Thursday, 10 September 2009

EU Wants China to Expand Foreign Role in Energy Projects

BEIJING -- European Union Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said on Wednesday that she hopes China will make it easier for foreign companies to participate in public procurements for renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar-panel farms.
"Trade in environmental products and services is one important area where the EU and China can achieve concrete results," Ms. Ashton said in a speech to students at a Beijing university. "The EU is committed to freeing up trade in this sector, which is the fastest way to diffuse clean technologies, especially in developing countries."
Foreign companies have said they are unfairly excluded from clean-energy projects in China. Wind-power developers, for example, are required to make 70% of their parts in China. Even foreign companies that meet that threshold rarely win bids for wind-power projects.
A position paper by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China last week said China fails to treat local and foreign companies equally in the public-procurement process. Conditions for European companies operating in China have become increasingly challenging, the report said. It called for an end to both restrictions on foreign investment and government intervention in industry.
Ms. Ashton also urged China to be more selective when backing industries through massive bank lending.
"Where lending is focused on sectors that suffer from overcapacity, concerns about unfair trade may arise," she said. "Overcapacity becomes an issue of international concern because the output that cannot be absorbed domestically in China will seek outlets on global export markets."
Write to Patricia Jiayi Ho at

Mongolia poised to become a world leader in solar power

Robin Pagnamenta, Energy Editor
It is better known for yurts and yaks but now the rolling steppes of Mongolia are to become the scene for a cutting-edge green energy project.
Chinese officials have signed a deal with America’s First Solar, the world’s largest manufacturer of solar cells, to convert a remote desert area of inner Mongolia into a giant power station.
First Solar, based in Arizona, said that the plant would be the largest solar station on the planet and would eventually involve carpeting 25 square miles of the remote Chinese province — an area roughly the size of Manhattan — with gleaming panels.
Once completed, in 2019, the site will generate 2,000 megawatts of electricity — equivalent to nearly double the output of the Dungeness nuclear power station and enough to power three million Chinese homes.
Mike Ahearn, the chief executive of First Solar, said that construction of a pilot project would begin by June 2010. A further three phases will gradually boost power generation at the site from 30 to 2,000 megawatts.
“We’re proud to be announcing this precedent-setting project,” Mr Ahearn said, after signing a memorandum of understanding with Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress. “It represents an encouraging step forward toward the mass-scale deployment of solar power worldwide to help mitigate climate change concerns.”
He added that a solar plant of this size would cost $5 billion (£3 billion) to $6 billion in the US, but that it would be cheaper to build in China.
While some of the details have not yet been worked out, the plant will be located within a huge new development zone that is eventually expected to generate nearly 12 gigawatts of renewable energy from wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power.
Beijing is eager to position China as a world leader in renewable energy. It plans to generate 15 per cent of its energy from green sources by 2020 and a variety of government incentives have been introduced .
First Solar will provide about 27 million thin-film panels for the site by 2019 and is considering building a factory to support the project.

US and China to unveil joint plan to 'take over' cleantech market

Business collaboration between US and China to secure clean technology market opportunities will be unveiled at World Economic Forum in Dalian
Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent, in Shanghai, Wednesday 9 September 2009 15.50 BST
A joint US-China plan to "take over the world" in low-carbon technology will be revealed tomorrow at a meeting of Davos's World Economic Forum in Dalian.
The sweeping initiative to secure the opportunities arising from tackling climate change is based on top-level business collaboration between the two superpowers, with some deals already done. One obstacle, however, will be growing trade friction over clean technology.
Leading industrialists, entrepreneurs and financiers from the world's two biggest polluters have marked out the development strategy for a trillion dollar "greentech" market for inclusion in a bilateral climate agreement that is expected to be signed by the two governments when Obama visits China in November.
The global clean technology market would get a major boost from any deal at the global climate summit in Copenhagen in December.
Under the plan, cash from the two nations and private sector acumen would be used to massively expand China's solar, wind, carbon capture and smart-grid markets in a move that could be as groundbreaking as the commercialisation of the internet.
The authors of the plan, which was six months in the making, sketched out their proposal at a gathering of business executives in Shanghai today.
"This is a coming-out party for China's 'greentech' initiatives," said Ming Sung, of the Clean Air Task Force. "China and the US can takeover the world on low-carbon technology."
Executives from Boeing, General Electric and other major US firms talked to counterparts from China, including senior figures from Suntech, the solar cell maker, and BYD, a manufacturer of hybrid and electric cars.
Rod Quinn, a regional director of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, was among those leading the charge for collaboration on "clean coal" technology. "I'm very upbeat," he said. "Two great nations. One great plan. That's what we hope for."
Chinese policymakers noted the government's focus on improving energy efficiency but were positive about the prospects for shared research in the fields such as gasification of coal for cleaner burning and the capturing and storing of carbon dioxide emissions.
These two expensive technologies are expected to play a central role in minimising the impact of coal on global warming – both the US and China are heavily dependent on coal.
The perception that technology development in China relies on western ideas – and a loose view of patents – is also changing. Progress was made in Shanghai last month on what has been billed as the world's biggest and most efficient carbon capture and storage project. The facility is expected to capture carbon at a cost of $40 (£24) a tonne, compared to $100 a tonne at less-advanced facilities in the US. Its operating utility, Huaneng has already signed a commercial deal with Duke Energy, one of the biggest oil companies in the US.
Chinese policy advisers said 105 geological sites, mostly saline aquifers and empty oil shafts, had been identified for possible carbon sequestration.
China is also taking the lead in coal gasification technology, known as Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology.
GreenGen, an IGCC project now under construction in Shandong, is moving ahead, while a similar US project FutureGen is floundering.
China's National Development and Reform Commission is considering four other IGCC plans.
The potential for firms from both countries to make money through such projects was noted by Mark Norbon, the chairman of General Electric
China whose company has sold more than 40 patents to China in the field of coal gasification technology.
But even before details of the China Greentech Initiative were announced, accusations of protectionism threatened to overshadow its vision of collaboration.
Mark Norbonwarned unfair trade practices could prevent progress. "The two governments have to get rid of barriers blocking co-operation. On the Chinese side there have been moves towards protectionism."
Such accusations have grown louder this year as Beijing has focussed the clean energy share of its massive 4 trillion yuan stimulus package on domestic firms. European wind turbine manufacturers complain they are being frozen out of a market that is doubling every year.
Foreign complaints about China's solar industry also focus on dumping and government subsidies that give domestic firms an unfair advantage.
Shi Zhengrong, the founder of Suntech defended his firm, saying it was making solar more affordable so it could compete with dirtier forms of energy. "Western countries worry about the dramatic price reduction and talk about dumping. That shows a protectionist attitude. That's wrong. We must work together to promote and utilise each other's strengths," he said.
For their part, China has criticised proposed US legislation that could impose punitive tariffs on goods produced in nations without carbon reduction targets. This results from many senators in the US worrying China may be taking the lead in the new energy sector.
Almost all of China's solar panels are exported. But the domestic market is expected to grow when the government unveils a new policy of feed-in tariffs. "We hope for a decision by the end of the year. It will be very important for the development of the Chinese market," Shi said.
China is expected to make an announcement soon on its plans to ease the carbon intensity of its economy and its target for renewable energy.
British companies are also trying to secure a share of the business in China. The UK's Carbon Trust today launched a new £10m low-carbon technology investment joint venture to help British firms develop clean technologies in China.
At a signing ceremony in Beijing with the China Energy Conservation Investment Corporation, Peter Mandelson, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, said: "As we enter a new era of innovation driven by the rapidly expanding low-carbon economy, we must ensure that UK companies benefit and develop overseas markets."
The sentiment was shared in Shanghai. Ellen Carberry, managing director of the GreenTech initiative, said: "We have to work together in this market to create a sustainable world."

