Friday, 14 May 2010

BSX Approves Listing of the Ordinary Shares of GHG Energy Corporation

Hamilton, Bermuda: 6th May, 2010 – The Listing Committee of the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) announced the approval of the listing of the Ordinary Shares of GHG Energy Corporation, (GHG) (the ”Company”). The listing is effective from 28th April, 2010.
The Company was incorporated in Delaware, USA on 1st February 2010.

GHG was incorporated specifically as a Special Purpose Acquisition Vehicle to specialise in investments in low or zero carbon renewable energy technologies and related projects. Climate change is already a multi-billion dollar commercial sector and the United Nations has estimated that it will grow to $1.48 trillion by 2020. The Company intends to take advantage of this market opportunity by establishing or acquiring climate change products and services, or entering into alliances to provide such products or services, in six alternative or renewable energy investment sectors: Bio-Energy; Aquatic Energy; Energy Storage; Energy Saving; Wind Energy and Solar Energy.

Mr. Neil Cockle, Chief Executive Officer GHG, said: “I am delighted that GHG is now listed on the BSX; the Company will benefit from the international prestige and enhanced profile afforded by its BSX listing. Together with the finance raised, this will help us to make the acquisitions and partnerships that are central to the delivery of our business strategy. The management team intends to leverage these benefits in order to grow the Company’s activities over the coming months and years for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

BCB Securities Limited sponsored the listing of the Ordinary Shares of the Company.

“We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to sponsor GHG Energy Corporation and look forward to continuing our relationship with the company," stated Randy Morris of BCB Securities Limited.

The issue is being introduced for listing under the Restricted Marketing provisions of the Exchange and is for securities that are aimed at Qualified Investors, being individuals or institutions that invest either a minimum of $100,000 or otherwise meet one of the suitability tests defined by the Exchange.

“The BSX is delighted to welcome the Ordinary Shares of GHG Energy Corporation to listing”, said Mr. James S. McKirdy, Chief Compliance Officer of the BSX.

For further information on GHG, please visit or contact Suzanna Hammond or Stephanie Charteris on +44 (0)20 7630 6633 or email: or


For more information on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX), contact Bruce McMartin at 1-441-292-7212 or Information is also available at on Bloomberg at BSX .

The BSX was founded in 1971 and is the world’s leading fully electronic offshore securities market. The BSX list equities, mutual funds and bonds, as well as depository receipts. The BSX is a full member of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) and an affiliate member of IOSCO. In addition, the BSX is recognized by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) as a Designated Offshore Securities Market under Regulation S, The Financial Services Authority in the UK as a Designated Investment Exchange, The Bermuda Monetary Authority as a Recognised Investment Exchange and an Approved Stock Exchange under Australia’s Foreign Investment Funds (FIF) taxation rules.

A Bad Bet on Carbon


ON Wednesday, John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman introduced their long-awaited Senate energy bill, which includes incentives of $2 billion per year for carbon capture and sequestration, the technology that removes carbon dioxide from the smokestack at power plants and forces it into underground storage. This significant allocation would come on top of the $2.4 billion for carbon capture projects that appeared in last year’s stimulus package.
That’s a lot of money for a technology whose adoption faces three potentially insurmountable hurdles: it greatly reduces the output of power plants; pipeline capacity to move the newly captured carbon dioxide is woefully insufficient; and the volume of waste material is staggering. Lawmakers should stop perpetuating the hope that the technology can help make huge cuts in the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions.
Let’s take the first problem. Capturing carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a coal-fired electric generation plant is an energy-intensive process. Analysts estimate that capturing the carbon dioxide cuts the output of a typical plant by as much as 28 percent.
Given that the global energy sector is already straining to meet booming demand for electricity, it’s hard to believe that the United States, or any other country that relies on coal-fired generation, will agree to reduce the output of its coal-fired plants by almost a third in order to attempt carbon capture and sequestration.
Here’s the second problem. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has estimated that up to 23,000 miles of new pipeline will be needed to carry the captured carbon dioxide to the still-undesignated underground sequestration sites. That doesn’t sound like much when you consider that America’s gas pipeline system sprawls over some 2.3 million miles. But those natural gas pipelines carry a valuable, marketable, useful commodity.
By contrast, carbon dioxide is a worthless waste product, so taxpayers would likely end up shouldering most of the cost. Yes, some of that waste gas could be used for enhanced oil recovery projects; flooding depleted oil reservoirs with carbon dioxide is a proven technology that can increase production and extend the life of existing oilfields. But the process would be useful in only a limited number of oilfields — probably less than 10 percent of the waste carbon dioxide captured from coal-fired power plants could actually be injected into American oilfields.
The third, and most vexing, problem has to do with scale. In 2009, carbon dioxide emissions in the United States totaled 5.4 billion tons. Let’s assume that policymakers want to use carbon capture to get rid of half of those emissions — say, 3 billion tons per year. That works out to about 8.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per day, which would have to be collected and compressed to about 1,000 pounds per square inch (that compressed volume of carbon dioxide would be roughly equivalent to the volume of daily global oil production).
In other words, we would need to find an underground location (or locations) able to swallow a volume equal to the contents of 41 oil supertankers each day, 365 days a year.
There will also be considerable public resistance to carbon dioxide pipelines and sequestration projects — local outcry has already stalled proposed carbon capture projects in Germany and Denmark. The fact is, few landowners are eager to have pipelines built across their property. And because of the possibility of deadly leaks, few people will to want to live near a pipeline or an underground storage cavern. This leads to the obvious question: which members of the House and Senate are going to volunteer their states to be dumping grounds for all that carbon dioxide?
For some, carbon capture and sequestration will remain the Holy Grail of carbon-reduction strategies. But before Congress throws yet more money at the procedure, lawmakers need to take a closer look at the issues that hamstring nearly every new energy-related technology: cost and scale.
Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the author, most recently, of “Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future.”

