Wednesday, 8 October 2008

British Waterways to erect wind turbines by canals and rivers

Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 08/10/2008

British Waterways has announced plans to erect wind turbines at canal and riverside locations over the next five years.

The power generated from 50 turbines will be enough to supply power to 45,000 homes - the equivalent of the Lancashire canal-side town of Blackburn.

British Waterways said only environmentally appropriate sites would be developed and the money from the sale of the electricity produced would be ploughed back into maintaining historic waterways.
The organisation, which looks after 2,200 miles of canals and rivers throughout the UK, claims to be the first public corporation to look at opportunities provided by wind turbines and small-scale hydro power schemes.
Robin Evans, British Waterways chief executive, said: "This is a real example of a public organisation using its land in innovative ways to generate additional income and work towards a more sustainable future.
"We look after 2,200 miles of canals and rivers throughout the UK and, whilst always protecting their heritage, are proactively looking at how we can use this resource to make a contribution towards the fight against climate change.
"We believe that our waterside land could host around 100 megawatts of renewable energy capacity - some 219,000 mega watt hours. If we successfully develop this resource it would mean that the nation's canal network would generate more than 10 times more electricity than it consumes."
British Waterways will be working with Partnerships for Renewables, set up to develop and operate renewable energy projects, and HSBC's Environmental Infrastructure Fund, which will be covering the costs of the development process.
Stephen Ainger, chief executive of Partnerships for Renewables, said: "When Partnerships for Renewables was set up by the Carbon Trust it was in the knowledge that the public sector owned more than 10 per cent of the land in the UK, but was having real difficulty translating this resource into renewable energy generation.
"We believe that this announcement marks the beginning of a trend in the public sector to embrace the potential of renewable energy generation and it is great to see that British Waterways has demonstrated the vision to become a torch bearer for others to follow."
Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner Nick Rau said: "We're delighted that British Waterways is planning to take action on climate change by generating its own safe, clean renewable energy and cutting fuel bills at the same time.
"Community-scale renewable energy projects such as hydropower schemes and wind turbines have a huge role to play in reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and helping Britain to develop a low-carbon economy.
"It is clear that renewable energy generation development could offer substantial economic and environmental benefits right across the public sector and we hope that other public organisations follow the lead set by British Waterways."

Wind farm developers offering 'bribes' to local communities, campaigners say

Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Last Updated: 5:01pm BST 07/10/2008

Developers are "bribing" communities to back wind farms by offering to pay for lunch clubs for pensioners and children's play parks, according to campaigners.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) say at least 35 communities have been offered so called "goodwill" payments - one for every English region - by developers interested on building wind farms in the area.

Wind turbines: the 'goodwill' payments can be worth million of pounds over the lifespan of a wind farm
The payments, also known as "community funds", can be worth millons of pounds over the lifetime of a wind farm and pay for a range of projects, from bird watching events to sailing clubs.
The CPRE say the payments could be seen as "paying for planning permission" and do not offer as much money as communities deserve from wind farms. The organisation is calling on the Government to outlaw the system and instead force companies to contribute to environmental or rural schemes whenever a development goes ahead.
However, developers say the payments are a transparent and routine part of "corporate social responsibility" which offers money to the community where large scale developments are planned.
The CPRE looked at a range of wind farm developments, either at the planning stage or operational, that had offered money to the community either as a one-off or over the life of the wind farm.

Paul Miner, CPRE's senior planning campaigner, said the payments could be seen as "bribes".
"What is concerning us is generally these kind of things would not be allowed in planning system because they would be seen as bribes or buying planning permission," he said.
"If this is allowed to become widespread then it is going to lead to people thinking planning permission can be bought and sold."
Mr Miner also said communities would be entitled to more money from the windfarm if payments were made an official part of the planning process.
"By accepting them, communities may also be getting a worse deal than they would if wind farm developers were made to offer them through the planning system," he added.
The CPRE is campaigning for the Government to outlaw goodwill payments in the new Planning Bill going through the Lords and instead make wind farms liable to a levy that will go towards small scale renewables, district heating or countryside improvments in the area.
Mr Miner added: "CPRE supports the need to increase investment in renewable energy, including wind energy, but goodwill payments threaten to bring the planning system into disrepute and are questionable even on the grounds of the need for more renewable energy. We believe that the solution is to outlaw these payments completely.
"Energy companies should be required to work through the planning process in the same way as any other developer."
However a spokesman for the British Wind Energy Association said it was "outrageous" to suggest community funds could be unlawful.
He said community funds were set up in partnership with prominent members of the community as a way of ensuring the local area benefits from a development, for example by renovating an historic building or furnishing a sports club.
"To suggest that there is an unlawful element and bribery is outrageous," he said. "The way things work, this is a way local communities can share profits from a wind farm."
Developers E.ON and RES routinely offer a community fund for any large scale industrial development. Both companies said it was a transparent process designed to enable communities to directly benefit from development in their area.

UN agency questions wider use of biofuels

By Elisabeth Rosenthal
Published: October 7, 2008

ROME: The United Nations food agency on Tuesday called for a review of biofuel subsides and policies, noting that they had contributed significantly to rising food prices and the hunger in poor countries.
With policies and subsidies to encourage biofuel production in place in much of the developed world, farmers now often find it more profitable to plants crops for fuel rather than for food, a shift that has helped lead to global food shortages.
Current policies should be "urgently reviewed in order to preserve the goal of world food security, protect poor farmers, promote broad-based rural development and ensure environmental sustainability," said a report released by the executive director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Jacques Diouf, in Rome on Tuesday.
"The challenge is to reduce or manage the risks while sharing the opportunities more widely," he said.
In releasing the report, the UN joins other environmental groups and prominent international experts who have called for an end to - or at least a serious overhaul of - subsidies for biofuels, which are cleaner, plant-based fuels that can be substituted for oil and gas in some circumstances.

In a devastating assessment released this summer, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development concluded that government support of biofuel production in OECD countries was hugely expensive and "had a limited impact on reducing greenhouse gases and improving energy security." It did have "a significant impact on world crop prices," the report noted.
"National governments should cease to create new mandates for biofuels and investigate ways to phase them out," the report concluded.
Within the past eight years, as oil prices have risen and concerns about carbon emissions have grown, a number of countries including the United States and some in the European Union have put into place a variety of subsidies and incentives to jump start the fledgling biofuel industry.
As a result, the production of biofuels based on agricultural crops increased more than threefold from 2000 to 2007, the FAO said.
But studies in the past year have concluded that the rush to biofuels has had some disastrous if unintended consequences for both food security and the environment: less food available to eat in poor countries, skyrocketing global grain prices and a loss of precious forests as farmers create new fields to join in the biofuel boom.
Worse still, experts say, many plants take so much energy to convert into useable fuel that the total carbon emissions are greater than fossil fuels they replace, like oil or gas. The OECD reports said that only two food crops are "greener" than oil when considering the entire "lifecycle" of their production: used cooking oil and sugar cane from Brazil.
Sugar cane is far easier to convert to biofuel than corn or rapeseed, the crops generally grown for biofuel in Europe and the United States.
Already this year, the European Union has stepped back from its previous target of having 10 percent of Europe's transport fuel come from biofuel or other renewable fuels by 2020.
Last month, the European Parliament suggested that only 5 percent should come from renewable sources by 2015, and that a fifth should come from new alternatives "that do not compete with food production."
Currently, the vast majority of biofuel is derived from crops that could also be eaten or is grown on fields that could instead be used to grow food crops.
Newer second- or third-generation biofuels are made from weeds and crop waste, for example, and do not compete with food but "they are not as yet commercially available," the FAO report noted.
At the FAO on Tuesday, Diouf also stopped short of suggesting that the world should end biofuel subsidies. Rather, he said they should be revised to direct the benefit to developing nations. Groups such at the Clinton Global Initiative have suggested that struggling African countries were well poised to develop biofuel industries, by growing nonfood crops like jatropa, a weed.
Many countries say subsidies in the United States and Europe strongly favor home-grown crops. Critics have complained that the U.S. subsidy system, which favors corn-based ethanol, is unfair and damaging to the global environment because it makes it financially impossible to import cheaper and cleaner sugar-based fuel from Brazil.
"Opportunities for developing countries to take advantage of biofuel demand," Diouf said, "would be greatly advanced by the removal of the agricultural and biofuel subsidies and trade barriers that create an artificial market and currently benefit producers in OECD countries at the expense of producers in developing countries."

