Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Fuel-cell powered devices getting closer

The Associated Press
Published: December 2, 2008

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota: Laptop, cell phone and iPod owners tired of having their devices run out of charge after a few hours have been patiently waiting for the next portable power source to arrive.
Tiny fuel cells, powered by combustible liquids or gasses, have long been touted as the eventual solution. Potentially, they could power a laptop for days between refills.
But fuel cells have perennially remained a year or two away from reaching the market as companies have worked on making them small, cheap and long-lasting, while making sure they don't overheat.
The U.S. government removed a key roadblock this year when the Department of Transportation amended its hazardous materials regulations to allow cells with methanol, butane or formic acid to be carried on airplanes. Methanol and butane are flammable, and formic acid is corrosive.
"That was one of the largest challenges to this market, to overcome that regulation issue," said Sara Bradford, an energy and power systems consultant for Frost & Sullivan.

Fuel cells, in which a tiny amount of fuel flows into a small chip to generate electricity without combustion, would allow users to skip the wall plug and simply swap out a fuel cartridge to continue listening to music or check e-mail.
Bradford thinks products are now truly a year or two away, as electronics manufacturers show more interest and fuel cell makers move beyond trade-show prototypes.
"We are closer, much closer, than even two years ago in terms of the companies' internal designs, how they've met their milestones and just the amount of testing and evaluation that's going on right now," Bradford said.
Lilliputian Systems Inc., a Wilmington, Massachusetts, firm founded by former Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers, plans to introduce a portable fuel cell late next year for any device that can be charged via a USB port.
The cigarette-pack-size charger will use a canister of butane, the same fuel used in cigarette lighters, to juice up an iPod, BlackBerry, GPS device or digital camera, said Mouli Ramani, Lilliputian's vice president of business development.
Each teaspoon of the fuel can provide 20 times the run time of a battery of the same size. The charging system would likely sell for $100 to $150 with refill cartridges retailing for $1 to $3, he said.
MTI MicroFuel Cells Inc. has been working on fuel cell technology since 2000. In 2002, was showing a prototype it planned to bring to market by 2004.
Peng Lim, the Albany-based company's chairman and chief executive, said MTI has been making significant progress recently. It's current methanol fuel cell can produce about three times the energy of a lithium ion battery, common in cell phones. With further improvements, the cell could one day last ten times longer than lithium, he said.
MTI plans to introduce an external charger by late 2009 as it works with electronics manufacturers on building fuel cells into devices.
Lim said MTI has signed partnerships with the mobile phone division of Samsung Electronics Co. of Korea, a Japan-based digital camera company and Neo Solar Co. Ltd., which makes computers that are smaller than laptops.
Lilliputian also plans to transition to embedding fuel cells in gadgets. Ramani said the company has signed commercialization agreements with three large, multinational entities he cannot yet name.
Panasonic is promising a fuel cell that can power a laptop for 20 hours on a cup of methanol, but the company says it won't hit stores until 2012.
Medis Technologies Ltd. has come out with a 1-watt liquid borohydride fuel cell recharger that can provide 30 hours of cell phone talk time. The 24-7 Power Pack is slightly larger than a deck of cards and can't be refueled, so it has to be recycled once it's exhausted.
Not all manufacturers are sold on fuel cells, at least not in the near term.
Matt Kohut, competitive analyst for Lenovo Group Ltd., the world's No. 4 PC maker, said fuel cells will eventually power laptops but he doesn't see commercialization for at least five years.
The industry needs to unite to standardize the technology, he believes, and the DOT's limiting of fuel cartridges to smaller than 7 ounces (200 grams) might not provide adequate power for early devices, Kohut said.
Consumers are used to getting a free battery charge from any electrical outlet, so refill cartridges would have to be "as ubiquitous as cigarettes and bottles of Coke in every 7-Eleven" in order for fuel cells to take off, Kohut said.
Lenovo is moving toward silver-zinc batteries, which have 20 to 30 percent higher capacity than lithium ion batteries and don't wear out as fast, Kohut said.
Toshiba, which has demonstrated fuel cell prototypes at the Consumer Electronic Show during the past few years, continues to develop the technology but doesn't have any firm dates for commercial use, said Duc Dang, group manager for product development for Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. Next year, the company hopes to begin shipping lithium batteries that charge faster.
Ramani said he understands the skepticism about fuel cells, since they've been "the technology of tomorrow" for a few years.
"We're not around the corner," Ramani said. "We're still 12 months to 15 months away from having this in consumers hands."

Climate change targets will push up energy prices

Household electricity bills will rise by a quarter over the next decade to pay for sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the Government's climate change advisor has warned.

