly building code, which is basically a 2012 gubernatorial regulation on green buildings, would be incorporated in the building permit application process and would be mandatory for office buildings, shopping mall and apartments with more than 50,000 square meters in total area; hotels and health facilities that are bigger than 20,000 square meters; and educational facilities that are bigger than 10,000 square meters.
“Commercial buildings of certain sizes will have to comply with the criteria stipulated in the regulation,” he said in a discussion jointly organized by the International Financial Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s commercial financing arm, and the city administration at the Jakarta Convention Center in Central Jakarta. He said the regulation also stipulated energy and water efficiency requirements for buildings to reduce emissions and waste, which would help reduce climate change impacts.
US companies are flipping the script: instead of lobbying government to relax environmental regulation, a corporate group is urging Washington to enact strong policy aimed at curbing climate change. Their climate declaration, in addition to making an eco-appeal to the scientific consensus that excessive carbon emissions cause climate change, also makes a clear-eyed business case. “Tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest opportunities of the 21st century,” it says.
The 33 signatory companies, who already integrate climate management into their policies and practices, believe that wagering the business-as-usual economy, which benefits from society footing the bill for companies externalizing pollution, is already on the way out of the door. The future portends a carbon-constrained economy that prices greenhouse gas emissions.
These companies – which include Unilever, Nestle, Swiss Re, Intel, Nike and Starbucks – are already preparing for a carbon tax (or similar pricing mechanism) by embracing clean energy, boosting efficiency, and limiting carbon emissions. And now, they’re calling on Congress to enshrine such practices in law books.
The declaration is taking a grassroots approach, encouraging other companies – as well as individuals – to sign on, as a means of documenting the kind of broad support needed to convince legislators to act.
The growing popularity of green vehicles was hammered home again as manufacturing giant Toyota reported a record of 82 percent increase in sales of its bellwether hybrid cars. The company confirmed sales of its hybrid Toyota and Lexus brands rose 82.3 percent year-on-year to over 38,000 units during the first quarter, accounting for a fifth of total sales for the first time.
The company said that since 2000, it has now sold over 500,000 hybrids in Europe, accounting for around 10 percent of Toyota’s total hybrid sales and result in carbon emissions savings of approximately 3.4 million tonnes.
The surge in sales was largely the result of the continuing expansion of the company’s hybrid portfolio, which has sought to build on the success of the high profile Prius. The company is now looking to build on its success in the hybrid segment with a plug-in version of the Prius that is currently in the pipeline.
Almost three quarters of the electricity consumed in Portugal during the first quarter of the year came from renewable sources, according to new figures from the country’s grid operator REN.
The company confirmed this week that the combination of favorable weather conditions and the country’s investment in wind and hydro-electricity capacity meant 70 percent of electricity was generated by renewable technologies during the first three months of the year.
The performance is likely to have resulted in significant emission reductions, given output from coal and gas-fired power stations fell 29 and 44 percent respectively, compared with the first quarter of 2012. The surge in renewable power also offered a boost to Portugal’s economy as it allowed the country to export electricity equivalent to six percent of national consumption.
Smartphones are the latest products to be certified, allowing buyers to choose devices based on environmental and social criteria.
TCO Development, which certifies IT products worldwide, is adding smartphones to the list. With their PC-like power and functionality and worldwide annual sales growth of around 50%, smartphones are the fastest growing IT product. An estimated one billion smartphones will be sold during 2014.
But this explosive growth also brings with it sustainability challenges such as hazardous substances, a rapid replacement rate, e-waste and sub-standard working conditions in factories. There is a need for greater responsibility in how we design, manufacture and use these products as well as handle them at their end of life.
The certification will focus on driving greater social responsibility into manufacturing smartphones as well as reducing their impact on the environment and human health. Examples of criteria include manufacturer commitment to international labor conventions, reduction of hazardous substances such as heavy metals, beryllium, nickel and phthalates, as well as energy efficiency and ergonomic design.
Plans to use household rubbish to produce electricity could come on stream within two years, with WA’s environmental regulator poised to endorse the State’s first so-called waste-to-energy plant.
Perth company New Energy has moved to plug a looming shortage in Pilbara electricity supplies by proposing to build a $180 million power station at Port Hedland fuelled by gas from waste. Under the plan, the company would take about 100,000 tonnes of municipal waste a year from across the Pilbara and turn it into enough electricity to power up to 21,000 homes and businesses.
The group would use a process called low temperature gasification, which effectively harvests gas from decomposing waste before using it to generate heat and electricity which would then be fed into the grid.
Asia is moving along a dangerously unsustainable energy path that will result in environmental disaster and a gaping divide in energy access between rich and poor unless the region dramatically changes course, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.
Asia’s Energy Challenge, the special theme chapter in ADB’s Asian Development Outlook 2913, highlights the complex balancing act the region faces to deliver energy to all its citizens while scaling back its reliance on fossil fuels. If by 2035 Asia merely expands energy access without fundamentally changing the way it consumes, the report predicts the region’s oil consumption will double, natural gas consumption will triple, and coal consumption will rise a whopping 81 percent, with costly and devastating environmental impacts.
Asia’s limited indigenous energy resources present an additional challenge. With only 9 percent of proven global oil reserves, the region is currently on track to almost triple oil imports by 2035, rendering it significantly more vulnerable to external supply shocks.
Carefully designed support for renewable energy technologies must be stepped up. Next generation wind, solar and biofuel technologies, which are expected to be more cost competitive than current options and do not compete with food crops, offer potential solutions.
If global warming were a race, the Northern Hemisphere would be winning. It is warming faster than the Southern Hemisphere, with some of the most rapid warming rates on Earth located in the Arctic, where the sea and land ice is shrinking and thinning. Not only is the North winning now, but projections show that, largely due to the influence of manmade greenhouse gas emissions, it is likely to widen its lead in the coming decades.
Two new studies shed light on this disparity and how it could have profound consequences for tropical rainfall. According to one of the studies by a group of researched based at U.C. Berkeley and the University of Washington, the Northern Hemisphere has led the Southern Hemisphere in its rate of warming since about 1980, largely because the Northern Hemisphere has more land and less ocean than the Southern Hemisphere, and oceans warm relatively slowly.
The second study by researchers at the Potsdam institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, implicates global ocean currents as another factor contributing to the Northern Hemisphere’s warming lead. These currents transports heat away from the southern waters and into the North Atlantic and North Pacific, helping to warm nearby land areas in the north even more.
In an “emerging indicator” of global warming, both studies found that the temperature difference between the two hemispheres has grown since 1980, and climate model projections show the Northern Hemisphere will continue to pull away from its hemispheric counterpart in the coming decades. The exact magnitude of the temperature difference will depend on the emissions of greenhouse gases, among other factors.
The Berkeley study projected that if emissions remain on their present upward trajectory, the average temperature difference between the two hemispheres could be about 1.6 degrees Celsius or about 3 degrees Fahrenheit. This would be sufficient to alter tropical rainfall patterns, which could affect everything from rice cultivation in India to the health of the Amazon Rainforest.
US energy-related CO2 emissions dropped in 2012 to their lowest levels since 1994, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Last year’s emissions at 5.3 billion metric tons of CO2 represent about a 4 percent decline over 2011’s 5.5 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions. With the exception of 2010, emissions have declined every year since 2007, the EIA says.
The largest drop in emissions in 2012 came from coal, which the EIA says is used almost exclusively for electricity generation. During 2012, particularly in the spring and early summer, low natural gas prices led to competition between natural gas and coal-fired electric power generators. Lower natural gas prices resulted in reduced levels of coal generation, and increased natural gas generation – a less carbon-intensive fuel for power generation, which shifted power generation from the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel (coal) to the least-intensive fossil fuel (natural gas).
Other factors contributing to the lower emissions include decreased demand for transportation fuels and mild winter temperatures that reduced the demand for heating. The warm winter months during 2012, particularly in the first quarter, more than offset a slight increase in cooling-degree days during the summer months.
Retailers from Northern Ireland will start charging at least five pence for each retailer bag handed out to customers, as part of a drive across the province to reduce plastic waste.
The Northern Ireland Executive has introduced the Carrier Bag Levy, in a move designed to significantly reduce the 250 million carrier bags distributed in the country each year. Northern Ireland follows in the footsteps of Wales, which introduced a similar charge in 2011 and subsequently cut handouts of bags dramatically, with some retailers virtually eliminating the use of bags within a few months of the launch of the levy.
The Northern Irish levy will cover all single use carrier bags, including those made from paper or plant-based materials such as starch, on the grounds that alternatives to plastic bags also have environmental impacts. However, the levy will not apply to reusable bags and some small paper and plastic bags, such as those used for medicine or hot food.
The move will increase pressure on the Westminster government to take action, as it leaves England as the only country in the United Kingdom to have taken legislative steps to curb plastic bag use – Scotland is currently working on plans to follow Northern Ireland and Wales with the introduction of a bag levy or ban.
Cooking waste from thousands of London restaurants and food companies is to help run what is claimed to be the world’s biggest fat-fueled power station. The energy generated from the grease, oil and fat that clogs the capital’s sewers will also be channeled to help run a major sewage works and a desalination plant, as well as supplying the National Grid, under plans announced by Thames Water and utility company 2OC.
The deal, worth more than £200 million over 20 years, has made possible the building of the £70 million plant at Beckton, east London, which is financed by a consortium led by iCON Infrastructure. It is due to be operational in early 2015. The plant will produce 130 Gigawatt hours (GWh) a year of renewable electricity – enough to run just under 40,000 average-sized homes, say the planners.
Airlines in Europe may need to buy carbon permits or pay fines after data showed the carriers’ emissions in 2012 exceeded their allocation of free allowances by about 30 percent, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest low-cost airline emitted 34 percent more than its free permits and EasyJet Plc’s U.K. account indicates it needs 25 percent more allowances while Aer Lingus Group Plc has a shortfall of 24 percent, based from preliminary data from the European Union.
Under the Europe’s carbon program, emitters must match emissions with EU allowances or United Nations offset credits by the end of April each year or pay a fine of 100 euros a ton. Polluters can top up their free allocation with allowances bought in the market.
It is a question that is often asked in the building industry: Does green building pay off, and if it does, for whom? A new comprehensive report released from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) may have the answer to that question.
“The Business Case for Green Building: A Review for the Costs and Benefits for Developers, investors and Occupants” examines whether it’s possible to attach a financial value to the cost and benefits of green buildings. It argues that green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to conventional buildings and investments can be recouped through operations cost savings – and with the right design features, can create a more productive workspace.
Key findings of the report tackle design and constructions costs, asset value, operating costs, workplace productivity and health, and risk mitigation. The report concludes by illustrating that by greening our built environment at the neighborhood and city scales, the green building industry can deliver on a large-scale economic priorities such as climate mitigation, energy security, resource conservation, job creation, long-term resilience and quality of life.
Procter & Gamble has eliminated the amount of manufacturing waste they are sending to land fill in 45 facilities worldwide. In 45 of their sites in Asia, Europe, North and South America, manufacturing waste is recycled, repurposed or converted into energy.
The company, which serves approximately 4.6 billion people around the world with its brands, has a long-term vision of sending zero manufacturing and consumer waste to landfills over the past 5 years. P&G’s work to find worth in waste has created over $1 billion in value of the company.
“There are well-defined systems for recycling materials like paper, plastic and glass, but our product portfolio is incredibly broad, resulting in diverse set of waste streams to find sustainable solutions for,” shared Dr. Forbes McDougall, who leads P&G’s global zero manufacturing waste program.
The company first achieved zero manufacturing waste to landfill in 2007 at a site in Budapest. Since then, through quality assurance, packaging reduction, compaction and recycling efforts, the company now ensures that 99 percent of all materials entering their plants leave either as finished product or is recycled, reused or repurposed.
A record-high of 71 percent of Americans consider the environment when they shop, up from 66 percent in 2008, according to research from Cone Communications. Some 7 percent consider the environment every time they shop, while 20 percent consider it regularly. Forty-four percent consider it sometimes, according to the 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker.
Even as thinking “green” is increasingly at the forefront of consumers’ minds, Americans still struggle with their role in the lifecycle of products with an environmental benefit. Nine in 10 respondents say they believe it’s their responsibility to properly use and dispose of these products, but action isn’t aligning with intent: only 30 percent say they often use products in a way that achieves the intended environmental benefit and some 42 percent say they dispose of the products in a way that fulfills the intended environmental benefit.
Despite the lack of consistent follow-through, consumers are showing an inclination to learn more. Nearly all respondents (85 percent) want companies to educate them on how to properly use and dispose of products, but they identify significant barriers to doing so, as well. One-third of consumers (33 percent) cited not having the adequate resources, such as disposal bins and community access, as the primary reason for not disposing or using products as intended, while 20 percent stated they simply do not know how to do so.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed last Friday a set of new standards to reduce smog-causing sulfur in gasoline and tighten emissions regulations on cars and trucks beginning 2017 that would increase gas prices by less than a penny per gallon and add $130 to the cost of a vehicle in 2025.
The proposal slashes a range of harmful pollutants such as smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent. It also establishes a 70 percent tighter particulate matter standard and decreases fuel vapor emissions to near zero. The EPA estimates the proposal’s total health-related benefits in 2030 will be between $8 and $23 billion annually and will help avoid nearly 2,400 premature deaths and 23,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children. The rules will also benefit more than 50 million Americans living, working or going to school near public roads.
If implemented, the EPA claims that the standards will reduce gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60 percent to 10 parts per million. Decreasing sulfur in gasoline enables vehicle emission control technologies to perform more efficiently, meaning even cars and trucks built before 2017 will run cleaner on the new low-sulfur fuel.
The proposed mandate comes as part of the Obama Administration’s national program for clean cars and trucks, which also includes unprecedented fuel efficiency standards. The proposal will work alongside California’s clean cars and fuels program to create a cohesive national vehicle emissions program that would enable automakers to sell the same vehicles in all 50 states. The scheme also supports efforts by states to reduce harmful levels of smog and soot and eases their ability to attain national air quality standards to protect public health, while also maintaining flexibility for small businesses, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance.
The International Monetary Fund has urged nations to slash their $US 1.9 trillion in annual energy subsidies because they increase inequality, boost greenhouse gas emissions and limit investment in the renewable energy industry.
While many nations use energy subsidies to shield consumers from rising prices, benefits tend to be grabbed by higher-income households. The outlays also sap funds available for bigger improvements t assist the well-being of the poor, such as health and education spending.
The removal of fossil fuel subsidies would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 4.5 billion tonnes and sulphur dioxide pollution would also drop by 13 million tonnes if the subsidies are removed. The fund listed the top three energy subsidizers as the United States ($US502 billion), China ($US279 billion), and Russia ($US116 billion). Petroleum and electricity subsidies accounted for three-quarters of the pre-tax subsidies, with natural gas accounting for the most of the rest, and coal subsidies worth about $6 billion, the IMF said. The survey did not include subsidies received by renewable energy producers.
Banning food, textiles, wood and plastic from landfill could save resources worth £2.5bn a year and help companies avoid £1bn of landfill costs, according to Green Alliance. New research by the group shows that policies preventing cars and electronics being dumped in landfill have improved recycling rates significantly and advocates extending these regulations.
The UK recovered around a quarter of unwanted mobile phones in 2010 and that this figure is set to rise to 80 percent by the end of the decade, keeping £13m of value in the UK economy per year, as a result of the EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive. By contrast, in the US where no such regulations exist, 92 percent of mobile phones ended up in landfill.
Dustin Benton, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance, said without bans, landfill is still “the default option”, but now it makes economic sense to retain valuable materials. Introducing bans over a five to ten year timeframe would give industry sufficient time to respond and stimulate better infrastructure and would work better than extending landfill taxes, which are based on weight rather than the type of material.
The European Commission today opened the debate on EU energy and climate policy after 2020 – offering the energy industry the prospect of the long-term clarity and stability needed for large, long-term investments. The European Commission’s Green Paper on a “2030 framework for climate and energy policies” published today in Brussels presents 2030 targets as a key policy option.
“It is important to put long-term climate and renewable energy policies in place, and the European Commission and Council already agree that an increase in renewable energy is a ‘no-regrets’ option,” said Justin Wilkes, Director of Policy of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “Energy Policy debate over the coming months will be crucial to Europe’s future.
The Green Paper is accompanied by a report on national renewable energy progress. For the first time, the Commission warns that it is concerned about the achievement of the 20-20-20 renewable targets by 2020 due to national policy changes. This echoes EWEA’s concerns that changes to support mechanisms are driving away investors and making it more difficult and expensive to achieve the 2020 targets.
The impact of rising household energy bills will be greatly reduced by climate change policies which could save consumers around £166 by 2020, according to the energy and climate secretary, Ed Davey.
Analysis by the department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) showed that 85% of the present average £1,250 bill cannot be controlled by the government because it is determined by international gas and electric prices, transmission and metering costs. After energy companies have taken their profits, and VAT has been paid, government policies can only influence around 11% of the bill, says Davey.
In a riposte to some Conservative politicians and media which have claimed that wind power will cost more than £120bn in the next eight years and send household bills soaring, he claimed that energy-saving policies, better gas boilers, tighter building regulations and the coalition’s green deal loan scheme and smart meters could save householders around £166 a year by 2020. According to DECC, that is an 11% cut compared to the government doing nothing.
The city of Melbourne in Australia has become a certified carbon-neutral city under the Government’s independent carbon offsetting authority, Low Carbon Australia.
Melbourne achieved its status through reducing and offsetting its emissions and launching programs as part of its Net Zero Emissions Strategy. Measures taken by Melbourne to reduce emissions include new waste management solutions, encouraging bike and public transport use and improving the efficiency of building’s heating systems. Melbourne council also urged consumers to cut water and energy use and to better manage waste and recycling.
Low Carbon Australia administered the National Carbon Offset standard (NCOS) Carbon Neutral Program to Melbourne, a standard which requires cities to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero through acquiring and retiring carbon offsets to match emissions.
Announced at a press conference in Brussels, the EU has suggested a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The plans will undergo a consultation process before eventually replacing the existing 2020 goals.
The new framework will also explore ways to speed up the development of carbon capture and storage, establish a new renewable energy target and divide up responsibility for the policies between 27 member states. At present, the EU has targeted a 20% cut in emissions, a 20% energy share go renewable and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020. Fresh targets for an increased share of energy and further efficiency measures will be announced later.
The EU is currently on track to meet its target of cutting emissions by 20% by 2020 and generate 20% of its energy from renewable sources by the same date. But businesses have expressed concern the lack of a target post-2020 is undermining long-term policy certainty for large low-carbon infrastructure projects.
Walgreen Co., the largest U.S. drugstore chain, is combining several clean energy technologies in its first experiment in net-zero stores which it plans to extend to many of its 8,000 stores.
The first net-zero store in Evanston Ill., will get renewable energy from solar, wind and geothermal, along with extremely efficient refrigerators, LED lights and green building materials. Once the store is built, engineers will test its performance for a year to see if it meets the net-zero energy goal. They expect the store to consume 200,000 kilowatt hours a year of electricity and generate 256,000 kWh a year.
Walgreen is shooting for LEED-Platinum certification and plans to enter the Living Building Challenge. They are also participating in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, which commits the company to reducing energy 20% across the chain by 2020. The store will use 40% less energy than conventional stores and generate all the energy it uses on-site by using more than 800 solar panels on its roof, two vertical wind turbines, geothermal cooling and heating, LED lighting and daylighting, carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment, and energy-efficient building materials.
This store is replacing an old Walgreen store, which is currently being demolished. The new store should open in November and will also have bike racks, a bike repair station, and a place to charge electric cars. This will be the third LEED-certified store for Walgreen
Although most of the world’s governments have declined to put a price on carbon emissions, a handful of global companies, including Disney, Microsoft and Shell, have chosen to act on their own. They have established internal carbon prices in an effort to reduce emissions, promote energy efficiency and encourage the use of cleaner sources of power, just as government tax or cap-and-trade program would.
At Disney, the carbon tax seems to be working, by driving incremental efficiency measures that might otherwise have been overlooked and by raising funds to buy carbon offsets. Since 2009, when the tax was imposed, the company’s engineers have changed thermostat set points, installed light sensors and efficient bulbs, increased the efficiency of chillers, heat exchangers and pumps, and shut down lights on park icons when the parks are closed. Even with the increase in Disney’s absolute emissions brought by the addition of two new ships for its vacation cruise business, the tax collected has enabled Disney to invest in a variety of certified forest-carbon projects and taking those carbon offsets into account, Disney’s 2012 emissions have been cut in half from a 2006 baseline.
Shell’s carbon price was established “not to deliver major change but to demonstrate the possible” by showing that pricing carbon could drive change in a cost-effective way, according to David Hone, a climate change adviser at Shell. Shell has set the highest carbon price, about $40, but no money actually changes hands inside the company. Instead, the price is used to guide capital allocation, with the oil industry’s long-term investment horizons in mind.
For its part, Microsoft promised to achieve net zero emissions during the current fiscal year, which ends in July, for its data centers, software labs, offices and employee air travel, by increasing efficiency and purchasing renewable energy. Microsoft works with a company called Sterling Planet to buy certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) and direct carbon offsets.
Around 75 percent of Apple facilities energy consumption now comes from renewable sources, according to a new sustainability report from the tech giant. The report reveals that in the last two year, Apple has increased its use of renewable energy by 50 percent, moving the firm towards its long-term goal of running its facilities using 100 percent renewable resources.
“Apple’s announcement shows that it has made real progress in its commitment to lead the way to a clean energy future,” said Greenpeace international senior IT analyst, Gary Cook. “Apple’s increased level of disclosure about its energy sources helps customers know that their iCloud will be powered by clean energy sources, not coal.”
In April of last year, Greenpeace lambasted Apple for running its cloud storage data centers in areas which rely heavily on coal power. Greenpeace said that in order for Apple to reach its goal of 100 percent renewable energy use, it will need to work with power providers such as North Carolina’s Duke Energy to change the current dirty energy paradigm.
“To show how it can help remove those roadblocks, Apple should disclose more details about how it will push utilities and state governments to help it achieve its ambitious goal in all of its data center locations.”
