Friday, April 29, 2016

Vermont Utility Opens Collaborative Space for Energy Businesses, Seeks Applicants

We've done some great radio shows with Green Mountain Power.  In so many ways they are the model of a smart grid (in addition to being a leading investor in renewable sources of power).  Today we see them stepping up again to support the New England green economy.  What a smart idea to open its doors to entrepreneurs who will create the next, great solutions for balancing the economy with the environment.

We expect to be up there this year to broadcast live from their offices.  It will be great to meet and interview the people behind the start ups.  Our thanks to Seth Handy, one of our terrific co-hosts, for sending this to us:


Green Mountain Power (GMP) has launched a contest to find energy companies and entrepreneurs to colocate at the utility’s headquarters in Colchester, Vt., and work to develop innovative energy products for consumers.

"This exciting initiative is our way of encouraging businesses to locate here in Vermont by supporting energy entrepreneurs who will deliver the latest in new technology and clean energy for customers," GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said in a statement. "Innovation is the key to cost-effective, clean energy and making the world a more sustainable place. Working together is the best way to achieve this energy vision."

GMP is accepting applications for the contest through May 15, and will announce the winners at the end of May.

The winning companies will be invited to work alongside GMP staff and leadership in the utility’s new Inspire Space — an approximately 3,000-square-foot open work space located inside the utility’s headquarters. Outfitted from reclaimed materials, such as a table inlaid with a solar panel, and featuring hubs for each of the winning teams, the Inspire Space mimics the open floor plan of the facility that houses all of GMP’s working groups.
“The idea for the contest stemmed from the fact that we had some extra room because at GMP, we have been moving toward a more and more open concept working close together, and we find that that breeds better collaboration, better ideas, and better innovation,” Kristin Carlson, GMP’s director of media and chief corporate spokesperson, told Renewable Energy World.

Powell decided to renovate the extra space into an innovation center and attract companies to Vermont to build on GMP’s goal of delivering a new energy future for customers, Carlson said.

GMP will select up to five companies and will offer a small financial support package to help those companies move to Vermont. The companies will work in the Inspire Space for a year to develop their energy product offerings.

Carlson said the contest winners will have free access to the Inspire Space and the facilities at the headquarters, such as internet and conference rooms. More importantly, she added, they will be able to tap into the knowledge base of GMP’s employees and executive team as well as their connections in the energy industry.
Carlson said that, since GMP launched the contest, Vermont organizations have expressed an interest in providing the contest winners with mentorships and partnerships as well as access to capital.
According to Carlson, the primary qualifying factors for the contest are that the applicants be passionate and a have a great idea for the energy space.
“GMP is committed to transforming our energy future, one that moves away from the bulk grid to one where energy is generated closer to where it’s needed; where you’re making the home or the town the center, where you’re pairing it will energy storage and microgrids,” Carlson said. “We just see a lot of excitement around that, but there’s so much that still needs to be developed from a technology standpoint, and we want to help connect those businesses to our customers to deliver real-world solutions, but to have us also help in that process.”
Companies or entrepreneurs interested in applying for the contest can visit

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Investing Better from Green America

From our friends at Better World Club.  Something to look at:

From urging companies to address a wide range of climate change issues to reporting on female pay disparity, from addressing deforestation to linking executive pay to progress on sustainability goals, shareholders are using their economic power to encourage corporate responsibility.

The 2016 shareholder season is underway! More than 400 shareholder resolutions have been filed on a wide range of social, environmental, and corporate governance issues. If you own direct company stock, be sure to vote your proxy ballots to let corporate management know you want corporate practices that support people and the planet.

Carbon Dioxide in Earth's Atmosphere Hit Highest-Recorded Level Last Year; Will 2016 be Better?

This is a great question.  What do you think?

If not in 2016, then soon.  All data points to reduced carbon levels across all continents.  Let the world breath just a little easier and enjoy an amazing milestone and journey to a cleaner, brighter future.

Carbon Dioxide in Earth's Atmosphere Hit Highest-Recorded Level Last Year; Will 2016 be Better?

Carbon Dioxide in Earth's Atmosphere Hit Highest-Recorded Level Last Year; Will 2016 be Better?
The earth is showing the effects of climate change. Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the atmosphere's carbon dioxide levels hit a peak in 2015. 
The earth is showing the effects of climate change. Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the atmosphere's carbon dioxide levels hit a peak in 2015.

Carbon dioxide levels measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii show that the concentration of gas increased to 3.05 parts per million (ppm) in 2015. It is considered to be the highest year-to-year increase in the last 50 years.

Carbon Dioxide Levels Soaring

The burning of fossil fuels are said to be behind the increase in Earth's temperature. Discovery News notes that since the use of fossil fuels for energy, carbon dioxide levels have risen to more than 400 ppm. Additionally, the increase rate of the gas is 200 times faster than in the previous thousands of years.

"Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years," said NOAA's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network lead scientist Pieter Tans, in a statement. "It's explosive compared to natural processes."

Last month, the recorded CO2 concentration in the earth's atmosphere is now 402.6 ppm. Before the 1800's, the atmospheric carbon dioxide had an average of 280 ppm.

