Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Japan Firms Warn on Emissions

TOKYO -- As Japan's incoming government takes shape, its bold plans for stringent cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions are stoking concern among some of the country's leading industrial companies.
Bloomberg News
Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama reiterated on Monday a pledge to make cuts in the country's greenhouse-gas emissions.
Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama reiterated a campaign pledge Monday to cut emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by 2020. Prominent business leaders, who have largely remained on the sidelines during Japan's political shift, Tuesday politely but firmly began to warn that Mr. Hatoyama's targets may be unworkable.
Honda Motor Co. President Takanobu Ito said the auto maker, second in sales in Japan to industry giant Toyota Motor Corp., faces a potentially daunting task.
"It goes without saying such a target would be difficult to reach," Mr. Ito said Tuesday. He said Honda would have to undertake extra projects to meet the requirements, despite its recent focus on more environmentally friendly electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles.
Toyota's recently installed president, Akio Toyoda, took a similar line. "I think it would be hard to meet the DPJ's midterm target for a cut in greenhouse-gas emissions," he said.
The targets laid out by Mr. Hatoyama, who is set to become prime minister next week after 50 years of nearly unbroken rule by the outgoing Liberal Democratic Party, are much more aggressive than the previous administration's goal of cutting emissions by about 8% in the period.

By comparison, the international Kyoto Protocol global-warming pact requires the industrialized nations that ratified it to cut emissions by a collective 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. A number of countries -- including Japan -- are struggling to meet that target. From 1990 to 2006, Japan's overall emissions rose 5.8%, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The U.S. never ratified the 1997 Kyoto accord, but in June the House of Representatives passed an energy bill that set a goal of reducing overall U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by the year 2020; the European Union has promised to cut emissions by 20% from 1990 by 2020.
Japan's emissions-cut push is one of several initiatives making businesses uneasy about the new administration. The DPJ also pledged to enact a higher minimum wage and ban the hiring of temporary workers by manufacturers. Businesses traditionally supported the LDP, though analysts note the new ruling party has many former LDP members in its ranks and could soften its stance on some business issues. The Hatoyama administration also faces pressure to water down some measures as companies grapple with Japan's weak economic outlook.
It isn't clear how quickly Japan under the Hatoyama administration will be able to move on climate change, if at all. DPJ officials are tying their climate-change proposals to global efforts to cut emissions. The party's policy statement specifically mentions working with nations such as India and China, which have become major emitters but have resisted global efforts to reduce emission levels. Their lack of participation has been one stumbling block to attempts to hammer out a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Executives from major Japanese manufacturers say they are handicapped by already having some of the cleanest and most efficient factories in the industrialized world, and that efforts to slow global warming are best coordinated at the international level, rather than by Japan pushing unilateral targets. Business groups say the Japanese administration could get better results by targeting consumers and the transportation sector, emphasizing greater efficiency in driving and air-conditioning.
Mr. Hatoyama's greenhouse-gas initiative comes at a delicate time for the auto industry. Like all other major players, Honda and Toyota are only now beginning to show signs of emerging from a prolonged slowdown in global demand.
Meanwhile, Japan's steelmakers are preparing to make their own case for favorable treatment on green targets from the incoming administration. The Japan Iron and Steel Federation says its industry cut emissions by 1.8% from 1990 to 2007, despite a 9% increase in crude steel output. By comparison, Japan's carbon-dioxide emissions from energy consumption rose 15.1% over the period, according to Japan's environment ministry.
"There is very little room left to reduce emissions by improving production methods," said SMBC Friend Research Center analyst Satoru Takaoki, adding that companies have already been making efforts to become highly energy-efficient.—Juro Osawa and Kenneth Maxwell contributed to this article.
Write to Yoshio Takahashi at and Kazuhiro Shimamura at

Storing carbon dioxide could be Britain’s new oil industry

The North Sea will provide Britain with a natural resource worth as much as £10 billion a year if the Government exploits it as a store for carbon dioxide (CO2 ) captured from power stations, scientists have said.
Britain has more storage space for waste CO2 than all other northern European countries combined, with the exception of Norway, according to research that suggests carbon capture and storage (CCS) could be one of the boom industries of the next 20 years.
The extent of suitable rock formations beneath British territorial waters, principally in the North Sea, mean Britain could make as much as £5 billion a year from selling licences to store CO2 to countries such as Germany, Denmark and Poland, the British Science Festival in Guildford was told.
The market for storage technology could be worth another £3 billion to £5 billion, and the industry could support up to 240,000 jobs — almost as many as currently employed in the North Sea oil and gas industries.
Urgent government investment is needed, however, to ensure this opportunity is not lost, said Stuart Haszeldine, a geologist from the University of Edinburgh. Other countries, such as the US and Australia, are currently investing more in the field.
While technology for removing CO2 from fossil fuel-fired power stations already exists, it is currently expensive, adding about a third to electricity bills. The cost, however, is forecast to plummet over the next two decades, creating a new market for storing this waste CO2 safely that Britain is ideally placed to exploit.
Saltwater aquifers and spent oil and gasfields under British territorial waters are capable of storing huge amounts of the greenhouse gas Dr Haszeldine said. “It’s a huge asset to sell and provide for Europe.”
Dr Haszeldine’s research has indicated that Britain controls sandstone rock formations beneath the sea bed capable of holding up to 150 billion tonnes of CO2 . “These are massive storage capacities the UK has got, the equivalent of hundreds of years of UK power stations,” he said.
“The estimates from the initial study by the UK Government suggest we will have 60,000 people employed in this by 2030. I think this is an underestimate, a very cautious estimate. My estimate is it could be four times that, but that depends on the actions we take now, because the UK is in a very competitive situation internationally.
“The estimate for revenue would be something like £3 billion or £5 billion a year by 2030, but again that’s a cautious underestimate. If we sell our storage capacity, that on its own could produce about £5 billion a year.”
Mike Stephenson, of the British Geological Survey, said Britain needed to match American investment. “In the US they’re thinking a little ahead of us,” he said. “Already in Texas, the Gulf Coast is advertising itself as the CO2 sink for the US. It’s saying, ‘if you want to get rid of your CO2 , we’ll bury it for you and charge you for it’.
“There’s a similarity between the Gulf Coast and the North Sea. We could use this storage space to bury CO2 for Europe, and to charge for it. It’s a big opportunity for the United Kingdom.”
The key to ensuring Britain reaps the benefits of this natural resource is for the Government to have at least four, and preferably five, demonstration projects in place by 2016, Dr Haszeldine said. At present, the Department for Energy and Climate Change is committed to one such project, and is considering another three.
“We need to capitalise on our technical ability and this huge storage asset, and do not just one demonstration project - which the Government has talked about being ready by 2014, but to go for those four demonstrations, and probably to five, by 2016,” Dr Haszeldine said.
“The projects must test different types of storage.
“These are demonstrations, mark-one pieces of equipment. We need to learn from these, and have mark-two equipment, this has to be standard practice to compete in the world by 2020.”
CCS involves chemical processes that remove CO2 either from flue gases produced from burning coal or natural gas, or from the fuels themselves before they are burned. The CO2 is then collected, pressurised, and then pumped through pipelines into deep geological formations, usually beneath the sea bed.
A demonstration project at the Sleipner oil field in the North Sea has been operated by the Norwegian oil company Statoil since 1996, taking a million tonnes of CO2 each year.
“It’s like an oil field in reverse,” Dr Haszeldine said. “Instead of having boreholes and sucking oil out of them, you feed CO2 in through a pipe.”