While much attention has been paid to green buildings, it is also important to use green cleaning products to maintain human and environmental health. This practice is also referred to as environmentally sustainable cleaning.
Cleaning products often contain harsh chemicals that are toxic and unhealthy for both people and the environment. Recently, there have been many changes to cleaning products to ensure a healthy environment for building occupants.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia has an entire sustainability department which ensures the educational facility is ‘green cleaned.’ They require that facility cleaners use only equipment, chemicals, and cleaning methods that have the lowest impact on the environment. On the other side of the globe, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. is debuting a museum exhibition based around the greening of American schools which explores all facets of green schools from the impact the buildings have on the health of those who occupy them to their physical systems and architectural forms.
While many are now living and working in ‘green buildings,’ people must learn to live greener lives to maintain the green status. The maintenance and cleaning of a building is equally important as the green products used to build it. Occupants of homes and other buildings should choose the least hazardous products available, seeking out products that are biodegradable, have low toxicity and low volatile organic compound content, and feature reduced packaging.
In 2008, FedEx set a target of increasing the fuel efficiency of its global vehicle fleet by 20 percent by 2020 from its 2005 levels. Eight years on, it’s already improved by 22 percent. Now, it’s raising the goal to improve fuel efficiency to 30 percent by 2020, both for vehicles and aircraft.
FedEx says it’s seen the biggest improvements in fuel efficiency from small but smart changes in how it operates and builds vehicles. Matching the right vehicle to each route, for example, is expected to cut fuel use by 20 million gallons this year. Another simple strategy is to make sure vehicles have “right-sized” engines. Outfitting a vehicle with the smallest engine that can do the job makes them 70 to 100 percent more fuel efficient than the truck it replaces. So far, about 10,000 of such vehicles are in service – more than a third of those delivering packages in the U.S. The company’s other strategies include moving toward composite bodies to lower a vehicle’s weight, converting older diesel engines to more efficient versions, and the use of hybrids and electric vehicles.
“FedEx Express follows a three-tiered strategy to improve the fuel efficiency of its fleet: Reduce, Replace and Revolutionize,” says Dennis Beal, vice president of global vehicles at FedEx Express, in a statement. “This holistic approach to fleet management allows us to develop vehicle technologies for the future while maximizing the conventional vehicles we operate today.”
Recycling rates in the UK rose faster in the first decade of the millennium than any other country in Europe, according to official statistics published on Tuesday. Although UK started from a low base in 2001 – recycling rates were just 12% for all municipal waste – it increased by the greatest amount by 2010, reaching 39% on par with the average for EU.
But the European Environment Agency (EEA), which released the figures, warned that many countries will fail to meet a European directive of recycling 50% of waste by 2020. In particular, those in south-eastern Europe are struggling far behind: Greece only recycles 18%, up from 9% in 2001, while Romania recycles just 1%. In a few cases, countries have gone backwards, with Norway’s rates falling from 44% to 42%, and Finland’s dropping from 34% to 33%.
Jacqueline McGlade, EEA executive director, said: “In a relatively short time, some countries have successfully encouraged a culture of recycling, with infrastructure, incentives and public awareness campaigns. But others are still lagging behind, wasting huge volumes of resources. The current intense demand for some materials should alert countries to the clear opportunities in recycling.”
Envirolastech, a Rochester, Minn. firm specializing in the development of sustainable building products makes new “plastic lumber”.
The company has developed a proprietary formula that uses different mixtures of mineral ash, recycled resins and solid waste materials to create what it calls a “true replacement for wood.” Its products are made from 100 percent recycled inorganic materials taken directly from landfills and curbside pickups. All products are also recyclable.
“Ash is the number one by-product that goes into our landfills, whether it’s coal or incinerator ash. It makes up between 40 to 60 percent of every landfill we have,” said Paul Schmitt, president of Envirolastech, in an interview with local Minnesota news station. “We’ve produced and developed over 30 products already. We can build a complete house out of garbage.”
The company says that the plastic lumber is in its tenth year of field testing and so far shows no signs of chipping, peeling or color fade.
As data becoming increasingly available from everything – buildings, vehicles, transit systems, cash registers and potentially every light fixture, switch, plug and machine – there’s a growing opportunity to capture it and make it useful for consumers and professionals. Some of it is making its way into application software or more commonly, apps.
The growth of apps mirrors some of sustainability’s other technology trends – the sharing economy, the smart grid and machine-to-machine communications. Energy, water, waste, toxics, carbon – the future of all of these things is linked in large part to how, and how well, we can measure, track, monitor and optimize their flows. All are about data and the apps that make it useful.
Sustainability-related apps cover a gamut of topics and audiences – and professionalism. A random sampling: greenMeter (computes a vehicle’s power and fuel use and evaluates driving to increase efficiency), JouleBug (a social, mobile game that rewards players for reducing energy waste), AirStat.us (a free, daily air quality alert for your city), iRecycle (access to more than 1.5 million ways to dispose of stuff), iGo Vampire Power Calculator (shows how much energy the electronics in your home use and cost), PEV4me (calculates the financial impacts and environmental impacts of driving plug-in electric vehicles), Light Bulb Finder (shows how to switch from conventional light bulbs to energy-saving equivalents with the same fit, style and light quality), and GoodGuide (provides health, environmental and social performance ratings for consumer products).
A number of apps take advantage of the Green Button program, launched in 2012 by California utilities but quickly championed by the White House. It standardizes the delivery of energy data from utilities to enable energy users to analyze and optimize their energy use. Green Button was designed as a catalyst to create an ecosystem for software developers to produce new services and products. Now, dozens of apps exist that allow consumers and businesses to download data and interpret it in a variety of ways.
Singapore – In a bid to encourage recycling and reduce waste, the government is currently exploring the feasibility of charging households based on how much waste they dispose of.
Speaking at the Eco-products International Fair, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Grace Fu, said a Save-As-You-Reduce pilot will be carried out with selected households in the Punggol and Bartley areas, and at the first HDB Greenprint precinct at Yuhua.
A usage-based pricing waste disposal system will allow households to “directly reap the benefits of reducing waste”, said Ms. Fu, who also reveled that the government would be extending water and energy-efficiency labeling to more appliances to help households save on utility bills.
The domestic waste generated in Singapore has been rising faster than the population growth and the overall waste the country produces has grown from 5.87 million tonnes a year since 2008 to 6.9 million tonnes in 2011 – which roughly equals the weight of 275,000 fully loaded garbage trucks.
BusinessGreen has teamed up with Peugeot to launch a new free report designed to help sustainability experts and fleet managers operate greener and more efficient corporate fleets.
The guide, titled Driving Out of the Downturn, outlines how businesses can take advantage of the “remarkable surge” in vehicle efficiency that has been achieved in recent years. The report details how tax breaks and technology improvements increasingly require firms to assess the full lifecycle cost of fleet operations when making purchasing or leasing decisions, as lower running costs start to deliver significant overall financial savings.
It also explores how driver training courses and technologies are providing a proven means of cutting carbon emissions and fuel costs, and offers a detailed case study on how building services company Forrest has slashed its environmental impact using an innovative approach to green driving.
The report, which is sponsored by Peugeot, is freely available for download here
Following on from the publication of a draft Japanese Government plan for the commercialization of methane hydrate deposits 10 years from now, Japan Oil, Gas & Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) announced that it has produced gas in the world’s first offshore test to extract fuel from the frozen depths.
The experimental gas field is in the Nankai Trough, about 50 km off the coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island. JOGMEC estimates that the surrounding area holds at least 1.1 trillion cubic meters of methane hydrate, the equivalent of 11 years’ of Japanese natural gas imports.
According to Bloomberg, citing sources within India’s Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), a team including Oil & Natural Gas Corp – the country’s biggest energy explorer – will drill for methane hydrate deposits in the Bay of Bengal later this year. India’s preliminary estimate is that it has 1,894 trillion cubic meters of frozen gas reserves in its waters.
While Japan and India may be dreaming of potential energy independence, however, large-scale exploitation of the world’s methane hydrate deposits also raises some serious environmental concerns. The US Geological Survey said in a January 2013 report that carbon deposits in hydrates are double the size of all known oil, gas and coal reserves. “Hydrates store immense amounts of methane, with major implications for energy resources and climate, but the natural controls on hydrates and their impacts on the environment are poorly understood,” noted the report.
The need to support and improve access to data and on the environment and sustainable development has been underlined at the conclusion of a major conference in Dublin, Ireland. Participants from more than 70 countries decided to continue to collaborate through the Eye on Earth Network and launched also the Global Network of Networks.
The conference was organized by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in association with the Irish EU Presidency. The conference outcome says the participants “decided to continue to collaborate through the Eye on Earth Network, to promote, support and improve access to data and information for sustainable development.”
Eye on Earth is a global public information network, supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners, fdor creating and sharing environmentally relevant information online including interactive maps, applications, and other data based on Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
The Global Network of Networks – an initiative endorsed at the 2011 Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi – was also launched at the Dublin conference.
Whole Foods is putting a stake in the ground on GMOs. As the first national supermarket chain to make this commitment, Whole Foods will require all products sold in its stores with GMOs to be labeled by 2018, in both the U.S. and Canada. This could be an important precedent that other supermarket chains could follow.
Suppliers have five years to either source non-GMO ingredients or to clearly label products that have ingredients containing GMOs. Many suppliers are already working on this, the company says, and “a good number are already there.” While five years from now is the deadline, Whole Foods says it will see progress much sooner and will announce key milestones along the way.
“We are putting a stake in the ground on GMO labeling to support the consumer’s right to know,” says Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, in a statement. “The prevalence of GMOs in the U.S. paired with nonexistent mandatory labeling makes it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to choose non-GMO products. Accordingly, we are stepping up our support of certified organic agriculture, where GMOs are not allowed, and we are working together with our supplier partners to grow our non-GMO supply chain to ensure we can continue to provide these choices in the future.”
Currently, the only way consumers can be sure the food they buy don’t contain GMOs is buying certified organic.
Walmart has reported that it has delivered a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions since 2005, beating its target one year ahead of schedule. The company’s 2011 figures show a 20.02 percent decrease in emissions from the Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers that existed in 2005, Bloomberg reported, surpassing the goal that had been set for 2012.
Walmart currently uses about 4 percent green energy, as rated by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranking, which equates to around 751 million kilowatts a year and marks it as the fifth biggest user of clean energy in the U.S.
The company, however, has an “aspirational goal” of being 100 percent powered by renewable energy and has stepped up installations of rooftop solar panels at its stores across the U.S. Earlier this week, the retailer announced it has fitted PV panels on 12 of its stores in Ohio, which should supply between 5 and 20 percent of each store’s overall electricity use.
The World Green Building Council has unveiled a comprehensive new report outlining the compelling global business case for green buildings.
In the Business Case for Green Building: A Review of the Costs and Benefits for Developers, Investors and Occupants, WorldGBC examines whether or not it is possible to attach a financial value to the cost and benefits of sustainable buildings.
The report highlights how green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to conventional buildings and investments can be recouped through operational cost savings. It also notes that with the right design features, green buildings can create a more productive workplace.
The report specifically focuses on the potential benefits of green buildings throughout the various stages of the building lifecycle, from reduced costs during design and construction phases through to improved health of workers when a building is in use.
The supreme court could force the government to take steps to urgently reduce dangerous air pollution in many British cities to met European limits, following a landmark hearing this week.
The case, to be heard by five law lords, coincides with government warnings that toxic air pollution has been at “high” levels across much of England and Wales this week, including London, York, Manchester, Liverpool, Swansea, Bristol and other cities. ClientEarth, a group of campaigning lawyers that has brought the case, will say that the government has a legal duty to comply with EU timescales and its plans to reduce pollution are woefully inadequate.
It will say that the government has known that air pollution from nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates now kill as many people each year in Britain as obesity and road accidents combined. The EU legislation was passed into European law in 1999 and Britain should have compiled by 2010. However, it has refused to even apply for an extension until January 2015.
Government lawyers are expected to argue that Britain is under no legal obligation to meet air pollution time limits set by Brussels and that it is impossible to meet the targets.
The case is considered legally important because it could allow the government to delay the implementation of many other EU environment laws and directives, including those concerning river and beach water quality, waste and carbon emissions.
The European Union’s plan to reform its emissions trading scheme (ETS) will fail to deliver the desired increase in carbon prices unless they are accompanied by more drastic action.
That is the stark warning contained in a new report released today by the London School of Economics (LSE) Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, which warns proposals to withhold the sale of carbon allowances will only defer the problems created by an over-supply of tradable EU allowances (EUAs).
Brussels is currently considering a plan to “backload” the proposed sale of up to 900 million EUAs in an attempt to address the record low carbon process that have resulted from a chronic oversupply of credits. The European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted in favor of the plan last month, paving the way for a full parliamentary vote. However, concerns remain that a number of countries could yet seek to block the carbon rescue plan.
The LSE’s report warns that even if the plan is approved and the sale of 900 million EUAs is delayed until later in the decade, it will not guarantee a “sustained increase in price and the orderly functioning of the ETS.” It adds that “the only market intervention in the short term that would be credible” is the immediate removal of the allowances from the market altogether.
The report’s recommendation of a permanent retirement of allowances echoes from a host of green NGOs and carbon market analysts who have repeatedly urged politicians to either restrict the supply of carbon credits in the market or boost demand for allowances by strengthening the EU’s mandatory emission reduction targets.
The UK’s food waste mountain is being made worse by consumers’ failure to follow storage advice and their misplaced confidence in their ability to prolong the life of popular food stuffs.
That is the conclusion of a major survey of 4,000 consumers undertaken by waste advisory body WRAP, which found 61 percent of people mistakenly believe that removing food from packaging will extend its lifespan, despite the opposite being true. The survey revealed that people have a high degree of confidence in how they store their food, which means that only 22 percent look at retailers’ guidance on how to best store food to maximize life spans, while only 13 percent regard packaging as having a useful protective role to play in the home.
WRAP will launch a new campaign alongside the survey, warning that a failure to store food properly was one of the key contributors to the UK’s £6.7 billion a year food waste mountain, which costs the average consumer £270 a year and leads to significant levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
“We want to demystify some of the myths that have attached themselves to food and packaging. As a result, we’re working with groups from across the industry to try and promote behavior change,” says a spokeswoman from WRAP.
Puma has been on a steady path to greater sustainability for years, but it just took a major stride forward by designing a new product line that earned it bragging rights with a prestigious certification.
The international sports lifestyle company was recently awarded the Cradle to Cradle product certification at the “basic” entry level from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. Puma will launch this month, InCycle, its first collection of footwear, clothing and accessories that are completely biodegradable or recyclable.
Designing products with materials that never end up in a landfill is among the basic closed-loop principles that underlie the well-known Cradle to Cradle philosophy. The certification program is a rating system that measures products against rigorous standards for material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.
Instead of designing a new line of goods from scratch, Puma executives decided to retool some of its iconic, heritage products into new biodegradable or recyclable versions. Nineteen new products are being launched in this new line.
Green buildings used to be designed to comply with environmental measures; now, they are intended to generate business value and opportunities, according to a recent report of McGraw-Hill Construction.
McGraw-Hill Construction, North America’s leading construction project and product information provider, surveyed firms across 62 companies for the report. They found that companies worldwide are moving towards green buildings with 51 percent of the respondents seeking to green 60 percent of their work in the next two years. This is a significant increase from the 28 percent that said the same for 2013 and twice the 13 percent in 2008.
“This report confirms that the green building movement has shifted from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ – with markets increasingly demanding no less than green buildings. By promoting greater efficiencies for power and water, green buildings lower building costs while conserving the earth’s precious resources. This powerful combination of built-in payback with the environmental stewardship creates a new value proposition that is accelerating green building in all regions of the globe,” said John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer, United Technologies Corp., Climate, Controls and Security.
Assessing the key drivers of the green building market, the report highlighted that “being a business imperative” globally is the number on reason why companies take on green buildings. This dramatically improved when “doing the right thing” is the key driver in 2008 and “client and market demand” in 2012.
Hyundai says it will become the world’s first car-maker to mass-produce fuel-cell cars powered by hydrogen.
The first ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle, a hydrogen-powered version of the South Korean car-maker’s Tucson SUV, rolled off the production lines at the company’s Ulsan plant yesterday. The car is expected to be able to run for 370 miles before it needs to be refueled, emitting only water vapour from the conversion of hydrogen to electricity, while removing the range anxiety associated with pure electric vehicles.
“With the ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle, Hyundai is leading the way into the zero-emissions future,” said Kim Eok Jo, Hyundai’s vice chairman. “The ix35 Fuel Cell is the most eco-friendly vehicle in the auto industry and proves that hydrogen fuel cell technology in daily driving is no longer a dream.”
However, Hyundai plans to deliver just 1,000 units to companies and public organizations, most of these will be in the EU, where a road map towards adoption of hydrogen vehicles has already been mapped out. Only after 2015 will Hyundai start manufacturing vehicles for consumer sales, reasoning that by that point, they will have lower production costs and refueling infrastructure will have started to come online. Currently, the UK has 10 refueling stations for hydrogen gas and plans for another 12 are in the pipeline.
The University of Leeds is running fully immersed servers, claiming 80 percent to 97 percent power consumption savings over traditional air cooling.
The University worked with Iceotope to fully submerge its servers for cooling purposes instead of using traditional air fed cooling systems. Using 3M’s Novec liquid, the non-conductive liquid allows electronics to be submerged in it without damaging the equipment. The liquid is pumped directly to the servers and uses a heat exchanger system to carry away the heat. The University claims that the liquid cooling system uses 80 watts of power to cool clusters that use 20 kilowatts and claims the system does away with the need for traditional data centre support services such as air conditioning or air purification units.
Jon Summers, from the University of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering department said, “The liquid we are using is extraordinary stuff. You could throw you r mobile phone in a tub of it and the phone’s electronics would work perfectly. But the important thing for the future of computing and the internet is that it is more than 1,000 times more effective at carrying heat than air.”
Ford is aiming for a 40 percent cut in the waste it sends to landfill per vehicle produced by 2016 as part of a new five-year global waste reduction plan. Meeting the goal would see just 13.4lb per vehicle sent to landfill between 2011 and 2016, building on the drop from 37.9lb to 22.7lb achieved between 2007 and 2011.
Under the new strategy, the carmaker intends to stop certain kinds of waste from entering into its facilities. This includes identifying the five largest volume waste-to-landfill streams at each plant before developing reduction plans, improving waste sorting procedures to make recycling and reuse easier and investing in new technologies that minimize waste, such as dry machining.
Ford’s waste target sits alongside its other sustainability goals, which include targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing facilities by 30 percent per vehicle between 2010 and 2025, cut water consumption per vehicle by 30 percent between 2009 and 2015, and deliver a 25 percent decrease in average energy consumption per vehicle globally between 2011 and 2016.
Ten of the world’s largest chemical companies, together with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), released an accounting and reporting guide to help the sector consistently account and report climate impacts in the corporate value chain.
The Guidance for Accounting & Reporting Corporate GHG Emissions in the Chemical Sector Value Chain provides a common sector guide for corporate level Greenhouse Gas (GHG) accounting and reporting. The guide gives direction to companies on a common approach for accounting and reporting on challenges such as joint arrangements, the resale of energy, identifying relevant value chain activities, combined heat and power installations, and swapping arrangements. It also provides a consistent framework for reporting, which allows for more transparency and consistency on corporate-level climate impacts across companies. By having a common approach that is used across the sector, companies can now compete on sustainability performance, rather than on methodologies.
“If we are to bring business solutions to the scale that the world needs, we must get all business involve, or in other words, we must change the accounting rules of the game. This guide is important because it is a significant step toward helping an important sector better account for, report and manage its climate impacts, and at the end of the day, provide sustained business growth,” Peter Bakker, President of the WBCSD said,
From the latest technical developments in renewable energy to innovative cropping techniques, the role of technology and research in tackling climate change in developing countries is the focus of a new facility launched by the United Nations.
Following a decision at the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, governments meeting this week in Nairobi at the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) confirmed a UNEP-led consortium as the hosts of the Climate Technology Centre.
The Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) aims to speed up the transfer of climate-related technology and expertise to developing countries in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve resilience to changing weather patterns, drought, soil erosion, and other impacts of climate change. The CTCN will work to reduce the risks and barriers that hinder acquisition of mitigation technologies by developing countries, and support efforts to implement mitigation and adaptation actions that can reduce emissions and ensure progress towards sustainable development goals. It will also establish and information platform for improved sharing knowledge related to climate technologies. This will provide data, reports, and other resources to address the specific needs of developing countries.
The centre will become the implementing arm of the Technology Mechanism of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). The Technology Mechanism is expected to facilitate accelerated action in technology development and transfer, in order to spurt action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Estonia has become what is thought to be the world’s first country to launch a nationwide fast-charging network for electric vehicles.
The Baltic state flicked the switch on 165 web-connected direct current (DC) chargers provided by Swiss firm ABB. Each can recharge an electric vehicle in just 15-30 minutes, a fraction of the eight hours standard chargers typically require. The chargers have been fitted with more than 5,000 inhabitants and on major roads throughout the small Baltic country, creating what is likely to be the highest concentration of DC chargers in Europe.
Ulrich Spiesshofer, head of ABB’s discrete automation and motion division, said the network would not only encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles, but also “motivate other countries to invest in their own charging infrastructure.”
Alongside the recharging network, Estonia also offers subsidies of up to 50 percent of the purchase price of electric vehicles to encourage adoption.
The European Union’s falling carbon market has been thrown a lifeline by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee. It has backed the Commission’s plan to prop up the price of a tonne of carbon by withdrawing an oversupply of credits from the market.
Carbon trading is one of the major EU policies designed to combat climate change. But a combination of successful lobbying by industry bodies, political influences and lack of economic growth has brought the scheme close to collapse, so that it is now cheaper to pollute the atmosphere than to invest in becoming energy-efficient.
The original idea of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) was to set a maximum cap on carbon emissions from each factory or power station. This would force industry to become more efficient or to pay a high price for every extra tonne of carbon over the limit. Industries would gain credits for reducing their emissions below the set limit and then sell them on the open market to polluters who had failed to act. The whole system depended on the price of the units of carbon being high enough to give polluters an incentive to reduce their emissions.