CO2 Levels Increase Due to Climate Change

The increase is carbon dioxide levels over the past years is due to El Niño and human activities. BBC notes that this has caused forest fires in some parts of the world. The fires, eventually, resulted in more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Emissions caused by activities of men such as the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas may be controlled; we can make changes to reduce the increase of greenhouse gases.

"The impact of El Niño on CO2 concentrations is a natural and relatively short-lived phenomenon," Petteri Taalas of the World Meteorological Organization said. "But the main long-term driver is greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. We have the power and responsibility to cut these."

An article posted on the journal Nature reported that with China's trying to cope with air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions are supposedly going down.

"China is trying to deal massively with its air pollution problem," study author Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, said. "And its renewables are growing very fast."

However, Headlines and Global News notes that the reports are unsure that a slight reduction in gas emissions will make a difference in the CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Will 2016 be better? Part of the answer may be up to us, as there are simple ways for everyone to contribute to help prevent further global warming.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Japan at the Electricity Crossroads:

Perhaps nothing gets more controversial than an argument to continue to use nuclear sources of electricity.  Slowly the industry is grinding to a crawl as old plants come off line and new ones are far too expensive, and painstakingly slow, to build.

There was just a great book published on the Chernobyl meltdown and complete destruction of their reactor...with the massive concurrent lost of life and high rates cancer.  That site, of course, was built saving money on safety and what system were in place were, in essence, shut down and completely inadequate.  Nuclear power can generally provide clean electricity but the waste and risk are by far the worst of any source.

Technology is changing around nuclear power.  Cold fusion advocates are rightfully pointing out that the new technology--which gets the industry efficient and without waste--is a game changer.  Can it stay a part of the mix?  Will the public accept nuclear plants of any type?

Here, we see Japan at a major cross roads.  We believe the path is clear--invest in renewables and bring clean energy jobs and revenue back to local communities buying the power.

Japan at the Electricity Crossroads: Nuclear Power to Lower Electricity Bills or Solar Power to Create Resiliency?

By Junko Movellan
solar power

March 11, 2016 marks the five-year anniversary of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which caused catastrophic meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex in Fukushima Prefecture. This devastating event resulted in a major change to the nation’s electricity supply market. It led to the introduction of the national feed-in tariff (FIT) program in July 2012 and historical liberalization of the retail electricity market, which will commence in April.

In regards to the upcoming deregulated electricity market, 210 companies have currently registered as retail electricity providers to compete against the 10 incumbent utilities, which had enjoyed the regional monopolies for several decades.

As fierce competition is anticipated, the incumbent utilities have restarted or plan to restart nuclear reactors to be cost-competitive. In fact, last year Kyushu Power Electric Company, located in the Kyushu region, restarted two nuclear reactors in Kagoshima Prefecture and, last month, Kansai Electric Power Corporation, the nation’s second largest electric provider, has restarted two reactors at Takahama Nuclear Plant in Fukui Prefecture to provide “lower rates” than those offered by new competitors.

Turning Nuclear Contaminated Town into Denuclearized Town with Renewable Energy
“I am very furious,” commented Katsunobu Sakurai, the mayor of Minamisoma City, at a press conference for the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. He is angry and frustrated that the utilities have restarted nuclear reactors since Minamisoma City, located less than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, has not yet fully recovered. The city was heavily affected by the disasters which displaced 14,000 residents after the accident. It has been five years since the nuclear meltdown, however, residents of certain areas of the city have not been allowed to return since the national government has not yet lifted evacuation orders.

Last March, Mayor Sakurai declared that he intends to create a “denuclearized town,” with a goal to provide all the electricity needs of the city by means of renewable energy, such as solar, by 2030. The city’s missions are to build disaster resilient communities and improve the environment of the planet by implementing clean distributed energy with energy storage.

The city has been actively promoting renewable energy, specifically solar PV. According to Shunichi Shiga, manager of the city’s New Energy Promotion Department, the city offers a solar rebate program, with a subsidy rate of 45 yen ($0.40)/kW, and a Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) program, which pays up to one-third of the system installation cost — up to 70,000 yen ($616) — to help its residents become energy-independent.

“The city has also installed a combination of PV and energy storage systems at public buildings such as city halls, elementary schools, and health centers,” said Shiga. These systems, deployed at 17 locations, provide safe and stable power during normal days as well as during disasters. The total PV installed capacity on public buildings is currently 325 kW, producing over 46 MWh a year with 396.4 kWh of storage capacity. The Community Energy Management Systems (CEMS), implemented by the city, monitors and displays real-time energy consumption and production of these systems at each public building to promote energy savings within the city.

The city also has a plan to convert disaster-affected areas along the ocean, which are no longer suitable for farming or living, into special zones to develop large-scale renewable energy projects under land lease agreements.
“Currently over 70 MW of PV projects are under development as well as some wind projects,” Shiga said. With these additional renewable energy projects, the city is on its way to achieving 65 percent of its electricity needs supplied by renewable energy by 2020.

The First Local Government to Sell Electricity to its Homeowners
Dissatisfied with the incumbent utilities’ decisions to rely on nuclear power, local governments have taken matters into their own hands by establishing retail electricity operations to provide clean, safe and locally produced energy to their communities. Just over a dozen local governments have launched retail sales operations, but only one local government is now set to offer electricity services not only to large electricity users, but also to residential customers.