How to Jumpstart Carbon Capture and Storage

By James D. Wolfensohn
Published May 13, 2010

The International Energy Agency estimates that carbon capture and storage (CCS) could contribute 19 percent of the total greenhouse gas emission reductions necessary between now and 2050.However, in order to make such a contribution, an estimated 3,400 CCS projects would need to be in place, trapping and burrowing away a volume of CO2 equivalent to twice the volume of oil and gas the world currently extracts each year. Existing technologies are insufficient to deliver on this scale.CCS is a nascent industry facing substantial hurdles. Commercial deployment of this technology involves overcoming a range of challenges, including policy and regulatory obstacles, financial and commercial barriers, technological issues and public acceptance. It will also require unprecedented cooperation between governments and private sector organizations.

The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (GCCSI), whose International Advisory Panel I chair, is an effort to address these very challenges and to ensure that the full potential of CCS is achieved. It was created to bring governments, industry and financial institutions together to galvanize global efforts to demonstrate and deploy CCS technology at an industrial scale.Central to this work is the need to invest in knowledge development and sharing, and organization analysis. The GCCSI is developing a global knowledge exchange program to coordinate the effective and timely international collection and dissemination of knowledge on CCS technology and implementation.By analyzing information from a range of sources, including distilling lessons from existing and proposed CCS demonstration projects, the GCCSI seeks to further global knowledge and expertise in this field and to serve as an impartial and trusted advisor to governments and industry in sharing this knowhow.The GCCSI’s knowledge program will be a broad reaching and dynamic service, drawing on information provided by GCCSI’s 200+ membership, as well as information elicited by region-specific teams that will continue to grow over the next year. These "local" teams will keep in contact with stakeholders in their jurisdiction and closely monitor developments in their region.Governments around the world have so far committed an estimated US$16 billion for individual industrial-scale CCS projects. These projects are already yielding valuable new experience and lessons which GCCSI hopes to leverage. The GCCSI is negotiating the sharing of information from these and future projects with governments from the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Norway and the European Economic Commission.This year, the GCCSI will provide targeted financial support for up to 10 CCS projects around the world to assist companies in targeting specific barriers to their CCS projects. In turn, the companies will help support the GCCSI’s knowledge development and sharing activities. For instance, some projects are examining industrial uses for CO2, as opposed to having the gas stored.Carbon capture and storage is not a silver bullet in the fight against climate change, but it could play an integral role in limiting emissions in the decades ahead. Given the great barriers facing the commercial deployment of CCS, however, the industry is unlikely to fulfill its potential without a concerted effort to accelerate its development. The GCCSI is committed to achieving this goal and working with its members aspires to see CCS established as one of the new engines of the green economy.James D. Wolfensohn is chairman of Wolfensohn & Company LLC, a private investment firm and an advisor to corporations and governments. He also chairs the International Advisory Panel of the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.The institute holds a members' meeting today and tomorrow in Pittsburgh that is bringing together over 200 members including governments, leading corporations, non-government bodies and research organizations to discuss new approaches to accelerating CCS. GCCSI VP Dale Seymour wrote about the importance of collaboration in the process in a recent post for

India's new fast-breeder on track, nuclear power from September next

With another critical component set to join the Rs.5,600-crore ($1.25 billion) fast-breeder reactor at Kalpakkam, some 80 km from Chennai, scientists at the 500 mw nuclear power plant said the project will be up and running, as scheduled, by September next year.
The component that will be installed this week is called a thermal baffle, a cylindrical safety vessel that is part of the crucial equipment, which helps in keeping the sodium used in the plant cool.
"The 60-tonne thermal baffle, measuring some 12-metre in diameter and more than six metres in height, is made of stainless steel and is expected to be installed inside the main vessel this week," Prabhat Kumar, project director of the power plant, told IANS.
The sodium-cooled fast reactor, designed by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), has three vessels -- a safety vessel, a main vessel and an inner vessel, all of which are critical to keep the fast-breeder reactor cool.
The baffle will go into the main vessel, also made of stainless steel, weighing some 200 tonnes, which will also hold the coolant liquid sodium, the reactor's core containing the fuel, and other components essential for nuclear power generation.
"The thermal baffle acts as a buffer wall against the radiation from the inner vessel, which holds liquid sodium at 550 degrees Celsius, and helps maintain the temperature in the main vessel at 400 degrees Celsius," said P. Chellapandi, associate director-design of IGCAR.
Officials said the fast-breeder reactor, being built by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd, or Bhavini, is one of the key projects of India's three-stage nuclear power programme. India became the sixth country to have such technology, way back in 1985.
Speaking about the overall project, officials explained that more than 55 percent of the work was over, with 425 people, out of the 525 employees sanctioned so far, already on the payrolls of Bhavini.
"Orders worth Rs.3,550 crore ($785 million) have already been placed and around Rs.2,300 crore ($510 million) has been spent on the project till date," Kumar said. "Funding has not been a problem as the government will finance 76 percent of the cost."
He said, while the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) will fund 4 percent of the project cost, the remaining is expected to be met out of borrowings. "But till date, Bhavini has not drawn any money from NPCIL, nor has it resorted to any borrowings."
India currently has 17 nuclear power reactors under operation with a capacity of 4,120 MW. This is expected to go up to 7,280 MW after the completion of six projects under implementation, including the 500-MW fast-breeder reactor at Kalpakkam.