With a gradually sliding price for carbon because industry had no trouble meeting its unrealistically low targets on energy efficiency, this lead to a vast surplus of carbon credits and few needing to buy them. As a result, the price of carbon fell from 30 euros a tonne in 2008 to under five this year. This left no incentive for industry to reduce its emissions – it was cheaper and easier to buy cheap carbon credits.
The committee devised a system to withdraw credits from the market, reducing the surplus, and then to reintroduce them gradually at a later date, maintain the pressure on industry to become more energy-efficient. Negotiations between all the parties involved are under way to see exactly how the plan would work to raise the price without damaging the industry.
China is to introduce a set of new taxation policies designed to preserve the environment, including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Finance (MOF). This is in addition to establishing seven pilot carbon markets this year with the goal of creating a national cap-and-trade scheme by the end of 2015.
In an article published on the MOF’s website, Jia Chen, head of the tax policy division, said the government will collect environmental protection tax instead of pollutant discharge fees, as well as levy a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. These will be raised by local tax authorities rather than the Environmental Protection Department, he said.
In his article, Jia said the government is also looking into the possibility of taxing energy-intensive products such as batteries, as well as luxury goods such as aircraft that are not used for public transportation. To conserve natural resources, the government will push forward resource tax reforms by taxing coal based on prices instead of sales volume, as well as raising coal taxes. A resource tax will also be levied on water.
China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas and has set goals for cutting emissions. The government has vowed to reduce carbon intensity per unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 in comparison to 2005 levels.
Replacing millions of kerosene lamps, candles and flashlights used worldwide with modern solar lighting can provide an increasingly low-cost solution to reducing carbon emissions, indoor air pollution and health risks, and boosting green jobs, according to new studies from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
UNEP has announced a new strategic partnership with the private sector to facilitate a market shift towards energy-efficient off-grid lighting to reduce the estimated 74 million tons of annual carbon emissions from fuel-based light sources commonly used in developing countries. The collaboration with the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) will see the launch of an international effort to accelerate the deployment of enabling policies towards sustainable off-grid lighting.
To underscore the new partnership, the UNEP-led en.lighten initiative has unveiled new national assessments for 80 countries on the economic and environmental gains that can be achieved through a shift to solar-powered alternatives.
“Replacing the world’s 670 million kerosene lamps with cleaner, safer solar-powered lighting represents a major opportunity to deliver across multiple fronts, from cuts in global carbon emissions, health risks from indoor air pollution, support for green technologies and the generation of green jobs,” said UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
The en.lighten initiative has been established to accelerate efforts to reduce dangerous carbon emissions and the threat of global climate change around the world. The initiative has set a target date for the global phase-out of all inefficient lighting by the end of 2016.
According to government statistics, one-third of all household garbage in China is packaging. Half of this packaging waste has been determined as “excess packaging,” which carries an estimated annual production cost of 400 billion RMB.
In order to curb the growth of excess packaging and reduce the overall waste produced by businesses and households, the Shanghai City Parliament has passed a law called “The Regulation to Reduce Commercial Packaging.” The law sets fines to punish companies for producing excess packaging for their products with a maximum of 50,000 RMB. Shanghai is the first city in China to pass this type of law.
While researching and drafting the bill, the Shanghai City Parliament conducted a survey of 847 citizens to determine attitudes towards excess packaging and the environment. The survey revealed that 90% of the people polled thought that the bill should be passed in order to “save resources and protect the environment,” as well as citing health concerns. In addition, 823 out of 847 people responded that they “care a lot” or “care sometimes” about this issue. The city concluded that the public awareness of this issue indicates a growing tendency for citizens to care about and want to participate in environmental protection.
By requiring shops and offices to turn off their lights at night, France will save the energy it takes to power 750,000 homes.
Effective July 1, all nonresidential buildings must shut off their lights an hour after the last worker leaves or by 1 a.m. each morning. They can’t turn them on again until 7 a.m. or just before they open. Major tourist attraction as exempt, like the 20,000 flashing bulbs on the Eiffel Tower, which are already turned off each night for a period of time, and public displays, such as Christmas tree decorations at the Champs-Elysees.
Besides savings on energy and emissions, France wants to pioneer addressing light pollution. Environmental minister Delphine Batho hopes the ban will reduce the negative impact that artificial lights have on ecosystems and wildlife, as well as on human sleep patterns.
The law is one of many measures the new government is implementing to increase energy efficiency and renewables. The country, which for so long has been held up as a model for relying on nuclear is moving away from that and toward renewable energy. The French government also wants to ban natural gas fracking.
The research center largely responsible for launching the “Green Revolution” of the 1960s that dramatically raised crop yields is getting support from the world’s richest men to develop genetically-modified seeds to help farmers in the developing world grow more grain in the face of changing climatic conditions and increased demand.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim donated a total of $25 million to build a new cluster of biotechnology labs at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico.
It was yet another coming of age moment for GM crops, because the nonprofit CIMMYT has become known over the last 50 years for providing low-cost, improved seeds through hybridization efforts, using its vast stockpiles of native corn and wheat genes from across the world to cross-breed the best attributes, like drought-resistance.
While CIMMYT Director Thomas Lumpkin claimed that even hybridization represents a sort of genetic modification by selective planting and breeding, he noted that CIMMYT hasn’t shipped any true GM seeds yet, and acknowledged that some countries might have concerns. “We want to facilitate the movement of those (genetic) traits to the countries of the developing world that request them, that want them. Nothing is being pushed, nothing is being forced, and CIMMYT will not profit,” says Lumpkin
One-hundred percent green energy of the European Union is realistic by the middle of the century provided the bloc signs up to ambitious energy policy goals for 2030, conservation body WWF said in a report on Thursday.
Debate has begun in Brussels on targets for 2030 to replace the existing set of 2020 goals, which are to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels, improve energy savings by 20 percent compared with projected use, and increase the share of renewable in the energy mix to 20 percent. Targets for 2030 should include energy savings of at least 38 percent compared with business as usual, obtaining 40 percent of fuel from green sources and cutting carbon emissions by 50 percent, the WWF report says.
The debate on the 2030 EU targets is likely to be protracted. While many in business agree on the need for a carbon target, they tend to be more reluctant to couple that with other legislative goals.
Scientists have said that outdated policies for managing plastic waste should be changed to try and prevent there being another 33 billion tonnes of plastic on Earth by 2050.
In a journal article in Nature, Chelsea Rochman, from the University of California, and Mark Anthony Browne, from the National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, in California, say that labeling some plastics as hazardous could reduce the waste and threats to health and wildlife. They say plastics should no longer be classified as solid waste in Australia, the United States, Europe and Japan because doing so means they are treated the same way as food scraps.
The article says that 280 million tonnes of plastic were produced around the world in 2012 and less than half went to landfill or was recycled. Of the remaining 150 million tonnes, some may still be in use but the rest litters continents and oceans.
“We believe that if countries classified the most harmful plastics as hazardous, their environmental agencies would have the power to restore affected habitats and prevent more dangerous debris from accumulating,” the scientists wrote in the article.
As a way to incentivize landlords to compete for lower operational costs, Minneapolis is the largest U.S. city to adopt an energy benchmarking and disclosure rule for commercial buildings.
Private commercial building larger than 50,000 square feet must report energy and water use annually beginning 2015. The policy – already adopted in Austin, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. – is meant to bolster market forces, rather than requiring building system design mandates, and motivate owners and tenants to invest in energy efficient improvements. The city of Minneapolis and other public offices will lead by example and begin publicly disclosing energy and water use in buildings larger than 25,000 square feet starting this year.
As with other city benchmarking ordinances, Minneapolis will help building owners tap free software (U.S. Environmental Protections Agency’s Portfolio Manager) to measure a building’s energy and water performance and generating a score. Additional free services are available for building owners including a drop-in help center, benchmarking workshops, daily technical assistance and how-to guide.
“Benchmarking lets you see trends and how your building compares with others. As a facilities manager, I am always looking for ways to lower costs, and being energy efficient is a way to do that, which benefits my company and its customers,” said Stephen Chandler, facilities manager at Verity Credit Union.
The Product Category Rules (PCR) for unreinforced concrete developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)’s Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) is published by the International EPD® System. This set of rules provides a common methodology for concrete producers who wish to issue Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for their products.
PCRs are the underlying rules used to develop an EPD. By providing these common rules, the CSI is offering a reference methodology to its members and the wider industry. They establish the assumptions, scope and functional units, meaning that manufacturers cannot alter them in order to favor their products. EPDs can be compared only when they are based on the same PCR, ensuring that the methodology, data quality and indicators are consistent, and that all the relevant life cycle stages have been included.
The CSI PCR is registered under the International EPD® System for use by companies worldwide. It focuses on the impacts of concrete production up to the point when it is delivered to the client, known as ‘cradle –to-gate’, for business-to-business purposes. However, the CSI is also investigating whether concrete’s contribution to the sustainability of a structure during its use and end-of-life can also be captured in a systematic way, allowing for ‘cradle-to-grave’ EPDs to be developed.
Saudi Arabia has one of the largest expansion plans for electricity in the Middle East, with the bulk of renewable coming from solar power, the EIA said.
The U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration updated its profile for Saudi Arabia, saying population growth and a rapidly expanding industrial sector are leading to increased electricity demand in the oil-rich country.
Saudi Arabia aims to diversify its local energy mix in order to free up more of its oil for exports. Tha EIA says Saudi Arabia aims to generate as much as 55 GW of renewable energy by 2020, with 41 GW planned for solar power.
GreenBiz has just published its 2013 State of Green Business report which tells about the shifting business reality – it recognizes that business as usual isn’t sustainable.
GreenBiz has partnered with Trucost, a leading research firm focusing on natural capital and sustainability metrics, to revamp the indicators which assess the progress by the private sector in addressing global environmental challenges. The previous metrics were scrapped and were replaced with a more comprehensive and robust set that is global in scope. It now cover companies’ natural capital costs, supply-chain impacts, various measure of transparency and disclosure, among other things.
A US start-up that developed a cash machine that buys back old phones and other electronics for recycling, has secured $40 million (£25 million) debt financing to expand its operations across the country. San Diego-based ecoATM announced last week that it has raised mezzanine debt financing from Falcon Investment Advisors to support its automated e-waste kiosks.
ecoATM has already installed 300 kiosks in shopping centres in larger US cities, providing consumers and businesses with a convenient means of selling their old mobile phones and MP3 players. The new finance will be used to install kiosks outside larger cities, while some of the funding has already been used to ensure the machines can accept tablet computers.
The ecoATM works by examining the users’ device and then searching for the highest price in the worldwide market. If the customer agrees to the sale, they receive cash on the spot.
Since being founded in 2008, ecoATM says that it has found a second life for 60 percent of the devices it collects and recycles the remaining 40 percent in an environmentally responsible manner.
The push to ban single-use plastic bags continues to gain momentum as more and more cities, counties and countries around the world adopt the trend.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away around 100 billion plastic bags each year, recycling less than one percent. The bags made out of polyethylene pose the biggest environmental risk – one bag can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
A number of big companies are doing their part to mitigate the damage. Some, like Whole Foods and IKEA, have completely eliminated plastic bags, while others, like Wal-Mart, are in the process of cutting back on their usage.
Once thought to be too costly for commercial buildings, LED lighting is increasingly being installed in warehouses and commercial facilities as part of energy retrofit projects.
Atlas Box, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of protective packaging for electronics and heavy equipment, has embarked on a plan to reduce energy consumption by 55 percent in two facilities by installing LED lighting systems. With energy retaining significant costs for buildings and facilities, “anything we can do to manage and control energy costs gives us a competitive advantage,” says Frank Tavaras, global process engineer with Atlas Box and project leader.
Atlas worked with Groom Energy to perform building energy assessments to map saving opportunities. For Atlas’ interior warehouse lighting, Groom Energy installed a Digital Lumens system enabling occupancy-based lighting and the ability to track and manage the system through software. Wireless controls with underlying analytics and data management help building managers track and monitor energy savings.
Almost four out of five people support the UK using renewable energy to generate electricity, fuel and heat, according to a major survey published by the government. Of the 2,107 people polled in December and January, only four percent were opposed to using renewable energy, a number that has remained consistent across the previous three attitudes surveys conducted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Solar energy was found to have the highest levels of support with 82 percent in favor of the technology, followed by offshore wind with 72 percent, and wave and tidal arrays with 71 percent. Significantly, under two-thirds of respondents were in favor of onshore wind farms, while only 13 percent were opposed. In addition, 67 percent are worried that UK supplies of fossil fuels are not sufficient to meet UK demand into the future, while a huge 88 percent are very concerned or fairly concerned at steep rises in energy prices in the next 10 to 20 years.
UK greenhouse gas emissions fell seven percent from 2010 to 2011 as emissions from the residential sector dipped to their lowest levels since 1990, government figures revealed.
The drop from 594 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) to just under 553 MtCO2e is slightly less than the 549 MtCO2e predicted by figures released last year. But it leaves the UK comfortably below both its Kyoto Protocol and carbon budget targets and continues a downward trend that since 2004 has only been interrupted once in 2010.
The latest fall in annual emissions was driven by 22.5 percent drop in household emissions as a relatively warm year saw homeowners use less gas overall and significantly reduce the amount of fuel being used for space heating. Emissions from the energy sector also recorded a significant drop falling 6.5 percent in response to a three percent fall in the overall demand for energy. The business, transport, industrial process, and public sectors also recorded slight drops in emissions against 2010 levels, while all other sectors were relatively stable.
Researchers say that the ability of sea urchins to absorb CO2 could be a model for an effective carbon capture and storage system.
Newcastle University scientists discovered by chance that urchins use the metal nickel to turn carbon dioxide into shell. They say the technique can be harnessed to turn emissions from power plants into harmless calcium carbonate. Working with extremely small nickel particles, the researchers found that when they added them to a solution of carbon dioxide in water, the nickel completely removed the CO2.
At present, most carbon capture and storage (CCS) proposals are based around the idea of capturing CO2 from electricity generating stations or chemical plants and pumping the stripped out gas into underground storage in former oil wells or rock formations. But there are still question marks about the possibility that the stored carbon may leak back out again.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s clean development mechanism (CDM) tool has passed a 6,000 project milestone, with a new wind power project in Vietnam.
The CDM is an international market-based tool defined in the Kyoto Protocol that incentivizes emission reduction projects in developing countries to generate Certified Emission Reduction units, of which may be traded in emissions trading schemes. Currently, 83 nations are registered in the mechanism.
Over the last ten years, CDM projects, which range from industrial to domestic solutions, have generated 110,000 megawatts of clean energy capacity. This is roughly the equivalent to the total power generation capacity of the whole of Africa. The 6,000 project is installing 21 megawatts of wind power into an electric power grid in Vietnam, which will reduce emissions by 32,000 tons a year.
Government representatives from 19 Asia Pacific countries are meeting in Bangkok under the auspices of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to look at ways to catalyze fast action to reduce the impacts of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) in the region.
SLCPs, such as black carbon or soot, methane, tropospheric ozone and some hydrofluorocarbons are responsible for a substantial fraction of both the warming experienced to date and the current rate of global warming, and can be dangerous air pollutants with various detrimental impacts on human health, agriculture and ecosystems.
This is the first time that SLCP has been collectively discussed at a regional meeting and officials are looking at measures that can be quickly taken up and integrated into strategies for economic development and environmental protection. A UNEP 2011 study found that aggressive action to reduce SLCPs by 2030 could avoid over two million premature deaths and annual crop losses of over 30 million tonnes each year, as well as to halve the pace of global warming by 2050 and deliver significant regional climate benefits.
Oil and gas majors, including, BP, Shell, and Statoil, could face a loss in market value up to 60 percent should the international community stick to its agreed emission reduction targets, analysts at HSBC warned.
A new report finds that 17 percent of Norwegian company Statoil’s reserves would become ‘unburnable’ in a world where oil and gas falls as countries seek to keep carbon concentrations in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million (ppm), the level the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates is necessary to deliver a 50 percent chance of limiting long-term temperature rises to 2 degree Celsius.
Governments around the world have repeatedly committed themselves to ensuring average temperatures do not rise above 2 degrees Celsius, the level at which scientists warns atmospheric feedback loops could trigger “dangerous” climate change. While Statoil is the worst affected of the oil majors assembled by HSBC, the bank calculates around 6 percent of BP’s reserves, along with 5 percent of Total’s and 2 percent of Shell’s are at risk.
Seven out of 10 companies believe that climate change has the potential to significantly affect their revenue, with over half saying that it was expected within five years.
Based on responses from 2,415 companies made up of suppliers and 52 major buying businesses, research by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and Accenture found the risk of supply chain failure was “intensified by a chasm between the sustainable business practices of multinational corporations and their suppliers.”
According to the report, Reducing Risk and Driving Business Value, fifty-one percent of the risks that companies associate with drought or extreme rain are already having an adverse effect on the company, or are expected to within five years. The companies also admitted that they are more likely to take action on climate issues as the physical risk has increased, rather than international climate policies.
Construction is now underway on one of the UK’s largest anaerobic digestion (AD) plants, which is expected to be capable of converting 90,000 tonnes of commercial and domestic food waste into energy. The 4.2MW plant in Widnes is the second industrial scale plant developed by PDM, the UK’s largest food waste recycler, following the opening of the smaller facility in Doncaster in 2011. Both plants will be run by the company’s food waste recycling and collection brand, ReFood.
The new £20 million plant will have 50 percent more capacity than the Doncaster facility, with three combined heat and power (CHP) engines to convert the biogas produced during the AD process into enough renewable electricity to power 8,000 homes, as well as 4,000 kg/hr of steam and hot water. A nutrient-rich fertilizer produced by the AD process will also be used by farmers in the local area.
Companies grouped under the Thailand Business Council for Sustainable Development (TBCSD) recently launched a campaign to promote green procurement among Thai companies, pulling support from manufacturers and consumers.
Prasert Bunsumpun, chairman of the organization, said the business sector should play a major part in ensuring global sustainability, as they were consuming natural resources and providing services from the resources. Thus, they should adopt the practices which result in minimum effects on the environment.
Kwanruedee Chotichanathaweewong, director of the Thai Environment Institute, said that more countries across the world are paying attention to green products and green procurement. “This remains an unpopular idea in Thailand. For success, we need cooperation from all parties, particularly business operators in all levels and communities, which are part of the supply chain. They should be aware of measures to efficiently reduce greenhouse gases.”
The institute has launched the Green Label, which has been awarded to 158 products where the production process promises lower impact on the environment compared to products in the same categories. It has also awarded the Carbon Label to 139 products which have cooperated in reducing greenhouse gases.
Maersk Line, the world’s largest shipping company, has reached its 2020 target of reducing CO2 emissions by 25 percent from its benchmark 2007 levels.
“We are proud to hit this mark eight years ahead of schedule. It is confirmation we’re on the right track, and to keep that momentum we’re raising the target to 40 percent reduction in CO2 by 2020,” said Morten Engelstoft, Chief Operating Officer, Maersk Line. “We reached this target largely from a combination of operational efficiency, network and voyage optimization, slow streaming and technical innovation. We will hit the 40 percet target with more of the same.”
It is estimated that shipping carries 90 percent of globally traded goods. While shipping is by far the most energy efficient way to transport cargo long distances, the contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere is 3-4 percent of the global annual total.
Many companies have good intentions: they want to cut down their energy use. But deciding out the best way how to do it isn’t easy. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) aims to ease the process with a fellowship program, called Climate Corps, that helps companies identify and overcome barriers to successful energy saving. Since its inception in 2008, the company has uncovered more than a billion dollars in savings at companies like Google, Facebook and Verizon.
To boost energy performance, it is important for the company to understand how barriers function and how to best overcome them. EDF Climate Corps trains around 100 graduate students on the fundamentals of energy efficiency and then places them in summer internships at organizations around the country. The students help the company or institution calculate the financial and environmental benefits of energy saving projects. They also help develop strategies, set corporate goals, evaluate renewable and other alternative sources, and look at innovative funding opportunities.
While technology certainly plays a big role in energy saving, human behavior is also an important factor in energy saving. An example strategy was initiated at Adidas where flags were placed in elevators that let people know how much energy their ride was consuming as well as how many calories they would have burned if they had taken the stairs. For companies looking into cutting down on energy use, EDF Climate Corps suggests to first carry out an energy audit. The energy audit helps a company identify where the energy saving opportunities are, and what is creating barriers and problems.
UK government’s flagship energy efficiency programme remains largely unknown just days before its launch. The ‘green deal’ which starts on Monday, is designed to tackle household energy bills and carbon emissions.
Four out of five people have not heard of the UK government’s flagship programme to transform the energy efficiency of 14 million homes, according to YouGov poll. The ‘green deal’ is designed to tackle household energy bills and carbon emissions from homes, which are responsible for nearly one-third of the UK’s emissions. It works by offering loans for works such as installation of solid wall insulation, new broilers and draught-proofing, with the payments theoretically being outweighed by energy savings. The loan is attached to the property rather than the individual.
The YouGov poll of 5,071 UK energy customers, commissioned by uSwitch, found that 81% had not heard of the green deal. The survey also raises fears that upfront “assessment fees” of £85-£150 could cut people off the scheme, with 51% citing cost as the biggest obstacle to making their home more energy efficient.
Climate Minister Greg Barker, stated that the findings were not surprising. “We’re right at the beginning of the green deal journey, and the uSwitch report is right to identify there is relatively low consumer understanding about the green deal. It’s as you’d expect, as it’s yet to be rolled out. I expect that to change over the coming year.”
Consumers, Food Industry and Government all have role to play in reducing the 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted or lost each year. In developed regions, around 300 million tonnes of food is wasted annually because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption.
The Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Footprint campaign is in support of the SAVE FOOD Initiative to reduce food loss and waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption – run by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf, and the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge. The new campaign specifically targets retailers and the hospitality industry and utilizes the expertise of organization such as WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) and national governments who have considerable experience in targeting and changing wasteful practices.
