Friday, 10 October 2008

Conservation groups and government sign Sumatra forest deal

Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 4:01pm BST 09/10/2008

Conservations groups and the Indonesian government have announced a new agreement to help save the tropical forests of Sumatra.
The historic agreement has been endorsed by governors of all the island's provinces and also by four Ministers.

Sumatra is rich in biodiversity and is the only place on earth where tigers, elephants, orangutans and rhinos can be found together.
But in the past 25 years Sumatra has been stripped of almost half of its forest cover leading to fears that it will soon disappear completely.
Now WWF, Conservation International (CI), Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and other conservation groups working in Sumatra have agreed to help implement the government's commitment to protect what remains of the island's species-rich forests.
Hermien Roosita, deputy minister of environment, said: "This agreement commits all the Governors of Sumatra's ten provinces, along with the Indonesian Ministries of Forestry, Environment, Interior and Public Works, to restore critical ecosystems in Sumatra and protect areas with high conservation values."
Last year at a conference in Bali the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change acknowledged the need to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Deforestation is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, generating between 15-20 per cent of global carbon emissions.
More than 13 per cent of Sumatra's remaining forests are peat forests, which sit on the deepest peat soil in the world and clearing these forests is a major source of carbon emissions contributing to climate change.

Why motoring will only get more expensive: three views of the future

As we struggle with high fuel prices and taxes intended to tackle global warming, Andrew English analyses three views of the future

By Andrew EnglishLast Updated: 6:49PM BST 09 Oct 2008

Electric car being charged, Paris Motor Show 2008 Photo: AFP

Prices going up at a petrol station in China. Photo: Getty Images
If you're staring at a fuel bill you can't afford, for a car you can't afford to tax, then welcome to the boracic-lint club. Just eight years into the millennium, oil prices have risen by 539 per cent; small wonder BP is earning profits of £42 million a day and it's only Russian petro-oligarchs and gas-company bosses who can afford to heat their houses. Car prices might have fallen over the last eight years, but they are now on their way back up and motoring taxes haven't fallen one iota. If you're the proud owner of a BMW road smoker, Range Rover or similar, then you're looking down the barrel of a very expensive future. Based on your car's carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions, your annual Vehicle Excise Duty bills will be rising to £455 in the next two years, not to mention up to £950 in showroom tax from 2010.
Then there are CO2-based parking charges, proposals for CO2-based congestion charges, low emissions zones and CO2-based company-fuel and company-car taxes and write-down allowances. And if that weren't weighing heavily on your wallet, there's also the meltdown in the financial markets and the threat of actual changes in the weather caused by man-made greenhouse-gas emissions and increased demand for raw materials, which is helping to fuel a speculation boom, spiralling prices and sparking guilt-racking food riots in parts of the world.
What halcyon days the turn of the millennium now seem. When atmosphere was something you paid extra for in the saloon bar. Nowadays you are lucky to find a local boozer. They've all going out of business as skint and depressed Britons head home to hide under the duvet with a four-pack of alcopops.
What's going on? Please don't tell me that all those expensive economists in the City have finally woken up to the finite supply of oil. Even assuming they were too lazy to read the Club of Rome's 1972 report, Limits To Growth, surely they heard Tower of Power's not-inconsiderable horn section blasting out There's Only So Much Oil In The Ground on the Urban Renewal album two years later: "There's only so much oil in the ground. Sooner or later there won't be none around. Alternate sources of power must be found. Cause there's only so much oil in the ground..."
If you really want to know what's going on, then a couple of books published this summer and a series of lectures by Ford's former chief engineer, Richard Parry Jones, are required reading and will also help you stave off the Monbiot tendency when it waves its climate-guilt voodoo stick in your face.
+ "Enemies of Progress – The Dangers Of Sustainability" by Austin Williams is published by Imprint Academic ISBN 9781845400989 at £8.95.
+ "Zoom – The Global Race To Fuel The Car Of The Future" by Iain Carson and Vijay V Vaitheeswaran is published by Hachette ISBN 9780446580045 at $27.99.
+ Richard Parry-Jones's lecture are being published as a series of essays in Autocar magazine; the first appeared on August 13.

Wind farm business scheme will help communities profit

Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Last Updated: 3:01pm BST 09/10/2008

Farmers have set up a unique new business scheme in the UK to enable land owners and communities to benefit from wind farms.

At the moment multinational companies develop most wind farms. Communities are offered a share in the development or a "goodwill payment" from the profits.

The new scheme will see local residents benefit for wind turbines
This has led to the accusation that local communities do not get a fair amount of the profit generated.Now farmers are fighting back by asking landowners and communities to invest in a new business, Wingen, that will ensure the local people profit.
The company will be owned by individuals in the rural sector, including many people with potential sites. Therefore when a wind farm is developed they will directly profit rather than just receiving a small share.
It is the first time such a business has ben set up in the UK, although similar schemes are common in Denmark where wind farms are hugely successful and generate almost 20 per cent of the country's electricity.
Electricity generation from wind is already a growing industry because of the rising cost of fossil fuels and generous government subsidies to encourage renewables.

If the scheme is successful it could lead to a surge in the number of on shore wind farms as planning permission will be easier to get when communities are behind the development.
Maitland Mackie, the Scottish farmer behind Wingen, said the company would ensure rural communities profit from the growth in the wind sector.
He said 250 people have expressed interest in the scheme. They would initially be asked to put forward a minimum of £1,000 towards start up and potential sites for development.
He added: "The overriding objective of Wingen is to secure ownership of most of the onshore wind power generation for individuals and communities in the rural sector, so ensuring that the lions share of the financial returns stays there. One key strength of the project is derived from holders of land seconding potential wind sites to Wingen."
Mr Mackie, who set up the successful business Mackie's icecream, said developers are already getting nervous about the prospect of communities taking the inititative.
"If we the rural sector own the company we get the bulk of the returns rather than the litle bit around the edges. That is why I am anxious that landowners do not commit [potential sites] in the meantime until we can see what we can do."
But the British Wind and Energy Association welcomed the competition.
A spokesman said: "As a trade association we welcome opportunities to deploy renewable energy and this business model could prove to be interesting."
But Dr John Constable, research director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said communities will not necessarily profit.
"People have to realise wind is a very risky businesss," he said. "Big companies can develop a wind farm in low wind areas for PR and take the losses but economics are critical for local people.
"The thing about wind is the economics are very senstive to the availability of resource. People have to realise it is not an easy thing to do and they have to investigate the sites very, very carefully."
The Campaign for Rural England said whoever owns a wind farm must ensure it is sensitive to the environment.
A spokesman said: "CPRE sees a lot of potential benefit in local co-ownership. Regardless of who owns a wind farm, though, it is important that they go in the right place, as they can have impacts on the appearance of the countryside way beyond a particular community.
"Where community schemes happen, we would also want to see farmers reinvest a fair proportion of their profits in other technologies, particularly anaerobic digesters to produce heat or electricity from slurry."