A virtuous circle

The public bodies doing best at reducing energy consumption aim to recycle each penny saved
Jane Dudman
The Guardian, Wednesday 9 September 2009
In the intensifying search for public sector efficiency, it makes sense to focus on energy savings. In the prison service, to take just one example, money saved on energy can be spent on other services, such as investing in equipment.
Tom Brockbanks, head of the energy management team for HM Prison Service and the National Offender Management Service, says the prison service spends £44.8m a year on energy – and he and his colleagues have pledged to save almost £10m on that bill by 2015, cutting back on 88,373 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
"The prison service was looking to save energy," Brockbanks says. "We have had to look at costs, like every other public organisation."
After studying the options, Brockbanks and his team have focused on practical changes, such as installing automated meters, to measure exactly how much energy the prison service is using, and on a big awareness-raising campaign across the service.
"It's about how to use energy wisely and properly," he says, adding that the campaign, although mainly focused on encouraging staff to use energy more carefully, could well be extended to offenders themselves. "They may not be interested in saving money, but a lot of offenders are interested in the planet and its future."
The prison service is one of 436 public sector organisations, including universities, NHS trusts and local authorities, whose carbon reduction managers gathered in London yesterday to celebrate the achievements of the public sector in reducing energy use. Richard Rugg, head of public sector at the Carbon Trust, which was set up in 2001 by the government to help reduce carbon emissions, says public sector bodies have dramatically increased their targets over the last few years.
In the first year of the programme, 2003-04, public sector organisations on the trust's carbon management programme pledged to reduce their carbon emissions over five years by an average of 12%. By last year, the average target had gone up to a five-year reduction of 25%. Rugg says: "That's a real rise in appetite, and you don't hit those sort of targets easily just by better housekeeping."
Some organisations have gone further, and the Carbon Trust has identified a number of "star performers". Cranfield University, for instance, has a commitment to halve its carbon emissions over five years, while the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea says it will cut emissions by 40% over five years, and Coventry city council is aiming to cut its carbon use by almost a third. And the Carbon Trust estimates that projects implemented as a result of its public sector management programme are already saving more than 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, and producing annual savings of £36m on energy bills.
"This is much, much more than just setting targets," Rugg says. "Public bodies are putting a lot of thought and energy into how to meet those targets, and that needs corporate and political buy-in. It's important to ensure that the right people have carbon reduction written into their job descriptions."
Changing behaviour
Actions taken by public sector bodies also make a difference in the wider community, points out Keith Griffiths, director of finance at the Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh NHS trust, another top performer. "The impact goes well beyond the four walls of our organisation," he says. It includes aiming to buy from more local suppliers and changing the behaviour of staff, not just at work but also at home.
But the main aim of these public sector performers is clear: every penny counts.
A letter put out last week by 10 NHS organisations urging other health providers to sign up to the Guardian-backed 10:10 campaign to cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 10% during 2010, states: "Given the financial forecast for the NHS, cutting our spending on energy is one way to increase productivity and efficiency".
Or as Griffiths says: "The more we can save on these sort of resources, the more we can plough back into patient care."
Jane Dudman is editor of Public, the Guardian's website for senior public managers. More on the Carbon Trust's top public sector performers, at
See the Global Cleantech 100 supplement, sponsored by the Carbon Trust, published today with Society Guardian.