Climate change will allow tropical disease to spread to Europe

Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 3:01pm BST 07/10/2008
Climate change will allow wildlife diseases to spread more easily, a new report warns.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) lists the "deadly dozen" diseases which could threaten human health and global economies.
The study shows the impact climate change could have on the health of wild animals and how it can cascade onto human populations.
Avian flu, TB and Ebola are just some of the broad range of infectious diseases that threaten both humans and animals.
Pathogens that originate in or move through wildlife populations can also inflict massive economic damage. Since the mid 1990s avian inluenza is estimated to have caused $100bn in losses to the global economy.
The report, The Deadly Dozen: Wildlife Diseases in the Age of Climate Change, says better monitoring of wildlife is needed to detect how diseases are moving so health professionals can restrict their impact.
Dr Steven E Sanderson, president and CEO of the WCS, said: "The term 'climate change' conjures images of melting ice caps and rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities and nations, but just as important is how increasing temperatures and fluctuating precipitation levels will change the distribution of dangerous pathogens.
"The health of wild animals is tightly linked to the ecosystems in which they live and influenced by the environment surrounding them, and even minor disturbances can have far reaching consequences on what diseases they might encounter and transmit as climate changes.
"Monitoring wildlife health will help us predict where those trouble spots will occur and plan how to prepare."
WCS leads an international consortium that helps to monitor the movements of avian influenza through wild bird populations around the world.
The Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance (GAINS) was created in 2006 and now involves dozens of private and public partners that monitor global wild bird populations for avian flu.
Congresswoman Rosa L DeLauro, who supports GAINS, said: "Emerging infectious diseases are a major threat to the health and economic stability of the world.
"What we've learned from WCS and the GAINS program is that monitoring wildlife populations for potential health threats is essential in our preparedness and prevention strategy and expanding monitoring beyond bird flu to other deadly diseases must be our immediate next step."
The disease list includes some of the pathogens that may spread as a result of climate change:
•Avian influenza: Like human influenza, avian influenza viruses occur naturally in wild birds, though often with no dire consequences. The virus is shed by infected birds via secretions and faeces. Poultry may contract the virus from other domestic birds or wild birds. A highly pathogenic strain of the disease-H5N1-is currently a major concern for the world's governments and health organisations.
•Babesiosis: Babesia species are examples of tick-borne diseases that affect domestic animals and wildlife, and Babesiosis is an emerging disease in humans. In some instances, Babesia may not always cause severe problems by themselves but when infections are severe due to large numbers of ticks, the host becomes more susceptible to other infectious diseases.
•Cholera: Cholera is a water-borne diarrhoeal disease affecting humans mainly in the developing world. It is caused by a bacterium, Vibrio cholerae, which survives in small organisms in contaminated water sources and may also be present in raw shellfish such as oysters. Once contracted, cholera quickly becomes deadly.
•Ebola: Ebola hemorrhagic fever virus and its closely related cousin - the Marburg fever virus - easily kill humans, gorillas, and chimpanzees, and there is currently no known cure. As climate change disrupts and exaggerates seasonal patterns, we may expect to see outbreaks of these deadly diseases occurring in new locations and with more frequency.
•Intestinal and external parasites: Parasites are widespread throughout terrestrial and aquatic environments. As temperatures and precipitation levels shift, survival of parasites in the environment will increase in many places, infecting an increasing number of humans and animals.
•Lyme disease: This disease is caused by a bacterium and is transmitted to humans through tick bites. Tick distributions will shift as a result of climate change, bringing Lyme disease into new regions to infect more animals and people.
•Plague: Plague, Yersinia pestis - one of the oldest infectious diseases known - still causes significant death rates in wildlife, domestic animals, and humans in certain locations. Plague is spread by rodents and their fleas and alterations in temperatures and rainfall are expected to change the distribution of rodent populations.
•"Red tides": Harmful algal blooms off global coasts create toxins that are deadly to both humans and wildlife. These occurrences - commonly called "red tides"- cause mass fish deaths, marine mammal strandings, penguin and seabird mortality, and human illness and death from brevetoxins, domoic acid, and saxitoxins (the cause of "paralytic shellfish poisoning").
•Rift Valley Fever: Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is an emerging zoonotic disease of significant public health, food security, and overall economic importance, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. In infected livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats and camels, abortions and high death rates are common. In people (who can get the virus from butchering infected animals), the disease can be fatal.
•Sleeping sickness: Also known as trypanosomiasis, this disease affects people and animals. It is caused by the protozoan, Trypanosoma brucei, and transmitted by the tsetse fly. The disease is endemic in certain regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, affecting 36 countries, with estimates of 300,000 new cases every year and more than 40,000 human deaths each year in eastern Africa. Effects of climate change on tsetse fly distributions could play a role in the distribution of the disease.
•Tuberculosis: As humans have moved cattle around the world, bovine tuberculosis has also spread. It now has a global distribution and is especially problematic in Africa, where it was introduced by European livestock in the 1800s. Climate change impacts on water availability due to drought are likely to increase the contact of wildlife and livestock at limited water sources, resulting in increased transmission of the disease between livestock and wildlife and livestock and humans.
•Yellow fever: Found in the tropical regions of Africa and parts of Central and South America, this virus is carried by mosquitoes, which will spread into new areas as changes in temperatures and precipitation levels permit. One type of the virus-jungle yellow fever-can be spread from primates to humans and vice-versa via mosquitoes that feed on both hosts.

EU lawmakers seek to ease burden on business of cutting greenhouse gases

By James Kanter
Published: October 7, 2008

BARCELONA: European Union legislators voted Tuesday in favor of new laws aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but frustrated some environmentalists by taking steps to ease the burden on industry.
The EU created the world's largest emissions trading market in 2005 to require heavy industries to cap their pollution levels. So far, that initiative has not helped cut emissions by much, leading policy makers at the European Commission this year to propose changes in the way it operates.
The most contentious changes would make it more expensive for heavy industries to continue to pollute, by requiring them to buy more of their carbon permits after 2012. EU governments currently award the majority of those permits free.
On Tuesday, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament voted to support proposals by the commission that would require most electricity utilities to buy all of their permits starting in 2013. Countries like Poland, which rely heavily on coal, are seeking a more gradual phasing in.
But legislators also added new proposals that would exempt utilities that feed heating systems or use high-efficiency technologies for heating and cooling. They also voted in favor of subsidies worth about €10 billion, or $13.6 billion, that could help utilities to develop technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide from coal plants.

Joris den Blanken, the EU climate and energy director for Greenpeace, warned that the subsidies could prolong the use of dirty technologies.
"Carbon capture is an expensive gamble that gives coal a lifeline," he said.
But Chris Davies, a British member of the European Parliament, said that carbon capture and storage, known as CCS, was a way of slowing harmful emissions if many parts of Europe continued to rely on fossil fuels to generate power.
"EU governments must now either back this proposal to kick start CCS development or produce a realistic alternative," Davies said. "At present the ideas from the Parliament are the only show in town."
The full European Parliament is expected to vote in December on the proposals, which also will require approval by EU governments.
The committee supported including the aluminum and chemicals sectors in the system, which already includes the steel, cement, glass, and the pulp and paper sectors.
Businesses have warned that the EU plan will cost billions of euros to implement. In a concession to those sectors, legislators said that they would only need to buy 15 percent of their permits starting in 2013 - a move designed to shield them from competition from manufacturers outside Europe, where there is less regulation.
The commission had proposed making these industries buy more permits - 20 percent - starting in 2013.
The amount of permits companies would be required to buy would increase annually, to 100 percent by 2020.
Companies also would be able to import significant amounts of credits from United Nations carbon-cutting projects in countries like China and India. The value of those credits rose on Tuesday, as traders anticipated more demand over the next decade.
Allowing imported credits angered some environmentalists, who complained that the practice would let polluters off the hook.
"Countries and industries can buy their way out of their required emissions reductions by offsetting about a third of their effort," said Delia Villagrasa, a senior advisor at the environmental group WWF.
Legislators also backed proposals for national targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from sources that are not covered by the trading system, like road and sea transport, buildings, services, agriculture and smaller industrial installations. These targets would allow some poorer countries, like Bulgaria, to increase emissions by up to 20 percent, while obliging wealthier countries, like Denmark and Luxembourg, to make significant reductions.
In a new proposal, the committee said laggard nations should pay €100 for each ton of excess CO2, or face deductions from their allowances to emit from the trading system. Those fines would be put toward a central fund for research into renewable energy, efficiency and conservation.

Global carbon reduction targets

Discussions on carbon footprints and how to reduce emissions intensify with each new report. Statistics, targets and goals abound. David Adam explains how such climate goals are set, and why they may not be enough
David Adam,
Tuesday October 07 2008 10:11 BST