The campaign website, www.thinkeatsave.org, provides simple tips to consumers and retailers, will allow users to make food waste pledges, and provides a platform for those running campaigns to exchange ideas and create a truly global culture of sustainable consumption of food.
Worldwide, about one-third of all food produced, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production or consumption systems, according to data released by FAO. Food loss occurs mostly at the production stages – harvesting, processing and distribution – while food waste typically takes place at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has announced that Monsanto Company has joined its membership.
Monsanto is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that aim to improve farm productivity and food quality, joins WBCSD and is offering WBCSD’s Business Ecosystems Training (BET) course globally for employees. The BET course will enhance employee’s awareness and understanding of the links between ecosystems and business.
Monsanto is working to help ways to produce more food within the limits of the world’s natural systems. With the growing global population that is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, this will mean an increase in food demand as well as further straining our limited natural resources. This requires new agriculture systems and products that are both productive and more sustainable.
“In joining the WBCSD, Monsanto is taking an important step along a continuum towards developing a more sustainable agriculture system – one that improves our daily lives, respects our global environment and recognizes the importance of the world’s small-holder farmers,” said Peter Bakker, President, WBCSD. “We must find new ways to protect soils, enhance ecosystems and optimize land use in ways that are environmentally sound. And we must move towards a future vision for agriculture where absolutes become as out of place as a one-size-fits-all approach to farming.”
Renewable energy accounted for just under half of all new electrical generating capacity installed in the US over 2012. The latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Office of Energy Projects, part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), lists just shy of 13GW of green energy project coming online last year, a more than 50 percent rise on the 8.5GW of capacity added in 2011.
Around a quarter of this capacity became operational in December alone, as wind energy developers rushed to complete projects before the feared expiration of federal tax credits. Wind projects led the way in 2012 with 164 new developments totaling over 10.5GW of capacity, a figure that dwarfed the 8.7GW of new natural gas generation capacity and 4.5GW of coal added in the same period. In addition, around 1.5GW of new solar capacity was added, along with 0.5GW of biomass and 0.1GW of geothermal projects.
Three of the world’s largest energy and sustainability networks have joined forces within the Global Electricity Initiative (GEI) to support electrical utilities’ efforts to tackle climate change and improve energy access.
The World Energy Council (WEC), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP) are uniting in a new partnership announced on the sidelines of the COP18 meeting in Doha. This marks the first time the three global organizations have teamed up.
The initiative will identify, collect and analyze the early action taken worldwide by electricity utilities to enhance climate change mitigation and adaptation. Within the partnership, Philippe Joubert, Executive Chair of the GSEP, will lead the efforts to create a dialogue and knowledge platform for utilities to exchange and promote understanding in achieving energy access and climate goals.
The three organizations have a combined reach into all the regions of the world, covering more than 3,300 member businesses, including all leading electrical utilities covering 50 percent of the world’s electricity production.
A group of more than 100 developing countries have issued a formal call for the Kyoto Protocol to be strengthened, amid fears the proposed second commitment period will do little to accelerate emission reductions.
The Alliance of Small Island States, Least Developed Countries and the African Group, reported issued a joint statement to the UN’s Doha Climate Summit, arguing that the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol should run for five years, rather than the planned eight years, in order to increase the ambition of signatory countries’ emission reduction targets.
Diplomats are widely expected to agree to an extension to the Kyoto Protocol that runs through 2020, but a host of industrialized nations including U.S., Japan and Canada have said they will not sign up to the agreement, leaving just EU, Australia and a handful of other nations committing to binding emission reduction targets under the treaty.
The latest proposals for a shorter commitment period are likely to be rejected by those industrialized countries signing up to the extended Kyoto Protocol, but they will highlight the extent to which the emission reduction commitments made under the agreement fall short of that required to address climate change risks.
The group of developing countries also argued that only those countries agreeing to the binding emission reduction targets should be allowed to take part in the carbon offset schemes enabled by the treaty.
Campaigners threatened to sue the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday in an effort to push back Barack Obama to make good on his re-election promise to act on climate change. The formal notice calls on the EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, to take immediate steps to begin regulating carbon emissions from cars, planes and off-road vehicles.
“Obviously it’s clear that we need to keep moving on climate change,” said Michael Livermore, director of the Institute for Policy Integrity, which is threatening the lawsuit.
Environmental groups have long complained that the agency was dragging out the process of setting rules on carbon. The EPA faces a number of other suits from environmental groups trying to push it into action.
Aside from environmental groups, the agency also faces far greater legal pressure from opponents of climate action – including the states of Texas and Virginia and industry groups – all trying to block the agency from regulating power plants and cars. A federal appeals court dismissed the industry law suits in June but industry groups are continuing to put pressure on the EPA.
The institute originally pressed EPA to regulate car and plane emissions in 2009. “More than three years have passed,” the formal notice to Jackson said on Wednesday. The notice said the EPA had a legal obligation to enforce the Clean Air Act. “Given the clear link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, EPA’s delay in acting and in responding to Policy Integrity’s petition is inconsistent with the agency’s legal requirements and scientific determinations.”
A report was released by the Australian Climate Commission which highlights the nation’s rapid clean energy growth, and states that in coming decades, Australia’s economy could be powered ‘almost entirely’ by renewables.
The report, The Critical Decade: Generating a Renewable Australia, says that Australia could reach up to 100% clean energy as long as there is sustained expansion and investment growth assured through policy certainty. The report states that the country is in the ideal position for reaching such an ambitious target.
Currently, clean energy such as wind, solar and hydro make up just 10% of Australia’s energy but this is expected to rise by 25% by 2020. Solar PV is already the cheapest source of power for retail users and the report forecasts that solar PV and wind could provide the cheapest form of energy in Australia by 2030 as the carbon price continues to increase.
Permafrost, covering almost a quarter of the northern hemisphere contains 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon, twice that is currently in the atmosphere, and could significantly amplify global warming should thawing accelerate as expected, according to a new report released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). This can also radically change ecosystems and cause costly infrastructural damage due to increasingly unstable ground.
Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost, the report released by UNEP, seeks to highlight the potential hazards of carbon dioxide and methane emissions from warming permafrost, which have not thus far been included in climate-prediction modelling. The report recommends a special IPCC assessment on permafrost and the creation of national monitoring networks and adaptation plans as key steps to deal with potential impacts of this significant source of emissions may become a major factor in global warming.
Warming permafrost could emit 43 to 135 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2100 and 246 to 415 gigatonnes by 2200. These emissions could ultimately account for up to 39 percent of total emissions.
The report issues the following specific policy recommendations to address the potential economic, social and environmental impacts of permafrost warming:
- Commission a special report on permafrost emissions
- Create national permafrost monitoring networks
- Plan for adaptation
Supermarket giant confirms that not only is it making good progress against environmental goals, it has also seen sales of green products climb. Sainsbury’s reveals that sales of products carrying sustainability and fair trade labels have climbed significantly in the past year.
The supermarket giant released an update on its high-profile 20x20 sustainability program, revealing that it has sold 8.5 percent more sustainably sourced food while sales of Fairtrade labeled products have risen five percent over the past twelve months. The report also challenged the myth that environmental issues are an exclusively middle class concern, revealing that more than £1 in every £10 spent on sustainably labeled products came from those families on the lowest incomes.
“Although people have less, they actually care more. The downturn has led to a strengthening of values irrespective of people’s income. We believe this is not a passing phase, but a fundamental change that is here to stay,” says Justin King, Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s.
It has also provided an update on the company’s performance against a raft of environmental targets, confirming that carbon emissions have fallen 3.7 percent in the past year as a result of energy efficiency and renewable programmes, water use is down 45 percent compared to 2005/06, packaging for own brand products has fallen 6.4 percent in the past year, and the company now sends zero food waste to landfill.
The Emissions Gap report, coordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Climate Foundation, was released days before the convening of the Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Doha and shows that greenhouse gas emissions levels are now around 14 percent above where they need to be in 2020.
Instead of declining, the concentration of warming gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), are actually increasing in the atmosphere – up to around 20 percent since 2000. Emission levels, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, need to come down by 14% by 2020 for the world to reach a pathway that could keep the global temperature rise below 2C. Scientists say that those emissions are contributing to climate change and that failure to contain them could have dangerous consequences, including rising sea levels inundating coastal cities, dramatic shifts in rainfall disrupting agriculture and drinking water, the spread of diseases and the extinction of species.
UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said that bridging the gap remains achievable and that there are many “inspiring” actions at the national level on renewable energy, energy efficiency, protecting forests, and vehicle emissions standards.
“Yet the sobering fact remains that a transition to a low-carbon, including green economy is happening far too slowly and the opportunity of meeting the 44 gigatonne target is narrowing annually,” Steiner said.
Businesses are increasingly waking up to the benefits of energy efficient buildings, but according to numerous surveys, they are often discouraged from undertaking retrofitting measures by the cost and disruption associated with green office upgrades.
Now, researchers at Dow Corning may have come up with a technology that cannot only tackle heating, cooling, and lighting costs but also is visually appealing. The company is developing a silicon liquid crystal film for smart glazing that can make clear windows translucent at the flick of a switch. The change is achieved by rearranging molecules in the film using an electric current that can switch the appearance of glass from transparent to translucent. This can be used to block unwanted heat from the sun and reduce the need for air conditioning. Alternatively, windows can be configured to let in the maximum amount of light and heat, so less of the building’s lighting and heating systems need to be used.
“Buildings account for 40 percent of total energy consumption globally, while heating and lighting account for 50 percent of the energy consumed in buildings. Smart glazing has the potential to decrease by 30 percent the amount of energy consumed in a building by being properly combined with an automated building management system,” says Elisabeth van den Berg, global business builder at Dow Corning’s business and technology incubator.
World Resources Institute (WRI) identifies 1,200 coal plans in planning across 59 countries, with about three-quarters in China and India. Coal plants are the most polluting of all power stations. The capacity of new plants add up to 1,400GW to global greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent of adding another China – the world’s biggest emitter.
The huge planned expansion comes despite warnings from politicians, scientists and campaigners that the planet’s fast-rising carbon emissions must peak within a few years if runaway climate change is to be avoided and that fossil fuel assets risk becoming worthless if international action on global warming moves forward.
“This is definitely not in line with a safe climate scenario – it would put us on a really dangerous trajectory,” said the WRI’s Ailun Yang, who compiled the report. But she said that new emission limits proposed in the US and a voluntary cap on coal use in China could begin to turn the tide. “These policies would give really strong signals about the risks to the future financial performance of coal climate policies.”
Guy Shrubsole, at Friends of the Earth, said of the WRI report: “This is a scary number of coal-fired plants being planned. It is clear that the vested interests of coal companies are driving this forward and that they will have to be reined in by the governments.”
As Evandro Carlos Selva, one of the 1,400 hi-tech environmental cops, fly over the Amazonian inferno via helicopter, he radios back to a base a witness testimony to deforestation. As forests are being burned, smoke billows across the horizon releasing the carbon that has been stored in the forest for hundreds of years into the atmosphere.
The clearance is illegal and Carlos Selva, a ranger with Brazil’s environmental protection agency, Ibama, sets in motion the process of levying fines, business embargos and other penalties that have helped slow the pace of deforestation by almost 80% in the past eight years. This represents an impressive progress but the pressure convert more Amazonian forest is growing stronger due to drought in the US, rising food prices, and a weakening in Brazilian laws. Farmers and ranchers are continuously converting protected forests into cropland illegally.
Rangers use two sets of satellite data: Prodes, which is an annual forest audit down to the level of 6.25 hectares and Deter, which provides real-time information to rangers in the field who can reach the affected areas rapidly via helicopters and trucks. Individual violators can be fined, jailed, have machinery confiscated and be barred from access to bank loans.
However, with limits to these satellite data such as cloud cover and as information needs two days to be processed, farmers still find ways to expand their cropland through deforestation. An upgrade will be made next year with the help of two new satellites and with this, data processing will be accelerated and the chances of rangers catching forest degradation at an earlier age will be increased.
Former vice-president, Al Gore, urges re-elected president to seize the moment and use his re-election victory to push through bold action on climate change.
The president faced rising public pressure in the wake of superstorm Sandy to deliver on his promise to act on global warming. And now, the former vice-president urges Obama to immediately begin pushing for a carbon tax in negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” budget crisis.
The vice-president’s intervention for a carbon tax could give critical support to an idea that has gained currency since the election. “He has the mandate. He has the opportunity and has the inherent ability to provide the leadership needed. I really hope that he will, and I will respectfully ask him to do exactly that.”
President Obama also signaled in his victory speech that he saw climate change as in of the top three priorities of his second term. “We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."
UK government launches a wide-ranging energy efficiency strategy including £39 million pot for research into changing behavior. This strategy could cut UK’s energy use by 11% by 2020 while providing a major energy boost to the economy and living standards.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) unveiled the UK’s first National Energy Efficiency Strategy which aims to kick start energy efficiency across all sectors in the UK including housing manufacture and transport. The strategy identifies four significant barriers that have consistently hampered enegry efficiency improvements: an underdeveloped market; lack of information on energy efficiency; and misaligned financial incentives.
With the strategy, DECC will fund a nationwide roll-out of London’s Re:FIT retrofit programme for public buildings, which aims to reduce the risk, cost and time taken for public buildings to install energy efficiency measures through the use of an energy-service company (ESCO) financing model. DECC is also considering rolling out its recently launched Green Deal to cover businesses of all sizes. In addition, the department also plans to invest £39 million in five so-called End Use Energy Demand Centers which will research how to change consumer and business behavior to save more energy.
The report shows that cost effective investments in energy efficiency could save the UK 196TWh in 2020, equivalent to output from 22 power stations. Implementing these recommended measures could reduce energy consumption by 11% by the end of the decade rising to savings of 13% by 2025 compared to business as usual projections. The measures also have the potential to save 41 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions in 2020.
Three students from Costa Rica, Kenya and Vietnam have received a major international youth award from the United Nations Environment Program and Bayer in recognition of their environmental efforts. The young environmental innovators received the 2012 Young Environmental Leader Award for creating their own sustainable development projects; a scientific process to convert waste shrimp shells to ingredients for medicines, a community project of recycling plastic bags into clothing and homeward, and an environmental guide for housewives and families.
An expert panel from UNEP, the UNEP/Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Tunza Magazine (UNEP’s publication for young people), and Bayer selected three winners with each winner receiving a tailor-made package to support and expand their projects worth EUR 1,000.
“From waste management to resource efficiency and awareness campaigns, the winners of the Bayer Young Environmental Leader Award, and all of the 2012 Young Environmental Envoys, clearly demonstrates that young people across the world have the motivation, creativity and knowledge to provide concrete solutions to the world’s most critical environmental challenges,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.
The “Bayer Young Environmental Envoy Programme” is a major project under the UNEP-Bayer partnership for youth and the environment. The 2012 programme has brought together close to 50 young environmental envoys from 19 developing and emerging countries for an environmental study tour in Germany. Each envoy is involved in a sustainability project in his or her home country. The three winners were judged to demonstrate the greatest innovation, sustainability, and potential impact.
UK businesses will face increasing pressure to use natural resources more efficiently as a way of stimulating economic growth. Liz Goodwin, chief executive of Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), set out plans to place a greater emphasis on the financial benefits of creating a “closed-loop” economy, in which products are designed and manufactured so that materials can be re-used.
Research by consultancy firm McKinsey launched earlier this year that found that European manufacturers could save $630 billion a year by 2025 if they moved towards greater resource efficiency and reduced their reliance on increasingly rare and costly new materials. Separate research data from Defra found that businesses could save more than £18 billion a year by adopting no-cost or low-cost measures to enhance their resource efficiency.
As part of its shift in strategy, WRAP will be increasingly focusing on sectors and areas which can yield the biggest impacts on waste levels, such as initiatives to tackle electronic waste and reduce waste through improved design in the textile industry.
The Business Council for Sustainable Development Singapore (BCSD Singapore) was launched by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) President, Peter Bakker, yesterday. It is a membership organization comprised of leading local business and the regional arms of international companies and will work with businesses locally to help foster economic development in harmony with environmental preservation and social development. It will advocate for the implementation of policy frameworks that help sustainable businesses to thrive; reinforce capabilities for sustainability management; spearhead green initiatives; and share its values across all key stakeholders.
Constant Van Aerschot, Executive Director of BCSD Singapore said: “Singapore is poised to be the sustainability hub for the region. As a country that has successfully dealt with resource scarcity, Singapore has the unique combination of know-how and infrastructure, and an impressive track record of sustainable planning. BCSD Singapore will leverage these strengths to help our member companies become even more competitive while they lead Singapore and the region towards green economy.”
BCSD Singapore forms part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Regional Network. This is an alliance of more than 60 CEO-led business organizations worldwide, united by a shared commitment to providing business leadership for sustainable development in their respective countries or regions.
According to a major new industry-backed report, businesses are wasting billions of pounds every year by cooling their datacenters far more than is necessary due to an ‘archaic’ view of the environmental tolerance of modern equipment.
The Green Grid group released “Data Centre Efficiency & IT Equipment Reliability”, a report that indicates that datacenters can run at significantly higher temperatures and humidity levels than the current norm “without affecting overall equipment failure rates”, potentially delivering huge savings in terms of energy bills and carbon emissions.
“The common perception of IT network, server and storage equipment is that it operates within very tight environment tolerances, but this is a belief based on datacenter practices from the 1950s,” said Harkeeret Singh, contributor to the report. The report concludes that based on historical data, “datacenters can achieve operation cost savings without substantially affecting IT reliability or service availability by adopting a suitable environmental control regime that mitigates the effect of short-duration operation at higher temperatures.”
According to some estimates, datacenters account for one to three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with cooling one of the most energy-demanding aspects of typical server farm infrastructure.
UK has cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than any other European country last year, over-achieving on targets under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. France and Germany also made sizeable cuts in emissions but Spain and Italy are lagging and are in danger of missing their Kyoto targets.
The EU as a whole will meet its target under the 1997 treaty which required developed countries to cut their emissions by a total of just over 5% from 1990 levels by the end of 2012. Currently, EU member states are the only major countries pledging to continue the Kyoto Protocol beyond the end of this year when its current provisions expire. If countries cannot cut their own emissions sufficiently, their only option is to buy “carbon credits” under the United Nations’ emissions trading system. However, this could represent a substantial cost for economies that are falling behind.
“The European Union as a whole will over-deliver on its Kyoto target,” said Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency. “In two months’ time, we will be at the end of the first commitment period under the Kyoto protocol. Considerable progress has been made since 1997 but all member states need to deliver on their plans.”
A new report has found that waste from mining, lead smelters, industrial dumps and other toxic sites affects the health of an estimated 125 million people in 49 low- and middle-income countries. This unrecognized health burden is on the same scale of malaria or tuberculosis (TB).
This year’s World’s Worst Pollution Problems report was published by the Blacksmith Institute in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland documenting the public health impact of industrial pollutants – lead, mercury, chromium, radionuclides and pesticides in the air, water and soil of developing countries.
The health impact of exposure to these toxins at the 2,600 sites identified in the report was estimated using the disability adjusted life years (DALYs) metric which the World Health Organization (WHO) and other bodies use to measure overall disease burden. The metric is expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death, with one DALY equivalent to one lost year in healthy life. The estimate for the impact of the pollution from toxic sites is 17m DALYs which is greater than malaria’s annual toll of 14m DALYs, according to WHO.
New estimates show that gas flaring in 20 of the world’s major oil-producing countries contributes as much to climate change as a major economy like Italy. While flaring has been cut by 30% since 2005, $50bn worth of gas is still wasted annually, says the World Bank.
Introduction of bans, fines and newer technology in oil fields has significantly reduced the pollution and waste in some countries but has failed in others. Azerbaijan has cut flaring by 50% in two years, Mexico by 66% and Kuwait now only flares 1% of its excess gas. Other countries like Qatar and the Democratic Republic of Congo now use large volumes of previously wasted gas to generate electricity.
The bank’s estimates show that flaring was reduced to 172bn cubic meters in 2007 to 142bn cubic meters in 2011. However, most of the reduction came between 2005-2007 and only six of the world’s big 20 oil-producing countries managed to reduce flaring in 2011. Oil companies agreed that the waste of the gas from flaring is a problem as this could be used to generate power but also said that it needed time, money and technology as well as infrastructure developments by host countries in order to make cuts.
“Gas flares are nothing short of crimes against humanity. They roast the skies, kill crops and poison the air. These gas stacks pump up greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, impacting the climate, placing everyone at risk. Gas flares goes on because it is cheap to kill, as long as profits keep on the rise,” said Nnimmo Bassey, Director of Lagos-based Environmental Rights Action and Chair of Friends of the Earth International.
Vietnam’s Dak Lak Province is aiming to make renewable energy account for 25 percent of its energy mix by 2015 through a combination of hydro, solar, biomass and wind. Although lacking in major population centers or vast rice fields like other Vietnam provinces, officials say that Dak Lak possess major potential for developing renewable energy.
The Dak Lak Province Department of Industry and Trade’s statistics reported that as of August, the province had commissioned 12 small hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 73.14MW, three small to medium-sized hydropower plants now in construction and another eight are in the planning stages.
Dak Lak also began moving into solar energy and now has all 180 household in Cham Hamlet in Ea H’leo District with access to solar power. A large-scale solar battery installation plan has also been submitted and if approved, would provide about 100kWh of solar power to every household in 33 provincial hamlets.
According to the provincial agriculture extension center, Dak Lak had trained 21 biogas plant technicians and construction workers to help with the national biogas project which funded 3,947 biogas plants. Provincial residents also constructed 6,000 biogas plants taking the total number up to 10,000 in the province. The province has abundant firewood, bagasse, wood scraps, sawdust and agricultural by-products which could be exploited to create energy from biomass.
Infrastructure investment and urban business joint stock company from Hanoi has installed two wind measure towers to exploit wind power potential in Dak Lak while similar projects are also being carried out by the Binh Thuan wind power joint stock company.
The UK government is considering plans to import wind power from Ireland to the National Grid via cables under the Irish Sea to north and west Wales.