Ministers urged to cap aviation emissions to meet carbon targets

Caroline Davies
The Guardian, Wednesday 9 September 2009
An agreement to cap aviation emissions must be reached at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen if countries are to meet targets to combat global warming, according to the committee set up to advise the government on the issue.
Rich countries should take the lead, ensuring their aviation emissions are no higher or lower than they were in 2005 by 2050, the climate change committee said in a letter to ministers.
In advance of the December meeting in Denmark, the committee said any deal to reduce emissions from flying should be "ambitious", and the aim should be for no less than the EU's current plan which require a 5% reduction in emissions from 2013 to 2020.
Writing to Lord Adonis, the transport secretary and Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, the committee's chief executive, David Kennedy, said the measures would not force people to fly less than they do currently.
"It is vital that an agreement capping global aviation emissions is part of a Copenhagen deal," he said.
"We are calling for a cap that would not require people to fly less than today, but would constrain aviation emissions growth going forward," he said.
"Such a cap together with deep emissions cuts in other sectors would limit the risk of dangerous climate change and the very damaging consequences for people here and in other countries that this would have."
Without steps to stop growth in aviation emissions planes could account for as much as a fifth of all CO2 produced worldwide by 2050, the committee warned.
The committee said it supported plans to include flying in the EU-wide emissions trading scheme, which would give the aviation industry some "carbon credits" to cover some of their output and let them purchase allowances from greener companies to make up the shortfall. But in the long term real cuts must be made, rather than rich countries relying on "offsetting" their emissions by purchasing credits from poorer countries under international trading schemes.
A government spokesman said: "The UK now has the toughest climate change regime for aviation of any country in the world and we will bring international pressure for aviation emissions to be part of global deal on climate change at the Copenhagen conference later this year."
Greenpeace climate change campaigner Vicky Wyatt said any government would find it "almost impossible" to build a third runway at Heathrow if they followed the committee's advice.

UN conference to hear about News of the World tree-planting push

Seeds for Schools campaign aims to get schools in the UK to plant 1 million trees
Chris Tryhorn, Tuesday 8 September 2009 11.18 BST
The News of the World is to address United Nations delegates about its environmental campaign Seeds for Schools.
Paul Nicholas, the paper's deputy managing editor, will tell a UN conference in Switzerland about the initiative, launched in partnership with the Forestry Commission.
Seeds for Schools, part of the News of the World's Go Green and Save campaign, aims to get the UK's schools to plant 1 million trees.
More than 12 million seeds of alder, silver birch and Scots pine have been sent to over 31,000 primary and secondary schools, along with teachers' notes and a climate change DVD, the News of the World said.
The paper has also contributed to a Seeds for Schools website providing information about forestry and ecology.
This initiative comes as the News of the World's parent company, News Corporation, takes a keener interest in environmental issues under James Murdoch, its chairman and chief executive in Europe and Asia.
Nicholas will speak to the Forest Communicators Network of the UN's Economic Commission for Europe in Lyss, Switzerland on 29 September.
"We are proud and delighted to spread the word about Seeds for Schools," said Nicholas. "If other countries take up our example and plant millions of trees themselves, that can only be for the good.
"This is the greening of Britain in action. We have the opportunity to create a real legacy for the country - and now, through the UN, many more nations too."

UK lined up to be Europe's carbon capital

Storage of carbon dioxide could bring in £5bn a year, say scientists
Ian Sample, Science correspondent, Tuesday 8 September 2009 18.10 BST
Britain could become the carbon storage capital of Europe by selling space beneath the North Sea to bury billions of tonnes of waste gases from the continent's power stations.
An industry offering carbon storage to the mainland could create as many jobs as North Sea oil and bring £5bn a year into UK coffers by 2030, scientists estimate.
The demand for carbon storage is expected to grow as next generation power plants are built with technology that captures waste carbon dioxide instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.
Trials are ongoing to test whether it is feasible to pump the captured gas into porous rock deep beneath the seabed and store it there indefinitely.
CO2 is a major greenhouse gas and driver of global warming. Government figures claim that using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, Britain could reduce its emissions by a third.
Although it is possible to store CO2 at underground sites onshore, rock formations around 1km beneath the North Sea are ideal for containing the gas, scientists told the British Science Association festival in Guildford.
Beneath the waters surrounding Britain, there is enough room to store 150bn tonnes of CO2, in depleted gas and oil fields, and in giant salt-water aquifers. The storage capacity is more than the rest of Europe combined, excluding Norway.
"There is enough room beneath the North Sea to store 100 years of carbon emissions from north-west Europe's power stations," said Stuart Haszeldine, professor of geology at Edinburgh University. "Selling that capacity could bring £5bn a year alone."
Haszeldine calculates that the cost of developing CCS technology could work out as an extra £28 on top of an annual average household electricity bill of £498.
Engineers with the Norwegian oil company, Statoil, are testing the technology needed to pump CO2 down to depths where it liquefies under pressure. The company has pumped a million tonnes a year into the Sleipner oilfield in the North Sea since 1996.
Monitoring of the site has found no signs that the gas leaking out and rising back up to the surface.
Mike Stephenson, head of energy at the British Geological Survey, said: "If CCS is going to happen in a big way, and it has to to make an impact, then a lot of underground storage space is going to be needed."
"If we get it right, we could use our storage space to bury Europe's CO2 and we could charge for it," Stephenson added.
Carbon storage was only a "stop-gap" solution to the problems of climate change, the scientists said and should ultimately be replaced by renewable energy sources.
The government is looking to industry to build four CCS demonstration plants, but has not given a date by which they should be ready.
Haszeldine said ministers must move faster to avoid losing out to competitors such as the US, which is racing ahead with a similar scheme in Texas.
"I'm pushing for the government to get on with it and build five of these platforms by 2016," he said.
"We're doing the usual British thing of being faint-hearted when it comes to making a business out of something. It was the same with nuclear and wind power. We are in a world-beating position and must not lose the plot."

Personal carbon trading: the next step in tackling carbon emissions?