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent Last Updated: 10:50PM GMT 01 Dec 2008

Lord Turner recommended the UK reduce output of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming by more than a third in the next 12 years.
He admitted the cuts will be tough, shrinking the economy by one per cent by 2020 and demanding big changes in consumer behaviour.
The biggest impact will be on energy prices which are expected to rise by 25 per cent for the average family, pushing 1.7 million people into fuel poverty.
Britons will also notice a change in everyday life. It is estimated 40 per cent of cars will be plug-in hybrids or electric, smart meters that ensure more efficient use of electricity will be installed in every home and the cost of "carbon heavy" goods and services that use a lot of energy are likely to go up.
Lord Turner, , the chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said the UK must cut greenhouse emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.
In the first phase of cuts, he has recommended legally binding targets of at least 34 per cent by 2020. But if a global deal to cut emissions is agreed next year, which is likely, that target will go up further to 42 per cent.
Buying "carbon offsets" from developing countries, for example by paying to halt deforestation, will only be allowed to count if the higher target is adopted.
The biggest cuts will have to be in the energy sector, which produces the largest proportion of UK emissions.
Lord Turner recommended the use of renewables is increased from the current five per cent to more than a third. This would include a massive increase in wind power which was cited as the cheapest option in the short term and could provide almost a third of the UK's electricity by 2020.
The report also said nuclear power and coal could play a role in low-carbon electricity generation.
However Lord Turner emphasised any new coal fired power stations must be fitted with carbon capture storage (CCS) to store emissions underground, making it more difficult for the controversial Kingsnorth Power station to go ahead.
The change in energy make up will cost billions of pounds which will ultimately be passed on to the consumer. Lord Turner said 1.7 million people will be pushed into fuel poverty, although this number could be reduced as a result of improvements in home energy efficiency in their homes and increased subsidies for the poorest households.
"The ordinary citizen will be paying more for their electricity and gas which is why we spelt out the particular importance of energy efficiency – particularly in poorer households – and social tariffs," Lord Turner said.
He defended the cost of the measures needed to meet his targets, likely to include higher taxes on energy intensive goods like motor vehicles.
"The cost of not achieving the reductions, at a national and global level, will be far greater," he said.
Ed Miliband, the energy and climate change minister, promised changes across Government.
"This is a task which requires ambition and urgency. It will bring about not just changes in policy but a revolution in thinking," he said.
But Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said the targets will not be met unless the Government scraps plans for a third runway at Heathrow and Kingsnorth power station.
"The Committee clearly acknowledges the major threats that aviation and coal pose to our climate change targets – but it has fudged the question of what the Government must do," he said.
"Ministers must scrap plans to allow UK airports to expand and not allow any coal-fired power stations to be built without carbon capture and storage."
The key points
+ Renewables will have to generate at least a third of electricity, with the majority of growth in the short term expected in onshore and offshore wind.
+ Nuclear will form part of the mix, with the possibility of new stations being built in the future.
+ Coal will continue to be used but will only be viable in the long term if technology is developed to store the emissions underground.
+ Cost of flights expected to go up as airlines face penalities for producing emissions.
+ Increased use of public transport through Government policy to cut carbon.
+ At least 40 per cent of cars will be hybrid plug-ins or completely electric as taxes increase on polluting cars and new technologies come online.
+ Increased use of feed additives that increase productivity of cattle but decrease methane produced.
+ Reduced use of fertiliser by using organic alternatives or different plants.
+ More energy efficient machinery for example hybrid tractors.
+ People will be expected to eat less “carbon intensive” meats like beef and lamb.
+ Carbon heavy products such as vegetables transported from abroad will increase in price with energy prices.
+ People will be expected to turn off lights and cut down on air conditioning or heating as electricity becomes more expensive.

End of the party

The Guardian, Tuesday December 2 2008

In his new book on climate change, Hot, Flat and Crowded, the American journalist Thomas Friedman demolishes the notion that we are in the middle of a green revolution. When, he asks, did you ever see a revolution in which no one got hurt? During the IT revolution, companies went bust. By comparison, the fight to mitigate climate change is a consumerist carnival. Some quickfire Googling will deliver up 10 easy tips for going green, 20 simple steps to save the planet while saving money - and even measures to "green up your sex life", complete with vegan condoms. "This isn't a revolution," Mr Friedman rightly notes. "It's a party."
Which makes Adair Turner either a party-pooper or an even more unlikely insurgent. Yesterday, as chair of the government's committee on climate change, he delivered the most comprehensive plans yet for how Britain can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Over 467 pages, the report details the industries that are to cut their carbon emissions, by how much, and lays out three carbon budgets to run until 2022, which will be laid alongside the Treasury's normal red books. For the first time in any developed country, the UK has ambitious, detailed targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. And they come from an independent body, whose recommendations this government and its successors will have to take on board. This is a brave, bold step and Gordon Brown is to be congratulated for taking it.
Such changes may not be felt for a while, but they are huge. The report sets the UK a target of cutting greenhouse gases by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, and recommends fairly stiff interim caps for 2020. All this comes at a price, as Lord Turner admits. Energy costs will have to rise, and without government help 1.7 million people will be pushed into fuel poverty.
Campaigners point out that the report could have gone further, and they are right. Aviation is included in the carbon budgets, but without any national targets. As Lord Turner admitted yesterday, that could mean other sectors have to work to ever-tighter caps, while aviation's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is allowed to balloon.
With a bit of luck, more work will be done in establishing a new regime for aviation. But yesterday was worth celebrating for the aspirations it set out and the process put in place to meet them. One could go further: yesterday was the day when the government finally sized up the precise challenge it faces in mitigating climate change - and began planning how to meet it. To use Mr Friedman's terms of reference, mitigating climate change may not yet be in its revolutionary phase, but it is no longer a party.

