Today, Japan is contributing to our potential for a further reduction in emissions – Martin Bursik, Czech Environment Minister
Solar Heating: Now Subsidized
To fulfill its target to buy 100 million metric tons of Carbon Emission Rights, Japan has bought 40 million metric tons of these rights from the Czech Republic at a cost of $500m. The Eastern European country sold the ‘redundant’ rights it had earned by reducing its carbon emissions by a decent 24% (from 1990), significantly above its pledge (Kyoto) of 8%.
To put the reduction in perspective, Germany reduced its emissions in the same period by approximately 22% but will unlikely engage in a similar trade as its Kyoto pledge was a significantly higher 21%.
The Ministry of Environment, led by Green Party leader Martin Bursik, will use the substantial financial inflow to subsidize Czech households’ building or installing environmentally friendly heating or insulation systems.
The move will not only reduce the country’s energy use and carbon emissions but, perhaps more importantly for the regular Czech household, significantly reduce their heating bill during the current downturn.
The Maldives, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, yesterday joined the race to be the World’s 1st Carbon Neutral country!
They join New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Monaco and current favourite, Costa Rica (already generating 80% of its energy from renewable sources) in a commitment to completely “Decarbonise“.
Both the Maldives and Costa Rica share not only a strong reliance on tourism but also both have a special interest in environmental issues. Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity and fortunately has a government which feels a “special responsibility” to the world.
“Because Costa Rica is so biologically intense, we recognise that we have a special responsibility“ Roberto Dobles, Minister for Environment & Energy
For the Maldives though, its not only about the preservation of wildlife, ‘human life’ is also precariously at stake here. One of the lowest lying countries in the world, these 1,192 islets make up one of the most vulnerable human habitats to rising sea levels. So vulnerable that in November last year, the country announced that it will begin diverting a portion of its revenue to buying a new homeland should the country ‘sink‘.
With New Zealand and Norway planning to go carbon neutral by 2040 and 2050 respectively, can the Maldives’ plan to spend $110 m to go carbon neutral beat these 2 leaders in renewable energy to the finishing line?
Something tells me that the people of the Maldives are more concerned about how the nations who are already ‘in the race’ inspire other countries to make the same commitments, commitments that will help the Maldivians keep their heads above water.
Awareness and Communication were some of the key themes making themselves felt in this year’s Greener Gadgets conference in New York (27th Feb).
A device with a distinct focus on these themes was the Bware Water Meter, which won the ‘unofficial online vote‘ in the conference’s design competition.
Designed by Ariel Drach (Israel), this device help will help us keep track of how much water we use for any one task. It simply attaches to any tap or shower and draws power from the flow of water, genius! The ‘Advanced’ kit will even include wifi capabilities to make tracking our own ‘Water Footprint‘ the easiest thing.
Ariel hopes that this device will motivate us to improve on our water use habits from one day to another, now that it will be easy for us to figure out exactly how much water we are using.
Another device that incorporates the idea of awareness and communication is the real winner of the Design Competition, the Tweet-a-Watt. This device designed by Limor Fried and Phillip Torrone (US) is to Electricity what the Bware is to Water, and takes it one step further.
Building on the idea of Peer Pressure and our desire to ‘Impress our Friends‘, the Tweet-a-Watt not only tracks your power usage but with wifi, Tweets updates of your power use to your Twitter account!
Now how many of us can’t wait to get a call from friends going, “Hey! Congratulations! Saw your Tweet the other day about how you’ve met your Energy reduction targets! Good on ya!“
It does not stop there though, from an Environmental Traffic Light to a Power Piggy Bank, these innovations have such potential that one cannot help but be optimistic about the ‘Green Future’. Check them all out on the Greener Gadgets’ Design Competition Page. (and I will be sure to blog the result of my attempt to add them to my Amazon wish list!)
Over thousand of years, rocks have naturally been absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and binding it with minerals. But this process is slow, much slower than the effects of a forest’s photosynthesis for example.