A report published by the IPPR this week will say personal carbon trading may be the next step in tackling climate change. From the Ecologist, part of the Guardian Environment Network
Last week saw the launch of the 10:10 campaign by Age of Stupid film director Franny Armstrong, hailed as a real opportunity to re-engage individuals with the task of reducing domestic CO2 emissions.
To coincide with the launch, the Guardian commissioned a poll, presumably hoping to show people's willingness to accept carbon reduction measures.
But looking closely at the figures reveals instead the public's resistance to some forms of carbon pricing.
Although 85 per cent of respondents accepted the threat of climate change, just 33 per cent were willing to accept something like a pay per mile road charging scheme.
So if the necessary carbon reductions cannot be made through voluntary measures will it soon be time to reconsider compulsory carbon allowances?
Government resistanceDespite initial enthusiasm for a Personal Carbon Allowance (PCA) from former Environment Secretary David Miliband, Government support has now waned.
Under such a scheme, every individual would be given a set allocation of carbon credits, which they could use to 'pay' for purchases like home energy usage and petrol.
Those with low carbon usage would be able to sell their surplus credits on a carbon market, whilst those with high carbon consumption levels would have to buy credits.
Having initially muted the idea, Defra then just as quickly dismissed it. A report published in 2008 said it was too costly.
An RSA trial published at the end of 2008 has since contradicted this judgement saying it would be, 'relatively quick and easy to automatically capture and report personal carbon emissions for all UK citizens.'
But, David's brother Ed Miliband who took over the climate change brief last year indicated it was more about public acceptability, saying it was 'an idea for the longer term'.
Psychological issuesBut by dismissing the idea has the Government given up a vital tool for engaging the public in tackling climate change?
'One of the obstacles to feeling responsible for climate change is that it is so removed from individual experience,' says Stuart Capstick, who has been researching PCT at the School of Psychology, Cardiff University.
'PCT has the ability to make this connection between climate change and the individual by showing us what is a fair amount of carbon for each of us to use.'
An organiser from the 10:10 said making carbon visible and tangible to individuals was one of the main reasons behind their campaign.
'We're trying to take peoples' minds off long-term targets like 2020 and focus on the immediate need for action on climate change. Instead of worrying or feeling guilty, individuals can to do something about it,' said the organiser.
'Voluntary individual action is never going to be enough on its own but we're trying to get the ball rolling for the transition to a low carbon economy. Something the government for all their talk have not yet started.'
The 10:10 campaign is not the first scheme to trial out voluntary individual carbon cutting.
A report earlier this year from the UK Energy Research Centre on the experience of people involved in Carbon Rationing Action Groups (Crags) showed that carbon allowances could be successful in reducing carbon emissions.
However, it did also raise issues some concerns, including whether children would have their own carbon allowances, whether some people would be unwilling to get involved in trading permits and the difficulties of carbon budgeting, which would have to be resolved before any scheme was introduced.
A Plan B for government?The Government may not be keen to tackle these issues now, but a major report due out next week will say they might have to use PCAs in the future to reduce emissions.
Plan B? The prospects for personal carbon trading, to be published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) this Friday, says existing measures on reducing individuals' carbon impact, such as smart meters and the Low Carbon Buildings Programme should be given time to succeed.
'But if those policies don't deliver then the Government may have to reconsider personal carbon allowances,' concludes the IPPR.
The biggest danger with all this talk about PCAs, voluntary or compulsory, says WWF change strategist Dr Tom Crompton, is that it could take the focal point off government action.
'Voluntary action is an important step but we have to be cautious that individual action doesn't detract from what government still needs to do at Copenhagen and beyond.
'As well as taking individual action we people to make more vocal demands on government by lobbying their MPs and protesting,' he said.

Climate Bill to Be Slowed by Health-Care Debate

WASHINGTON -- The health-care debate threatens to keep energy and climate legislation on the back burner when the Congress returns from recess Tuesday and enters the final push of 2009.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to plead his case on health care in a joint address to Congress this week, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), delays action on climate and energy legislation.
The Senate's top Democrat now says that climate legislation will be considered by the end of the year -- a deadline that buys time to see whether Democrats will have the political strength to take up climate change after a bruising health-care fight.
"The odds change day-to-day, and some days even hour-to-hour," said David Brown, an executive in the government affairs office of electric utility Exelon Corp. "If they can come up with a health-care package that passes sooner rather than later, our chances are better."
But if the health care debate drags on, the energy bill could get stalled by the 2010 congressional midterm elections, he added.
The Democratic party is already fractured over climate legislation. Coal, oil, and manufacturing state lawmakers have warned about the costs for their regions. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.), has said that Congress should drop its plan to hand out allowances granting the right to pollute up to a limit, or cap. Democrats from the manufacturing-heavy Midwest have warned that climate legislation must include tariffs on countries that fail to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.
Many people think Mr. Obama must become personally involved in order to smooth out opposition. A number of energy bill observers say that Mr. Obama has so far failed to engage on the issue in basic ways, giving opponents an opportunity to define a climate bill as a large tax on consumers. Others see signs the Obama administration is trying to signal that it is sensitive to lawmaker concerns.
"The administration is motivated and they're doing what they have to do to try to look responsive to a lot of different stakeholder groups," said Kevin Book, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners LLC. He puts the odds of passing legislation at 60%, making Book among the most optimistic of forecasters surveyed.
Among the pieces of evidence is a proposal submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency for White House review last week that suggested the agency would try to limit the reach of greenhouse-gas regulations. The message is two-fold: that the EPA is moving forward on a plan to regulate emissions, even in the absence of congressional action, but that it hopes to make limited use of that power.
"We have absolutely no intention of regulating every school, every church," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a radio interview last week.
The widely watched deadline is for Senate action ahead of December's international climate-change talks in Copenhagen. The Copenhagen meeting is where countries will try to reach a pact on emission-reductions after 2012, when a current treaty expires.
Ms. Jackson said she hopes the U.S. will head to the talks with "a strong platform that reflects both houses' opinion."
An easier solution might be to pass a scaled-back energy package -- but that could be an affront to the House of Representatives. That's because House lawmakers cast tough votes earlier this year when the chamber narrowly passed an energy and climate bill.
So far, Mr. Reid's rhetoric suggests he remains ambitious. "We must do energy legislation as a package," he said at a clean-energy summit in Las Vegas last month. He said that congressionally mandated energy-efficiency measures had been "minimal," and that the U.S. Congress needs to pass legislation that is comprehensive rather than "scattershot."
Politics in Mr. Reid's home state could be an X factor. Christine Tezak, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., last week lowered the odds for a climate law this year to 10%, down from 30%. But she said in a report that if energy-related stimulus funds begin flowing to Nevada, "Sen. Reid might benefit at home from moving climate legislation forward."
Write to Siobhan Hughes at

