Posts filed under ‘The Planet’s Resources’

UN Issues Information Note With Prognosis Of Practical Impact Of New Climate Regulations

image by net_efekt

The Bonn climate negotiations which went underway this weekend for a two week period are probably the most important of all the rounds that have taken place thus far. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting is tackling issues like commitment to CO2 levels and the creation of a worldwide carbon trading platform.

Perhaps more interesting than the very first days of the talks, the participants have been issued with a rather informative 16-page document,  entitled Information Note,  in which the UNFCCC makes careful guesses as to what the practicalities will boil down to of climate change policies globally.

The document is by dint of its nature geared toward the future.  Despite being rather vague on the real impact of climate change policies by national governments around the globe, the document is shocking in places. Predicting the biggest overhaul of the global economy ever,  the UNFCCC says world citizens ought to brace themselves for a new economic order which will see millions of people lose jobs and others gain jobs. The biggest ripples in the water will be made by industry and companies relocating to areas with more beneficial tariff regulations and/or taxes, the Information Note says.

The impact of environment related tariffs will not be all that different than the impact of any other tariff, but the Information Note points out that the effect of millions of job relocations will be rather tangible.  On top of that, we’ll see the introduction of “border carbon adjustments”. This means that some countries will impose a levy on imported goods equal to that which would have been imposed had they been produced domestically under more strict environmental regimes.

Alternatively, exporters might be forced to buy [carbon] offsets at the border. These are going to be massively drastic measures for a rather big number of people involved, but whether the world will be any fairer for it is very very unlikely. At the end of the day, the Information Note reveals, the impact of future environment tariffs will lead to ‘decreased market share for covered foreign producers’.  And “such schemes would leave trade and investment patterns unchanged,” the Note adds. Why the bother, you might ask.  Why not do a really good job and simply make the world a bit better whilst we’re at it??

It’s issues like these that will have a big impact on the developing nations’ commitment to the environment. As I wrote in a comment (which has yet to be published) on GlobalWarmingIsReal it’s hardly a question whether a 25 percent reduction from 2000 levels by developing countries would be enough (it won’t be). But, the negotiators for the Third World are struggling with how, with these tools, they can achieve reductions at all.

Let’s hope that the richer nations realise this. Let’s hope that people understand that since polluting industries are a historic legacy of the industrialised world, the main responsibility toward the environment falls on the developed nations. In order to persuade developing countries to act, the richer countries have to show they’re completely serious about deep and rapid cuts in their own emissions.

March 30, 2009 at 10:09 pm Leave a comment

Should We Make A Global Solar Energy Grid?

The Europeans are serious about deploying nanotechnology to wean countries off  fossil fuels in the next century.

And the good news is that there´s considerable interest from countries around the globe  in  a round-the-clock solar grid.  The logic being that because the sun consistently shines on some part of the planet, we might as well make the most of  this constant source of energy.

The ground tone at the recent European Science Foundation conference about Nanotechnology for Sustainable Energy left me with little to guess about; Europe is ready to accelerate development of nano technologies.

The conference focused on solar energy rather than on other sustainable energy sources such as wind. Solar is highly compatible with  nanotechnology not least because solar energy conversion holds the greatest promise as a durable replacement of fossil fuels. (more…)

March 2, 2009 at 2:37 am Leave a comment

Carbon Tax Vs Carbon Trading

The debate about climate change will see politicians become sharply polarized between cap-and-trade supporters and carbon tax proponents.

There’s no precedent for a carbon tax, but it’s definitely a viable alternative to carbon trading, it appears. Last week, even Exxon Mobil Corp.’s chief executive officer Rex Tillerson said he’s in favor of taxing carbon dioxide emissions. “[It’s] a more direct and transparent approach,” Tillerson said, comparing the tax to trading carbon. (more…)

February 28, 2009 at 9:51 pm Leave a comment

Job Prospects After Obama’s $30 Billion Boost To The Energy Sector

President Barack Obama’s plans to increase the production of renewable energy to double the current levels by 2012 and one of his first acts has been to provide $30 billion in tax incentives to this industry. That was $10 billion more than had been anticipated. The move supports the optimism of the people who anticipate surging growth in the green jobs market.

Recent research by think tank and academic institutions shows that significant job increases in the green sector is expected. The reports provide helpful information for people interested in employment in a green job. Many of them offer detailed information of anticipated growth per sector and region, which is exactly what job seekers need.

A recent survey of the Academy for Educational Development (AED) advises green job seekers to consider a community college as their ‘dream school’.

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January 30, 2009 at 9:35 pm 1 comment

G8 Commissioned Study Reveals That Tough Climate Targets Can Be Achieved

Low carbon societies can become a reality because technically and economically it is possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, say scientists from nine countries who researched the issue on behalf of the G8. They say that reducing global carbon emissions by half by 2050 is feasible if clever models are applied and outlined details of three extensive models in a peer reviewed article in Climate Policy.