Cost of going green – higher energy bills and 1.7m more in fuel poverty

Published Date: 02 December 2008

THE steps needed to achieve ambitious climate change targets will push 1.7 million more people in the UK into fuel poverty, a report has revealed.
The Committee on Climate Change, chaired by Lord Turner, has advised the government to reduce emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels – the amount necessary to reduce damaging greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will contain the threat of climate change.However, the impact on the price of electricity and gas of measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions will increase the number of fuel-poor households by 1.7 million in 2022, the committee's report warned. The cost of taking them out of fuel poverty would be £500 million a year.Greg Clark, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, argued that government energy policy over the past ten years had made the task of cutting emissions more "urgent and disruptive" than it need have been."In this context I am deeply concerned by the committee's assessment that up to 1.7 million households could be pushed into fuel poverty by the impact of the proposed carbon budgets," he said.He added that British customers were already paying some of the highest fuel bills in Europe because the government had failed to prepare for the decline in North Sea oil and gas, and British homes were among the least energy-efficient.Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said concerns over fuel poverty must not be used as an excuse not to go ahead with efforts to reduce emissions."We cannot ignore fuel poverty. We have had far too much for the past decade and now it cannot be used as an excuse to not do the right thing," he said. Mr McLaren described the report as "unprecedented" and a "big step in the right direction".However, he urged the Scottish Government to go even further and aim to cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2020.The Committee on Climate Change, an independent advisory body set up under the Climate Change Act, urged the government to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases in the UK by at least 34 per cent relative to 1990 levels.This should be increased to 42 per cent once a global deal to reduce emissions is achieved, it said in its report Building a Low-Carbon Economy.In order to achieve the targets, Lord Turner's committee advised improving energy efficiency in buildings and industry, using carbon capture and storage technology in power stations, developing electric cars and public transport and using cleaner forms of electricity production such as renewable and nuclear power.It recommended all fossil fuel power stations should be using carbon capture and storage technology by the early 2020s. The committee said the reductions could be achieved without harming the UK's economy, and at a cost of less than 1 per cent of GDP in 2020.Lord Turner said: "Climate change poses a grave threat to human welfare, the environment and the economy. We need to act now."The report came ahead of the Scottish Climate Change Bill, which is expected on Thursday.

UK emissions 'must be cut by a third'

