Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gone fission

As scientists accidentally discover that by electrically stimulating the hypothalamus they can help retrieve deeply submerged memories, the possibility emerges that we might remember how we got ourselves into this mess. In the meantime...

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Re:Don't Bother with the "Green" Consumer

Over at Harvard Business Review Steve Bishop has written a piece called 'Don't Bother With the "Green" Consumer'. There is also quite an extensive debate about this beneath the post. Whilst i am a green consumer and would therefore welcome more businesses angling in my direction i must say that i agree with Steve's logic.  In my response , however, i go on to set the issue in what seems to me to be a nessicary context. Marketing and strategy can be seperated of course but i think that putting them together works nicely. GE have done this with Eco-Magination and i think it works well, its hard to accuse a company of green washing when they are one of the worlds leading manufactures of wind turbines!

So my response...


How should companies pursue the green agenda?

Steve Bishop makes the valid point that there is not room for most large companies to exist exclusively in the 'green consumer' market. It is also said of environmentally concious consumption that the largest cost isn't the price on the ticket but the 'opportunity cost', or in my preferred words, in the connotations and implications of our choice. Thanks to effective marketing people believe that consumption embodies their values. It is also true that people will go out of there way to be internally consistent, buying products marketed primarily as green would open a Pandora's box of ethical judgements, the car, the holiday...this is not a small choice! I will address this weary but concerned majority momentarily, but it is worth noting that the 'green consumer' minority is growing and therefore large companies may wish to specifically address this group through new and distinctive brands.

For companies wishing to remain planted in the conservative mainstream I believe that addressing these issues subtly and pragmatically is the key. Understandably steve approaches this issue from a consumer and marketing perspective. Personally i see a Pandora's box that needs to be opened—the crux of this discussion is sustainability as a strategic issue. Broader perspectives based on government, business efficiency, consumer and inter-business relationships give a more substantial measure of where the widespread green conciousness is heading specifically for products not destined for people who accept the 'green consumer' label.

What is needed is a strategy of increased resource efficiency. I would not make this case on the recent groundswell of consumer interest alone. I do make the case based on several mutually supportive drivers coming together. Firstly, as businesses look more closely at manufacturing, packaging and transport they are realising that this is smart business. Resources have a cost, and increasingly so to does all sorts of waste including greenhouse gases. An example of reducing resource usage that i am familiar with is from Boots the pharmacy in the UK which is vertically integrated, making, transporting and retailing many of there own products. Boots studied the carbon footprint of there own shampoo and discovered that by using recycled PET in their bottles they could gain a green advantage and save money! This works for there profits, the environment, and the brand; in the UK it is striking that even people who aren't at all environmental are often passionate about recycling and consider those who don't to be lazy. Recycled bottles are a subtle way to use less resources, save money, and have a marginal advantage over competitors, certainly and advantage with eco-shopper but also with many average people.

But saving money, protecting the environment and appealing to customers may not be enough; the real danger is Walmart, and Boots, and British Telecom, and all the other organisations who are starting to add environmental performance to the criteria that they have for stocking or procuring goods. Environmental score cards are entering the arena and you don't want to come last (it will cost your margins or even the deal) and the likes of BT are taking on procurement standards that forbid them from purchasing technologies that aren't more efficient that the pieces they replace. Business is being pushed by cost reductions from resource savings and pulled by demand from customers and other businesses. These forces are acting now, but there are others which promise to become an even more prominent concern.

Asia is in the ascendency, the developed world is undergoing a massive expansion, our reserves of resources are not. Some are concerned about 'peak oil' and general resource depletion. In general i am not, but i do recognise that increased prices for raw materials of all kinds, from grains to ores will become a major pressure on a wide range of businesses. Add to this the inevitable coming of a price of carbon and business faces a rocky road. Resource inefficiency, which under close inspection in recent time, appears to be at often embarrassing levels, is going to become about the biggest crime in business. What i would like to stress particularly is the scale and rate of change that we are currently embarking on. If the international community can get its act together on climate change then in accordance with the conservative estimates of the IPCC the globe will have to reduce emissions 60% by 2050, whilst the economy quadruples! The question that i wish businesses where asking more is not, how can we get the win-win but, what strategy should we take to out moreover our competitors on our way to a low carbon economy. Can we make efficiency gains and carbon reductions of the scale required? If not, is there a business model that we could adapt to allow us to do so?

Reducing the amount of packaging on a product is an interesting example of the sort of virtuous cycle that we need to be looking at. Reducing the amount of individual packaging saves packaging, it also saves boxes that these packages go into, which corresponds to fuel usage. That is a small step, and Walmart is reporting these savings in the hundreds of millions. A larger change, the sort of thing that might give you a real advantage would be doing away with products and selling services. If your customer needs large volumes of solvent which are expensive, perhaps you could start collecting the solvent once it has been used once and purifying it before renting it out again, Du Pont decided to do just this. Or how about people who need good quality flooring? Sometimes it goes bare in small patches but the whole carpet is replaced. Now 'flooring services' are offered by Interface and an annual fee is paid, carpet tiles are used and replaced as required.

The key areas of work for greening a product (not necessarily the brand) are:

  • Minimizing resource usage. ( Can you remove packaging or manufacture the product more efficiently, or even provide service instead?)
  • Minimizing lifetime input. (Make 'made to last' a brand priority, offer repairs, reduce energy use and promote as energy saving)
  • Manufacture with intent for recycling. (Carefully choose materials, take care on choosing glues and resigns, decide on disassembly method)

Improving performance in these areas often leads to win-win-win results for cost-environment-brands. However businesses should also realise that there are very real risks of market loss and regulatory costs if innovations in these areas are not made.

Further reading:
Amory Lovins, 'Natural Capitalism'
Kenny Tang, 'Carbon Down: Profits Up'
William McDonough, 'Cradle to Cradle'

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Portland Metro councilor Robert Liberty on the politics of urban sustainability.

Councillor Robert Liberty speaks in Vancouver about "The Politics and Principals of Urban Sustainability". The talk is largely about Portland, OR and its growth boundry. This discussion focuses on the link between density and good urban development. Portland is well known as a leader in 'Smart Growth' and is therefore a focus of much attention, both from those wishing to learn leasons and from those worried that such an example--if ultimately proven successful--could be a danger to there ideology. The discussion of politics is a significant part of the talk and altough it starts offf with some negative developments it finishes on a high.

Invited by the Vancouver City Planning Commission (Vancouver, BC) to speak on the "Politics and Principals of Urban Sustainability," Clr. Liberty gives an engaging and interactive description of the history and progress of communities adopting 'smart growth' in spite of initial public opposition.


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Monday, January 28, 2008

Ministers ordered to assess climate cost of all decisions.

A positive development in UK govornment climate policy, a shadow price on carbon for policy decisions.
The "shadow price for carbon", representing the cost to society of the environmental damage, has already been agreed for every year up to 2050 by government economists. It will be set at £25.50 a carbon tonne for 2007, rising annually to £59.60 a tonne by 2050.

The climate change minister, Phil Woolas, said: "This will have huge implications for [the] government. If for instance a new power station is due to cost £1bn, but it will add £200m worth of carbon emissions, we will decide that the cost of the power station is £1.2bn, even though its cash price is £1bn. We are creating a new currency."

Via the Guardian.

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Green Collar Jobs



.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Video: Bill McKibben on Responding to Climate Change

I just found a facinating video of Bill McKibben talking at the Univesity California Santa Barbara.


"Environmentalist Bill McKibben offers a vision of what a response to the challenges of global warming might be. He argues that America needs a powerful political effort to move beyond growth as the paramount economic ideal."

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Beyond Growth.

For a while now i have been wrestling with the idea of economic growth. In general it is said that 'old school' environmentalists are anti-growth. In the US i think most NGO's are reactionary in this regard, they have rejected this stance with some enthusiasm and taken to working with companies.

My thinking on this issue has been influence by Amory Lovins, William McDonugh, Jonathan Porrit, Herman Daly, Donella Meadows and recently by Nordhaus and Schellenburger.