Suspension from Kyoto carbon trading looms for Bulgaria

13 May 2010, 23:46 CET
(SOFIA) - Bulgaria will likely be suspended from carbon emissions trading as of June 30 for failing to comply with UN recommendations, Environment Minister Nona Karadzhova said Thursday.
The UN Compliance Committee of the Kyoto Protocol has taken a preliminary decision to revoke Bulgaria's accreditation to trade in carbon emissions, which is likely to be definitively confirmed on June 30, the minister said.
Bulgaria's previous government had not complied with the committee's recommendations to bring its system for recording greenhouse gas emissions up to scratch, she said, blasting the previous administration for its "criminal inaction."
The ruling will deprive Bulgaria of its right to sell an annual 40 million surplus sovereign pollution rights under Kyoto -- known as Assigned Amount Units or AAUs -- which were expected to generate up to 500 million leva (250 million euros) and which the government was counting on to battle the budget deficit.
It would also jeopardise companies' trading of surplus carbon credits -- the so-called EU Allowances (EUAs) -- which the European Commission just approved in late April.
Karadzhova expressed hopes Thursday that industries would be able to trade at least some of their surplus carbon credits by June 30, when the ban would come into force.
The government, however, would not be able to do this as parliament has yet to pass key legislation regulating carbon trade.
Karadzhova said she hoped to restore the country's accreditation as early as November.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, Bulgaria agreed to cut its CO2 emissions by 8.0 percent compared to their 1988 level and emit no more than 130 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

Go-ahead for offshore wind farm sites

By Emily Beament, Press Association
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Expansions to offshore wind farm sites around the English coast which will provide enough power for an extra 1.4 million homes were given the green light today by the Crown Estate.
Five wind farm developments, off the coasts of Suffolk, Kent, Cumbria and in Liverpool Bay were given the go-ahead to extend their area, creating an extra 1.7 gigawatts (GW) of power.
All the area extensions will be subject to a full, new planning application, environmental impact assessment and consultation before construction can begin, the Crown Estate said.
And two projects off the coast of Norfolk have been given the go-ahead to install extra capacity to harness more wind energy within their designated offshore area.
In total the extensions permitted by the Crown Estate will provide an additional 2GW of power to the grid.
It is hoped the developments will add to England's energy security and provide jobs and a stable flow of construction projects for the supply chain before the massive "Round 3" expansion of offshore wind kicks in.
Rob Hastings, the Crown Estate's director of the marine estate, said the extra 2GW of power had been driven by "developers' appetite" for offshore wind.
He said: "It is another positive step in the maturing of the offshore wind industry and will significantly support the growth of the supply chain as it adds further to the pipeline of construction projects.
"This announcement shows the Crown Estate's commitment to help develop this maturing sector with a view to driving the UK offshore wind energy industry forward and creating a long-term sustainable energy source for the UK."
RWE Npower Renewables welcomed the green light to develop another wind farm with SSE Renewables next to their Outer Gabbard Sandbank site, around 19 miles off the coast of Suffolk.
The new "Galloper wind farm" scheme, which would have a capacity of around 500MW, will double the wind power which will be generated from the area.
Paul Coffey, chief operating officer of parent company RWE Innogy, said: "The opportunity to develop a wind farm close to the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm site has a number of advantages: we know that this is an excellent site for a wind farm, there is already the necessary infrastructure in place, and if consented one can benefit from the long-term operational and maintenance activities due to the close proximity of the two wind farms."
Maria McCaffery, chief executive of industry body RenewableUK, said the announcement gave "definitive and positive" evidence of the environmental and commercial viability of existing offshore wind projects.
"The site extensions come as a direct consequence of the UK's world-beating offshore wind farms showing that, after a successful start, they have further potential for growth," she said.
In addition to the Greater Gabbard extension, Vattenfall Wind Power has been given approval to extend its Kentish Flats and Thanet projects off the coast of Kent, and Dong Wind UK has received the green light to extend Burbo Bank, near Liverpool, and Walney, Cumbria.
Centrica Renewable Energy has been permitted to install extra capacity on Race Bank and Warwick Energy can add to its Dudgeon site capacity, both off the Norfolk coast.
Responding to the announcement, Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Tony Bosworth said: "This is another significant step forward along the path to a greener, safer future.
"The UK's renewable energy potential is huge - maximising it would slash emissions, increase energy security and generate tens of thousands of jobs.
"All the major political parties agree on the need to build a low-carbon economy - urgent measures to boost green energy must be a top priority for whoever forms the next government."

