Sunday, 30 November 2008

Greenhouse gases will heat up planet 'for ever'

New study shows the effects of CO2 pollution will be felt for hundreds of thousands of years
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment EditorSunday, 30 November 2008

Global warming is for ever, some of the world's top climate scientists have concluded. Their research shows that carbon dioxide emitted from today's homes, cars and factories will continue to heat up the planet for hundreds of thousands of years.
Their findings – which contradict a widespread belief that the atmosphere would recover quickly once humanity stopped polluting it – come at the beginning of the most crucial week for the climate this year. Tomorrow Britain's powerful Climate Change Committee will lay out a road map to put the country on track to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. At the same time, the world's governments will meet in Poznan, in Poland, to try to set the world on the path to agreeing a new international treaty next year, billed as the last chance to keep global warming to tolerable levels.
The new research will add to the pressure on ministers at home and abroad to take radical steps. And it will add urgency to attempts to find ways of removing excess carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, as well as trying to prevent further emissions.
It comes as a shock because most governments, and even many scientists, have assumed that carbon dioxide emissions would work their way out of the atmosphere in about a century, enabling it to clean itself fairly rapidly once the world switched to clean sources of energy.
But one of the main researchers – Professor David Archer of Chicago University – warns that "the climatic impacts of releasing fossil fuel carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will last longer than Stonehenge, longer than time capsules, far longer than the age of human civilisation so far. Ultimate recovery takes place on timescales of hundreds of thousands of years, a geologic longevity typically associated in public perceptions with nuclear waste."
Carbon dioxide mainly leaves the atmosphere by being soaked up by the oceans, but Professor Archer says that "the pervasive notion in the climate science community and in the public at large" that this happens relatively quickly is no longer valid. He and other leading scientists spell out why in a paper to be published in the journal Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
"The ocean is getting fed up with absorbing our CO2," he says. The surface waters, about 100 metres deep, which used to sop up the gas quite fast, are now getting saturated with it – turning acid in the process – and so decreasing their uptake. They need to be replaced with fresh water from deep down, but this overturning circulation "takes centuries or a millennium". And global warming is expected to slow this down: the hotter the surface layer becomes, the longer the replenishment takes.
Indeed, the forthcoming paper will add, research shows that even this renewing process will not be enough to remove all the vast amounts of carbon dioxide that humanity is now adding to the atmosphere. Much of it will have to wait hundreds of thousands of years before being removed by another, infinitely slower, process: the natural weathering of rocks, which incorporates the gas into other substances. And the more pollution that is emitted now, the worse this will become.
Research by another of the paper's authors, Professor Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institute for Science, in Stanford, California, adds another alarming twist to the story. He was surprised to find that even after the pollution stops, the Earth's temperature will not start to fall but will settle at a new, higher level.
Professor James Hansen, director of Nasa's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, and perhaps the world's most revered climate scientist, warns that the "long lifetime of carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fuel burning" means that just slowing down emissions is no solution. Instead, he says, some of the fuels must "be left in the ground" for ever, and that the gas must actually be removed from the air.
He proposes removing carbon dioxide by growing trees, which soak it up as they grow, and then burning them to produce electricity and capturing the gas before it is emitted. He also proposes that no more coal-fired power stations be built.
Tomorrow's report by the Climate Change Committee – chaired by Lord Turner, who also heads the Financial Services Authority – is expected to discourage the construction of new coal-fired stations, such as the one proposed for Kingsnorth in Kent.

Loophole in 'botched' law threatens Britain's biofuels industry

By Simon Evans
Sunday, 30 November 2008

The British biofuels industry has warned that oil companies are set to save millions of pounds because of a mistake by government lawyers in drafting biofuels legislation – an error that could lead to the demise of the UK's alternative fuel industry.
Officials from the Department for Transport, led by the former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, are due to meet with representatives of the biofuels industry this week to try explain the botched draft, which will allow oil firms to ignore the requirement to include small amounts of biofuels in their fuel mix for supply to motorists.
Biofuels producers claim that the drafting error is likely to see many of the UK's alternative energy producers go to the wall in the coming months.
"This error effectively renders the UK biofuels industry redundant until April 2009," said Terry de Winne, head of Allied Biodiesel Industries, the sector trade body. "This cock–up could completely destroy what little remains of the UK biodiesel industry by the end of the year."
Around 18 oil firms are expected to use the loophole, which in effect enables them to ignore the Government target of 2.5 per cent biofuel to be used in motoring fuel. Under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation introduced in April, it was intended that roughly every other litre of petrol sold on a forecourt would have to contain fuel made from crops or waste such as cooking oil. Under the terms of the scheme, retailers have to pay a 15p penalty for every litre by which they miss the targets.
The RTFO requires fuel suppliers to ensure that, by 2010, 5 per cent of all road vehicle fuel comes from renewable sources. It is hoped that the targets will eventually cut annual carbon emissions in the transport sector by between 2 and 3 per cent.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport could not be reached for comment.

Ocean currents can power the world, say scientists

A revolutionary device that can harness energy from slow-moving rivers and ocean currents could provide enough power for the entire world, scientists claim.

By Jasper Copping Last Updated: 2:39PM GMT 29 Nov 2008

Existing technologies require an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth's currents are slower than three knots Photo: AP
The technology can generate electricity in water flowing at a rate of less than one knot - about one mile an hour - meaning it could operate on most waterways and sea beds around the globe.
Existing technologies which use water power, relying on the action of waves, tides or faster currents created by dams, are far more limited in where they can be used, and also cause greater obstructions when they are built in rivers or the sea. Turbines and water mills need an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth's currents are slower than three knots.
The new device, which has been inspired by the way fish swim, consists of a system of cylinders positioned horizontal to the water flow and attached to springs.
As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices, which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is then converted into electricity.
Cylinders arranged over a cubic metre of the sea or river bed in a flow of three knots can produce 51 watts. This is more efficient than similar-sized turbines or wave generators, and the amount of power produced can increase sharply if the flow is faster or if more cylinders are added.
A "field" of cylinders built on the sea bed over a 1km by 1.5km area, and the height of a two-storey house, with a flow of just three knots, could generate enough power for around 100,000 homes. Just a few of the cylinders, stacked in a short ladder, could power an anchored ship or a lighthouse.
Systems could be sited on river beds or suspended in the ocean. The scientists behind the technology, which has been developed in research funded by the US government, say that generating power in this way would potentially cost only around 3.5p per kilowatt hour, compared to about 4.5p for wind energy and between 10p and 31p for solar power. They say the technology would require up to 50 times less ocean acreage than wave power generation.
The system, conceived by scientists at the University of Michigan, is called Vivace, or "vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy".
Michael Bernitsas, a professor of naval architecture at the university, said it was based on the changes in water speed that are caused when a current flows past an obstruction. Eddies or vortices, formed in the water flow, can move objects up and down or left and right.
"This is a totally new method of extracting energy from water flow," said Mr Bernitsas. "Fish curve their bodies to glide between the vortices shed by the bodies of the fish in front of them. Their muscle power alone could not propel them through the water at the speed they go, so they ride in each other's wake."
Such vibrations, which were first observed 500 years ago by Leonardo DaVinci in the form of "Aeolian Tones", can cause damage to structures built in water, like docks and oil rigs. But Mr Bernitsas added: "We enhance the vibrations and harness this powerful and destructive force in nature.
"If we could harness 0.1 per cent of the energy in the ocean, we could support the energy needs of 15 billion people. In the English Channel, for example, there is a very strong current, so you produce a lot of power."
Because the parts only oscillate slowly, the technology is likely to be less harmful to aquatic wildlife than dams or water turbines. And as the installations can be positioned far below the surface of the sea, there would be less interference with shipping, recreational boat users, fishing and tourism.
The engineers are now deploying a prototype device in the Detroit River, which has a flow of less than two knots. Their work, funded by the US Department of Energy and the US Office of Naval Research, is published in the current issue of the quarterly Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering.

How the beat of our feet can generate power

Tiny generators turn the pulses of energy from all forms of human movement into electricity
Robin McKie, science editor

The Observer, Sunday November 30 2008

The beating of a patient's heart, the shudder of a tube train and the pounding of thousands of commuters' feet on crowded platforms are being exploited as new sources of power.
Engineers and scientists are developing tiny generators that turn the kinetic energy of everyday movements into electricity which can then power sensors or provide electricity for remote installations.
The technology, known as power harvesting, is already being tested in helicopter frames, the floors of discos and in volunteers' knee joints in order to generate electricity. In the near future, harvesters could be used to recharge iPods and mobile phones, say researchers.
'The idea is a not a new one,' admitted Dr Steve Beeby, of Southampton University. 'Self-winding watches are fitted with devices like these to recharge their batteries so they don't have to be replaced all the time. However, the latest versions are far more sophisticated and will have a much greater impact on everyday life.'
Beeby has fitted harvesters at oil refineries. Vibrations from pipes and pumps drive the devices which in turn generate electricity for sensors. These sensors provide data that show if the refinery is operating safely and effectively.
'Without these devices we would have to link our sensors with miles of cables: a hazard and a waste of money,' added Beeby who is now working on fitting power harvesters to the frames of aircraft so embedded sensors can provide data readings about metal stress.
Power harvesters are also being developed to help cardiac patients. At Imperial College, London, Dr Paul Mitcheson is working on a pacemaker that is kept constantly charged by the beating of a person's heart. Such a device, he said, could mean that pacemaker replacement operations - which are typically carried out every six or seven years - might become a thing of the past.
The idea of using human energy to power electronic devices was originally developed by Trevor Baylis for his wind-up radio more than a decade ago. Modern versions are becoming more sophisticated, however. Even the gyrations of dancers are being used to generate power at the Bar Surya in London. Crystalline harvesters under its disco floor create tiny pulses of energy each time a dancer pushes down. The electricity created this way is used to offset the bar's utility bills.
Installed on a large scale, in tube and rail stations, these underfloor harvesters could provide a considerable output of electricity. UK and US military researchers are exploring the potential of energy-harvesters that could be built into soldiers' boots to provide precious power in remote and dangerous settings.