Herman Daly offers the following statement which may allow a reconcilliation;

"To make this case they would have to seperate economic growth (defined as an expansion of GNP) into its qauntitative physical componenet (resource throughput growth) and it's qaulitative , non-physical component (resource efficiency imporvement)."
We can see that growth is not the same as devlopment. Growth is an increase in throughput which can lead to development or collapse due to environmental stress. Development in a zero growth manner is possible by increasing resource efficiency.

So perhaps Monbiot is with Daly in being anti-growth and pro-evelopment. This is where i stand as the laws of nature seem to demand it. It may also be where Nordhaus and Schllenburger are, and Jonathan Porrit. S&N subtitle Break Through 'from the death on environmentalism to the politics of possibility' and argue against the politics of limits. Is this whole debate cooked up, are we all after the same thing? An end to measuring gdp as wealth? Presumably those environmentalists who have thought about it can't be pro-growth in the material throughput sense?

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Limits to Growth.

I`m reading Limits to Growth at the moment. More on that later, for now just a note.

Limits to Growth introduces the idea of global ecological overshoot. This is a simple idea to explain, the suggestion is that there is a danger of economic growth occurring that leads to such a burden on the resources of our planet that they cannot be replenished. If this where to happen we would use up our resources until a point came when they where no longer there. Simple right? Now there are many people who say that we are currently in such a position, that we are overshooting, Jeff Sachs--head of the millennium development goals--is one. But perhaps you don't believe him that we are at 130% of the capacity of the planet and therefore meeting 30% of our needs from finite resources, i have a simpler argument.


The things needed for overshoot are...


  1. Rapid change.

  2. Limits to that change.

  3. Errors or delays in perceiving the limits and controlling that change.

Given these pre-conditions for overshoot i`m worried. I`m not completely confident that a significant portion of our current resource demand is above and beyond what can be replenished. But as GDP is a good measure of physical throughput and as global GDP is currently increasing it is likely that by 2050 due to compound interest the economy will be 4-6 times the size that it is now. So it seems incredibly unlikely that all those doing ecological foot printing are wrong enough for the global economy not to be on a path to overshoot. Furthermore do you believe that we have an institution that could look at the rate of global economic growth and limit that? I don't think that we have a system for limiting change--damaging or otherwise.


Ok, so a long note.

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More Invisible Elbows

Business awaits a clear and compulsory regulatory framework and a predictable carbon pricing mechanism - a level playing field - before committing itself to investing in the future of our little ol' planet. Meanwhile, the UK Government balks at imposing even the most modest carbon tariffs on carbon-heavy goods imported from the US - terrified of letting go of the dogma of unfettered markets, lest the Emperor expose his nakedness. So Capitalists ask for Social-Democratic government intervention whilst "democratic" government asks for more capitalist fundamentalism, wasting time that we simply don't have. Our Betters, you've gotta love 'em!.

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Al Gore and Bono speak at the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos


Bono, Al Gore with Thomas L. Friedman speak at the world economic forum. This is an interesting video, my favourite part was al gore saying 'we need to change lightbulbs but its better to change laws'.


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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Biofuels Studies: There have been quite a few!

In the past couple of weeks there have been a lot of studies on biofuels published. I thought i would bring them together for those of you out there interested in this topic.

  1. The UK parliaments Environmental Audit Committee report.
  2. The Royal Society report.
  3. The EU's own internal research by the Joint Research Center has also been critical of biofuels.
  4. A paper published recently in top journal Science has been receiving attention.
  5. The Simithsonian Tropical Rainforest Institute has published a paper.
  6. Finally, the USDA has some positive news on switchgrass. So don't anyone ever convince you that environmentalists are negative!
Related:
  • All biofuels posts here.

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Anthropocene

A new call has been made this weekend -from a group of geologists- to officially recognise the dawn of a new geological epoch. formalising the fact that we have officially trashed the planet. Three cheers for us - as smart as yeast!

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The Shadow on American Democracy (By James Hansen)

James Hansen just sent this out on his email list:


I just did an interview with CNN (Miles O’Brien) re “censoring science”. The point I emphasized is that overreaching by the Executive Branch, trying to make government science
submit to political command and control, is a threat to our democracy, and, as a result, a threat to the planet. The scary part about this story is that seeds have been sown, and a playbook has been codified (although not written!), that will make the situation much worse unless the American public recognizes the problem and makes an issue of it. This is a bi-partisan problem – and neither party is trying to fix it. It is remarkable how wimpish Congress has become in accepting subjugation to the Executive Branch, contrary to designs and intents of our Founding Fathers.

Congressional testimony.
Do you know that before a government scientist testifies to Congress his/her testimony is typically reviewed and edited by the White House Office of Management and Budget? When I asked for a justification, I was told that a government scientist’s testimony “needs to be consistent with the President’s budget”. Huh? There have never been any budget numbers in my testimony or in the testimony of most scientists. And OMB’s editing of the scientific content is invariably designed to make the testimony fit better with the position of the political party in power (yes, it is a bi-partisan problem). Where is it stated or implied in the Constitution that the Executive Branch should have such authority? (Actually, does the Constitution not vest control of the purse strings to Congress?) Why does not Congress get incensed about this and fight back?



Offices of Propaganda.


The Public Affairs Offices (PAOs) of science agencies have become mouthpieces for the Administration in power. This, too, is a bi-partisan problem. Top people in the Headquarters Offices of Public Affairs can and often are thrown out in a heart-beat when an
election changes the party in control of the Executive Branch.


The Executive Branch has learned that the PAOs can be effective political instruments
and, with some success, they are attempting to turn them into Offices of Propaganda, masters of double-speak (“clean coal”, “clear skies”, “healthy forests”…) that would make Orwell envious. Again it is a bi-partisan problem, the control of PAOs being exercised by top political appointees who are replaced rapidly with a change of administration. It is these political appointees that are the problem – the career civil servants at the NASA Centers, e.g., are professionals of high integrity, as are most people at Headquarters.


One may wonder: why doesn’t the media object to this situation? I believe that I learned
the reason: it is encapsulated in the phrase “that’s hearsay!”. I heard that phrase over and over
again in 2004 after I stated publicly that NASA press releases were being spirited from NASA
HQ to the White House for either editing or deep-sixing, when they concerned “sensitive” topics
such as global warming. Even NPR did not seem to want to touch that story unless there were
multiple pieces of proof on paper.


The phrase “that’s hearsay” seems to make the media folks quake in their boots,
doubtless because of the threat of a lawsuit. That probably explains why the New York Times
stories about censorship of scientists at NASA that came out in early 2006 became a story about
a low-level 24-year-old, who then “resigned”. Reporters, New York Times included, knew that
the problem went much higher, but instead of focusing on the threat to democracy, it became
too-much an amusing story about a renegade trying to reverse scientific understanding of the
“big bang”, etc.

The actual story is made crystal clear in the new book “Censoring Science” by Mark Bowen (author of “On Thin Ice”, a gripping, albeit long, story about Lonnie Thompson’s quest for ice cores from alpine glaciers). Bowen gets insiders at HQ and elsewhere to provide extensive information, most of it “on the record”, about how PAO works to cover its tracks (“Gretchen, don’t e-mail me on this!” There are some heroines in this story, middle level people who refused to comply with orders from political appointees that they recognized as being inappropriate.) By the way, I gave Bowen some long interviews and documentation (and my
mug is on the book jacket), but I have no financial interest in the book.


The scary part of this story is that PAO political appointees are learning how to cover their tracks. The picture that Bowen presents is one in which PAO political appointees can communicate directly with the White House. One has to wonder, if the Administrator objected to the PAO political appointee activities, how long would it be before he was on the soup line? As the tracks are covered better and better, it is as if we have a shadow government organization controlling information that the public receives.


How to fix it?