Palm oil power plants become burning issue thanks to UK's crazy 'green' policy

Newport power station plans have devastating consequences that reach far beyond south Wales

Palm kernels, used to make palm oil. Photo: Tengku Bahar/AFP/Getty
This is a story about the maddest energy scheme the world has seen since Ferdinand Marcos built a nuclear power station on a geological faultline. As I write, councillors in Newport, south Wales, are sitting down to decide whether or not to approve a new power station that burns vegetable oil. It's one of several being considered in the UK. These plans owe their existence solely to government policy.
When I say vegetable oil, I mean mostly palm and soya oil. The developer of the Newport plant, Vogen Energy, has admitted that these oils will form at least part of the mix. So has W4BRE Limited, the company hoping to receive planning permission for a similar plant at Portland in Dorset in the next few weeks. This isn't surprising, as they are the cheapest sources of vegetable oil.
They are also the most destructive. The world's soya frontier is the Brazilian Amazon, where great tracts of rainforest are being trashed to produce oil and meal for western markets. Palm oil plantations now threaten to destroy almost all the remaining rainforest in Malaysia and Indonesia – even reserves such as the famous Tanjung Puting national park in Kalimantan, which is currently being wrecked by planters. Oil palm threatens the extinction of the orang-utan, Sumatran rhino and at least one sub-species of tiger. It is driving tens of thousands of indigenous people from their homes. But, maddest of all, it produces far greater greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels.
A report for Wetlands International shows that every tonne of palm oil results in up to 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or 10 times as much as petroleum produces.
A paper published in Science suggests that when tropical forest growing on peaty soils is cleared to plant palm oil, it would take around 840 years for any carbon savings from burning this oil to catch up with the emissions caused by planting it.
After these plants were challenged by the small but very effective campaign group Biofuelwatch, the two companies started backtracking, suggesting that they might use other oils, not just palm oil and soya oil. But if they receive planning permission, there would be no means of enforcing this – no means, in other words, of preventing them from using the cheapest feedstocks to supply their power stations. And even if, out of the goodness of their hearts, they decided not to use either of these sources, it's doubtful that this would make any difference. As Carl Bek-Nielsen, vice-chairman of Malaysia's United Plantations Bhd, remarked: "Even if it is another oil that goes into biodiesel, that other oil then needs to be replaced. Either way, there's going to be a vacuum and palm oil can fill that vacuum."
The fact is that all these plants would be burning food to produce power. Even if the Newport scheme were to use rapeseed oil (which still produces more greenhouse gases than fossil fuel, though it's not nearly as bad as palm or soya), Biofuelwatch calculates that the land required to grow it could otherwise have fed 35,000 people. As the government's environment department, Defra, now says that food security is one of the major issues the UK faces, this is madness squared. Last year the World Bank calculated that biofuels were responsible for 75% of the inflation in the price of food.
But already the UK's first vegetable oil power station – Blue NG's plant in Becton, east London – has been approved. Thanks to a powerful campaign by local people and the group Food Not Fuel, Blue NG's attempt to build a similar one in Southall, west London, was thrown out last week by the council, though the Greater London Authority could reverse that. There are several more in the pipeline.
So why is it happening? For one reason: the government awards double renewable obligation certificates for power stations burning vegetable oil. In other words, you harvest twice as much taxpayers' money this way as you would for generating the same amount of electricity with a wind turbine. None of it would be happening if it weren't for this perverse incentive, which the government justifies by defining sustainability so narrowly that it excludes the greenhouse gases caused by clearing land to grow the oil. Ed Miliband's department is responsible for this. Over the next few weeks I hope to discover how the hell he justifies it.

'Sustainable' palm oil campaign banned by ASA

Advertorial claimed that controversial oil business was 'green answer' and was important to alleviating poverty

Mark Sweney, Wednesday 9 September 2009 07.06 BST
A press campaign making environmental claims about the controversial product Malaysian Palm Oil, including that it is "sustainable", has been banned as misleading by the advertising regulator.
Palm Oil, which is used in a third of all groceries, has been at the centre of an environmental debate over its role in the destruction of rainforest in areas such as south-east Asia.
The press campaign, run by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), made a number of claims, including that the product was the "green answer" and that palm oil is the "only product able to sustainably and efficiently meet a larger portion of the world's increasing demand for oil crop-based consumer goods, foodstuffs and biofuels".
MPOC also argued that the palm oil business had played an important role in the "alleviation of poverty, especially among rural populations".
The advertorial went on to claim that criticism of Malaysia's palm oil industry – including "rampant deforestation and unsound environmental practices" – amounted to "protectionist agendas" not based on scientific fact or evidence.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth, and two members of the public, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that a number of the claims made by MPOC were misleading and could not be proven.
The ASA said that a palm oil company sustainability certification scheme, through a body called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and the certification of biofuels in general, was "still the subject of debate". Therefore making a claim that palm oil could be wholly sustainable, which cannot be substantiated, was deemed to be misleading.
The ASA also said that MPOC's attack on its detractors was likely to mislead. This was because MPOC could not prove that the production of palm oil did not, in fact, lead to deforestation or environmental damage.
MPOC's assertion about helping to alleviate poverty was also misleading according to the ASA, as there was "not a consensus on the economic impact of palm oil on local communities". The ASA said that some research had shown that biofuel production causes adverse social impacts including rising food prices and has a major short-term impact on the poor.
The ASA ruled that the ad should not be shown again.
Last year the ASA banned a TV ad by the MPOC on similar grounds.

At last, an LED bulb worth talking about

Other LEDs disappoint, but the new bulb from Philips has the power to drag low-carbon spotlights out of the shadows