From supermarkets and oil companies to individuals, nations and continents, people are talking about reducing their carbon footprints. Statistics, targets and goals abound. But what do the aims such as the 80% cut by 2050 suggested in Britain's climate watchdog? How does your country's pledge measure up? And just how many parts per million carbon dioxide are too many?
Here, we explain how such climate goals are set, and why they may not be enough.Carbon levels
The level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million (ppm) in a given volume of air. The figure was about 280ppm before the industrial revolution and has been creeping up since. The latest reading was 387ppm, and the figure is rising at about 2ppm each year as emissions continue unabated.
But carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas: methane, nitrous oxide and numerous others also trap heat as they accumulate in the atmosphere, and must be included in calculations. To do this, scientists group them together, work out how much heat they trap, and calculate the amount of carbon dioxide that would be needed to cause a similar effect. The two figures are then added together, and called carbon dioxide equivalent - CO2[e].
The extra load from the other greenhouse gases bumps up the pure carbon dioxide concentration by up to a fifth. So, roughly, 400ppm CO2 = 450ppm CO2[e] and 550ppm CO2 = 650ppm CO2[e].
In predicting the likely temperature rise under a given emissions scenario, the all-inclusive CO2[e] figure is the important one, though this is not always made clear.Stabilisation goals
In 1996, the European Union said the world should limit the global temperature rise to 2C above preindustrial levels, and that this meant limiting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 550ppm CO2[e]. In reality, the relationship between carbon dioxide levels and eventual temperature rise is less precise. Scientists now talk only about likely ranges. The 2006 Stern Review said that 550ppm CO2[e] would drive temperatures up by between 1.5 and 4.5C, with a median rise of 3C. It said the world should aim for a stabilisation goal of between 450 and 550ppm CO2[e].
The lower end of that range (450ppm CO2[e]) is now commonly associated with a 2C rise, and the upper end (550ppm CO2[e]) with a 3C rise. In fact, scientists say that at 450ppm CO2[e] there is still a 50% chance that the 2C target will be exceeded.
Jim Hansen, Nasa's top climate scientist, says that even a 2C rise may not avoid dangerous large scale impacts such as melting of ice sheets, and says world CO2 should not be allowed to remain above 350ppm CO2, significantly below its current level – that means removing CO2 from the atmosphere and burying it.Targets and timetables
The world has not yet set a global goal to limit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but 450ppm CO2[e] is often used as an example. In 2007, the G8 group of nations converted this target to a 50% cut in world emissions by 2050. As any new climate deal is likely to permit developing countries to continue increasing their emissions for the foreseeable future, the bulk of this burden will fall on rich countries such as the US and Britain. Britain's share of the load could be as much as a 95% cut of national emissions by 2050.
In anticipation of such a demand on them, several countries including Britain have unilaterally pledged to cut their emissions. Several have also set interim targets, such as the EU's pledge to reduce emissions 20% by 2020, rising to 30% if enough countries follow its lead. Cities, companies and states have also set targets. Here is a selection:
Moving the goalposts?
Some scientists have criticised climate targets as based on "anecdotal rather than systematic" information. Others point out that they can fail to include all sources of emissions. Britain's original climate change bill, for example, failed to include pollution from aviation and shipping, though its climate watchdog now recommends they are included.
David King, former chief scientific adviser to the government, has said it is critical that official targets are "seen to be achievable". This has led to a stand-off between both campaigners and scientists who complain that domestic targets are not ambitious enough, and politicians who fear setting unrealistic goals. Some scientists are even saying that the G8's global goal of 50% reductions by 2050 - already very difficult to achieve - is not enough.
In May, experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the G8 goal "will not avoid global impacts". They said the target should be tightened to a 80% cut in world emissions by 2050.
Many observers believe radical political leadership is essential if such severe cuts are to be achieved, with the summit taking place in Copenhagen in December 2009 seen as a pivotal moment. The scale of the task was highlighted this month by the UK Met Office, which warned that global greenhouse gas emissions would have to start falling by 3% from 2010 to stand a chance of limiting warming to 2C. Global emissions are currently rising.

Nearly half of FTSE-250 companies keep their carbon footprints hidden

• 105 firms fail to respond to Carbon Disclosure Project • Shell reaches 743m tonnes of carbon a year and rising
Terry Macalister
The Guardian,
Wednesday October 8 2008

The number of leading British companies willing to disclose their carbon footprint to City investors has fallen this year, research reveals today.
Only 58% of companies in the FTSE-250 index responded to the latest survey by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Those who refused to take part include Thomas Cook and the InterContinental Hotels Group.
The figures have angered environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, which said they undermined efforts to make reporting mandatory.
Those firms that did reveal their numbers to the CDP include Shell, which admitted that the total amount of carbon produced by extracting and then burning its oil and gas reached 743m tonnes last year - considerably higher than the total for the whole of the UK.
Drax, the coal-fired power station company, was among those that did give details to the project but only on condition they were not publicly revealed.
Some of those that refused to cooperate claimed that global warming was not "relevant" to their operations or said they did not have the resources to provide information, said Paul Simpson, chief operating officer of the CDP, which acts on behalf of 385 institutional investors with $57tn (£33tn) of funds under management.
"It is very concerning but it's a matter of whether you look at the glass half empty or the glass half full," he said. "There is enormous progress from where we were five years ago."
The well-to-wheels figures released by Shell, BP and others were worrying, he admitted. "The emissions from product use given by companies such as Shell, BP and Rio Tinto are high but we should really be applauding these companies for leading the way by providing full Scope 3 disclosures [including product use and disposal as well as production]. This is not a company problem; it is a society problem because we use these products and we can only deal with it if we have some true figures to deal with."
Shell's 743m tonnes compares with 587m for Britain as a whole and is likely to grow as the company develops its tar sand schemes in Canada. Rio Tinto reported 660m and BP 521m tonnes.
Tim Jenkins, chief economist at Friends of the Earth, said the poor level of response to the CDP survey showed that companies could not be relied on to give vital information voluntarily. "This undermines the government's strategy of weakening the Lords amendment and its efforts to introduce carbon budgeting."
Kevin Smith, climate and finance campaigner at the environmental group Platform, said firms such as Shell were also undermining the efforts of thousands of people in Britain who were doing all they could to avert a climate crisis. He believed the government should intervene.
"We should be looking to regulate those institutions whose profitability is tied to increasing the amount of fossil fuels they extract," he said. "This structure of shareholder return makes them unable to make meaningful emissions cuts."
Neither Thomas Cook nor InterContinental Hotels were available for comment.

Europe backs carbon capture with €10bn

By Joshua Chaffin in Brussels and Ed Crooks in London
Published: October 7 2008 22:13

European legislators have committed about €10bn ($13.6bn, £7.7bn) to help build as many as a dozen power stations equipped to capture and store carbon dioxide, throwing its weight behind a technology that supporters say has immense potential to curb greenhouse gases.
The European parliament’s environmental committee brushed aside concerns about financial turmoil to back the unproven technology, in a narrow vote in favour of a package that would make Europe a global leader in cutting emissions.

Tuesday’s vote was dubbed “Super Tuesday” by legislators and environmentalists eager for Europe to pass an ambitious climate regime ahead of an international meeting next year to renegotiate the Kyoto Treaty.
It will form the basis of discussions with the EU’s 27 member states, with France hoping for a final agreement before the end of their presidency in December.
The environmental committee endorsed the target for the EU to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, or 30 per cent if a broader international agreement is struck. It also supported an expansion of Europe’s carbon emissions trading scheme that would force power generators to pay for 100 per cent of their emissions allowances, beginning in 2013. They currently receive most for free.
Plans to develop as many as 12 power plants, equipped with carbon capture and storage to test the technology, were agreed by EU governments last year. However, little progress was made because they had not been allocated any funding.
The proposal approved onTuesday would set aside revenue from carbon credits that Europe will sell at auction, beginning in 2013, as part of its expanded emissions trading scheme. Those allowances could be worth roughly €10bn, according to Chris Davies, the liberal MEP who is championing the technology. Mr Davies’ proposal would also allow for at least one of the pilot plants to be built in China, which is heavily reliant on coal-fired power plants.
The vote took place against a backdrop of darkening economic news that appeared to give new weight to efforts by industrial lobbyists and some member governments to delay or dilute the measures.
Hans-Ulrich Engel, head of oil and gas and the European region for BASF, the German chemicals and energy group, on Tuesday urged Brussels to protect energy-intensive industries from the increased energy costs imposed by the emissions trading scheme: a proposal already made by the German government.
He warned that unless Brussels moved quickly to ease the impact of the ETS, investment in industry would be displaced out of the EU.
Avril Doyle, the MEP who drafted one of the bills, acknowledged the economic environment, but said that legislators could not put aside long-term goals because of a short-term crisis. The committee did offer some concessions, allowing so-called energy-intensive industries a phase-in period for the new trading scheme.
Beginning in 2013, they would have to purchase only 15 per cent of their emissions allowances; down from the 20 per cent figure set out by the European Commission earlier this year. That will increase to 100 per cent by 2020.
It also pulled back from a measure that would have placed a ceiling on carbon emissions for new power plants at 350g per kilowatt hour, a measure that would have banned construction of new coal-fired plants. Instead, the committee set the limit at a more manageable 500g, the same as that set by California.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

The green washing liquid that gets whites clean

Last Updated: 3:01pm BST 06/10/2008
A cold water laundry gel is being hailed as a green breakthrough as it promises to get whites clean at low temperatures.

Proctor and Gamble is launching a version of Ariel that it claims cleans clothes effectively at temperatures as low as 59ºF (15ºC).Launched under the slogan 'Cold is the new hot' the new gel reinforces the environmentally-friendly message that consumers can save money on energy by washing their clothes at half the temperature needed for traditional products.

Irwin Lee, UK and Ireland vice-president and managing director of Proctor and Gamble said that the new product had taken three years and five million trial formulations to develop.
He said that the gel would be rolled out worldwide but that the UK was the best place to launch it because the £961 million British laundry market was particularly competitive and consumers more demanding.
"Ariel Excel Gel is a breakthrough development designed from the drawing board for brilliant cleaning at low temperatures. It also demonstrates P&G's continued commitment to sustainable innovation on big brands " said Mr Lee.
The new product has already been welcomed by environmental campaigners WRAP which has called for other global manufacturers to be inspired by the innovation.
Richard Swannell, director of retail and organic programmes at WRAP told The Grocer trade magazine: "We hope it will encourage other brands and companies to look at their own product pipelines in a similar way."
Hugh Jones, director of solutions at the Carbon Trust also praised the launch describing it as an example of how innovation in design or services could help to drive carbon reductions.
He said: "Businesses that meet their customers' requirements at the same time as helping to reduce their impact on the environment will be the ones that capitalise on the opportunities created by a move to a low carbon economy."
Proctor and Gamble's previous 'green' initiatives include the 'Ariel Turn to 30' campaign which was launched two years ago.

Brighton aims to become United Nations 'biosphere reserve'

Graham Tibbetts
Last Updated: 2:01pm BST 06/10/2008

Brighton is launching a campaign to become the first city in the world to be recognised by the United Nations as a "biosphere reserve".