There is an article “Freedom of Speech in Government Science” in the current
Issues in Science and Technology, Winter 2008, pages 31-34, by David Resnik. Presumably
Resnik is well-intentioned, but I take vehement exception to one of his bottom lines. The article
sounds fine for the most part, but keep in mind the common technique of telling you ten things
that are true followed by slipping in the whopper, the very questionable point or conclusion
concerning the main point of interest. Here is Resnik’s whopper:

“…when a government scientist communicates with the media, the public (or even
journalists) may mistakenly assume that the scientist is speaking for the government, when he or she is expressing only a personal opinion. If the scientist expresses an opinion that goes against official policy, this can creates (sic) confusion in the public mind. To minimize confusion and to enable an administration to convey consist (sic) policy messages, it is appropriate to allow public relations officers to review a government scientist’s communications with the media.”
Perhaps I am taking his statement out of context, but he seems to mean review the
statement before it is made. This is where we need the Mercedes-driving lawyers
(http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/distro_Lawlessness_070927.pdf) to help us. What Resnik is
saying, which PAO would latch onto in a heartbeat, consists of “prior restraint”, as he suggests
review prior to a testimony or statement being made, not correction after the fact by the
government. If prior approval for scientific opinions are required, a scientist does not have a
snowball’s chance in Hades of providing his unadulterated opinion on a “sensitive” subject.

This is true regardless of which party is in power. The most horrific experience that I
ever had with NASA PAO was in 2000 during a Democratic administration when I tried to get a
press release through on “Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario”,
which emphasized the importance of non-CO2 climate forcings. After umpteen iterations, I threw in the towel.

Resnik suggests that the best way to safeguard free speech in government science is for a
scientific organization, such as the American Association for the Advancement for Science
(AAAS), to designate a committee or group to focus on these issues. That may do some good,
but by itself it will do little.

The presumption of democracy is that the public is informed, honestly informed.
Government scientists work for the tax payer and should be allowed to report their research
results without political interference. Elected officials can use scientific information as they see
fit – they must consider all factors in making policies, not just scientific data. But they should
not be allowed to torque the scientific data, or choose what information is allowed to be
presented and what information is deep-sixed. Such filtering, which is a recipe for bad decisions
and poor management, has never been as intense as in the past several years, in my opinion.

The main problems could be fixed as follows:
  • Public Affairs Offices should be staffed by career professionals protected by civil service rules, not headed by political appointees,
  • the practice of the White House OMB reviewing scientific testimony should be dropped.

These changes would be simple to make, they would allow the public to be better
informed, the government would have a more complete picture for making decisions, the tax
payers would get their money’s worth. So why doesn’t it happen? Because, when a new
Administration comes in they say “Hey, now WE can control the Offices of Propaganda (even
though they consider them offices of their enlightened truth) and make OUR administration look good!

What is needed is a bi-partisan agreement that these changes would be in the interest of
the nation. But it is just not going to happen unless the public gets involved. Politicians do not
give up instruments of political power AFTER an election that they have won, unless they made
an unambiguous promise before the election. We should be asking the candidates for President
“will you make these two specific changes, to take the politics out of scientific reporting?” And
then we must check to see that the changes are made when a new administration takes over.

Well, I failed to expound on the relation between the threat to our democracy and the threat to
our planet, but I am running out of gas and need to work on a scientific paper. The relation is
discussed in (http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/worldwatch_nov2006.pdf), and better in Bowen’s “Censoring Science” (Dutton, 2008). Would you believe that the current head of NASA PAO had a senior position in the Southern Company, the second largest holding company of coalburning utilities in the United States? Naw, just kidding. Or am I? Read the book.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

UK Coal Power Protest

If there is one area of emissions growth that worries me more than any others it would have to be the increase in coal power in India and China. It looked like a similar expansion was about to unfold in the US a couple of years back, but as I posted recently this dosen't seem to be materialising due to the threat of regulation and various permit refusals in favour of cleaner energy sources. I would like to see a ban on all coal power plants in the developed world if they don't capture the carbon they produce. This would show the developing world that we are serious and a reduction in new coal plants could be negotiated. It is certainly important from a global climate politics point of view what the developed world are doing. The size of incremental energy growth that we face is minute compared to china, and our resources are vast by comparison we really have to get this under control; if developed nations aren't prepared to stop using the most polluting form of energy then we just aren't serious.



The World Development Movement protest against the proposed Kingsnorth power plant at the offices of E.ON the power company proposing the plant.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

EUmissions targets

The EU announces its plans and targets to, if not combat, then at least gesture rudely in the general direction of climate change. Throbgoblins welcomes the move to increase renewables and to slow the biofuel bandwagon. Having said that...leaving most of the solution in the (invisible) hands of the market which fashioned the problem in the first place seems a tad foolish, but, in the absence of an organ grinder we must make do with monkeys.

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Sustainable Automobile Transport: Book Review

Sustainable Automobile Transport (SAT) is a good title for a recent book by, Lisa Ryan and Hal Turton, on motorised transport. The title is appropriate as it stretches the idea of sustainability beyond its sensible definition, reflecting a major flaw in the book. The aim implied by the subtitle 'Shaping Climate Change Policy' is inevitably damaged by this basic mismatch between more sustainable technology and real sustainability. In it's most elementary form sustainability is the ability to continue without coming up against the physical limits of a system. Being 'more sustainable' in the context of carbon emissions is just taking a more gradual path towards destabilisation of the climate. I was left with the feeling that i hadn't seen a real path towards sustainability, the real conclusion to be drawn is that automobile transportation is an inherently unsustainable sector and that a more holistic approach that includes mass transit, planning and public education is required. SAT therefore fails in it's main objective but actually offers a very good guide to the more humble task of guiding us towards the most effective policies and combinations thereof to reduce the climatic impact of this highly significant sector.

SAT first shows signs of bulking at the scale of the problem we face in the introduction where it states that “Long-term environmental stress is mitigated significantly. In particular, carbon emissions at the end of the are approximately at or bellow today's levels”. Considering that conservative estimates suggest a 60% reduction in GHG emissions globally by 2050 is required a stabilisation of emissions from the transport sector isn't relevant to climate policy. The focus on a horizon going out to 2100 is also insufficiently urgent, climate scientists tell us that the next 20-50 years is the key challenge. It is inconceivable for this reader to contemplate discussion of long term energy scenarios without explicit reference to carbon budgets resultant globa l temperature changes.



I felt that SAT did far better at covering the details of taxes and charges currently levied on drivers. Comparing national policies is often fascinating, in the case of cars the German Eco-Tax was a fascinating instrument which i hadn't heard of before. This tax levied on gas, petrol, diesel, electricity and heating oil, increasing incentives for efficiency, and was given back to society as reduced pension contributions. It has been said before that Detroit is struggling under the weight of health and pansion contributions perhaps a similar deal would work in the US? In fact a whole range of interesting schemes where discussed, from mid-stream emissions trading where car companies are given responsibility for emissions and therefore a motive to reduce emissions, to local congestion charges and raising parking prices.



A good part of this book was devoted to technological development of automobiles but i was personally unconvinced by the projections. I am more concerned by the negative potential of biofuels and more optimistic on the potential of battery powered cars the the authors.



In conclusion, i feel that SAT is a useful book for those working on policies for automobile management, either working for government or for NGO's. For people generally interested in the transport sector and solving it's climate change related issues i would recommend a book taking a inter-modal approach. I also offer words of caution to those who would use this book as a guide to the future of automobile development, this is all rather uncertain at present.




Info:



Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Edward Elgar Pub (December 7, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1847204511
ISBN-13: 978-1847204516

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Can renewable provide 100% of grid power reliably?

I think that we all knew that this would work, there are loads of renewable energies to combine. None the less there is a lot of skepticism on this issue to it's great to see an example of this in opperation. Good work Germany!




Scientists of the University of Kassel in Germany prove that the entire country can be powered by renewables only. They connected biogas, wind and solar power in a distributed way and show it can deliver both baseloads and peakloads.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Review: EU approves energy and climate change package.

The EU Comissions has today announced (official statement) what it calls a 'climate change package'. These measures are the follow up from a previous meting (march 9th, Guardian) where a 20% reduction target for energy usage and carbon emissions was made alongside a pledge to increase European renewable energy penetration to 20% (from the current 8%). A two page citizens guide is avialable to explain the motivations behind the climate package and the elements that it is trying to balance.

The citizens guide is the straightest talking policy document i have ever seen:

What is the problem?
  • The EU needs to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. This is not happening fast enough.
  • Dependence on imports of oil and gas is growing. The EU needs to find new energy alternatives and to produce more of its own energy.