The city of Miyama, Fukuoka Prefecture in the Kyushu region, has established a retail electricity provider business, by forming the partnership with local companies (Chikiho Bank and Kyushu Smart Community Company). It is the first local government in the nation to participate in retail electricity sales to residential customers.

“As a whole city, we pay 2 billion yen [($17.6 billion)] to Kyushu Electric Power Company (the region’s inclement utility),” Yuji Fujiyoshi, manager of the city’s Energy Policy Promotion Department, said. He was indicating the big economic impact that the city would receive by producing and consuming locally produced electricity.

“Our city is suitable for solar,” he said. “Our solar hours are very long. Our peak sunlight exceeds 2,000 hours a year while the national average is about 1,800 hours. Ten percent of our households have already installed PV systems and we do have many mega-solar (large-scale PV) projects in the city.”

“If (we) depend on one utility, during natural disasters or other emergencies, our power supply will be disrupted,” Fujiyoshi said. “It is our goal to employ distributed energy across the city to create a resilient community.”

After the nuclear disaster, the nation’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) created a field test to promote household energy savings by building an information infrastructure for HEMS ,and the city was selected as part of the test. With the national funding, the city installed HEMS hardware and distributed tablets to 2,000 homes to encourage energy savings. In the meantime, the city collected large amounts of data and gained the knowledge of energy usage and demand patterns of its residents. “That helped us with the creation of the retail electricity business,” Fujiyoshi said.

The business, Miyama Smart Energy, offers plans with lower rates than Kyushu Electric Power Company. Customers can bundle the electricity service with the city’s water service or consolidate bills within households. The company also provides a rewards program. Customers can earn points when they pay electricity bills and redeem points for services and/or products offered in the city.

Stimulate Local Economy and Circulate Money within the Community
“We wanted to create a business model, which not only sells electricity, but also brings benefits to our community,” emphasized Fujiyoshi on the important factor of stimulating local economy.
To promote deployment of local renewable energy and circulate money within, the company offers to purchase solar electricity generated by homes and businesses at a rate of 1 yen/kWh, which is approximately the amount the incumbent utility offers under the nation’s FIT program.

The company provides tablets for HEMS to new customers to not only manage their energy consumption, but to also subscribe to various services offered by the city.

“Our city has a large aging population,” Fujiyoshi said. “Thirty four percent of our population is over 65 years old and many of them live alone. With the HEMS, we can monitor their energy usage and can tell how they are doing. In the case of lower energy usage or unusual energy usage pattern, the system will send an alert to the city and also send email to their family members.”

With the tablet, seniors and other residential customers can also make an appointment with their doctors, request delivery of groceries and other products from businesses in the city. “This will help us stimulating local economy,” he said.

Miyama Smart Energy’s main renewable energy supply is from local PV systems. To increase renewable sources, the city is trying to form partnerships with other local governments in Kyushu Region with geothermal and hydropower plans.

“Hopefully we can replicate our business model to other communities, and we all can expand access to abundant renewable resources in our region,” said Fujiyoshi, with a hope to revitalize many other small communities.

This iconic reptile

We are seeing, today, similar changes in marine life influenced by climate changes.  Here in New England, as an example, we are losing lobster in southern states.  Marine changes, to our water systems or fish can adversely effect our environment and economy.

History provides valuable lessons.  Sometimes a look back offers a road map to the future.  Unbalancing the marine ecology is very dangerous.  It impacts populations on every continent.  Balance, restoration of our eco-capital is key to our health and finanical future.

This iconic reptile swam the seas for 150 million years. Then the climate changed

by Chelsea Harvey 

The last ichthyosaurs. Two ichthyosaurs (Pervushovisaurus bannovkensis) wander in a middle Cenomanian ecosystem that will become the typical low latitude one for the Late Cretaceous: high sea level and sea temperatures, rudist reefs (Ichthyosarcolites, Hippurites), newly radiating neoselacian sharks and acanthomorph fishes (Aipichthyoides). (Credit: Andrey Atuchin)
What happened to the dinosaurs and other ancient animals that roamed the Earth alongside them is a question that has fascinated scientists for centuries. While experts have solid theories for some of the most major extinction events in Earth’s history (an asteroid hitting the planet about 65 million years ago is a popular scapegoat, for instance), there are a few famous species whose disappearance still eludes explanation. The ichthyosaur is one of them. 

This swimming, dolphin-like reptile ruled the waters for more than 150 million years, spanning the early Triassic period to the late Cretaceous. But it mysteriously vanished about 90 million years ago — long before the cataclysmic,  asteroid-driven extinction event that wiped out so many other species at the end of the Cretaceous period. Scientists have proposed a variety of explanations, but there’s been little concrete evidence to sway the vote in any direction. 

But now, a group of scientists believe they’ve shed a little more light on what happened to the ichthyosaurs. Their research, which was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that climatic change during the late Cretaceous period, which likely caused great upheaval in marine ecosystems at the time, was the nail in the ichthyosaur’s coffin.