Brighton will compete with Rome, Seoul, Stockholm and Cape Town for recognition as a UN 'biosphere reserve'
The accolade is awarded by Unesco to areas which "innovate and demonstrate approaches to conservation and sustainable development".
If the seaside resort were successful it would join renowned conservation sites such as the central Amazon rainforests, Mojave desert and Cape Winelands in South Africa.
Brighton & Hove city council will launch its application later this month, highlighting its network of nature reserves on the edges of the South Downs, burgeoning local food production and low carbon housing schemes.
Denise Cobb, deputy leader, said: "Since 2007, over half the world's populations have lived in cities, so making cities less environmentally harmful - or even beneficial - is one of our most pressing needs."

She wants Brighton to "lead the way on sustainable cities and hopefully make us the UK's first urban biosphere reserve".
The city is vying with Rome, Seoul, Stockholm and Cape Town.
Unesco has begun accepting bids from cities for biosphere reserve status to try to "update the image of cities as hotbeds of pollution, stress, poverty and crime".
The Paris-based organisation has said that ecology and urban life should interweave seamlessly.
It says nature reserves are important and calls for buildings with green roofs and "green walls" hung with plants to encourage wildlife, as well as clean waterways and a commitment to low-carbon housing.
Among Brighton's nature reserves are a community apple orchard at Stanmer Park and it also boasts acres of allotments and an earthship - a low carbon demonstration home with old car tyres for walls.
An apartment complex being built in the centre, One Brighton, will have allotments on the roof and will be powered by renewable energy.
Shops include Vegetarian Shoes and Arka, which offers eco-friendly funerals.
However, critics believe Brighton's traffic congestion and its residents' large carbon footprint - the fourth worst of 60 British cities, according to WWF - make it an unsuitable candidate.
Keith Taylor, convenor of the local Green party which has 12 councillors, said: "The aspiration to become the UK's first urban biosphere city is fantastic.
"But we have a history in this city of chasing titles. I wonder whether we actually need to be called an urban biosphere city when actually what's really wanted is action?"
Bryn Thomas, who runs the Brighton Permaculture Trust, which looks after the orchards at Stanmer, said: "The carbon footprint of Brighton and Hove is one of the highest in the country, quite simply because it is an affluent region.
"There's higher car ownership, more international air travel, people are more likely to buy beans flown in from Kenya in Brighton and Hove than in the valleys of Wales, where carbon footprints are smaller."
The World Network of Biosphere Reserves encompasses 531 sites in 105 countries.
Mount Olympus and north-east Greenland are among the locations, while in Britain the sites include the North Norfolk Coast and Beinn Eighe in Ross-shire, Scotland.

England and Wales water bodies - 80% fail to reach good ecological standard

Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 4:01pm BST 06/10/2008

Almost 80 per cent of water bodies in England and Wales are failing to reach good ecological standards, the latest survey has revealed.

Only 19 per cent were classed as 'good' or 'high' under a tougher EU standards scheme, 49 per cent were assessed as moderate while the rest were either 'poor' or 'bad'.Under the Environment Agency's annual General Quality Assessment (GQA) 76 per cent of English rivers, and 95 per cent of those in Wales, achieved 'very good' or 'good' status in terms of chemical water quality in 2007, up from 55 and 86 per cent respectively in 1990.
The biological quality of rivers had also continued to improve, it was claimed, with 72 per cent of rivers in England and 87 per cent of those in Wales, achieving 'very good' or 'good' status last year, up from 55 and 79 per cent respectively in 1990.
For the last 20 years the GQA has used levels of sewage and industrial pollutants to assess water quality without looking at the health of water creatures and plant life.
But under the new EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), much more rigorous assessments will be made and for the first time will apply not only to rivers but to lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater.
The WFD will impose commons standards across all EU countries concentrating more on the ecological health of water bodies with up to 37 individual measures of water quality such as the health of river insects and plants.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) claimed the new system had for the first time revealed the true condition of rivers with almost 80 per cent of water failing to reach a decent standard.
Sarah Oppenheimer, water policy officer at the RSPB, said: "The marked difference between the old and new measures shows we have only been seeing part of the picture. The RSPB has suspected this for many years.
"I don't want to detract from the huge progress made in ridding our rivers of sewage and industrial spills during the last 20 years.
"Still, many people will find it incredible we have been judging the health of our rivers without looking at what's happening to the fish and plants that live in them.
"The new measurements offer a chance to understand and improve the health of our rivers beyond recognition."
The Environment Agency claimed that river water quality had improved for the 18th successive year and that half of the water bodies had missed out on registering a 'good' status by failing on a single indicator.
"The WFD gives us new ways of measuring the health and quality of water and improving our understanding of the water environment as well as the health of associated animals and plants," said acting chief executive Paul Leinster.
"None of the previous major improvements in water quality have been lost. The new classifications enable us to take more targeted action to improve water quality further."

End use of fossil fuels in 20 years, UK warned

Juliette Jowit
The Guardian,
Tuesday October 7 2008

Britain must abandon using almost all fossil fuels to produce power in 20 years' time, the government's climate change watchdog will warn today.
The independent Climate Change Committee will publish its advice to the government that the UK should set a 2050 target of cutting all greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% - including the emissions from aviation and transport, which were previously excluded.
Because it is unlikely that emissions from aviation and shipping will be cut so dramatically, other sectors, particularly power generation, would have to reduce emissions by much more, with big increases in energy efficiency, wind and tide power, and probably new nuclear generators, Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, the committee chairman, told the Guardian.
"We have to almost totally decarbonise the power sector by 2030, well before 2050," he said.
The committee will say the far-reaching changes would cost about 1-2% of the value of the economy in 2050, although growth would still be strong. "Rather than be twice present levels, [gross domestic product] would be 1 or 2% less than that," added Turner.
In his speech to the Labour party conference last month, Gordon Brown hinted that the government would accept the new target when it responds, possibly within days, although it is not clear if it will accept the full report.
Last night Ed Miliband, the new energy and climate secretary, said he welcomed the report. "We need to act now to avoid dangerous climate change and the action we take must be guided by experts. This is a pressing issue and we'll respond to the recommendations swiftly. The hard work will be for us all to make emission reductions a reality over the coming decades."
If the report is accepted in full, campaigners said the UK target would be the most ambitious legally binding commitment of any country and would give the UK a strong position in international negotiations about a new global plan.
"It would mean finally the government would accept the advice of scientists," said Martyn Williams, climate change campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "We could say to people in international negotiations: you can do what we're doing, not just what we're saying."
However, Williams warned that in future the commitment to include aviation and shipping must also be made legally binding. "If the government [did] not accept a mechanism to make sure they and other governments were held to account, then we'd have to wonder if there was any confidence it would have to be delivered," he said.
The Climate Change Committee was set up by the climate change bill and was asked to advise government on whether to increase the target of a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2050.
Today's report will say the new target must be "at least 80%" and extend it to include other greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitrous oxide. International aviation and shipping should not be part of the legally binding interim "budgets" that the committee will report on each year but should be a national target, and would "absolutely end up with an equal level of scrutiny", said Turner.
In the first decade the biggest change would be a big expansion of energy efficiency and in the second decade of renewable energy. Such a "radical" change was "do-able" but could also require new nuclear power, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for coal-fired power stations and industries like cement and steel, both of which will be seen as controversial by environmental campaigners. "It's possible to do it while knocking out particular technologies [like nuclear or CCS], it just gets significantly costly and more difficult to do," said Turner.
Longer term, zero-carbon electricity would also have to be used to power cars and heat homes, says the report.
The report will increase pressure to abandon controversial plans for new coal-fired power stations in the UK before CCS is available at that scale. Ministers have previously admitted full-scale CCS might not happen before 2050. Turner said the committee's opinion would be published in a more detailed report in December.
The December report will also recommend interim targets up to 2022 and the impact of different industry sectors.

Amec wins deal for Sellafield as wind firm sold

Terry Macalister
The Guardian,
Tuesday October 7 2008

Amec showed its determination to pursue nuclear business at the expense of renewables yesterday when it signed a "transition agreement" to take over management of the Sellafield atomic site in Cumbria while selling off its wind business for £126m.
The engineering group is part of the Nuclear Management Partners consortium, which is now on course for a formal transfer of shares in Sellafield from the state-owned British Nuclear Fuels Ltd on November 24. Other consortium members include Areva of France and the US firm Washington.
The first five years of the deal would be worth about £5bn but the final transaction could run for 17 years, making it the biggest public procurement contract ever signed in the UK.
"Together we have the potential one day to export UK nuclear competencies and create a sustainable, long-term business for the UK," said Samir Brikho, chief executive of Amec.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the government-owned agency that will continue to own the land at Sellafield, said the expected privatisation would "secure exemplary operations on the site and value for money for the taxpayer".
The contract covers the decommissioning of the former nuclear power stations at Calder Hall and Windscale on the Sellafield site plus the management of the Thorp and Mox reprocessing plants. The deal also covers the Capenhurst nuclear facility in Cheshire and an engineering design centre at Risley, near Warrington.

