ClimatePULSE: Municipalities and Carbon Markets (Part 1)

| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgIt is widely understood that urban planning, green design, transportation and other infrastructure decisions that municipalities have to make can have significant climate change impacts. Through actions such as promoting compact urban design and altering waste management practices, municipalities can reduce their carbon footprints immensely.
In support of such actions, numerous programs and initiatives aimed at formalizing municipal climate change commitments have been developed. Perhaps the most notable is the US Conference of Mayors Climate Change Protection Agreement, which has now been signed by over 830 mayors from across the United States. Internationally, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability has run the Cities for Climate Protection program since 1993, and it now boasts over 800 members from Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, Latin America, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the United States.

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Green Coast

| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Real estate development, like every other part of the U.S. economy, is starting to change, to adapt to a new, emergent order we call “sustainable.” A good example is Green Coast Enterprises, a start-up development company whose mission is, appropriately, about adaptation. Green Coast was founded by a former MIT student of mine, Will Bradshaw, and his lawyer colleague Reuben Teague (Disclosure: I’m on Green Coast’s Advisory Board). Together, they’ve got an interesting mix of skills — planning law, design and construction — and interests — social justice, climate change, community development, entrepreneurship.
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What Will and Reuben are doing is essentially refashioning real estate and community development as something new, what they call “community resilience,” a species of sustainability linking social, environmental and economic issues in one business model grounded in one development vision — resilient communities whose people, buildings and economies can adapt to and withstand natural disasters and social challenges of all sorts in the Post-Katrina, Climate Change Age.
And what better place to rebuild a city by reimagining an industry than New Orleans, a place where nature, class, race and commerce have always mingled in innovative, if idiosyncratic, ways, a few feet below sea level.

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Brazilians, Indians Ranked the Greenest Consumers

| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

nat-geo.jpgBased on the recently released National Geographic Greendex report, citizens of Brazil and India rank the highest for having the greenest consumptive practices, with China coming in close behind. According to National Geographic, the report is an attempt to develop an international research approach that goes beyond attitudes and concerns to actual behavior in order to track and measure “consumer progress towards environmentally sustainable consumption.”
In cooperation with research and survey company, Globescan, the Greendex ranked respondents in 14 countries over four sub-indices, which break down to transportation, housing, food, and goods consumption. Brazil and India both ranked the highest with a tie score of 60.0 whereas France, Canada, and the United States rounded out the bottom with respective scores of 48.7, 48.5, and 44.9.

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Clearing the Air on Liquid Natural Gas

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 17 Comments

Shell_logo.svg.jpgEvery month when I see the magazine Seed in my mailbox I can’t wait to sit down and read it. This month I found a DVD inside the magazine with the oil company Shell’s short movie, Clearing the Air on it. My attention peaked, and I watched the movie.
Clearing the Air is a fictional account of the development of gas to liquid (GTL) or liquid natural gas (LNG). The
California Energy Commission defines LNG as “fuels that can be produced from natural gas, coal, and biomass using a Fischer-Tropsch chemical reaction process.” However, in the movie LNG is used to refer to converting natural gas into liquid for fuel.

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PG&E Launches The Next 100 Blog

| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

pge_logo.jpgAs a longtime proponent of the power of blogging as a more democratic, open communications tool, I’ve always encouraged companies to get on the bandwagon. My reasoning is simple – by approaching the public with an honest voice and permitting commenting with no censorship, you ultimately get a more transparent, more useful conversation. If you haven’t read the cluetrain manifesto, check it out. Actually, I’ll just quote the entire preface right here (don’t worry, this is a great post to get your monday humming):

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter – and getting smarter faster than most companies.
These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.
Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.
But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.
While many such people already work for companies today, most companies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it.
However, employees are getting hyperlinked even as markets are. Companies need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so intranetworked employees can converse directly with internetworked markets.
Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It’s going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.

That quote is from 1999, long before blogging emerged as anything significant, and it rings fantastically true today.
Enter PG&E.

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The “We” Ad Campaign for Climate Change: Get On the Couch

| Friday May 9th, 2008 | 0 Comments

We Campaign launches new adsThe Alliance for Climate Protection was founded by Al Gore in 2006 as a “single purpose organization committed to igniting public action to help solve the climate crisis”.

Last month the Alliance launched their “We” Campaign (as in “we can solve it”), a $300 million marketing effort (spent over three years) designed to push the public’s “sense of urgency” about the climate crisis toward a “tipping point” breaking through the current logjam of partisan posturing and “cultural stereotypes”. One wonders if $300 million is enough.

To that end, the We Campaign started in earnest with two television ads promoting “Unlikely Alliances”.