Warm welcome for house powered by hydrogen fuel cell

Alok Jha, green technology correspondent
The Guardian,
Friday October 10 2008

From the outside, the house at the bottom of Stocking Street looks no different from any other in the cul-de-sac. But step around the back and a purpose-built shed hums with the latest in green technology - a state of the art hydrogen fuel cell.
Today the house in Lye, near Stourbridge in the West Midlands, will be opened as the first permanent hydrogen-powered home connected to the national grid. The refrigerator-sized fuel cell unit will produce 1.5kW of electricity and 3kW of heat for the occupants of the house, with any excess power being fed into the national grid.
"You shouldn't notice any difference in the house," said Waldemar Bujalski from the University of Birmingham's fuel cells group, which will monitor its performance and reliability.
"For the typical house, the unit is capable of providing 65% of the power on average and about 75% of total energy demand, both electricity and heat."
There is no way yet to pipe hydrogen directly into homes, so the demonstration house will use natural gas that comes in via the existing mains supply. This is first passed through a steam reformer that generates hydrogen. The hydrogen is then combined with oxygen in a fuel cell unit, made by German company Baxi Innotech, that produces both electricity and heat and without producing carbon dioxide. Although creating the hydrogen from gas does produce some carbon dioxide, using the fuel cell cuts overall household emissions by 40% compared with running on gas alone.
The electricity is fed directly into the house, while the heat warms water for the taps and conventional radiators. Bujalski said the demonstration house would be monitored by his team to see how well the fuel cell works, with the aim of ironing out problems before the devices reach the mass market. Initially they would cost about £2,000 each, he said. In Germany, there are plans to install 800 hydrogen fuel cell units by 2010 as part of a large-scale demonstration of the technology.
The UK's hydrogen-powered house is part of a broader £2m programme of research led by the University of Birmingham to look at the full supply chain for producing, storing and using hydrogen in homes or cars. Hydrogen, a component of water and one of the earth's most abundant elements, is seen by many experts as one of the best clean alternatives to fossil fuels, if it can be created using carbon-free renewable energy and the infrastructure for transporting is established.
The proton exchange membrane technology in use at Stocking Street is just one of the ways hydrogen could be harnessed in homes. The Birmingham team will examine other fuel cell technologies and ways of delivering the gas to the home, including using algae to create hydrogen, as they assess how hydrogen will work best in domestic use.

Native American tribes see profit in wind power

By Felicity Barringer
Published: October 10, 2008

ROSEBUD, South Dakota: The wind blows incessantly here in the high plains; screen doors do not last. Wind is to South Dakota what forests are to Maine or beaches are to Florida: a natural bounty and a valuable inheritance.
Native American tribes like the Rosebud Sioux now seek to claim that inheritance. If they succeed in building turbine farms to harness some of the country's strongest and most reliable winds, tribal officials like Ken Haukaas believe, they could create a new economic underpinning for the 29,000 tribal members whose per capita annual income is about $7,700, less than a third the national average.
"We're broke here," Haukaas said. "We're poor." But, he added: "The wind is free. There's energy here all the time."
Haukaas believes that "the same thing that brought the buffalo brings the wind."
"The buffalo were a gift," he continued. "The wind is a gift."

In 2003, after erecting a 750-kilowatt turbine that powers the Rosebud Casino near the Nebraska border, the Rosebud Sioux tribal council set its sights on building the Owl Feather War Bonnet wind farm, a 30-megawatt project that could power about 12,000 homes, each about 1,200 square feet.
After five years of negotiations with a non-Indian developer, Distributed Generation Systems Inc. of Colorado, the tribal council president, Rodney Bordeaux, said Thursday that he expected to sign a construction deal that would bring in some $5 million to the tribe over 20 years. The total is about $1.7 million less than the developer's original offer because of an acrimonious last-minute dispute with the tribe.
The idea of hitching tribal fortunes to the wind has gained momentum with the growth of the wind industry, which is expanding so fast that turbines are in short supply worldwide.
Half the states now require utilities to add renewable energy to their portfolios. The oilman T. Boone Pickens is proselytizing about the value of wind, and thousands of turbines have sprouted on the Texas plains.
If Native Americans can get into the business, some federal officials say, the hope is that wind, like casino gaming, could reshape their economies.
"It could be huge," said Lizana Pierce, the project manager with the tribal energy program at the Department of Energy.
Here in the wind-rich Indian country, turbines are few, and deals to build them often do not come easily. Unpredictable cultural boundaries sometimes separate Indian tribal leaders, who have access to the wind, and non-Indian business executives, who raise the money to buy and install turbines, make deals to transmit the electricity to market and find buyers for it.
With just one significant wind farm operating on Indian land — a 50-megawatt project on the Campo reservation near San Diego — the Energy Department has been hoping for another to prove to wind developers that successful projects are possible.
Sandra Begay-Campbell, the principal member of the technical staff at the department's Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, said, "People have been waiting for something to happen so you can point to the success and say, 'Look at this model.' "
Other projects are in the offing; the Lower Brule Sioux tribe, to the northeast of Rosebud, recently struck a deal with Iberdrola Renewables, a subsidiary of the Spanish utility Iberdrola SA, to build a 225-megawatt wind farm.
But only the Rosebud Sioux, Begay-Campbell said, "are poised and ready to move toward the actual development and hardware."
The Energy Department has invested nearly $450,000 in the development of the Owl Feather War Bonnet wind farm, to be built on 50 acres in the western part of the Rosebud reservation. The department also recommended Distributed Generation Systems and its president, Dale Osborn, a seasoned hand in the wind-energy industry who has built small-scale projects in Colorado, Spain and China.
But it took the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs 18 months to sign off on the original deal, approved by the tribal council in 2006, under which the tribe would receive $280,000 in royalties the first year of the wind farm's operation. The amount would have grown each year, with the 20-year total topping $7 million.
Haukaas, who is the tribe's project manager, said that from a landowner's standpoint, the offer was the most lucrative he could find. "This is a $58.6 million project," he told the tribal council. "We do not put up a dime. All we put up is the land."
During those 18 months, a tribal election was held, and the new council objected to the terms of the deal.
After tribal tax authorities recently decided that tribal sovereignty was at risk if a $1.17 million employment tax, the maximum possible, was not paid up front, Osborn complained bitterly to the tribe and to the reservation's congressional overseers.
"I am frustrated beyond belief," Osborn said in a recent interview, adding that his deal with investors cannot bear the weight of the unexpected upfront costs unless royalty payments are lowered.
But some of the council's 20 members were suspicious of Osborn and angry at his outbursts about the tax.
"The people for these companies come and wave a couple of dollars in front of us, and we fall for it," a council member, Leonard Wright, said at a meeting on Oct. 2.
Another member, Robert Moore, said of Osborn: "He questions our mentality. I question his."
A few years ago, a hog-farm company received an easement from the Rosebud Sioux in return for a percentage of net profits — then showed little or no profit. Bordeaux, the tribal council president, said he had taken care to make certain that whoever developed the wind farm did not "take advantage of us like the hog farm did."
Osborn emphasized that the tribe's royalty share would be taken from revenues, not profits. On Wednesday, he sent back to the tribe a revised deal that reduced the total payout over 20 years by $1.7 million, to a little more than $5 million, to accommodate the upfront tax payment.
Despite the rancorous back and forth, Bordeaux said Thursday that he would sign off on the new arrangement. "The main idea is we got that initiative going," he said. "We can become a major player in wind in South Dakota."
Patricia Nelson Limerick, a history professor who is board chairwoman of the Center of the American West, at the University of Colorado, pointed to the "several hundred years of mistrust between white folks and Indians" in discussing the "tangled" process that led to the Rosebud Sioux's wind deal. "If you average out the zigzags," Limerick said, "it's moving in the right direction."
Osborn was less sanguine. "Doing business on a reservation," he said, "is more difficult than doing business in China."