A green deal for rich and poor nations

The UN climate change summit must not only seek to protect the planet but fight poverty as well

Helen Clark, Tuesday 8 September 2009 22.00 BST

A few months ago, Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, stated explicitly that the continent's future depends on what comes out of the Copenhagen climate change negotiations. He argued that Africa needs a strong climate deal, and quickly, so that global emissions can be brought under control as soon as possible. He also called for strong mechanisms to help the continent move towards a low carbon growth path and to strengthen its resilience to unavoidable impacts.
President Kagame hit the nail on the head. We know that the effects of climate change will hit the poorest and most vulnerable first and hardest. That is why the new climate change deal so many are working so hard for must also be a deal for development.
Fighting poverty and protecting our planet must go hand-in-hand. Receding forests, expanding deserts, changing rainfall patterns, and rising sea levels trap people in hardship and undermine their future. Studies in Ethiopia show that children exposed to drought in early childhood are more likely to be malnourished five years later.
Because of climate change, it is estimated that up to 600 million more people in Africa could face malnutrition as agricultural systems break down; an additional 1.8 billion people could face water shortage, especially in Asia; and more than 70 million Bangladeshis, 22 million Vietnamese, and six million Egyptians could be affected by climate-related flooding. Worse, new scientific evidence indicates that ocean temperatures are rising to record levels. That will put further stress on coastal ecosystems and on the people depending on them for their survival.
Now is the time to push through both a vision and actions for a better, cleaner, and more sustainable world for us all.We have only one planet to live on. We must ensure that the way we live and develop is consistent with keeping its ecosystems in balance. We must all find a different, more sustainable way to grow our economies, and ensure that poor people and nations have the opportunity to create a better life for themselves.
In the developed world, initiatives such as the 10:10 campaign to encourage individuals and organisations to reduce their carbon emissions by 10% in 2010 will galvanise the public and stiffen the will of political leaders. But while reductions are vitally important, we must look further into the future.
While climate change presents great challenges, it also offers opportunities for us all to move towards sustainable development. If nations can make progress at the Copenhagen climate talks, that will lead to reductions in emissions; the development of less carbon-intensive production and consumption processes; directing climate financing to support global economic growth; and setting the world's poorer countries on inclusive and sustainable pathways out of poverty.
The climate change talks must, at a minimum, take the following account of three developing country imperatives. First, these nations must be able to develop what their citizens need for a decent life. Unless people have at least basic access to water, sanitation, food and energy, as well as to institutions which work and a way to have a say in the decisions which affect their lives, they will not be able to cope with the additional burden of a changing climate.
Second, these people need targeted support to develop the capacity to adapt to climate change – from the poor farmer who wants to grow more resilient crops, to the family whose home must be able to withstand increased flooding. This means helping countries to put climate change adaptation at the heart of all their efforts to tackle poverty, with proper attention paid to the needs of more vulnerable groups, including women and indigenous people.
Third, developing countries need the support of partners to move along a low-carbon development pathway. They need better access to carbon financing to pay for that, and the skills to put that money to work where it is needed. That includes driving private and public finance towards cleaner investments in energy, transport and other infrastructure, and in industry.
If developing countries are assisted in these ways, they will be able to contribute to global efforts to tackle climate change while also pursuing the development to which their people aspire.
Sealing a new climate change agreement will require unwavering political will, so that national interests do not obstruct achieving what is best for our planet. If the deal reached is also one for development, we could set the stage for future generations to live in greater peace and prosperity. We need to invest up frontnow, to protect our climate and the lives of all of us and our descendants.We know what needs to be done, and we know we collectively face choices. We can do nothing, or too little, or our world can take bold actions together to confront the climate change challenge.
This December in Copenhagen, I hope that we will, collectively, summon the courage to act.

We must prevent the US Chamber of Commerce from putting climate change 'on trial'