Element Power said the Irish-based giant wind farms in its Greenwire plan could power three million UK homes and the £6bn scheme could save consumers billions of pounds as it is cheaper than off shore wind generation. With the UK government committed to achieving 15% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, Element Power has told BBC Wales that this plan could provide up to 10% of that target.
Under the plan, 40 wind farms with a total of 700 wind turbines would be based in Bog of Allen in the midlands of Ireland and the electricity would be sent under the Irish sea. The cables would resurface at two locations in Wales, Pentir near Caernarfon and Pembroke, which are both located near existing power stations, substations and pylons.
This wind is surplus to Ireland’s requirements and is a great export opportunity for Ireland. It will also create lots of jobs, lots of economic benefits for the UK. Mike O’Neill, President of Element Power, describes the scheme as a “win-win situation”.
European Commission says that clearing land in order to plant biofuel crops can often cancel out the environmental benefits from biofuel. Clearing land to plant food for biofuel releases greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide (CO2) through ploughing and can involve deforestation, which reduces the “carbon sinks” – the trees that absorb CO2.
The EU is putting a 5% cap on food-based biofuel allowed in the renewable energy used in transport with the total renewable energy target for transport is 10% by 2020. By requiring new biofuel installations to meet a minimum of 60% threshold in terms of efficiency in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, EU is now trying to shift biofuel production from food crops to farm waste, algae, and straw.
According to a new series of guides published by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), assessing and taking into account the economic, social and cultural value of ecosystems and biodiversity can play a key role in efforts to achieve international biodiversity targets.
The TEEB guides were developed by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ on behalf of the German Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and focuses on three of the so-called “Aichi Targets”, a set of 20 biodiversity goals agreed by governments under the CBD in 2010.
> Biodiversity and National Planning
> Subsidies and Incentives
> Biodiversity and Protected Areas
The guides provide practical support for national governments, regional policy-makers, and other groups in making use of the finding of TEEB to support efforts to achieve the Aichi targets by 2020. They summarize key findings and recommendations from major TEEB studies relating to the Aichi targets as well as case studies, lessons learned and links to other studies and relevant publications.
For the second half of next year, all building owners in Singapore will have to comply with the city state’s Green Mark standards, following an amendment to the Building Control Act.
The act already requires new buildings with gross floor area of more than 2,000 sqm to achieve a Green mark certified rating. Now, with the new amendment, older buildings – starting with hotels, retail and office buildings with a minimum gross floor area of 15,000 sqm are being obliged to fulfill three requirements:
> Achieve minimum Green Mark standard for existing buildings when a cooling system is installed or retrofitted
> Carry out three-yearly energy audit on building cooling systems
> Submit building information and energy consumption data annually
Dr. John Keung, CEO of Singapore’s Building Construction Authority, explains: “A building cooling system consumes about 30 to 50 percent of the building total energy consumption with a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Since building owners have to change their cooling system when they are running out of their useful life, they should ensure that the replacement systems are more energy efficient to last another 15 years or more. The payback period for such retrofitting work can be as short at three to seven years, depending on the extent of the retrofitting work. After the payback, the rest is net gain by the owner.”
In the context of the COP11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India (8-19 October 2012), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) announces the development of a “Business Ecosystems Training India” (BET India) program. The initiative aims to advance companies’ knowledge and build practical skills related to biodiversity and ecosystems in India.
With the rapid expansion of India’s industry, many companies are facing ecosystem-related challenges that result in operational shut down due to resource constraints or negative impacts on operation costs due to degraded environment. Companies need to understand how they impact and depend upon ecosystems and the services that they provide.
For that purpose, BET India builds on the existing global BET program released by WBCSD in collaboration with an advisory committee that brings together some of the world’s largest companies, NGOs, UN related organizations, and academic institutions. BET India will comprise the development of an India-specific training material covering Indian public policies and case studies from companies with operations in India.
US scientists have developed a new software that can accurately measure greenhouse gas emissions down to individual buildings and streets. The system combines information from public databases with traffic simulations and energy consumption models. Researchers believe that it could help identify the most effective places to cut emissions and could aid international efforts to verify reductions in carbon.
The new measuring system, Hestia, uses data from a number of sources including air pollution report, traffic counts and tax offices and the combines this with a modeling system for quantifying CO2 emissions down to individual building levels.
“We can go to any city in the US and do the quantification and we know it will be utterly consistent from city to city and consistent from city all the way up to nation level,” says Dr. Kevin Gurney, one of the leaders of the project.
The scientists behind the system say it can be extremely used for cities, helping them to target where to make emission cuts. And once those cuts have been made, the system can verify their effect. Verification is also a hugely contentious issue at international negotiations on global climate treaties.
For a company like PepsiCo which oversees more than 20 brands and hundreds of different products around the world, calculating the carbon footprint of just one of its products can take weeks, and at a significant cost to the company. To save time and money, PepsiCo teamed up with researchers from Columbia University’s Earth Institute to create a tool that can measure the carbon footprint of thousands of products all at once.
The calculator was developed to follow carbon footprinting standards such as GHG Protocol Product Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) standard and PAS20:2011. The methodology and software helps businesses identify which materials or activities in their supply chain and operations have the biggest effect on the total carbon footprint of one of their products, product lines, brands or regions. The tool also provides certifiable product footprints to be used in ecolabeling and for environmental measure groups such as The Sustainability Consortium and GoodGuide.
The new tool “dramatically reduces the time and effort as well as required LCA expertise that company employees or outside consultants have to spend on the tool and its associated databases before it can spit out any meaningful carbon results,” said Pepsi’s TerKuile.
The Pollution Prevention Act marked a significant change in how US companies manage hazardous waste twenty-two years ago as it was shifted from an “end of pipe” approach to controlling chemical hazards at their source which gave a major change in how people think about protecting human health and preserving the environment.
Building on the foundational efforts of several countries and at least four states, California has released the nation’s first comprehensive approach for reducing toxics in its products. The proposed Safer Consumer Products Regulation requires manufacturers to ask the questions: “Is this toxic ingredient necessary?” and “Is there a safer alternative?”
Instead of reducing the use of chemicals that threaten health and contaminate the environment, the new approach mandates the rethinking of ingredients during the design phase of the product and that is a fundamental change in the way toxics in consumer products are being regulated. If a safer alternative is not feasible or cannot be found, the department is now authorized to impost a number of regulatory responses including mandating end-of-life management, use restrictions, engineering or administrative controls, the funding of research to design safer alternatives and ultimately a ban on sales in California.
The Green Up Film Festival is about to engage all Europeans in the first ever online documentary film festival.
For 15 days, Europeans can view 26 documentaries on topics relevant to Green Economy including sustainable development, rational consumption, and fair trade via streaming free of charge from the festival website. The films and the festival website invites viewers to learn and reflect on what they can do to help preserve our environment.
“As we can no longer disassociate the economy and the environment in a globalised, growing and changing world, the Green Economy presents itself as an overarching theme that merits promotion,” explains Anne-Laure Detilleux, Festival Director.
German sportswear company Puma, announced a range of biodegradable shoes and clothes on Monday, seeking to lead in protecting nature as it tries to catch up with rivals Nike and Adidas in sales. The new collection which is going on sale in 2013, includes biodegradable sneakers and shirts and recyclable plastic track jackets and backpacks which at the end of their useful life, the products can be returned to stores for processing.
Chief Executive Franz Koch said “biodegradable” did not mean that the products were not durable. “You can’t just dispose of it in the garden at home, dig a hole and hope that a tree is going to come out,” he said. The sole of the sneaker would be made of biodegradable plastic and the upper of organic cotton and linen. After going through a shredder, it could become compost in six to nine months.
The company also said that it was starting to rate the environmental impact of individual products. A new biodegradable T-shirt, for instance, would have environmental costs of 2.36 euros in terms of greenhouse gases, water, waste, air pollution, and land use associated with its production, compared to 3.42 euros for a conventional T-shirt. The numbers aim to help make consumers aware of the environmental impact of their choices and guide them to less damaging options.
Beijing authorities have completed a network of monitors that will more accurately measure air quality in the smog-ridden city after being pushed into by public pressure and pollution reports from the US embassy.
Chinese citizens have prodded their government into publishing more detailed pollution data since the US embassy started publishing PM2.5 readings from its rooftop on Twitter. PM2.5 are tiny pollution particles that may result from the burning of fuels in vehicles and power plants that can penetrate deep into the lungs that can cause respiratory damage.
Beijing started releasing PM2.5 data in January and now, a total of 35 monitoring stations have been set up in central Beijing and its suburbs including favorite tourist attractions. The monitors will run for a three-month trial with PM2.5 being formally used to monitor the city’s air quality rather than relying on the larger particles it currently measures.
Vietnam has outlined its commitment to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions with the implementation of the Green Growth strategy as approved by the Prime Minister last week. The strategy sets a number of targets for improving the environmental situation of the country between now and 2020 by reducing its GHG emissions by 8 to 10 percent based on 2010 levels.
The Director of the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment, Nguyen Van Tai, said that although GHG emissions in Vietnam has been increasing rapidly in the past few decades, it still remains low compared with other developed countries. “Technically, Vietnam has not been subject to any international mandatory obligations to cut down its emission level. However, Vietnam has formulated its Green Growth strategy on its own initiative to make use of international assistance on this issue,” Tai said.
The strategy outlines a number of key measures to achieve this target. The main plan is for energy use to be more efficient with the reduction of energy consumption in industrial activities, transport and commerce which is hoped to be achieved via technology renovation, adaptation of advanced operation process and development of modern infrastructure.
The UK’s first building to be made entirely out of waste is to be built in Brighton this autumn. The building is designed by Brighton-based architect, Duncan Baker-Brown, and will be built on the University of Brighton’s campus in the city center made from waste and surplus material from local building sites and other local industries.
“There is a huge pile of construction waste that’s building up in this country and to ignore it is quite frankly sinful,” said Baker-Brown, co-founder of BBM Sustainable Design and the senior lecturer at the arts faculty. “Through this project we are going to show that there is no such thing as waste.”
The building will feature the latest eco technologies such as fully integrated solar panels, whole-house ventilation and a heat recovery system. It will be used as a pilot for prototype construction systems, components and technologies. It will also contain an exhibition and workshop space for use by local community groups and the upstairs will be the university’s headquarters for sustainable design.
After nearly five years of deliberations, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finally issued the revised “Green Guide” aimed at helping marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive.
The revision now includes updates to the existing guides as well as new sections on the use of carbon offsets, environmental certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims. The FTC also modified and clarified sections of the previous guides and provided new guidance on environmental claims that were not common when the guides were last reviewed.
Among other modifications, the guides caution marketers not to make broad, unqualified claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” or “green” because the FTC’s consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits. The commission notes, “Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate.”
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing USD600 million for a package of green projects that will transform waste into clean energy, reduce CO2 emissions, expand eco-friendly transport, and protect fragile wetland areas in fast-growing second-tier cities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
“These four projects support PRC’s transition to a lower-carbon growth path built on a long-term commitment to green urbanization, better energy efficiency and environmental preservation,” said Robert Wihtol, Director General of ADB’s East Asia Department. “We still have a long way to go but with forward-looking planning and investment, the Chinese cities of the future can have clean air, blue skies, clean water and more green areas.”
The USD600 million is broken down into several projects: USD 200 million for the development of biomass power plants, USD 150 million for district heating systems, USD 100 million for infrastructure development for pedestrians and bicycle riders, and USD 150 million to facilitate sustainable urbanization of emerging towns.
European Environmental Agency (EEA) report reveals that microscopic particles, among the most harmful forms of air pollution, are still found at dangerous levels in Europe. On average, air pollution is cutting human lives by roughly eight months and by about two years in the worst affected regions such as in the industrial parts of Eastern Europe.
“European Union policy has reduced emissions of many pollutants over the last decade, but we can go further,” EEA executive director Jaqueline McGlade said in a statement. “In many countries, air pollutant concentrations are still above the legal and recommended limits that are set to protect the health of European citizens.”
Particulate matter and ozone are some of the most serious air pollution risk in Europe. Based on the World Health Organization (WHO), whose levels are more rigorous than those set by EU law, almost all the European urban population was exposed to particulate matter and 97% to ozone above target levels.
While many pollutants are an unremitting problem, the report does indicate that there has been success in dealing with sulphur dioxide after laws on sulphur dioxide in fuels were passed. In 2010, the EU urban population for the first time was not exposed to sulphur dioxide above the EU limit level.
The report highlights the legislative need to tackle air pollution and human health in tandem with the struggle to slow global warming.
Japan has effectively abandoned a commitment to end its reliance on nuclear power by 2040 amid pressure from the country’s business lobby, dropping the deadline recommended by a cabinet panel only a few days ago.
The trade and industry minister, Yukio Edano, acknowledged that meeting the target date could prove impossible. “Whether we can become nuclear free by 2030s is not something to be achieved with only a decision by policy-makers,” he said. “It also depends on the will of [electricity] users, technological innovation and the environment for energy internationally in the next decade or two.”
The change in the decision regarding Japan’s energy strategy came after sustained pressure from business and industry leaders, who said the move would harm the economy by forcing firms to shift production overseas due to high price of imported oil and gas.
The deputy prime minister, Katsuya Okada, said that ditching the deadline did not mean the government had abandoned its goal of a nuclear-free future. “We aim to have zero nuclear power by the 2030s, but we have never said we will achieve zero by that date,” he told a group of European journalists. But he conceded that a nuclear-phase out was “the wish of a large number of Japanese people”.
The auto-manufacturer’s new third generation hybrid system, Fusion Hybrind and C-MAX Hybrid models were unveiled last week and Ford has announced the replacement of its nickel-metal-hydride batteries with lithium-ion alternatives that could save the company from 500,000 pounds (227kilograms) of the expensive less abundant rare earth metals from its manufacturing process.
The new lithium-ion batteries are 50 percent lighter and 25 percent smaller than the previous-generation hybrid batteries and will give its cars better fuel efficiency as well as reducing its costs by 30 percent.
“We’re continually looking to find ways to provide greater fuel efficiency as well as cost savings to customers of our hybrid vehicles, and the reduction of rare earth metals is a key part of this strategy,” says Chuck Gray, chief engineer of Ford’s global core engineering section for hybrid and electric vehicles.
Retailers Walmart, Costco, Kohl’s, Ikea and Macy’s have this week been named as the largest corporate users of on-site solar energy in the US.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Vote Solar Initiative published that corporates are leading the way ahead of utilities and public bodies in terms of solar development. Walmart has an installed capacity of 65,000 kW and Costco with 38,900 kW which together is more than the entire state of Florida.
The report also lists that the top 20 companies have installed more than 1.2 million solar panels – enough to cover 544 acres of rooftops and generated an estimated $47.3 million worth of electricity each year. SEIA says that by these installations, they have reduced the business’ utility bills by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Japan’s government intends to stop using nuclear power by 2030s, marking a major shift in policy goals set before last year’s Fukushima disaster that sought to increase the share of atomic energy to more than half of electricity supply. Japan now aims to triple the shares of renewable power to 30 percent of its energy mix, but will remain a top importer of oil, coal and gas for the foreseeable future.
All but 2 of the 50 nuclear reactors are idled for safety checks and the government plans to allow restarts of units taken offline after the disaster if they are deemed safe by a new atomic regulator. However, with the growing anti-nuclear movement wanting an immediate end to the use of atomic power, the proposal to restart reactors to secure electric supply is certain to face opposition.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s government, had also faced intense lobbying from industries to maintain atomic energy – exiting nuclear energy in favor of fossil fuels and renewable sources such as solar and wind power will boost electricity prices, making industries uncompetitive and complicating efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Noda’s decision is unlikely to resolve the fierce debate over whether reducing atomic power’s role will do more harm or good to the economy. Nuclear power provided 30 percent of Japan’s electricity before the Fukushima disaster crippled the sector.
Many sustainability-minded businesses realize that green buildings usually have lower energy costs but that may not be the most significant reason to incorporate sustainable design in facilities. Utility bills and even construction costs are relatively small part of the business costs – the larger portion of which comes from labor and labor-related costs.
Buildings that utilize sustainable design can realize substantial savings in labor expenses. The relationship between green buildings and reduced labor costs is strong with documentable reductions in the real costs of labor and overhead. Labor benefits arise from the aspects of green buildings specifically one involving indoor environment quality (IEQ) – indoor air quality, fresh air, daylight, view of nature and the controllability of lighting, heating and cooling all contribute to better IEQ.
From the vantage point of businesses especially one with labor costs making up a high percentage of its operations, staff in green buildings are not only healthier but also tend to feel they have more control of their environment and tend to be happier. Better IEQ leads to increase in productivity, better employee retention and reduce in overhead like absenteeism and turnovers.
The giant surplus of carbon credits currently in the global carbon market may never recede, reducing any hope of global emissions without significant increase in national emission reduction targets.
Countries signed up to legally-binding emission targets between 2008 to 2012 as part of the Kyoto Protocol and were given a set of tradable allowances called Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) with each equivalent to one metric tonne of CO2 equivalent. But analysis published by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon finds that by the end of the period, there will be an oversupply of about 13 billion tonnes (13.1Gt) of CO2 – higher than the estimated demand of 11.5 million tonnes.
Point Carbon says the caps being proposed by governments are higher than the expected business-as-usual emissions for 2013 to 2020 and would create a new surplus of AAUs potentially as large as 3.6Gt and as international rules allow AAUs to be carried over, the total surplus could reach up to 16.2Gt.
European officials signaled on Tuesday that they may recommend the suspension of the continent’s carbon emission fees for airlines to avert trade war with major economic powers such as China and the United States, effectively allowing time to forge a global agreement on climate charges for the aviation industry.
China and India have already prohibited their airlines from participating in the European trading system (ETS), with the United States senate also considering banning US airlines from complying with the EU law. The law requires airlines that fly to and from Europe to buy permits for all the carbon they emit en route.
EU officials have in the past defended pressing ahead with the levy after previous attempts at a global carbon charge for airlines failed. The nation has traditionally been at the forefront of international efforts to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, earning praise from environmental groups but criticism from developing nations that say that some of the measures limit their economic growth.
As serious commercial consequences of the ETS for airlines becomes clear, officials stress the need to act fast and find a global solution for this problem.
A wave of new energy efficiency policies are set to be adopted as the European Parliament yesterday voted in favor of demanding new energy efficiency legislation that will require large businesses to undertake energy use audits.
The directive is based around demanding new energy efficiency targets for utilities and public sector buildings that will force governments across Europe to develop new policies to drive investment in energy efficiency. The passage of the bill will also further increase the pressure on the European Commission and parliament to finalize the long-awaited plans to tackle the low price of carbon in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS).
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) launched a series of concrete sustainable solutions from some of the largest companies in the world with “Biodiversity and ecosystem services: scaling up business solutions,” yesterday.
The report features 25 case studies that showcase innovative actions and solutions undertaken by companies that have exponential impact and can be effectively repeated by other companies. The case studies also show how companies are positively responding to the global biodiversity targets set by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010, so-called “Aichi Targets”. Examples from the report include Hitachi, Holcim, Mondi7s paper & packaging, Syngenta, Shell, and Vale.
Peter Bakker, President of WBCSD said, “Business is a major player in helping minimize negative impacts on our ecosystems and this new publication gives real examples from our member companies, showing how it can be done. While there is no doubt that the challenges associated with ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss are huge and complex, our case studies collection shows that business is starting to tackle them. We need to now focus on scaling them up and implementing them at speed.”
The southern regions of Australia have experienced such windy conditions this week that wind generated over half of South Australia’s power.
According to data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), wind energy accounted for 85.5% of demand on Monday – a new record – 57.9% on Tuesday and 55% on Wednesday. Russell Marsh, Policy Director, Clean Energy Council, announced the figure.
“All this wind is putting South Australia well ahead of the curve on Australia’s 20% Renewable Energy Target, and helping to provide farmers and local businesses in regional areas with extra income. It also means the state’s residents collectively have a lower carbon price bill, while getting fully compensated by the Federal Government under the scheme.”
“South Australia now produces more electricity from wind than from coal – around a quarter of the state’s generaion, putting it in a world leadership position that is on par with Denmark.”
The loss Arctic ice is effectively doubling mankind’s contribution to global warming, ice scientist Professor Peter Wadhams told BBC Newsnight.
White ice reflects more sunlight than open water. The melting of white Arctic ice, which is currently at the lowest level in recent history, is indirectly causing more absorption of the sun’s energy. Instead of being reflected away from the Earth by the ice, the sun’s energy is being absorbed and this contributes to warming. Professor Wadhams calculates that this increased in absorption of the sun’s rays is “equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man”.
In 1980, the Arctic ice in summer made up some 2% of the Earth’s surface. But since then, the ice has roughly halved in area, and the volume of ice has dropped to just a quarter of what it was.
Singapore’s first public housing blocks built to be environmentally sustainable have become the testing ground for future projects, according to a CNN report.
“What we have done is that we put in various eco-friendly features that helps in terms of capitalizing on the wind, enhancing greenery, reducing energy consumption, water usage, how to promote waste recycling, et cetera, all in one department,” Punggol Eco-Town project Director Ng Bingrong told CNN.
The eco-friendly methods range from commonplace and practical to highly innovative – plant covered roofs can naturally lower the buildings’ temperature and painting them white help keep them cool and bring in sunlight. The government is also testing self-cleaning paint, which breaks down grim as it is triggered by sun exposure.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Cities Alliance, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and the World Bank have produced the Knowledge Centre on Cities and Climate Change (K4C), an online repository of information on climate change that advocates decision-making in local governance. The K4C was launched at the 6th World Urban Forum in Naples, Italy.
Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP and Under Secretary General of the UN says that with cities being home to more than half of the global population and the urban environment representing an opportunity for a more efficient Green Economy, K4C provides solutions to assist city leaders and other key players to realize the outcomes of Rio+20.
K4C has an Online Library, Interactive World Map and an overview of expert institutions that provides key documents and information relevant to climate change.
The Philippines is to be the testing ground for new “waste-to-worth” energy plants under a feasibility plan between the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Proctor & Gamble (P&G). The aim is to generate up to two megawatts of power from collected solid waste. ADB has approved USD 385,000 technical assistance, equivalent to 60 percent of the total cost, to help determine the viability and sustainability of the project.