Adair Turner's cheerful views on climate change

The easier of Adair Turner's two main challenges is deciding how to save the banking system in his role as FSA chairman, writes Chris Goodall
From Carbon Commentary, part of the Guardian Environmental Network,
Thursday October 09 2008 12.10 BST

The easier of Adair Turner's two main challenges is deciding how to save the entire UK banking system in his role as chairman of the Financial Services Authority. As head of the Climate Change Committee, the more difficult job is persuading the government that it needs to take substantial action over greenhouse gases.
Widespread relief greeted the publication of the Committee's view that the UK should legislate to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.
Less attention has been paid to some of the stranger assumptions in the committee's letter to Ed Miliband, the cabinet member now responsible for climate change. While climate scientists have generally been getting more and more pessimistic, Turner's figures convey a much more upbeat and cheerful tone.
Turner argues that the world needs to stop greenhouse gas concentrations rising above about 460 parts per million. (They are about 430 today and rising at over 2 ppm a year.)
Two years ago, Lord Stern suggested that global emissions would need to fall to about 13 billion tonnes a year by 2050 for the world to stabilise at the figure of 450 ppm. Turner is far more optimistic, saying that we can cope with 20 billion tonnes and still keep to about this level. In other words, Stern's maths was wrong by a large percentage – the world can emit about 50% more than his report indicated.
This divergence is followed by a much more significant variation. One of the charts in Stern's first presentation indicates what would happen to temperature at various different levels of greenhouse gases. He says that a level of 450 ppm will produce an expected temperature rise of about 2.5 degrees Celsius. Once again, Turner is more buoyant than this, saying that his target for greenhouse gas concentrations will hold temperature rises to 2 degrees. He is also far more confident than Stern appeared to be about the risk of runaway global warming.
These variations are highly significant but Turner gives us no explanation of why he is more upbeat than other analysts. By contrast, since the publication of his report, Stern seems to have become more and more worried by climate change. And many others, like Jim Hansen of NASA, have suggested aiming for far lower greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Turner has gone in the other direction, making the problems of global warming seem much less onerous. On the basis of Stern's numbers, he should have asked for a 90% cut in emissions, not the relaxed 80% he proposes.
He has also suggested that the costs of reducing our emissions are trivial. His committee indicates it will be 1-2% of GDP in 2050. This number is so small and so far away that nobody will take much notice. This is a trifle disingenuous. The real costs to cutting emissions are going to be incurred in the next fifteen years as we switch from convenient and inexpensive fossil fuels to more costly sources of power. Energy costs represent about 5% of the economy now, and this may rise sharply for a few years as we go through the early pain of what Turner calls 'decarbonisation'. Perhaps they will double for a few years. But by 2050, we can actually be reasonably confident that energy will actually cost less than it does now. Decades of going down the learning curve will give us the same sharp improvements in technology that we saw at the beginning of the coal and oil ages.
Adair Turner may look and talk like a boffin, but not far below the surface is an acutely political animal. Has he deliberately made climate change a less threatening and cheaper problem to deal with than Stern did? The last few years have seen an unending succession of bad news stories on climate change. It all seems too awful to contemplate. Perhaps he feels that by giving us a radically more optimistic assessment he is increasing the chances of getting action from politicians. He may be right.
• This article was shared by Carbon Commentary, part of the Guardian Environmental Network

Fears rise that EU may drop climate pledge

John Vidal and Juliette Jowit
The Guardian,
Friday October 10 2008

EU heads of state plan to use the global financial crisis as an excuse to renege on climate change commitments, say sources close to energy talks in Brussels.
Papers seen by the Guardian suggest the EU council, which meets next week, wants to drop the previous pledge of an automatic increase in emissions cuts if the world decides on a big climate change deal next year. It also intends to allow countries to avoid having to cut their own emissions by letting them purchase a large proportion of reductions from overseas.
The EU has a target of 20% emissions cut by 2020. This would rise to 30% if a global deal is signed. But the papers show the EU is seeking a new legislative process if the EU target rises above 20%. This effectively shelves the move to 30% and would take many years to complete.
The commission justifies its proposals by saying EU countries paying for emissions cuts would transfer up to €42bn (£33bn) to developing and other countries from 2008-2020. It also wants a change in the auctioning of pollution allowances for power firms, which could lead to windfall profits estimated at up to €15bn.
Last night, environmental groups said the moves could allow countries such as Britain to build a new generation of coal power stations without fear of exceeding their legally binding emission targets.
"By simply buying cheap projects in developing countries, the EU will avoid making the type of transformations needed in our domestic economy to avoid dangerous climate change," said Tom Picken, head of international climate at Friends of the Earth.
Last week, it emerged that Poland, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria opposed the package. In separate developments, Britain, Italy and others were accused of trying to dilute pledges for renewable energy.

EDF agrees to electric car plug-in deals

By John Reed in London
Published: October 10 2008 02:07

EDF on Thursday announced separate agreements with Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën to develop recharging infrastructure for plug-in hybrid and electric cars in France.
The news coincided with a pledge by French president Nicolas Sarkozy to mobilise €400m ($546m) of public money over four years for research and development of low-emission vehicles.

The French energy group is already working with Toyota on plug-in cars in France and the UK.
Renault said its agreement with the utility company would cover recharging points for electric cars, and exchange stations that would allow motorists to swap depleted batteries for recharged ones.
These would be in place by the time Renault begins mass-marketing electric cars in 2011.
Peugeot said its agreement with EDF covered “the definition of business models” for plug-in cars and new technologies, including protocols to allow them to communicate with the network when recharging.
Carmakers are solidifying their ties with utility companies, which will need to supply recharging points and bill drivers for the power if plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are to become commercially viable.
RWE and Daimler last month launched a pilot to set up 500 recharging points in Berlin for a test fleet of more than 100 Mercedes-Benz and Smart electric cars.
EDF and Toyota began working together on electric vehicles and infrastructure last year in France, and last month began testing the Japanese carmaker’s plug-in hybrid car in the utility’s company car fleet in the UK.
In Israel and Denmark, Renault is working with Project Better Place, a start-up US infrastructure company building recharging points and battery swap stations.
Nissan, its Japanese alliance partner, which will also launch electric cars in 2011, has formed partnerships on infrastructure for the cars with local authorities in the US state of Tennessee and the Kanagawa prefecture in Japan.
Automakers developing plug-in hybrid or electric cars are seeking government incentives for them as early models are expected to have small production runs and be expensive.
Mr Sarkozy yesterday said his government would continue to offer a €5,000 tax bonus for ultra-low emission cars until 2012, the last year of his term in office.
He also said that he wanted changes to European Union state aid rules to support carmakers’ investments in low-emission vehicles.
Carmakers this week asked the EU for €40bn in low interest loans for the new technology similar to a $25bn package recently approved in the US.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

EU countries may use economic crisis to ditch climate change commitments

Papers seen by the Guardian suggest the EU council will water down measures to tackle global warming
John Vidal and Juliette Jowit,
Thursday October 09 2008 17.47 BST

Leaders of EU countries plan to use the global financial crisis as an excuse to renege on climate change commitments, according to sources close to energy negotiations in Brussels.
Papers seen by the Guardian suggest the EU council, which meets next week, propose dropping the previous commitment to an automatic increase in emissions cuts if the world gets a major climate change agreement next year. It also intends to allow countries to avoid having to cut their own emissions by letting them purchase a large proportion of reductions from overseas.
The current EU target of a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020 will automatically increase to 30% if a global deal is signed. But the papers show that the EU is seeking a completely new legislative process if the EU target is to go over 20%. This effectively shelves the move to 30% and would take many years to complete.
The commission justifies its proposals by saying that EU countries paying for emissions cuts would transfer up to €42bn (£33bn) to developing and other countries from 2008-2020.
It also wants a change in the auctioning of pollution allowances for power companies, which could lead to windfall profits estimated at up to €15bn.
Last night environmental groups said the moves could allow countries such as Britain to build a new generation of coal power stations without fear of exceeding their legally binding emission targets.
"By simply buying cheap projects in developing countries, the EU will avoid making the type of transformations needed in our domestic economy needed to avoid dangerous climate change," said Tom Picken, head of international climate at Friends of the Earth.
"We are on the verge of losing an ambitious climate package. It sends the wrong signal to developing countries — it appears that developed countries are not willing to adopt domestic emission reduction targets," said a WWF spokeswoman.
The moves come as energy ministers prepare to meet in Luxembourg on Friday in advance of the heads of state meeting next week, where the climate change and energy package of measures will be addressed. New British climate change and energy secretary, Ed Miliband, will attend.
Last week, it emerged that Poland, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria had opposed the whole package. In separate developments Britain, Italy and others were accused of trying to water down commitments for renewable energy.
News of the European political leaders' moves comes as senior business figures and government advisers are urging politicians not to use the current financial crisis to abandon crucial investment in clean energy and efficiency to tackle climate change, cut costs and improve security.
On Thursday, Lord Browne of Madingley, the former chief executive of BP, warned "none of what's happened — however dramatic or distressing — detracts from what remains our most pressing energy challenge: combating climate change."
Browne, now president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, called for a big political investment in new energy technology to match the US New Deal that rebuilt economies after the second world war. "What is called for is nothing less than a new generation of political leadership — leadership that transcends the day-to-day tussle of electoral politics and short-term economic cycles," he said.
Miliband insisted the UK was negotiating the best deal possible. He added: "Now is not the time to row back on our ambitions in tackling climate change. Cutting the costs of energy is good for people as it keeps down their fuel bills and it's good for the planet as it reduces dangerous climate change.
"The current economic difficulties make these issues more important, not less. EU ministers have rightly signed up to achieve 20% of energy coming from renewable energy sources by 2020 and it is important we show that we are committed to that target."