Futuristic Green Float project will test limits of technology

Japanese scientists, engineers and financiers have begun work on a project that will make the construction excesses of Dubai look timid: a tower 1km (3,300ft) high and a vertical farm balanced on a floating concrete lilypad.
By the year 2025, it is claimed, all the necessary technology should be ready to start building — assuming a suitable patch of calm, equatorial ocean can be identified.
At first glance, the Green Float project seems highly improbable: artificial rafts have never been built on this scale before, much less ones capable of supporting what will be, by far, the world’s tallest building. Even the investment bank Nomura, which is the chief facilitator of the project, has not speculated on how much it will cost or who will pay for it.
Energy will be drawn from solar power, so plentiful sunshine is a must, while the structure of the island demands reliably calm waters, low wind speeds, predictable temperature and a low risk of tsunamis or typhoons.
The project is expected to lure a number of Japan’s largest technology groups and the research work has already begun at leading universities and engineering companies.
The engineering giant Shimizu envisages building the tower from super-light alloys derived from the magnesium in seawater. Once an island with a diameter of 3km is created, each new floor of the tower will be built at ground level, pushing the previous floor down into the sea. When the 1,000-metre mark is reached, the tower will be raised to its full height. The huge circular base will be part mangrove plantation, part cornfields and part livestock ranch — all built on a lattice of 7,000-tonne honeycomb pontoons.
Each floating city, suggests the blueprints, will power and feed itself, supposedly providing a carbonneutral habitat for 50,000 people.
Eventually, the idea is to string more floating units together, creating a “lilypad” flotilla of man-made islands capable of sustaining a total population of one million people.

Liberal Democrats to abstain in parliamentary vote on nuclear plants

Plans for up to ten new nuclear power stations could be blocked after the appointment of Chris Huhne, a strongly anti-nuclear Liberal Democrat, as Energy Secretary. Under the coalition agreement, Lib Dem MPs would abstain in a parliamentary vote on a national planning statement on new nuclear plants.
Mr Huhne said yesterday that he would strongly oppose any form of public subsidy for nuclear plants, which remain far more expensive than gas-fired power stations.
He said: “If [power companies] come up with a plan that genuinely involves no public subsidy and that’s the agreement of the coalition Government — and I think frankly a very credible agreement in the current fiscal circumstances — then they will put it through the normal planning process under a new national planning statement and the proposal will go forward in the normal way.
“And we are committed on the Liberal Democrat side of the coalition that we will not vote against that.

“So if there’s a majority in Parliament in favour of a particular proposal — and there are an awful lot of ‘ifs’ here — then new nuclear will go ahead.”
In 2006, Mr Huhne attacked Labour for planning new nuclear plants. In a statement still on his website, he said: “Not only does nuclear cause a great threat to the environment through the large amounts of waste produced, but it is also economically unviable.
“Since the Chernobyl disaster, no nuclear power station has been built anywhere in the world without huge amounts of government subsidy.”
Ben Caldecott, head of UK policy at Climate Change Capital, the low-carbon investment manager, said: “There is a danger new nuclear will be kicked into the long grass. The Lib Dems have been such strong opponents of nuclear that it would be amazing if it was a Lib Dem energy secretary who instigated a new-build programme.
“I suspect that Chris Huhne will do his best to put it on the back burner.”
The Nuclear Industry Association said: “We would certainly hope it wasn’t kicked into the long grass and, as yet, we have no reason to think it will be.” It added that, subject to approval, the industry was planning to open the first new reactor at the end of 2017 and then additional reactors every 18 months-to-two years after that.
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both want to abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission, which was created by Labour to speed up the planning process for new nuclear plants.
However, the nuclear industry has been encouraged by the coalition agreement to set a minimum price for permits for emitting greenhouse gases. This would make nuclear more competitive by raising the cost of generating electricity from coal and gas.
Lakis Athanasiou, an analyst at Evolution Securities, said: “The main impact on new nuclear development of a Lib Dem heading DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) is likely to be more subtle than outright opposition, with delays caused by less desire to promote new nuclear and remove obstacles.”