The world's largest not-for-profit business federation is trying every trick in the lobbyist's handbook to scupper the legislative progress of the US cap and trade bill
It would be wise for anyone concerned about climate change to keep an eye on the movements and pronouncements of the US Chamber of Commerce over the next few months as Barack Obama's cap-and-trade bill finally reaches the Senate.
The world's largest not-for-profit business federation has made it patently clear in recent months that it does not like the look of the so-called Waxman-Markey bill. In fact, it thinks it stinks. So much so that it is currently trying every trick in the lobbyist's handbook to scupper its legislative progress.
For example, it is currently supporting the Energy Citizens campaign, which bills itself as
a nationwide alliance of organisations and individuals formed to bring together people across America to remind Congress that energy is the backbone of our nation's economy and our way of life.
On the surface, Energy Citizens has the look and feel of AN Other citizen movement holding folksy grassroots "rallies" across the US to get across its point of view. In the past week or so, it has held events in Indiana, Colorado, Florida, North Dakota, Missouri and Tennessee. On its website it promotes a "Share Your Stories" facility for citizens to post their own messages and videos. One recent example is "Shaka" from Tennessee urging the Senate to "do the smart thing and defeat this bill". The use of his first name helps to give the video that all-important "ordinary joe" impression.
But hang on: could our Shaka actually be this Shaka, the one who is listed as the executive vice president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research which is "dedicated to providing concerned citizens, the media and public leaders with expert empirical research and timely free market policy solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee", and provides a link on its website to the Carnival of Climate Change sceptics site? There sure does seem to be a striking resemblance between the two. Uncanny. Almost.
Is it really any wonder that Energy Citizens is now being cited as little more than a front for the sorts of big business/free-market lobbyists – a la the US Chamber of Commerce - who are instinctively drawn to the global-warming-is-baloney school of thinking? (for more on Energy Citizens and the rise of astroturfing, read Bobbie Johnson's blog).
Professional lobby groups have been bending, cajoling and manipulating public discourse and opinion in ways similar to this for decades. If they can interrupt the debate, or better still muddy or even stall it, then their vested interests can be protected and allowed to prosper without hindrance. Such dark arts have been described in the past as "manufacturing doubt".
But in an interesting recent twist, the US Chamber of Commerce is now calling for the "truth" to be outed once and for all. It is demanding that the science that underpins our understanding of anthropogenic climate change be "put on trial". In papers filed with the federal court on 25 August, it argues that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should hold a public hearing "complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect".
The LA Times, which broke the story, reported a US Chamber of Commerce official as describing the hearing as "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century", in reference to the 1925 test case that saw the prosecution of a Tennessee teacher named John Scopes for violating a state law that forbade any public school teacher from denying the Bible's account of man's origin.
"It would be evolution versus creationism," said William L Kovacs, the US Chamber of Commerce's senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs. "It would be the science of climate change on trial."
The papers filed with the federal court make interesting reading. The US Chamber of Commerce is saying that it wants the EPA to hold its "Endangerment Finding Proceeding" into whether carbon dioxide emissions are harmful to public health in public and on the record.It says that a proceeding on the record …
… is necessary to narrow the areas of scientific uncertainty, to permit a credible weighing of the scientific evidence, and to enable submitters of proof to demonstrate the falsity of some [the EPA's] key erroneous claims.
… will narrow any uncertainty on the question whether, on balance, higher temperatures will not lead to net increases in human mortality.
… will enable the EPA to resolve any uncertainties about the impacts of higher temperatures on the conventional pollutants entitled to the greatest weight in considering the issue of endangerment.
… will permit the parties to provide any necessary confirmation that temperature increases would overall benefit human welfare and the environment, and allow the EPA to receive evidence rebutting unsubstantiated claims to the contrary.
… is the most efficient and only complete method for testing the competing claims in the record concerning extreme weather events and disease.
… is necessary because the EPA has generated legitimate concern that it has prejudged the outcome of the proposed endangerment finding, only an on-the-record process can produce a reliable and legally durable outcome.
It also argues that a "transparent, on-the-record process with no ex parte communications or political interference is required, would be manageable here, and indeed would be the best way to ensure that scientific integrity prevails".
Go to the bottom of the document and you can see that it means business: it has hired the services of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, one of the world's largest corporate law firms. As it says on its own website:
In every year since 1995, Kirkland has ranked as one of the most frequently used firms by Fortune 100 companies in The National Law Journal survey, 'Who Represents Corporate America'.
It then proceeds to list its corporate clients, which include Boeing, BP America, Dow Chemical, General Motors, McDonalds, Raytheon and Siemens.
Far more pertinent, though, is a quick look though the membership list of the US Chamber of Commerce itself. It claims 3m small businesses as members, but also boasts some big household names on its board, including Pfizer, ConocoPhillips, Caterpillar Inc, IBM, Accenture, Eastman Kodak, Lockheed Martin, Deloitte, FedEx Express, Fox Entertainment, The Carlyle Group, Rolls-Royce North America, and US Airways.
Do all these companies really want to be associated with such a trial? Possibly not, as it happens. It appears that not all of the board members are happy with the US Chamber of Commerce's public position on climate change. Back in May, a group of members including Nike and Johnson & Johnson publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the US Chamber of Commerce's increasingly strident stance on the issue.
According to, Johnson & Johnson asked the Chamber to refrain from making comments on climate change unless they "reflect the full range of views, especially those of Chamber members advocating for congressional action." Meanwhile, a Nike spokeswoman said her company has also been "vocal" with the Chamber's leaders "about wanting them to take a more progressive stance on the issue of climate change."
It's highly tempting to call the Chamber's bluff on such a trial and say "bring it on". It sure would be fun – and deeply revealing – to see who it would call as its expert witnesses. But the reality is such a trial would provide the distraction and delay it so evidently craves. What the proposed trial does provide, though, is a sobering reminder about the combined might and resources of the forces that are now working so hard to scupper any meaningful action on reducing emissions.

Ofgem to expand for climate change

Ofgem, the energy regulator, has announced plans for a radical shake-up and growth in size as it prepares to deal with the burden of measures to tackle climate change.

By Rowena MasonPublished: 8:51PM BST 08 Sep 2009
It is thought that new green schemes, from smart meters to offshore wind, will balloon in cost from around 9pc to 18pc of bills in the next few years.
Experts believe this could underestimate the scale of the taxes and levies that might be set aside to ensure both energy security and tackle climate change.

It is likely that the Government will expect Ofgem to increase its supervision of whether energy companies are complying with complex taxes, schemes and rules, such as the Renewables Obligations Certificates – incentives to generate green energy.
A new unit, called Ofgem E-serve, will manage £3.9bn of current environmental schemes. Analysts said that in the future it could handle taxes on customer bills such as paying for capturing and storing carbon emissions from coal-fired plants or potential levies related to new nuclear plants.
Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, decided to expand the core remit of the energy regulator earlier this year to encompass climate change and energy security as well as competition.
Ofgem emphasised that the importance of monitoring prices for consumers had not been diluted.
Alistair Buchanan, chief executive of Ofgem wrote a sternly-worded letter to power suppliers last month calling on them to explain to customers why fuel bills had not fallen in line with wholesale energy prices.
"Wholesale costs have fallen from last year's peak and look set to fall further as we head into the winter. In a strong competitive market, we would expect prices to respond to such falls," the letter said.

China and US should unwind environmental imbalance

When it comes to US-Chinese imbalances, the environment and the economy are strikingly similar.