To conduct their analysis, the researchers combed through museum collections and literature describing ichthyosaur fossil findings to put together a comprehensive, up-to-date dataset of the many different species of ichthyosaur that existed over the millions of years the animal was on the Earth. They then conducted a special kind of analysis that investigates the links between all the different species and the way they evolved over time. 

In general, the results painted a picture of a diverse group of organisms that maintained a high degree of species richness with many different traits, such as differently shaped teeth or different body sizes, until close to the end of their 157-million-year reign. The analysis also indicated that ichthyosaurs suffered not one, but two extinction events — an initial event that greatly reduced their numbers and diversity during the late Cretaceous period, and then a second event several million years later that finished them off. 

These results are somewhat at odds with previous theories that had been proposed about the ichthyosaur’s fate. Scientists had postulated that ichthyosaurs had either been out-competed for resources by other marine predators, or there was a major extinction event among the animals the ichthyosaurs relied on for food, essentially leaving them to starve. 

The researchers observed that the competition hypothesis doesn’t quite fit with our knowledge of the types of marine organisms that shared the waters with ichthyosaurs. They were unable to pinpoint an animal that might have had the ability to outcompete the ichthyosaurs and also existed at the same time and in the same places.

And the theory about the disappearing prey doesn’t make complete sense either, considering how diverse the ichthyosaurs were as a group. This theory suggested that ichthyosaurs relied almost exclusively on a specific type of squid-like organism, known as the belemnite, for food. 

But given how diverse the ichthyosaurs were as a group, according to the new analysis, the researchers feel that it’s unlikely they would have all focused on just one type of animal. So although the loss of the belemnites may have been a factor in the ichthyosaur’s eventual disappearance, it probably doesn’t fully explain what happened. And the fact that there appeared to be two extinction events — the second one terminal — also remained somewhat of a mystery.

So the researchers conducted more tests to find out what kinds of environmental changes might best explain the ichthyosaur’s demise. These tests, known as correlation tests, essentially perform a mathematical analysis to find out how well a given theory matches up with what was known about the way ichthyosaur diversity changed over time.

It turns out that changes in the climate during the late Cretaceous period were the strongest predictors of the ichthyosaur’s extinction. Specifically, climate volatility — that is, extreme variations in the climate during certain parts of the late Cretaceous — are thought to be the culprit. Scientists have evidence, through geological and fossil findings, that there was great environmental upheaval around the time the ichthyosaurs first started to decline, marked by fluctuating temperatures and sea levels and chemical changes in the ocean, such as the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the water.

All of this variability is believed to have caused profound changes in the marine ecology during that time, with many different types of animals rising and falling in dominance. The ichthyosaurs’ first extinction event happened in the midst of all these changes.

By the time the ichthyosaurs went extinct for good, the marine landscape had settled into a strange period — the culmination of all the climate swings that had characterized the previous few million years — marked by high temperatures, a lack of polar ice and low oxygen levels. At this point, a number of other animals also declined or went extinct alongside the ichthyosaurs.

Plankton and certain types of molluscs, cephalopods and reef animals, for instance, also began to disappear around the same time, while other animals rose to dominance in their place. “As such, the abrupt yet staggered extinction of ichthyosaurs thus appears as just a facet of a much broader series of biotic events,” the authors note in the paper.

So it seems that the disappearance of one of the most famous ancient swimmers was not so special after all, but was likely part of a much bigger set of changes occurring on the planet at that time, largely driven by climatic changes and their effects on the ocean ecosystem. The findings may help to close the door on an old and well-debated mystery, while also serving as a reminder of the acute influence climate change has on the Earth and all its inhabitants.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Global initiative introduces first proposal to reduce airplane pollution

Another industry getting more efficient.  If we could get every business to contribute even a 4% improvement in energy use, we could gain some real momentum.  Great news.

Global initiative introduces first proposal to reduce airplane pollution 

 airplane pollution

International Civil Aviation Organisation plan of 4% fuel reduction of new aircraft starting in 2028 not enough to halt emissions, environmental groups say Governments proposed for the first time on Monday to reduce climate pollution from airplanes, plugging one of the biggest loopholes in last December’s landmark Paris agreement.

The global initiative was a first attempt to halt carbon emissions from air travel – one of the fastest growing sources of climate pollution.

In a call with reporters, White House officials described the standards as “a huge deal”, noting that the aviation authority has also proposed an aspirational goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020.

But campaign groups, specifically the International Council on Clean Transportation, said the proposed standards were a missed opportunity and would have little real effect in curbing emissions.

The standards proposed at an expert meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) in Montreal would apply to all new commercial and business aircraft delivered after 1 January 2028.
But they exclude aircraft that are already in use, and as most airlines have lifetimes of 20-30 years, it will take decades to cover the current fleet.

In addition, the standards would on average require only a 4% reduction in the cruise fuel consumption of new aircraft, compared to 2015.

The proposals will be put to countries for formal adoption next year.

Icao said the standard was aimed at larger aircraft, which were responsible for the vast majority of global aviation emissions.

“The goal of this process is ultimately to ensure that when the next generation of aircraft types enter service, there will be guaranteed reductions in international CO2 emissions,” Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the Icao council said.

“We also recognize that the projected doubling of global passengers and flights by 2030 must be managed responsibly and sustainably.”

The exclusion of high-polluting industries such as international aviation and shipping was seen as a major weakness of the historic agreement reached last December.