Countryside to sprout solar farms as firms cash in on subsidy scheme

Ben Webster, Environment Editor

Fields in Gloucestershire’s rolling countryside, immortalised by Laurie Lee in Cider With Rosie, may soon be covered by thousands of solar panels.
Despite the lack of guaranteed sunshine, the solar farms will make a guaranteed profit because of a generous subsidy funded through increases in household energy bills.
The rate of installation of solar panels will increase five-fold in Britain this year because of this feed-in tariff, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ecotricity, a renewable energy company based in Stroud, is planning dozens of solar farms and is considering sites near its headquarters.
Dale Vince, the company’s founder, admitted that trying to generate solar power under England’s frequently grey skies was an inefficient way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even in the sunniest parts of England, the farms will generate a third less electricity than farms of the same size in southern Spain.
However, Mr Vince said that the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme, which began last month, had made solar farms economically viable.
He intends to announce within weeks the location of the first 25-acre, 5-megawatt solar farm. By 2020 Ecotricity plans to be generating 500 megawatts of electricity from solar panels, enough to power more than 100,000 homes. Mr Vince told The Times: “We are planning to build grid-connected solar farms all over the country.
“We are looking on the East Coast, the South West, the South East and around here in Stroud. We don’t want to go too far north because the sunshine drops away. Halfway up the country would be the cut off, a bit north of Birmingham.”
He denied that solar farms would be a visual blight on the landscape, arguing that they would be less obtrusive than wind turbines or rows of polytunnels used to grow fruit and vegetables.
“They won’t stand more than 2 metres (6.5ft) tall so you won’t see them if you look across the landscape because they will be obscured by hedgerows. “You would see them if you were standing on a hill but the visual impact is very minor compared with wind arrays.”
However, Mr Vince said that some of his farms would have solar panels and turbines in the same fields. “Solar panels and wind turbines complement each other well because in summer the winds are lighter but there is more sunlight, with the opposite in winter.”
He said that solar panels were six times as expensive per unit of electricity generated as onshore wind turbines, which are themselves several times more costly than gas or coal plants.
Commenting on the subsidy available, Mr Vince said: “We don’t think [a feed-in tariff policy] is the best way to go but it’s here and rather than sit and sulk and say it shouldn’t be done, we are just going to get on and do it.
“The more people do it, the more efficient and cheaper the technology gets.” The farms will cost £15-20million each but Ecotricity will receive index-linked income for 25 years from the feed-in tariff, which starts at 29p per kilowatt hour. This should deliver a return of at least 8 per cent a year.
The coalition Government has pledged to keep the tariff. Indeed, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats argued while in opposition that the rates were too low.
John Marjoram, the deputy mayor of Stroud and one of Britain’s first green councillors when elected in 1986, welcomed the idea of solar farms but said that 40 per cent of the district was in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
“Of course we would encourage every sort of renewable energy because we are so far behind the rest of Europe. But we will also have to consider the visual impact,” he said.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England said that it would be better to place banks of solar panels on factory and warehouse roofs and above car parks. It said that some farms in the countryside could be acceptable, depending on the quality of the landscape.
Fields in Gloucestershire’s rolling countryside, immortalised by Laurie Lee in Cider With Rosie, may soon be covered by thousands of solar panels.
Despite the lack of guaranteed sunshine, the solar farms will make a guaranteed profit because of a generous subsidy funded through increases in household energy bills.
The rate of installation of solar panels will increase five-fold in Britain this year because of this feed-in tariff, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ecotricity, a renewable energy company based in Stroud, is planning dozens of solar farms and is considering sites near its headquarters.
Dale Vince, the company’s founder, admitted that trying to generate solar power under England’s frequently grey skies was an inefficient way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even in the sunniest parts of England, the farms will generate a third less electricity than farms of the same size in southern Spain.
However, Mr Vince said that the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme, which began last month, had made solar farms economically viable.
He intends to announce within weeks the location of the first 25-acre, 5-megawatt solar farm. By 2020 Ecotricity plans to be generating 500 megawatts of electricity from solar panels, enough to power more than 100,000 homes. Mr Vince told The Times: “We are planning to build grid-connected solar farms all over the country.
“We are looking on the East Coast, the South West, the South East and around here in Stroud. We don’t want to go too far north because the sunshine drops away. Halfway up the country would be the cut off, a bit north of Birmingham.”
He denied that solar farms would be a visual blight on the landscape, arguing that they would be less obtrusive than wind turbines or rows of polytunnels used to grow fruit and vegetables.
“They won’t stand more than 2 metres (6.5ft) tall so you won’t see them if you look across the landscape because they will be obscured by hedgerows. “You would see them if you were standing on a hill but the visual impact is very minor compared with wind arrays.”
However, Mr Vince said that some of his farms would have solar panels and turbines in the same fields. “Solar panels and wind turbines complement each other well because in summer the winds are lighter but there is more sunlight, with the opposite in winter.”
He said that solar panels were six times as expensive per unit of electricity generated as onshore wind turbines, which are themselves several times more costly than gas or coal plants.
Commenting on the subsidy available, Mr Vince said: “We don’t think [a feed-in tariff policy] is the best way to go but it’s here and rather than sit and sulk and say it shouldn’t be done, we are just going to get on and do it.
“The more people do it, the more efficient and cheaper the technology gets.” The farms will cost £15-20million each but Ecotricity will receive index-linked income for 25 years from the feed-in tariff, which starts at 29p per kilowatt hour. This should deliver a return of at least 8 per cent a year.
The coalition Government has pledged to keep the tariff. Indeed, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats argued while in opposition that the rates were too low.
John Marjoram, the deputy mayor of Stroud and one of Britain’s first green councillors when elected in 1986, welcomed the idea of solar farms but said that 40 per cent of the district was in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
“Of course we would encourage every sort of renewable energy because we are so far behind the rest of Europe. But we will also have to consider the visual impact,” he said.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England said that it would be better to place banks of solar panels on factory and warehouse roofs and above car parks. It said that some farms in the countryside could be acceptable, depending on the quality of the landscape.

10 questions for Chris Huhne, the new energy and climate change secretary

From reforms to the UK's renewable energy strategy to tackling the nuclear question, the new energy and climate change secretary faces a daunting in-tray• What the coalition means for environmental policies