Prince admits environmental cost of green speech

The Prince of Wales made a speech to the tourist industry on how it will have to make efforts on an “heroic scale” to minimise the impact of travel on the environment – only 24 hours after his own ten-day tour of the Far East was announced.

When Clarence House was asked to justify the trip to Japan, Brunei and Indonesia – which will include a lecture by the Prince in Jakarta on climate change – it said that the trip was regarded by the Government as vital for cementing British relations in the Far East.
Last year the Prince was criticised by David Miliband, then the Environment Secretary, for flying to New York to collect an environmental award.
The Prince acknowledged that he had enjoyed extensive travel, and that such tourism came at a price.
He said: “As the number of travellers increases dramatically . . . the efforts which have to be taken by the travel and tourism business to minimise those impacts needs to be on a heroic scale.” He applauded the initiatives taken already by the travel and tourism industry.

Coal-fired power generators face new threat from EU carbon emissions curb

The future of coal-fired power generation in Europe was called into question yesterday after a European Parliament committee backed new laws that would force power companies to pay for all of their carbon dioxide emissions from 2013.

The decision, which could cost the power industry €30 billion (£23 billion) a year and trigger a steep rise in electricity bills, represents a huge boost for Europe’s renewable energy industry. It also casts fresh doubt over the likelihood of a £1.5 billion coal-fired power plant being built at Kingsnorth, Kent, by E.ON, the German power group.
In addition, it flies in the face of British government policy. Last month, John Hutton, the former business secretary, told the Labour Party conference that “no coal . . . equals no lights. No power. No future.”
Chris Davies, an MEP who backed the legislation, said that the decision by the European Parliament’s environment committee “effectively prevents the building of new coal-fired power plants from 2015 unless equipped with CCS [carbon capture and storage technology]”. The new rules require final approval from the European Parliament and EU countries. If granted, they will transform the economics of burning coal to generate electricity.

The move came despite fierce resistance from power industry lobbyists, who said that that the EU’s aggressive emissions-cutting targets should be weakened because of the global financial crisis.
Avril Doyle, an Irish MEP on the committee, said: “For all the trouble we have, the single greatest challenge facing us is climate change.”
The committee backed proposed changes to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), an existing programme in which the bulk of permits are handed out to energy companies for free. Members voted in favour of auctioning all emissions permits after 2013 for power companies. The committee proposed that other polluting industries, such as steelmaking, should pay for 15 per cent of permits in 2013, rising to 100 per cent by 2020.
It had been unclear how the ETS programme would evolve after 2012.
The committee also offered to plough $10 billion from the scheme into carbon capture and storage (CCS) research, an untried technology designed to strip out greenhouse gases at source and store them underground.
The bill is a key plank of the EU’s plan to reduce Europe’s carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.
The CBI welcomed the scheme last night, saying that it would provide greater clarity for businesses.
Europe’s renewable energy industry also endorsed the decision. Maria McCaffery, of the British Wind Energy Association, said: “This new target underlines the urgency of action to deliver clean, sustainable energy now if we are to keep global temperatures within acceptable limits.”
A spokeswoman for E.ON, which relies heavily on coal-fired power stations in Germany, as well as in the UK, said: “We are taking our time to review and assess the decision.”
A vote before the full European Parliament is likely in December, although opposition is expected from some heavily coal-dependent countries, such as Poland. France, which has the EU presidency at the moment, wants to enshrine the Bill in law by the end of the year.

Recycled food to power buses that run on rails

David Millward, Transport Editor
Last Updated: 3:01pm BST 08/10/2008

A revolutionary new bus network, in which vehicles powered by recycled cooking oil and animal fat run on a disused railway line, is to be launched in Cambridge.

Orders worth £3m have been placed for a fleet of 20 buses - both single and double-decker - which will go into service in April.The transport scheme is combining two new technologies and is aimed at easing congestion and cutting carbon emissions.

Commissioned by Cambridgshire County Council the 16-mile long "guided busway" will be the biggest of its kind in the world.
It will run on a converted rail track which once linked St Ives to Cambridge itself.
The technology used in creating the busway has similarities to that which can be found some funfair rides.
It entails installing a small extra guide-wheel on the bus, set a few inches ahead of the tyres.
This runs against built up kerb, steering the bus around the guided busway course.
The driver remains in control of the bus, but while it is on the track, there is no need to steer it.
As soon as the bus switches on to the additional 10 miles of conventional road, the driver takes over.
The fuel for the fleet of buses - which will be fitted out with leather seats and have wi-fi - is being manufactured in Scotland.
It has been used in a pilot project in Kilmarnock, but this will be the first time recycled food waste will be used to power a major urban transport system and in combination with a guided busway system.
Cambridgeshire, which has also been considering introducing congestion charging, is pushing ahead with the busway scheme to ease some of its rush hour gridlock.
It hopes the guided buses will lure motorists out of their cars, because they will be spared the delays they currently face on local roads such as the A14.
When the scheme starts there will be up to eight buses an hour working on some routes.

Sun Microsystems co-founder places bets on clean technology

By Anupreeta Das Reuters
Published: October 8, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO: The venture capitalist and "cleantech" evangelist Vinod Khosla is placing his bets on alternative technologies that could potentially make at least 80 percent of global energy consumption cleaner in the next few years.
Speaking during the Reuters Global Environment Summit here, Khosla said he was hunting for "black swans" in alternative energy: revolutionary and unforeseen ideas that change the world as we know it and are as unexpected as the birds they are named for.
"There is no such thing as great visionaries," said Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems who is one of the best-known venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. "There's a huge dose of luck."
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a Wall Street trader turned author, used the term "black swan" in a recent book to describe unpredictable and consequential events in business that can be clearly explained once they happen, like the current financial crisis, Khosla noted.
But the world of technology creates opportunities for "good" black swans, said Khosla, who was dressed in his trademark all-black outfit.

Khosla Ventures, the venture capital firm he founded in 2004, has alternative energy investments across the spectrum of wind, solar, biofuels and geothermal energy.
The firm also invests in cleaner battery technology and cleaner building materials. Khosla said he expected more than half the firm's investments in 65-odd start-up companies to succeed.
Khosla said clean technologies had to do much more than reduce the size of the average carbon footprint to compete with traditional sources of energy or building materials, like fossil fuels or cement. They also have to be cheaper than traditional power and have the capacity for mass production, he said.
"Does a Prius sell well? Of course it does," Khosla said, referring to Toyota Motor's hybrid vehicle. "So do Gucci bags. But are they material compared to the number of bags sold at Wal-Mart? Not on your life."
Biofuels made from non-food-based natural sources and waste are among the most promising sources of such scalable clean-energy alternatives, Khosla said.
He said he expected there to be at least six different ways of producing cellulosic ethanol within the next four years, each producing that alternative fuel at prices competitive with corn-based ethanol and regular gasoline.
Once the wider market sees that a cleaner fuel can be made cheaply enough to compete with existing fuels, Khosla said, he would expect a mass conversion to the cheaper and cleaner fuel, particularly because cellulosic ethanol can be poured into gasoline tanks with only minor modifications to a car.
Khosla agreed that the future of biofuels remained uncertain because the technologies were still new.
But he defended his outlook by saying that millions of investment dollars had been poured into alternative fuels since 2006, money that is accelerating research, production and eventual commercialization. "Four years ago, when I said biofuels were interesting, people told me, 'Don't be flaky,"' he said.
Even big oil is taking an interest in the activity going on in these second-generation biofuels, so called because they are following the push toward corn-based ethanol.
Besides biofuels, technologies that store solar and wind power to provide a consistent supply - "not just when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining" - would attract venture investment dollars, he said.
Khosla, an Indian-American who came to the United States as a student in the 1970s and is a fixture on Forbes magazine's list of billionaires, said he was happiest poking around for the next big cleantech idea and chatting with entrepreneurs.
"I'm a techie nerd," he said.