Currently, air travel and shipping together account for about 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but are projected to account for about 30% by 2050. But emerging economies had balked at the idea of including shipping and aviation in the Paris agreement, and so negotiators left them out of the deal.

White House officials said they were satisfied with the proposed standard – given the range of countries’ positions. The European Union and some emerging economics had been reluctant to take stronger action. “This is a really a strong result,” the officials said. “It’s the first ever CO2 standards for aircraft covering existing aircraft.”

But campaign groups suggested the Icao recommendations would do very little to rein in emissions – and in some cases lagged behind technology that was already in use.

According to an analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation, some of the top performing commercial aircraft were already achieving the standard – with room to spare. By 2020, eight years before the proposed standards were even due to come into effect, the average aircraft would already be 10% more efficient than the Icao standard.

“Given the substantial lead time for the standards, along with anticipated fuel efficiency gains for new aircraft types already in development by manufacturers, the standards will serve primarily to prevent backsliding in emissions,” ICCT said in a statement. “Additional action would be required for the standard to reduce emissions below business as usual.”

Vera Pardee, an attorney for the Centre for Biological Diversity, said the proposed standard put an additional burden on the Obama administration to make good on earlier promises to cut aviation emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency had been waiting for Icao to bring in its standards before moving to cut emissions from the domestic airline industry.

However, the White House would not say whether the EPA would propose those new domestic standards before Barack Obama leaves the White House.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Emissions on the rise

This is surprising given the other data we've seen and the agreements set in Paris.  Be interesting to match this up against their economic growth and see if demand is skyrocketing.

We hope the increase is a bleep on the screen and they reverse trends.  Australia, generally, has a good reputation for investing in pushing into a low-carbon economy.  Obviously their  natural capitol is exceptional.  We wonder how their asthma rates are trending?

Emissions on the rise from Australia's largest climate polluters, data shows

by Michael Slezak

Australian Conservation Foundation report shows a 3.2% jump in emissions by the country’s biggest polluters despite Coalition’s climate target claims

Australia’s biggest climate polluters increased their emissions in the year to July 2015, according to the latest data from Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator.

Some of those companies have themselves called for stronger government policy to curb emissions, including calls from AGL for the government to mandate that the oldest or dirtiest coal-fired power stations should be shut.

In figures released last week, the regulator reported 322m tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions were directly produced by Australia’s big emitters and energy producers, a 3.2% jump from the previous year. Indirect emissions – mostly those produced from electricity bought by those companies – also rose in the period.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has compiled a report, Australia’s 10 Biggest Climate Polluters, by combining direct and indirect emissions for each company. It shows that all but three of the top 10 polluters increased their emissions in the latest period.

AGL, which topped the list this year, more than doubled its emissions compared with the previous year, a result of purchasing coal-fired power stations in New South Wales as part of the acquisition of Macquarie Generation.

AGL has repeatedly called for the government to manage a transition away from coal by mandating the shutting of the dirtiest power stations, which would be likely to include some of theirs. AGL’s chief executive, Andrew Vesey, recently told Guardian Australia the company needed “to be out of the CO2 emissions business”.

“The federal government says it is meeting its climate targets, but there is clearly something wrong with those targets if they can be met while pollution is rising,” said Geoff Cousins, president of ACF.
“If you listen to the federal government you’d be forgiven for thinking Australia’s pollution levels were decreasing, when in fact Australia’s pollution increased by 1.3% in 2014-15 – that’s 7,200,000 additional tonnes of planet-warming pollution pumped into our skies in just one year,” he said.

“ACF urges the federal government to close Australia’s coal-fired power stations in phases, starting with the dirtiest plants, help affected communities with the transition and draw up comprehensive plans to clean up and rehabilitate old mine sites and power stations.”

Labor’s environment spokesman, Mark Butler, said the government had failed to take effective action on emissions.

“This government has proven to be incapable of reducing emissions and taking any meaningful action on climate change,” a spokeswoman for Butler said.
A spokesman for the environment minister, Greg Hunt, said the government was on track to beat its 2020 target by 28m tonnes.

The government’s 2020 target is 5% below 2000 levels, which its own Climate Change Authority has described as “not credible” and not in line with what the science says is required to keep temperatures below 2C of warming.

Australia has pledged to the United Nations to reduce emissions by between 5% and 25% by 2020. A 5% cut is what it said it would do if the rest of the world did nothing.
Australia is also meeting the minimum goal via accounting rules and most forecasts show its emissions will rise by 2020.

“Australia’s electricity sector is undergoing a significant transition with increased renewables and lower emissions, Hunt’s spokesman said.

“Renewable energy under the Renewable Energy Target will double to 23.5% between over the next five years.

“By 2022, based on announcements already made, Australia’s coal generation capacity is projected to be 19% below 2010 levels,” the spokesman said.

The emissions figures reported by the regulator include those from companies that produce more than a certain amount of emissions, or more than a certain amount of energy. They cover about 60% of Australia’s emissions, but do not include those from agriculture, residential property or private vehicles.

A report from the Wilderness Society has revealed that a land-clearing surge in Queensland is set to create more carbon dioxide emissions in just three years, equivalent to those the federal government claims it is avoiding by paying other farmers more than $670m to stop cutting down trees.