James Murray for BusinessGreen, part of the Guardian Environment Network, Thursday 13 May 2010 10.20 BST
Chris Huhne has been appointed energy and climate change secretary - here are the issues he must face immediately:
1. What are you going to do about the nuclear option?
You are a member of a party that has long been staunchly opposed to nuclear energy, but now you are the energy secretary in a government that wants to move forward with plans for a new fleet of nuclear reactors.
The agreement between the Lib Dems and Conservatives insists you have " agreed a process" that allows Liberal Democrats to maintain their opposition to nuclear power while letting the government pass the National Policy Statements needed for new nuclear power plants.
It sounds OK on paper, but hardly smacks of the stable investment climate energy firms will need if they are to invest billions in nuclear. How will you reassure them that they can and should continue work on new reactors?
2. How do you plan to reform the Renewables Obligation?
It has never been perfect, but the big renewable energy developers understand and are comfortable with the current form of renewable energy subsidy. The Lib-Con coalition has agreed to effectively replace it with an extended feed-in tariff, while maintaining the current banded ROCs.
This was a Conservative idea and they said that moving towards a feed-in tariff would simplify the system, but does extending one subsidy scheme while retaining the previous regime really make things simpler?
More importantly, at what level will you set the feed-in tariff for different technologies? Too high and you are wasting bill payers money, too low and you will cripple the renewable sector. The UK is already facing an ominously tight deadline to meet its renewable target and any uncertainty for investors will only make meeting it harder. This needs to be sorted out quickly.
3. What are you going to do with councils that block wind farms?
Your predecessor, Ed Miliband, said the main reason the UK had such a poor performance on renewable energy over the past decade was because Tory councils blocked proposed wind farms. Both Miliband and your colleague Simon Hughes wanted renewable energy targets for individual councils to stop them opposing each and every renewables project. But any move to force through onshore wind farms will face fierce opposition from your new allies on the Conservative back benches.
The planning system remains the biggest barrier to new renewable energy capacity. How do you plan to address it?
While we're talking about renewables, the Lib-Con deal promises measures to encourage marine energy. What are they? This is one of the few green areas where the UK leads the world and it needs help – fast.
4. A floor price on carbon – really?
The Conservatives want a floor price on carbon and the Lib Dems have agreed. But how do you plan to impose it? The EU emissions trading scheme is a pan-European market, so how do you intend to effectively impose a floor price on carbon for British firms? Even if you can do it, how do you plan to stop them being left at a competitive disadvantage to their European counterparts? Most importantly, at what level do you set the floor price? Recent experiences have proven that anything under €20-€30 (£17-£25.50) is less than useless for many low-carbon technologies, but that is far higher than the current carbon price.
5. Can the green investment bank really make a difference?
Almost everyone agrees with some kind of low-carbon infrastructure bank in principle, but it will have to be pretty sizeable to make a substantive difference. Where will the money come from?
6. How will you sell green home loans?
Regardless of whether you call it the green deal or the pay-as-you-save scheme, the plans for a new green home loan scheme are to be welcomed. They should help overcome the upfront costs that stop many people improving the energy efficiency of their home. The only issue is whether you can sell it and get people to take out the loans. It is going to need a serious marketing strategy – any ideas?
7. What are you going to do about waste?
No one wants to talk about rubbish when they are trying to win votes, which is why the Conservative and Lib Dem manifestos only included a few sentences on waste strategy. But it is one of the most neglected areas of environmental policy and a sector where the UK could build genuine leadership. Talk of zero-waste ambitions and the promise of measures to encourage anaerobic digestion are welcome, but where is the detail?
8. What will you say when BAA come hammering on your door?
You've agreed to cancel the third runway at Heathrow, block any new runways at Gatwick and Stansted, and introduce a new per-plane levy on flights to replace the air passenger duty. In short, you've made an enemy of the aviation industry from day one. Many environmentalists would say this is no bad thing, but the industry is bound to argue that the UK needs more airport capacity. Are you going to stand up to them, or could we still get a Boris Island runway in the Thames Estuary?
9. How are you going to keep DECC relevant?
Even the government's staunchest critics would accept that the formation of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was a success. Under the leadership of Ed Miliband it enjoyed a high profile and the ear of Number 10. How do you plan to keep the Department's work near the top of the political agenda when all the focus will be on spending cuts and the health of the new coalition? The PR side of the job is going to be important, particularly with the Mexico summit coming up in November.
10. What are you going to say to Simon Hughes and Greg Clark when you bump into them in the Commons?

Coalition environment ministers: who's who

Profiles of Chris Huhne, Caroline Spelman and Philip Hammond, the ministerial team that will drive UK climate and environment policy

Allegra Stratton and David Adam, Thursday 13 May 2010 14.59 BST

From left to right: transport secretary, Philip Hammond, energy and climate secretary, Chris Huhne, and environment, food and rural affairs secretary, Caroline Spelman. Illustration: Reuters, Getty, AP
Chris Huhne: energy and climate change secretary (Liberal Democrat)
After a career as a City analyst and many posts as a financial journalist - including a period as Guardian economics leader writer - Huhne entered parliament in 2005. His sway to the left nearly secured him the top job of party leader when he ran against Nick Clegg, but most believe that was expediency and now he is in the centre.
He has had some experience in this role, having been the Lib Dems' environment spokesman. But he will now have to marry his own party's desire to reject nuclear power stations and increase to 40% the renewable energy target with the pragmatism of coalition. The Conservatives are in favour of new-build nuclear, but can the Liberal Democrat MP as energy secretary face down a Tory wish for new nuclear and also some Labour support?
Caroline Spelman: environment, food and rural affairs secretary (Conservative)
With 15 years' experience in the agriculture sector, Spelman is well-versed in the problems faced by farmers. Elected as MP for Meriden in the West Midlands in 1997, she was previously deputy director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers in Paris, and a research fellow for the Centre for European Agricultural Studies at the University of Kent.
From 1981-84 she was sugar beet commodity secretary for the National Farmers Union (NFU). With her husband, she co-owns Spelman, Cormack & Associates, a food and biotechnology business.
In opposition, she has served as shadow international development secretary and spokeswoman for environmental affairs for Theresa May. In 2004 she became shadow secretary of state for local and devolved government affairs and was later promoted to Conservative party chairman. She was appointed shadow secretary of state for communities and local government last year.
Among the issues likely to feature in her first red boxes are the reform of the common agricultural policy, lobbying from her former colleagues at the NFU to reduce the regulatory burden on farmers and the future of the UK uplands.
Philip Hammond: transport secretary (Conservative)
MP for Runnymede and Weybridge since 1997, Hammond was a member of the conservative shadow health team before becoming trade and industry spokesman. He was made shadow chief secretary to the Treasury in 2007. He has some parliamentary experience of transport and environment, sitting on the environment, transport and regions select committee from 1997-98.
He could face some tricky early decisions. While the Liberal Democrats have talked of increases to fuel duty, the Conservatives want to peg it back. And the Lib Dems are keen on replacing vehicle excise duty with some form of road-pricing in future, which would be deeply unpopular with Tory supporters.