New energy saving LED bulbs from Philips. Photograph: Philips
I've tried everything to resist but I'm afraid this post is going to start with a cliche: I've seen the light. The shadows have receded. You get my drift. Last week incandescent lightbulbs began their long-awaited march out of existence and, at the same time, the next generation of ultra-low-power lightbulb has come a step closer to practicality.
I'm not talking about the compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) that everyone is busy replacing their energy-wasting incandescents with. Instead, I mean the bulb that is one technological step beyond CFL, the LED. Until now, LEDs have been a disappointment for everyday use but Philips has come up with a new bulb that will hopefully make the doubters shut up.
As part of my plans to green my house and, in preparation for the departure of the age of the incandescent bulb, I've been researching the best way to replace the lights in my home with low-energy alternatives. Some would say I've been quite boring and obsessive about this – but never let it be said that I'd let this research go to waste.
It's easy enough to find CFL replacements for the bayonet and screw-cap sockets in living rooms and bedrooms. The range of reliable bulbs in various shapes, sizes and brightnesses has bloomed in recent years and their prices keep getting lower. (Actually, the prices are a steal – I replaced a bunch of bulbs at my parents' home recently and managed to buy 10 good-quality CFLs for 50p).
More problematic are the lights in my kitchen and bathroom. These were a mixture of halogen spotlights with GU10 sockets and R50 reflector bulbs with screw caps. All were at least 50W each and they all had to go. As Russell Smith of Eco Parity Solutions found in the energy survey of my house a few months back, the carbon footprint of my electricity consumption was vast, and most of it was used in my lighting.
First things first, I looked for direct replacements for the R50 reflector bulbs. Megaman, a reliable source of low-energy lights, makes some but they're not easy to find even in specialist DIY shops, so not the most accessible option. Another route I considered was to get all the light sockets in the kitchen and bathroom replaced with standard GU10 sockets if I could find a reliable halogen-replacement. After some experimenting, I settled on 11W Megaman spotlights: they're slightly longer than halogen bulbs but still fit in the standard sockets. In total, I replaced 17 incandescent 50W bulbs with 11W CFL spotlights, each costing around £9.
But something still niggled. Before settling on the Megaman spotlights I had flirted with LEDs. Tempted by their even lower power consumption (sometimes just 2-3W) I even bought a few to test out. But, as anyone who's gone down this road will testify, LEDs are still expensive and, overall, unimpressive.
The bulbs I got were very dim indeed and the light was an ultra-harsh blueish-white. They weren't cheap – at around £10 each – and the only thing they had going for them was that they come on straight away. Even the Megaman CFLs I eventually settled on take around 30 seconds to get to full brightness from a cold start. But this just wasn't enough to persuade me to use them.
But how quickly things change. This month, Philips unveiled its new range of LED bulbs. I was sceptical that they'd be any better than the several I had tried already but, well, something has definitely changed in this technology. The 3W Econic spotlight is a direct replacement for the ubiquitous 35W halogen bulb and claims to have the same light output. When I tried it out, I found that Philips wasn't exaggerating. This is brighter than any other LED I've come across. Putting two in our small shower room, after a while I forgot that the bulbs were not halogens.
There are some slight issues. The light is whiter than is ideal but by no means harsh (I wouldn't, for example, have any problems using an array of these bulbs in my kitchen and bathroom but probably not bedrooms and lounges). Then there's the upfront cost, which is very steep – each Econic bulb comes in at £25. But the manufacturers claim the bulb will keep going for 15 years. Given the electricity savings over that period too, this might be an investment worth making. This new range from Philips also includes some candle-shaped bulbs and a screw-cap bulb too.
The most interesting thing about the Econic and its new stablemates is that finally here's an LED bulb worth talking about.
The technology will no doubt get better and cheaper. So who's to say that, within a few years, we're not all using LEDs to reduce the cost of lighting our homes to mere pennies? Reducing the carbon footprint of lighting to virtually nothing seems tantalisingly close.

California favors efficiency over alt energy

Reuters, Thursday September 10 2009
* California sees efficiency key to climate change goals
* Official sees need for small-scale renewable energy
* State climate change chief unsure of federal law prospect
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 9 (Reuters) - California's chief climate change official on Wednesday sees a big need for small-scale clean energy like rooftop windmills and neighborhood solar power plants, but the state will gain more from efficiency than renewable power.
California legislators are debating whether to commit the state to getting 33 percent of its electricity from renewable power like solar and wind, which is already an informal part of the most populous U.S. state's landmark plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
"We believe that most of the reductions (in emissions) coming from the electricity sector as a whole are going to come from energy efficiency and conservation rather than the introduction of renewables," Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols told the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit in San Francisco.
But big projects like wind farms and solar arrays covering broad swaths of desert could be complemented by more small scale projects than regulators and big utilities contemplate.
"You could do small centralized projects, small fuel cells in a lot of locations. You could even do some thermal projects, even small wind. There are opportunities for rooftop wind projects in certain areas," she said.
California, the world's eighth largest economy, is already a major market for roof-mounted solar panels from companies like SunPower Corp and is a test market for modular solar thermal plants from start-up eSolar.
"As utilities have discovered, there is no such thing as an easy site for a power plant," Nichols said, adding that the state needed both big and small projects.
California's climate change plan is the most ambitious in the nation in terms of raw cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, and it may retain its status as the undisputed leader, in some ways to its chagrin. Nichols said the state wanted to be ahead, not alone, and she voiced skepticism over when a federal climate bill could pass.
"I would not say the chances are very large that we will get that all done before December," Nichols said. That is the date for global talks in Copenhagen to hammer out a follow-up to the contentious Kyoto climate change treaty.
"I don't think we will go to Copenhagen empty handed," she added, though. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could make major regulatory strides that would signal the country is serious about cutting carbon dioxide pollution, she said.

UK's first 'island' micro grid goes live in Wales

From the Ecologist, part of the Guardian Environment Network, Wednesday 9 September 2009 13.36 BST
Renewable energy created on-site can now be used instead of being exported to the national grid.
The UK's first "island" micro grid system is up and running at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales.
It will allow the centre to use the power it generates itself instead of relying on national grid supplies and help them reduce their carbon footprint.
Centralised electricity systems like the national grid waste around 65% of energy through heat loss in power stations and transmission lines before reaching our homes.
Previously, any power generated by the centre's wind turbines or solar panels was exported to the national grid. Now the power will be used around the Centre, with only the excess exported to the national grid.
"Even if you've got a wind turbine on the roof, if the grid goes down you're in the dark like everyone else," said Alex Randall from CAT.
"We can be on or off grid whenever we like now. At quiet times, our island grid sends any excess to the national grid and at peak times it imports any extra required," said Randall.
• This article appeared on the Ecologist, part of the Guardian Environment Network

Madrid to turn phone boxes into electric car chargers

Madrid's old telephone boxes will be turned into electric car chargers under a plan to form a test network of recharging points across Spain.

Published: 7:00AM BST 09 Sep 2009
Phone boxes were chosen to take part in Spain's electric car revolution because they are often ideally placed close to the curbs of pavements and already have their own electricity supply, the Guardian reports.
Some 30 boxes, which have become redundant because of the proliferation of mobile phones, have been earmarked for the project.

The Spanish government will spend 10m euros (£8.7m) on kick-starting the use of electric cars over the next two years, with 1.5m euros going on recharging points. Madrid city council said that telephone boxes were a possibility, but that it was still in the process of identifying the recharging spots it planned to build.
Barcelona city council said it already had an agreement with the Endesa electricity company to install recharging points attached to "intelligent lampposts" in the street. It will have 191 recharging points installed within two years.
Companies tendering for services to town halls and government offices will earn extra points if they can show that they are using electric-powered vehicles.
"The aim is to introduce some 2,000 vehicles into cities over the next two years," Miguel Sebastián, from the industry ministry, said.
The mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, said owners of electric cars would be able to park for free in the city and would have their car tax cut by 75 per cent. He predicted that electric cars would eventually become obligatory in city centres.

Robert Evans: chemist seeking the formula for a green motor industry

As chief executive of government agency Cenex, Robert Evans is the man charged with the task of driving low-carbon motoring in the UK.