Vattenfall to boost position in Britain

By Michael Kavanagh
Published: October 6 2008 23:12

Vattenfall, the Swedish power company, will strengthen its position in the British market with the purchase of Amec’s UK wind energy development business.
The £126m acquisition of the lossmaking business from the UK engineering services company is part of a wider agreement between the two companies aimed at developing wind power in the UK.
Under the terms of the deal Amec will be asked to provide specialist consultancy, engineering and project management services to Vattenfall’s wind powered electricity generation projects in the UK.
Amec Wind was established eight years ago to develop a portfolio of potential sites for on and off-shore wind farms. The portfolio sold consists of one site under construction and eight sites at varying stages in the planning process. The division generated a loss of £6m last year. Amec is retaining ownership of a proposed wind farm project on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.
Vattenfall, a large generator of hydro-electricity in Scandinavia, is Europe’s fifth-biggest generator and was involved in abandoned talks over the sale of British Energy, the nuclear generator sold to EDF of France.
Vattenfall already owns and operates the Kentish Flats offshore wind farm and recently announced an offer to acquire UK wind farm developer Eclipse Energy.
Shares in Amec, confirmed as a consortium partner in the nuclear decommissioning at Sellafield, closed down 83p at 510½p.
Amec was advised by Rothschild on the disposal.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

This green subsidy for car makers is just a disguised corporate bail-out

Having long sabotaged eco-innovations, the motor industry is now demanding billions to cut its carbon emissions

George Monbiot
The Guardian,
Tuesday October 7 2008

While all eyes were fixed on the banking bail-out, a bucketload of public money was quietly sloshed into the pockets of another undeserving cause. Last week, George Bush agreed to lend $25bn to US car manufacturers. It's a soft loan, which will cost the government $7.5bn. Few people noticed; fewer fought it. The House of Representatives approved the measure by 370 votes to 58. The great corporate bail-out is spreading like the plague.
It has already crossed the Atlantic. Yesterday European car makers demanded that the EU hand them €40bn ($54bn) in cheap loans to match the US subsidy. Where will the public spending spree end?
The motor companies in both Europe and the US claim they need these loans to help them go green. They will invest the money in a new generation of environmental technologies, which will allow them to meet the efficiency standards their governments are setting. There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents ... but how strange this green enthusiasm seems, now that there's the smell of public money in the air. For the past 10 years the car manufacturers have driven every useful green initiative into the wall.
In 1998 European car makers promised to show that they could cut their greenhouse gases voluntarily. By the end of 2008, they pledged, they would reduce the average emissions produced by their cars from 190 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre to 140. How well have they done? By the end of last year they had cut average pollution to 158g/km across Europe and 165g/km in the UK: they will miss their target by some 40%.
Discerning, only 10 years too late, that lobby groups' promises are worth as much as a share in Lehman Brothers, in 2006 the European commission announced that it would set compulsory standards: by 2012 all manufacturers would have to reduce their average CO2 emissions to 120g/km. It looked like progress, until you remembered that 120g was the target proposed by the EU in 1994, to be met by 2005. It was repeatedly delayed by industry lobbying.
Last year the 2012 target fell to the same forces. Angela Merkel, lobbying on behalf of companies such as DaimlerChrysler and BMW, demanded that the European commission put the brakes on. (Ironically it was Merkel, as the idealistic young German environment minister, who had first proposed the target of 120g/km by 2005.) The commission agreed to revise the figure to 130g, and to cover the gap by raising the contribution from biofuels. Since then we've seen hard evidence that most biofuels, as well as spreading starvation, produce more greenhouse gases than petrol; but the policy remains unchanged.
Now the pollutocrats are whingeing that they can't meet the 130g target either. A month ago they persuaded the European parliament's industry committee to take up their case: it proposed postponing the target until 2015, reducing the fines if they don't comply, and allowing manufacturers to offset eco-innovations against the target even if these don't actually reduce emissions. These invertebrates, in other words, proposed to grant official approval to industry greenwash. Fortunately this scam was rejected two weeks ago by the parliament's environment committee.
In the US, manufacturers have still not reached the standard (an average of 27.5 miles per gallon) that they were supposed to have met, under the Energy Policy Conservation Act, by 1985. The average car sold in the States today is less efficient than the 1908 Model T Ford.
What makes this dithering so frustrating is that to be talking, in 2008, about targets of 130 or 120g/km is a bit like discussing whether modern computers should have 10 rows of sliding beads or 100. In 1974 a stripped-down 1959 Opel T-1 managed 377 miles to the US gallon (160km/l), which equates to 15 grams of CO2 per kilometre. There is no technical reason why the maximum limit for mass-produced cars shouldn't be 50g/km.
Nor is there a good commercial reason. A poll by the Newspaper Marketing Agency shows that 80% of car buyers say economy is now more important to them than performance. The car industry's technological failure results entirely from lobbying by the companies now demanding public money to go green. They want to squeeze every last drop from existing technologies before switching to better models.
Their sabotage of green technology has been both subtle and comprehensive. The film Who Killed The Electric Car? shows how the manufacturers, working with oil companies and corrupt officials, sank California's attempt to change vehicle technologies. Having bumped off battery power, they persuaded the federal government to pour money instead into hydrogen vehicles, aware that the technological hurdles are so high that a cheap, mass-produced model might never be possible. Electric cars, by contrast, have been ready for the mass market for almost a century. The $1.2bn that the US government is spending on research and development for hydrogen cars - like the €2bn pledged to the same quest by the European Union - is a subsidy for avoiding technological change.
Now, after so much procrastination, the car makers have the flaming cheek to demand public money to pursue the policies they have spent 50 years and millions of dollars crushing. Of course, the "green loans" they are soliciting are nothing of the kind. Funding better environmental performance is simply an excuse for bailing out another failing industry. As a result of the credit crunch and high oil prices, new car registrations in the UK fell by 21% last month. In the US, sales by the major manufacturers have declined this year by between 20 and 35%.
There is no need to spend a penny of public money on greening the motor industry. As a recent report by the House of Commons environmental audit committee shows, you could achieve the same outcome by creating a bigger differential between vehicle tax bands: it proposes that people buying the least efficient cars should pay around £2,000 more per year than those buying the most efficient. This would kill the market for gas guzzlers and force the industry to make the changes it has long resisted.
But the government has taken all the flak a good tax policy would have generated for very little gain. Its controversial new vehicle tax banding will save a mere 0.16 million tonnes of CO2 per year: a drop in the acidifying ocean. At scarcely greater political cost it could have hammered emissions and generated much of the money it needs to revolutionise public transport. Again there has been a great historical slide: between 1920 and 1948 cars were taxed at £1 per horsepower: in real terms (and in some cases in nominal terms) a far higher rate for gas guzzlers than today's.
But subsidies are what governments pay when regulation doesn't happen. If you don't have the guts to force companies to do something, you must bribe them instead. It's a fair guess that European car makers will still fail to meet their environmental targets, even if they get the money they're demanding. The greenest thing governments could do is to allow these foot-dragging, planet-eating spongers to go under.

Stern: Financial crisis could promote clean energy

Global financial turmoil must not block creation of low-carbon economy, warns leading economist
Juliette Jowit,
Tuesday October 07 2008 00:01 BST

Lord Stern of Brentford, author of the government's influential report on climate change, has warned against the "danger" of letting the world economic turmoil block action to build a low-carbon economy.
But he also said the current situation "could be used well" to promote investment in efficiency and clean energy to help the UK and other countries boost their economies.
Speaking to the Guardian ahead of a speech to launch a new climate change economics centre at the London School of Economics, Stern said there were "two kinds of danger" because of the current fears of recession. "One [is] people can only concentrate on a limited number of things at the same time, and the second is people will be sensitive to cost increases, and those will have to be managed carefully," he said. "There's a danger: it needs leadership."
Instead, he argued, the current problems could help boost investment in tackling climate change because they have highlighted the dangers of not tackling global risks early enough, and could create much more international cooperation.
There were also more incentives to invest in energy efficiency during a recession and high oil prices, and spending on renewable and other low-carbon industries could help stimulate the economy, said Stern.
"We're going to have to grow out of this and have to create growth opportunities for long-term sustainable investment, and this is an area which looks as though it could well grow strongly and with the right support could be one of the major engines of growth," he said.
Stern's comments will be echoed today by the government's Technology Strategy Board, which will warn businesses it would be a "terrible mistake" to cut investment in new technology during the downturn.
"We will come out of this downturn and when we do it will be the businesses which held their nerve and continued to invest that will come out of the downturn first [and] emerge stronger and better equipped to face the challenges of the future," Iain Gray, the board's chief executive, will say.
Launching the Grantham Institute and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, Stern also outlined his global plan for action on greenhouse gas emissions, including a cut of 80%-95% in emissions for developed nations and a "commitment to commit" to cuts by the biggest developing countries like China and India, possibly as soon as 2020.
By 2050, average global emissions needed to be equivalent to 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person to try to avoid dangerous climate change, compared to 10-12 tonnes in the biggest economies, 5 tonnes in China and 1.5-2 tonnes in India, said Stern.
"The developing countries average emissions will have to be 2 tonnes by 2050 if the world average is 2 tonnes because they'll have 8 billion of the 9 billion [people]," he said.
But despite the big changes a clean energy revolution would herald, Stern predicted the impacts on people's lives would be less than the information technology revolution, for example: "We'll still move around, we'll heat our homes - homes will be more efficient and close to zero-carbon electricity. But at the same time it will be cleaner, quieter, more biodiverse, all those things. It will actually be much nicer."
Stern's report for the Treasury in 2006 famously described climate change as the world's greatest "market failure". But he dismissed suggestions the current economic crisis would prompt wholesale economic reform: "We're talking about fixing a market failure and achieving growth of a different kind: low carbon growth."