Britain’s cars may go electric by 2025

Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor

BRITAIN’S roads would become green, clean and silent if the plans to be set out by the government’s Committee on Climate Change tomorrow were realised.
It will warn that motorists must get rid of their dependence on the internal combustion engine and switch in large numbers to vehicles powered by electricity, hydrogen and other low or zero-emission fuels.
The recommendation will be contained in Building a Low Carbon Economy - the UK's Contribution to Tackling Climate Change, the inaugural report of the committee, chaired by Lord Adair Turner.
The 500-page report will set out what Britain needs to do if it is to achieve the 80% target for cutting emissions it has set itself. It will say that, currently, Britain generates the equivalent of 10-12 tons of CO2 annually per person - about 700m tons in total.
This must be cut to two tons a person by 2050, equivalent to about 12lb of CO2 per person each day.
The report will warn such cuts are impossible while internal combustion engines are the main means for propelling cars. A typical family car emits 11-13lb of CO2, a day’s “allowance”, in 25 miles of motoring.
Last month, Professor Julia King, a committee member, told the Royal Society that the days of the internal combustion engine were numbered.
“In the long term, CO2-free road transport fuel is the only way to decarbonise road transport,” she said.
“That means electric vehicles, with novel batteries charged by zero-carbon electricity or hydrogen produced from zero-carbon electricity.”
King believes a concerted effort could see cars that emit 50% less CO2 than today’s dominating Britain’s roads by 2025. Most of them would be plug-in hybrids with an electric system incorporating a small internal combustion engine.
Tomorrow, Turner will also publish Britain’s first “carbon budgets", one for each of the three five-year periods between 2008 and 2022.
These will set out the amounts by which Britain must cut its emissions in each of these time frames. These will be legally binding on the government and the report will set out a range of technological methods to achieve this.
For the power industry, which generates a third of Britain’s greenhouse gases, it will recommend big investment in research into carbon sequestra-tion, in which CO2 from burning coal and gas is captured and stored permanently, most likely underground.

The fool’s gold of carbon trading

The Sunday Times
November 30, 2008

A huge new market designed to solve global warming seems doomed to failure
Jonathan Leake

It was a deal to make Alistair Darling hug himself with glee. Just as the world’s existing financial markets were hitting a five-year low two weeks ago, the Treasury raked in a cool £54m from a brand new one. The occasion was Britain’s first auction of CO2 permits. Almost 4m were knocked down to greenhouse gas emitters in a sale that was four times oversubscribed. The government expects to sell 80m more over the next four years, raising a further £1 billion.
The plan, at first glance, seems simplicity itself: by charging companies for the right to emit CO2, the government hopes to encourage them to switch to cleaner and greener technologies. It is the latest development in a global campaign to save the planet by making polluters pay.
We are witnessing the birth of the greatest and most complex commodity market the world has seen. Last year alone, permits worth more than £55 billion were traded on the world’s carbon markets – but future trading volumes, if all goes global according to plan, will dwarf these.
Carbon trading schemes originate from the Kyoto protocol on climate change agreed under the auspices of the United Nations in 1997. Governments adhering to Kyoto accept limits on the CO2 their countries can emit. To meet their pledges, they put caps on the carbon outputs of domestic companies, which have to buy annual permits to exceed them.
Permits are bought from governments or from carbon traders, who, naturally, charge a commission. For the City the arrival of carbon trading is a bonanza. The sector already employs about 3,000 people and has created a few dozen new millionaires.
Several such schemes are up and running around the world: Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme, founded in 2005, is the biggest, but others are following in Australia, the US and even China.
It sounds good news for everyone: governments, taxpayers, City boys and the environment. The reality is a great deal less rosy – indeed some of those closest to the carbon markets say openly that the system is doomed to failure.
Many carbon traders believe they could make the system work but fear the politicians who oversee it will never dare put a sufficiently high price on carbon emissions to make a difference.
Those millions collected by the Treasury, for example, came mainly from UK power companies, and the cost will be added directly to our bills, as will the cost of annual CO2 permits in future. More worrying still, carbon trading shows no sign of achieving its purpose: CO2 emissions have increased, not slackened, since the first trading schemes. What, then, is the point? Good question, particularly for the 10,000 politicians, policy-makers and civil servants arriving this week in Poznan, Poland, for the latest round of global climate negotiations. They will consider a proposal to make carbon trading one of the world’s main tools for cutting greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.
The incongruity of proposing that a brand new financial market might be able to save the world – when faith in every other kind of financial market is tumbling – needs no underlining. But there are plenty of other reasons for scepticism, too.
Jim Hansen, director of the Nasa God-dard space centre and a renowned critic of global measures to combat climate change, believes carbon trading is a “terrible” approach. “Carbon trading does not solve the emission problem at all,” he says. “In fact it gives industries a way to avoid reducing their emissions. The rules are too complex and it creates an entirely new class of lobbyists and fat cats.”
Even some of those involved in setting up the carbon markets fear they will fail in their principal aim of cutting carbon emissions. Liz Bossley of CEAG, a City consultant in carbon trading, may have helped the fledgling system to grow from nothing into a big business but she is frank about its limitations. “The fatal flaw is . . . the politicians, because they set the cap which determines the supply of CO2 credits,” she says.
“The problem is that making those caps tough enough to achieve real cuts in CO2 emissions would have all kinds of political consequences. The chances of any politician taking such a decision are negligible.” What Bossley means is that consumers – voters – have to foot the bill when the cost of permits turns up in domestic energy prices.
British consumers are already paying about £60 extra each year on their gas and electricity bills to support renewable energy. Will they take more of this medicine in the middle of the worst recession for dec-ades? Nervous politicians remember the backlash in 2000 when angry lorry drivers almost brought the country to a standstill over the fuel accelerator tax.
There’s more. Under the 1997 Kyoto deal the main 37 industrialised nations (but not America) agreed that one of the ways they could cut emissions was by financing “clean development” projects in the developing world.
The idea is certainly appealing: if a company is emitting too much CO2 it can either make cuts or pay other companies to cut their emissions instead. If it turns out to be cheaper to pay someone in China to plant a forest to absorb carbon dioxide, or a factory in India to install clean technology to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases, then this is allowed, provided the project has been approved under the UN framework convention on climate change. For each tonne of CO2 saved, the convention issues a certified emission reduction certificate, or CER. These are valuable: indeed, they are the nearest thing to currency that the carbon markets acknowledge. Each one is worth about £14.
The original plan was to create a system for transferring wealth from developed countries such as Britain and America to the Third World, hence killing two birds with one stone: cutting emissions and helping international development.
It certainly sounded good – but the reality is the most complex trading system the world has known.
The complexity naturally means the system is open to abuse. Last year The Sunday Times revealed how SRF, an Indian company that produces refrigeration gases at a sprawling chemical plant in Rajasthan, stood to make £300m from selling certificates to overseas companies including Shell and Barclays. The Indian company had spent just £1.4m on equipment to reduce its emissions – and was using the profit to expand production of another greenhouse gas, a thousand times more . Other manufacturers damaging than CO2 in India and China producing similar products are expected to earn an estimated £3.3 billion over the next six years by cutting emissions at a cost of just £67m.
Internal papers leaked from the UN show that such problems arose because the system for checking companies involved in emissions reductions schemes was seriously flawed. One official estimated that up to 20% of the carbon credits issued did not represent genuine reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This meant that the real effect of the system had been to increase the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
Nor is this all. One of the unintended consequences of the carbon trading system is a potentially huge – and massively destabilising – transfer of money and influence from the industrialised West to Russia. This is because when the Kremlin signed up to the Kyoto treaty it was given an annual emissions limit based on the horrors pumped out by filthy old Soviet industries back in 1990. Since then Russia’s industrial base has contracted so drastic-ally that it uses only a fraction of its allowances. One recent analyst’s report found that Russia has accumulated emissions permits worth about four billion tonnes of CO2. The report warned: “Russia must be singled out as a potential threat to the ability of the market to produce a meaning-ful carbon price.”
There is of course another huge incongruity in Russia, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of coal, gas and oil, also in effect having control of the system for reducing emissions from these fossil fuels. It means that the West could end up paying the Russians for fuel – and then paying them again for the right to burn it.
Undeterred by these fundamental flaws, the UN is planning many more CER schemes. About 4,000 are awaiting approval, including plans for capturing methane from Indian chicken farms, Filipino pig farms and Thai coal mines. Other schemes propose destroying industrial gases at factories in China and India and cutting CO2 emissions by building wind farms in Mon-golia. One of the ideas under discussion in Poznan could result in European industry paying millions of pounds to landowners in Brazil and Indonesia not to cut down their rainforests.
It is easy to mock such schemes but the mockery hides from view the really big question, and the one that is hardest to answer: are the emerging carbon markets capable of making a significant dent in the world’s surging carbon emissions?
Lord May, a former government chief scientist, is now an influential member of the British government’s climate change committee, whose inaugural report (Building a Low-Carbon Economy – the UK’s Contribution to Tackling Climate Change) will be published tomorrow.
The report will include a full scientific and economic analysis of how Britain can achieve its target of cutting emissions by 80% by 2050, including specific reduction targets for each of the UK’s first three five-year “carbon budget” periods. Although the report will support carbon trading as a possible means of reducing emissions, May has warned that the system risks creating a false sense of security.
Speaking at the Royal Society last month, he said: “The [inclusion of] these fiscal instruments could give the misleading impression that they can deliver real emissions reductions. Sooner or later, people are going to have to realise that, in climate change, we now face something far worse than world war two.”
Some of his fellow scientists even warn that governments may soon have to accept that combating climate change is becoming incompatible with economic growth. A recent peer-reviewed paper from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, the government’s leading academic research centre for global warming, warned: “Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonisation, it is difficult to foresee anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilising the climate.”
At the Royal Society, Professor Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre, spelt it out: “The target set for the climate talks was to keep global temperature rises below 2C. At the moment, however, the level of emissions is rising so fast that we are heading for a world that is 4-5C warmer than now by 2100. That would be catastrophic for the environment and for humanity.”
In other words, if the scientists are right, all our efforts to fight off the recession are wrongheaded. We should be embracing it. So where does this leave the world leaders and their Sherpas, heading for Poznan with their hopes set on trading our way out of the abyss? Anderson’s answer is a shrug.
“Carbon trading may have been the answer once but not any more,” he says. “It will just take too long to achieve anything, and we no longer have the luxury of time.”
Stinking rich
For clever City boys, carbon markets are a marvellous way of turning muck into brass. Daniel Co, a Filipino pig farmer, used to shovel the dung from his 10,000 animals into ponds on his Uni-Rich Agro Industrial farm. The manure generated thousands of tons of methane, a global warming gas, but Co did not want to spend £110,000 on kit to trap the gas.
Then EcoSecurities, a British carbon trading firm, worked out that anything that captured the methane would entitle the farmer annually to nearly 3,000 “certified emission reductions” – the nearest thing to a carbon trading currency.
EcoSecurities did the paperwork for Co and gave him just over £2 per certificate. He put in the methane-capture kit, generating power and saving about £24,000 a year in utility bills. EcoSecurities sells the CERs for about £10 each to a French bank, which sells them on to power plants that need to offset emissions. The consumer pays through higher bills. A nice little earner for everyone except the poor mugs (us) at the end of the chain – but can it save the planet?