By Roland GribbenPublished: 12:01AM BST 10 Sep 2009

"We need to take the technology through the development phase and avoid struggling at the commercial stage," Evans says
The biomethane tool kit is food and drink to Robert Evans. So is the anaerobic digestion facility. In between comes the "Valley of Death". They are part and parcel of the business world inhabited by Evans, chief executive of Cenex (shorthand for a centre of excellence), an industry-based agency supported by government and charged with promoting "UK market development and competitiveness in low-carbon and fuel technologies for transport applications".
In short, producing a "green" motor industry. It is a tall order. Evans, a chemist by training, is predictably enthusiastic about being somewhere in the centre of the drive to produce the components and end products to achieve two objectives – the transformation of the motor industry and the improvement of the environment.
The role of transport in the green equation has moved up a gear with the latest climate change report implying the motorist will have to make a bigger contribution to achieving the Government's carbon reduction targets.
"We have an active engagement with over 100 companies, particularly on electric vehicles," Evans says. "For manufacturers it is a very disruptive technology. They want to know whether the customer out there will buy them and at what price. There's also uncertainty about the infrastructure needed to support the vehicles.
"There are a huge number of unknowns but we are on a shared journey of uncertainty. There's an opportunity to carve out a strategic niche market for electric city cars but there's uncertainty associated with the investment at a time when industry is struggling and needs to be investing in research and development for future projects."
Evans remains optimistic that the industry can achieve the transformation needed to keep pace with the changes in the market place and be internationally competitive. Manufacturing may be in foreign hands but Evans is encouraged by a strong engineering and design community that has demonstrated its ability to adapt.
Historically, Britain has ranked high in the innovation and development stages of products and technologies but has failed in the market place – hence the "Valley of Death".
"The challenge we have in the UK is to take the technology through the development phase and avoid struggling at the commercial stage." Evans says. "We need to bridge the 'Valley of Death'. We need to put in place the right kind of support structure to aid industry to develop and get the products to market."
He expands: "We can revitalise the motor industry by recognising the trends and supporting those companies wanting to position themselves in the market. We can also make the UK industry a world leader in low-carbon vehicle technology with an active supply chain. Certainly there is tremendous scope for making the UK a springboard for supplying the European market."
Another tall order. A mixture of financial pump priming and support as well as lobbying are the main mechanisms used by Evans and his team to fulfil the Cenex remit.
Evans, Portsmouth-born and Redcar-raised, with a career steeped in the environment and fuel cells, enthuses: "It's quite exciting to be helping to drive policy, push innovation and move industry forward and seeing the players innovate."
Eighteen years with Johnson Matthey, one of the business backers behind Cenex, has given Evans a solid "green" grounding. His middle management role involved him in market research and development with the emphasis on transport, including low-carbon vehicles and vehicle emissions. His employers used him as an "ambassador'' working with government and local authorities which meant he was ideally equipped for the Cenex assignment when industrial innovation moved higher up the Government agenda.
Cenex started life in 2005 with £6.5m of government funding, initially running programmes for what is now the Department for Business but its coverage has extended to other parts of Whitehall and the regional development agencies. Enter the biomethane tool kit, information provided to councils about what is needed to produce renewable transport fuel from the anaerobic digestion of organic waste or energy crops.
Support is currently being provided for five main programmes, including demonstration projects for low-carbon vehicles, grants covering the infrastructure needed for electric vehicles and the expansion of natural gas filling stations. Cenex is involved in missionary work to try introduce electric vehicle van fleets in businesses such as Royal Mail and Marks & Spencer.
"We are removing the cost barrier for them and making it easier for them to buy an electric or low-carbon van. The only barrier is the acceptance of new technology into their operations. We are the spanner to unlock the potential for public procurement so it pulls through. We're looking at evolutionary and revolutionary technologies. We're seeing a lot of investment in fuel cells while battery electric vehicles benefit from the improvements resulting from better mobile phone technology due to lithium batteries. This has brought electric vehicles back into the picture."
There is much more in the picture (Cenex has a role in the Government's industrial carbon strategy), as well as uncertainty about what can and will emerge from the dark room. Cenex is one of those agencies beloved of governments to provide a catalytic dimension to issues or policies, created with high hopes of achieving or nudging change and frequently failing to deliver. Evans is naturally conscious of the expectations and the road blocks, but he is tackling the challenge with an almost boyish enthusiasm: "Both government officials and industry are very much adopting a proactive can do attitude. There's consensus about what needs to be done."
He feel he has adapted to the cultural change between private and public sector. "It's my comfort zone (as a Newcastle United supporter he needs one). Industry makes life very simple. It has a simple metric, which is money, and money simplifies complicated positions. In the public sector it's much more holistic thinking. It involves looking around a problem from every perspective, thinking about the large number of stakeholders."
But the inevitable frustrations exist. "There's never enough time to keep up with the pace of developments. There are difficulties in launching new products in the market but it's hugely rewarding."
Robert Evans' CV
Born 1965
Status Married, two daughters
Education MSc Imperial College London, MA Leeds University, BSc (Hons) King's College London
Work 1987-2005 Johnson Matthey (1987-89 market research executive, 1989-96 senior market analyst, 1996-98 fuel cells market development manager, 1988-2003 marketing manager, 2003-05 public and government affairs director), 2005- chief executive Cenex
Play Loves food, cricket, Newcastle United and studies Greek society as a nice antidote to work

CFTC Pitches Oversight of Carbon Markets

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. commodities regulator Wednesday made a strong pitch to Congress for his agency to control the nascent greenhouse gas credits markets.

It's the latest and boldest move in the jurisdictional battle for oversight of what many experts say could be worth several trillion dollars. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is seeking to control both the futures and spot, or cash, markets, an area traditionally overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Fearing excessive speculation, market manipulation and the impact of Wall Street financial trading on greenhouse gas credits, lawmakers are cautiously drafting legislation that will determine how greenhouse gas emissions will be regulated under a landmark bill that would cap emissions and create a trading market. After the recent collapse of the financial system and historic volatility in the energy markets, Congress is particularly wary of oversight of a commodity expected to affect nearly every sector of the economy.
"I think it's important ... that we have regulatory oversight of these important carbon allowance markets," CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler said on the sidelines of a Senate agriculture hearing on the issue. "We bring the best expertise and experience."
Many legislators in Congress have expressed particular concern about the CFTC regulating carbon markets, saying the agency has been far too lax in overseeing energy markets, allowing volatility that hammered many industries already suffering from a weakening economy.
Earlier this year, the CFTC said it wanted to regulate the carbon spot contract listed at the Chicago Climate Exchange because of the role it may play in helping to set market prices. The carbon spot contract is the second contract CFTC may regulate as part of its new authority under the 2008 farm bill that expanded its oversight beyond traditional futures markets.
Congress has also given both FERC and the Federal Trade Commission new powers in recent years to expand their watchdog powers of energy markets, putting pressure on the CFTC and sparking turf battles. The CFTC in turn beefed up its oversight of regulated and OTC markets, including proposing tough new position limits and reporting requirements.
But Mr. Gensler may be raising more fears than assuring lawmakers.
Testifying before the committee, Mr. Gensler said the new bill should allow some limited off-exchange, over-the-counter trading in proposed carbon markets, though most trading should be on exchange. Tailored financial products that covered 10-year to 20-year hedging contracts would be necessary for firms to build new power plants and other major energy infrastructure, the CFTC chairman said. While many major financial houses have espoused the same argument, some market officials have said that such OTC products weren't necessary.
In contrast, many legislators have called for a raft of measures that would disallow financial houses trading in the carbon trading, prohibit OTC trading, or implement price collars on greenhouse gas contracts.
In an effort to hedge lawmaker fears, Mr. Gensler said OTC trading would have to be limited, saying exempting too much trading from exchanges could create a new loophole traders could manipulate to their favor at the expense of price volatility and market stability.
Such an OTC market would be subject to strict capital requirements, transparency and aggregated position reporting, he said.
Write to Ian Talley at