Scientists have however, albeit in labs, managed to speed up the process by adding a catalyst, sodium nitrate, to ground up rock. In minutes, the rocks reform and absorb carbon dioxide in the process.
Unfortunately the process in its current form cannot be applied on a large scale. But scientists are optimistic.
A new study led by Sam Krevor of Columbia University’s Earth Institute has been mapping rocks with the potential to absorb carbon all across the United States, from California to Oregon and from Alabama to Newfoundland (Canada). His team has found a staggering total of 15,540 sq km of rock formations that have the potential to be ‘supercharged‘ to accelerate their carbon absorption rates.
Although these rocks have also been mapped earlier in Oman, Papua New Guinea and Caledonia, this study’s mapping of ‘Carbon Absorbing Rocks’ is by far the largest of its kind. Sam firm believes in the potential of these rocks to absorb 500 years of the United States’ carbon emissions but there still is one problem…
“The problem is not going to be a lack of rocks, it’s getting them to do the job” – Sam Krevor
Can Tesco meet its CEO Sir Terry Leahy’s vision of halving its carbon footprint by 2020?
If it will, surely its operations outside of the UK which account for nearly half of its 4 thousand strong array of global stores will have a pivotal role.
Solar Power in Czechia
In the Czech Republic, Tesco is in the midst of building the country’s largest private Solar Power Facility to generate 30% of the energy for the 24,000 sqm Distribution Center it will set above.
Setting aside the Solar Power however, the Distribution Center itself does not seem to be the most environmentally friendly structure around. It runs 24/7 lights burning, is kept at an average temperate of 9 degrees Celsius and is home to a fleet of 250 trailer trucks.
Some sustainable features have been implemented however, including the switch to fluorescent and a cooling systems which releases air (pushed underground during the day) at night to cool the building.
This week saw the opening of China’s 3rd ‘Energy-Saving’ Tesco Store in Tieling, North-East China. It joins the 1st store in Shanghai and 2nd store in Tianjin as models for Tesco’s plans to introduce updated energy-saving initiatives to all its 59 stores in China.
The ‘energy-saving’ features in the new Tieling store seem a little less than inspiring and focus on efficient cooling systems which Tesco estimates will reduce the store’s energy consumption by 25% (halfway to 50%!).
Update: Tesco has just opened a store in Cheltenham, Manchester with similar features to the Chinese ‘Energy Savers’ claiming a 70% reduction in an equivalent store’s carbon footprint. From: BusinessGreen & ClimateBiz
What do you guys think? Could Tesco halve its Carbon Footprint by 2020?
Fiji Green (Fiji Water’s Green Blog) points out that bottled water has not been a substitute for Tap Water, a commonly held assertion, but for carbonated soft drinks & sugary fruit drinks.
From an Environmental perspective, bottled water is preferable to these other drinks that use up significant Refrigeration Energy and have a higher Agricultural Impact stemming from the Energy, Pesticides and Fertilizers used in growing their inputs, e.g. Sugar & Corn.
Quoting articles from the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal, which propose more comprehensive approaches to measuring a product’s Carbon Footprint, Fiji Water asserts that when compared to its alternatives in this comprehensive ‘Life Cycle’ manner, demand for Fiji Water is good for the environment.
They compare Fiji Water with Apples & Lamb from New Zealand which have a lower carbon footprint (including transport) than locally sourced alternatives in England.
Why New Zealand Imported Produce have Lower Carbon Footprints:
a) Increased Productivityfrom More Sunshine
b) Lower Direct Environmental Impact from Less Fertililzer Use
c) Lower Indirect Environmental Impact from Greater Access to Renewable Energies
The above factors probably don’t hold true for Bottled Water though, it is hard to imagine that Bottled Water produced ‘Locally’ will have a greater environmental impact than Fiji Water.
What’s more, Fiji Water give themselves (and the bottled water industry) a pat on the back by crediting the switch to bottled water with: Eliminating about a Trillion calories from the American diet.