Around 6,700 tons of solid waste is generated everyday in Manila alone but only 720 tons are recycled or composted. The remaining are hauled to dump sites, openly burned, or dumped illegally. This has lead to serious environmental problems such as air pollution, soil and groundwater contamination. This project aims to eliminate the need for landfill as less than 1 percent of the waste is expected to remain after processing.
“The disposal of municipal solid waste is a serious environmental and social problem. This is the kind of innovative project that brings the public and private sectors together to tackle a problem seen throughout the developing world. Successfully piloting an integrated solid waste management system means it could be replicated in other parts of the world,” says Jose Manuel Limjap, investment specialist at ADB.
Japan’s Environment Minister Goshi Hosono unveiled a new strategy to boost power generation capacity of four primary renewable energy sources – offshore wind, geothermal, biomass and tidal power by 2030. The plan, if successful, is aimed at eliminating all nuclear power plants.
The Innovative Strategy for Energy and the Environment was announced after the Cabinet meeting and the ministry plans to increase the combined annual capacity of renewable to as much as 19.41GW by 2030, compared with 2.96GW in 2010. This total roughly equates to the equivalent capacity of 20 nuclear reactors
The government’s Energy and Environment Council hopes all renewable energy sources, including solar energy, will be boosted from its current level of 10 percent of the nation’s power generation to 25 to 35 percent.
From September 1, an EU directive aimed at reducing energy use of lighting prohibits retailers to sell 40W and 25W incandescent bulbs with similar bans came into effect for 60W and 100W incandescent bulbs over the past three years. The restrictions are predicted to save 39 terawatt-hours of electricity across EU annually by 2020.
Earlier this year, the UK government said that the ban would bring an average annual net benefit to the UK between 2012 and 2020 energy savings but the phase-out of incandescent have been met with resistance by some users indicating that replacement technologies do not perform as well. Also, despite the long-term savings promised, the higher upfront price of replacement bulbs has also been criticized.
“Concerns about poor performance of replacement bulbs have been proved wrong. The new LED replacements for halogen downlighters that have come into the market over the past year work just as well, for example. Price is still a barrier but that’s comeing down almost daily as volume increases,” says Peter Hunt, joint chief executive of the Lighting Industry Association.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
San Francisco city officials say they are moving to block purchases of Apple desktops and laptops, by all municipal agencies, after the company removed a green electronics certification from its products.
Officials with the San Francisco Department of Environment told CIO Journal on Monday they would send out letters over the next two weeks,informing all 50 of the city’s agencies that Apple laptops and desktops “will no longer qualify” for purchase with city funds. The move comes after CIO Journal reported that Apple had removed its laptops and notebooks from a voluntary registry of green electronics, called EPEAT. The standard, created jointly by manufacturers, including Apple, government agencies, and activist groups, requires that electronics products be designed for ease in recycling and higher energy efficiency.
Whenever an episode of extreme weather – heatwave, flood, drought, etc – hits the headlines, someone somewhere is sure to point the finger of blame at human-induced climate change.
So, can we now say, or not, that specific extreme weather events are caused, or at least exacerbated, by global warming? Has anything changed in climate scientists' understanding of the attribution - or "anthropogenic fingerprint" - of such events? Are they now more confident about making such links?
ORIX Electric Power Corporation, a subsidiary of ORIX Corporation, will begin offering a new service combining its bulk electric power purchasing service for reducing condominium electricity bills with green power. Furthermore, Brillia City Yokohama Isogo (Isogo-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture), a new 1,230-unit condominium building, will become the largest condominium building in Japan to use the bulk electric power purchasing service.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
(ESCAP) has released a blueprint to help developing countries in the region sustain economic growth needed to reduce poverty amidst worsening resource constraints and climate impacts.
With a majority of U.S. consumers identifying with green values, brand owners must learn how to effectively communicate their green message in a relevant way.
Not long ago, green products and services appealed mainly to a small minority of die-hard eco-conscious consumers. Today, a majority of U.S. consumers identify with green values at some level. In 2010, the Natural Marketing Institute’s LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) Consumer Trends Database found that 83% of the U.S. population is involved in green values, activities, and purchasing.
An all-party group of MPs has advised the Government not to ignore its green investment agenda in favour of economic growth.
The Environmental Audit Committee, a group of 16 MPs, has said in a report that “the whole economy will need to be green and traditional sectors will need to be transformed” in order for the UK to realise long-term and sustainable economic prosperity.
Carl Pope, former executive director and chairman of Sierra Club, shares his point of view in Huffington Post.
This year's most pitch-perfect political speech may have just been given, not by President Obama, or Mitt Romney, but by John Dingell, the dean of the House of Representatives, but razor sharp at 85. Speaking to the Blue-Green Alliance's Detroit "Good Jobs-Green Jobs" Conference, Dingell sounded a simple theme.
Readers who give up print newspapers and switch to digital devices will gain a benefit many have probably not thought about: they will be slashing the carbon emissions associated with their news habit.
That is the conclusion of a new report from the RAND Corporation that uses news-reading habits as an example to make a larger point. Efforts to reduce energy consumption often focus too narrowly on improving existing practices, the authors found, rather than on rethinking old habits from the ground up.
Conscience shopping across Southeast Asia remains strong with a number of countries leading the region in purchasing products that are environmentally friendly and observe fair trade principles, according to the latest MasterCard survey on ethical spending.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is making available $9 million to help about 50 small businesses advance innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
The funds are for outside-the-box approaches that improve manufacturing processes, boost the efficiency of buildings, reduce reliance on oil, and generate electricity from renewable sources to bring new clean energy solutions to market faster.
The ability to innovate and create ways of operating that are sustainable is, increasingly, one of business's strengths. Making an impact requires the right policy frameworks, which will be up for discussion in Rio. It also requires scalability. This is an area Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) 2012, the official UN Business & Industry Major Group, is focusing on. Its actions will cumulate in the official BASD 2012 Business Day on 19 June 2012, a high-profile platform for interaction between business leaders and policy-makers to identify key actions and catalysts to drive scale, as a final input to the Rio+20 Conference.
Green Party leader Caroline Lucas says the government has misread the public mood by trying to sideline green issues.
Ms Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, says the decision to allow more building in the countryside and Chancellor George Osborne's claim that it is not important to meet carbon reduction targets are "tragic" and a "travesty of truth".
"The government has completely misread the public mood on this," she said. "Look at the outcry over the attempt to sell off the forests which forced an embarrassing U-turn and look at the fiasco over the new planning regulations. People are worried about what will happen to their countryside."
"Austerity isn't working. Investing in green measures and green technology is actually good for the economy because a green economy is an incredibly labour intensive economy," she said.
Fond of a full English breakfast? Perhaps you should have a glass of blood orange juice on the side – it might help to reduce the harm from all the fat you are ingesting, and make you less likely to become obese.
But as blood oranges are among the least favoured fruits for consumers, scientists in the UK are hoping to find ways to genetically modify standard oranges to incorporate the beneficial effects of their less popular cousins.
The green economy and international institutional framework for sustainable development should become mutually reinforcing, as there is a need for structural change in institutions.
Improving institutions and their ability to enable the right frameworks is critical so that all actors can deliver on their shared responsibility and ensure better coordination and policy implementation. The Business Alliance for Sustainable Development (BASD) believes that the following key points should be considered in the Rio+20 compilation document.
The Boeing 787 uses advanced materials and high-tech engines to fly more quietly, with lower emissions of nitrogen oxides and less fuel than previous models, all significant environmental benefits. But sometimes, the engineers who designed have tried to have a bit of fun.
Flying 9,000 nautical miles, a Boeing 787 spelled out its model number and the company logo.
According to Social Media, women are earning, spending, and influencing spending at a greater rate than ever before. In fact, women account for $7 trillion in consumer and business spending in the United States, and over the next decade, they will control two thirds of consumer wealth.
Women make or influence 85% of all purchasing decisions, and purchase over 50% of traditional male products, including automobiles, home improvement products and consumer electronics.
Seaweed often brings to mind thoughts of surf and sushi, not fuel. But that could change if a biotechnology start-up called Bio Architecture Lab succeeds in building a new kind of energy company from designer bacteria and a low-cost process for harvesting seaweed.
The key is a genetically modified strain of Escherichia coli bacterium, which can break down the sugars in brown seaweed, or macro-algae, to produce ethanol, according to new research published in the peer-reviewed journal Science.
Juliet Schor explains the economic logic of a shorter working week.
"31% of college-educated American men work more than 50 hours a week while 15.1% of all Americans live in poverty."
"Economists are fond of pointing out fallacies in economic logic, and unorthodox economists are especially fond of the sport. Adam Smith's famous maxim that the self-interested behavior of individuals produces the common good is one widely-held fallacy. It was spectacularly debunked by the selfish behavior of the 1% who crashed the world economy in 2008."
Organic produce from Mexico often ends up in an energy-intensive global distribution chain that takes it as far as New York and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, producing significant emissions that contribute to global warming.
In January 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency asked nearly 100 freelance photographers to roam the country in the pursuit of a single goal: documenting “the environmental happenings and non-happenings” of the decade.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, the first national standards to protect American families from power plant emissions of mercury and toxic air pollution like arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium, and cyanide.
Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have completed what is believed to be the first major study to assess the greenest way of drying your hands.
The research paper compared the seven most common drying methods in public toilets and concludes that paper towels and warm air hand dryers have the highest environmental toll – generating 70% more carbon emissions than the newest technology on the market, the cold air-driven hand dryer from UK manufacturer Dyson, which also commissioned the paper.
Major American environmental groups have dodged the subject of population control for decades, wary of getting caught up in the bruising politics of reproductive health.
Picture credit: Leah Nash for The New York Times
Yet, virtually alone, the Center for Biological Diversity is breaking the taboo by directly tying population growth to environmental problems through efforts like giving away condoms in colorful packages depicting endangered animals. The idea is to start a debate about how overpopulation crowds out species and hastens climate change — just when the world is welcoming Baby No. 7 Billion.
The mass installation on 600 homes in Broxtowe and Aspley is one of the largest to be carried out in the UK in a single domestic scheme. The energy savings are thought to total around £72,000 a year. The solar industry said the government's plans to cut feed-in tariffs by over 50% in the next six weeks would devastate the number of installations on homes, schools and small businesses
Photographer: E.on/Page One
Aerial photography over Aspley and Broxtowe areas of Nottingham showing the mass installation of solar panels onto residents houses. Image shows houses around Fenwick Close (centre) and Coleby Road area of Broxtowe with the panels on the roofs.
The Second Edition of the Buying Green! Handbook has just been
published by the European Commission.
The new Handbook provides detailed guidance for greening each step of
the procurement process. A number of revisions have been made since the
2004 edition, including:
* Greater attention to the application of GPP to services and works
* Expanded sections on selection and award criteria, technical
specifications, LCC and contract clauses
* New examples of contracts drawn from across the EU-27
* Specific sectoral guidance on electricity, construction, timber and
food and drink
The Handbook is available on the EU GPP website along with a shorter summary document aimed at policy-makers and others who may not have a detailed knowledge of procurement or GPP.
Global population trends result from varying levels of population growth and decline among countries. This informative video provides a simple and compelling overview of population trends that have created a world of 7 billion people.
Population Reference Bureau informs people around the world about population, health, and the environment, and empowers them to use that information to advance the well-being of current and future generations.
Every time we put our hands in our pockets we're making a choice. Guardian Money looks at how to be environment-savvy without it costing you the earth.
National Ethical Investment Week, which kicks off tomorrow, aims to ensure everyone knows their options when it comes to their financial decisions. To celebrate its launch, Guardian Money has looked at the steps you can take – some very simple – to "ethicalise" your money and your spending decisions.
Many companies are still not clear about sustainability processes, let alone reporting. Could the 'material' approach help?
It can be difficult for companies to focus on the important aspects with sustainability reporting as previously stakeholders have wanted long lists of issues included.
Some phrases slip off the pen of annual report writers without a second thought. "Our people are our greatest asset", is certainly one.
Another is "sustainability is integral to our business". Many CEOs like to think this. In fact many even say it. In the 2010 UN Global Compact CEO survey an amazing 81% of the 766 CEOs interviewed agreed with the statement "[sustainability is] fully embedded into the strategy and operations of my company".
Intended for a working couple who can use the house as home and office, the winning entry has a split butterfly roofline directing stormwater runoff into an axis at the core of the house. A green roof slows rainwater runoff to the landscape while improving the house’s energy efficiency.
Fully 55 percent of residents travel to work or school on bikes. Some roads, including bridges, are just for them. In a nation dedicated to bicycling, however, Mr. le Dous has been fighting an uphill battle. The association now has only about 160 members, with a meager annual budget of a little over $2,000. But the focus of their annoyance is clear.
(Wattage × Hours Used Per Day) ÷ 1000 = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption
NB: 1 kilowatt (kW) = 1,000 Watts
Multiply this by the number of days you use the appliance during the year for the annual consumption. You can then calculate the annual cost to run an appliance by multiplying the kWh per year by your local utility's rate per kWh consumed.
Instead of reminiscing about old bulbs, our time would be better served isolating the best replacements on the market. What are your suggestions?
There seems to be much mournful romanticism in the air at the moment about the good old incandescent lightbulb. From Thursday, a ban comes into force across the European Union on the manufacturing and distribution of 60 watt incandescent clear lightbulbs.
Read the opinion on The Guardian and join the discussion.
A company must realise that the business' true, long-term worth is determined by the investment it makes in its employees, in the communities where it operates and in the environment, as well as its financial performance.
Are you one of us who struggle to choose the right bulbs for the rooms? Is it time to replace old incandescent bulbs with LEDs? There are fluorescent bulbs, too. What is Halogen? Here is an extremely thorough review for almost all types of lighting products by someone who actually tried a lot of them at his home. Click.
C.F.L.’s or compact fluorescent light bulbs, require one-quarter the energy from coal-fired power plants that incandescents do.
However, light bulbs are so easy to break. The amount of mercury contained in a C.F.L. is roughly equivalent to the amount of ink on the tip of a ballpoint pen and about one-fifth the amount in a watch battery, the council’s paper says. But the bulbs can leak mercury vapor when broken, so ventilation is important when cleaning a broken bulb, the council says in its paper.
Some manufacturers now produce C.F.L.’s with protective coating; the EcoSmart Shatter-Resistant C.F.L. is one example.
So for those proceeding with caution on C.F.L.’s, the light is now green.
Danny Hess of San Francisco loves riding the waves, but he hates that many surfboards are made of nonrecyclable materials and must constantly be replaced. He left his job as a building contractor to devote himself to the problem.
For his environmentally friendly and long-lasting surfboards, he uses reclaimed and sustainably harvested wood, recycled cork, and nontoxic and recyclable foam.
Philips, the Netherlands-based consumer electronics giant, is now $10 million richer, having just won the L Prize, awarded by the federal Department of Energy in a contest to invent the next generation of solid-state lighting.
Philips’s prize-winning bulb uses just 9.7 watts to match the light output of a 60-watt incandescent. It lasts 25,000 hours, compared with 1,000 to 2,000 for an incandescent.
Dig up your lawn and plant your flowerbeds with spuds. Marry a farmer. Buy land. The United Nations, commodity brokers and hedge funds, banks and governments all seem to agree that high food prices are here to stay.
According to mySupermarket and other food price-tracking sites, a typical shopping basket in Britain now costs around 6% more than it did last year but specific foods and key staples are clearly much dearer. Some English butter is up 40% in a year, chocolate biscuits 50%, coffee 20% and pasta 29%.
Globally, the UN also sees food prices rising over the next 10 years as higher energy and fertiliser costs affect farmers. In a recent report, the UN said it expected cereal prices to be 20% higher on average, compared with the previous decade, while meat prices would be up to 30% higher.
Inevitably this will hit the poorest the most. In Britain, families spend around 15% of their budget on food. In developing countries, this rises to 50% or more.
Al Gore, the former vice president, Nobel Prize winner and climate campaigner-in-chief, is opening a new global climate change activism program called the Climate Reality Project.
The group’s first program will be a live-streamed event called 24 Hours of Reality and held on Sept. 14-15. According to a press release from the organization, “people all around the globe living with the impacts of climate change will connect the dots between recent extreme weather events — including floods, droughts and storms — and the man-made pollution that is changing our climate.”
The idea is to educate the public about the impacts of global warming and to counter what Mr. Gore considers the well-financed disinformation and denial campaign run by the fossil fuel industries.
In June 2010, faculty, staff and administrators at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire had their desk trash cans replaced with six-inch-tall cartons. One year later, Dartmouth has sent 200 less tons of trash to the landfill, and recycling is up by one third.
From afar, the EcoArk Pavilion in Taipei has the look of many modern structures that grace the world's biggest cities. Its polished exterior and oblique angles give it the appearance of a futuristic glass ship. But approaching the structure, something remarkable becomes apparent: Its walls are constructed entirely of interlocking plastic bottles.
The polygonal bottles, known as Polli-Bricks and made of recycled PET plastic, ensure that the building is not only structurally sound--it can withstand earthquakes and typhoons--but also that it is environmentally friendly. Even more importantly, it's cheap.
Felicity Barringer writes her experience as a bike commuter on the New York Times.
Two things about my colleague Christine Haughney’s article on the reluctance of New York-area women to become bicycle commuters were striking. One was the main reason cited: fear. (Excessive sweating followed.) The second was an accompanying graphic with data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey indicating which cities have the most bike commuters and from an Australian study looking at gender differences in bike commuting.
Felicity Barringer writes her experience as a bike commuter on the New York Times.
Two things about my colleague Christine Haughney’s article on the reluctance of New York-area women to become bicycle commuters were striking. One was the main reason cited: fear. (Excessive sweating followed.) The second was an accompanying graphic with data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey indicating which cities have the most bike commuters and from an Australian study looking at gender differences in bike commuting.
A bone drill, which typically cost about $300 each, are used to access the marrow and vascular system inside bones when a patient's veins have collapsed or are inaccessible. They're standard features in most American ambulances and emergency rooms.
Bone drills enables fluids to be delivered into bone marrow in less than 60 seconds-a lifesaver when a patient's veins have collapsed.
But in developing countries like India, where the need is huge, that $300 price is an insurmountable hurdle to widespread adoption.
The Stanford India Biodesign (SIB) team and in based at Stanford and in New Delhi at the Indian Institute of Technology and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
The teams collaborated over Skype adn shipped prototypes back and forth via FedEx. Eventually, they created a device that would sell for around $20, with no drop in efficacy.
There are still many hurdles before the device will be available commercially. For one thing, designers have yet to crack the code on making sure the drill is not reusable, a big issue in India where blood-borne diseases are often spread with reusable devices.
Mark S. Hall, director of “Sushi: The Global Catch,” winner of a special jury prize this month at the Seattle International Film Festival, first sampled sushi as a student in Tokyo in the 1980s, but he did not get to thinking about the sushi economy until a few years ago.
We learn that in Japan, budding sushi chefs must go through a long apprenticeship to become masters, enduring the drudgery of washing dishes, preparing rice and cutting vegetables before they even begin to start cutting fish. Only in the fifth year do they begin slicing fish in earnest.
In their seventh year, the apprentices graduate to serving and conversing with customers. That’s the same length of time it takes to both earn a bachelor’s degree and graduate from medical school. With qualifications like these, sushi might have stayed in Japan.
Developing countries place higher value on green products, while price continues to be a factor in developed countries
A new survey conducted by ImagePower Global Green Brands reveals that people around the world intend to purchase higher-ticket environmental products in the auto, energy and technology sectors compared to last year.
2011 US rankings
The survey also ranked the top 10 US companies with the greenest reputations. For the first time since the inception of the study in 2006, the four brands perceived to be the greenest are "born green" companies - companies that started out with green missions.
Tom's of Maine
The Walt Disney Company
Starbucks, Microsoft (tied)
In developed countries such as the US and UK, roughly 20% of those surveyed would spend more than 10% extra on a green product.
In developing countries, however, people say that green products have a higher inherent value. 95% of Chinese respondents say they're willing to spend more on a product because it's green - 55% of them say they would spend 11-30% more. Similarly, 29% of Indian respondents and 48% of Brazilians say they are willing to spend between 11- 30% more on green products.
Edited by Mr Lim Siang Jin and Mr David Lee Boon Siew in Malaysia, the new publication "Green Purchasing Asia" is now available both on and off-line.
The launch issue features stories on Malaysia's just-launched feed-in tariff scheme; ABB's new UHVDC power transmission technology; the markets fastest electric vehicles; an interview with cleantech venture capitalist Peter Grubstein; India's ryral solar engineering school; China's "Solar King" Huang Ming and more.
As power shortages loom across Japan this summer because of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, people are turning to a tested-and-true method of cooling down rooms by blocking the sun's rays--"green curtains."
According to a guideline on urban greenery, the Tokyo metropolitan government, which has started distributing seeds at parks and other public facilities, green curtains can lower indoor temperatures by up to 1.7 degrees.
Toilet manufacturer TOTO Ltd., meanwhile, has announced the results of an experiment it conducted at its Oita factory last year.
TOTO grew a green curtain of goya, "hechima" (sponge cucumber) and morning glories that was 10 meters tall and 200 meters long outside its Oita plant walls. The company reported the curtain lowered temperatures inside the plant by an average 2 degrees, and a maximum 5 degrees, during the hot summer months.
LED lamps are expected to revolutionize the lighting industry because of their sharply reduced power consumption and their long life compared with standard incandescents.
The bulb, the EnduraLED A21, will retail for about $40, last 25,000 hours and produce 1100 lumens of light by consuming just 17 watts of electricity. (A standard 75-watt lamp from GE produces 1170 lumens.) Over the life of the lamp, consumers will save $160, the company says.
Puma is measuring its use of ecosystems and plans to determine its economic impact on ecosystem services, which is basically anything that nature provides: clean water, crops, soil formation, wildlife habitat, protection from storms, and more.
Puma is looking at both the impact of its direct operations and its supply chain, and plans to issue an environmental profit and loss statement based on its findings.
"Greening Household Behaviour: The Role of Public Policy" is an invaluable resource for all those interested by the challenging questions of what promotes “greener” lifestyles, from policy makers to individual citizens.