By Emily Beament, Press AssociationMonday, 1 December 2008

The UK must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 34 per cent by 2020, the committee set up to advise the Government on climate change recommended today.
The Committee on Climate Change, chaired by Adair Turner, also said emissions should be cut by even more if an international deal on reducing greenhouse gases is agreed.
If the current UN negotiations lead to a new deal on climate change in Copenhagen next December, the UK's greenhouse gases should be cut by 42 per cent on 1990 levels by the end of the next decade.
The significant reductions can be achieved at a cost of less than 1 per cent of GDP in 2020, and using existing green technologies, a report from the committee said.
But stronger Government policies will be needed to move the UK to a low-carbon economy.
The cuts can be achieved by cleaner power generation from sources such as wind, which could make up 30 per cent of the UK's electricity by 2020, and measures including energy-efficiency improvements in homes and offices and developing more efficient, electric and hydrogen-powered cars.
The report said nuclear power could play a role in low-carbon electricity generation, and did not rule out new conventional coal-fired power stations in the next decade.
It recommended the Government should make clear that fossil-fuelled power plants which do not have technology to trap and permanently store carbon emissions should not be allowed to generate electricity beyond the early 2020s.
New coal-fired power stations should only be built with the "clear expectation and certainty" that they should be retrofitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) by the early 2020s, Lord Turner said.
The climate change committee, set up under the Climate Change Act, has already recommended a cut of 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050 - advice which has been accepted by the Government.
Today's report set out the first three five-year "carbon budgets" needed to meet the interim and long-term reductions in emissions.
The committee said the budgets should include all greenhouse gases, not just carbon, but should not include aviation and shipping because of difficulties in deciding how much the UK is responsible for.
"Clear strategies" should be in place to cut emissions in those areas, the report recommended.
The report also said the 34 per cent target should be achieved by emissions cuts domestically and within Europe, and not through "offsetting" by paying poor countries to reduce their greenhouse gases.
Lord Turner said: "Climate change poses a grave threat to human welfare, the environment and the economy.
"We need to act now, in the UK and as part of a global agreement, to significantly reduce our emissions.
"It is not too late to tackle climate change, but it will be unless the world takes action soon, and the developed countries need to lead the way with strong commitments and strong delivery against the budgets.
"The reductions required can be achieved at a very low cost to our economy: the cost of not achieving the reductions, at national and global level, will be far greater."
He acknowledged that the higher electricity and gas prices created by investment in renewables could push a further 1.7 million households into fuel poverty - but said 400,000 could be lifted out by energy efficiency measures in their homes.
Lord Turner said the kind of changes ordinary people would see as the UK implemented emissions reductions included better insulated homes, replacement of conventional light bulbs with low-energy and LED alternatives, and more plug-in and hybrid electric cars on the roads.
Parking meters could even be installed with plugs for recharging vehicles, he said.
The energy-saving policies in the report were welcomed by Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, who called for a long-term strategy from the Government to reduce power use.
He said: "Along with a rapid rollout of Smart Meters and fixing feed-in tariffs, micro-generation will become an affordable reality.
"Ongoing investment in the advice we give to householders and communities to help them make best use of the help on offer will mean that an 80 per cent reduction in household carbon emissions by 2050 is achievable.
"All of this will help individuals play their part in carbon targets without making austere lifestyle changes."
Lord Turner said a major part of meeting the emissions reductions would come from "de-carbonising" the energy sector, with 40 per cent cuts from electricity generation needed in the next 15 years.
Despite concerns about the unreliability and costs of wind power, he said it would play the most important role in moving towards renewable energy generation, while the report said there was also a "strong economic case" for nuclear power in the UK.
Lord Turner said he was not going to comment on individual investments by individual companies - such as E.ON's plans to build a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, Kent.
But he said: "We can't have coal-fired power stations going ahead without the clear expectation they will be retrofitted by the 2020s with CCS."
The Lib Dems warned that the recommendations could give the go-ahead to new "dirty" coal-fired power stations which are not fitted with carbon capture and storage technology.
Liberal Democrat climate change spokesman Steve Webb said that "could completely undermine Britain's position on climate change".
"It is simply too high a risk to allow new coal plants like Kingsnorth on the basis of the promise that its carbon emissions will be captured at some point in the future.
"The UK needs to make dramatic strides on energy efficiency, supporting renewables and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. We should not go ahead with unabated coal."
But conservation charity WWF-UK's head of climate change Keith Allott said: "The committee makes clear that new coal power stations without full-scale carbon capture and storage have no place in a climate-safe future.
"The Government must now accept that approving coal stations such as Kingsnorth, which do not have this in place from the outset, is simply not an option.
"The introduction of an emissions performance standard, limiting emissions from power stations, would help to prevent this from happening."
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said moves to reduce emissions would not just bring about changes in policy but a "revolution in thinking" in which all important decisions would have to take account of the carbon budgets.
"For every major Government decision, we will be able to tell if it fits the budget, if emissions savings have to be made elsewhere, or whether it simply can't be done."
And he said: "Plotting a course to a low-carbon future here in the UK is vital if we are to reach our domestic goals and reach an international agreement.
"Carbon budgets will set our trajectory and send out a clear message that we will tackle climate change here in the UK."
The Government will set the first three legally-binding five-year carbon budgets alongside the fiscal Budget in the spring and will publish its full response to today's report next summer.
The committee's report was published as negotiators began the latest round of international climate change talks in Poznan, Poland - with the aim of achieving a new global treaty on cutting emissions next December in Copenhagen.
EU ministers are also hoping to secure an energy and climate change package in the next two weeks which will commit Europe to emissions reductions, renewable energy expansion and the development of carbon capture and storage technology.
WWF's Dr Allott said: "Committing to cutting the UK's emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 would set a world-beating target and inspire hope that we can still head off the worst impacts of climate change.
"Even better, Lord Turner has confirmed that this is both achievable and affordable. Now the Government must offer an immediate signal that it will accept this target.
"By doing so, it would inject some much-needed ambition into the climate change negotiations currently taking place at both EU and UN level."
Friends of the Earth urged the Government to block plans for new coal-fired power stations and airport expansion.
The environmental group's executive director Andy Atkins said: "We're delighted that the committee recognises that UK greenhouse gas emissions must be slashed by 42 per cent by 2020 if we are to play our part in avoiding catastrophic global warming - but this must not be conditional on reaching an international deal.
"The committee clearly acknowledges the major threats that aviation and coal pose to our climate change targets, but it has fudged the question of what the Government must do.
"Ministers must scrap plans to allow UK airports to expand and not allow any coal-fired power stations to be built without carbon capture and storage."
And he said: "Lord Turner's strong backing for urgent investment in green energy and cutting energy waste hits the nail on the head.
"This will not only cut emissions, it will create exciting business opportunities, new jobs and a safe, clean and prosperous future for us all."
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: "Assuming the Government accepts the advice of its own climate change committee, Kingsnorth is dead in the water.
"E.ON's investors and the company's executives will read the Turner report with sweaty palms, as their coal plans don't even come close to satisfying the new standards the committee is demanding."
He went on: "The quickest, cheapest and fastest way to slash emissions and meet the country's energy demands is to invest in efficiency, renewable energy and super-efficient combined-heat-and-power plants on the Scandinavian model.
"The Government should adopt Turner's suggestion of tough emissions standards for power stations that would ensure only cleaner technologies are used to power Britain, while ruling out the dirtiest fuels like unabated coal."
The World Development Movement said Mr Miliband must now prove the UK is serious about tackling climate change by saying no to a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth that does not have full carbon capture and storage technology.
Tim Jackson, economics commissioner at the Sustainable Development Commission, warned that the Goverment's commitment to building a low-carbon Britain was woefully inadequate.
"The only appropriate response to both the current economic crisis and the impending crisis of climate change is a comprehensive programme of investment in low-carbon technologies and upgrading Britain's buildings," he said.
"What we need is a wholehearted political and economic commitment to achieving a sustainable Britain."
Shadow energy and climate change secretary Greg Clark welcomed the "stretching" targets in the report, but said the Government had a long way to go to meet them.
"Most of the UK's progress on emissions reduction comes from the 'dash for gas' in the 1980s and 1990s; since 1997 carbon emissions have fallen by only 1 per cent.
"The absence of a Government energy policy over the last 10 years has made the decisions now needed more urgent and disruptive than they need have been.
"In this context I am deeply concerned by the committee's assessment that up to 1.7 million households could be pushed into fuel poverty by the impact of the proposed carbon budgets," Mr Clark said.
He said British customers were already paying some of the highest fuel bills in Europe because the Government had failed to prepare for the decline in North Sea oil and gas, and British homes were among the least energy-efficient.
"I will be pressing Ministers to act to stop the poorest energy customers being penalised as a result of the Government's own lack of forward planning," he said.