Incentives create leading position in market

Published: October 9 2008 03:00

When Blackstone, the buy-out group, announced a €1bn investment in a wind farm development off the German coast in the summer, it highlighted the crucial role in its decision that was played by the German system of regulations and incentives.
"Projects of this scale have been made possible by Germany's comprehensive regulatory framework and incentive schemes for renewable power, as amended by German Parliament at the beginning of June, 2008," according to Blackstone.
Incentives for renewable energies have pushed Germany into a market-leading position. Its onshore wind installations account for about half the total installed capacity in Europe. In spite of its cloudy skies, Germany is also the largest market in the world for photovoltaic systems, which convert sunlight into electricity. It is also the largest user of biofuels in Europe.
The main tool has been a predictable policy framework established by the Renewable Energies Act, which requires energy companies to purchase power generated from renewable sources at an above-market price. Reforms this year strengthened the legal framework for energy-efficiency investments, while stimulating more wind farms through higher electricity tariffs and lowering subsidies for the solar power industry.
The tax system has also played a part in Germany's environmental reforms. Following Scandinavia, and some other European countries, it embarked on ecological tax reform in 1999.
It offset the introduction of a new electricity tax and a sharp rise in the country's existing petroleum tax with reductions in work-related tax.
The importance of manufacturing in the economy has meant that taxing carbon emissions has proved a more contentious aspect of Germany's environmental policies.
Special arrangements for lower environmental tax rates were made for companies in the manufacturing, agriculture and forestry sectors.
This year, German industry has mounted a rearguard campaign against European Commission proposals for an auction of the carbon emission permits allocated under the EU-wide emissions trading scheme.
It argued that replacing the current free distribution of carbon-dioxide permits with a mandatory auction between 2013 and 2020 would cost billions of euros and damage competitiveness.
The German government last month decided to back an almost total exemption for energy-intensive industry from paying for permits.
Angela Merkel, chancellor, said recently that - although she supported the need to tackle climate change - she "could not support the destruction of German jobs through an ill-advised climate policy".
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

Britain lobbies MEPs in attempt to weaken laws for greener cars

Juliette Jowit
The Guardian,
Thursday October 9 2008

The government is lobbying to weaken new European laws to force car manufacturers to build cleaner vehicles, leaked documents have revealed.
The UK has already been criticised for campaigning to water down another key European commission environmental policy to generate one-fifth of energy from renewable sources.
Now a briefing document from the Department for Transport to MEPs urges them to support three amendments to the commission's proposal to limit emissions from new cars to 120g of carbon dioxide for every kilometre travelled by 2012.
The UK-supported changes include plans to phase in the new limit over three years; to extend the less difficult targets for small manufacturers to include more companies - including potentially Jaguar, Land Rover and Ferrari; and to allow "eco-innovations" which are not part of the formal emissions tests to be allowed towards the target. These might include solar roofs and more widespread use of sixth gears.
The briefing, seen by the Guardian, indicates support for similar proposals by the French and German governments and would mean it was all but certain they will be adopted by the council of ministers because the three countries and their allies control such a big chunk of votes, said Franziska Achterberg, European transport campaigner for Greenpeace.
"If the UK joins [France and Germany], the small countries would not be sufficient to get a better outcome," said Achterberg.
The impact of phasing in the target would be for average emissions to be 154g/km in the first year, reducing towards the 120g target by 2015, said Achterberg. Critics also claim it would not be feasible for the commission to test the claims for emissions reductions for eco-innovations made by manufacturers, although the UK government proposals stress they should be "robust and measurable". The car industry has already been criticised for missing a previous voluntary agreement promise to cut emissions to 140g/km by the end of this year. Yesterday the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said average new car emissions had fallen to 158.6g/km in the UK, just above the Europe-wide figure last year.
"The problem is transport emissions are still rising; if we don't do something on cars and fuel this is not going to stop, so all the efforts to reduce emissions in other sectors will be undermined," added Achterberg. Last night the DfT said the proposed changes would not have a significant impact on emissions but would help manufacturers with long cycles between research and development on more efficient technology and new models, especially small companies with less flexibility to offset more polluting cars against cleaner models.
The UK was also going further than the commission by supporting a new limit of 100g/km in 2020, said a spokeswoman.
The SMMT said the car industry, which employs 850,000 people in the UK, was struggling to cope with falling sales. "It is very appropriate that today we do address the sustainability of the automotive industry, and perhaps remind ourselves that economic and social impacts are as important as environmental considerations," said Paul Everitt, the society's chief executive.

Rooftop greenhouses might help to feed mankind

Published Date: 09 October 2008

ROOFTOPS are an untapped resource that will be used widely in the cities of the future, according to Professor Peter Head.

He said they could be used for growing food in rooftop greenhouses.This, he believes, will help tackle the problem that the amount of food produced per person in the world is currently dropping."This is a terrifying prospect because not only will prices go up but the people who need food won't get it," he said.Those roofs that are too steep could be used for solar panels or small wind turbines."If you look down from the sky the roofs are the land, effectively," said Prof Head. "So they should be used and be productive."The sides of buildings would also be used, whether for solar panels or for growing plants that would help soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.Streets would also be put to use. With fewer cars, less space would be needed, so trees could be planted.Up to 15 per cent of the energy needed by cities could be provided by farm waste.

Climate concerns present a watertight case for cracking down on leaks

Published Date: 09 October 2008

CLIMATE change has two main impacts on Scottish Water. One is adaptation. Scottish Water must adapt its systems to cope with the changing climate.
The second is mitigation. It is important for Scottish Water to mitigate its carbon emissions. One way of doing this is to reduce the amount of drinking water its treatment works have to make. This is where tackling leakage comes in.By cracking down on leaks, Scottish Water can reduce the amount of power required for treatment works and pumping, which helps protect the environment and can reduce a water supply's carbon footprint.Scottish Water recently doubled the number of engineers and technicians to ensure that reducing leakage remains a top priority for the business. Over the past two years, Scottish Water has reduced reported leakage by 180 million litres of drinking water a day. Paul Kerr, head of leakage, says: "While this achievement is on par with the companies south of the Border when they started tackling leakage, it is still not good enough. Leakage has become more of an issue with climate change, the increasing cost of treating water to the highest standards and ensuring that we deliver better-quality drinking water to our customers while increasing efficiency."When we agreed targets in 2006 we were starting from cold. We were reducing leakage as well as installing the measurement equipment which we need to identify which parts of the water network were leaking more and where the biggest volumetric reductions would come from."We have met the target to install the measurement equipment known as District Metered Areas (DMAs) with over 94 per cent of all properties in Scotland now covered."With a clearer picture of leakage through the analysis of the DMA information, we have introduced more resources and increased investment to tackle this issue more effectively. We have gone into the market place to get specialist teams we need to supplement our in-house resource to ensure we meet our targets in the future."Scottish Water's main focus is to work towards the Economic Level of Leakage (ELL). This is the level where it is more costly to repair the leak than the cost saving due to the value of the water leaking from the system. By 2010 we aim to reach the halfway point and we are aiming to be on target to hit the ELL by 2014."Communications officer, Scottish

Ministers ring in changes in quest to become 'zero-carbon government'