By John Foley, Breakingviews.comPublished: 5:53PM BST 08 Sep 2009
The G20 world leaders meeting in Pittsburgh on September 24 probably won’t do much about either. But they could at least start to recognise that that the only fair solution involves joint effort.
In economic terms, China and America are interlocked, but out of kilter. China produces too much and consumes too little. In the US, the reverse is true. There’s an environmental parallel. By using China as their manufacturing centre, countries like the US have outsourced their industrial pollution.

Together, the US and China account for more than 40pc of carbon emissions. But industry accounts for 70pc of China’s total energy usage while in the US consumers use 70pc of the nation’s fuel.
China’s politicians want the same right to pollute that America had in its industrial adolescence. Of the world's accumulated carbon emissions, China contributed just 8pc, versus the US’s 28pc. US politicians look at the source of future emissions and say there’s no point acting before the People’s Republic.
The logjam requires new thinking. First, industrialised nations need to admit that it is unrealistic for a transition economy to cap emissions, in effect putting a ceiling on growth. Instead, G20 leaders should push for a widespread global carbon tax – that the US would agree to pay as well as developing nations like China.
Second, the cost of clean up should be shared across the rich-developing divide. Industrialised nations are already talking about offsetting some of their carbon emissions by investing in other countries’ projects. But a big financial commitment is also needed. A Beijing University study suggested the cost of reducing China’s emissions could be $438bn a year. That’s big for China – but just 1pc of the G20’s GDP for 2008.
Whatever the obstacles, both sides must act. The US has its responsibility as a global citizen. China faces social unrest sparked by environmental issues. The financial crisis may be starting to recede, but a global-warming crisis would be immeasurably more destructive. A percentage point of growth is a small price to pay.

Tata to Build Electric Car Assembly Facility in Europe

MADRID -- Indian automaker Tata Motors will set up an assembly facility for electric vehicles in the U.K., Spain or Norway, Clive Hickman, the Chief Executive of Tata Motors European Technical Centre said Tuesday.
The facility to be operational by year-end is initially planned for a capacity to assemble 5,000 electric cars.
"We don't need to build a full plant, because the vehicle will come with the body, the wheels, all of the interior trim (from India)," Mr. Hickman said. "All we have to do, is to install the electric motor, and the battery pack."
Hickman spoke to Dow Jones Newswires at the sidelines of the ceremony for the announcement of an electric car pilot project sponsored by the Spanish government. It aims at bringing 2,000 electric cars on Spanish roads by the end of 2010, and to set up 546 electricity charging points for vehicles in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville.
Mr. Hickman didn't say what the planned investment for the electric vehicle facility is. The plant will assemble electric versions of Tata's Indica Vista passenger car, and its ACE light commercial vehicle.
Tata Motors will use lithium ion batteries produced by its Norwegian Miljo unit for the electric vehicle assembly plant, and electric motors from Canadian company TM4.
Write to Bernd Radowitz at

Urban green space is good for your health, claims researcher

Chris Smyth
Urban green spaces are “essential to our wellbeing” and must be protected against a wave of “garden-grabbing” developers.
Ross Cameron, an environmental biologist at the University of Reading, said gardens had a range of social, physical, environmental and even psychological benefits and should be given the same protection as virgin countryside.
He told the festival that an estimated 32 sq km (7,900 acres) of gardens had been lost in London alone in the past five years as developers tried to squeeze more homes into areas by building on gardens, which were designated brownfield land.
At the same time, millions of homeowners were paving over their front gardens, with as many as half vanishing under the asphalt in some cities.
Dr Cameron said studies with patients suffering mental health problems also showed that gardens helped to reduce stress.
He warned that garden-grabbing could even “cost lives” if it worsened depression and other conditions. The researcher said: “A recent report from Australia suggests gardening helps delay the onset of dementia in the elderly.”
He also cited social benefits, such as crime reduction: “There is evidence from a study in Chicago that areas with greater greenery have less crime. The greatest reduction was in domestic violence, a stress-related crime.”
He said the Chicago studies found that in otherwise similar areas, those with more trees had less crime, and a significant part of the difference could not be accounted for by any other cause.
Green spaces could also help to cool cities as climate change warmed up our urban environments.