Why we fell out of love with bottled water (and how the industry plans to win us back)

Report by Martin HickmanSaturday, 29 November 2008

Bottled water. We all hate it now, don't we? Few products can rival its spectacular fall from grace. Government ministers rail against it ("morally unacceptable" in the pleasingly direct words of the environment minister, Phil Woolas) and shoppers no longer think it is fashionable.
You only have to remember how cool Perrier was in the late 1990s to appreciate how low mineral water has sunk. A few years ago, to clutch a bottle of mineral water was a statement of wealth and vitality; a marker of metropolitan sophistication. It was clean, cool and fresh – and often stylishly French, too.
Now, though, bottled water is in danger of being a has-been. After three decades of constant growth which saw sales rise by a factor of 100, from 20m litres a year in 1976 to 2,000m litres in 2006, the rise and fall of the sales chart is starting to resemble one of the mountains pictured in the advertising. Unless the slide is halted, bottled water will become history, a consumer fad that couldn't live up to the hype. Unlikely, certainly, but the industry is spooked.
Mineral water is being assailed on all sides. Two years of extremely cloudy summers have hit demand; and now, the collapsing economy is causing consumers to question whether they need to spend £1 or £2 on something they can get for a fraction of the price at home. Most vexingly to its multinational cheerleaders, bottled water has become a symbol of environmental lunacy. How can one defend a product that is trucked hundreds or thousands of miles in plastic bottles when it gushes out of taps almost free? The Government has announced that it is banning mineral water from civil service meetings. Consumer groups call on diners to ask for tap – and millions are doing so. Mineral water is no longer cool; it's dumb, bought by gullible clothes-horses who care more about their skin than the planet.
For two years the executives of the £2bn-a-year bottled water industry have sat tight, hoping things would improve, silently fuming as their product's reputation dripped away. Now, they are striking back. Britain's three biggest bottled-water companies, the Swiss food giant Nestlé, the French dairy corporation Danone and Highland Spring have founded a lobby group to restore its reputation. The trio met in Cambridge earlier this month to hatch a plan to restore mineral water to its rightful place in the public's affections.
In months to come, there will be lobbying from the Natural Hydration Council and a massive advertising campaign that will seek to re-educate the public about the benefits of bottled water. And it will get dirty. The bottled water camp is throwing mud at the tap water companies, with talk of chlorine, septic tanks, contamination and irresponsible leakage. The companies are fighting for their lives. And they complain about dark forces doing down their transparent, beautiful product. How did water get this murky? And should we be buying San Pellegrino or Badoit – or not?
With his considerable frame filling a chair at the University Arms Hotel in Cambridge, Nick Krzyzaniak, managing director of Danone Waters UK and Ireland, is probably not what customers imagine the boss of Volvic to look like. He does not have wavy hair and a Gallic accent. He is 46, from Michigan and has spent most of the last two decades sealing boardroom deals in the US. Now he has been given the task of reviving bottled water – and he intends to succeed. Key to his mission is making Brits love mineral water again. He has a point, or several, to make.
Bottled water is a "stunning" product – healthy, pure and cheaper than many other less healthy drinks. It comes from some of the most pristine areas of the world (in Europe, say, the Alps or the Scottish Highlands) where it spends years being filtered and purified by natural processes. It has no calories, sugar, or additives.
But the problem is that while tap water costs one tenth of a penny per litre, Evian costs almost £1, if not more – making it as expensive as the petrol you put into your car.
Danone's solution to this is to tell the public that tap and bottled are not the same, even if they look the same. In his presentation to fellow industry members in Cambridge, Mr Krzyzaniak shows a picture of two identical looking glasses of water. "But are all waters created equal?" his presentation asks. "NO!" screams the graphic. There are pictures of the production of bottled and tap water. Bottled water drifts down from clouds over mountains, percolates through rocks and ends up in clear bottles. Tap water comes from groundwater, risking "contamination" from pesticides and fertilisers and a grey blot in the ground marked "septic tank". A dissected water pipe shows it is all furred up inside, like an old kettle.
"We are in a pristine, highly protected remote location, whether it is the Scottish Highlands or Evian in France, compared to a very industrialised product which is tap water," explains Krzyzaniak, castigating its mass-produced rival.
"Tap water is treated with chlorine to be disinfected – there are 110,000 tons of chlorine used every year to cleanse the product; and they need to do that.
"I make the same comparison," he adds. "Is organic food more healthy than genetically modified, pesticide-treated food? It's not killing anyone today, we would never say anything like that, but there is definitely a value difference. Our studies show that the Thames river water system recycles five to seven times before it disseminates from the system, so it's been through five to seven people before it leaves the system, which to me is a slightly scary proposition."
Bottled water executives accuse the tap water industries of spreading anti-bottled-water propaganda to distract attention from the above-inflation rises they will be imposing on households between 2010 and 2015. And they accuse the Government of casting around for green villains, when it should be improving its own environmental record, particularly on increasing recycling facilities for PET plastic, used for bottled water.
"It's a distraction for the politicians," complains Les Montgomery, chief executive of Highland Spring, who is building a railway to his factory to reduce the use of trucks and who uses 25 per cent recycled content in his PET bottles (he would like to use more).
"The recycling infrastructure is not there in the UK; that's got to be politically driven – it's got to be managed by the politicians.
"We are apolitical. But the impact that the statements have had on our industry," adds his marketing director Sally Stanley, "have been significant and it's been really lazy, sound-bite driven. It's easy for people to latch on to the so-called 'facts' that they're being communicated if they don't know any of the detail behind our industry."
The "detail" here is that, in fact, fruit juices, beer and wine almost certainly harm the environment more than bottled water. Unlike water, ingredients have to be grown (grapes, barley, hops, sugar, etc), all at a cost to the environment. Like water, the drinks are then transported long distances (New Zealand sauvignon blanc, Italian lager, the list is extensive).
Admittedly, carbon labelling is in its infancy, but the work done so far suggests that other soft drinks have a carbon footprint up to 10 times higher than bottled water. Danone, which has lightweighted its bottles and uses the train in France, calculates that production of one litre of Evian emits 198 grams of carbon dioxide.
When Tesco checked the Co2 of its orange juice, it found a litre cost 1,040 grams. Even the environmentally friendly Adnams brewery in Suffolk cannot reduce the Co2 of its East Green bitter below 864 grams.
Bottled water executives, though, really want to make a breakthrough on health rather than the environment. Studies show that organic food shoppers are more motivated by their own health than the planet: organic food is more of a "me" thing than an "us" thing.
And for all the environmental controversy, the industry fears it is the coming recession that most threatens to accelerate the 9 per cent decline in sales from the peak in 2006: shoppers must be convinced that bottled water is better than tap water.
Given that many people in the UK are now so positive about tap water, this is going to be tricky. According to Danone's figures, only 2 per cent of Japanese consumers believe their tap water is as healthy as bottled water. In Spain the figure is 13 per cent, in France 31 per cent, and in the UK it is 45 per cent.
Almost three-quarters of British people (72 per cent) believe that tap water is of good quality and only 9 per cent believe that it's bad quality. With good reason – the Drinking Water Inspectorate says that 99.96 per cent of UK water meets EU standards, unlike many parts of the developing world where drinking water is highly dangerous.
But these figures do not impress the bottled water industry: "99.96 per cent of your water being good enough is not good enough – 100 per cent of our water has to be good enough, because that 0.4 per cent, that fraction there, is not good enough. That should be challenged more," says Montgomery.