12 years to halve UK CO2

First report of the Government's Climate Change Committee warns targets will be missed without radical cuts
By Michael McCarthy, Environment editorTuesday, 2 December 2008

Britain should adopt the world's toughest climate change target and slash nearly half of its greenhouse gas emissions in the next 12 years, the Government's new climate advisory committee said yesterday in its first report.
Emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases causing global warming should be cut by 42 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020, as long as there is a new global climate deal in a UN meeting in Copenhagen a year from now, said the Committee on Climate Change.
The recommendation for what is a massively ambitious and world-beating target – and a costly one for electricity consumers, who will face higher bills, perhaps of up to £500 a year – brought plaudits from environmentalists, while the Government itself was obliged to put a positive face on a goal which is considerably in excess of what it had hitherto been contemplating.
The 42 per cent cut will require accelerated effort across all sectors of the economy if it is to be realised, with the committee pointing at massively increased wind power, new nuclear power stations, a big boost to energy efficiency and a substantial increase in electric vehicles as key ways forward.
In fact, 12 years from now, 40 per cent of vehicles on Britain's roads will probably be battery-driven or petrol-electric hybrids if the goal is realised, said the committee chairman, Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, who as Adair Turner was the director general of the Confederation of British Industry.
The changes will cost "less than one per cent" of Britain's GDP (in the range 0.3 to 0.8 per cent) and will push up domestic electricity and gas bills (renewable energy is more expensive). They could tip 1.7 million households into fuel poverty, so the Government must make provision for this, the committee warned.
The full cost per household has not been calculated, but committee sources suggested a ballpark figure could be arrived at by dividing one per cent of GDP in 2020 – expected to be £15bn – by the number of households in Britain, expected to be 25 million. This would give a figure of £600 per household, at the top end – and 0.3 to 0.8 of that would be £180 to £480.
However, despite the costs, the high 2020 target is the only way to go, the committee said, if the UK is to achieve its long-term goal, which the Government accepts, of cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
The Climate Change Committee has been set up under the Climate Change Act which came into force last week. Its main purpose, with all-party support, is to make Britain's emissions reductions programme legally binding whatever government is in power.
The programme will be driven by five-yearly "carbon budgets", and the purpose of the Climate Change Committee is to recommend the contents of the budgets, and to police their implementation, reporting to Parliament annually. Ministers may ignore its recommendations, but there would be a high political price in doing so.
Yesterday the committee unveiled its first three proposed carbon budgets, for 2008-12, 2013-17 and for 2018-22, but the overall emissions reduction target they are designed to deliver was the eye-catching measure.
Lord Turner and his fellow committee members want UK Plc to be spewing forth 42 per cent less of climate-changing gases such as carbon dioxide and methane than it was in 1990, in only 12 years from now – a 31 per cent reduction on the 2005 figure. This target is contingent on a new version of the Kyoto protocol, the international climate change treaty, being negotiated successfully at the UN's December 2009 world climate conference in Copenhagen. If a global deal is not secured, the committee says, the Government should commit itself to a unilateral reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020 of 34 per cent.
Central to meeting these targets, Lord Turner said, would be a rapid decarbonisation of power generation, which he anticipated would be greater than 90 per cent by 2030. This is because a low-carbon economy will use more electricity – for example in heating, and in battery-driven vehicles.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has issued a challenge to the motor industry to produce an electric car for a large family, and he promised to get one as soon as it did. "Come on, folks, you must be able to do it," he said. "I don't want to buy another internal combustion engine, there is a market waiting to be satisfied, and if that isn't an economic stimulus, I don't know what is."
Lord Turner said the committee expected that any new coal-fired power stations would only be built if they were to be retrofitted with the new technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the early 2020s. If the Government accepts this, it may be the death knell for the proposed coal station at Kingsnorth in Kent.
The man charged with taking these recommendations on board and incorporating them – or not – into government policy is the new Climate and Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband, who said moves to reduce emissions would not just bring about changes in policy but a "revolution in thinking" in which all important decisions would have to take account of the carbon budgets.
The Government will set the first three binding five-year carbon budgets alongside the fiscal Budget in the spring and publish its full response to today's report in summer. Green campaigners hope it will be adopted in full.
Cutting carbon: Five ways to reduce greenhouse gases by 2020
Electric Cars
Pure electric and hybrid petrol-electric vehicles can help contribute to "deep emissions cuts" in road transport, says the committee. As many as 40 per cent of all vehicles on British roads may be hybrid or electric by 2020. Improved fuel efficiency of new cars and vans can also provide massive CO2 savings.
New nukes
Even though it is controversial for some environmentalists, nuclear power is put forward by the committee as a conditional option for decarbonising electricity generation.
More windmills
A big increase in wind power, onshore and offshore, especially the latter as there is room in the sea and fewer planning delays. Wind power is intermittent (the wind doesn't blow non-stop) and costly but it has huge potential.
Burying carbon
The new technique of carbon capture and storage will probably come on stream in the next 10 years. It takes the CO2 out of power station waste gases, liquefies it, and pipes it down into deep geological strata to be stored.
Loft and wall insulation
Energy-efficiency measures in homes, such as insulation, have the potential to make huge savings in CO2 – so more government grants are needed. There is a similar potential for energy-efficiency measures in industry and business.