To wit:

  • Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton agree on one thing...Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson sitting on a couch (with a sunny beach as a backdrop) talking of their unity through the common cause of climate stewardship.
  • Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich sitting on what appears to be the same couch (this time in front of the capital building) also doing their bit to show that climate change need not (should not, must not) be viewed through polarizing political ideology.

It’s all about the couch. 

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The Latest in Climate Mapping from USAID, NASA and Partners

| Friday May 9th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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Interested in viewing 3-D visualizations showing how climate change projections for the 2030s and 2050s will affect selected landscapes? Well, USAID, NASA, the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology, the University of Colorado and CATHALAC (Centro del Agua del Trópico Húmedo para América Latina y el Caribe) have just the thing for you. The development partners on May 2 announced the beta release of the Climate Mapper tool for SERVIR Viz, the Regional Visualization and Monitoring System.
Climate Mapper should “enhance vulnerability assessments as development planners consider adaptation strategies for projects,” according to the group’s press release.
Modeled data is based on monthly data averaged over the decades 2031-2040 and 2051-2060. Three models output data based on the models used in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report: the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Climate System Model; the European Centre/Hamburg Model (ECHAM); and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Coupled Model.
These three models “were chosen because they represent the highest, middle, and lowest projections for changes in Africa in the Climate Moisture Index (CMI), a measure of the relative balance of precipitation and temperature and run using the A1B SRES scenario, a scenario of economic activity and carbon emissions that most closely represents the current or business-as-usual economic and carbon emissions trajectory,” according to the group’s press release.
In addition, the software renders historical temperature and precipitation for the 1961-1990 base period taken from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit database of monthly climate observations from meteorological stations interpolated 0.5¬∞ grid covering the earth’s land surface.
Initial complementary Climate Mapper data sets are available for Africa for ¬Ω-degree x ¬Ω degree grid cells, which cover approximately an area of 50 square kilometers near the equator. Future data set releases are expected to cover the entire planet.
Both the Climate Mapper and SERVIR Viz can be downloaded here.

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Taxing Oil Companies to Fund Biofuel Investment

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday May 9th, 2008 | 3 Comments

E85.jpgThe oil companies invest paltry sums in renewable energy and biofuels, despite claims to the contrary and record high profits last year. In February the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Chevron made $18.7 billion in profits last year. According to the article 2007 was “the fourth consecutive year that the San Ramon company made record amounts of money.” Shell made $27.6 in profit, British newspaper the Guardian reported in January. ExxonMobil raked in $40.6 billion in profits,
U.S. News and World Report
reported in January.
Last month the Congress held hearings on gas prices. The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming grilled oil industry executives about high gas prices and investing in renewables and biofuels.

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Peel & stick solar fulfills the need … for speed!

| Thursday May 8th, 2008 | 26 Comments

lumetaLogo.jpgOne of the major challenges facing the global energy sector is the amount of time it takes to develop new energy resources. Even if you didn’t care about the negative externalities, environmental impacts or climate change contributions of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, it takes a long time (and billions of dollars) to drill deep holes, excavate or detonate massive mines, build pipelines and railways, construct power plants and high-voltage power lines … as a famous recent American President and avowed fossil fuel aficionado likes to say, “It’s hard work.”
Which brings us to a major and under-appreciated advantage that most clean energy technologies have over traditional, “let’s burn more rocks” resources like coal and oil: speed to market. Because there are no pollution concerns and related air quality permitting requirements, renewable energy projects can be developed with lightning speed – especially medium-sized commercial projects where the power will be used on-site.

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3P SoundBite: Olivier Pinçon of Stanford University

| Thursday May 8th, 2008 | 0 Comments

3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective.
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Perhaps the most passionate movers of sustainability is students. Olivier Pin√ßon (pronounced Pinson) is a transplant from Paris. He began his master’s degree thesis at Stanford in 2006 and says he’s literally surrounded by innovation in Silicon Valley. His first new English word that he learned was venture capitalist!
In this Soundbite, Olivier talks about his research in concentrated solar thermal power technology.

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Hello Kitty Harnesses the Power of the Sun

| Thursday May 8th, 2008 | 0 Comments

HelloKittySolar.jpg The tech blogosphere has been aflutter this week with the next, biggest thing to change our lives. Well, perhaps the lives of millions of pre-teens across the world. The Hello Kitty Solar Charger.
Fresh after last year’s release of the Hello Kitty space heater, this nearly 6″x 6″x 3″ contraption can recharge your iPod, Blackberry, or any other portable electronic device with a USB plug. The charger also has a DC battery for those unfortunate moments when sunlight just isn’t cutting it (a typical solar charge takes 6 hours while a DC charge takes 1). Interestingly – amidst the designer purses and jewelry – the charger is nowhere to be found on the online store at Hello Kitty’s official website, home of parent company Sanrio, Ltd. It is apparently only available at DreamKitty for $160, the unofficial one-stop shop for all things Hello Kitty. To give a point of comparison, that is almost double what many other solar chargers can be found for, and serves as fodder for many of the anti-Hello Kitty groups out there.