According to EurActiv some of the most significant issues are:

  • Total EU industrial emissions in 2020 capped at 21% below 2005 levels which equates to a 1.7% annual reduction. [I thought the 20% was on 1990 levels is this back tracking?]
  • The scheme will be enlarged to include new sectors, including aviation, petrochemicals, ammonia and the aluminium sector...around 50% of all EU emissions will be covered. [Road Transport, Shipping, Buildings, Waste, Agriculture and Forestry will remain excluded].
  • In order to achieve an average 10% reduction of greenhouse gases from sectors not covered... the Commission has set national targets according to countries' GDP. Richer countries are asked to make bigger cuts – of up to 20% in the case of Denmark, Ireland and Luxembourg – while poorer states...will in fact be entitled to increase their greenhouse emissions in these sectors – by up to 19 and 20% respectively for Romania and Bulgaria. [Understandable but environmentally inadequate if this principal where to be expanded to the rest of the world at Romanian development levels...what we need is a deal where such countries take on these targets and the wealthy take on a portion of the costs]
  • Smaller installations, emitting under 10,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, will be allowed to opt out from the ETS, provided that alternative reduction measures are put in place. [I see why--red tape--but i wonder how significant this is are we talking about double digit percentages that can opt out?]
  • Industrial greenhouse gases prevented from entering the atmosphere through the use of so-called carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology are to be credited as not emitted under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. [I fully support this...its long past time such schemes where implemented]
  • The proposal foresees a huge increase (up to 60% of total credits) in auctioning as early as 2013. It adds that "full auctioning should be the rule from 2013 onwards for the power sector", which is expected to lead to a 10-15% rise in electricity prices. In other sectors, free allocations will gradually be completely phased-out on an annual basis between 2013 and 2020. Nevertheless, certain energy-intensive sectors could continue to get all their allowances for free in the long term if the Commission determines that they are at significant risk of relocation to third countries with less stringent climate protection laws. [This increase in auctioned credits appear to me as the start of a serious emissions trading scheme, it is the most efficient way to do things and has the added benefit of brining in large revenues which if sensibly hypothicated to renewable energy projects, and --my personal favourite--paying for international climate funds e.g REDD, Tech Transfer, Adaptation, can go a long way to helping the world cope with and mitigate climate change.]
  • The distribution method for free allowances will be developed at a later stage by expert panels within the Commission (through the so-called 'comitology procedure'). [It's going to be some kind of grandfathering but the good news is that this part is becoming rapidly less relavent]
  • Competativeness concerns are a significant so decision on these issues has been put of untill 2011. Nevertheless, the text warns that if no global pact is reached by then, some sort of "carbon equalisation system" will be introduced – whether in the form of additional free allocations or by making third-country producers of carbon-heavy goods participate in the ETS in order to access the EU market. [Translation: shit gets ugly if we dont reach a global deal...is forced participation of foreign firms a tariff on high carbon goods? The avoidance of such tarrifs is apparently the reason the Kyoto protocol was initiated.]
  • Assuming a global climate change deal is reached, member states will continue to be entitled to meet part of their target by financing emission reduction projects in countries outside the EU, although the use of such credits will be limited to 3% of member states' total emissions in 2005 –around one quarter of the total reduction effort. [This is still a significant amount of carbon trade, but it seems to me that markets and trade of all kinds in carbon makes this kind of limit hard to measure: how do personal and business offests work into this, or internal business trades...i think this is all getting murky we need a global treaty with a cap.]

The talk on competativeness and forced involvement in the EU ETS for foregin companies trading into europe brings up our old friend the WTO (past article). Commission President José Manuel Barroso:

"If our expectations about an international agreement are not met, we will look at other options such as requiring importers to obtain allowances alongside European competitors, as long as such a system is compatible with WTO requirements."

On the issue of cuts in emissions from industries not included in the ETS, national targets vary dramatically based on prosperity, but buy in large everyone has been hard done by; some have been more stoic but it's ammusing none the less. Germany's economy minister is quite typical:

"We really don't need this plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it will destroy jobs in industries which consume a lot of energy"
The main points that i have seen made on this are 'its simply not good enough' and 'it's to far, its to tough on this country, why do we need to take orders from Brusselles.' The former has been the message of Rajendra Pachuri of the IPCC, and the science if you would care to read it, the latter is from the likes of the Times and other right leaning papers.

Related:
  • Extensive coverage of this "climate change package" and its role in Eu climate policy can be found on the EurActiv website.
  • The climate change package and associated documents.

Related General Articles:
Articles on the main issues:
[UPDATE]

  • Celsias has just posted an article on this topic.
  • Treehugger has also briefly covored the issues.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The emergent renewable energy lobbying force.

There has been widespread coverage (Grist, Desmogblog, Celsias) recently of the lobbying efforts of a still prosperous but nervous coal industry. Most notably through significant funding for the 'Americans for a Balanced Energy Choice' (ABEC). Millions of dollars are going into buying the allegiance of key US politicians. However, i dont want to focus on the negative, after all we have always had this problem.

What is new, is the significant lobbying power of a nascent renewable energy industry. For example this message would not have been possible a few short years ago.




Resch highlighted 80 utility-scale solar projects on the drawing boards collectively representing about 56,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity generating capacity, more than 20,000 permanent jobs and hundreds of thousands of construction jobs. "None of these projects will be built unless the investment tax credit is extended," he said.

This is part of a report on a recent joint statement by the four largest US renewable energy associations, fighting for a clean future.


"Already, we are seeing sales and new project announcements drop off," the associations declared in a rare joint statement at a news conference. The associations include the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), National Hydropower Association (NHA) and the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA)."

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Monday, January 21, 2008

All four candidate for London Mayor oppose the expansion of Heathrow

I`m sure that PlaneStupid will be pleased about this....




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A taste of things to come?

I had a nice little strip about the London Zoo "EDGE" list all thought out, but the savage irony of a 21st century arab people without fuel to meet their basic needs- because of an Imperial superpower's insistence on total control of their region through a client state deemed unaccountable to international law -just sort of caved that idea in.

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EC's Joint Research Council criticises biofuel policy.

The European Comission's in-house research agency--the Joint Research Council--has just come out against biofuel expansion in the EU.

"The unpublished working paper by the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission's in-house scientific body, makes uncomfortable reading for the EU's executive body ahead of a meeting Wednesday where it is to detail a plan for biofuels to make up 10 percent of all transport fuels in the EU by 2020."
It looks like the EC are determined to go ahead with a biofuels mandate seperate from a biomass target, despite the fact that biomass can be a more efficient usage of fuel.

"The report concludes that by using the same EU resources of money and biomass, significantly greater greenhouse gas savings could be achieved by imposing only an overall biomass-use target instead of a separate one for transport."
Friends of the Earth and Birdlife International have been perticularly outspoke on EU's seeming inability to change course despite the clear message coming from its own research.

The report gives a clear 'thumbs down' on all three accounts:

  • Greenhouse gas savings: due to the indirect effects of growing biofuels, the JRC concludes that the, "uncertainty is too great to say whether the EU 10 per cent target will save [greenhouse gas emissions] or not". The report highlights that the greenhouse effect of using nitrogen fertilisers is "significantly higher" than previous estimates and that land use changes (e.g. deforestation, draining of peatlands or ploughing grasslands) could potentially release enough greenhouse gas to negate the savings from EU biofuels.
  • Security of supply: the EU would be better to invest in extra storing capacity to create a strategic oil reserve to buffer short term supply shocks rather than invest (much higher sums) in biofuels which would give a limited solution to the problem of insecurity of supply. "There would be a positive effect, but its value is small compared to the costs," the report says.
  • Employment creation: potential job creation risks being little more than wishful thinking as jobs created in the biofuels sector are likely to be offset by job destruction in other sectors affected by the biofuels target. "The net employment effect of the programme would be insignificant," according to the JRC.
  • Cost-benefit analysis: "The costs of using biofuels outweigh the benefits of doing so," the report states. It calculates that, "the decrease in welfare caused by imposing a biofuel target is between 33 and 65 billion euros within an 80 per cent probability range".