Report calls for urgent clean coal technology

A committee set up by the Government to advise on climate change has recommended that no new coal-fired power stations should be built unless they can be fitted with carbon capture technology by the early 2020s.

By Russell Hotten, Industry Editor Last Updated: 8:15PM GMT 01 Dec 2008

Plans for several coal-fired generators are in the pipeline, including E.ON's Kingsnorth project in Kent, which environmentalists said was "dead in the water" if the Government adopted the recommendations.
In its report yesterday, the Committee for Climate Change, chaired by Lord Turner, set out a "road map" for Britain to de-carbonise its economy over the next decades.
The report, which received a broad welcome from industry, recommended huge investments in alternative energies and highlighted the importance of nuclear generation in reducing C02 emissions.
But Lord Turner said carbon capture and storage technology, which is not yet commercially viable, was essential if more coal generation is approved.
E.ON would not say whether it will go ahead with Kingsnorth, seen as a test case for new coal plants, saying only that the group is trying to give Britain the balanced, low-carbon energy mix it needs.
"We're pleased that the report confirms future needs for all forms of clean energy generation, such as nuclear, renewables and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage," said an E.ON spokesman.
John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace, said: "Assuming the Government accepts the advice of its own climate change committee, Kingsnorth is dead in the water."
The UK coal industry is making a minor comeback, with local authorities reporting a record number of planning applications to start open-cast mining.
The EEF manufacturers' organisation said yesterday that it welcomed Lord Turner's report. "Climate change is a science and engineering problem and therefore industry will be the solution to the issues we face rather than the cause," said EEF chief executive Gilbert Toppin.
However, the EEF added that there were still a number of unanswered questions, such as whether the UK has the capacity to build and install renewable wind-power generation between now and 2020. Billions of pounds needs to be invested in wind power, seen as key to Britain meeting carbon emissions reduction targets.

Will the carbon cuts be delivered?

We have been here before, writes David Adam. We must hope it works this time

David Adam, Environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Monday December 1 2008 17.52 GMT

It will be hard for ministers to disagree with the policies the Climate Change Committee suggests to hit its 2020 carbon targets, given that the government has already announced most of them.
Bar some relatively minor clearing up of pollution from trains, vans and HGVs, the committee's package of measures bears an uncanny resemblance to the government's. Measures to improve the fuel efficiency of cars? Check. Encouragement for investment in renewable energy? Check. Biofuels? Check. Energy efficiency? Check.
As the committee points out, current government "policies and aspirations" are more than enough to hit the new 2020 target. The problem, it also notes, is that the UK has a "mixed track record" on delivering action on climate change.
We have been here before. In 2006, ministers took 18-months to analyse how they could avoid missing their self-imposed target to slash carbon dioxide 20% by 2010, an ever-present pledge from their original 1997 election manifesto, before deciding it was too difficult. Some options were too expensive, some picked too much of a fight with industry, and some were too awkward politically.
Almost half the carbon savings anticipated by the government by 2020 are highlighted by the committee to be from policies "not yet firm and funded". If they are serious about adopting the committee's carbon budgets, that will have to change.
There is nothing from the pages of science-fiction in the committee's suggested measures. Similar to last year's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which reached the same positive conclusions about what was possible, the committee merely takes the best available technology in the different sectors and questions why it shouldn't be introduced more widely.
It's seductive logic, and the carbon savings rack up with reassuring ease. Massive expansion of wind energy, with fast-tracked nuclear power as back-up, to keep the lights on. New and upgraded loft insulation fitted to 13m UK houses, with wall insulation for 11m more, to keep the heat in.
A more aware population who wash their clothes in colder water, live in colder houses and switch lights off when they leave the room. Large scale deployment of microrenewables such as wind turbines and solar panels on houses. Smoother, fuel frugal driving with less use of the right-foot. And all with a price tag of just 1% of GDP in 2020.
So, the 1% of GDP question: will it work? The committee is prudent enough to recognise the giant gulf between what is technically possible and what is realistic. But, it argues, there is enough slack in the system to reach the demanding 2020 target.
But slack still needs firm hands to be pulled in against the political, economic and corporate resistance that remains.
Despite the dire predictions for global warming, car manufacturers will continue to lobby against fuel-efficiency standards, renewable energy will still be relatively expensive, and the Daily Mail is unlikely to embrace tighter controls on who can drive where and at what speed.
And while it is easy for the committee's experts to explain that fitting insulation and turning lights off saves money, much harder is making real the cultural shift needed to change habits, and, in the words of one exasperated expert "to force people to pick up the ten pound notes lying on the floor".
The total carbon savings the committee thinks possible by 2020 are actually lower than the government expects from its existing policies.
"The fact that policy has not always delivered raises the question of whether policy will deliver in future," the committee notes. We must hope that, this time, it does.