Published Date: 09 October 2008

CREATING a greener Scotland is one of the Scottish Government's main objectives and businesses have a huge role to play in achieving it.
But if businesses are to be encouraged to play their part, the Scottish Government, along with the wider public sector, must take a lead by getting its own house in order and it is currently setting about that task with considerable energy and commitment. Its stated aim is to become a "zero waste government", and is taking action to drive down its carbon footprint through a range of measures to reduce energy use, minimise waste and increase recycling levels. This summer it signed up to the Carbon Trust's Carbon Management Programme with the objective of contributing towards its target of a 30 per cent reduction in business-related emissions by 2020. It is also promoting more sustainable business travel by staff. The Scottish Government Travel Campaign, launched in December last year, is underpinned by initiatives to encourage more cycling, walking and car sharing. Only last month, it announced it was phasing out water coolers and expanding the chilled drinking water facilities in its buildings. This follows an earlier decision to replace bottled still water with filtered water as part of its hospitality service. Recently, a new energy saving software product has been introduced to automatically shut down computers which are not in use. Ministers are also committed to promoting greener methods of business travel. For example, the Scottish Government has reduced air travel over the past year with ministers and civil servants making increasing use of video conferencing facilities.Richard Lochhead, cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment, has already announced plans for a national Zero Waste Strategy and introduced tough new targets to increase recycling and cut down on waste sent to landfill.As part of this, Scottish businesses will be encouraged to reduce commercial and industrial waste and reminded of the financial benefits of doing so – waste typically costs up to 4 per cent of business turnover.Over the next few months, the Scottish Government will be encouraging households and businesses to reduce their energy use and save money.Lochhead says: "It is absolutely essential for the Scottish Government and wider public sector to lead by example in developing a greener Scotland. We are determined to ensure that future generations can enjoy at least the same quality of life as we do."We have already undertaken lots of good work to drive down our carbon footprint, with initiatives on travel, waste and energy, but we can't afford to be complacent, especially in a time of public concern about high energy costs. "We are also working hard to create a more successful country with opportunities for all to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth while supporting rural communities and the farming, fishing, forestry and food industries that underpin the rural economy. "Of course, many Scots are already taking decisive action and thinking about the consequences of their actions – recycling more and using more energy-efficient light bulbs as well as buying more seasonal and unpackaged produce – and they deserve praise for doing so. "These small but significant changes are helping to reduce our impact on the environment, but we can – and must – do more."Businesses can sign up to the Go Greener campaign at

Water firm pouring effort into reducing carbon footprint

Published Date: 09 October 2008

SCOTTISH Water's carbon footprint for the year 2006-07 was 470,000 tonnes of equivalents – that's what the town of Perth, which has a population of 43,000 people, would emit in a year. Its electricity demand grew 10 per cent from 2002 to 2006 and a similar increase is expected in the 2006-2010 regulatory period. Scottish Water currently generates up to 5 per cent of its electricity demand from its own renewable schemes. It has the potential to double this within its core asset base, f
Its focus just now is to halt the increase of its carbon footprint and then start to reduce it. How it breaks down: 66 per cent of Scottish Water's footprint is grid electricity – of that: waste water treatment works consume 45 per cent; the sewerage network uses 13 per cent; raw water pumping and water treatment works take 30 per cent; clean water pumping uses 9 per cent, while supporting assets and others consumes 3 per cent.The remaining 34 per cent of the company's footprint is made up this way: 13 per cent natural gas; 9 per cent sludge; 6 per cent wastewater treatment process emissions; 3.5 per cent transport and travel; 2.2 per cent process skip waste, for example grit and screenings; and 0.3 per cent water treatment process emissions.The reason the footprint has grown is simple. By investing billions of pounds to improve drinking water quality and clean up the environment, Scottish Water has needed more sophisticated systems which require more power, meaning greater carbon emissions.

Climate change alert for birds and frogs

Published Date: 09 October 2008
By Emily Beament

MORE than half the world's amphibians and more than a third of birds face possible extinction because of climate change, a study has warned.
More than seven out of ten warm-water reef corals are also particularly susceptible to changing climate, yesterday's report from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said.Changes in temperature, seasons, rainfall, extreme weather events and carbon dioxide levels are all expected as the Earth's climate warms – with knock-on effects including habitat loss and changes in fertility for wildlife.According to the IUCN report, there are more than 90 biological traits which increase species' susceptibility to the effects of climate change.They include a reliance on specific habitats, such as polar ice, mangroves or cloud forest, a vulnerability to small changes in temperature or a dependence on environmental triggers such as spring or rainfall to breed, migrate or hibernate.Species that rely on interactions with prey, hosts or competitors or have a poor ability to disperse or find a new suitable habitat will also be hit.Some 3,438 of the world's 9,856 bird species and 3,217 of the 6,222 amphibians were "climate change susceptible".

Environmentalists criticise World Bank on climate ahead of annual meeting

Elana Schor in Washington,
Wednesday October 08 2008 20.42 BST

Ahead of the World Bank annual meeting in Washington this weekend, an alliance of US environmental campaigners today stepped up their criticism of the Bank's proposed funds to combat climate change.
The Bank's climate investment funds were unveiled in July, when 10 industrialised nations pledged $6.1bn (£3.5bn) in aid to developing nations to fight the threat of rising global temperatures.
But environmental groups as well as some representatives from developing nations have condemned the Bank for attempting to set climate policy while continuing to fund large fossil fuel-burning projects such as the planned Tata Mundra coal plant in India.
The same concerns about the Bank's involvement with coal projects have prompted the US Congress to delay approval for an American contribution to the climate funds.
"The Bank is proposing that the solution to this problem of climate change is advocating cheap energy in the form of coal, that coal is integral in overcoming poverty," Janet Redman, a research director at the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal-leaning US think tank, told reporters today.
Redman called the climate funds "a classic move of the World Bank, which is to announce something that doesn't have the critical buy-in it needs to move forward".Republican senator Pete Domenici and other coal supporters in the US have cheered the proposed climate funds, although Congress is unlikely to authorise an American share until next year.
Developing nations in the so-called Group of 77 also have pushed back against the Bank's climate funds, contending that the UN should take the lead on climate policy in preparation for next year's Copenhagen talks on a global emissions treaty. "We are very concerned by the Bank's attempt to control global financing policy on climate," Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth US, said. "The World Bank is a major climate polluter, a major deforester."
The global financial meltdown - which prompted a US government rescue plan more than 100 times the size of the proposed climate funds - is likely to dominate the Bank and International Monetary Fund meeting, pushing climate change further down the agenda.
Uncertainty about evaporating worldwide credit could ultimately help by dissuading the Bank from pursuing a solely market-based climate policy, according to Bernarditas Muller, lead coordinator for the Group of 77 and China during last year's UN climate talks in Bali.
"We've been told that the market will solve the problem," Muller said. "What's happening right now shows very clearly that markets will not necessarily, or even not at all, solve the problem."
Another controversial aspect of the proposed climate funds is the possibility that wealthier nations will offer aid in the form of loans, requiring developing countries to pay back the money with interest.
Redman, of the Institute for Policy Studies, said the loan-based structuring risks "undermining climate justice". She pointed to a sunset clause in the proposed funds that allow the Bank to step aside if the UN reaches a deal on a new global climate treaty next year.
The UK government has defended the funds as innovative. Phil Woolas, the environment minister, and Gareth Thomas, the trade and development minister, wrote to the Guardian in May that the proposal would "influence [the Bank's] lending to move in the right directions".

FTSE 100: rankings show how ready companies are for climate change

Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Last Updated: 6:01pm BST 08/10/2008

Companies that fail to assess the impact of climate change are storing up problems for the future in a similar way that the financial community built up debt leading to the current financial crisis, according to City experts.

The Carbon Disclosure Project asseses how well prepared the world's top companies are for the challenges of climate change.