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hydrogen or Electric? Well we have > 25 electric models ready to go!

While the debate continues on weather electric or hydrogen cars will rule those in favour of battery powered motion have given up the argument and started building cars!

Most of you will probably have heard about a couple of the more high profile models of electric cars. Most famoulsy the diminutive G-Wiz in the uk(well known for congestion charge dodging in the London) and the high spec and predictably pricy Tesla Roadster in the US (0-60, 4 sec!).

A recent article in VentureBeat gives a run down on the 27 electric car companies that they are aware of.


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Good news on coal in the US

A couple of very pleasing images...perhaps these should be for offer on t-shirts. Coal=energy of the past. As you can see coal fired power plants are not-being-built at quite a rate!



In this chart you can see the total of power plants that have been cancelled or delayed. This gap is going to be filled somehow, nuclear will likely be part of that but pressure for renewables and efficiency must be skyrocketing.

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Blog in a saucepan!

You know how it is - you're so busy accumulating your plastic novelty ephemera and digital knee-tremblers that apocalyptic global meltdown sort of sneaks up on you. Gotta larf, intcha?

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Quote of the day.

I realised the US "Auto Cities" where sparse but this is quite incredible...

"The urban population density in Houston is lower than the population density in rural Java!"

Source: Bali side event on transport.

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Tiempo Climate Newsletters #64 and #65

The latest two issues, #64 & 65, of Tiempo: I like to pick these up at they are released so sorry about that delay. The Tiempo newsletter focuses on adaptation and development in the global south. The publication is a joint project of IIED and SEI.




Issue 65 Contents:

  • National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA). (Mohazurul Alam)
  • The Sudanese NAPA. (Sumaya Ahmed ZakiEldeen and Nagmeldin Goutbi Elhassan)
  • NAPA priorities to policies. (Bubu Pateh Jallow and Thomas Downing)
  • Leassons learned in Africa. (Balgis Osman-Elasha and Thomas Downing)



Issue 64 Contents:
  • Flooding and the urban poor. (Ian Douglas et. al.,)
  • Climate risk integration. (Bert Koenders)
  • Adaptation targets. (Ian Tellam)
  • Community Adaptation. (Roger Jones and Atiq Rahman)
  • Roadmap for Adaptation (Gary Yohe)

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Friday, January 18, 2008

...an awful lot of cattle in Brazil.

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has picked up speed again after briefly slowing - whilst big business gathered its forces for another assault. Despite (ie-because of) its HUGE ethanol market, Brazil remains one of the big 4 Carbon criminal states - 3/4 of it's emissions coming from deforestation and its aftermath. Still - cheap beef, eh? Fantastic!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

UNDP 2007 Human Development Report

The 2007 Human Development Report made a bigger splash than any other report, bar the IPCC's latest edition. Going into Bali the report was big news, around the world, but perticularly in the nations of the global south. Now UNDP have created a superb video explaining the reports conclusions, it is very compelling viewing, highly reccomended.



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Yangtze - a polluted lifeless trickle?

The Yangtze may be slowing to a heavily polluted, lifeless trickle, but as long as we can still get plastic novelties and cheap fashion items courtesy of a booming Chinese economy, all's right with the world.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nano Hypocrisy

I have been watching coverage (celsias, treehugger), of the Tata Nano in despair. There is a claim made, at times, that environmentalism is an attempt by the North to keep the South down. I`m skeptical about this but the hypocrisy shown in relation to the Tata Nano is mind boggling and dosent represent us well.

I was tempted to write an article on this, my angle being: if someone told you that India was going to take on 'Prius or better' emissions standards you would be pleased, right? No, it's not good enough! Or so say some environmentalists, despite the fact that developed nations arent even close to this level of fleet wide performance.

Here is a superb article by the World Watch institute 'Nano Hypocricy'.

The first paragraph sums things up:



"One car gets 46 miles per gallon, features fancy accessories, and sports two engines with a combined 145 horsepower. The other car reportedly gets 54 miles per gallon, runs on a diminutive 30-horsepower engine, and is positively spartan in its interior trimmings. The first is a darling of the environmentally conscious. The latter is reviled as a climate wrecker. These two vehicles are the Toyota Prius and the newly unveiled Tata Nano, dubbed “the people’s car.” Is there a double standard?"

Its only fair to not that there has already been a shot taken at the tata from this site by the highly talanted cartoonist in residence Marc from Throbgoblins International. This would be one of the few times that i havent agreed with his work.

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WRI: What are the environmental trends set to be seen in 2008?

On December 18th Jonathan Lash of the World Resources Institute spkoke about environmental trends to be observed during 2008.



Amongst the positive pieces of news from 2007 that where expected to continue in 2008 was the emergence of large business collaborations pushing for rapid action and and the oporational certainty that this provides.




"At past meetings, the role of the private sector would have been
largely to explain to negotiators how difficult it would be to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions. At this meeting, this group which we’re part of and helped to
organize, the United States Climate Action Partnership, staged an event calling
on the negotiators to move as quickly as possible in noting that in the United
States, we have asked Congress to impose mandatory economy-wide cap-and-trade
legislation.


A similar group from Europe was also present there, also asking the
negotiators to move as quickly as possible saying that certainty and
predictability and rapid action to create a level playing field is far more
important to them than the potential cost of having to act on climate. That was
a very new development in these negotiations and will only grow stronger in the
coming year."







Progress in the US is also encouraging with no less than three subnational emissions trading schemes!

These schemes already cover over half of the US population and are a significant factor in determining the common corporate stance in favour of a single nationsl emissions trading scheme; this is becoming overly complex.

Several other states are also planning to join such schemes. However, pressure for federal action is mounting and the only real questions is weather this will happen before or after the current administration leaves office.

There is certainly no shortage of proposals for emissions reductions bills! This graph shows the reductions targeted by a variety of currently active bills in the 110th congress.

Would Bush veto any bill to be presented to him? It would been in line with his position so far to do so, however in an election year when questions of legacy abound, and at a time when drought is likely to be a significant issue in part of the US there may be an opportunity for a much neaded breakthrough without delay.

Related:



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BOGUS TECHNO-MAGIC!

Today the chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, Sir Jonathon Porritt - made it clear that the UK Government's suspiciously enthusiastic rush to nuclear is BOGUS, as the young folk used to say.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Higher Education in a Warming World - The Business Case for Climate Leadership on Campus

The NWF have just release a new report into the role that students and campus activism have in climate change mitigation.

Via NWF Online

"If any sector of society has the potential to model the transition to a low-carbon future, it is higher education. With their depth of expertise, innovative research and societal influence, colleges and universities have been at the forefront in addressing global warming. As living laboratories, campuses have developed and implemented cutting-edge energy conservation practices and clean power technologies. Of even greater importance, they are educating future generations of engineers, architects, scientists, business leaders, teachers, government officials and citizens to create effective solutions to global warming."

The report in full can be downloaded from here.

"Highlighting the business, educational, and moral arguments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on campus, with best practices from U.S. colleges and universities"

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Bye-bye birdy

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds warns that habitats are in the process of shifting 550 km north east and that the UK may lose 3/4 of it's native bird-life, while flood warnings return to areas rapidly becoming accustomed to more "adventurous" weather conditions!

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National Security Threat of Climate Change : An Update

Climate blog's used to be a rarity (your reading one of the first) new ones are starting up all the time. DeSmog Blog, Celsias and SolveClimate come to mind.

SolveClimate has just posted an interesting article on US National Intelligence Advisor Mike McConnel. The interesting part was his response to a question on the threat of Al Qaeda.

Asked weather he believes that Al Qaeda is the greatest threat that the US faces he said:


"No, no, no, not at all. Terrorism can kill a lot of people, but it can't
fundamentally challenge the ability of the nation to exist. Fascism could have done that. Communism could have. I think our issue going forward is more engagement with the world in terms of keeping it on a reasonable path, so another ism doesn't come along and drive it to one extreme or another.

And we have to have some balance in terms of equitable distribution of
wealth, containment of contagious disease, access to energy supplies, and
development of free markets. There are national security ramifications to global warming."

Related:
  • I have written on security and climate change several times before here.