Elimination of food waste could lift 1bn out of hunger, say campaigners

Excessive consumption in rich countries 'takes food out of mouths of poor' by inflating food prices on global market
Adam Vaughan, Tuesday 8 September 2009 17.25 BST
Eliminating the millions of tonnes of food thrown away annually in the US and UK could lift more than a billion people out of hunger worldwide, experts claim.
Government officials, food experts and representatives of the retail trade brought together by the Food Ethics Council argue that excessive consumption of food in rich countries inflates food prices in the developing world. Buying food, which is then often wasted, reduces overall supply and pushes up the price of food, making grain less affordable for poor and undernourished people in other parts of the world. Food waste also costs UK consumers £10.2bn a year and when production, transportation and storage are factored in, it is responsible for 5% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions.
Tristram Stuart, author of a new book on food waste and a contributor to a special food waste issue of the Food Ethics Council's magazine, said: "There are nearly a billion malnourished people in the world, but all of them could be lifted out of hunger with less than a quarter of the food wasted in Europe and North America. In a globalised food system, where we are all buying food in the same international market place, that means we're taking food out of the mouths of the poor."
Stuart calculated that the hunger of 1.5bn people could be alleviated by eradicating the food wasted by British consumers and American retailers, food services and householders, including the arable crops such as wheat, maize and soy to produce the wasted meat and dairy products. He added that the production of wasted food also squanders resources, and said that the irrigation water used by farmers to grow wasted food would be enough for the equivalent domestic water needs of 9bn people.
Food waste costs every household in the UK between £250 and £400 a year, figures that are likely to be updated this autumn when the government's waste agency WRAP publishes new statistics. Producing and distributing the 6.7m tonnes of edible food that goes uneaten and into waste in the UK also accounts for 18m tonnes of CO2.
But Tom MacMillan, executive director of the Food Ethics Council, warned that reducing food waste alone would not be enough to alleviate hunger, because efficiency gains in natural resources are routinely cancelled out by growth in consumption. "Food waste is harmful and unfair, and it is essential to stop food going into landfill. But the irony is that consumption growth and persistent inequalities look set to undo the good that cutting food waste does in reducing our overall use of natural resources and improving food security," he said.
MacMillan explained that the land and resources freed up by cutting food waste would likely be put to producing and consuming other things, such as growing more resource-intensive and expensive foods, bio-energy or textile crops. "Now is the moment all parties should be searching out ways to define prosperity that get away from runaway consumption. Until they succeed, chucking out less food won't make our lifestyles more sustainable," he said.
In addition to cutting down on waste, experts suggested food waste that does end up in bins could be dealt with in more environmentally friendly ways.
Paul Bettison, chair of the Local Government Association environment board, wrote: "Many councils are now giving residents a separate bin for their food waste. Leftovers are being turned into fertiliser, or gas to generate electricity. In some areas, in-vessel composting and anaerobic digestion are playing a key role in cutting council spending on landfill tax and reducing methane emissions."
But there are obstacles to generating energy and producing compost from food waste, he warned. "Lack of infrastructure is holding back the drive to make getting rid of food waste cheaper and greener. Councils do not want to collect leftovers without somewhere to send them, but nobody wants to build the places to send food waste until it is being collected."
Writing in the magazine, the retail industry defended sell-by and use-by dates, which were criticised as confusing by environment secretary Hilary Benn in June. Andrew Opie, director of food and consumer policy at the British Retail Consortium, wrote: "Certainly, some customers aren't clear about what the different dates mean but getting rid of them won't reduce food waste. Customer education will."
Last month, the government also criticised supermarket "bogof" offers (buy one get one free) that encourage shoppers to buy food they don't need and which ends up unused in bins, adding to the UK's food waste mountain.
The renewed push for action on food waste comes comes as a National Zero Waste Week by online campaigners and bloggers gets under way, encouraging individuals to go one day without putting anything in their bins.
Food waste tips from the web
• Don't fall for "three for two" deals on fresh food unless you'll definitely use them - Susan Smillie, Guardian food blogger
• Plan weekly meals and stick to shopping lists - Susan Smillie
• Keep your fridge at 1-5 degrees to make chilled food last for longer -
• Remove bad apples! One bad apple can spoil the barrel, so separate fruit which is ripening faster than the others - Womens' Institute
• Just chuck your leftover veggies into a stockpot to make a delicious stock for soups - Thomasina Miers, MasterChef winner and food writer
• Use your eyes and nose as a guide and ignore the sell-by date - Guardian user "hrhpod" on the Word of Mouth blog
• Watch your portion sizes and make sure plates are being completely cleared at mealtimes - Annette Richards on
• Make sure vegetables are stored correctly, with root vegetables kept in cool dark locations rather than refrigerators - "leuan" on Word of Mouth
• Leave most vegetables and fruit in the fridge until a day or two before you're going to use them: you could extend their life by a fortnight -
• Make DIY frozen ready meals by freezing excess food, such as mashed potato, into portions - Sarah Beeny
Share your tips for avoiding food waste on our Green Living Blog and you could win a £60 composter

Climate change talks 'in danger', says David Miliband

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, has warned of a ''real danger'' that negotiations to tackle climate change could collapse, with catastrophic consequences.

Published: 12:55PM BST 08 Sep 2009

With less than 100 days until talks in Copenhagen aimed at securing agreement on worldwide cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, ministers are worried the negotiations will not succeed.
The Foreign Secretary said the complexity of the issue, other problems such as the recession clouding the political agenda and ''suspicion'' between rich and poor countries were hampering progress.

But ahead of visits that will take him around Europe in a diplomatic push to raise the issue of climate change, he said a failure to cut emissions could lead to global temperature rises of 4C.
This would lead to large scale migration as parts of the world disappeared under rising seas, threaten infrastructure as extreme weather events became more common, and put pressure on natural resources such as water - all of which could have serious impacts on peace and security across the world.
''The deal the world needs in Copenhagen is now in the balance,'' he said.
''There's a real danger the talks scheduled for December will not reach a positive outcome, and an equal danger in the run-up to Copenhagen that people don't wake up to the danger of failure until it's too late.''
The Foreign Secretary and his brother Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband welcomed the announcement by the incoming Japanese government that it would cut the country's emissions by 25 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020.
The Climate Change Secretary said that while the talks hung in the balance, the announcement by the Japanese government showed that ''the jigsaw pieces are in place for a deal'' and political will was required to tip the balance in favouring of securing a deal.

EU backs ban on bluefin tuna fishing

The sale of bluefin tuna should be banned, according to the European Commission, in a boost for the campaign to save the endangered fish.

Published: 6:28PM BST 08 Sep 2009
At the moment bluefin tuna has no protection and is sold in sushi restaurants around the world.
However the European Commission has officially backed calls for the fish to protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

This would effectively suspend the international trade in North Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna until the species is no longer threatened with extinction.
EU member states now need to agree a position for a meeting of CITES in March but the EC position means they are likely to support a ban.
Willie Mackenzie of Greenpeace said it was a boost for the endangered fish.
“Bluefin tuna populations have fallen to critically low levels. And it has become endangered because of disgraceful fisheries management in the EU," he said.
“But today’s move doesn’t mean that this fish is saved yet. Member states still need to agree to support this ban, and follow the lead of countries like the UK.
“Anyone who is opposed to the proposed trade ban is clearly putting short-term commercial interests above the survival of the species, and the future of the fishing industry.”