A summary of the latest climate change news from around the world:
24 October – 10 November 2008
Intel named EPA’s top green power partner
Earlier this week, Intel was recognized as a Green Power Partner of the year by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The company was praised for its voluntary purchases of green power, including an agreement signed earlier this year to purchase over 1.3 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy certificates over the next several years, or power equivalent to approximately 47 percent of the company’s total purchased electricity use.
Chinese CEOs join Climate Group
CEOs from three of China’s largest companies are the newest members of the Climate Group. Broad Air Conditioning, the world’s leading manufacturer of low-energy air conditioning units, along with the world’s largest wireless operator China Mobile and third-largest solar energy company Suntech, said they would work with the Climate Group to reduce their own corporate emissions, as well as work responsibly with their stakeholders in the move toward a low-carbon economy.
Drax, Siemens partner in biomass project
UK power supplier Drax Group announced this week that it would begin development of three biomass-fired power generation plants with Siemens Project Ventures of Germany. The three plantswill produce 900MW of electricity upon their completion, making Drax the supplier of 10% of the UK’s total energy and 15% of the nation’s renewable power, at an estimated cost of £2 billion.
Monsanto acquires biofuel firms in Brazil
Agriculture technology company Monsanto signed a $290 million agreement this week to acquire Brazilian firm Aly Participacoes, which operates two sugarcane breeding and technology companies: CanaVialis and Alellyx. Monsanto hopes that this investment will combine its experience in breeding large-acre crops with the expertise of the sugarcane companies, to help increase sugarcane yield while reducing the resources needed to produce it. Marks & Spencer announced it has reduced the usage of food carrier bags in its stores by 80% in half-yearly update issued on its “eco-plan”, Plan A, which was implemented in 2007. Under the plan, Marks & Spencer’s charge of five pence per bag has saved over 100 million from landfills and raised more than £500,000 for environmental charity projects; in addition, the retailer’s sales of Fairtrade cotton garments are up 105% to £27.4 million, making it the largest seller of Fairtrade certified cotton.
AT&T buys software to save energy, CO2
Communications provider AT&T recently launched a new programme on over 300,000 PCs within its organisation to turn the computers off during non-peak hours, saving more than 135 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 123,941 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. The power management software from 1E is called NightWatchman, and is currently in use on more than 2.5 million machines worldwide.
Fortis carbon team joins United Group
Fortis Intertrust’s carbon team has joined Holland’s United Group, a network of corporate and trust service providers operating in financial centers around the world. The team, called United Carbon Services, is based in the Amsterdam World Trade Center, and offers a range of carbon trust, fund, escrow, and custody services, including providing for the safekeeping of carbon credits and providing assistance with structuring funds.
BSI releases specification for business carbon footprint.
A new specification for businesses to measure the carbon footprint of their goods throughout their entire lifecycle was released this week by Defra, the Carbon Trust, and BSI British Standards. Called PAS 2050, and aims to help businesses find ways to reduce emissions at all points in their production and supply chains, and ultimately develop new low-carbon products.
Carbon Trust will invest in algae biofuel
The UK’s Carbon Trust this week launched their Algae Biofuels Challenge, pledging up to £6 million in funding for research and development to bring algae biofuel to commercial markets by 2020. The UK Department for Transport also announced it would contribute funding the initiative to develop the algae biofuel, which could reduce carbon emissions by up to 80% compared to fossil fuels.
Australian task force hunts for CCS sites
An Australian task force designed to seek out potential sites for carbon capture and storage projects met for the first time this week. Minister for Energy and Resources Martin Ferguson said that by July 2009, the task force will report a National Carbon Mapping and Infrastructure Plan for developing large-scale CCS projects in pursuit of the government’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 60% from 2000 levels by 2050.
UK organisations want stronger feed-in tariff
A coalition of 29 organisations— including Friends of the Earth, the British Retail Consortium, the Home Builders Federation and Energy Saving Trust—have petitioned the UK government to strengthen the proposed feed-in tariff under consideration to amend the Energy Bill. According to the organisations, strengthening the measure significantly would give individuals, businesses, communities, and local authorities financial incentives to install small-scale renewable energy systems like solar panels or wind generators by offering a guaranteed premium price for the electricity.
US offers tax credit for small wind turbine
Last month, the US Congress passed a bill implementing a federal investment tax credit worth up to $4000 for qualifying small wind turbines installed until 2016. The first federal incentive for small wind systems in over 20 years, the measure was passed with the help of Southwest Windpower—a producer of wind turbines designed for residential use—and hopes to create thousands of new jobs as well as foster growth in the small wind sector.
GHG levels much higher than measured
Nitrogen triflouride—a greenhouse gas that causes global warming at a rate 17 times that of carbon dioxide—is currently at atmospheric levels four times higher than previously thought, say researchers at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. Using new measurement techniques, scientists found about 5400 metric tons of the gas NF3 in the atmosphere this year—a quantity that is increasing about 11% each year—and recommended adding this gas to the list of greenhouse gases regulated by the Kyoto Protocol.
WWF: climate changing faster than expected
Global warming is accelerating at a pace faster than previously expected, says a report containing new scientific research released last week by the WWF. Compared to last year’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, WWF’s data says global sea levels are expected to rise by more than double the IPCC’s estimates by the end of this century, and that the Arctic Ocean is losing its sea ice up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions.
Heavy industry at risk for “CO2 leaks”
A new report from the International Energy Agency suggests that some industries could be hurt by carbon leakage: the movement of production from jurisdictions with stricter carbon regulations to jurisdictions where little or no constraints exist. The paper explores the vulnerability of heavy industries to leakage under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, including the primary aluminium sector, refinery sector, cement and iron and steel sectors.
China’s food supply at risk from climate change
By the middle of this century, climate change will be presenting major challenges for China in feeding its expanding population, says the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. A study conducted on one area of China found that farmers are already coping with the changing climate—which includes risks like droughts, increasing temperatures, and shifts in the flow of major water sources—by planting new crop varieties and covering the ground with stones to avoid water loss. Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council says that aggressive investment in renewable energy coupled with bold energy policy could yield a $360 billion renewable power generation industry that could provide half of the world’s electricity. The report also estimates that costs for coal fuel from today until 2030 could total close to $16 trillion, greater than the price of implementing Greenpeace’s energy scenario, as laid out in the report.
Rocks could soak up CO2 from air
Rocks found in Oman, as well as other areas around the world, could be used to soak up large amounts of carbon dioxide, says a new report from Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Studies show that the rocks, called peridotite, react with CO2 to form solid minerals, and that using simple methods of drilling and injection could speed up this process by at least a million times.
Sharing energy costs can reduce use
UK sustainability consultants Envirowise said that employees may take more individual responsibility for reducing their company’s impact on the environment if employers disclose the cost of utilities like gas, water and electricity. Through research conducted, Envirowise found that many employees are reducing waste at home, but fail to do so in an office environment where they are not aware of their own environmental impact.
Article by Kiki Kartikasari