Climate change and energy policies lack cohesion, says Oxfam report

New energy and climate change secretary faces calls to unify government approach to environmental problems
John Vidal,
Monday October 06 2008 10:29 BST

Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change secretary. Photograph: David Levene
Ed Miliband will be greeted today on his first full day of work as the new secretary of state for energy and climate change with a 100-page Oxfam report showing how disjointed the government has become in tackling these two most pressing environmental problems.
The Oxfam Forecast report highlights how the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBRR) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have been contradictory in their policies.
It likens the different interests of companies, government departments and public attitudes as a "gathering storm", which must be resolved if UK climate policy is to secure a low-carbon future.
"Too often it has been a case of the left hand having no idea what the right hand is up to, and this [new department] must now bring a much-needed cohesiveness to government policies. With global climate and energy security at stake, the government must now demonstrate powerful leadership," said Barbara Stocking, head of Oxfam.
The report also urges companies like E.ON and Shell to reconsider their plans in light of climate change. "Strong decisions in boardrooms and Whitehall must be made over the next few months to ensure that we meet the challenges of climate change and begin to give the people we work with the chance for a better flood and famine free future."
"If E.ON is allowed to build the UK's first coal plant in 34 years, annual CO2 emissions from the Kingsnorth plant will be 7m tonnes — more than the combined output of 30 developing countries. A decision … to build Kingsnorth will open the way for a new coal era and jeopardise future UK emissions targets," it says.
The UK's independent climate change committee is expected to recommend this week that the government sets a binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 .
Shell plans to treble its investment by 2015 in unconventional oil sources such as those from Canada's oil sands, which are three times more polluting to produce.
"Going ahead with these plans would send a strong message to other countries that new dirty fossil fuels are acceptable, which would derail attempts to combat global warming at an international level — the consequences of which would be felt most by the poorest people on the planet," the report says.

Rural communities best equipped to cope with climate change: UN report

Sustainable use of resources and environment will give 2 billion of world's poor greatest chance of surviving extreme change
John Vidal,
Tuesday October 07 2008 00:01 BST

How climate change and flooding has directly affected the lives of people in Bangladesh. Photograph: Hassan Bipul/DFID
Rural communities which protect nature and exploit forests, wetlands and wildlife sustainably will be the best equipped to cope with the droughts and floods that will increasingly hit Africa, Asia and Latin America with climate change, says a new UN-backed report.
Nature-based enterprise, says the report from the World Resources Institute in Washington DC, offers the world's 2 billion rural poor key survival tools to weather the extreme changes that are expected. It argues that communities must be given secure rights to access, manage and profit from, the natural resources they depend on daily and calls on governments and development agencies to scale up such approaches.
Supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank, the report, called Roots of resilience, urges immediate action.
"Poverty will never be made history unless we invest in more intelligent management of the world's nature-based assets," said Achim Steiner, UNEP under-secretary general and executive director, at the report's launch in Barcelona. "Mainstreaming [such] models is now a matter of great urgency in a world challenged by climate change, in a world where we are pushing, if not pushing past, the regenerative limits of the planet's life support systems."
To support its case, the report highlights successful, groundbreaking examples of nature-based livelihoods around the world. In famine-prone Niger, one of the world's five poorest nations, it reports, low-cost farmer-led efforts to regenerate tree stumps has led to a dramatic re-planting of the semi-desert Sahel region, increasing both rural incomes and food supplies.
In Bangladesh, where 70 million people depend on floodplains for food and income, communities have achieved similarly spectacular results in reviving polluted and over-exploited wetlands. After the government awarded 110 villages joint control, along with local authorities, to manage sustainably the fisheries on the doorsteps, fish harvests rose by 140% and household incomes by a third.
Scaling up such successful enterprise models, according to Roots of resilience, requires governments and donors to engage communities in sustainably managing drylands, wetlands, watersheds, and forests so that they provide a reliable, renewable source of food and income. In the process, the report argues, poor households will also develop the resilience needed to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The report's blueprint for making this happen includes: transferring legal authority over local ecosystems to communities; building community capacity both to manage natural resources and establish successful nature-based enterprises; and helping local nature-based enterprises link into mainstream business markets.
"Local communities clearly have an interest to sustain the ecosystems on which they depend," said Manish Bapna, executive vice president of the World Resources Institute, in Barcelona. "But today, all too often, they face a disabling, not an enabling environment."

A brave new target: cut greenhouse emissions by 122%

A new approach to tackling climate change advocates setting emission reduction targets - of sometimes greater than 100% - according a country's responsibility and capacity to contribute to a solution. Could this ever be put into practice, asks Duncan Clark

Duncan Clark,
Monday October 06 2008 15:30 BST

Over the past 10 years, targets for cuts in CO2 emissions have crept up. Take the UK. Kyoto required a 12.5% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012, some of which we'd already achieved when we ratified the agreement. Next, the government promised a 20% reduction by the same date. That developed into a 60% cut by 2050, which the government has now accepted may need to become an 80% reduction.
George Monbiot and others have gone further, calling for a cut of more than 90% by 2050 to reflect the latest science and to allow for equal distribution of the right to pollute around the world.
Many think that targets such as these sound hopelessly ambitious, but a new report (pdf) from the Stockholm Environment Institute goes further still. It claims that for many developed countries a useful and just target will be a reduction of more than 100% – and in just over a decade. The report takes Sweden as a case study and concludes that its goal should be a drop in emissions of 122% by 2020.
Hold on a minute, I hear you cry, how can a country reduce its emissions by more than it produces?
The answer to that seeming paradox, of course, is to pay for emissions reductions abroad. But why should Sweden and other similar countries have to do that? Surely reducing its own emissions to zero – or nearly zero – would be enough?
Not according to the new report, which is based on an approach called Greenhouse Development Rights. This idea has been around a year or so, but hasn't often made the headlines. The new report is an interesting example of seeing how it might actually work in practice. It's all a bit complex, so bear with me here.
The approach is based on the idea that the developing world will, justifiably, never "prioritise rapid emissions reductions above its goal of human development for its people. Any strategy that even implicitly attempts to force such a prioritisation will be futile."
The way around this potential roadblock, the report suggests, is to work out the true responsibility of each country – ie its emissions – as well as its true capacity to contribute to the solution.
To work out the responsibility, you look at imports and exports to work out the true carbon footprint of each country. If an individual in the West purchases something – be it a phone made in China or a bean grown in Kenya – the emissions are allocated to your country, not the country that produced it. In the case of Sweden – which, like most rich countries, imports far more than it exports – this adds around a fifth to its official emissions figures.
How about capacity? The idea here is to set an income threshold – the report plumps for $20 per person per day – above which a responsibility for paying for climate change kicks in. It's a bit like how income tax works: you don't pay anything until you earn a fixed annual minimum.
Finally, you work out the total required cut in global emissions reductions and divvy it up nation-by-nation according to responsibility and capacity. In the case of Sweden, the report calculates that it should make (or pay for) 0.51% of the world's total emissions savings, which equates to 122% of its current emissions. This ambitious target, the report estimates, would cost the average Swedish citizen around $1.20 per day.
For comparison, the US would need to make or pay for 33% of the world's emissions saving, the EU 26%, Japan 7.8%, China 5.5% and India 0.5%. But over time, as emissions and income patterns shift, so do the targets. If a country gets greener, its responsibility drops. If it gets richer, it will be asked to do more.
All of which is rather neat. I'm going to ponder this idea more (the report doesn't make for easy Monday-morning reading), but my initial reaction to the GDR concept is positive – something worth serious consideration alongside competing schemes such as Contraction & Convergence and Kyoto2.
Unfortunately, as with all such schemes, it's hard to imagine today's world signing up. Sweden? Perhaps. The US? Perhaps not. The American politicians who have recently been describing the financial bail-out as the first step on the slippery path to socialism would doubtless make parallels between the GDR approach and that old Marxist maxim: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The report acknowledges that its proposal would be hard for many nations to swallow, with targets "large enough to seem implausible by today's standards of political realism." But it implores Sweden to take a do the right thing by the climate and the world's poor by committing to its 122% carbon cut in the run-up to the Copenhagen summit.
We'll have to wait and see if it happens. It seems a long shot to me, but we can take some comfort from the fact that a handful of Western governments – such as Sweden's – may at least seriously consider such targets. Thanks be for Scandinavia.

Now is the time to tackle global warming - Stern

Juliette Jowit
The Guardian,
Tuesday October 7 2008

Lord Stern of Brentford has suggested the credit crunch might provide an opportunity to invest in measures to tackle global warming as a way of stimulating economic growth.
Speaking to the Guardian ahead of a speech to launch a new climate change economics centre at the London School of Economics, the author of the government's influential report on climate change, said there were "two kinds of danger" because of the current fears of recession.
"One [is] people can only concentrate on a limited number of things at the same time, and the second is people will be sensitive to cost increases, and those will have to be managed carefully," he said. "There's a danger: it needs leadership."
But, he said, the current problems could help boost investment in tackling climate change because they have highlighted the dangers of not tackling risks early enough, and could create much more international cooperation.
There were also more incentives to invest in energy efficiency during a recession and when oil prices were high. Spending on renewable and other low-carbon industries could help stimulate the economy, said Stern.
"We're going to have to grow out of this ... and this is an area which looks as though it could well grow strongly and with the right support could be one of the major engines of growth," he said.
Stern's comments will be echoed today by the government's Technology Strategy Board, which warns businesses it would be a "terrible mistake" to cut investment in new technology during a downturn.
"We will come out of this downturn and when we do, it will be the businesses which held their nerve and continued to invest that will come out of the downturn first [and] emerge stronger," Iain Gray, the board's chief executive, will say.
Despite the big changes, Stern predicted the information technology revolution would turn out to have been "more revolutionary" in the long term.
"We'll still move around, we'll heat our homes - homes will be more efficient and close to zero-carbon electricity. But at the same time it will be cleaner, quieter, more biodiverse. It will actually be much nicer," he said.
The price of Brent crude oil fell to $84 a barrel - the lowest for 12 months - yesterday amid fears the credit crisis would trigger a drop in demand. The slump should mean relief for car owners with a fall in pump prices closer to 100p a litre although motoring organisations have long complained that oil companies are slow to cut pump prices when crude values fall.
And members of the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) were immediately talking about how they could reduce supply to force prices up again.

