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.