A key issue here is "consistency", adds Krzyzaniak. "Tap water changes from glass to glass," he says, explaining that chlorine wears out over time, meaning that the quality can vary depending on how long it has been sitting in the pipe. "And it also depends on the source, depending on where you picked up along the Thames. Could you be near a treatment centre, could you be near a highly agricultural centre, could you be near a waste treatment centre?
"Brits have one of the strongest beliefs in the healthiness of their drinking water and its provision is a fundamental reason to separate first and third world nations. But these water utilities are not municipalities; they are companies that are making profit selling the water, so they have to establish it is safe – and we do agree it's safe – but it's the inconsistency, and now with more modern drugs, chemicals and other things being introduced, it's much more susceptible to hormones, carcinogenics, and [other] things."
Why would tap water companies want to discourage sales of bottled water, though? Why would they be worried by mineral water? "It's a way of disguising some of the raising of prices they are going to have to do," says Krzyzaniak. "You are hearing there will be 13-14 per cent raises in the next few months. They are going to have to request massive amounts of money to help re-sill the pipes. If you look at a tap water company today they don't have the money to do that. But more than anything, it's a way of gaining control of the water system."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the water companies do not share this view. Barrie Clark, director of communications at Water UK, the trade body for water utilities, says: "We will be very disappointed if there is a suggestion that bottled water is better or superior than tap water. We believe that good hydration is essential for good health. And we say good water is good water wherever it comes from; bottled and tap, both of which have been properly presented to the consumer so that they are entirely healthy and safe to drink."
Both sides of the water industry agree on this need for hydration – a word you will soon be hearing more of thanks to the Natural Hydration Council. According to the NHC, people need two litres of liquid a day to replace that lost in urine and sweat.
One of the reasons the bottled-water industry split from the British Soft Drinks Association was the BSDA's insistence that people be urged to drink any liquid, such as fruit juice or coffee, to hit the target.
But is there any truth in the suggestion that we do need to drink two litres of anything a day? The Food Standards Agency recommends that adults drink 1.9 litres of liquid daily, preferably water. "Water is the best choice for quenching your thirst between meals. It is totally calorie-free and contains no sugars that damage teeth. If you don't like the taste of plain water, try sparkling water or add a slice of lemon or lime," the Government agency says.
Scientific studies, though, are downright dismissive of the two-litre advice. Much of our liquid comes from food and in any case, we tend to drink when we are thirsty: we don't need to gulp down masses of water. In a review of scientific data published this year, the Department of Physiology at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire in the US found no evidence for the message that we should drink eight glasses of eight fluid ounces a day – two litres.
"No scientific studies were found in support of eight by eight," said the researchers.
"Rather, surveys of food and fluid intake on thousands of adults of both genders – analyses of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals – strongly suggest that such large amounts are not needed ... This conclusion is supported by published studies showing that caffeinated drinks may indeed be counted toward the daily total, as well as by the large body of published experiments that attest to the precision and effectiveness of the osmoregulatory system for maintaining water balance."
Our livers are very effective at removing toxins. The less you drink, the darker your wee will be, because the toxins will be expelled in a less diluted form, but that is not necessarily a problem.
But the amount of sugary, fizzy drinks we consume, at a time of mass obesity, almost certainly is. We drink four times as much sugary drinks as we do bottled water. The bottled-water industry argues that it could help solve public health crises like obesity.
In the absence of a Government drive to recreate the Victorian public drinking fountains, they're probably right. (Though re-filling a water bottle before you travel is the next best environmental solution.)
"We've done plenty of work on it and if you have a look at what consumers would buy in the absence of bottled water," says Sally Stanley at Highland Spring, "they would revert back to buying the carbonates of old. Would that be good? I don't think so. We've spent an awful lot of time and effort trying to wean children off carbonated soft drinks that are sugar-laden or diet carbonated drinks which contain other ingredients. And my goodness, hardly any of them drink bottled water or tap water."
"When you look at obesity, dental health, drink driving, drugs," she continues, "almost every public health campaign that the Government will fund has as part of its solution water.
"Taps aren't available in pubs always, they aren't available in cars – the last time I looked. I think we've got to be bit more measured about what we're communicating to consumers, because the campaigning against bottled water will, ultimately, impact on the health of children and the health of adults who would otherwise drink other beverages."
So, taking everything into account, bottled water isn't so bad. Faced with a choice of fruit juice, cola, beer or wine, Perrier or Evian is a better choice for your body and the planet. That doesn't mean that we should stop asking for tap in restaurants, or refilling bottles at home, or urging politicians to find ways of serving water on the go. Nor does it mean we should take the mineral water industry's insistence that we endlessly swig on a bottle too seriously. But, with so many environmentally damaging and unhealthy drinks out there, mineral water is more saint than sinner.
Dripping points
0.1pence......... cost of litre of tap water90p.........cost of litre of mineral water
£2bn......... annual bottled water sales£10bn......... tap water sales
72% of people in UK believe tap water is good quality9% believe it is bad quality
2,075m litres – estimated bottled water sales 2008-9% - decline in sales over the past two years
But still double 10 years ago...
990m litres – bottled water sales in 1998
And 100 times 30 years ago...
20m litres – bottled water sales in 1976
Between 1997 and 2008, price of bottled water fell 8.2%
Tap water ......... 0Bottled water ......... 0Smoothie ......... 550Beer ......... 350Orange juice ......... 480sugar (per litre)Tap water ......... 0Bottled water ......... 0Smoothie ......... 48 gramsCoca-Cola......... 106 gramsOrange juice ......... 106 gramsCLIMATE CHANGE (Co2 per litre)
Tap water ......... 0.2 gramsBottled water ......... 198 gramsSmoothie ......... 686 gramsBeer ......... 864 gramsOrange juice ......... 1,040 grams
97 litres .........fizzy drinks55 litres ......... concentrated squash36 litres......... bottled water23 litres......... fruit juice23 litres ......... juice drinks
56% ......... tea, coffee and other hot drinks8% ......... fruit drinks8% ......... alcohol8% ......... miscellaneous7% ......... carbonated soft drinks7% ......... tap water3% ......... bottled water3% ......... milk
Mineral water ......... 60% Spring water ......... 26% Bottled drinking water ('table' water) ......... 11% Purified water ......... 3%

Weather Eye: exotic jungle discovered in Cornwall

Paul Simons

An exotic jungle has been discovered in an overgrown valley in Cornwall (report, November 27). Sub-tropical palms, shrubs and ferns were found growing in a gorge at Trebah Gardens near Falmouth, where they had remained hidden by later growth for more than a century.
These botanical wonders have thrived in the mild conditions of Cornwall. The maritime climate, warm breezes blown off the Gulf Stream and a sheltered location all help to protect the gardens from frost and severe cold.
A sub-tropical Mexican fuchsia shrub at Trebah caused great excitement when it flowered non-stop for a year.
A short way up the Cornish coast lies another surprise. The Tregothnan Estate, near Truro, has established the first commercial tea plantation in Britain. The climate there is remarkably similar to Darjeeling, averaging an annual 13.7C (56.7F) compared with Darjeeling’s 14.7C (58.5F). The tea bushes also thrive on rainfall averaging 940mm (37in) a year, although not quite the Indian monsoon that helps to soak the hills of Darjeeling with a yearly 3,037mm (120in).

Most crucially, the Tregothnan estate has no spring frosts, when the buds and young leaves of the tea bushes are most vulnerable. The plantation covers 20 acres of mature tea bushes that are harvested from April to October and produce a tea that is reckoned to almost match Darjeeling, although a lot more expensive.
Already, the Tregothnan plantation has attracted interest from elsewhere in Cornwall, and the hope is to form a UK tea growers association. Climate change could extend tea-growing to other areas in southern England.

Eco-worrier: How green is my microwave?