The Bloomberg indices board on the Cromwell Road in London
The aim is to inform investors about the risk these firms will face in the event of rising carbon costs and environmental disaster.The not-for-profit organisation's latests rankings of the FTSE 100 show companies are getting better at measuring carbon emissions and setting targets to reduce greenhouse gases.
Some 90 per cent of companies in the FTSE 100 responded to the CDP questionaire this year, although not all were willing to make the results public.
However the FTSE 250 had a far worse response rate at just 58 per cent.
Paul Simpson, chief operating officer at CDP, said those companies that are failing to try to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment are storing up problems for the future.

Like the "credit crunch", where banks borrowed against assets they were unable to pay back, he said companies are currently using up resources that are irreplaceable.
This will eventually cause a "carbon crunch" where those companies that have not cut carbon emissions find they are fined by government or even face environmental disaster from climate change.
"Looming on the horizon is the credit crunch. If we say for the next five years lets ignore climate change and concentrate on getting the economy back on an even keel, we may find climate change will come back to bite us," he said.
"Everything, including our economy is reliant on the ecosystem. What we are doing is pushing the ecosystem beyond its sustainable limits to the point where it breaks and that is basically what we have done with the economy by lending money that does not really exist and people cannot afford to pay back."
The Carbon Disclosure Project was set up on behalf of 385 investors worth around £33 trillion in order to assess how well prepared different companies are for climate change.
The organisation aims to inform investors of the risks companies face from the changing climate, such as fines for producing too much carbon.
Mr Simpson said a company that understood the risks and opportunities of climate change would be far better prepared for the future.
For example those companies promoting renewable technology and cutting energy use are likely to boom in the future whereas those still reliant on fossil fuels will struggle.
He added: "Clear understanding and disclsoure of these opportunities and risks will help avert long term undisclosed exposure to climate change bringing down the value of companies - as the current economic crisis shows, failing to address undisclosed risk in the short term can lead to substantially larger problems in the long term."
The FTSE 100 companies that did not respond to CDP included InterContinental Hotel Group, Thomas Cook and Reuters.
Well known companies in the top 20 companies best prepared for climate change included: Barclays, Lloyds TSB, HBOS, RBS, HSBC, Tesco, Cadbury, Unilever and BT.

Biological traits make animals susceptible to climate change

Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 4:01pm BST 08/10/2008

More than one in three birds, half of amphibians and almost three-quarters of reef-building corals are at risk from climate change, a new study has revealed.
They display some of the biological traits that make them susceptible to climate change, according to the first results of a study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Penguins are one of the birds that are likely to be susceptible to the effects of climate change
The study reveals:* 3,438 of the world's 9,856 bird species have at least one out of 11 traits that could make them susceptible to climate change.* 3,217 of the 6,222 amphibians in the world are likely to be susceptible.
* 566 of 799 warm-water reef-building coral species are likely to be susceptible.
Species which rely on specific habitats, such as polar regions or tropical forest, those that are vulnerable to changes in temperature, and those which rely on climate triggers such as rainfall to breed or migrate, will be most at risk.
Predators which rely on other species for food and those unable to move on to new habitats when their own becomes unsuitable will also be most affected.
Among birds Albatross, penguin, petrel and shearwater are all likely to be susceptible while heron and egret families, and osprey, kite, hawk and eagle families are among those least likely to be affected.
In amphibians three salamander families could be particularly susceptible, while 80-100 per cent of Seychelles frogs and Indian Burrowing Frogs, Australian ground frogs, horned toads and glass frog families were assessed as susceptible.
Specialised habitat requirements, such as species with water-dependant larvae, and those unable to disperse due to barriers such as large water bodies or human-transformed habitats are most at risk.
Among corals the Acroporidae family, including staghorn corals, had particularly high numbers of susceptible species, while the Fungiidae family, including mushroom corals, and the Mussidae family, including some brain corals, possess relatively few.
Coral species qualified due to their sensitivity to increases in temperature, sedimentation and physical damage from storms and cyclones. Poor dispersal ability and colonisation potential were used as a further important indicators.
In all the IUCN study identified more than 90 biological traits which puts species at risk.
Wendy Foden, of IUCN's Species Programme, said: "This is the first time that a systematic assessments of species' susceptibility to climate change has been attempted.
"Climate change is already happening, but conservation decision makers currently have very little guidance on which species are going to be the worst affected."
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 32 per cent of amphibians are threatened with extinction. Of these, 75 per cent are susceptible to climate change while 41 per cent of non-threatened species are susceptible to climate change.
For birds, the overall percentage of those threatened with extinction is lower - 12 per cent. However, 80 per cent are susceptible to climate change.
Jean-Christophe Vie, deputy head of the IUCN Species Programme, said: "Climate change may cause a sharp rise in the risk and rate of extinction of currently threatened species.
"But we also want to highlight species which are currently not threatened but are more likely to become so as climate change impacts intensify. By doing this we hope to promote pre-emptive and more effective conservation action."

Autumn reds disappearing as global warming blurs boundaries between the seasons

Michael Day in Milan

Last Updated: 11:01am BST 08/10/2008

The vibrant palette of autumn is draining away from Europe's woodlands, as global warming continues to blur the boundaries between seasons, scientists have warned.

Researchers at the Italian Meteorological Society have observed less gold, copper and red foliage in the country's woodlands, and linked this to rising temperatures and extended springs and summers.
'Colours are fading because the temperature difference between night and day is getting smaller'
A similar warning has come from the Veneto region's forestry department.
The developments in Italy mirror concern elsewhere in Europe - and the Northern Hemisphere. The US Department of Agriculture has just begun funding a study into claims that the northern states' famed Fall colours are also fading away with climate change.
"I'm in the forests and woods every day," said Dr Giustino Mezzalira, a forestry expert and director of agricultural research for Italy's northern Veneto region, told the Telegraph, "and in recent years, we just haven't seem seen the same beautiful colours that we used to see.
"Something is clearly happening to make the colours less vivid. The wood is a living organism that tries to adapt to the climate, and change in climate is the cause. We really need to study and understand what's happening.

"But I think that, as in the United States, the colours are fading because the temperature difference between night and day is getting smaller and smaller."
In the US, researchers at the University of Vermont have just received $45,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture to monitor the situation following fears that famous autumnal displays in its woodlands are losing their splendour.
This group's research will also focus on temperature. Like Dr Mezzalira, the Vermont researchers suspect that the summer-like conditions that increasingly prevail in September and October, with a diminishing gap between day and night-time temperatures, is causing the woodland's palette to fade.
Botanists believe that brilliant leaf colours associated with autumn are promoted by cold nights followed by warm, sunny days; in the absence of such conditions, the trees probably continue to produce the green pigment chlorophyll as if it were still summertime.
"The leaves are telling how the climate is changing," said Dr Luca Mercalli, president of the Italian Meteorological Society.
In the alpine Aosta Valley he is measuring whether temperatures are changing in the area's forests and examining what effects such changes might be having. He has already found evidence linking less colour and higher temperatures.
His team is studying various woodland locations, starting in April this year and going right through to November, and comparing the results with previous years. The researchers are even measuring numbers of every single leaf on some branches.
"The preliminary data confirms what we suspected regarding the temperature," he told La Repubblica newspaper. "The rising temperatures are provoking an elongation of the vegetative season.
"The leaves are sprouting earlier by 15 days or more. So the spring is arriving earlier, while the leaves are staying put in autumn."
As a result the of the continuing heat and sunlight, the green pigment chlorophyll, which gives leaves their colour is not draining away so quickly in autumn to reveal the minor pigments, such as anthocyanins, that give trees their seasonal red, gold and copper hues.
This means that more leaves are dropping off later in November cold snaps before they have had the chance to change colour.
Dr Mercalli said that, in addition to robbing us of one of nature's most beautiful spectacles, the fading of autumn woodlands highlighted potentially disastrous environmental changes that were taking place.
"The temperatures are continuing to rise and nature is obviously reacting. Unfortunately mankind is doing very little about it," he said.