UK climate watchdog urges dramatic cuts in greenhouse gases

Juliette Jowit
guardian.co.uk, Monday December 1 2008 18.14 GMT

Ambitious targets to cut the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by at least one fifth in just over a decade were proposed today by the government's Climate Change Committee.
The reductions would be achieved by transforming the way electricity is produced and redesigning buildings, appliances and cars.
If accepted by ministers, the changes could see as much as 30% of the country's electricity coming from renewable sources as soon as 2020, most of it from wind turbines, and by that date four out of 10 new cars would use electric power.
The independent committee also outlined the need for a wholesale change in public behaviour that could include slower driving to reduce fuel use and swapping more "carbon intensive" meats like beef for hill-bred lamb.
The report also recommended tough new rules to make coal plants fit equipment to capture and store their carbon emissions as soon as the early 2020s, which would push up operating costs. Critics of coal claimed this requirement would end government plans for up to eight new coal plants.
In its first report on how the UK could meet its pledge to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, the eight-person committee recommended an interim target for 2020 of 34%, or 42% if there is a global deal to cut emissions.
These reductions, which go further than existing UK commitments but are in line with what the UK would have to do under proposed European Union laws, equate to cuts from recent levels of 21% or 31% respectively - or from 11.6 tonnes per person to 7-8 tonnes on average.
The committee also proposed shorter term targets. In the five years to 2012, the committee said average annual UK emissions should equate to 604 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, down from 695mt in 2006.
Buying emissions cuts from schemes outside the EU should only be allowed if the higher target is adopted, added the committee.
The targeted reductions would make sure the UK makes a "fair contribution" towards keeping global temperature rises as close as possible to 2C, it said.
The report, Building a Low-Carbon Economy - The UK's Contribution to Tackling Climate Change, estimated the changes would cost less than 1% of the national economic wealth in 2020, or less than £15bn. That figure included the bill for helping up to 1.7m people who would otherwise be pushed into fuel poverty by higher energy bills .
The cost, equivalent to reducing growth by 2020 from 30% to 29%, was "a price worth paying", said the report.
"Climate change poses a grave threat to human welfare, the environment and the economy," said Lord Turner, the committee chairman. "We need to act now, in the UK and as part of a global agreement, to significantly reduce our emissions."
The report was broadly approved by environmental groups but there were widespread concerns about whether the government would enact the tough policies the committee said were needed to deliver the emissions cuts, such as regulation to limit emissions from power plants and cars, and financial incentives to encourage higher take up of more efficient goods.
"Emissions reductions of more than 1% a year have only ever been achieved in significant economic recession, and [the committee's] proposing 2.5% a year so this requires a pretty radical framework," said Stephen Hale, director of the Green Alliance of environmental campaign groups.
"I think they [the government] will accept the budgets, but I'm not so confident they'll back that up with the policies needed to make sure we meet the budgets."
The main political parties also welcomed the report, although neither the government nor the Conservatives explicitly accepted the recommendations. Ministers will respond next year.
Tim Yeo, Conservative chairman of the MPs' Environmental Audit Committee said: "I urge both the government and the opposition to accept the committee's recommendations. Only a bipartisan approach can ensure that Britain achieves these important goals."
Friends of the Earth also urged the government to adopt the higher target for 2020, even if no international emissions deal was agreed at the UN conference in Copenhagen next year [2009]. "It's a small price for us to pay as there are quite a lot of economic opportunities if we move really fast," said Ed Matthew, the group's head of UK climate.
Critics of coal were divided over whether the suggested tough new rules to ensure all coal power was fitted with equipment to trap and store gases in the early 2020s went far enough. Friends of the Earth said it wanted clearer guidelines that no coal stations should be built without the equipment already in place, even before 2020.
However Greenpeace said the recommendation would "kill" proposals for a new plant at Kingsnorth in Kent and up to seven others under the government's energy policy.
David Kennedy, the Climate Change Committee chief executive, said: "If you put this [policy] in place the market will tell us how confident they are carbon capture and storage is going to come through. If they don't go ahead we'll know they didn't intend to fit CCS."
There was also anger over the committee's lack of detailed recommendations for aviation policy, in particular the pending decision on whether to expand Heathrow airport.
Lord Turner said the committee was not intended to recommend short-term policies. Initially, international aviation and shipping will not be part of the successive five year carbon budgets suggested by the committee, but those will be reduced to account for the omission.
Turner defended the committee against concerns that it would not be able to enforce any of its policies. Last week the government's 80% cut pledge and the committee's role in recommending interim targets and monitoring progress were given legal status when the Climate Change Bill received royal assent.
"These [targets] are designed as much as possible to create an extra discipline ... we haven't had that before," said Turner.
The UK is the first country to make a legally-binding commitment to such deep emissions reductions, though other countries have announced similar or deeper cuts.
Kennedy also denied concerns that the UK was going too far in targeting cuts which would not have any impact on global warming unless there was a global agreement. "Clearly if there wasn't a global agreement there wouldn't be much point in the UK trying to control climate change on its own [but] the 34% is very much to prepare for a global deal we hope and expect will ensue," said Kennedy.

EU car makers to get more time to meet CO2 cuts

The Associated Press
Published: December 1, 2008

BRUSSELS, Belgium: European Union governments and the European Parliament struck a provisional deal Monday that gives car makers more time to meet stricter limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
The new rules encourage car makers to sell more small and fuel-efficient cars to balance out sales of heavier luxury vehicles that have boomed in recent years.
The deal is a partial victory for car companies such as Volkswagen AG and BMW AG that claimed they would be crippled by new climate change rules that forced them to change the kind of cars they make.
They say they cannot afford now to spend heavily on developing new technology and refitting plants because sales are slumping during the economic downturn.
Car makers will get until 2015 — three years more than originally planned — before each companies' fleet of new cars must limit average emissions to 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer.