A growing form of measuring the carbon impact of food & drink has been ‘Food Miles’, the idea that the more food/drink has to travel to get to you, the greater its impact on the environment.
Fiji Water, in its Green Efforts, has actually INCREASED the Distanceit travels to get to NYC by 50%. However, it demonstrates that this results in 55% LESS Emissions.
This is largely achieved through an increased reliance on Ocean Freight which generates 85% less emissions than Trucking.
Here are the Past & Current Routes Compared:
Past: Fiji to Los Angeles (Ship) > Los Angeles to New York (Truck)
Current: Fiji to Philadelphia / Newark (Ship) > Philadelphia / Newark to New York (Truck)
Sure, alot of what Fiji Water is publishing about its activities is easily perceived as spin (e.g. comparing ‘producing’ water with the production of apples and lamb) but I believe they have taken significant steps to sustainably reduce their environmental impact and between bottled water and soft drinks, would anyone insist that we would be better off selecting soft drinks?
How about you?
Do you think Fiji Water’s efforts are a total Greenwash? Vote here:
Today, at CECPA in Beijing released details of the research being conducted for China’s Carbon Balance Trading Framework Report. A report that its chairman, Pan Yue, hopes will nudge China on its way towards a Low Carbon Economy, a goal which he describes as a major breakthrough required for China to build an ecological civilisation.
CECPA Press Conference
After carefully looking at the successful experience of leading nations in this field, the project team tasked with this piece of critical research have put forward their recommendation of implementing a “Carbon Source- Carbon Sink” trading system between Chinese provinces. The researchers also suggest that carbon be used as a rigid target for the monitoring, identification and control of economic activity.
Last Month in Taipei saw the launch of this year’s edition of the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) Report for Asia Ex-Japan conducted by ASrIA (Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia).
The report has seen increasing participation over the years with this year’s edition involving 220 companies throughout Asia (Taiwan, Korea and Singapore in particular had high response rates). Not only has the report increased in breadth but also in the depth of responses it does receive.
This year’s responses were noted to have significantly moved past generic responses to more specific disclosures with many more companies willing to report on initial climate change work.
Traditional leaders in ESG within Asia have been observed to be experimenting intensively with targets and metrics which could very well define Carbon Leadership in the region.
Also highlighted is proof that the the Global Power Brands are working with some success in encouraging their extensive supply chain to begin reporting on carbon emissions.
Extreme Weather Events: A Material Risk to Facilities & Supply Chains
One of the key themes of the report was the rise in recognition of extreme weather events as requiring both mitigation and adaptation.
Also affects neighbours like Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
Hynix, a Korean semiconductor supplier, specifically disclosed that its operational processes were permeated by yellow sand from these Sand Storms, causing damage to products and plant.
Basic recognition is widespread with 70% of respondents citing the potential of Weather Events to:
However only a handful of companies have delved further to highlight information such as the consequent impact of weather events on production cost.
A major catalyst for enhanced risk management in this area are the Climate Change Assessment Processes conducted by ESG consultants and their uncovering of the greater impacts of weather risk. Examples of enhanced risk management include being insured for ‘Climate Change driven Financial Risk Management’ as disclosed by LG Electronics.
There are some companies however that indicate that they do not perceive weather events as potential business risks at all, one of these companies is Tata Steel.
We are not affected by Weather Events, Change in the Weather Pattern, Rising Atmosphere or Sea Level Rise
Lastly, some companies actually report potential benefits from these weather events. Members of the Telecoms industry for example cite the potential for these events to allow them to demonstrate the potential of mobile communications and the potential for their technologies to be employed in the development of environmental monitoring solutions.
Announced a couple of months ago and due to make its big debut at SEMA in November, the Scorpion by Ronn Motor Company is going to be an interesting product in more than one respect.
The big fuss? The Scorpion combines style and the environmental friendly factor in a vehicle that will still pack a punch.