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Green Cluster Bombs, Nuclear Energy, Tatas, Greens good for your (planets) health?

Whilst the media in the UK has been distracting us all with some meaningless minor corruption, (there's plenty more where HE came from) a lot of more important stuff got sidelined.



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Monday, January 14, 2008

Climate Change Cartoon: Biofuel SUV



From Marc at Throbgoblins

With a 70% increase in demand expected by 2030 the American Automobile
Industry is damned if it's gonna rely on foreign imports and it's damned if it's
gonna compromise on the American way of life. It's damned, anyway. A Green
Hummer! You couldn't make it up!

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Biofuels News: Indonesian Boom, Switchgrass Potential, Subsidies Attacked

Biofuels where, for a short time, one of the green movements' favourite options for reducing emissions. This was all brought quickly down to earth by groups such as biofuelwatch who have been highlighting the less than ideal ways that these crops have been grown. From deforestation to compaetition with food, land degredation and slave like labour conditions, much of the industry isn't looking very ecologically friendly now.

This week several developments occured in this area.


  1. One of the worst examples of biofuel production is the use of palm oil in indonesia for producing diesel. Deforestation, peat fires and labour issues combine in making this an area that most recognise as in need of increased attention. This week a doubling of production capacity has been predicted.
  2. A USDA funded study in Nebraska has found that switchgrass, which can be grown on marginal land with limited fertiliser input has better than expected return on investment energy output. Around 5.4 times the energy can be hurvested as invested.
  3. A study by the Smithsonian Tropical Rainforest Institute has found that, amongst other things, subsidies for corn ethanol in the US are increasing deforestation in the amazon. The report calls for govornment restraint on biofuels subsidies and for futher research funding for second generation cellulosic biofuels.

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Investment Opportnity? Grid shock absorbers (aka: real time pricing)

This is an example of the sort of technologies which would appear to be no-brainers but for which the current industry setup has thus far failed to provide sufficient incentives. If we had a price for carbon these 'smart grid' technologies would rapidly be deployed.


"A year-long "smart grid" study showed consumers saved 10 percent on power bills and cut power use 15 percent during key peak hours, the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory announced.

The small-scale GridWise Demonstration Project involved 112 homeowners on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Ron Ambrosio of IBM, which participated in the study, said nationwide use of the method could save $120 billion in power plants and transmission lines that won't have to be built."


The sort of technology being used has a very simple principal. Not everything always needs to have access to power. If you are going to make a cup of tea then your kettle will need to respond but if you have an emersion heater that intermitantly turns on to keep your water hot then letting the water cool by a degree or two for 15 minutes would rarely have any consequence, and if you where just about to go in the shower you could temporaraly over ride this. The idea that emersion heaters, fridges, and larger industrial equipment could be intelligently turned off in order to avoid huge peaks such as at the break in sports games or major tv events is known as load shedding.

In it's simplist form load shedding can be carried out by cutting power to whole areas and then you have rolling black outs, this is increasingly an issue in the US, the traditional alternative being to spend billions on infrastructure. The next level of sophistication might have the ability to cut off power to only certain appliances, this would typically be used in conjunction with manual override so that all services are always available but automatic heating, cooling cycles can be marginally delayed. The most interesting development of this technolgy is with real time pricing where you can sign up for a pricing scheme that is dependent on the supply and demand balance; this would be used in conjunction with smart appliances. Using dynamic pricing people can put of doing there washin untill late evening when rates are cheaper, or do the ironing early morning...transparency is introduced and significant saving can be made by the customer whilst also increasing profitability of power companies as they dont need vastly over specified power lines and sub stations to cope with extreme peaks, peaks are radically reduced.


This recent news is from the GridWise project, more on this can be found at:


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Ceres: Banks not doing enough on climate change.

Ceres has just released a report on the banking industry and climate change. Ceres descrbies itself as follows:

"Ceres (pronounced “series”) is a national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and investors to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change."
via WBCSD

"According to a report released Thursday, a handful of banks have developed specific climate-related policies or strategies, while some have created working groups and executive positions to focus on the issue.

Commissioned by Ceres, the report looked at 40 of the world's largest publicly traded banks and financial services companies, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Merrill Lynch & Co Inc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc .

Slightly more than half of the banks surveyed offer climate-specific funds and similar products, said the report, which was authored by RiskMetrics Group.

Ceres also found a number of banks, including Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo & Co, are formally calculating the risk they take when lending money to companies that could be affected by carbon dioxide regulations.

But the study said banks should explain how they are factoring carbon costs into their financing and investment decisions, especially for energy-intensive projects that pose financial risks as environmental regulation increases."


14593249

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism and the Politics of Possibility

When 'The Death of Environmentalism' was released some time back, it caused a lot of heat in the environmental movement. The argument continues to this day and from this longevity the impression is created that there are substantial arguments made which have yet to be countered. Indeed i believe this to be the case, and the argument has more recently been expanded by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Schellenburger in a new book which i have just finished reading 'Break Through: From the death of environmentalism to the politics of possibility'.

This book is problematic in several ways. Firstly, there is a lot of generalisation about environmentalism: there are many people working on issues that effect the environment that don't see themselves as environmentalists. Secondly, the attacks on existing movements do seem a bit to vicious to be simply constructive criticism. Indeed the references to Nietzsche and and defence of the poorly understood concept of will-to-power, and of hubris, may leave some questioning just how much arrogance they can stomach.
"But a certain hubris is always required of people, be they environmentalists or neoconservatives, who wish to change the world."

Having accepted that the book delivers an unpalatable message from some rather unlikable messengers i ask you to read this book and try to give the critique a fair shot. I must admit that although at times the language of sociology and psychology left me uncertain about the books direction, the argument was in general very tight and for me at least, persuasive. So if you don't see yourself in the one dimensional picture of environmentalists painted, accept that an underlying concept is under attack and that concept is followed as an ideology imperfectly. The important question is weather or not you accept not the criticism but the desirability of the alternatives proffered.

The key arguments as i see them are:


  1. Environmentalism has drawn a conceptual box around nature and has mobilised to protect this box. Human/Nature is only one way in which we can conceptually divide up the world. There are better ways , ways that will lead to better outcomes for interests as currently, and as more broadly defined.

  2. By including humans in our vision as post-environmentalists we can broaden our sights and increase success politically. This change involves taking on non-environmental ends as part of our mission, this is crucial for making an issue as vast as climate change politically sustainable. A focus along the lines of Hawkens, Lovins and McDonugh should act as a focus for this new politics.

  3. A society of economic uncertainty, inequality and poverty is not conducive to action on climate change or other issues that have similar results as climate change. We must build a movement to counter these issues, which are consistently at the top of opinion polls ans strongly relevant to elections. Part of this should be a huge state led programme of investment in energy research.
I agree with Nordhaus and Schellenburger on much of this. Point 1. is the nub of the essay. There is a call for, not a claim of, The Death of Environmentalism. The reasons being that the conceptual box 'environmentalism' is no longer the best one for serving our values. Point 2. is in my view an answer to the question of how we approach climate change, either as a technocratic or a systemic issue, the case made seems to be that a technocratic based approach would see the issue as pollution based, but that in order to make the requisite scale of change we need to activate people and businesses behind a positive vision that is more than simply against something bad, it is for something incredibly new and positive. Point 3. gives us some direction on a post-environmental movement. It relies on the case built throughout the early part of the book that environmentalim at its most successful was not counter cultural, but a part of generosity of heart that abounded at times of prosperity and optimism, a time when progressive politics was universally dominant in the US.
Nothing is more central to this book than our contention that for any politics to succeed , it must swim with, not against the currents of changing social values."

If there is a weakness to Nordhaus and Schellenburger's essay then in my mind there are two candidates. Firstly, the essay tries to disband the idea of limits. In terms of a limit to growth, three tools are used to through this of into the distance. First is the idea of growth defined not as GDP but as well being; we therefore can promote growth through equality, economic justice and security. It would seem to me that this broader definition is what we are being asked to fight for, but GDP is still there at the heart of development.
"The new vision of prosperity will not be the vision of economic growth held by those who worship at the altar of the market. It will define wealth not in terms of gdp but as overall well-being"

Then the ideas that William McDonugh and his cradle to cradle thinking encapsulate well. If goods are created to be reused or there materials reincorporated then production becomes part of a cycle not part of a destructive linear process.