Electric cars

So, electric cars will follow suit with renewables and get cheaper than conventional vehicles within a few years.   The big question is, will sales follow?

Somewhat doubtful given the slow sales of hybrids and EV's to this point.  Which is frustrating.  Given our own experience with hybrids and a Nissan Leaf, these are great cars and it is very satisfying to be driving by most gas stations...and all of them for EV's.

Some times you wonder how dedicated the auto manufacturers are to building volume?  It seems they use hybrids and EV's mostly to meet overall EPA targets for MPG.  Many times they just don't seem to be truly dedicated to these brands.  Too bad.  These cars offer a great driving experience, plenty of environmental benefits and future financial gains as well.

Electric cars 'will be cheaper than conventional vehicles by 2022'


Analysis predicts that the total cost of ownership of electric cars will dip below those with internal combustion engines in 2022

Electric cars will be cheaper to own than conventional cars by 2022, according to a new report.

The plummeting cost of batteries is key in leading to the tipping point, which would kickstart a mass market for electric vehicles, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analysts predict.

The large-scale roll-out of electric vehicles (EVs) is seen as vital in both cutting the carbon emissions that drive climate change and in dealing with urban air pollution, which leads to many premature deaths every year. But, despite subsidies in many countries, EVs remain more expensive than conventional cars and the limited range of battery-only cars is still a concern. Currently, just 1% of new cars sold are electric.

However, the analysis published by BNEF on Thursday predicts that the total cost of ownership – combining purchase price and running costs – of battery-only cars will dip below those with internal combustion engines in 2022, even if the conventional cars improve their fuel efficiency by 3.5% a year.

The analysis uses the US government’s projected oil price of $50-$70 (£36-£50) a barrel in the 2020s. If the price is $20, the tipping point is pushed back by between three and nine years.

Salim Morsy, senior analyst at BNEF, said: “In the next few years, the cost-of-ownership advantage will continue to lie with conventional cars, and we therefore don’t expect EVs to exceed 5% of sales in most markets – except where subsidies make up the difference. However, that cost comparison is set to change radically in the 2020s.”

Colin McKerracher, lead analyst at BNEF, added: “At the core of this forecast is the work we have done on EV battery prices. Lithium-ion battery costs have already dropped by 65% since 2010, reaching $350 per kWh in 2015. We expect EV battery costs to be well below $120 per kWh by 2030, and to fall further after that as new chemistries come in.”

The report projects that 35% of global new car sales – 41m a year – will be EVs in 2040, with one in four of all cars being an EV by then. This would have a knock-on effect on global energy use, cutting oil consumption by 14% and using 8% of all electricity. New EV sales could be as high as 50% in 2040 if they become widespread in fleets and ride-sharing schemes or as low as 25% if oil prices remain very low for many years.

Previous predictions for EV sales have been overly optimistic. President Barack Obama predicted 1m electric cars in the US by 2015: in January that year the total was 280,000. But McKerracher said past predictions were based on very limited data on actual sales and on falling battery costs, while air pollution and fuel efficiency policies are getting tougher.

The best-selling battery-only EV since 2009 is the Nissan Leaf (186,000 sold) followed by the Tesla model S (79,000), according to BNEF. The best-selling plug-in hybrid EV – which has both electric and conventional engines – is the Chevrolet Volt (87,000). BNEF predict sales of plug-in hybrids will fall after 2030 as battery-only cars get cheaper and have longer range.

The UK’s government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, say 60% of new car sales in the UK should be electric by 2030 to deliver the nation’s carbon cuts at the least cost.

That is “very aggressive”, according to McKerracher, but he said EV sales will rise faster in countries that invest early in charging infrastructure or crack down on air pollution in cities. Climate change policies also will be important, he said: “If anyone takes the commitments made at the UN summit in Paris with any degree of seriousness, you have to decarbonise transport.”

UK motorists appear to be warming to the idea of EVs, according to a new survey of 2000 drivers commissioned by BMW. It found 20% said their next new car would be electric, although 59% were unaware of the £5,000 subsidy currently on offer from the government. However, those wishing to take advantage will have to hurry, as the subsidy falls from April to £2,500-£4,500 depending on the model bought.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Florida Officials Drain Lake Full Of ‘Toilet’ Water To Coast

China gets rightfully criticized for over development and an almost complete lack of environmental protection.  Perhaps FL should suffer equal rebuke.

In this day and age are we willig to let industrial companies pollute our lakes?  Do you want water resources overflowing with toxic waste?  With today's technology, can't we balance economic actiivity with ecological protection?

Of course we can.  This is dispickable.  Shame on the companies and government officials, state and federal, who let this happen.  Let's throw them all in the "toilet" Lake Okeechobee has become and empty their pockets in restoring the lake and surrounding habitat. 

Florida Officials Drain Lake Full Of ‘Toilet’ Water To Coast


Aerial view of polluted waters caused by last Okeechobee discharge, dubbed the "Lost Summer," in 2013

With tourist season just around the corner, Florida’s beach communities would normally be preparing for a happy, healthy summer. Instead, they’re reeling from polluted water that is likely to inflict severe damage to the local economy and environment.