They've been cluttering our kitchens for more than 40 years, but we still seem to be unsure how acceptable they are - especially when we are being encouraged to embrace slow, proper food

Anna Shepard

Many people, when you spot the familiar appliance crouched on their worktop, will say that they use them only “to defrost things”. However, they could do better than that and turn to the energy-saving defence: microwaves, whatever they might do (or not do) to flavours and food, are superbly energy-efficient.
The average microwave uses a third of the energy used by a conventional electric oven, according to a study by researchers at Brown University, Rhode Island, in the US.
Yes, energy is involved in their production and transportation, and, yes, they are one of the most commonly dumped white goods in landfill, but if you use only a microwave for cooking, you will have a low-energy kitchen.
If you read Richard Ehrlich's column, The Green Kitchen, in The Times Magazine, you will know how often he extols the virtue of an appliance that cooks with a minimal expenditure of energy and water.
Personally, I've always been a resister. The niggling feeling that they are sizzling my brains as well as my porridge puts me off, even though studies have concluded otherwise.
Much like concern about mobile phones, critics argue that longer-term research is needed to make sure that microwaves do not damage our health. Until then, I'd rather not hang out next to one while it is whirring away, or cook my lunch in one every day.
Overall, it depends what you use them for. The main argument against their use is that they encourage an unhealthy approach to food that involves overpackaged ready-meals that can be heated up in three minutes flat.
But if you rely on your microwave to cook lovingly prepared home-made food that has been previously prepared in bulk to save energy and time, before being stored in the freezer, I wish you both a long and happy pinging relationship.
Skiing isn't the greenest of winter activities once you tally up the flights and the impact of tourism on delicate mountain eco-systems. But if you're a fan of the white stuff, you can decrease your holiday's impact by researching resorts first. At you can find out which locations recycle, use renewable energy and have a green building policy, while lists special ski-trains for a relaxing, low-impact way of reaching the slopes.
The Advent calendar market may have been swamped in the past few years by multinational chocolate companies touting their wares, but there is one that features an ethical dimension. Divine's Advent Calendar, in milk and 70 per cent dark chocolate, contains Fairtrade chocolate that guarantees that a co-operative of 45,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana have received a fair price. Buy it at Waitrose, your nearest Oxfam store or (£3.75).
It might mean fewer chores, but the trend towards paving front gardens is leading to a decline in common British birds such as sparrows, says the RSPB. The loss of trees and backyard greenery means fewer insects for the birds to feed to their chicks. What can you do? “Be lazy, do nothing and allow the garden to be a bit scruffy,” says Dr Will Peach, of the RSPB. The best excuse I've heard for neglecting gardening duties this winter.
How Green Are My Wellies? (Eden Project Books, £14), by Anna Shepard, is available at

Sheffield firm seeks government funds for nuclear forge

By Sarah ArnottSaturday, 29 November 2008

A Sheffield company approached the Government yesterday with a formal request for part-funding of a £140m plan to build the biggest steel-forging press in the world and steal a march on the booming nuclear industry.
Sheffield Forgemasters wants to construct an open-die press that exerts a massive 15,000 tonnes of pressure and can make components big enough for even the largest modern reactors.
There are only four super-presses already, including one – a mere 10,000 tonnes – at Forgemasters. But they are too few to meet ballooning demand for nuclear power stations, and only the biggest, in Japan, can manufacture the giant parts needed for super-size, next-generation reactors.
Peter Birtle, a director at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: "We want a press that is substantially bigger than the one in Japan and is capable of making 100 per cent of the forgings required for the biggest reactors around today."
Not only would the facility mean the UK nuclear industry – which is set to build at least eight new power stations in the coming years – could avoid joining the queue at forges overseas, but it would also establish Sheffield as a centre for the global market. "There is a substantial shortage because today there is only enough forging capacity, globally, to make around seven or eight reactors annually, whereas the world has plans to be building 13 per year," Mr Birtle said.
The majority of the £140m needed for the press has already been raised, from a combination of bank loans and future customers putting up money in advance in return for a guarantee of the forge's capacity. But despite approaches from venture capitalists "in the double digits", the company is reluctant to dilute its shareholders' stakes only three years after the management buyout that saved the group from closure. Instead, Forgemasters hopes the Department for Business will stump up the balance.
Future demand is strong, as governments across the world turn to nuclear to meet concerns about carbon emissions, energy security and dwindling hydrocarbon reserves. "The press will be capable of manufacturing all the forgings for about two reactors per year," Mr Birtle said. "At today's values, that is a sales output of about £110-120m."
The Government may well look kindly on the approach. Part of the appeal of the UK's nuclear renaissance is the establishment of a vibrant supply chain of companies that can also sell into the global market. Several big names – including BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Doosan Babcock – have announced plans to expand in the civil nuclear industry, and are working with Westinghouse, the reactor developer, on its latest designs.
"For these companies, a factor in their success in the global industry is the availability of forgings from which to build these reactors," Mr Birtle said. "If they have a domestic supplier in the UK then they are in a much stronger position in the global nuclear renaissance than if they are reliant on a Japanese source."

Bear Grylls: How are we going to face up to energy crisis?

As the world economies battle for air, all of us are facing challenging times. But what lies behind the crisis, and what about beyond it?

By Bear Grylls Last Updated: 9:06PM GMT 28 Nov 2008

Bear Grylls is best known as a survival expert
Beneath the surface of world instability bubbles a much more fundamental issue. How are we going to face up to the earth's energy crisis? And at what cost do we ignore that question?
When we are fighting for basic economic survival it is hard to look beyond our front door, but we must. If we are to have a world worth handing on to our children, we must have the courage to look beyond oil and conventional fossil fuelled power solutions. We must also fight against the cynicism that questions global warming and we must fight against a lethargy that says it is too late or that isn't our problem. It is not someone else's problem.
We all have a chance to make a difference to our struggling planet, and it is our generations time to stand up and be counted. I want to do exactly that. I want my children in the future to know that I didn't stand back and observe, but rather I made steps, however small they were, to bring about change.
I read recently how European Union officials say they're considering an ambitious plan to draw energy from the sun that beats down relentlessly on the Sahara. They say that by building a solar power plant the size of Wales (a small area, compared to the vastness of the Sahara that is almost as large as mainland USA) and laying down high-voltage transmission cables, the EU could potentially capture enough clean energy to power the entire continent. Wow! Why aren't they building this now?
I'ts very hard for any one of us to save the earth alone. I understand that. But this is about a determination to contribute.
Part of each year my young family and me live on a small remote Welsh island. It is a few miles offshore with no mains electricity or running water. We power the island with a small wind turbine and we collect rain water off the roof. It works. Powering the future is about trying to think outside the box and it's about encouraging the pioneers.
In a weeks time I leave for an expedition I am leading down to Antarctica. We are aiming, first of all, to explore part of the remote Antarctic coastline where the great Southern Ocean meets the vast ice continental shelf. We will be doing this using a small bio-ethanol powered jetski and small inflatable. I don't expect it to be exactly easy. We will then aim to scale one of these ice shelves (many of which are over 600ft high). Less easy still, I predict. We will sleep in hanging bivouacs half way up this vertical ice wall before eventually hauling the jetski and inflatable up over the ice face to continue on the mission. We will then be using kite-skis to harness the wind to move across the vast ice plateaus. The team then heads inland to Queen Maud Land in the Antarctic interior and the mighty peaks of one of the least explored regions of the huge continent. Here we set our sights on an attempt on one of the great unclimbed peaks on earth, as of yet un-named. From here we will use electric powered paragliders as a means of escape. These electric engined flying machines have been the holy grail of powered paragliding development – unlike the current fossil fuel burning smoky back-pack engines, these are whisper quiet and un-polluting. On top of this, the entire expedition base camp is powered by renewable energy, using solar panels supplied and a portable wind turbine. All of this is not easy, but in my experience easy is not where the worthwhile stuff happens. Easy doesn't protect our earth. Easy doesn't move people to action.
We want to show that if we can achieve all this in the coldest windiest place on earth we can surely give some of these alternative sources a chance back in sunny England. Our expedition won't save the world, (far from it, we are still flying in commercial airlines to get down there in the first place), but it might encourage people to explore the potential of other alternative energy industries. I want for people to make projects like the Sahara solar mission happen and for people to get properly informed about issues such as bio-fuels, rather than throwing them out, without so much as understanding them properly.
To make this Antarctic project possible I wanted to chose my sponsors carefully. I wanted to find a company that were making an environmentally positive contribution. Ethanol Ventures are aiming to be the leading bio-fuels company in Europe by 2020. Bio-fuels are often the maligned good guys in the struggle to find new power solutions. To the question: are all bio-fuels good, the answer is definitely no. There are good ones and bad ones. Bad ones result in rainforest exploitation and rising food prices. Good ones significantly cut emissions from transport fuels and can be made from European wheat crops that are surplus to food needs (they also happen to produce a high protein animal feed co-product that lessen the need for the imported soy based equivalent). The good and the bad are a world apart. And it is the good bio-fuels companies like Ethanol Ventures that represent are the greatest viable hope for cutting transport emissions.
The ultimate aim is to reach second and third generation bio-fuels, such as ligno-celluslosic ethanol, or in simple terms, power from residues, rubbish and household waste. But to reach these stages we must develop the first generation industries first, but aim to ensure we only get the very best Biofuels on offer. If we risk nothing we gain nothing. Our choice is to remain twiddling our fingers, counting the days until the oil runs dry and the earth is bought to her knees, or to stand up and do something.
My dad used to say that what matters in life is to follow your dreams and to look after friends. If he was alive today I know he would also say look after the world. To lead a ground-breaking expedition to Antarctica has been a dream since I was a child, but to make a positive difference to how we see the potential of alternative energy and bio-fuels is a must. Wish us luck.