That limit will be phased in with 65 percent of cars meeting the target by 2012, three quarters a year later and 80 percent by 2014.
The current EU average is 158 grams of CO2 per kilometer so there is a long way to go.
Under the deal, car makers that fail to hit these goals after 2012 would be fined €5 ($6.30) for each extra gram of CO2 per car sold — and €95 ($120) per gram if they miss the limit by more than four grams. From 2019, each extra gram would cost €95 per car sold.
The compromise pact must be approved separately by the EU's 27 governments and the European Parliament before it becomes final.
Environmentalists were unhappy saying the outcome watered down promises the car industry made years ago to hit the 120 gram target by 2012.
Campaigners Greenpeace said it would allow "car makers to continue producing gas-guzzlers well into the next decade."

The War on Carbon Heats Up Globally, but Strategies for Change Remain Local


"Think globally, act locally," urged an environmental mantra popular in the 1970s. That strategy made sense when communities faced visible problems such as polluted streams and smoggy air. It is less effective today, as the world tries to tackle a threat as broad and shapeless as climate change.
For all the talk about a unified response to global warming, what is emerging is a crazy quilt of often-competing local strategies. Different industries, regions and countries are trying to shape policy to stick others with the bulk of the cleanup costs. And when they do act, they are focusing on the part of the problem that is most apparent to them. That's human nature, and it is getting in the way of bailing out Mother Nature on an unprecedented, global scale.

This messiness is about to spill into public view on two levels. Globally, diplomats are convening over the next two weeks in Poland for a climate-change conference, where the official purpose is to protect the planet and the subtext is to shift the cost to someone else. In the U.S., the same basic battle soon will heat up as President-elect Barack Obama, who has pledged to push for deep cuts in U.S. emissions of global-warming gases, moves into the White House.
Local interests are clashing with global interests in many places. In California, proposals for large solar-energy projects in the desert are running into opposition from area residents who don't want to have to look at all those mirrors. In Washington, calls for a minimum national energy-efficiency standard for buildings -- which research suggests may be one of the cheapest ways to curb the growth in fossil-fuel consumption -- are unpopular with the construction industry. In China, there is increasing support for curbing pollution, as long as the effort doesn't crimp the country's freedom to keep building power plants that run on cheap coal.
Even when cities or countries try to make broad environmental progress, they often aren't doing the things that would deliver the biggest impact.
One example is ethanol, a corn-based fuel long pushed by Midwestern farmers and by Washington as a way to reduce U.S. oil dependence. Even if cars running on ethanol emit lower levels of greenhouse gases than do cars running on gasoline, very few cars run on ethanol, which makes for a negligible environmental benefit.
Another example is the market for "carbon credits." These chits are bought by companies, mainly in Europe and Japan, that face government requirements to curb their environmental impact. The credits are said to fund pollution-cutting projects in developing countries, supposedly helping the planet at lower cost than if the work were done in the developed world. But several studies suggest that companies in industrialized countries may be paying for pollution cuts that would have happened even without their cash, which would mean some of their money is going to waste.
After a decade of small and fitful experiments with curbing emissions in isolated industries and regions, it is now clear that a massive economic transformation would be necessary to achieve the scale of emissions cuts that many scientists and politicians are suggesting. Under a 1997 international agreement called the Kyoto Protocol, most industrialized countries pledged to trim their greenhouse-gas emissions by a collective 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. Now, some of those countries seem likely to miss their targets. Even if they met them, it wouldn't make enough difference to the planet. The world's two biggest polluters -- the U.S. and China -- aren't constrained by the Kyoto agreement. The U.S. declined to ratify the accord, and China, as a developing country, isn't required by Kyoto to make any pollution cuts.
Today, the European Union is considering setting a more-ambitious goal: a 20% emissions cut below 1990 levels by 2020. But several coal-dependent European countries say they think those goals would cost too much. Among them: Poland, the site of the conference this week and next that's supposed to pursue bold international environmental action.
One lesson from all this is that regulatory sticks aren't likely to be enough. Financial carrots also will be important to try to convince polluters, whether companies or countries, that cleaning up their act is in their economic interest. Here again, however, those interests are being defined in narrowly local terms.
In the U.S., proponents of more-aggressive action to curb climate change say the push could create new economic opportunities. That is the argument made by Mr. Obama, who has endorsed the goal of slashing U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. He says a multibillion-dollar federal investment in environmentally friendly technology, from wind turbines to energy-efficient buildings, could create millions of "green jobs."
The big question is whether that money gets spent in a way that maximizes its environmental impact. Developing countries, where emissions are rising fastest, argue that the West should fork over more money to help them adopt cleaner energy technology. But amid today's economic downturn, there is less wealth to spread around.
Speaking to reporters recently, Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), who plans to attend the global-warming conference in Poland, said the U.S. is "not going to be in the position we were two years ago, in the short term, to do as much technology transfer or other economic assistance" to countries such as China. That, he added, "shouldn't change the willingness of some other cash-flush countries" to help pony up.
Write to Jeffrey Ball at jeffrey.ball@wsj.com