Labour's great green whimper

The How to Solve Climate Change handbook seems to be empty except for "increase taxes" scrawled on every page

Richard George, Wednesday 9 September 2009 16.30 BST
If the total collapse of the world's economy has accomplished anything, I'd like to pretend it's undermined the all-too-common misinterpretation of Adam Smith, which dictates that the market always knows best. Yet government strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions still presume we can spend our way towards carbon neutrality. Increase the cost of polluting behaviour enough and we'll change our behaviour, emissions will tumble and climate change will recede until it's just a bogey man climatologists once used to frighten their children.
But somewhere along the way politicians realise that they want to get re-elected. Instead of making cheap flights so expensive that we stop taking them, the pragmatists in power have decided to raise taxes slightly, hoping that we don't really notice the difference. But someone always notices (the press release tends to give it away) and the Daily Mail's message boards collapse under the weight of the home counties finding new and inventive spellings of "stealth tax".
If you want people to accept something then the last thing you do is associate it with taxation. However, fear of becoming unpopular has led to politicians doing just that. Instead of telling people what they don't want to hear – that their lifestyle is built on unsustainable foundations and that big changes will have to be made – ministers would rather pretend that the only difference between stopping climate change and business as usual is turning our televisions off standby and paying a few extra pounds for a flight to Rome.
But the public is not as stupid as the politicians think. They've noticed the disconnect between talk of global ecological disaster and a slight increase in taxes. It's worrying that the How to Solve Climate Change handbook seems to be empty, except for the phrase "increase taxes" scrawled on every page in the chancellor's handwriting. Meanwhile the government is doing everything it can to keep us polluting, encouraging airports all over the UK to grow as fast as they can pour the concrete and allowing adverts pushing unnecessary flights to grow alongside every high street.
You can't discourage flying with one hand and promote it with the other without being rightly labelled a hypocrite. How is the public, up to their eyeballs in loft insulation and recycling boxes, to react to reductions from every other sector because the aviation industry wants extra runways at Heathrow and Stansted? How can you take this government's claims to be serious about tackling climate change when you can't leave your house without a billboard inducing you to splash out on a plane ticket? Even Ed Miliband – the person who is supposed to be sorting this mess out – doesn't see anything wrong with supporting taxes on air travel while declaring that a bigger airport in his constituency would be great for the economy.
If something is wrong, then we should do everything we can to stop it. If ministers believe in climate change, they need to stop relying on taxes and start taking action. If flying is bad for the environment (and at 13% of our climate impact, I think it's safe to say that it is) then we need to be flying less and closing down some of our runways, not being charged a little bit more to make up for all the flying we're doing.
When every square foot of public space is plastered with adverts for cheap flights and communities are being bulldozed to make way for new runways, whacking a tenner on a return trip to Europe isn't strong leadership. Is that really how Labour wants its climate change strategy to be remembered: not for a bang, but a whimper?

Steelmakers hold millions of EU pollution permits

• Steel industry main beneficiary of European emissions trading• Three Mittal plants hold 15% of surplus permits, study reveals
Terry Macalister, Wednesday 9 September 2009 18.30 BST
Steelmakers such as ArcelorMittal have become huge beneficiaries of the European Union's emissions trading scheme, making tens of millions of pounds out of free carbon permits, research shows.
Just three plants in Belgium, Spain and Romania, all controlled by Lakshmi Mittal, Britain's richest man, are sitting on 15% of the surplus permits handed out by the EU, according to official figures obtained by the Sandbag environmental campaign group.
"The scale of the benefits enjoyed by the steel industry make it look like the ETS is being used as a hidden subsidy to the sector," said Bryony Worthington, the founder of Sandbag.
The price of carbon has plunged over the last 12 months, partly because the slowdown has reduced output and emissions, but also because the EU handed out too many free permits to industry.
The ETS allocates certain companies allowances for the carbon they emit, and is supposed to force them to buy additional permits to pollute if they do not cut their emissions. Most of the heaviest polluters and users of carbon permits are power companies such as Drax, which runs the coal-fired facility in north Yorkshire of the same name, and Elektrownia Belchatow of Poland.
But Worthington said the EU statistics showed steel plants such as Germany's Integriertes Huttenwerk Duisburg was sitting on 10.8m permits, Glocke Salzgitter 5.1m and Belgium's ArcelorMittal Gent 4.3m. She feared this demonstrated steel companies were masters of lobbying the EU to ensure they benefited at a time when permits can be traded at €15 (per tonne).
ArcelorMittal admitted that it remained in dialogue with policymakers about the future shape of the trading scheme on the basis that it could raise the cost of production in Europe and therefore represent a "threat" to outside competitors.
The steel group denied it was exploiting the ETS and was not prepared to confirm or deny that it was holding any particular number of surplus permits.

Flight of fancy shot down

Michael White
The Guardian, Thursday 10 September 2009

In the Human Rights Act and its freedom of information legislation New Labour has demonstrated a masochistic genius for creating weapons with which it can regularly be beaten. Next month the new supreme court looks set to become another one. Meanwhile, the thoroughly independent committee on climate change, set up only last year, today had ministers running for cover with a call for higher taxes on air passengers.
Ahead of December's pivotal climate change conference in Copenhagen, the logic offered by the high-powered committee, chaired by the ubiquitous Lord (Adair) Turner, was impeccable. The need to stabilise and reverse greenhouse gas emissions gets more urgent by the day and aviation is a fast-growing contributor to the problem.
Therefore, the summiteers should reach an international agreement in Denmark. But, as they look like ducking the challenge, it makes sense to pile on the pressure now. Richer people in rich countries do most of the flying and poor people in poor countries pick up the bill in environmental degradation. So the former should change their own habits – prodded via the price mechanism – with the proceeds being given to the world's poor to help repair the damage.
But ministers have to juggle too many policy balls to be able to say "Gosh, yes, you're right". Guardian readers and cabinet members (shadow cabinet too) may not hesitate to sign up to the 10:10 campaign to reduce their personal carbon footprint next year. But they also know that the wider electorate seems to want climate change tackled, but not at the cost of any great personal sacrifice.
So Lord Adonis, Gordon Brown's cerebral transport secretary, took time out from a high-speed rail conference (part of the green agenda) to assure voters that the government has no plans to raise aviation taxes further. Aware of the irony, he defended Brown's endorsement of a third Heathrow runway – which the Turner committee's chief executive, David Kennedy, hinted might be condemned in its next report.
Across at the Energy and Climate Change Department, Ed Miliband's officials are keen to stress how much Britain is doing. Emissions from domestic flights are being capped at 2005 levels by 2050, part of Labour's commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The air passenger duty is already edging up (London to Sydney from £55 to £85 next year) and will do so again when aviation is included in the EU's emissions trading scheme in 2012.
Everyone knows it is not enough, but a want of political courage combines with a prudent reluctance to force the pace. Today the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank suggested going a lot further than 10:10 by giving each of us carbon caps which we could trade, poorer people who don't travel much pocketing cash from globe-trotting executives. That sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare, like wartime ration books without the threat of Hitler to make people behave.