A new study has suggested that employees are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs if they are working for a company that is perceived to be " green".
Cassandra Walsh and Adam Sulkowski, at Charlton College of Business at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, wanted to know whether employee morale is typically affected when a company is perceived as taking steps to be more environmentally benign, or whether the company's financial performance has a greater effect on employee happiness.
In an interview by BBC, Dan Matthews, Chief Technology Officer of IFS, a sweden-based company with $336m net revenue in the full year, answered to three questions. Bellow is the part he talks about the growing need for companies to be environmentally conscious. You can also click here to read the full article.
What's the next big tech thing in your industry?
The big challenge for us, and our colleagues in the industry, is to look at how we can help businesses account for the environmental impact of their business, just as they account for the financial impact.
This is really quite serious, because it's driven not just by consumer pressure, but we're seeing a lot of pressure now coming from investors.
You have schemes like the PRI, the Principles for Responsible Investment, which is used by a lot of investment organisations, and the big pension funds and those sorts of things. And as if this wasn't enough, then you have the regulatory stuff coming in, the cap and trade regulations.
And this really is a challenge, because all of a sudden it's no longer just the cost that matters when you do something.
When you design a product it's not just what it's going to cost to build it, it's how much CO2, how much by way of emissions, how many toxins. When you source something, it's not just which supplier is cheapest, it's which has the least imprint.
Where we're used to measuring cost all of a sudden you need to track environmental impact as well. It's a huge challenge for businesses and something that's critical is that we make software to help them address this.
You’ve heard the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” well, when used correctly, Flickr can make that saying a marketing reality for your green business or organization. Did you think Flickr was just for hobbies or sharing photos with friends? Think again. Try using Flickr for some of the following and see how it can help you market your green business.
1. Tell Your Story
The best use for Flickr by far is to use it to tell your business or organization’s story.
2. Connect with Others
Flickr isn’t just a place to deposit photos. It’s one of the fastest growing social media tools being used just behind Facebook and Twitter.
3. Find Stock Photography
Flickr can be a great resource for green marketers because there are literally thousands upon thousands of images that you can access and use for free.
4. Share Stock Photography
On the flipside, Flickr is a great place to share stock photography, which can drive more exposure to your business.
5. Organize and Share Your Media
Flickr can be a great way to organize your media for later use and sharing.
6. Link Building
A final use for Flickr is link building, which can be really useful in terms of search engine marketing.
Most businesses have at least part of their staff involved in programs that promote green initiatives. For the most part they are doing it because it is good for business. Occasionally there are businesses that have a true, vested interest in a better global climate. Many restaurants have been going greener as time goes on. Many of the efforts have resulted in better cuisine while others are done because they simply make sense. The restaurants that have been investing in green initiatives have been seeing more income from increased patronage.
When evaluating your supply chain, you can rely on virtually the same set of criteria for everything from the cups in the break room to the packaging of your products. Most certifications apply the following attributes when determining a product’s environmental impact:
-Clean. Emits the least amount of pollution possible for its category.
-Energy-efficient. Energy is not wasted in producing or operating the product.
-Water-conscious. Water is not wasted in manufacturing and/or the product itself is a water-saving device.
-Resource-efficient. Goods are made with recyclable content.
-Recyclable. At the end of its life, some or all of the product’s parts can be recycled.
-Streamlined. Not over-packaged.
-Fair trade.The environment is half the battle. People matter too. Are those who make the product compensated fairly and are their working conditions safe?
-Necessary. No product can be green if you can easily do without it.
Certified. A third party validates the manufacturer’s claims.
Kenya on Thursday outlawed the manufacture and import of plastic bags from March for damaging the environment, the environmental agency said.
"Our country has many colours and when God was creating the world, he only allowed plants to give us flowers, so when our landscape becomes flooded with many artificial flowers of varied colours due to poor management of plastic bags and wrappers, then it becomes a problem," said Macharia.
Of all five members of the East African Community - Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda - only Rwanda has so far successfully banned all plastic bags since 2008, and replaced them with paper bags.
The Chinese telecom giant's award-winning "Double" cell phone design updates the traditional flip phone for a solar-powered future.
Are flip phones passé in a post-iPhone world? Chinese telecom company ZTE doesn't think so: their concept for the "Double" phone, which sports solar panels on both sides of its attractive
clamshell body, just won a prestigious 2010 Red Dot Design Concept award.
Direct mail companies advertise that direct mail accounts for “only” 2.4 percent of trash in landfill in the United States, and that the recycling of direct mail offerings has increased 700 percent since 1990.
But what I know is that direct mail now accounts for close to 95 percent of the stuff in my mailbox, and it is deposited in the recycling bin without a glance. It is particularly bad this time of year.
Click HERE to read the post on The New York Times.
The UK government released a statement about their new evergy policy. It tells us, "there will be a £160 a year rise in electricity bills by 2030."
Damian Carrington writes, "If you are wondering why on earth the UK should cough up a bit extra for a low-carbon energy supply while the rest of the world happily smokes away, the answer is that the rest of the world is simply not doing that. Consider these recent stories from newspapers which can hardly be described as treehuggers." He quotes:
China has surged ahead of the rest of the world in renewable energy, creating a "new world order" in the low-carbon sector.
The rapid growth of Chinese investment has prompted venture capital and private equity companies in Europe to call for more regulation and greater government assistance, warning that without such help, the European economy will fall behind. The country's spending on wind energy in the second quarter of 2010 amounted to about $10bn, or about half of the global total of $20.5bn.
The Story of Stuff Team released a video to show the water bottling industry's environmental impact as it has become a huge market. However, the sales of bottled water started to decreasing, and more people started to use refillable bottles.
Keeping up with new developments in information technology (IT) is a major cost for many businesses. The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) works with leading corporations to cut the high costs of IT purchasing and management, and to implement sustainable practices that can make your company a CSR leader.
"The PiCycle electric bicycle from Pi Mobility uses an elegant, solitary arch of recycled aluminum for its instantly iconic frame. Recycled aluminum requires just one-13th the amount of electricity to produce compared to virgin aluminum." Read more.
After only three weeks the team produced a 3D digital prototype using Autodesk Inventor proving that, by reducing the diameter of our tube by a half an inch, we could immediately save $335,000. When you extrapolate that over the next few years, it means easily seven figures saved. That discovery means that Pi Mobility can achieve profitability a full year ahead of schedule. From our perspective, it just doesn’t get much better than that.
US president Obama has failed to pass climate legislation. David Leonhardt of The New York Times compares many different perspectives: click here. Some consider passing legislation promoting clean energy research as a prerequisite for any cap and trade bill: click here.
New European guidelines published on September 30 will change the energy-rating system for TVs. However, consumers intending to buy a new television this year can already look for certain symbols and types of television to ensure that their product is as environmentally friendly as possible... [Read more]
An American company WeWOOD promises to plant one tree for every 100% natural, toxin-free, wooden watch through its partnership with environmental organization American Forests. Other companies such as Sprout and Citizen also make eco-friendly watches.
For more information about Sprout watches see: http://www.sproutwatches.com
For more information about the Citizen Eco-Drive watches see: http://www.citizenwatch.com/
Facebook is planning to create a data center in Oregon, Leslie Kaufman reports. PacifCorp is the power provider, and Greenpeace criticizes it for using more coal than other power utilities. However, Facebook's spokesman points out that the data center is greener than other data centers because it uses "the meta equivalent of ceiling fans."
Mireya Navarro reports the current issues of detergents that are advertised as green products. According to the journalist, some consumers think green detergents are less effective than regular ones, and that the labor unions claim that some of the green products are still toxic because there are undisclosed ingredients in the products. He writes, New York State identified phosphors as the leading harming chemical in the state.
Click HERE to read the New York Times article by Mireya Navarro.
Characteristics and Steps to Green Your Purchasing Power
This article introduces the recent move by the City of San Francisco to open its database of green products. Meyer also sites the descriptions of EPP, which stands for environmentally preferable purchasing policies.
Areca Palm: During the day, the Areca Palm generates a great deal of oxygen, taking the carbon dioxide you exhale and turning it into oxygen. While four shoulder-high plants for each person in the home is recommended, you can can still get benefits even with fewer plants around the house.
Mother-in-Law’s Tongue: This plant generates more oxygen in the evening. With six to eight plants per person, you can help ensure a good supply of oxygen through the night — although you don’t need that many to get some of the benefits.
Money Plant: If you are interested in removing volatile organic compounds from the air (VOCs), you can use the money plant to do so. It acts a filter that can remove VOCs like formaldehyde out of the air, improving air quality.
3 More Plants that Can Improve Air Quality in Your Home
English Ivy: This beautiful plant is easy to care for, and can be trained to climb book cases to add a bit of nature to your home. It can also be hung from hooks in the ceiling. One woman I know grows it along the tops of her kitchen cabinets.
Asparagus Fern: Another favorite, the asparagus fern is not actually fern. But it looks like one, and is easy to grow as a container plant. Grows lushly, and can add some green to your home, while purifying the air.
Purple Heart Plant: If you want to add a touch of bright color to your home plant decor, the purple heart plant can be a good choice. Like the other plants on this list, it is easy to care for, and it flowers beautifully.
What is green procurement anyway? Well, we think that we all define it personally. Here is a passage from an article that provides an interesting look on green procurement.
"While green procurement is obviously a worthwhile goal, figuring out which product is greener than another and by how much can feel like you're working your way through a hedge maze and be just as time-consuming.
But you can use the 100 Mile Diet idea to simplify the process. Generally, goods and services that are produced locally are going to be less environmentally damaging than goods and services produced from afar, as less energy is expended getting them to the consumer.
Even if all I do is buy my office supplies from a supplier in my local town, rather than driving to another town to purchase them, I've eliminated the amount of carbon emissions my vehicle would emit as I drove those extra miles. Consider how much more vehicle pollution I could erase by doing this all year long."
The Green Business Africa Summit & Expo is Africa’s first flagship event that brings to the mainstream issues around sustainability in the business environment as well as green corporate social responsibility (CSR).
CEO of Hong Kong Green Council and her associates have published a paper titled "Green procurement in the Asian public sector and the Hong Kong", which reviews the procurement practices and policies of five Asian countries and Hong Kong, in the context of an international overview of green purchasing and practices.
"Brazil, Portugal and the Netherlands among teams to wear Nike's shirts made from recycled plastic bottles"
"When Kaka and Ronaldinho stride out onto the pitch for the World Cup in South Africa this summer, few of their millions of fans are likely to notice that their yellow jerseys are made from old plastic bottles."
The New York Times Green Inc. published a post about a move by the world's biggest athletic gear brand.
"Nike Makes Environmental Strides and Abandons Carbon Offsets"
By LEORA BROYDO VESTEL
A new corporate responsibility report issued by the shoe and apparel manufacturer Nike highlights the progress the company has made in reducing its environmental footprint and the ways in which its climate change strategy is evolving — including its decision to abandon carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates as means of achieving carbon neutrality.
Green & Black's was founded by Craig Sams, a food specialist, and his partner Josephine Fairley. They sold their business to Cadbury in 2005. Now Kraft bought Cadbury and owns the brand.
Sams contributed to the UK newspaper Guardian. Bellow are the quotations from the article.
"When we decided to pay fair prices and offer long-term guarantees to cacao farmers in Belize we didn't have to justify our actions to shareholders or even to the rest of the team at our office."
"So today, looking at Kraft's track record, what can we expect its takeover to mean for the commitment of Cadbury and Green & Black's to socially and environmentally-progressive policies such as Fairtrade and organic ingredients?"
"A brand is like a child. It is born into this world, fragile and in great need of parental care and attention. Eventually you send it off to school and university, entrusting it to the care of others. Then it embarks on its career. Green & Black's, to follow the analogy, was nurtured to maturity and eventually got a good job at a big multinational."
"Frankly, it's the consumers who don't buy organic and fair products that upset me the most. Consumers have a choice, companies don't, they only sell what customers buy."
This article may sound almost like a fiction, but it is worth a read as we found the predictions interesting.
Written by Robin Barton, a Green Lifestyle writer
2020 vision: Second-hand Prius, anyone? Car use declines across Europe as society returns to medieval values
-London becomes a Green bubble capital while the rest of the world is experiencing a depression
-Last paragraph, "The cap-and-trade policies in the US, the EU and Australia, brought about by the UN climate-change conference of 2009, were the first mistake. The EU had already committed to a 20 per cent cut in CO2 emissions from 1990 levels by next year, but thanks to its Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), running since 2005, these could be delivered while actual CO2 emissions rose. Alchemy indeed. And the EU's target of 20 per cent more energy from renewable sources has proved as hard to pin down as the wind itself."
BANthePHONEBOOK.org says, "up to 5 million trees are cut down each year to create the white pages phone book" and "over 80% of consumers would support an 'opt-in' program (only receive a white pages phone book if you request one)."
John Davies, vice president of the GreenBiz Intelligence unit, gave a report on green purchasing on GreenBiz.com last week.
He writes, "Green purchasing by companies is up in a down economy. Our recent October 2009 survey of more than 450 companies found that over the past 12 months there was a 63 percent increase in green purchasing, from computers to chemicals to cleaning supplies. Perhaps even more encouraging, none of the respondents from large companies (those with revenues over $1 billion) identified any decrease in buying green. But when it comes to businesses buying green, what do they really mean?"
Read more about:
-Leading the Way: Office Supplies, Cleaning Products, and Computers
-Measuring The Green They Manage
-Selling Green in the Future
"Large wardrobes of seldom-used clothes are no longer environmentally acceptable and people should instead rent outfits and accessories, according to the Government’s waste watchdog," reported Ben Webster of Times Online.
Summary of the Article
-Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) released a report
-a fifth of all household spending in Britain to be converted to renting by 2020
-Wrap identifies five categories of goods suitable for renting including high-end clothing
-less clutters reduce the size of living space and thus reduces carbon impact
AFP, 28 October 2009 - A Japanese sun-powered car won the World Solar Challenge on Wednesday after averaging speeds of more than 100 kilometres (62 miles) per hour in a four-day race through Australia's desert Outback.
Episode 1: It's All About Carbon
Episode 2: Carbon's Special Knack for Bonding
Episode 3: Break a Carbon Bond and -- Presto! -- Civilization
Episode 4: When Carbon Falls in Love, the World Heats Up
Episode 5: What We Can Do About Global Warming
IGPN co-hosted and attended The 3rd International Conference on Green Purchasing Suwon that was held for three days from October 21st, 2009. Former vice president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore gave a keynote speech on the 21st.
With the growing trend among environmentally-conscious individuals to watch their personal carbon footprint, numerous web-based carbon calculators have been created and are available to the public.
The Guardian's Quick Carbon Calculator explains, "Calculate the impact of your travel, home and shopping habits with our simple carbon footprint calculator." This service enables users to compare their carbon footprint to the UK and world averages.
ACT ON CO2`s Calculator stands out among many serious-looking carbon calculators for its vidually-attractive navigation.
"Sales of bottled water have fallen for the first time in at least five years, assailed by wrathful environmentalists and budget-conscious consumers, who have discovered that tap water is practically free," wrote Ylan Q. Mui of The Washington Post.
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, told the reporter, "I thought we'd never be able to impact sales of bottled water, and all of a sudden it's really gained momentum."
Hauter also reported, "The containers are also available online for about $20 each. Sales have been strong," according to Mui.
For further information, visit The Washington Post Article.
Eurostar, the high-speed train service that connects London with Paris and Brussels, advertises a tenfold reduction in each traveler’s carbon footprint by comparison with an airplane trip over similar distances.
In Britain, government officials have described the investment of billions of pounds in a new high-speed rail network as a green initiative. The Obama administration has budgeted billions of dollars to build similar networks in the United States, partly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But do all forms of train travel really offer such dramatic gains?
This isn't exactly green purchasing. It's more like 'green lending.'
"Green banks – designed to aid environmentally conscious businesses and consumers through better loan rates and other incentives – are sprouting up around the country despite the recession," wrote Kate Galbreith of Green Inc..
According to Galbreith, green banks are yet to make profits and "Congress is considering whether to establish a federal green bank, which would offer loans and grants to large-scale renewable energy projects with less bureaucracy than the current Department of Energy process provides."
"While Google plans to stick with offsets, Yahoo will stop buying them and instead will focus on energy efficiency," Josie Garthwaite of GigaOM reported.
"Carbon offsets—credits that cancel out the purchaser's greenhouse gas emissions by supposedly triggering actions and projects that prevent such pollution elsewhere—have had a bumpy ride in the last few years."
The idea to achieve "carbon neutrality" by purchasing offsets has become a target of criticisms in the last few years for the lack of solid regulations and its tendency towards possible manipulation. The Wall Street Journal has done an in-depth report on this subject.
"Too often money from carbon offset purchases pay for projects that would have happened regardless of carbon offset money," Craig Rubens wrote.
Yahoo will stop purchasing carbon offsets and will focus on improving its energy efficiency from its data centers. Meanwhile, Google remains offsets-dependent for its environmentally-friendly plan.
EcoFinder is the first iPhone application the city of San Francisco released. The application, created by Haku Wale and NexTive Solutions, helps the residents of the city locate where they should recycle and dispose of certain materials.
"The application is based on a city XML feed and uses location-based software to identify a resident's closest recycling facility," Government Technology reported.
"This follows the city's other green initiatives like the San Francisco Solar Map, which is a Web-based tool that assesses residents' homes to identify how many solar panels can fit on their roofs and how much power would be generated."
In the declaration, it says, "the (economic )crisis should not be used as an excuse to postpone crucial decisions for the future of our planet," and that to "advance the move towards sustainable low-carbon economies," the OECD develops, "as a horizontal project, a Green Growth Strategy in order to achieve economic recovery and environmentally and socially sustainable economic growth."
The organization also emphasizes that international co-operation will be key, stating "we recognise that special efforts need to be made at the international level for co-operation on developing clean technology."
Since The Story of Stuff, a web-based documentary about a critical vision of the consumerist society, was launched online in December 2007, the site has been visited by millions of people in over 224 countries and territories around the world.
The international site has been launched and it includes translated versions of the film with subtitles, as well as the contact information for the organisations around the world who have done the translations.
For New Yorkers, a bus ride meant an extra hour to the destination and added stress, but the demand for urban buses is increasing for two reasons: economic downturn and green awareness.
According to The Wall Street Journal, bus companies like Greyhound Lines inc. started offering upgraded buses about a year ago. These wifi-equipped buses have more leg room and are cleanly kept while Amtrak trains, a traditionally preferred option for affluent travelers, does not offer internet service.
Dale Moser, the president of Megabus.com, told the Journal: "he believes concerns about fuel costs, combined with interest in traveling 'green,' have played a big role in the increased interest in bus travel."
A racecar partly made of vegetable fiber, that can run on biofuel made with waste cocoa butter, has been created by the World First Racing of the University of Warwick.
The Formula Three car, recorded 130 miles an hour, has a steering wheel partially made of carrot fiber. The front wing and the mirrors are partly made with potato starch and flax fiber. It also ran on 30 percent vegetable oil and 70 percent standard diesel fuel.
Recent analysis by the US Geological survey and World Conservation Union found that two-thirds of the 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the world could be lost in the next 50 years as warming temperatures melt the ice.
But, WWF, the conservation charity, said an agreement signed in 1973 by the five Arctic states – Canada, Russia, the US, Greenland/Denmark and Norway – commits them to saving protecting the bear and its habitat.
“Without the sea ice habitat, the polar bear will not survive in the long term. There are other threats, such as oil and gas drilling, shipping and toxins, but they pale in comparison to climate change and the loss of the sea ice”, WWF’s polar bear co-ordinator Geoff York said.
He also said the five nations which are party to the 1973 Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears and Their Habitats must agree to push their countries to commit to urgent and effective action to cut the greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change.
The vast expanse of debris is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting soup stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.
The soup is actually two linked areas, either side of the islands of Hawaii, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific rubbish patches.
According to the UN Environment Programme, plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. Syringes, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes have been found inside the stomachs of dead seabirds, which mistake them for food.
The slowly rotating mass of rubbish-laden water poses a risk to human health, too.
Hundreds of millions of raw materials for the plastic industry are lost or spilled every year, working their way into the sea. These pollutants act as chemical sponges attracting man-made chemicals such as hydrocarbons and the pesticide DDT. They then enter the food chain. “What goes into the ocean goes into these animals and onto your dinner plate. It’s that simple,” said Marcus Eriksen, a research director of the US-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation.
UAE opened up a nationwide energy sustainability campaign called heroes of the UAE on the 17 Feb, in a bid to tackle their high ecological footprint and energy consumption habits.
The campaign, developed by the Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS), in association with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), is of immense prominence as the per capita energy consumption of the UAE residents are ranked the highest in the world.
“A sustainable UAE, Every child’s right” is the motto of the campaign that targets all communities and residents of the country across all age groups.
The drive to reduce emissions from milk production is part of confectioner Cadbury’s “Purple Goes Green” environmental initiative, which includes a goal to reduce the firm’s absolute carbon emissions by 50 percent come 2020.
In initiating the dairy project, the firm worked with the Carbon Trust to calculate the carbon footprint for its milk chocolate. And in drawing up the “Cadbury Guide to Low Carbon Dairy Farming,” which embraces the action points and other farm management best practices, the firm seeks to bear down on carbon dioxide, which contributes to 23 percent of the emissions from an average and nitrous oxide, which is responsible for 52 percent.
“Reducing our emissions is an exciting challenge,” Ian Walsh, Cadbury’s global head of environment, said in a statement. “When I started in this role I had no idea I would find myself in a field in a field in Wiltshire discussing how to reduce the carbon emissions from burping cows. But it does demonstrate Cadbury’s determination to examine every level of our supply chain”
Recently, the EU has made energy efficiency a priority of its fight against climate change. One arm of its strategy is the new energy labelling scheme proposed by the EC (European Commission) in November 2008.
Scottish researchers have warned of rising consumer demand for energy resulting from increased efficiency of electrical products, calling for policies to ensure that gains or not offset by rising demand.
The case studies from Scotland and other parts of the UK show that improving energy efficiency is likely to partially, or in extreme cases wholly, offset energy savings.