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Air Travel Emissions Worse Than Predicted

| Thursday May 8th, 2008 | 2 Comments

K63967-02_lg.jpgAccording to Wired, “forget everything you’ve heard about airlines and CO2 emissions. The news is much worse than anyone thought.” Recently disclosed reports are now revealing that air travel is resulting in 20% more CO2 emissions than previously predicted. How much? Try 1.5 billion tons of it’s gettin’ hot in here carbon dioxide a year, by 2025. That’s about half of what the entire European Union emits today (3.1 billion tons annually). But in an increasingly global society, can we really expect people to fly less, sacrificing the convenience and necessity of air travel?
Green air travel: a convenient myth? Boeing’s new 787, is touted as the most efficient aircraft of its kind, 20% more to be exact, thanks to its more efficient engines, composite materials, and aerodynamics. Yet the 787 is more of a Chevy Tahoe Hybrid equivalent than a Prius, trading per-seat efficiency for the convenience of non-stop travel.
787 vs. A380: the efficiency (PR) arms race. When the company announced the development of the 787, then named the 7E7, to emphasize its efficiency, Boeing chose to put its money on smaller aircraft to serve the non-stop, regional travel needs of fewer than 300 passengers. Meanwhile, Airbus’ A380 will serve hub to hub transportation, carrying as many as 800 in its monstrous double decker cabin. Of course, the jury on the true efficiency of either aircraft will remain out until both are configured and flying, perhaps with far fewer seats, trading efficiency for the convenience of extra room for passengers, and throwing claims such as Airbus’ that the A380 is “more efficient than driving a car” out the window.

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Brown Continues Getting Greener: Telematics Helps UPS Squeeze Out Higher Efficiencies and Increased Safety

| Wednesday May 7th, 2008 | 2 Comments

Hybrid electric truck on the UPS fleetThink back to when you actually saw a UPS truck sitting at a crowded intersection waiting to turn left. Depending on where you live, it may have been awhile. Because in some test markets Brown doesn’t go left. (and I’m not talking about the upcoming election.)

While most UPS trucks are probably still turning left at intersections, such a maneuver is not beyond examination. With skyrocketing fuel prices and a barrel of oil now hovering around $122 a barrel as I write this (and many analysts looking for $150 a barrel oil), simply waiting in traffic to make a left turn becomes an inefficiency that can’t be afforded.

But how do you effectively monitor a fleet of over 65,000 delivery trucks to determine routes, vehicle movement, operation, and condition to maximize efficiency and safety while minimizing fuel consumption?

UPS is a leader in developing a proprietary sensoring and data collection system based on Telematics to track everything from tire pressure, idle times, speed, engine RPM – even the number of times the truck is put into reverse and if the driver is buckling-up. The data creates a picture of the truck and driver’s day. The data is stored on board and uploaded at the end of the day to one of UPS’s data centers via a 900MHz radio link.

Then the data mining begins. And therein lies the true benefit of the UPS Telematics system.

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Offshore Wind: How Europe Plans to Meet Clean Energy Goals

Shannon Arvizu | Wednesday May 7th, 2008 | 4 Comments

The E.U. is serious about getting clean energy on the grid. The European Parliament has set a 25% target for renewable energy by 2020. About half of that target is projected to come from wind energy. A new report, “Pure Power – Wind Energy Scenarios up to 2030,” put out by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), shows that this is a feasible scenario, given current trends in the field. As of 2007, five E.U. countries (Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Germany) have more than 5% of their electricity demand supplied by wind energy. If the 2020 goal is met, wind energy could equal 38% of the EU-15′s Kyoto Protocol obligation, avoid 133 mega-tons of C02, and save billions in fuel costs. Future wind production is dependent, however, on continued government/private capital investments in the offshore wind energy market.

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Ardour Capital’s Nasdeo Talks Alt Energy Investments

| Wednesday May 7th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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Shares of alternative energy companies continue to be hard hit given worsening financial and economic conditions but there is strength and support underlying investments in the sector. So says Walter Nasdeo, managing director at Ardour Capital Investments, a pioneer when it comes to alternative energy equity research and investment banking.
Fair, balanced and independent equity research, coupled with timely, accurate and comprehensive financial disclosure, is prerequisite to establishing healthy, sound equity markets and a level playing field in which investors large and small can participate. In addition to its proprietary research, Ardour is playing a vital role in this regard, having established a line of alternative energy indexes in partnership with S-Network Energy Technologies.
Triple Pundit interviewed Ardour Capital managing director Walter Nasdeo to gain some insight into the company’s business, as well as the recent performance and future prospects for alternative energy companies.

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