Areva's High-Voltage Power Play

World-class assets in sectors of strategic importance for the French state don't often come on the market. So the sale of the transmission-and-distribution unit of indebted, state-owned nuclear-energy group Areva is generating plenty of foreign interest.
Japan's Toshiba is considering offering around €4 billion ($5.8 billion). Siemens has put up its hand, though as one of Europe's three big players in the segment, it faces antitrust hurdles. General Electric and other Asian companies may bid too.

None should get its hopes up. T&D's strong position in Europe and Asia, where it has invested heavily in India, makes it a juicy target. But energy is a key strategic sector in France, where creating national champions is central to industrial policy. And Alstom and Schneider, two of France's biggest industrial groups, are preparing a joint bid. Assuming it is coherent and fully priced, foreign buyers may not get much of a look-in.
Any bidder will certainly have to pay more for T&D than the €930 million Areva did in 2003. Alstom sold the business under duress to avoid financial collapse for just four times operating profit. Analysts reckon the enterprise value today, after sales have risen 40% and operating margins improved, is worth roughly six times operating profit, the multiple on which Alstom shares are trading, or roughly €4 billion.
Alstom and Schneider have a good case. Each wants different parts of the business: high-voltage transmission for Alstom; medium-voltage distribution for Schneider, making it the world leader. Alstom knows the business well, which reduces integration risk and offsets the lack of synergies. The deal would help it play catch-up with GE and Siemens -- and could be a stepping stone towards its long-term ambition to create a new French champion by merging its power business with Areva's. By bidding together, Alstom and Schneider avoid endangering their credit ratings. Critically, they foresee no job losses in France.
If that wasn't enough to lower foreign bidders' hopes, AXA Private Equity, a unit of France's biggest insurer, is also mulling an offer. So Paris may have a fallback option should Alstom and Schneider not come up trumps.
Write to Matthew Curtin at

Iberdrola to Boost U.S. Wind-Energy Investment

Iberdrola SA, the Spanish renewable-energy company, said it will spend $2 billion it raised through a bond issue Tuesday to keep growing in the U.S.
The announcement came after Iberdrola met criticism from Republican lawmakers in Congress and conservative commentators over the amount of U.S. government money it is getting under a new federal subsidy program for renewable energy.
When the Energy Department handed out $502 million in cash grants last week, Iberdrola received a majority of the funds -- $294 million -- for five wind-power projects in Oregon, Texas, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. The money was part of the $787 billion federal stimulus bill enacted earlier this year.
"American capital, supported by the government's plans, is being invested in America and creating wealth and jobs in the country, thanks to Iberdrola," Iberdrola's chairman, Ignacio Sanchez Galan, said in a video posted on the company's Web site.
The company already is the second-largest wind-farm operator in the U.S., behind Florida-based FPL Group Inc.'s NextEra Energy; the U.S. is the world's largest market for wind power.
Iberdrola has said it is bullish on the U.S. because the nation has better wind resources than other countries and more government support for renewable energy. According to recent securities filings, the U.S. accounts for 31% of the company's installed wind power, but 42% of its pipeline of future wind farms.
According to a filing with the Spanish stock-market regulatory agency, Iberdrola sold two tranches of bonds this week: a five-year note paying 3.8% interest and a 10-year note paying 5% interest.
Write to Keith Johnson at and Russell Gold at

Electric cars: Tesla ready to go Deutsch

It's been a rocky year for the nascent American electric car maker Tesla, but the company - headed by Praetorian polymath Elon Musk - plans to extend its reach in Europe by opening a new sales and service centre in Munich later this week. Probably helps that Daimler, the German maker of Mercedes, holds a significant stake in Tesla - but the move also follows on from the firm's London store (it's in Knightsbridge, just a champagne cork's pop away from Harrod's) and the scheduled opening of another spot in Monaco. Two questions: has anyone been to the London location? And while these exclusive locations are perfect for Tesla's sporty Roadster models, will they help push the slightly-lower-down-the-scale Model S?

Red letter day as Royal Mail joins 10:10 climate change campaign

• Biggest organisation so far to back emissions effort• Customers and employees encouraged to join in
John Crace, Wednesday 9 September 2009 19.05 BST
The Royal Mail has become the latest major business to sign up to 10:10, the national climate change campaign to reduce carbon emissions in the UK by 10% in 2010. With 176,000 employees, it is the largest organisation to commit to 10:10 so far.
Royal Mail will not only seek to reduce its CO2 emissions in 2010 but will encourage its staff and business customers to do the same. The company says it has already reduced its operational emissions by more than 5% over the past three to four years.
In the next 12 months Royal Mail intends to: roll out more double-decker delivery trucks, which can carry more items per vehicle; improve route planning to reduce the total distance travelled; encourage its staff to reduce their emissions at home as well as at work; and offer cost savings to business customers that commit to only sending mail using sustainable paper and fully recyclable packaging.
"Royal Mail believes 10:10 is a great initiative and one that we're proud to be part of," said chief executive, Adam Crozier. "We know we can do much more for the future, both by driving down Royal Mail's own carbon usage throughout the country and by making it easy for companies who send a lot of mail to use the most environmentally friendly option."
Dr Martin Blake, head of sustainability for Royal Mail said the company planned to reduce its emissions by 50% by 2015.He said: "Our process is avoid, reduce, replace and offset. So first we aim to avoid emitting carbon, for example by eliminating unnecessary journeys. Reduction will see us trying to cut the amount of fossil fuel we use. Replacement will see the fuel we use replaced with low or zero carbon equivalents. And finally, we'll offset."
Franny Armstrong, who founded 10:10 and directed the eco-documentary The Age of Stupid, welcomed the Royal Mail's initiative. "We're thrilled to have an iconic organisation like the Royal Mail sign up to 10:10," she said. "With such a huge number of staff, sites and vehicles, the company has the capacity to make significant emissions cuts as well as getting the 10:10 message out."
The campaign, which hopes to build a grassroots movement for tougher action on climate change, is backed by the Guardian. In the week since launch it has attracted 14,000 individuals, 550 companies, 150 schools and 250 other organisations such as hospitals and councils.
Gordon Brown and the entire cabinet and Tory front bench have personally signed up, as have companies such as the online supermarket Ocado, software firm Oracle and city law firm Slaughter and May, as well as celebrities including Delia Smith, Ian McEwan, and Colin Firth. Companies signing up to the campaign commit to reducing their emissions by a minimum of 3% but to attempt deeper cuts. Four major power companies have agreed to provide customers with information on whether they are hitting their 10:10 target.
In a letter to the Guardian tomorrow the NHS – Europe's largest employer and largest public sector emitter of CO2 – is urged to sign up to 10:10 by 10 NHS trusts that have already joined. They argue that cost savings from energy efficiency will be crucial as pressure rises on budgets and that staff morale could be boosted. Also today, a report concludes that the NHS will have to play a leading role in the response to climate change if it is to provide the best quality healthcare in the future.
David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS, said: "The NHS is determined to provide the best healthcare in a sustainable way which reduces our carbon footprint."
Mail shots
• The Royal Mail handles 75,000,000 items of post every day
• Collects from 113,000 different points
• Delivers to 28,000,000 addresses
• Has 33,000 vehicles using 135,000,000 litres of diesel a year
• Has an annual road mileage equivalent to a return trip to Jupiter
• Has 12,000 retail outlets
• Has annual carbon dioxide emissions of just under 1m tonnes a year, about 0.15% of all UK emissions
• Has an annual electricity consumption that would power 112,000 homes
• Produces annual landfill waste equivalent to over 2,200 buses
• Has an annual water consumption equivalent to 28 litres for every person in the UK