There's no right and wrong to tackling climate change

Mike Hulme says we need to stop looking for climate change scapegoats and start engaging in honest discussion

Mike Hulme for ChinaDialogue, part of the Guardian Environment Network, Thursday 13 May 2010 16.31 BST

Climate change has come to signify far more than the physical ramifications of human disturbance to the earth's atmosphere, says Mike Hulme - it's a social phenomenon too. One of the enduring characteristics of public debates and political negotiations about climate change is that the protagonists end up arguing about different things. Political arguments masquerade as arguments about science; ethical arguments become economic ones. Legitimate differences about ideologies and values are reduced to trading blows about the 'right' numbers – the decimal points on rates of warming; the number of noughts in the cost of climate change. We are not being honest with one another. The consequence is that the quality of both science and public debate suffers.
Since it first emerged as a prominent public-policy issue in the late 1980s, anthropogenic climate change has evolved into an idea that now carries an astonishing amount of ideological freight. Yet, too often, arguments about climate change continue to treat it as an environmental problem to be solved. But climate change is not a phenomenon of this kind. It is not like mercury pollution in rivers, asbestos in buildings or even ozone-depleting gases entering the stratosphere. These relatively 'tame' problems lend themselves to relatively straightforward solutions: the Montreal Protocol, for example, which opened for signature in 1987, successfully restricted and then prohibited the use of ozone-depleting substances.
Not so with climate change. Climate change is a 'wicked' problem. There is no unambiguous formulation of what the problem is and no opportunity to learn from other, similar cases. Proposed solutions are so embedded in matrices of social, economic and political cause and effect that they are likely to spawn further unforeseeable and unwelcome side effects. It is not surprising that some have despaired and are now suggesting that we must cut through this Gordian knot and find a more direct solution through climate engineering. Pumping aerosols into the stratosphere, it is claimed, would allow us to control the planet's temperature directly, bypassing these troublesome entanglements and this social inertia.
But climate change has come to signify far more than the physical ramifications of human disturbance to the composition of the earth's atmosphere and its energy balance. Climate change has become as much a social phenomenon as it is a physical one. Arguments about the causes and consequences of climate change – and the solutions to it – have become nothing less than arguments about some of the most intractable social, ethical and political disputes of our era: the endurance of chronic poverty in a world of riches; the nature of the social contract between state and citizen; the cultural authority of scientific knowledge; and the role of technology in delivering social goods. Climate change has become a metaphor for the imagined future of human life and civilisation on earth.
The different meanings that can be attached to the idea of climate change are illustrated well by considering ways in which the issue is framed in India. For many in this country, the key concerns are how to secure financial reparations for environmental damage caused by northern nations through the proxy of climate and how to use climate change to advance the development of the 500 million people living in absolute poverty. This framing of climate change is very different from that which prevails in much western discourse and implies a very different set of international and domestic policy prescriptions. The issue is less about how to reverse a two-degree temperature change, how to save polar bears or how to avoid metaphorical tipping points than it is about how to secure hundreds of billions of dollars to invest in basic human welfare.
It is not surprising, then, that arguments about climate change are invested with powerful ideological instincts and interests. Solutions to climate change vary from market-based mechanisms and technology-driven innovation to justice-focused initiatives and low-consumption localism as a form of lifestyle, each carrying ideological commitments. It is despairingly naive to reduce such intense (and legitimate) arguments to the polarities of 'belief' or 'scepticism' about science.
Belief in what, exactly? Is it the belief that humans are contributing significantly to climate change? Yes, science can speak authoritatively on this question. Or a belief that the possible consequences of future change warrant an emergency policy programme? Scientific evidence here offers only one strand of the necessary reasoning. Or a belief that such an emergency policy programme must be secured through an international, legally binding targets-and-timetables approach, such as Kyoto? On this, science has very little to say.
On the other hand, what exactly is it that the so-called sceptics are charged with? Scepticism that environmental scientists, businesses and central government are in collusion to fabricate evidence? This is barely plausible. Or scepticism that claims about the future that are based on scientific knowledge are sometimes overstretched and underplay uncertainties? The latter is a warning that all would do well to heed.
The problem here is the tendency to reduce all these complexities into a simple litmus test of whether or not someone believes orthodox scientific claims about the causes and consequences of climate change. This is dividing the world into goodies and baddies, believers and deniers. Climate change demands of us something much more sophisticated than this.
Rather than reducing climate change to arguments about how settled – or not – the science is (predictions in environmental science are rarely, if ever, settled), we need to provide the intellectual, educational, ethical and political spaces to argue fearlessly with one another about the very things that the idea of climate change demands we take a position on. These include our attitudes to global poverty, the role of the state in behavioural change, the tension between acting on knowledge or on uncertainty, the meaning of human security and the value of technological innovation. Where we stand on issues such as these will determine which sort of solutions to climate change we choose to advocate.
None of these things is new. They have been around for a long time – for at least the 50 years since novelist and physicist CP Snow declared that advancing science and technology was the only sure way to secure human welfare.
But the idea of climate change – suggesting, as it does, that our current development trajectory may not be as systemically benign as we might wish – demands that we re-examine these troubling issues. We must examine them explicitly and honestly. And we must respect the different legitimate positions people adopt about these ideological and ethical entanglements when they appear in public spaces. Indeed, we must foster such exchanges without applying the sleight of hand that turns them back into arguments about belief (or otherwise) in scientific claims.
Neither scientists nor politicians should try to discredit unorthodox views about how to respond to climate change by using the pejorative labels of 'denialist' or 'flat-earther'. Scientists must learn to respect their public audiences and to listen more closely to them. Now is no time for the elite to despair of democracy. We have only one planet, but we also have only one political system that most people would choose to live under. Politicians must learn not to hide behind science when asked to make complex judgements. Science is useful as a form of systematic critical enquiry into the functioning of the physical world, but it is not a substitute for political judgement, negotiation and compromise.
• Mike Hulme is professor of climate change at Britain's University of East Anglia. His latest book, Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity , is published by Cambridge University Press.
• This article was first published in the spring 2010 issue of the RSA Journal, a publication of the London-based Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and is used here with permission.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