Lake Okeechobee, a large inland lake in southern Florida, is experiencing its highest water levels in nearly a century due to heavy rains that fell during the month of January. This should not be suprising, because heavy rainfall events are increasing as the planet warms. But after water levels reached a foot above normal, public officials began to worry that the excess water was putting too much stress on the lake’s aging dike. Officials then made the decision to drain the lake out toward Florida’s coasts. There was one problem: Lake Okeechobee’s waters are toxic.

Local industry has long been using Okeechobee’s waters as a dumping ground for an assortment of chemicals, fertilizers, and cattle manure. David Guest, managing attorney of the Florida branch of the environmental law group Earthjustice, called the lake a “toilet.” While the pollution was once confined to the lake, it now flows toward Florida’s coastal communities via local rivers. The water, which is flowing out of the lake at 70,000 gallons per second, will soon pollute the ocean waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
Lake water being discharged into local rivers.
Lake water being discharged into local rivers.

This pollution has immediate consequences for southern Florida’s environment and economy. The untreated water contains toxic chemicals and fertilizers that are harmful to local flora and fauna, and the fertilizers and chemicals found in the water are known to cause algal blooms, which are known to poison shellfish and make life difficult for the marine food chain. Dawn Shirreffs, a senior policy adviser at the Everglades Foundation, told ThinkProgress that there have been reports of dead fish being found along the coastline. This is especially concerning since many species will migrate to Florida to seek comfortable water temperatures this time of year.

The local economy, much of which is driven by tourism, will also be negatively affected by the polluted lake water. In 2013, the last time a significant water discharge occurred in southern Florida, locals dubbed the season the “lost summer,” due to the downturn in tourism and beach-going as a result of the polluted coastal water. In 2015, FloridaRealtors, a trade organization representing the Florida real estate industry, commissioned a study assessing the impact of water pollution on home values in Martin County, Florida. The results were alarming. During the “lost summer,” aggregate real estate value fell half a billion dollars, as potential buyers were reluctant to buy or invest in property that was near water that was both toxic and objectively disgusting.

Furthermore, as sea levels rise, many Floridians are right now coping with coastal flooding even when it isn’t raining. Cities like West Palm Beach, which sits between the south of the lake and the Atlantic Ocean, have faced increased flooding due to higher sea levels. Adding polluted lake water to the mix makes this even more of a problem. It’s also a problem for the tens of thousands of sharks that would normally be farther south off the coast of Miami — but this year are off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale. They appear to be doing this because the water is warmer — which puts them closer to the polluted lake water.
Lake Okeechobee can be seen from space. This massive dumping ground for chemicals and fertilizers is about to pollute Florida's coastal communities.
Lake Okeechobee can be seen from space. This massive dumping ground for chemicals and fertilizers is about to pollute Florida’s coastal communities.

Immediate solutions are hard to find. Unfortunately, given the immense pressure on the lake’s infrastructure due to the excess precipitation, there is no other option but to discharge the toxic water to the ocean. John Campbell, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the water could not be diverted south of the Everglades right now because Lake Okeechobee’s water levels are just too high.

Speaking to ThinkProgress, the Everglades Foundation elaborated on current efforts by local, state, and national officials to secure funding for new infrastructure that can help prevent this from occurring in the future. Current proposals include the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and the Central Everglades Project. Dawn Shirreff, of the Everglades Foundation, said these plans have high levels of support.

In the meantime, those affected by the lake discharge are raising awareness and taking action. Mayors and local officials are calling on Florida Governor Rick Scott to issue a state of emergency, and a delegation of mayors and activists traveled to Capitol Hill on Monday to ask federal lawmakers for help. Last Friday, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) toured Lake Okeechobee with water experts and the Lt. Colonel of the Army Corps. of Engineers. Nelson said the lake discharge was “idiotic,” and is currently working on getting bipartisan support for funding to remedy the situation. Tourists and locals are posting pictures of the dirty water on social media, hoping to raise awareness, and a local activist group called “River Kidz” organized a protest along the St. Lucie River on Sunday.

Friday, April 22, 2016

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From Climate Realty Project

Good way to celebrate Earth Day and follow up on yesterday's conversation with Earth Day Network.  Enjoy and jump in to help.

Last year, we started something big. 
Last year, we stood up and marched to demand real action on climate change.

We clicked. We signed. We shouted from the rooftops. And then we made history in December when world leaders reached the Paris Agreement to stop the climate crisis. Now, it’s time to keep the momentum from Paris going in all 195 nations around the world. Today on Earth Day, world leaders have come together to begin to formalize the Paris Agreement and publicly commit to cutting emissions and expanding renewable energy back at home. And today, we hope you’ll join us in saying “Thank you.”
Since the Paris Agreement was announced four months ago, we’ve seen incredible progress as countries step up their efforts to cut emissions and increase work on climate solutions in a host of sectors, highlighting just how important the agreement is to the future of our planet. Now it’s up to us to support the leaders who are putting aside their differences for the health of the planet and committed to creating a sustainable, clean energy future for all of us. 
So today, take a moment to thank our leaders and pledge your support for bold action to stop climate change. Because thanks to the Paris Agreement, the future we want is finally in view. And if we’re brave and if we’re dedicated, we’ll get there together. 
Thank you for all that you do,
- Your friends at Climate Reality

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Earth Day Network/Earth Day, 2016

Is back with us tomorrow for an Earth Day update.  Susan Bass, their Senior Vice President, Programs and Operations, tells us that Earth Day will be celebrated tomorrow by over 1 billion people across more than 190 countries.  Amazing.