Fear is not the best motivator

It's easy enough to scare people about climate change. But there are other ways to capture imaginations and create momentum

Mark Dowd, Wednesday 9 September 2009 15.45 BST
The chances are, if you are reading this, that you might also have seen either The Age of Stupid or An Inconvenient Truth. To those who fight to get climate change to the top of the agenda, these two movies are essential campaigning tools. Now I don't dispute their power and Messrs Gore and Postlethwaite are to be credited for sticking their heads above the parapet, but I have a problem with them: they left me feeling numb and overwhelmed. Gore stacks up the evidence of the momentum towards dangerous tipping points so effectively that by the time he gets on to "solutions" very near the end of his hundred minute presentation, you feel you are about to be demolished by a juggernaut.
I had a similar reaction when I first saw The Age of Stupid. At the end of a packed screening earlier in the year, one of my Operation Noah colleagues stood up and bluntly asked the audience: "So having seen that, who wants to get involved in campaigning?" There was a chilled and muted response. It may be me, but a very large amount of the film left me thinking that all the images of flooding, drought and destruction which Postlethwaite uncovers in his film archives are inevitable. From his futuristic vantage point of 2055, he shows a world that, in a mere 40 to 50 years, has gone to the dogs. And in a world where denial is still very much a factor, it's amazing how quickly people switch from denying the scientific evidence for human-induced global warming, to embracing the view that it's all too late and we're all doomed. Of course, that "flip" still allows you to go on behaving as before. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."
Which raises all sorts of questions that lobbyists and campaigners have been grappling with for years now on all this: what is the best way to engage the human imagination on the issue of our time? Guilt and fear are very limited in their appeal and, more often than not, only induce a greater desire to turn away and carry on as before. What's encouraging is to come across so many schoolchildren who are getting more and more familiar with the notion of stewardship. It's a term that has both appeal to religious and secular mindsets: namely that because of our lofty status in terms of biological and intellectual complexity compared to other species, this carries with it a responsibility to cherish our surroundings. Man's intelligence, as we have seen from history, can be put to a variety of creative and destructive uses: compare lunar landings and the discovery of penicillin with war and genocide. Ahead of December's UN climate summit in Copenhagen, we are now facing an epic collective decision as a species: business as usual and sleepwalking towards all sorts of potential horrors, or reverting back an understanding that sees ourselves not as usurpers of nature as a commodity, but as protective guardians of a wondrous world that is threatened – uniquely, by its own most intelligent life form. Fossil fuels which took millions and million of years to be formed by slow natural processes are being released into the biosphere at a dizzying rate with destabilising consequences which are there for all to see.
I believe virtue and example are contagious. Look at what happened recently with the launch of the 10:10 campaign, which the Guardian is backing. No sooner had Ed Miliband signed up to cut his own carbon emissions by 10%, than we were being told the whole Tory front bench were getting ready to endorse the pledge. Within 24 hours, the entire cabinet had also jumped on board and Liberal Democrats announced they were looking at moves to make this a resolution which would bind the whole party. Cynical politicking? Maybe in part, but this is all about momentum and taking the notion of stewardship beyond the perceived domain of the elite middle classes into society as a whole.
We are gnawing away at the very womb that sustains us. Reversing that trend needs as big an army of stewards as we can possibly muster.
Mark Dowd is campaign strategist for Operation Noah

Air travel may have to be rationed in the future says Government climate change advisers

The era of cheap air travel cannot continue, according to Government advisers, who have called for a global cap on aviation emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change.

By Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentPublished: 7:00AM BST 09 Sep 2009

Air travel is expected to at least double by the middle of the century as new airlines spring up in developing countries like China and rich countries like Britain expand airports such as Heathrow.
However the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) fears unlimited growth of air travel will cause greenhouse gas emissions to increase and therefore cause global warming.
In a letter to the Secretaries of State for Climate Change and Transport, the committee calls for global aviation emissions to be capped at 2005 levels by 2050.
They said that this does not mean that the number of flights will be cut in the short term.
However, unless new technology allowing planes to fly without producing so many greenhouse gases is invented very soon, it does mean that the world cannot afford to take more flights than currently are taken.
David Kennedy, Chief Executive of the CCC, said the era of each generation being able to fly more than the last was over and flights may get more expensive as a way of rationing.
"You may want to go on holiday more that you do now. But you may not be able to do that in a carbon-constrained world," he said.
The CCC is calling for the Government to push for a global cap on aviation emissions as part of any deal climate change deal to be decided by the UN in Copenhagen at the end of the year.
All aviation emissions should be capped, but there could be a period where flights in and out of rich countries would be targeted, while those between developing countries were exempt, the letter suggested.
Any deal to reduce emissions from flying should be "ambitious", and aim for no less than the EU's current plans which require a 5 per cent reduction in emissions from 2013 to 2020.
Mr Kennedy insisted such measures would not force people to fly less than they currently do.
However he said the air travel "may well be rationed" in the future to stop the growth of emissions.
"We can do a lot with bio-fuels in the future but there is a big question about food security and how much land would be needed. So we certainly have to think seriously about constraining demand," he said.
Mr Kennedy said the committee favoured using a "cap and trade scheme" as a system of rationing. This is already due to come in in the EU from 2012. It forces airlines to buy "emissions permits" for producing pollution. As the number of permits is reduced in order to bring down emissions the price will go up and that cost will ultimately be passed onto customers.
"We have to think seriously about constraining demand and the way we do that is to have high fares to reflect carbon prices," he added.
In the past Lord Turner, the chairman of the CCC, said that people should be given personal flight limits.
The Committee on Climate Change was set up to advise the Government on how to meet climate change targets. At the moment the UK is committed to cutting greenhouse gases by 34 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050.
The CCC report comes as a think tank suggested that the unless the UK manages to meet tough targets on cutting greenhouse gases within the next three years, everyone in the UK will have to be rationed on the amount of energy, car use and flights they take.
The Institute for Public Policy Research suggested people have a certain amount of carbon credits that limits the amount they can spend on luxuries like air travel.
At the end of the year 90 countries will meet in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference to decide a replacement fro the Kyoto Protocol.
The UK is arguing for a "tough" deal that forces rich countries to cut emissions by between 25 to 40 per cent by 2020 as well as spending billions on helping poor countries to adapt to climate change.
However David Miliband, 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 put any chance of a deal in "real danger".
The International Air Transport Association said air travel can continue to grow without increasing emissions because of biofuels and more efficient flying.