Ozone issue needs its own 'Kyoto'

James Randerson,
Monday October 06 2008 13:34 BST

The world needs an international agreement like the Kyoto protocol to reduce levels of ozone pollution which harm human health and crop yields, according to a report from senior scientists.
In a report from the Royal Society, the scientists said that current regulatory approaches were failing and that the problem needed to be tackled at a UN level. Prof David Fowler who chaired the working group who produced the report said it was "a major international issue".
"The only way we are going to really solve the problem in the longer term is by having international strategies because it is a global pollutant," he said. "If we don't take action now it could be a really serious problem."
Ozone forms in the air from chemical reactions involving pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen (collectively known as NOX) and volatile organic compounds such as benzene. These are released when fossil fuels are burned in cars or power stations. The problem of ozone pollution at ground level is a separate from the issue of ozone holes in the atmosphere.
Ozone is particularly dangerous for older people and people with asthma because it affects the lungs, nose and eyes. In 2003, an estimated 1,582 people died in the UK because of ozone exposure and this number is projected to rise 51% by 2020. Ozone can also reduce the yield and affect the nutritional quality of crops including wheat, rice and soybean. In the EU an estimated €6.7 bn was lost in 2000 due to impacts on arable crops. Ozone is also a greenhouse gas.
Fowler said that the US and Europe had made great strides in reducing levels of the pollutants that lead to ozone production, but he said more needed to be done and other sources – such as developing economies and shipping – sould to be tackled. "Europe and North America have each tried to solve their ozone problem as a local problem," said Fowler, "but most of the ozone coming into Britain is coming from everywhere else on the planet."
He said that controls on pollution from international shipping are too lax. By 2020, he said that more NOX is projected to enter Europe from burning fuel in ships' engines than from all land-based sources combined.
"The crucial thing is to have a control strategy that brings everyone into the same family," he said, "There's time to do it and it is all doable and it is not a global disaster, but if you leave it the cost later will be very much greater, both in terms of human health and crops."

Industry the key to emission cuts

By Fiona Harvey
Published: October 7 2008 03:00

Businesses will have to play the leading role in cutting the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, if the government accepts recommendations from its Climate Change Committee. The committee, chaired by Lord Adair Turner, will advise the government today that it would be possible to cut emissions by 80 per cent by mid-century at a cost of only about 1 to 2 per cent of GDP. Lord Turner said the cost was the equivalent of sacrificing six months' to a year's economic growth between now and 2050.
Fiona Harvey
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

Six Products, Six Carbon Footprints

Everybody's talking about it. But what exactly is a carbon footprint? And how is it calculated?

A new concept is entering the consumer lexicon: the carbon footprint.
First came organic. Then came fair trade. Now makers of everything from milk to jackets to cars are starting to tally up the carbon footprints of their products. That's the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that get coughed into the air when the goods are made, shipped and stored, and then used by consumers.

In the Gelsi household, reducing their carbon footprint is a family affair -- they even wrote a musical about it. MarketWatch reporter Steve Gelsi offers tips for saving the environment and saving money while doing so.
So far, these efforts raise as many questions as they answer. Different companies are counting their products' carbon footprints differently, making it all but impossible for shoppers to compare goods. And even if consumers come to understand the numbers, they might not like what they find out.
For instance, many products' global-warming impact depends less on how they're made than on how they're used. That means the easiest way to cut carbon emissions may be to buy less of a product or use it in a way that's less convenient.
So, what are the carbon footprints of some of the common products we use? How are they calculated? And what surprises do they hold? What follows is a look at six everyday items -- cars, shoes, laundry detergent, clothing, milk and beer -- and the numbers that go with them.
But first, here's a number that will help you put all those carbon footprints in perspective. The U.S. emits the equivalent of about 118 pounds of carbon dioxide per resident every day, a figure that includes emissions from industry. Annually, that's nearly 20 metric tons per American -- about five times the number per citizen of the world at large, according to the International Energy Agency.
An Overview

Now, let's take a closer look at those six products.
The simplest statistic in the carbon-footprinting game may be this: For every mile it travels, the average car in the U.S. emits about one pound of carbon dioxide. Given typical driving distances and fuel-economy numbers, that translates into about five tons of carbon dioxide per car per year.
A study by the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems found that, over its expected 120,000-mile life, an American-made midsize sedan emits the equivalent of about 63 tons of carbon dioxide. That number includes all emissions, from the making of the car's raw materials, such as steel and plastic, through the shredding of the car once it's junked.
The vast majority of those emissions -- 86% -- came from the car's fuel use, the study found. Just 4% of emissions came from making and assembling the car. That means consumers can lower their footprint by buying a car with better fuel economy.
Sometimes, the differences between models can be substantial. For one overview of how cars stack up, consider a new computer model paid for by Toyota Motor Corp. that computes the lifetime carbon footprints of about 400 auto models from multiple manufacturers.
To narrow things down, consider a handful of Toyota's own models. The Prius, a hybrid gasoline-and-electric car that averages 42 miles per gallon, has a lifetime carbon footprint of 44 metric tons, according to the updated computer model done for Toyota by Kreider & Associates, a consultant based in Boulder, Colo. The Corolla, a small sedan with a conventional gasoline engine rated at 29 miles per gallon, has a footprint of 64 tons. The Camry, a larger car rated at 23 miles per gallon, has a footprint of 95 tons. And the 4Runner, an SUV rated at 16 miles per gallon, has a footprint of 118 tons.
Gregory Keoleian, co-director of the Michigan center, says he used to advise people that the best way to minimize the carbon footprint of their driving was to keep their car as long as possible, since junking a car and manufacturing a new one produces pollution. But that was before hybrids hit the market and offered markedly better fuel economy. Now, he says, scrapping an old car in favor of a new model makes lots of sense.
The introduction of the hybrid "changes the whole dynamic," Mr. Keoleian says. "Then, you replace."
You may think you're at one with nature going for a walk in the woods in your sturdy hiking boots. But those boots pack a lot of carbon. The big reason: the leather.
Timberland Co., a Stratham, N.H., shoe company with an outdoorsy image, has assessed the carbon footprint of about 40 of the shoe models it currently sells. The results range from about 22 pounds to 220 pounds per pair. Each of the shoes that has been carbon-footprinted comes with a label assessing its greenhouse-gas score on a scale of zero, which is best, to 10, which is worst.
Flip-flops tend to have footprints of 22 pounds to 44 pounds, says Pete Girard, senior analyst for environmental stewardship at Timberland. Shoes typically range from 66 pounds to 132 pounds. Hiking boots typically pack between 154 and 198 pounds, Mr. Girard says.
Though Timberland produces many of its shoes in Asia and sells them in the U.S., it has found that transportation typically accounts for less than 5% of the carbon footprint. By far the biggest contributor is the shoe's raw material. "For most Timberland shoes," says Betsy Blaisdell, Timberland's manager for environmental stewardship, "leather really drives the score."
The average dairy cow produces, every year, an amount of greenhouse gas equivalent to four tons of carbon dioxide, according to U.S. government figures. Most of that comes not from carbon dioxide, in fact, but from a more-potent greenhouse gas: methane.
The cow's impact on the atmosphere is due largely to a process known scientifically as "enteric fermentation" -- and colloquially as burping. A cow's multiple stomachs make it particularly efficient at transforming feed into bovine products: meat, milk and hide. But all that churning also produces lots of methane -- a greenhouse gas that, pound for pound, is 25 times as damaging to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, according to the United Nations. Converting those methane emissions into a carbon-dioxide-equivalent number is one step in calculating the cow's carbon footprint.
Take Timberland's Winter Park Slip On Boot. They're casual boots -- not as heavy as hiking boots -- but their uppers are all leather. Their footprint sits in the middle of the Timberland range, at 121 pounds per pair. Of that total, 8.5 pounds comes from the electricity used to make the boots at Timberland's factory in China's Guangdong Province. The remaining 112.5 pounds comes from the raw materials used to make the shoe: rubber for the outsole; ethyl vinyl acetate, or EVA, for the midsole; and, most of all, leather for the upper.