A land rush in Wyoming spurred by wind power

By Felicity Barringer
Published: November 28, 2008

WHEATLAND, Wyoming: The man who came to Elsie Bacon's ranch house door in July asked the 71-year-old widow to grant access to a right of way across the dry hills and short grasses of her land here. Bacon remembered his insistence on a quick, secret deal.
The man, a representative of the Little Rose Wind Farm of Boulder, Colorado, sought an easement for a transmission line to carry his company's wind-generated electricity to market. His offer: a fraction of the value of similar deals in the area. As Bacon, 71, recalled it: "He said, 'You sure I can't write you out a check?' He was really pushy."
A quiet land rush is under way among the buttes of southeastern Wyoming, and it is changing the local rancher culture. The whipping winds cursed by descendants of the original homesteaders now have real value for out-of-state developers who dream of wind farms or of selling the rights to bigger companies.
But as developers descend upon the area, drawing comparisons to the oil patch "land men" in the movie "There Will Be Blood," the ranchers of Albany, Converse and Platte Counties are rewriting the old script.
Bacon did not agree to the deal from the Little Rose representative, Ed Ahlstrand Jr. Instead, she joined her neighbors in forming the Bordeaux Wind Energy Association — among the new cooperative associations whose members, in a departure from the local culture of privacy and self-reliance, are pooling their wind-rich land.

This allows them to bargain collectively for a better price and ensures that as few as possible succumb to high-pressure tactics or accept low offers. Ranchers share information about the potential value of their wind.
The development of eight Wyoming wind associations (with three more waiting in the wings) and similar groups in Colorado, Montana and New Mexico has not always been a simple matter. While ranchers have always been ready to help their neighbors, they have been less willing to discuss their financial affairs.
That has made it easier for wind developers to make individual deals and insist that the terms be kept secret. The developers' cause has not been hurt by a 10-year drought's impact on agricultural families' finances.
Gregor Goertz heads the Slater Wind Energy Association, one of the oldest although less than two years old, formed by dozens of independent-minded men and women. "Maybe they wouldn't talk to each other often about other issues," he said, "but here they could see a common goal."
Goertz added that, of the 45 or more landowners who came to his first meeting, just one declined to join. The group's land holdings, which total about 30,000 acres, are centered on a row of buttes where the wind routinely blows at 25 miles per hour.
Goertz said that because of the changes a forest of turbines would make in the serrated, far-flung vistas here, "everybody in the community is going to be affected." The association, he said, would "assure that everybody will have some income whether they have a turbine placed on their property or not."
The developers hope to supply Wyoming wind power to markets like California, which intends to have one-third of its power from renewable sources by 2020.
"This is the best wind in North America, we think," said Ronald Lehr, a representative of the American Wind Energy Association, the developers' trade group.
Of course, the decline in oil prices and the constraints on the capital markets are most likely to slow the development of wind energy. But for ranchers, the calculations remain the same about whether to deal with developers individually or as a group.
Bob Grant, 82, a rancher who sleeps in the bed his Scottish grandfather brought across the ocean and the prairie a century ago, has never liked the wind here. Grant has seen it hurl gravel off ridges and into a friend's face like shrapnel.
He said he warmed to the idea of wind associations after long, individual negotiations with enXco, a French-owned developer.
In early 2007, the centerpiece of the price discussed was a per-acre payment of about $2.50, Grant and an enXco representative said. Discussions broke off, then resumed a year later; the suggested price per acre has nearly doubled.
The doubling of the offer made Grant and his sons wonder how they could assess, and trust, any offer, they said.
Greg Probst, a representative of enXco, said the first offer had not been an effort to drive a hard bargain. It was, Probst said, a realistic appraisal, given the difficulties of transporting wind power to market when there was little transmission capacity to spare.
From early 2007 to late 2008, he said, the potential marketability of wind power in southeastern Wyoming was enhanced as plans for construction of the Wyoming-Colorado Intertie, a privately financed transmission line, became firmer and Xcel Energy showed an interest in buying the renewable energy.
"There's a better chance that there's a market for the power, and a way to get the power to market, than there was 18 months or two years ago," Probst said. "So we're definitely willing to pay more at this point."
But the experience made the Grant family look harder at the possibility of joining their lands with those of their neighbors in a new group, the Bordeaux Wind Energy Association, which sent its incorporation papers to the state just before Thanksgiving.
The godfather of such associations is a federal official, Grant Stumbough, whose work for the Resource Conservation and Development office of the Agriculture Department was focused on ways to keep ranchers on the land. Revenue from wind farms, he believed, could mean the difference between success and failure for some ranchers.
Stumbough felt the ranchers were at a disadvantage when dealing individually with wind developers. The developers, in most cases, know more than landowners about the value of the wind and the transmission lines that will carry it.
For instance, the deal that Ahlstrand offered Elsie Bacon was valued, yard for yard, at as little as a quarter of the amount that the largest local electrical cooperative had paid for a large transmission right of way. And it included a nondisclosure clause to prevent her from comparing notes with neighbors.
Ahlstrand did not respond to repeated telephone calls and e-mail messages seeking his version of these events.
Stumbough said: "I thought we could use collective bargaining strategies to maybe have a little more leverage in negotiating with wind developers. If we could all get together and work together cooperatively and do some cost sharing and maybe share some of the profits, I think it's going to be a benefit to everybody."
The idea has quickly spread. Aside from the promise of economic dividends, which may make it easier to stay on the land, ranchers are finding other less tangible benefits to the groups.
Larry Cundall, a rancher in Glendo who heads the Glendo Wind Energy Association, said the organizational meeting in April attracted 126 people, some from 60 miles away. It had, Cundall said, "the feeling of an old country dance."
"Afterward," he went on, "everyone stood around and visited like we did before we had TV."
The initial reaction, Cundall said, had been "90 percent positive," although he admitted there was skepticism. "Everyone takes everything with a grain of salt around here," he said.
The associations send out requests to wind developers who may be interested in constructing a wind farm; Goertz's Slater Association, the first one formed, gave tours of their lands to at least a dozen different developers, Goertz said, and are in the final stages of making a deal.
Asked if the terms of the impending deal were better than those offered to some of the ranchers originally, Goertz said simply, "Yes."
The financial arrangements of each association are unique, but in the case of the Slater Wind Energy Association, 55 percent of the total annual royalties is to be distributed among the landowners who have turbines on their properties. The rest is to be distributed among all association members, both those with turbines and those without.
Jim Anderson, the state senator whose district covers the windy acres of this region, welcomes the rise of these associations as vehicles to market their wind and as bargainers with the leverage to get ranchers a good deal. "I think the word is kind of out," Anderson said, "that Wyoming is probably ahead of the curve in regard to those people who might be opportunist and want to come in and take advantage" of local ranchers.
"I think that we've positioned ourselves well to be prudent and intelligent negotiators."

Grand plans for global energy are under threat - but from unexpected sources

The Times
November 29, 2008
Leo Lewis, Asia Business Correspondent

The tempting dream that global recession may be vanquished by a worldwide push into green technologies is threatened by a powerful international army of foes: Chilean salt lakes, German ball bearings and Japanese ingots.
The critical role of these three has, until now, been largely ignored: expansive national schemes and grand political pronouncements have been crafted worldwide on the assumption that the engineering and chemistry behind those bold alternative energy plans would take care of themselves.
That, industry veterans say, may have been wishful thinking.
Without this trio of resources, Europe and Asia's ambitious plans to build dozens of nuclear power plants, China's dream of giant wind farms and America's hopes for the electric car could be, at best, delayed and, at worst, dashed entirely.

The cracks in the future supply of the “picks and shovels” of green technology, scientists and financial analysts argue, have begun to show. In the case of lithium, the metal on which the vision of the electric car is based, the level of worldwide reserves may prevent more than a few tens of thousands of units of the hotly anticipated Chevrolet Volt ever being produced.
Since the commercialisation of lithium ion batteries in the early 1990s, production and use of the technology has soared. The metal - difficult to extract and with reserves skewed to certain pockets of South America - has been seized on by the global electronics industry as the answer to its prayers. The power of the lithium battery drives personal information technology, from iPods and mobile phones to laptops and BlackBerrys.
Between 2003 and 2007, industrial demand for lithium doubled and now consumption stands at about 80,000 tonnes a year: give or take 18 months of global downturn, the growth rate for lithium demand is soon expected to return to about 25 per cent per year.
However, some experts say, the present calculations of lithium reserve usage do not take sufficient account of the potential demand from the car industry if it truly plans to convert the world to cleaner, emission-free electric cars. The sort of batteries large enough to power a car use about 100 times more lithium than a laptop and, according to William Tahil, research director of Meridian International Research, there is not enough commercially extractable lithium in the world to meet the sort of demand implied if motoring goes electric.
By his calculations, world reserves of lithium - that is, the quantity that can be extracted economically - are about four million tonnes. Mr Tahil told The Times that production of lithium cannot possibly be expanded to meet the ambitions of the car industry. Even highly productive lodes of the material, such as the deposits at the Salar de Atacama salt lake in Chile, may be past their peak already.
Although Mr Tahil's warnings are not universally accepted by industrial users and producers of lithium, actions speak louder than words. Toyota is said to have scrapped plans to use a lithium battery in its 2009 Prius hybrid and will stick with the heavier, less efficient, nickel battery. The company said recently that it did not believe that future lithium supply would be able to sustain the dual demands from the electronics and car industries.
Another of the cornerstones in the world's attempt to wean itself off fossil fuels has been the belief that nuclear power could be ramped up substantially. If all the plans for new nuclear generators are totted up, the World Nuclear Association has said that an additional 237 reactors will be built over the next 21 years.
The only snag with that plan lies in the island of Hokkaido and in a century-old steel forge that produces 80 per cent of the world's reactor cores - a highly specialised piece of steel, milled from a single 600-tonne ingot, which only a few companies in the world can handle. Nearly two years ago, the nuclear industry started to get worried: Japan Steel Works (JSW) was able to churn out only four of these reactors a year, far, far below the demand implied by the politicians' promises and considerably lower than the biggest players in nuclear - Areva, of France, and Toshiba, of Japan - were at all happy with.
JSW accepted that there was a problem and said that it would invest heavily to ramp up production to 8 cores per year. But that will still not be enough to meet implied demand: JSW has an overstuffed order book that stretches decades out and the tussle to win spots near the front of the waiting list has turned ugly, according to some reports. Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi all hold stakes in JSW in what is understood to be an “ongoing gesture of goodwill” to the steelmaker.
In a move that analysts said revealed the extent of the desperation in Europe, Areva struck a deal with JSW this month for long-term purchase agreements and bought a 1.3 per cent stake in the company. JSW has said that it might be able to produce 12 reactor cores per year by 2011. Nuclear industry insiders told The Times that JSW's virtual monopoly was still the “biggest, most overlooked bottleneck” for a nuclear renaissance.
Where the nuclear industry is confronted by the complexities of handling very large hunks of specialised steel, the wind-power industry, especially in China, faces a technology bottleneck on a far smaller scale: it cannot lay its hands on enough gearboxes and the German ball bearings that keep them rolling. As one of the most important components in a wind-turbine generator, and the second most costly after the supporting tower, gearbox supply issues feature heavily in the industry's growth plans.
The component shortages are particularly acute. In the past, leading turbine makers invested heavily to secure the supply chain, buying up the gearbox makers, but that has still not solved the issue. Simon Powell, of CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, said that although the financial crisis had mildly alleviated the imbalance of supply and demand in wind power, the gearbox and bearings shortage could last for another two years.