Style + Punch + Green
Even to those of us not big on car specs, 0 to 60mph in 3.5 seconds is impressive. With a hydrogen-on-demand system (the Hydrorunner G3 converts water to hydrogen gas to combine with ordinary fuel as needed), the hybrid engine is claimed to have fuel efficiency of up to 40 mpg. (The Toyota Prius, current darling of the luxury/hybrid category, runs at about 40 to 50 mpg, with the new model claimed to get up to 113 mpg.) Not bad for being one of the first to use this particular technology, and hopefully further improvements will allow even better performance.
The design is equally turning heads. Now, it may be working the futuristic angle a little hard. But it definitely compares favourably to the other hybrids on the market. The ‘smart car‘ was distinctive, but even in its prettiest form, it had comparisons to Lego and threats to be physically mishandled. And the Scorpion even makes the Prius look a bit clumsy.
Ronn Motor Company's Scorpion, sourced from autoblog
Some people may be disappointed – with less exhaust we would be expecting a quieter vehicle, and it just may not be the sound which appeals to the consumers that this design will attract. (Just try and imagine ‘The Fast and the Furious’ with no vrooming sounds…you might actually have to listen to the dialogue.) However, sports car lovers experiencing carbon-emissions-conscience or worried by escalating fuel prices are sure to love this. At $150,000, it probably won’t be the latter, but nobody’s going to complain about less stops at the petrol station.
We’re a superficial society; we hate sacrificing looks for the environment. So it will be very interesting to see how this mix of the two does when it’s released. Apparently a 4-passenger version could be on the way soon, so watch out!
A ‘culture of indulgence’ ? The explosion of bottled water into an industry worth over 15 billion in the US alone has had many of us asking..
Why IS it that each week, we fly, ship and drive more than 1 billion tonnes of water that’s only a twist of a tap away
Will Fiji Water faithfuls continue to tolerate that beautiful idyllic image of its source being tarnished by ideas of polluted rivers overflowing with waste byproducts. In a world where we are often judged by what we consume, will bottled water still continue to be fashionably ordered at a cafe without friends gasping in horror, “You mean you haven’t SEEN An Inconvenient Truth?”.
Last year, Fiji Water, perhaps on fears that it might be losing customers to (shock and horror) tap water, announced that its operations were now carbon negative.
Yes, when you pick up a bottle of Fiji Water, you ‘should’ no longer feel like part of that ugly problem of climate change. In fact, that 1.5l bottle of water you’re holding has just saved as much carbon as your decision to walk 5 blocks to the grocery instead of driving (you DID walk didn’t you?).
Its a little tricky though, Fiji Water’s factories did not just start absorbing all the carbon around them, neither have all of Fiji Water’s trucks stopped emitting carbon.
They have achieved this dramatic ’120% carbon offset’ by investing in carbon negative projects like reforestation and renewable energy initiatives.
An example of one such project is the ‘Forest Carbon Project’ in the Yaqara Valley on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji. Partnering with Conservation International (CI), the project engages in native species restoration.
What is Forward Crediting?:
Step 1. Projects like the above have their cumulative ‘carbon impact’ for the next 30 years estimated.
Step 2. 30 years worth of carbon impact are immediately factored into Fiji Water’s 2008 120% Carbon Offset
Immediate real reductions are also being reported:
- Trucking Miles (from Warehouses to Distributors) : Reduced by 26%
- Fuel Usage (from Plant to Port with Fuel Efficient Trucks): Reduced by 50%
- Packaging (1.5l bottle only): Reduced by 7%
- Waste Reduction (Landfill Use): Reduced by 70%
Maybe buying that 1.5l bottle of Fiji Water has not miraculously offset the carbon you generated driving to the supermarket, but at least, with full carbon footprint measurement (raw materials to consumption) and reporting, you now have a better idea of exactly how much carbon has been released to get a bottle into your hands.
From the initiative’s website FijiGreen.com, you will also be able to discover that it is suppliers that are producing over 80% of your bottle’s carbon emissions, not the guys at Fiji Water (you know and love?).
Now if only they could get safe drinking water to the 1/3 of Fijians who have no access to it.