Monday, October 02, 2006

Newsletter of the week: World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

Just a few higlights from the past week (via WBCSD)...and my thoughts on some of them.

The first two stories both stem from the recent Clinton initiative annual meeting.

1.Yale is to train corporate directors on climate change.

This decision by Yale is certainly welcome but its woth noting that Hardvard has been doing a similar thing with congressmen for some time. I`m pleased this is happening but untill that congressional education pays off and political leadership is in place the opportunities for big business to move are limited by policy measures. Damn me for my leaders are notoriously creative, lets all hope that this has a real impact!

2. Branson pledges investment in biofuels for aviation.

Talking of creative business leaders Richard Branson has announced that the proffits fromhis transport firms Virgin Trains and Virgin Atlantic (planes) will be invested in biofuel research and development companies. Now unfortunately this isn't as great as it may sound...great greenwash, the public love it but the environmentalists seem to be scared. Grain stocks are declining for the first time in years, deforestation in the amazon is increasing again, peat fires are increasing in frequency and scale. All of these are due to the rapid expannsion of biofuels (at least in part). Once all the ethanol plants in the US are built they will consume the entire us corn stock every year...the biological impacts are terrible the climate impacts are far from amazing and the prospect of expanding biofuels to aviation dosent fill any environmentalist with joy!

3. China set to lead the world in energy efficiency and low impact energy generation.

The way China chooses to develop will determine the future of the planet. There are many signs that our fate may not be a posotive one...a new coal fired power station a week being a pretty good example. Before looking at the posotive side of development in China is is worth noting that this development would be no more than the development that Europe and the USA have already undergone and would be perfectly just with regards the developed nations and yet another injustice for the poorest countries of the world. There reasons for optimism are hower, not difficult to find. With two billion people and a huge scientific and technological research base China is an enormous centre of inovation. The recently announced goal of 2% energy intensity reduction per year for the next 10 years is no small commitment. The list of green policies goes on and it must. China is loosing its biodiversity, its natural welath and its economic power due to environmental degredation. The rate of development has been and continues to be astonishing. There is an enormous struggle going on in china right now and although the situation could hardly be more severe, the signs of hope are stronger there than in may of the worlds developed countries where progress is painfully slow and inertia seems to rule.

4. Energy efficiency the crucial first step to real emmisions reductions.

At the ENDS energy efficiency conference in Brussels the pre-eminence of energy efficiency in our fight against climate change was re-iterated yet again. Saving energy is cheaper than producing and distributing it...long live the negawatt.

5. Bush talks alternative energy again.

Being an oil man you can never take Bush to seriously when he talks about diversification of energy supply: the facts talk louder than his rhetoric. Being a politician however you can take something seriously, his motives for using the rhetoric. Energy diversity, security of supply and climate change are emerging issues--people are starting to care Bush's language therefore is acting as an indicator of the progress of these progressive issues in the mainstream political discourse. Its encouraging stuff, its just painfully slow.

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