Spanish graveyard new front in the fight against global warming

The Times
November 28, 2008
Graham Keeley in Barcelona

A graveyard in Spain has become an unlikely front in the fight against global warming, with hundreds of black panels placed on top of mausoleums providing year-round power for homes.
The 462 panels produce 124,374 kilowatts of electricity, enough to supply 60 homes for a year in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, near Barcelona. The exorbitant price of land in the densely populated satellite city inspired a solar energy company to propose using one of the last remaining available plots of land - the cemetery.
Conste-Live Energy and the local council spent three years persuading relatives of those interred and near-by residents that the unusual proposal would benefit the living without demeaning the dead. “The best tribute we can pay to our ancestors is to generate clean energy for new generations,” Esteve Serret, a company director, said.
The panels cost €720,000 (£612,500) to install and each year will keep about 62 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, Mr Serret said.

“This is not much, but it will do something to help combat global warming,” said Bartomeu Muñoz, the Mayor of Santa Coloma. The glinting blue-grey panels are fixed on top of mausoleums, which in Spain hold five layers of coffins.
The panels, which face south to soak up maximum sunshine, were turned on last week after three years of planning. Santa Coloma is so densely populated that all 124,000 inhabitants live within a 4sq km area. Putting solar panels on coffins was a tough sell, said Antoni Fogué, a city councillor. “Let’s say we heard things like, ‘They’re crazy. Who do they think they are? What a lack of respect’,” he said.
City hall and cemetery officials waged a public awareness campaign to explain the worthiness of the project and the painstaking care with which it would be carried out.
Eventually they won over doubters, Mr Fogué said. The panels were erected at a low angle to be as unobtrusive as possible. “There has not been any problem because people who go to the cemetery see nothing has changed,” Mr Fogué said. “This installation is compatible with respect for the deceased and for the families of the deceased.”
The cemetery holds the remains of 57,000 people. The solar panels cover less than 5 per cent of the total area. Community leaders hope to erect more panels and triple output. Santa Coloma has four solar parks, but the cemetery is the biggest and the first to attach panels to graves.

Turn veggie to save planet, says Sir Paul

Ex-Beatle claims eating less meat is 'single most effective way' to cut emissions
By Steve Connor, Science editorSaturday, 29 November 2008

Sir Paul McCartney has teamed up with a Nobel Prize-winning scientist to urge people to become vegetarian to save the planet from the greenhouse gases created by rearing livestock.
In a letter to The Independent, the musician joins Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to blame worsening global warming on a rise in the number of people who eat meat.
The musician and Mr Pachauri, who are both vegetarians, also believe that global food shortages are exacerbated by the planting of cereal crops for animal fodder. A mass switch to a more vegetarian diet will, they say, help the poorest people in the world.
Becoming vegetarian, or at the very least eating less red meat, is "the single most effective act" anyone can take to lessen greenhouse gas emissions. As well as producing the greenhouse gas methane, the livestock business uses up increasingly scarce sources of fresh water and increases other forms of pollution through its need for agricultural chemicals, they argue.
"Unfortunately, with higher incomes, societies, even in developing countries, are turning to greater ... consumption of animal protein, which reduces the availability of food grains for direct consumption by impoverished human beings," they say. "Already 60 per cent of food crop production in North America and western Europe is being diverted for production of meat." Sir Paul and Mr Pachauri also suggest that people switch off lights, turn down their central heating, buy compact fluorescent lamps and use bicycles.
Dr Pachauri, who accepted a half-share in this year's Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC, has long advocated vegetarianism as a way of fighting climate change. He has been a vegetarian for eight years, while Sir Paul stopped eating meat about 30 years ago largely because of his concerns about the welfare of farm animals.
"With growing awareness of ... the need to mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases, citizens across the world often ask what it is that they can do to mitigate emissions," they say in their letter. "There are several reasons for a shift to a much lower input of meat in human diets if not complete vegetarianism ... We are writing this letter not because vegetarianism is a fad or an emotional issue but because it is a very attractive option for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and stabilising the Earth's climate and ensuring global food security."
They cite a 2006 report by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation which stated that livestock are one of the most significant contributors to climate change because 70 per cent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing and livestock now use 30 per cent of the world's land surface.

Environmental activists to stage 48-hour protest

By Elizabeth Barrett, PAFriday, 28 November 2008

Up to 30,000 climate refugees could be created if plans to build a new coal-fired power station go ahead, a report claimed today.
The findings by the World Development Movement were released as environmental activists prepare to stage a 48-hour protest today as part of their ongoing campaign against the new plant at Kingsnorth power station in Kent.
The group's report entitled "Carbon Evictions: the UK's role in the forced migration of climate refugees", claims 30,000 people - the population of Strood, close to the site - would become refugees worldwide as a result of the new plant.
It estimated the UK would be responsible for 5 per cent of global C02 emissions causing a 4C rise in global warming, thus creating 10 million of the predicted 200 million climate refugees by 2050.
Benedict Southworth, director of the World Development Movement said: "The effects that climate change will have on the world include more and worse cyclones; flooding; drought; and sea level rises that will force people to leave their homes.
"The Government must wake up and realise that we can't promise to reduce carbon emissions with one hand and give carbon intensive projects like the Kingsnorth coal power station the thumbs up with the other.
"If emissions aren't reduced significantly in the UK, 10 million of the poorest people in the world will become homeless. Those people have done little to contribute to climate change, but they will suffer the worst consequences."
Camp for Climate Action, who is organising the two-day action, said protests will take place across the country, with supporters planning to target plant owners E.ON and potentially banks that have invested in the company.
The group orchestrated a week-long heavily policed protest at the site near Hoo in August, culminating in a day of direct action, during which campaigners attempted to "shut down" the power station.
Susan Moore, of Camp for Climate Action, said: "E.ON, companies in its supply chain and anyone associated with new coal in the UK are all potential targets. Burning coal is the dirtiest way to produce electricity and we refuse to stand by as the green light is given to a new generation of coal fired power stations."
The current E.ON-owned Kingsnorth plant is due to close in 2015.
However, the company plans to replace it with a new two-unit coal-fired power station, the first for 30 years, which it claims will be 20 per cent cleaner.
Emily Highmore, E.ON spokeswoman, said: "We are respectful of their right to protest. Our concern is that they do it peacefully and lawfully."

Lawyers call for international court for the environment

A former chairman of the Bar Council is calling for an international court for the environment to punish states that fail to protect wildlife and prevent climate change.

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent Last Updated: 1:29PM GMT 28 Nov 2008

Stephen Hockman QC is proposing a body similar to the International Court of Justice in The Hague to be the supreme legal authority on issues regarding the environment.
The first role of the new body would be to enforce international agreements on cutting greenhouse gas emissions set to be agreed next year.
But the court would also fine countries or companies that fail to protect endangered species or degrade the natural environment and enforce the "right to a healthy environment".
The innovative idea is being presented to an audience of politicians, scientists and public figures for the first time at a symposium at the British Library.
Mr Hockman, a deputy High Court judge, said that the threat of climate change means it is more important than ever for the law to protect the environment.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland this month is set to begin negotiations that will lead to a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen next year. Developed countries are expected to commit to cutting emissions drastically, while developing countries agree to halt deforestation.
Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, has agreed the concept of an international court will be taken into account when considering how to make these international agreements on climate change binding. The court is also backed by a number of MPs, climate change experts and public figures including the actress Judi Dench.
Mr Hockman said an international court will be needed to enforce and regulate any agreement.
"The time is now ripe to set this up and get it going," he said. "Its remit will be overall climate change and the need for better regulation of carbon emissions but at the same time the implementation and enforcement of international environmental agreements and instruments."
As well as providing resolution between states, the court will also be useful for multinational businesses in ensuring environmental laws are kept to in every country.
The court would include a convention on the right to a healthy environment and provide a higher body for individuals or non-governmental organisations to protest against an environmental injustice.
Mr Hockman said the court may be able to fine businesses or states but its main role will be in making "declaratory rulings" that influence and embarrass countries into upholding the law.
He said: "Of course regulations and sanctions alone cannot deliver a global solution to problems of climate change, but without such components the incentive for individual countries to address those problems – and to achieve solutions that are politically acceptable within their own jurisdictions – will be much reduced."
The court would be led by retired judges, climate change experts and public figures. It would include a scientific body to consider evidence and provide access to any data on the environment.
Most importantly, Mr Hockman said an international court on the environment would influence public opinion which in turn would force Governments to take the environment seriously. He said: "If there are bodies around that can give definitive legal rulings that are accepted as fair and reasonable that has its own impact on public opinion."
Friends of the Earth welcomed the idea.
A spokesman said: "We think any institution that is going to promote and help people enforce their right to a clean and healthy environment is a good thing."