'Contraception cheapest way to combat climate change'

Contraception is almost five times cheaper as a means of preventing climate change than conventional green technologies, according to research by the London School of Economics.

By Richard PindarPublished: 12:05PM BST 09 Sep 2009
Every £4 spent on family planning over the next four decades would reduce global CO2 emissions by more than a ton, whereas a minimum of £19 would have to be spent on low-carbon technologies to achieve the same result, the research says.
The report, Fewer Emitter, Lower Emissions, Less Cost, concludes that family planning should be seen as one of the primary methods of emissions reduction. The UN estimates that 40 per cent of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended.

If these basic family planning needs were met, 34 gigatons (billion tonnes) of CO2 would be saved – equivalent to nearly 6 times the annual emissions of the US and almost 60 times the UK’s annual total.
Roger Martin, chairman of the Optimum Population Trust at the LSE, said: “It’s always been obviously that total emissions depend on the number of emitters as well as their individual emissions – the carbon tonnage can’t shoot down as we want, while the population keeps shooting up.”
UN data suggests that meeting unmet need for family planning would reduce unintended births by 72 per cent, reducing projected world population in 2050 by half a billion to 8.64 million.
The research is published on the day that the Government’s climate change advisers, the Climate Change Committee, warned households and industry that a planned 80 per cent reduction in emissions are likely to prove insufficient.

North Sea cod 'doomed by climate change'

Cod are doomed to disappear from the North Sea because of climate change and not just as a result of over-fishing, researchers have discovered.
In the past 40 years the average temperature of the North Sea has increased by 1C with catastrophic effects on its delicate eco-systems.
Species of plankton, on which cod larvae feed, have moved away in search of cooler waters. The decline in cod stocks has led to an explosion in the populations of crabs and jellyfish, on which the adult fish feed. The shortage of predators at the top of the food chain has had a knock-on effect on flat fish, such as plaice and sole, whose offspring are eaten by crabs.
The cumulative consequences of warming for the North Sea have been spelt out in detail in the study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences journal.
Richard Kirby, a Royal Society Research Fellow at the University of Plymouth, and Grégory Beaugrand, from the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, warn that stricter quotas or a ban on fishing would not be enough to save the North Sea’s cod. They add, however, that quotas are important to protect those cod that are left for as long as possible.
The researchers studied the distribution of surface-dwelling copepod plankton on which young cod feed. Copepod numbers have declined by more than 60 per cent as the sea has warmed over the past four decades.
Dr Kirkby said: “The plankton that young cod usually eat during March, April and May prefer cold water and so they have become much less frequent as the North Sea has warmed.
“These copepods have moved north by about 1,200km (750 miles), or 30km per year, and the plankton replacing them come later in the year, which is no good for the young cod. The cod will not simply move north to follow the plankton, however, because the water there is too deep.”
Dr Kirby said: “As top predators such as cod are declining, this appears to have had a cascading effect on the whole ecosystem.
“The increase in temperature has affected the whole food chain from the plankton to fish and jellyfish, including animals that live on the sea bed such as crabs, sea urchins, and bivalves such as mussels and scallops.
“Plaice and sole also appear to be declining in abundance. This reveals how changes in fisheries may be related through indirect links in the food web.”
Dr Kirby added: “If the increase in global temperatures projected by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] continues, cod will inevitably disappear as a commercial species in the North Sea whatever the reduction in fishing. New areas such as the Barents Sea may become a habitat for cod.
“It is therefore particularly essential to limit fishing mortality to enable the survival of fish such as cod.”
A separate report by Natural England, the Government’s conservation body, suggests that three quarters of people are prepared to pay more for fish that is caught in ways that minimise damage to the environment.
Research has shown that only a quarter of 20 British fish stocks are being harvested sustainably, and that almost a third of the North Sea catch is discarded — thrown back because it is an unwanted species, under size or over the quotas set.
Fishing methods can also affect wildlife in the seas, the report said.
However, some practices in the English fishing industry are environmentally friendly, including handline fishing, which reduces the amount of fish caught by mistake, adapting gear to reduce its impact, and closing fisheries periodically.
Fish caught sustainably should command a premium price to ensure that fishermen get better returns for taking steps to limit damage to the environment, Natural England said yesterday.
It also called for an urgent overhaul of the European Common Fisheries Policy, which governs fishing in European waters and has been criticised for poor management and failure to prevent dwindling fish stocks.
The report called for the policy, which is due to be reformed by 2012, to put environmental sustainability of the seas at its heart, to hand the management of fisheries down from an EU level to regional and local areas and to ensure that the size of the EU fleet matches the available fish stocks.
Helen Phillips, Natural England’s chief executive, said: “We need a radical change of approach to avoid a permanent collapse of marine life around our shores and the end of livelihoods that, for decades, have depended on it.
“We can avoid the bleak future that England’s fishing industry currently faces but we have to accept that far-reaching changes, from policy through to purchase, are now needed.”

Don't panic! Sim City can help us save the planet

Keith Stuart, Wednesday 9 September 2009 18.30 BST

Last week, at the CEDEC game conference in Japan, the creator of the legendary giant robot manga series Mobile Suit Gundam launched an astonishing attack on gaming. "I think that videogames are evil ... [Gaming] is not a type of activity that provides any support to our daily lives, and all these consoles are just consuming electricity! Videogames are assisting the death of our planet!"
I think the venerable Yoshiyuki Tomino was partially joking – especially as the Gundam series has spawned more videogames than I can begin to remember. But does he have a point?
In a sense, becoming a gamer does add a clown shoe-sized girth to your carbon footprint; you've got the console itself, that large-screen LCD TV you bought to get the most out of the HD visuals and maybe even a home theatre sound system; that's quite a drain on the power grid.
Of course, there are modest ways to reduce your impact – switching off your console when it is not in use, turning off the TV when you're downloading large files, buying games and movies via digital distribution, and investing in a solar panel gadget to charge your DS or PSP – but this isn't really addressing Tomino's fundamental complaint that we're all sedentary power vampires destroying the planet one shoot-'em-up at a time.
But I disagree. For a start, videogames have proved a highly engaging means of communicating ecological issues to young people – much more effective than old Al Gore shouting at us in front of a presentation. Most major charities are commissioning their own educational titles – Greenpeace, for example, has a whole selection– and there are children's MMOs such as Elf Island and Emerald Island designed to impart a digestible eco-message to kids. And of course, Sim City will tell you all you need to know about the consequences of mass industrialisation, without preaching to you about "doing your bit".
More importantly, the next generation of gamers could be the one to get us out of this whole darn mess. Almost every videogame is about the individual engaging with and defeating complex systems. While real life tends to make us feel hopeless and disengaged when it comes to massive global issues, the virtual environment is a comprehensible and crucially malleable space in which consequences are immediately apparent. Games like Sim City, Spore, Civilization and Tetris are not only an intellectual training ground, they foster and endorse a view that big problems are solvable. Far from assisting the death of the planet, this attitude is probably the only thing that can save it.