"What is needed, in short, is not so much less as different consumption."
Finally these ideas are paired with reference to Amory Lovins and Paul Hawken; huge advocates, not of different consumptions so much as efficient consumption. But we are left with the quote above and the words i placed in italics. Can we really move to a stage where GDP is absolutely decoupled from net material throughput of our economy?

The second apparent weakness is a pragmatic rather than conceptual one. We are told that in claiming to speak for nature and for things as they stand, we are conservative, even reactionary. Is is claimed that such appeals to nature as a higher authority are authoritarian, in the same way that religions make appeals based on there access to god's word. This took some time for me to understand or accept. I would say that in principal i now do. The environment isn't above politics. This was part of an argument that they needed to wind in order to do away with the conceptual box of environmentalism; however, in practice, we don't understand the ecology that supports us. So in virtually all cased the process of building a vision for a place we value, rather than protecting it on the basis that conservation is always good, would leave much potential value unrecognised.

I`m going to read this again in a few months. I certainly recommend that you read the book, there are many novel ideas. It's provocative stuff.

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Climate Change Action

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

CLIMATE ACTION NEWS SHEET 75, JANUARY 2008

This is one of the best news sheets of various climate related protests, stunts, campaign and websites going on around the uk. It is put together by Rising Tide uk.



CLIMATE ACTION NEWS SHEET 75, JANUARY 2008

Compiled and sent out by Rising Tide UK
To subscribe email info at risingtide.org.uk





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UPCOMING ACTIONS AND EVENTS:

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1) FOSSIL FOOLS DAY - NATIONAL, 1.4.08
2) LONDON RISING TIDE BENEFIT - LONDON, 11.1.08
3) NEWQUAY AIRPORT EXPANSION, PUBLIC DEBATE - CORNWALL, 12.1.08
4) RADICAL ACTION VS. CLIMATE CHAOS, NATIONAL MEET - NOTTINGHAM,
12.1.08
5) CLIMATE CAMP NATIONAL GATHERING - LEEDS, 26-27.1.08
6) BIOFUELWATCH WEEK OF ACTION - NATIONAL, 26.1.08 - 1.2.08
7) MANCHESTER CLIMATE FORUM - 1.3.08
8) DAY OF ACTION VS. GLOBAL AGRIBUSINESS - INTERNATIONAL, 26.1.08
9) LOW-IMPACT SMALLHOLDING - BUCKS, 11-13.1.08

----------------------------

RECENT HAPPENINGS:

----------------------------

1) NEWQUAY AIRPORT ROOFTOP OCCUPATION - 15.12.07
2) SANTAS AGAINST EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION - NORWICH & LONDON, 15.12.07
3) BRISTOL RISING TIDE TAKES ACTION VS. SHELL GREENWASH - DECEMBER
2007
4) SHELL TO SEA SCALE GOVERNMENT OFFICE - IRELAND, 19.12.07
5) NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE MARCH AND ACTIONS - 8.12.07
6) DUTCH COAL ACTION - 8.12.07
7) FLIGHT CENTRES SHUT FOR BUSINESS - MANCHESTER, 7.12.07
8) CHEADLE-HIGH-STREET AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE - DECEMBER 2007
9) SUBVERTISEMENTS IN LONDON AND MANCHESTER - DECEMBER 2007
10) WOMEN'S BLOCKADE OF DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT - 7.12.07
11) THE TIDE IS RISING! - 7.12.07
12) CLIMATE ACTIVISTS STOP WORK AT COAL MINE - SOUTH WALES, 5.12.07
13) INTERNATIONAL RT HOAX TARGETS BIG CARBON - 3.12.07
14) HOMELESS POLAR BEARS IN COURT - BRISTOL, 14.11.07
15) KEEP OIL UNDERGROUND - DECEMBER 2007
16) SIZEWELL NUCLEAR CLIMATE ACTION - 1.12.07
17) MANIAC MOTORIST MARS MASS - GLASGOW, NOVEMBER 2007
18) VIVA’S ‘HOT!’ CAMPAIGN - DECEMBER 2007
19) WHAT BETTER TIME? - DECEMBER 2007
20) BATH BOMB, ISSUE 5 - DECEMBER 2007
21) PACIFIC CURRENTS - DECEMBER 2007
22) A HOUSE OF CARDS - DECEMBER 2007
23) SOUTH WEST AIR ACTION - DECEMBER 2007
24) RISING TIDE LEAMINGTON SPA - DECEMBER 2007
25) RISING TIDE ON YOU TUBE

-------------------------------------------

UPCOMING ACTIONS AND EVENTS:

-------------------------------------------

1) FOSSIL FOOLS DAY - NATIONAL, 1.4.08
Just three months to go - are you out practising your routines? rehearsing
your songs? building your props yet? I should get out more over Christmas...
However, it will soon be time to hatch your mischievous scheme, so get your friends round and start plotting! http://www.fossilfoolsday.org/

2) LONDON RISING TIDE BENEFIT - LONDON, 11.1.08
In support of London Rising Tide, AMP is organising a night of live music at The Others, Manor Road, Stoke Newington. Entrance £5. http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?
fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=38074566

3) NEWQUAY AIRPORT EXPANSION, PUBLIC DEBATE - CORNWALL, 12.1.08
Organised by Rising Tide with speakers from Groundswell and Plane Stupid.
7pm St. Mawgan Community Hall, Nr. Newquay, Cornwall. For more info.
email; kernor[at]risingtide.org.uk

4) RADICAL ACTION VS. CLIMATE CHAOS, NATIONAL MEET - NOTTINGHAM,
12.1.08
11am - 6pm at The Sumac Centre, 245 Gladstone Street, Forest Fields,
Nottingham. This meeting came out of the last Climate Camp gathering in
November. It is focussed on growing our movement - how can we encourage more groups to
form and more actions/campaigns to happen? What things do we want to do to
help build a vibrant network of regional action groups doing actions locally and nationally?
For instruction on how to get there: http://www.veggies.org.uk/sumac/map.html
Also, 11 people are going to trial in Nottingham on Monday 14th for 'shutting down' the local coal power station, If anyone wants to stay to support them that would be great!

5) CLIMATE CAMP NATIONAL GATHERING - LEEDS, 26-27.1.08
The Climate Camp on its own didn't stop climate change - but it's part of a growing social movement that can! Come and take the next steps forward at the upcoming UK-wide meeting on Jan 26-27 in Leeds. Everyone is welcome, whether you came to the camp, or were simply inspired by it. http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/nextmeeting.php

6) BIOFUELWATCH WEEK OF ACTION - NATIONAL, 26.1.08 - 1.2.08
Biofuelwatch are calling for a national week of local action on agrofuels between 26th January and 1st February 2008. We will shortly update our website to provide more background information about the UK agrofuel industry and policies, as well as a draft leaflet and other
resources. If you would like to get involved or find out more, please email us at
info[at]biofuelwatch.org.uk. http://biofuelwatch.org.uk/

7) MANCHESTER CLIMATE FORUM - 1.3.08
Manchester Climate Forum "Climate Change: it's time to prepare" 9.15am at the Methodist Hall, Oldham St, Central Manchester http://www.manchesterclimateforum.org.uk/index.html

8) DAY OF ACTION VS. GLOBAL AGRIBUSINESS - INTERNATIONAL, 26.1.08
On January 26 self-organized groups from all around the world will take creative action in their community. This will manifest in many ways, from nonviolent direct action, civil disobedience, street theatre, convergences, teach-ins and other activities and events. Grassroots
movements around the world are making their voices heard and saying “Another World is Possible”. In coordination with the World Social Forum. http://www.risingtidenorthamerica.org/wordpress/category/front-page/

9) LOW-IMPACT SMALLHOLDING - BUCKS, 11-13.1.08
Next course by the Low-Impact Living Initiative;
http://www.lowimpact.org/courseoutlinelowimpactsmallholding.htm

----------------------------

RECENT HAPPENINGS:

----------------------------

1) NEWQUAY AIRPORT ROOFTOP OCCUPATION - 15.12.07
For the recently formed Kernow and Plymouth Rising Tide groups, this
action marked an escalation in their fight against climate change
and for environmental justice. However the planned rooftop protest at Newquay
airport was given an unlikely boost when builders at the airport
left a ladder propped up! %20CLIMATE%20ACTION%20NEWS%20SHEET%2075,%20JANUARY%202008">http://risingtide.org.uk/node/248
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/7146159.stm
2) SANTAS AGAINST EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION - NORWICH AND LONDON, 15.12.07
Subversive Singing Santas Spread Seasonal Sanity in London and Norwich
On one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Rising Tide activists in
both London and Norwich dressed up as Santas Against Excessive Consumption
and hit the high streets to sing a different tune to the usual buy, buy,
buy madness of the holiday season. http://risingtide.org.uk/node/247
3) BRISTOL RISING TIDE TAKES ACTION VS. SHELL GREENWASH - DECEMBER
2007
A series of actions is being taken against the organisers of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award and Bristol Museum, in protest at the sponsorship of the event by Shell. A grumpy polar bear visited the offices of BBC Wildlife magazine, then activists disrupted Bristol Museum's posh reception to kick off the exhibition with a Yes Men-style intervention. And on the opening
morning, dozens of humans, polar bears, a snow leopard and a tiger gathered (complete with the Shell’s Wild Lie counter-exhibition) in front of the museum. They handed out leaflets and created quite a spectacle. Protests are expected to continue through Jan. 13th.
http://risingtide.org.uk/bristol
4) SHELL TO SEA SCALE GOVERNMENT OFFICE - IRELAND, 19.12.07
A special prayer and carol service was held on 16th December at Bellanaboy, County Mayo, marking the end of another year of community struggle against Shell's proposed raw gas pipeline and inland refinery. On the 19th, a small group of Shell to Sea activists scaled the
heights of the Department of Natural Resources to place a banner reading PROTECT
IRISH NATURAL RESOURCES on the balcony outside Eamon Ryan's office.
http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/17942 http://www.corribsos.com/
5) NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE MARCH AND ACTIONS - 8.12.07
Over 10,000 climate campaigners took to the streets to take part in marches in London and Glasgow over the weekend, despite pouring rain. Protesters braved the weather in one the biggest demonstrations calling for climate justice the UK has ever seen.
http://www.campaigncc.org/
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/12/387497.html
Environmental activists from direct action group Plane Stupid shut down
travel agents and airline offices along the route of the Climate March in
London. http://www.planestupid.com/Meanwhile, in Manchester airline billboards advertising cheap flights to European cities were subverted.
6) DUTCH COAL ACTION - 8.12.07
A collective of twenty Dutch EarthFirst! activists blocked the coal conveyor- belt to a plant owned by the German energy giant E.on on the Maasvlakte near Rotterdam.
http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/17893
7) FLIGHT CENTRES SHUT FOR BUSINESS - MANCHESTER, 7.12.07
All Flight Centre branches in Manchester city centre were super- glued shut in time for Saturday trading and to coincide with the climate march in London. They were pasted with notices saying: "Closed - we want your kids to have a planet" The UK's only Hummer dealership, Bauer Millett, was also D-locked shut. http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/17887
8) CHEADLE-HIGH-STREET AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE - DECEMBER 2007
Activists from Cheadle-High-Street Against Climate Change held a "A planet
is not just for Xmas" campaign for a sustainable Xmas. http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/17917
9) SUBVERTISEMENTS IN LONDON AND MANCHESTER - DECEMBER 2007
Two adverts promoting DVD's by Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson now have large
stickers stuck on declaring "This causes climate change". Also, FlyBe appears to have spotted the errors of their ways and cancelled their short-haul summer routes. Bravo FlyBe!
http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/17937
10) WOMEN'S BLOCKADE OF DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT - 7.12.07 Women climate activists blockaded the Department for Transport preventing staff from getting to work and carrying out their policies which are catapulting us towards dangerous run-away climate change. This action comes in response to the Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly confirming the government's intentions to build a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow and coincides with the opening of their first "consultation".
http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/17883
11) THE TIDE IS RISING! - 7.12.07
A banner with this warning/statement was dropped to welcome all those entering the city of Manchester on the Princess parkway. http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/17886
12) CLIMATE ACTIVISTS STOP WORK AT COAL MINE - SOUTH WALES, 5.12.07
More than thirty climate activists, including members of the Rising Tide network, joined with local residents from Merthyr Tydfil in stopping excavation work for a full day on Britain’s biggest ever open-cast coal mine at Ffos-y-fran in South Wales. Activists evaded police and
security before taking over the 1,000 acre site on a hilltop near Cardiff. Dressed
as clowns and polar bears, they chained themselves to bulldozers and other heavy machinery to prevent work on the mine. http://risingtide.org.uk/node/242
13) INTERNATIONAL RT HOAX TARGETS BIG CARBON - 3.12.07
Climate activists with the international Rising Tide network embarrassed the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a lobby group composed of 33 prominent businesses and organizations, by distributing a spoof press release declaring that the consortium’s members had committed to a 90 percent reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In
addition, the spoof release called for an immediate moratorium on the
construction of all new coal-fired power plants. http://risingtide.org.uk/node/240
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/dec/03/oil.bp
14) HOMELESS POLAR BEARS IN COURT - BRISTOL, 14.11.07
Four homeless polar bears appeared before Bristol Magistrates Court on 14th November. They were arrested after blockading the Royal Bank of Scotland corporate offices on Avon St. during the Rising Tide national day of action. After pleading guilty to charges of "wilfully
obstructing the public highway with a non motor vehicle" (i.e. a suit case) they were
given a conditional discharge and went on to picket the RBS branch on Baldwin Street!
http://risingtide.org.uk/node/243
15) KEEP OIL UNDERGROUND - DECEMBER 2007
The only way to fight climate change. A new report by OilWatch.
http://www.oilwatch.org/doc/documentos/Keep_oil_underground.pdf
http://www.oilwatch.org/
16) SIZEWELL NUCLEAR CLIMATE ACTION - 1.12.07
What else would you do at this time in the morning at a nuclear power
station, other than lay on the road, lock yourselves together, unfurl your banner reading "nuclear power is not the answer to climate chaos" and wait 15 minutes for the security to notice you. http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/17868
17) MANIAC MOTORIST MARS MASS - GLASGOW, NOVEMBER 2007
Unburdened with festive spirit, a middle-aged woman leant out of
her car and pulled a cyclist off his bike. http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/17889
18) VIVA’S ‘HOT!’ CAMPAIGN - DECEMBER 2007
"Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency." United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation 2006 find out more at http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/hot/index.php
19) WHAT BETTER TIME? - DECEMBER 2007
A free news sheet from the Scottish Climate Activist Network.
http://whatbettertime.livejournal.com/
20) BATH BOMB, ISSUE 5 - DECEMBER 2007
Christmas edition of the monthly Bathonian rabblerousiness.
http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/17905
21) PACIFIC CURRENTS - DECEMBER 2007
For updates on the work of Pacific Environment, a non-profit organisation
that protects the Pacific Rim's wild places and wildlife, see; http://www.pacificenvironment.org/article.php?id=2658
22) A HOUSE OF CARDS - DECEMBER 2007
From fantasy finance to global crash. Your guide to understanding the crisis that is sweeping through the global financial system and what it means for ordinary people.
Endorsed by Kevin Smith of Carbon Trade Watch and filmmaker Ken Loach.
http://www.aworldtowin.net/about/HouseOfCards.html
23) SOUTH WEST AIR ACTION - DECEMBER 2007
A new website. http://www.swairaction.org.uk/
24) RISING TIDE LEAMINGTON SPA is born - DECEMBER 2007
The group had its first meeting on 3rd January and is now swinging into action. If you live in the area and want to find out more or get involved contact becqke[at]riseup.net
25) RISING TIDE ON YOU TUBE
Rising Tide action footage has been springing up all over youtube -
check out http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=RisingTideNetwork for some RT
films, some of the latest actions and links to other's videos of RT actions.

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Climate Change Action

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