New targets to cut carbon emissions expected to cost

Hydrogen cars, better insulated homes and solar panels will be recommended as part of costly plans being brought forward by the Government to cut carbon emissions, despite the recession.

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent Last Updated: 9:46PM GMT 29 Nov 2008

Under plans to tackle climate change targets, businesses will be expected to invest in updating equipment, improving insulation and replacing transport fleets.
And individuals will also be expected to make big lifestyle changes, for example by improving energy efficiency in the home, turning off appliances and paying more for products or services that pollute the environment.
Next week, Lord Turner will set out how the Government is expected to cut greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050 on 1990 levels.
He will set a series of five year "carbon budgets" with advice on how each sector will have to contribute.
The power sector, which produces 30 per cent of the UK's emissions, will be expected to make the bulk of the cuts. This will mean a massive investment in renewables such as wind farms and "clean" energy, such as nuclear, that could ultimately be passed onto the customer.
It will also cast doubt on plans to build a new generation of coal-fired power stations in the UK including the controversial Kingsnorth power station in Kent.
Transport will take a blow with car companies bringing forward a new generation of electric cars, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen vehicles whilst phasing out the cheaper polluting models.
As chairman of the independent Climate Change Committee, Lord Turner will set legally binding targets for the amount of greenhouse gases the UK can produce by 2012, 2017 and 2022. He said the cost of cutting carbon emissions will be a saving in the long term, as energy efficiency is improved and the catastrophic consequences of climate change will be avoided.
"It's very important to avoid misuse of the temporary downturn for lessening policies," he warned.
Businesses concerned about rising costs and job losses have already asked the Government to concentrate on cheaper measures such as improving energy efficiency rather than spending on renewables.
Matthew Farrow, head of environment at the CBI, said it was crucial to make the right decisions in the economic downturn.
"The economic difficulties make it even more important that we use the most cost effective methods to cut emissions," he warned.
Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, admitted there will be a cost over the next 10 to 15 years but it will be recouped in savings on energy efficiency and ultimately lead to a more sustainable economic model.
"In the medium term there will be a need to invest in new technologies, products and services that will be low carbon. Individuals will be expected to pay for that. But that is the normal way of developing growth."
Lord Turner has signalled that the aviation industry will be given leeway, while biofuels are developed, sparking speculation the Government will be able to go ahead with airport expansion. But this does mean there will have to be steeper cuts elsewhere.
He will also set out the proportion of cuts that can be made though 'emissions trading' abroad, for example by buying carbon "offsets" from rainforest countries.
But Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said the UK should take responsibility for emissions.
"The committee should put pressure on the Government to abandon climate-wrecking plans to expand UK airports and not to build coal-fired power stations without carbon capture and storage from the outset," he said.
"Investing in green energy and cutting energy waste can create tens of thousands of new jobs, reduce our dependency on the yo-yoing cost of fossil fuels and put Britain at the forefront of a green industrial revolution."

UK must cut greenhouse gases by 80 per cent, says Committee

By Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentLast Updated: 10:16PM GMT 28 Nov 2008

Lord Turner: the Committee recommends an 80 per cent emissions cut by 2050
The UK should cut greenhouse gases by at least 80 per cent by the middle of the century, according to a committee set up to advise the Government on climate change.

The Government is currently committed to reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.
But the Committee on Climate Change, chaired by Lord Turner, said the target will have to rise to at least 80 per cent on 1990 levels in order to help the world keep rising temperatures in check.Gordon Brown, the prime minister, has signalled he would accept a target of 80 per cent by 2050.However Lord Turner's report makes clear the target should include all greenhouse gases, not just carbon emissions.
The report also said that although emissions from aviation and shipping do not need to be included in the target in the short term, they must come down signficiantly in the long term if the reduction is to have a meaningful effect on climate change.
The report puts intense pressure on the Government to curb energy use and increase the use of renewables.
In a letter to the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, Lord Turner said the target could be achieved at a cost of one to two per cent of GDP in 2050 - or half of a year's worth of growth.
He cited the following options to cut emissions:
* Improved energy efficiency by insulation, power saving and new technology in buildings and industry.
* An increase in renewables and replacing existing fossil fuel power stations with "clean technologies" like nuclear and coal connected to carbon capture storage.
* Cutting emissions from fuel by hybrid engines, biofuels and electric cars.
* Improved efficiency in heating by combined heat and power stations, ground source heat pumps and use of biomass in boilers.
* Reducing carbon produced by heavy industry such as steel and cement through new technologies.
Lord Turner said: "We have the potential to reduce our emissions by 80 per cent or more by using energy far more efficiently, by investing in developing new energy sources and by making relatively minor lifestyle changes."
The comittee was originally going to report at the end of the year but the date was brought forward in order to have a better chance of being included in the new Bill.
Mr Brown said he wanted the target raised from 60 to 80 per cent at the Labour Party Conference last month and Mr Miliband responded positively to the report.
Mr Miliband said: "This is a pressing issue and we'll respond to the recommendations swiftly.
"Setting an emissions target in the Climate Change Bill and establishing my new Department of Energy and Climate Change sends out a strong message, but the hard work will be for us all to make emission reductions a reality over the coming decades."
Environmental groups also welcomed the increased target, claiming that controversial plans to build a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth and a third runway at Heathrow will make meeting the target more difficult. But there was concern that there was no binding target on aviation emissions, although the report made it clear there should be a reduction in the long term.
Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said the Climate Change Bill, which is the first of its kind in the world, was "trail-blazing legislation."
But he added: "We cannot afford to ignore pollution from international aviation and shipping - that would be like going on a calorie-controlled diet and ignoring the calories from chocolate bars."
Gordon Brown is facing another significant backbench revolt over his climate change policy, it has emerged.

By Urmee Khan and James Kirkup Last Updated: 9:42PM BST 08 Jul 2008
More than 80 MPs are said to be backing an amendment to the Government's Climate Change Bill to make cuts to greenhouse gases far more drastic.
The Bill currently calls for a legally enforceable 60 per cent cut in UK carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
However, the rebel MPs say it should be raised to 80 per cent as the 60 per cent goal will not do enough to control global warming.
The Prime Minister has handed the issue to an independent Climate Change Committee, headed by former CBI chief Lord Adair Turner, who is not expected to report until December.
By then the Climate Change Bill is likely to have passed into law.
The rebels want the Government to either pre-empt Lord Turner's committee and put the 80 per cent goal in the bill now or persuade the peer to report earlier.
The Climate Change Bill completes its detailed committee stage on Tuesday.
The rebel amendment, backed by 85 Labour MPs, was debated a fortnight ago and defeated by the government-dominated committee.
However rebels say their amendment is a marker and are threatening to force a vote on the floor of the Commons at report stage in October or November, if the government does not act.
The amendment Bill is not likely to be debated until after the summer recess, and the Tories may abstain, sparing Mr Brown a defeat.
However there are fears within the government that the Tories could harden up their position and back the rebels target making a government defeat more likely.

Nations urged to agree new formula for cutting greenhouse gases

The Times
November 29, 2008
Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter

Attempts to force countries to reduce their carbon emissions per head of population are to be put forward next week at a United Nations climate change conference.
The plan, which is being drawn up by Brazil, is designed to put pressure on other nations to agree how targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be shared. The revised per capita scheme is thought to go some way towards easing resentment in developing nations that they are being asked to take on an unfair burden on climate change.
Instead of concentrating on a nation's overall carbon dioxide emissions, which would lead to many emerging economies being penalised as stiffly as wealthy countries, targets would be measured per capita.
Setting targets according to the average emissions of CO2, the chief greenhouse gas, attributable to each person is an approach endorsed by Britain and Germany.

It would mean developing countries such as China, which pumps as much CO2 into the atmosphere as America, facing less onerous reduction targets because each person is responsible for a fifth of the emissions of the average US citizen.
Brazil's proposals will be presented to the 14th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Poznan, Poland, which starts on Monday. Among the more prominent participants will be Al Gore, who won a Nobel prize for his climate change campaigning, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California, who has led measures against global warming in his state.
The chances of the proposals being agreed at Poznan are negligible, but the response to them will help delegates to gauge what needs to be done to ensure that an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be reached in December next year at the conference in Copenhagen. That meeting has been set as the deadline for worldwide agreement on how to tackle climate change in order to give time for the measures to be put in place by the end of 2012 when the terms of the Kyoto agreement expire.