She tells us much more.  Listen in at Renewable

Also, we remind you to call our listener line, 24/7, with comments and suggestions on past and future shows, stories, new content and to be a guest with us if you are an expert in the "business side of green".  Call us anytime at:   401.589.2300

Earth Day 2016 - Trees for the Earth poster

This Earth Day, let’s get really big stuff done for our planet.

What are we waiting for? The time is now.
The movement continues.
We are now entering the 46th year of a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action.
In 1970, the year of our first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues. Forty-six years later, we continue to lead with groundbreaking ideas and by the power of our example.
And so it begins. Today. Right here and right now. Earth Day is more than just a single day — April 22, 2016. It’s bigger than attending a rally and taking a stand.
This Earth Day and beyond, let’s make big stuff happen. Let’s plant 7.8 billion trees for the Earth. Let’s divest from fossil fuels and make cities 100% renewable. Let’s take the momentum from the Paris Climate Summit and build on it.
Let’s start now. And let’s not stop

Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not a Marketing Strategy

Great article from Advertising Age (and thanks so supporter, Harry K in Detroit, for sending this in) that says it all on the passion behind corporate transformation.  It must come from the heart.  Anything less is an abject failure, for the company and society.

We did a great interview yesterday with Mars Company, which includes a giant, global food provider, including Uncle Ben's rice, and their passion around sustainability is inspiring.  They live it.  It is embedded in every principle of running their company.  They share triple-bottom line wins with their staff, customers and communities in every part of the world.

This article, and that interview, gives us confidence that we are headed for a new era in business ethics.  COP 21 taught us about collaboration around governments, academia and the business community.  That cooperation is playing out in every city and town on every continent.  The seeds of change are being planted by the millions.  Let's make sure we give them proper nourishment..  Real, true economic and social equity will blossom then for centuries.

Karen Quintos

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." Sound familiar? It's an oft-misattributed Gandhi quote puttering around on America's bumpers and inked in high school yearbooks. While Gandhi never spoke these words, the message is a noble one. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that the sentiment informs some of America's most innovative brands when it comes to corporate social responsibility.

The cynical version of this story tells us that CSR comes from a desire for good publicity, or perhaps a positive marketing push. At Dell, this version simply doesn't stick, says senior VP-CMO Karen Quintos. "Ultimately, CSR is not a marketing strategy -- it's a tool for building a better business," she says. Indeed, this do-better impetus permeates Dell's entire life cycle -- driving leadership, culture, production, design, business objectives, revenue and more. Quintos's leadership in this area earned her a well-deserved Social Responsibility accolade at The CMO Awards, where together we dove deeper into this fascinating ethos

More than a feeling
Rather than a feel-good campaign or series of projects, at Dell, corporate social responsibility is "a mindset that's part of our culture," says Quintos. In a world of growing demand and finite resources, Dell creates value for customers and communities through both its products and its processes. The point of technology, after all, is finding solutions to some of life's biggest problems, with the intention of leaving the world a better place for future generations.
Dell's Legacy of Good Plan outlines 21 ambitious CSR goals that Quintos says her team intends to achieve by 2020. Among them, she calls out the industry-leading circular economy practices of designing out waste and creating a more sustainable supply chain. "To date, we've recycled more than 4.2 million pounds of e-waste plastics and put them back into new Dell products," she says, in addition to replacing virgin materials with recycled carbon fiber to keep millions more pounds of waste out of landfills. "These programs provide greater efficiency to Dell, but also to our customers, who are increasingly looking for help to achieve their own CSR goals," Quintos says.
When business benefits and societal success align
As many CMOs are aware, getting the green light for programs that may not seem directly tied to revenue requires necessary perseverance. However, Quintos says that educating and shifting mindsets within management is crucial. "There's a perception that these programs involve compromising on cost or quality, but we're actually seeing the opposite," she tells me. "CSR initiatives are often a source of hidden efficiencies and innovation" in addition to providing societal benefits.
For example, in product packaging: "Since 2009, we've saved more than $50 million and avoided 30 million pounds of packaging by using sustainable materials and deliberately reducing the amount of packaging used to ship our products." Tens of millions in savings is certainly nothing to sneeze at. "It's also a great innovation story with real benefit to our planet and our customers," says Quintos, "many of whom share our commitment to a cleaner planet."
The culture of social responsibility
In Quintos's opinion, the best approach to achieving CSR success, besides management's approval, is deeply embedding it into the mission of the company. "Everything we do from a CSR perspective ties back to our core belief that the purpose of technology is to enable people to solve problems, make discoveries, and advance society on a global scale." This includes programs to provide universal access to IT and training starting with underserved youth, and working with doctors to bring high-level computing to the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancer. "When your CSR strategy is grounded in your company purpose," says Quintos, "it becomes a lot more clear what and how you should be engaging with your people, communities and planet."