Also, they find that efficiency improvements lead to higher CO2 levels, as industry seeks to benefit from lower energy prices.
A recent report issued by the Business Role Focus Area of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) calls on business to work in partnership with its customers and stakeholders to define sustainable products and sustainable lifestyles. The report is asserting that current global consumption patterns are unsustainable, and that efficiency gains and technological advances alone will not be sufficient to bring global consumption to a sustainable level.
The report, entitled “Sustainable Consumption Facts and Trends: From a Business Perspective,” observes that global consumption levels are increasing due to such factors as rapid population growth, a rise in global affluence, and a culture of consumerism among higher-income groups.
The report finds that consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental, social and economic issues, but because of a variety of factors such concerns do not always translate into sustainable consumer behavior.
The report concludes that consumers need the support of business and government in order to lead sustainable lifestyles based on informed purchasing decisions and changes in behavior. By acting on their capacity to mainstream sustainable consumption, leading global companies can provide the products and support that consumers need. By effective regulatory action, government can ensure that consumers receive the most sustainable products and services available.
Through scientific advances it has been made possible for organic farming to supply the world with a sustainable food source, according to a research paper released today by the Rodale Institute.
The paper reviewed about 60 research papers and found that natural systems that are sometimes hailed as being required for optimal production.
The paper cites a study that looked at the results from 286 farms in 57 countries. The study found that small farmers increased their crop yields by an average of 79 percent using techniques such as organic farming and crop rotation. This is because organically managed soils have more physical soil structure, which prevents erosion. They are also more permeable and have more accessible nutrients, which are vital for crop productivity, the paper says.
Greece and Portugal could be handed EU fines if they continue to disobey EU environmental law despite European court orders to comply with it, the European commission has warned. The warning was made on Thursday as the commission issued its latest round of infringement proceedings against member states.
The standards set in the 1991 directive on urban wastewater has pressured Greece to comply with. Last year Athens was condemned for failing to meet the standards in 23 “agglomerations”. Twelve of them are still not in compliance, the commission says. Greece is also facing a trip to the EU court over an illegal landfill site in western Attica.
Portugal is being threatened with fines for failing to comply with a 2005 court ruling requiring it to meet EU drinking water standards. “It is unacceptable that after so much time Portugal has still not ensured that drinking is safe throughout the country”, EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said.
Spain is to receive a final warning before being taken to court for two breaches of EU urban wastewater law. Failures to meet standards in this area are among the most serious law implementation problems. Madrid has also been warned over mining activities inside a protected area. In 2006 the local authority imposed a large fine on a firm operating in the area.
Bulgaria is being sent a final warning for failing to fully implement the EU waste framework directive. Sofia is also being warned over several construction projects, including a wind farm, which the commission says are in infringement of EU environmental impact assessment rules.
Luxembourg has faced a trip to EU court for failing to transpose the 2002 energy performance of buildings directive. The member state recognises it has only partially written the directive into national law, according to the commission.
US federal advisory board has approved criteria that clear the way for farmed fish to be labelled “organic,” a move that pleased aquaculture producers even as it angered environmentalists and consumer advocates.
The question of whether farmed fish could be labelled organic – especially carnivorous species such as salmon that live in open-ocean net pens and consume vast amounts of smaller fish – has been in dispute between scientists and federal regulators for years. The standards approved yesterday by the national organic standards board would allow organic fish farmers to use wild fish as part of their feed mix provided it did not exceed 25 percent of the total and did not come from forage species, such as menhaden, that have declined sharply as the demand for farmed fish has skyrocketed.
“Finally, maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of defining what’s organic,” said Wally Stevens, executive director of the global aquaculture alliance. “The challenge is to figure out how we can produce a healthy protein product with a proper regard to where the feed comes from.”
The European Commission calls for an overall value-added tax reduction as well as a lowering of rates on specific items such as environmentally friendly goods and services, along with reduced car registration and road taxes for low-emissions vehicles to boost the EU economy. The proposals are part of the European commission's $252 billion economic stimulus package
announced at November 26th.
Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, posts his regular article in the asahi.com web site.
"As governments wrestle with the current financial crisis, some familiar voices are being raised--ones that argue that combating climate is now too costly for an over-stretched over-stressed global economy.
Deal with the economic challenges of today and put climate change on the back burner for a better tomorrow--but that would be a fundamental mistake of enormous and perhaps inter-generational proportions.
While stock markets have been falling often at record rates, emissions of the principle greenhouse gas have also broken records. Figures release in November say CO2 rose 0.5 per cent between 2006 and 2007 and now close to 40 per cent higher than 25 years ago."
The international organization for Standardization (ISO) has updated its guide (ISO Guide 64: 2008 Guide for addressing environmental issues in product standard).
The guide is intended for product standard drafters. Moreover, the drafters would be encouraged to understand environmental aspects and impacts related to products, and to determine which impacts can be addressed within product standards.
The governments of EU countries are planning to work together to better enforce the RoHS regulations in Europe.
Since RoHS laws came into effect in July 2006, A question has been brought up to Government that a lack of effective monitoring to enforce compliance with the laws, encouraging some companies to continue selling products with hazardous substances over allowable limits.
About this matter, EU governments are planning to improve the effectiveness of their RoHS monitoring and resources dedicated to it by adopting a cross-border model, following successful efforts by Nordic countries. The Nordic countries now have united their RoHS programmes and increased the depth of monitoring and reporting of non-compliances by sharing data cross-border and dividing the industries and products covered by RoHS between them.
The reporting of non-compliances by EU governments is also increasing and new cross-border RoHS monitoring collaborations are likely seeing more reporting on the outcome of their activities annually.
More and more people are planning for a natural funeral as they plan their final journey.
The first natural burial site was opened in 1994 in Carlisle, northwest England, and now there are more than 200 natural burial grounds in the UK. Moreover it would seem that more sites are going to open.
Currently, most natural burial sites are simply green corners in traditional cemeteries managed by council authorities.
But increasingly landowners and farmers are realising the economic and environmental potential of transforming part of a forest or an unused field into a plot for those seeking to be eternally at one with nature.
The United States government statistics show that consumer spending is falling sharply, and the retail sector is reducing jobs faster than other industries.
While consumers are, increasingly, factoring the environmental friendliness of products into buying decisions, green products nearly face a tough road to broader acceptability as the United States slides toward economic depression.
The declining economy will likely encourage companies to adjust their strategies to focus on cost savings inherent in their green products, whether through energy or water savings or improved gasoline mileage.
Companies are also facing difficulty to gain recognition for brands associated with the green products they market.
According to a recent survey, companies could do better by focusing their marketing on creating an emotional connection between consumers and eco-friendly brands.
The new shop will use an estimated 45 per cent less energy than a comparable supermarket, and will deliver new jobs more than 90.
The eco store at Ballycarnane in Tramore will save 420 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, resulting in a 30 per cent annual reduction.
The store will feature the highest levels of insulation in the building and recycle more than 70 per cent of the heat used in the store’s ventilation system.
Moreover, The building will feature a wooden frame with timber earned from sustainable forests.
There will be skylights to increase the level of natural light entering the store, while solar panels contribute towards powering the bank of cash registers. Also, an environmentally friendly carbon dioxide refrigeration system will be adapted to all refrigerators.
Efforts to tackle climate change could result in the creation of millions of new “green jobs” in the coming decades.
Changing patterns of employment and investment resulting from efforts to reduce climate change and its effects are already generating new jobs in many sectors and economies, and could create more in both developed and developing countries.
However, workers and their families, especially those whose livelihoods depend on agriculture and tourism would go on having negative effects by the process of climate change. Therefore, action to deal with climate change and its effects is urgent, and need to be designed to generate decent jobs.
Sales of energy-guzzling light bulbs such as incandescent lamps for domestic use could be banned in Europe from 2010. France is expecting the resolution to be adopted by the EU energy ministers at the meeting next month.
The resolution will not have a legislative effect but is intended to give political momentum to the implementation of EU laws on energy labelling and energy using products (EuPs), and to speed up the adoption of energy-efficiency standards for range of appliances.
The findings of green brands surveys in China and their comparison with the results of similar surveys this year in the United States and Britain were presented at the Economist Conferences' Fifth China Branding Roundtable in Beijing.
Fashion trends come and go, but ‘green’ is here to stay, say designers and sponsors at New York’s fashion shows. Environmentally conscious fashion is becoming a megatrend today and companies and designers are banking that the sustainable approach to style has staying power. Margaret Jacob, sustainability director at Invista, which owns Lycra says “it’s a mentality, a way of thinking about business”.
However, Susan Scafidi, a Fordham University fashion law professor, says the consumer needs to be convinced it’s not only good for the environment but also for her. The focus on green manufacturing and recycled materials is galvanizing the fashion trade but will not last unless the industry sets specific standards or until consumers believe green materials will noticeably improve their lives.
The G8 leaders gathered at the Hokkaido Toyako Summit agreed to encourage the practice of Green Purchasing by enhancing efforts in the WTO negotiations to eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services with a view to disseminating clean technology and skills.
In 2007, 12.7 TWh of renewable electricity was produced under the electricity certificate system in Sweden. This is equivalent to the annual consumption of around half a million electrically heated detached houses. Biofuels are the dominant source of energy for electricity production in the system. But the sharpest increase is for wind power, up 45 per cent on 2006.
For more information, please visit Sweden Energy Agency.
At the workshop on Green Purchasing and Greening Supply Chain, held on 3 March 2008 during the EPIF2008 at the National Convention Center in Hanoi, Vietnam, Ms Nguyen Thi Bich Hang, General Director of Vietnam Eco Paradise, announced the plan to set up the Green Purchasing Network in Vietnam.
A university research group has created a toolkit to encourage greener business travel. Omega, a government funded research group comprised of nine universities, government departments and members of the Aviation Environment Federation, released details of the toolkit.
Concern for the environment has prompted one of the most complete and speedy revolutions in consumer attitudes ever seen, according to new research, although most people surveyed had an incomplete grasp of what exactly makes a company green.
In US, 145 businesses, environmental organizations, and other groups (representing 37 states) have released the "Sustainable Energy Blueprint" - a policy paper that outlines a "plausible strategy for achieving a no-nuclear, low-carbon, highly-efficient and sustainable energy future."
Wells Fargo & Company joined EPA's top-25 green power purchasers as the top corporation on the list, edging out other big corporate names such as Whole Foods, Johnson & Johnson, and Starbucks. EPA announced its quarterly list of organizations that purchase electricity generated from clean, renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro.
As a step in the Federal Biobased Products Preferred Procurement Program, The U.S. Agriculgure Department has released two proposed rules, designating 20 items that must receive special consideration by all federal agencies when making purchases.
Vail Resorts, the big Colorado ski and recreation company, said that it would make a huge investment in wind power, buying enough credits to offset all the power needed for its resorts, retail stores and office buildings.
Sony will cut CO2 emissions from both operations and its product range as part of a deal struck with WWF. As part of its commitment to join WWF's Climate Savers Program, Sony will cut its absolute CO2 emissions 7% by 2010, compared to 2000 emissions of 2,183,765 tons.
The Green Electronics Council has released the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) database. More than 60 computers, laptops, and monitors that meet strict environmental criteria are listed in the database. The database is avairable EPEAT website.
By installing on-site solar and wind power systems and purchasing renewable energy certificates, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is employing renewable energy to offset not only the total energy use of its buildings, but the energy used by NREL vehicles, employee commuting, air travel and other "life cycle" energy consumption as well. For more information visit NREL.
To boost consumer confidence and facilitate the commercialisation of hydrogen powered vehicles, the Commission plans to set new safety requirements for such vehicles and incorporate them into the European type-approval framework. As a first step, the Commission is asking for the views of stakeholders and the general public on planed new rules to ensure the safe operation.
AFP has reported that Planning laws in Britain could be changed to allow the installation of so-called micro-generation technologies -- the use of small-scale power generation sources like photovoltaics and wind micro-turbines --, a government minister reportedly said.
Toyota Motor announced that, as the company's mid-term project to enhance its environmental technologies and boost environmentally friendly vehicles, it hoped to increase the sales of hybrid cars four times from the current level by doubling the number of gasoline-electric hybrid models by the early 2010s.
Ford Motor Company and TerraPass have announced "Greener Miles, a program offering Ford vehicle owners the opportunity to offset the climate impact of their driving through the support of projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The European Commission announced the European Business Awards for the Environment 2006 on 1 June. The award, conducted as a part of Green Week 2006, recognises outstanding corporate contributions to sustainable development. The German car maker Volkswagen and five companies won the awards this year.
Information about the winners is available here.
ECO-Buy's annual awards was announced on April 27. ECO-Buy is an organization funded by the Victoria local government to encourage the purchasing of green products and services. The awards have presented to seven winning councils which stood out for green expenditure or program performance. These councils have actively purchased green products and promoted green purchasing in their organization in the last financial year. Imformation about winners is available here.
Environmental Finance has reported that Tesco is to invest £100 million ($179 million) in installing renewable energy systems in new stores and reducing its energy use.Where possible, stores will be fitted with wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal power, combined heat and power or trigeneration systems (where power, heat and cooling are produced at the same time). Tesco will also be trialling gasification (converting waste into energy) at its depots.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association, has announced a new voluntary environmental performance standard to help large computer buyers make environmentally sound purchases.
Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) have carried out a survey to provide information on the policies, measures and practices adopted by selected EU Member States to promote government green procurement (GGP), with particular emphasis on the use of ecolabelling schemes.
Since many EU Member States are known to have adopted non-mandatory measures to promote GGP, this information would be of particular comparative value to some countries in the Far East, which have adopted mandatory approaches to promote GGP.
Use of organically grown cotton by retail titans, fashion designers and small and medium size companies resulted in a dramatic growth in global retail sales of products containing organic cotton between 2001 and 2005, according to a report recently published by Organic Exchange. During the four-year period, global organic cotton product sales increased an estimated 35 percent annually, from $245 million in 2001 to $583 million in 2005. In the US, such sales increased 55 percent per year, from $86 million in 2001 to $275 million in 2005. http://www.organicexchange.org/Documents/spring_press_rep.doc
On April 28, 2006, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.(IEEE) published IEEE 1680™, the first U.S. standard to supply environmental guidelines for institutional purchasing decisions involving desktop and laptop computers and monitors. The standard was initiated by and developed with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
IEEE 1680 and its product registration and verification system are part of the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), which is managed by the Green Electronics Council under a grant from the U.S. EPA. The council will maintain a registry of computer products that meet IEEE 1680 criteria at www.epeat.net starting in June 2006.
IGPN was set up a year ago, based on the Sendai declaration in October 2004 in Japan, to promote Green Purchasing around the world by coordinating those who take the initiative in implementing Green Purchasing toward sustainable consumption and production.
In its first year, it held international conferences and workshop in Thailand, India and China. This year its planned activities include greater cooperation with the newly-established China GPN, assistance to establish India GPN as well as holding more conferences, workshops and the 2nd International Green Purchasing Conference in Spain.
IGPN Chairman, Prof Ryoichi Yamamoto, has the 1st anniversary message for everyone.
Japan’s Green Purchasing Network (GPN) held the 10th anniversary commemorative forum on 20 February 2006, attended by Ms Yuriko Koike, Minister of the Environment. See GPN website for more information.
The Green Power Partnership, a voluntary Partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and organizations that are interested in buying green power, has released the most recent lists of the largest purchases of green power. These lists are current as of March 20, 2006 and will be updated quarterly.
International Green Purchasing Network (IGPN) Conference took place at Overseas Student Pioneering Park, Suzhou Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, China. The speakers were invited from China, Japan and Korea and over 100 participants attended the conference.
The Swedish instrument for ecologically sustainable procurement (the EKU-instrument) is to give the market an “easy to use” instrument for purchasing organisations, both public and private, who have an ambition to make environmental considerations when purchasing. The objective with the further development of the instrument is to help purchasers to identify “green” products without having negative effects on other important aspects of the purchase.
Western Australian Local Government Association will host the third National Buying Green Conference from May 25-26, 2006 in Perth, Australia. This event will be relevant to those in the business, government or not-for-profit sector and will equip delegates with the "how and why" of green purchasing and ongoing sustainability. The keynote address "Driving Eco-Innovation by Green Purchasing" will be given by Prof. Ryoichi Yamamoto, the chair of the IGPN.
The ICLEI and the European Commission will hold a high level event on green public procurement on April 3-4, 2006, in Graz, Austria, hosted by the Austrian presidency. This conference will allow participants to gather an understanding on how to effectively implement green public procurement by way of many good practice examples. Purchasers and policy makers from local, regional and national government as well as business people from the private sector, consultancy firms and international networks are welcome. (http://www.iclei-europe.org/index.php?id=2308)
Between December 15 and 17, 2005, more than 140,000 people visited the Eco-Products 2005 - the largest eco-related exhibition in Japan - held at Tokyo Big Sight. The number of visitors was up by more than 10% from the previous year and this year attracted the largest-ever crowed since the EcoProducts 1999, the first exhibition of its kind, was held with 288 exhibitors. This year 502 companies/organizations exhibited and included more than 100 members of the Japan’s Green Purchasing Network (GPN). The Japan’s GPN organized several events focusing on Food-related products and they attracted a lot of students as well as business people. (http://www.gpn.jp/event/ecopro/2005/2005-report.html). Eco-Products 2006 will be held between December 14-16, 2006 with a larger exhibition space.
The LEAP Project Consortium, the International Green Purchasing Network (IGPN) and ICLEI to present EcoProcura 2006 in Barcelona, Spain. It will be jointly hosted by the Provincial and City Councils of Barcelona. The event will:
Present of the results of the European LEAP Project on Local Environmental Management Systems and Procurement
Bring together a range of international actors as part of the 2nd International Green Purchasing Conference
Encourage the move from individual action by pioneers to promoting a strong international movement to achieve real market change towards sustainable product innovation.
Eco-Products 2005, the largest eco-related exhibition in Japan and expecting over 150,000 visitors, will be held at Tokyo Big Sight from December 15 - 17 2005 and more than 500 companies and organizations will exhibit. Japan's Green Purchasing Network (GPN) will organize various events under the title "Food Ecology and Green Purchasing" and offer a crossword quiz and a questionnaire survey as GPN is forming a new research group on food. For further information on Eco-Products 2005, please go to http://www.vcc.ne.jp/eco2005/english/
Bio-plastics, plastics made from plants, are increasingly used for IT and home electronic products. With improved quality and reduced costs, they are now seen as a viable alternative to conventional oil-derived plastics. While bio-plastics tend to be seen as environmentally friendly simply because they are not made from petroleum, their overall environmental impact still needs to be assessed comprehensively. Therefore GPN is launching a new research group on bio-plastics and recruiting participants from its members. The group will hold four meetings by March 2007 aiming at developing a guideline on how bio-plastics should be used.
With speakers from Asia and Europe, the symposium was enthusiastically attended by over 100 people. The presentations made in the morning were: global environmental issues and green purchasing; global activities on green purchasing; green purchasing in Sweden; green purchasing law in Japan; and Sustainable Procurement Task Force in the UK. In the afternoon, Panasonic, Siam Cement and Fuji Xerox presented reports on their green purchasing activities respectively. The audience showed keen interest in the topics and there were lively discussions between the speakers and the audience. More detailed report and the presentation documents are available here.
The 5th Round Tripartite Roundtable Meeting on Environmental Industry was held in Tokyo on 13 and 14 September 2005 with 35 participants from China, Japan and Korea.
Delegates from the three countries agreed on the action plans for green procurement, EMS for SMEs and ecolabelling. In the Summary of the Chair, it is stated that the three countries will try to utilize the IGPN's network to coordinate timing and venue for Green Procurement Seminars.
The International Symposium on Green Purchasing will be held at IMPACT exhibition center, Bangkok, on Friday October 7. It will be co-organized by the Thailand Environment Institute(TEI), the Federation of Thai Industries(FTI), the Thailand Research Fund(TRF) and IGPN, and co-sponsored by the Asian Productivity Organization(APO). Global overview and several country reports including Sweden and Japan will be given, followed by case studies of companies such as Siam Cement and Matsushita(Panasonic), and presentation from the Thailand Green Purchasing Network. Free of charge. If you are interested to attend, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
China's SEPA (State Environmental Protection Administration) sponsored the International Symposium on Government Green Procurement, held in Beijing, China, June 28-29, organized by the Environmental Certification Center of SEPA. Prof. Ryoichi Yamamoto, chair of the IGPN, gave a special lecture on the IGPN and GPN's role in government green purchasing.
On June 30, the IGPN had a meeting with key persons of the SEPA there. They expressed a positive interest in launching the GPN China. The Chinese government is planning to develop a new legislative framework to promote green purchasing. The IGPN is planning to hold a workshop targeting both governmental and corporate people to promote green purchasing in Beijing.
UN-DESA(United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) held the Third Expert Meeting on Sustainable Public Procurement on June 15-17, 2005 in New York. Speakers from various part of the world including Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia gave presentations on new development in sustainable public procurement, relevant tools and integration of social aspects.
One of the IGPN Advisory Board members, Mr. Christopher Browne of the Environment Agency of England and Wales, UK, demonstrated the training tool developed by the Agency. A presentation about the IGPN was given by Prof. Hideki Nakahara, Chair of Japan's GPN (Green Purchasing Network), tilted "the work of GPN as a network connecting a large number of stakeholders and the initiation of the IGPN". The complete agenda of the meeting and copies of presentations are available at the UN's website.
The IGPN participated in the exhibition at the Ministerial Conference on the 3R Initiative (http://www.env.go.jp/earth/3r/en) held with 20 countries and 4 international organizations from April 28 to 30, 2005 in Tokyo. The Japan’s Action Plan for a World-Wide Sound Material-Cycle Society through the 3R Initiative, published on April 28, 2005 mentions “Joint work with the IGPN” at the first dot for promotion of actions towards zero-waste societies through information sharing and networking. (http://www.env.go.jp/earth/3r/en/approach/01.pdf). A column on the launch of the IGPN is also included in “Japan’s Experience in Promotion of the 3Rs”, a brochure published for the Ministerial Conference available both in English and Japanese.