To come up with these numbers, Timberland first gets data from the factory on the amount of electricity the factory uses in a given period. Dividing that by the number of shoes the factory produces in that period yields a per-shoe energy-consumption figure.
Timberland then checks those figures against tables that list average carbon-dioxide emissions per unit of energy produced. The tables are tailored to the specific power-plant fuel mix in the area where the factory sits. In China, which makes much of its power by burning coal, the carbon hit is greater than in, say, France, which makes most of its electricity with nuclear power.
The harder part for Timberland is figuring out the emissions that come from the part of the process it doesn't control: the production of the raw materials before they get to the Timberland factory. Timberland gets that information from the databases of "life-cycle analysis" consultants, who put together tables showing the environmental impacts of producing given amounts of various materials, from rubber to polyester to leather.
Timberland's carbon-footprint calculations have prompted spats with some of Timberland's leather suppliers, Ms. Blaisdell says. They argue the carbon hit from a cow should fall not on their ledger, but on the ledger of beef producers. The leather producers reason that cows are grown mainly for meat, with leather as a byproduct, so that growing leather doesn't yield any emissions beyond those that would have occurred anyway.
But Timberland has determined that 7% of the financial value of a cow lies in its leather. And life-cycle-analysis guidelines used by Timberland say the company should apply that percentage to compute the share of a cow's total emissions attributable to the leather. "We've had a lot of battles with our leather suppliers over this," Ms. Blaisdell says. Timberland officials, she says, "just follow the guidelines."
Timberland officials concede shortcomings with their method. By using an average energy-consumption number for all pairs of shoes, the calculations fail to recognize that some shoes require more electricity to assemble in the factory than do others. And Timberland's calculations omit the carbon impact of the leather and other materials that fall to the cutting-room floor.
"No question, it's crude in some ways," Mr. Girard says. "But it's a step more information than our designers were making a decision on before."
The recipe for a low-carbon load of laundry: Use liquid detergent instead of powder, wash your clothes in cool water and hang them out to dry.
That's the message shoppers get when they walk down the detergent aisles at Tesco PLC stores in the U.K. Starting this spring, the retailer began slapping footprint-shaped carbon labels on Tesco-brand laundry detergent. Along with the carbon-footprint number, the label offers tips about lowering the score.
The carbon footprint of a load of laundry done with Tesco detergent varies from 1.3 pounds to 1.9 pounds, depending on what form of detergent is used, the labels report. According to Procter & Gamble Co., the average American family does about 300 loads of laundry per year, or about six loads per week. That suggests a per-family carbon footprint from doing laundry of about 480 pounds per year, or about 10 pounds per week. And that doesn't include running the dryer.
Solid capsules of detergent have the highest carbon footprint, according to Tesco. Powder has a slightly lower footprint; liquid has a lower one still; and concentrated liquid has the lowest of all. That's because making solid detergent uses more energy than making the liquid variety.
But consumers who care about their carbon emissions should do more than switch detergent forms, the labels advise. Doing the wash in cooler water -- 86 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 104 degrees -- will shave the carbon footprint of each load by 0.3 pounds. That's as much of a reduction as you get from switching to liquid from powder.
The biggest way to cut the environmental impact of cleaning clothes, however, is to stop using a clothes dryer. Drying laundry outside on a line, Tesco says, will cut the carbon footprint of every load by a whopping 4.4 pounds.
Along with detergent, Tesco labels store-brand orange juice, light bulbs and potatoes. To trace the carbon footprints, Tesco uses data from its suppliers and information from life-cycle-analysis databases. The retailer is labeling products from its own brands first because those were the ones it could most easily control. But Tesco is considering labeling other brands, as well as expanding the effort to its U.S. stores, which operate under the Fresh & Easy name.
The suppliers that make the labeled products "don't see a risk" in publicizing information about the environmental impacts of their products, says Katherine Symonds, Tesco's sustainability manager. For one thing, all forms of the detergent come from the same suppliers, so those suppliers wouldn't necessarily be hurt if consumers shifted from one form to another.
Ms. Symonds adds that Tesco carefully picked for its initial labels products whose carbon footprints likely wouldn't shock consumers. The retailer purposely avoided labeling the carbon footprint of beef, for instance, because beef's carbon footprint is significantly higher than that of many other foods.
If Tesco had presented consumers "with a message that was so counterintuitive and difficult," Ms. Symonds says, "we might have found it difficult to take carbon labeling forward."
Patagonia Inc.'s Talus jacket looks like a naturalist's dream. In fact, its carbon footprint is 66 pounds. That, Patagonia notes on its Web site, is 48 times the weight of the jacket itself.
Over the past year, the Ventura, Calif., outdoor-equipment maker has computed and posted on its Web site the carbon footprints of 15 of its products. Because most of Patagonia's products are made in Asia or Latin America and sold in the U.S., the company expected that a big chunk of the carbon footprints came from transportation. It was wrong.
The fabric for the Talus is made in China, the zippers come from Japan, and the jacket is sewn in Vietnam. Yet all that transportation adds up to less than 1% of the product's total carbon footprint, Patagonia says. The majority of the footprint -- 71%, or about 47 pounds -- comes in producing the polyester, which originates with oil.
"If we had listened to the rhetoric out there at the time, which was all around miles, we could have spent years rearranging our supply chain to reduce transportation, when really that's not the bulk of our concern," says Jill Dumain, Patagonia's director for environmental analysis. "There's a lot of reasons to have a tight supply chain, but environmentalism isn't one of them."
One way to slash the Talus jacket's carbon footprint would be to make it with recycled, rather than virgin, polyester. But when the jacket was being developed, the company that makes the fabric, Polartec LLC, of Lawrence, Mass., couldn't find the right kind of recycled yarn in Asia, says Nate Simmons, director of marketing for the fabric maker.
Polyester yarn with recycled content is more widely available in the U.S. than in Asia, he says, and Polartec uses it to make some fabric for Patagonia. But the Talus is a particularly complicated jacket, because its material fuses together a weather-resistent outer layer with a warm inner layer.
At the time the Talus was being developed, using recycled material would have required either making the fabric in the U.S. or shipping U.S.-made recycled-content yarn to Asia to be made into fabric. "It would have been extremely expensive," Mr. Simmons says. "Probably very few people would have bought it. And it wouldn't have had much of a positive
impact because of that."
The bottom line: In making the Talus, Patagonia decided that cost concerns outweighed environmental concerns. "Consumers are starting to put environmental values into their purchasing decisions, but it doesn't always translate into their being willing to pay a higher price," Patagonia's Ms. Dumain says.
John Weber
Some Patagonia products -- generally ones whose fabric isn't as complex as the Talus's -- are made with recycled-content fabric. Among them is the Eco Rain Shell, which has a carbon footprint of just 15 pounds, Patagonia says. But the Eco Shell has a different environmental problem: A byproduct of manufacturing the material that makes the jacket water-repellent is perfluorooctanic acid, a substance that Patagonia says has been found accumulating in humans and animals and that scientists say could pose health risks.
Patagonia lays out this conundrum on its Web site, saying it "reflects the complexities involved" in balancing concern for the environment with the need for performance.
Several studies of milk's carbon footprint are under way in the U.S. Each has come up with a different number, largely because each is counting things differently.
A recent study by National Dairy Holdings, a Dallas-based dairy, found that the carbon footprint of a gallon of its milk in a plastic jug is either 6.19 pounds or 7.59 pounds. The difference rests in what kind of cases the jugs are placed in during transport from the milk-processing plant to the distribution center. Plastic cases, because they take more energy to produce, yield more carbon-dioxide emissions than do cardboard ones.
But National Dairy Holdings' study doesn't count all the emissions created by a gallon of milk. It includes those from the cows themselves (more than half of the total), from the processing of the milk and from the transport of the milk to a distribution center. It doesn't count the emissions earlier in the process: growing the cows' feed. Nor does it count the emissions later in the process: transporting the milk from the distribution center to the store and refrigerating it there.
That's because National Dairy Holdings did its study largely at the request of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a big customer, which is trying to prod environmental improvements in its supply chain. So, National Dairy Holdings measured only its piece in the supply chain, explains Howard Depoy, the dairy's director of power, refrigeration and sustainability. That's "the CO2 that we can control and manage," Mr. Depoy says.
Aurora Dairy Corp.'s Aurora Organic Dairy, a small organic-milk producer based in Boulder, Colo., is finishing a more-complete study of the carbon footprint of its milk. Its study, done by researchers at the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems, attempts to include emissions all the way from growing the cattle feed to refrigerating the processed milk in the store. The preliminary findings are that producing a half-gallon of Aurora's milk generates the equivalent of 7.2 pounds of carbon dioxide. That's essentially the same amount as the National Dairy Holdings study concluded is produced by an entire gallon of National Dairy Holdings' milk. But the National Dairy Holdings study left out much of the process that the Aurora study included.
Both studies found that the single biggest chunk of emissions from milk production comes from all that action in the cow's gut. Now, the U.S. dairy industry's main trade group, Dairy Management Inc., is launching yet another study of milk's carbon footprint. It plans a complete measurement akin to Aurora Organic Dairy's.
The dairy industry doesn't plan to put carbon-footprint labels on milk cartons, says Rick Naczi, an executive vice president for Dairy Management. "It's something that would be very, very difficult to make understandable to consumers," he says.
When New Belgium Brewing Co. set out last year to compute the carbon footprint of a six-pack of its Fat Tire Amber Ale, it figured it would find transportation was the biggest problem. That's the emission source New Belgium thinks about most often. The microbrewer, based in Fort Collins, Colo., has been expanding into more states, necessitating more trucking of its beer.
When the numbers came in this summer, they showed that a six-pack's carbon footprint was about seven pounds. The real surprise was where the bulk of that number came from: the refrigeration of the beer at stores. Transportation came in fourth, behind manufacturing the glass bottles and producing the barley and malt. "It seems that in every [carbon-footprint study] I've come across, people are surprised," says Jennifer Orgolini, New Belgium's sustainability director.
Now, New Belgium is considering switching to bottles with more recycled glass, because making them consumes less fuel. It's also considering buying barley and malt produced organically, rather than with chemical fertilizers, which are big emitters.
Refrigeration poses a tougher problem. Stores selling Fat Tire aren't owned by New Belgium, so even if the brewer wanted them to stop refrigerating the beer, they might not do so.
There are smaller potential fixes. Many stores could switch from less-efficient, open-front beer chillers to more-efficient models enclosed by clear doors. But that presents its own hurdle, Ms. Orgolini notes: "People don't want to have to open the door."—Mr. Ball is The Wall Street Journal's environmental news editor, based in Dallas.
Write to Jeffrey Ball at