'Milk run' is miles better

By Rod Newing
Published: October 9 2008 03:00

Five years ago, Jaguar Land Rover did not know the carbon footprint of its supply chain. Now, it has been measured, reduction targets have been set, measures are being taken and the results are being monitored.
"Our total supply chain carbon dioxide footprint in January 2008 was 186,076 tonnes a year," says Kevin Wall, the company's material, planning and logistics director. "We are on target to reduce this by 2,621 tonnes this year and we have a 10-year plan to eliminate 90m road miles."
Jaguar Cars is one of the world's premier makers of luxury cars and Land Rover's four-wheel drive vehicles are world-famous. Together the two companies, which were acquired by Tata Motors from Ford Motor earlier this year, manufacture 290,000 vehicles a year in he UK.
About five years ago Jaguar Land Rover set up an integrated Europe-wide supply chain to collect components from 380 suppliers based in the UK and Europe. The aim of this "milk run" is to maximise the full capacity of a trailer, by consolidating five or six suppliers in a similar geographical area. This has reduced average road miles per week from 59,280 to 30,780, a 52 per cent saving.
Although created to reduce costs, it has also eliminated CO 2 emissions of 1,772 tonnes a year. The third-party logistics contract has just been rebid and next-generation truck engines were specified, to reduce emissions and improve economy by 10-12 per cent. Other projects include reduced pallet pool balancing between Europe and the UK, which has saved 1,265 tonnes a year, and reduced inter-site movements that have saved 151 tonnes a year.
"Ten years ago our supplier base was mainly in the UK, but now it is truly global," says Mr Wall. "You can't look at the purchase price any more, you have to look at the total landed cost, including freight, packaging, customs and the cost of returning any unique containers. It is difficult to calculate, but we have used this basis for several years and it takes into account both the financial and environmental implications of global sourcing."
The company has been trying to switch vehicle delivery from road to trains. Finished vehicles for the US, Australia and Japan go to Southampton by rail. This has eliminated 777,925 road miles a year, equating to 1,188 tonnes of CO 2 .
"It has been extremely difficult to get through the bureaucracy," says Mr Wall. "The business case requires a minimum number of carriages and a minimum journey of 100 miles to make it beneficial."
From Southampton, vehicles are transported by Wallenius Wilhelmsen ships. In partnership, the two organisations have optimised fleet utilisation, streamlined routes and run vessels - where possible - at more economical speeds.
Most significantly, instead of normal bunker fuel, the company pays extra for the ships to use low-sulphur fuel, which contains 1.3 per cent of the mineral, compared with an International Maritime Organisation target of 4.5 per cent. Between 2001 and 2007, this low-sulphur fuel saved 98,500 tonnes of sulphur dioxide emissions, a reduction of 43 per cent, and has cut CO 2 emissions by 17 per cent.
Future projects include reviewing vessel steaming speeds. A two-knot reduction saves 244kg of CO 2 per transported unit, 21 per cent less than present.
JLR is also exploring Wallenius Wilhelmsen's Orcelle project for a lightweight environmentally sound ship that can carry 10,000 cars. Using solar, wind, and wave power, it does not release any emissions into the atmosphere or the ocean.
"The Jaguar and Land Rover logistics professionals have long understood their role in moving freight from road to rail and sea, where practical," concludes Mr Wall. "It has now taken on a whole new emphasis in educating colleagues in the engineering and purchasing areas to ensure that a common approach is applied, with environmental measures underpinning all the actions that ultimately will lead to cost benefits."
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

Doubts Raised Over Promise of Liquid Coal


WASHINGTON -- Encouraging greater production of transportation fuel made from liquefied coal and Canadian oil sands could help reduce oil prices but also undermine U.S. efforts to fight global warming, according to a report to be released Wednesday by the Rand Corp.
The study by Rand, a nonprofit research institute in Santa Monica, Calif., illustrates the tensions between fighting global warming and reducing U.S. dependence on Middle East oil. It buttresses some criticisms leveled by environmental groups that certain alternative sources of fossil fuel result in higher levels of carbon-dioxide emissions than conventional motor fuel, when all of their emissions -- from production through development and consumption -- are measured.
The study's authors note that carbon-dioxide emissions from the production and use of oil sands are roughly 20% higher than conventional petroleum, and that emissions from the production and use of liquid fuel from coal are about twice the emissions of conventional fuels. At the same time, the authors say, greater production of fuel from oil sands and liquid coal could help expand global fuel supplies and work to slow the rise in oil prices.
The Rand study was funded by the National Commission on Energy Policy, a Washington-based group that advises government officials on energy matters.
Tax legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush last week contains a provision that makes alternative jet fuel made from liquefied coal eligible for the first time for a 50-cents-a-gallon tax credit.
A spokesman for the National Mining Association, Corey Henry, acknowledged that fuel made from liquefied coal produces high carbon-dioxide emissions, but said delaying production of it would exacerbate U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Write to Stephen Power at

France Will Spend $547 Million to Help Develop Greener Cars

Sarkozy Calls for Looser EU Rules on Aid

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Thursday for the European Union to loosen rules restricting state aid to industry, and said France will spend €400 million ($547 million) of public funds to help its auto makers develop greener cars.
EU officials recently have given the impression that they may be growing more lenient on state-aid restrictions as European governments struggle to respond to the global financial crisis. And many EU countries have adopted emergency domestic bailout plans without consulting their neighbors.

But some economists said that with his proposal to soften state-aid rules, Mr. Sarkozy was trying to use confusion over the European Commission's role to push a favorite project: the resurrection of government-sponsored industrial policy. In France, several big industries -- nuclear power, high-speed trains and aerospace -- have grown as a result of state aid and guidance.
"Mr. Sarkozy is resuming his lobbying," says Jean-François Jamet, an economist and consultant for the World Bank. "I am not sure many EU member states will support him."
European antitrust authorities have rejected several attempts by the French to prop up their auto industry, on the grounds that such aid would violate EU rules against state aid. In February, the commission blocked a French plan to grant Peugeot up to €100 million in state aid.
European car makers squeezed by the financial crisis are pressing the EU to agree to a €40 billion soft-loan package. Mr. Sarkozy said during a visit to the Paris Auto Show that it was time for the EU to loosen its antitrust rules and allow countries to help key industries -- or risk their decline. The French president, who holds the EU's rotating presidency until the end of 2008, said it was urgent to take action because the U.S. was drafting a $25 billion package to support its auto makers.
By sticking to the current rules which restrict EU subsidies, "I think we are being naive," Mr. Sarkozy said. "And I think it's been going on for too long."
The commission will examine the latest French plan as soon as it is notified by Paris, according to a spokesman for Antitrust Commissioner Neelie Kroes. "Under the current framework, governments can provide aid for research and development, training and environmental projects," spokesman Jonathan Todd said.
The bulk of the French funds for greener vehicles will go toward electric-car projects, Mr. Sarkozy said as he visited the stands of French auto makers PSA Peugeot Citroën SA and Renault SA at the Paris auto show.
Associated Press
President Nicolas Sarkozy
He also said France will replace all government cars more than 10 years old with fuel-efficient vehicles. In addition, the country will extend until 2012 a €5,000 subsidy to buyers of ultra-low-emission cars.
The French government fears that the financial crisis, as it has in the U.S., will damp demand for cars -- big-ticket items that most customers buy on credit.
The gloomy economic outlook and change in credit conditions have already hurt passenger-car sales in Western Europe, a key market for the French auto makers. In September, car registrations in Spain fell 32% on the year. Spanish car manufacturers' association Anfac attributed the drop to "higher mortgage payments and the overall increase in prices," which had "decreased disposable income."
Italy's new-car registrations in September dropped 5.5% from a year earlier. In Germany, passenger-car registrations fell 1.5%; new-car registrations in the U.K. skidded 21%. It was the U.K.'s fifth consecutive month of decline, and these are "the most difficult economic conditions the industry has faced in 17 years," the U.K. Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said. SMMT Chief Executive Paul Everitt called for "government action to restore consumer confidence and boost demand in the real economy."—Neal E. Boudette in Detroit contributed to this article.
Write to David Gauthier-Villars at and Edward Taylor at