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June 28, 2008 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

Eskimos Sue For Global Warming Related Damages

The first major global warming court case has yet to take place, but various attempts at landmark cases that will make litigation history have been made in the last year or so. Now a new case featuring a community of Alaskan Eskimos could move into the spotlight. Not least because the lawyers involved are the same as those that broke the tobacco industry ten years ago.

The Eskimo lawsuit has everything going for it; a community of 410 Eskimos living on a remote island that’s under threat from warmer temperatures is suing 23 global energy and oil companies for damages. The companies include Exxon Mobil, BP, and Conoco Phillips, all three of which have operations in the near vicinity of the community which are literally undermining Eskimo soil. Other companies listed in the lawsuit are American Electric Power, Chevron, Duke Energy, Peabody Energy, and Southern Company.

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June 25, 2008 at 9:08 pm Leave a comment

Europe Is Going To Legislate What Makes A Product Green

Heard the scare stories about greenwashing? Turns out that most of the trickery happens when business 2 consumer deals are involved. B2B is an entirely different story, not least because of reputational risks involved. But European legislation also will soon facilitate the combat of greenwashing.

gpp.jpg

The European environment commissioner Stavros Dimas has said he’s drawing up plans to achieve lower energy consumption by legislating what actually makes a green product. The initiative, the Sustainability Package, comprises new rules that organizations can used to get green procurement operations in place.
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May 27, 2008 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

IBM Invents Dirt Cheap Solar Energy Using A Magnifying Glass

IBM_Solar_2_t.jpgSolar energy is child’s play. Just use a magnifying glass in the sun and you’re generating energy in a jiffy. It’s what scientists at IBM are doing. They’ve launched what they claim to be breakthrough solar energy which is among the cheapest solar solutions around.

The scientists say they create five times more energy by concentrating the sun’s power through a lens. One square centimeter of solar cell produces as much as 230 watts of energy, the most ever in solar techology.

Having only just pioneered the technology, IBM says it will now focus on commercializing it at an installation cost of less than two dollars per watt. The company believes that it should be possible to produce systems even cheaper than that. The reason that IBM is so confident about this is pure maths; by using a much lower number of photovoltaic cells and concentrating more light onto each cell, they’ll ultimately need less total materials than your average solar farm.

One major hurdle that IBM scientists have yet to tackle is temperature control. Due to the high sunlight concentration – light of the equivalent of 2,000 suns are concentrated- temperatures are also going to be extremely high. The scientists say they will borrow innovations from other IBM R&D staffers specializing in cooling computer chips.

This post also appeared on Triple Pundit, the new blog by Treehugger, to which I contribute freelance articles about the environment and business.

May 17, 2008 at 5:12 pm 3 comments

Hemp Is Outlawed In The US, But The Plant Could Be Key In Combating Global Warming

Commercial hemp is a plant that scientists tout as having wonderful capabilities to combat climate change. The plant is outlawed in most countries including the US, but the EU subsidizes industrially grown hemp.

Commercially grown hemp has less than 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THD), the psychedelic substance in ‘real’ cannabis. Most countries that shy away from growing it say they are fearful that farmers will also start growing the THD rich cannabis. Other than in the EU, the crop is grown in Canada, China, Russia and Australia.

Hemp takes in more carbon dioxide than any other plant and what’s more, hemp grows at an amazingly rapid speed. Wood made from hemp has 3-4 times the productivity of trees for paper manufacturing. And because it grows so fast, hemp can be used to solve the large-scale clearing of land and forests around the globe.

Various activists in the US are lobbying to get the crop reinstated. It was outlawed in the 1950s but Henry Ford ran his first car on hemp based fuel. Perhaps soon the activists will have their way. Already, the controlled substances act was amended last year to exclude industrial hemp from the legal definition of marihuana. The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp informs farmers and interested parties about the positive effects hemp has.

The applications of the crop for the energy industry are manifold and hemp is a way more powerful crop than rapeseed and other ethanol producing crops, without producing any harmful effects for the environment. Only one acre of hemp yields 1,000 gallons of methanol. Also, hemp can be used to create alternatives to coal, fuel oil, acetone, ethyl, tar pitch and creosote.

In the food sector hemp is also in strong demand. In 2004, the US alone imported $12 million worth of the stuff for the food sector. And the US healthcare market used $30 million worth of hemp.

May 14, 2008 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

German Car Makers Fear 120 g/km Emission Target

timberlake.jpgThe European car industry is going to be heavily impacted by regulations on pollution limitations and tensions are rising between German manufacturers on one side and the French and Italian car industry on the other. Reason? German cars are much heavier than those made by the French and the Italians and the Germans fear that they will be penalized by new pollution regulations.

New cars by 2012 can only emit 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer at max. Most European cars average 160 grams per kilometer at the moment. The new rules are expected to transform the look and feel of all European cars. Even the smallest and most energy efficient cars are required to undergo design changes so the sector as a whole can reach the new goals.
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May 4, 2008 at 10:46 am 1 comment

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