New global warming bill depends on drilling compromise

By: Susan Ferrechio Chief Congressional CorrespondentMay 12, 2010
As Senate lawmakers grilled executives about the cause of a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and John Kerry, D-Mass., prepared to unveil a bill to address global warming that would allow expansion of offshore drilling, despite threats of opposition from coastal-state Democrats.
The gravity of the situation in the Gulf, where hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil continue to pour into the ocean, have greatly complicated efforts to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill this year, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., refused to guarantee the Senate will take up a bill at all before Congress adjourns.
Reid said he plans to "let this bill be seen by everyone that is interested in the subject, and I think the week that we get back after the Memorial Day recess I'll get all the chairmen together and take a look at what we need to do with energy for this year."
A draft of the proposal circulating around Capitol Hill showed Lieberman and Kerry tried to find a compromise between the Democratic opponents to new drilling in the wake of the Gulf disaster and the Republican and Democratic lawmakers who will not vote for an energy bill unless new drilling is included.
Kerry and Lieberman propose expanding offshore drilling but allowing some states the power to opt out of drilling up to 75 miles from their shores and to void any project if they stand to suffer "significant adverse impacts" from an oil spill.
Such a proposal could help win over Democrats such as Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who has threatened to filibuster an energy bill that expands offshore drilling. Nelson declined to comment on the plan Wednesday, telling the Washington Examiner that his staff is researching the proposal.
The Lieberman-Kerry proposal is designed to lure moderate Democrats, such as Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska, who have long sought expanded drilling and profit sharing, and perhaps a few moderate Republicans, such as Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine.
The global warming component of the bill calls for reducing carbon emissions 17 percent by 2020 and allowing states to sell the right to emit carbon dioxide.
"If we leave drilling out, it would be very problematic for me," Begich said. "Anyone who thinks that it's not going to be part of the next 50 years is dreaming. It's part of the mix. I think they tried to craft something that is a balanced approach."
Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said the global warming component, more than the drilling provisions, threatens the bill's passage because senators from coal-dependent states will likely refuse to back a bill that is bound to raise energy prices.
"I think many of the other Midwestern senators feel the same way, when you are as reliant on coal at the present time as we are," Nelson said. "Anything that has a trade in it or a carbon tax is bound to raise rates in a place like Nebraska, and I'm very concerned about it."

Biofuel combustion chemistry more complex than petroleum-based fuels

LIVERMORE, Calif. - Understanding the key elements of biofuel combustion is an important step toward insightful selection of next-generation alternative fuels.
And that's exactly what Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories researchers intend to do.
In a new paper on the cover of the May 10 edition of the journal Angewandte Chemie, Sandia researcher Nils Hansen and Lawrence Livermore scientist Charles Westbrook take a look at the vastly diverse and complex chemical reaction networks of biofuel combustion.
The paper, "Biofuel Combustion Chemistry: From Ethanol to Biodiesel," examines the combustion chemistry of those compounds that constitute typical biofuels, including alcohols, ethers and esters.
Biofuels such as bioethanol, biobutanol and biodiesel are of increasing interest as alternatives to petroleum-based transportation fuels. According to Hansen and Westbrook, however, little research has been done on the vastly diverse and complex chemical reaction networks of biofuel combustion.
In general, the term biofuel is associated with only a few select chemical compounds, especially ethanol (used exclusively as a gasoline replacement in spark-ignition engines) and very large methyl esters in biodiesel (used as a diesel fuel replacement in diesel engines). The biofuels are oxygenated fuels, which distinguishes them from hydrocarbons in conventional petroleum-based fuels.
While much discussion surrounding biofuels has emphasized the process to make these alternative fuels and fuel additives, Hansen and Westbrook for the first time examined the characteristic aspects of the chemical pathways in the combustion of potential biofuels.
In collaboration with an international research team representing Germany, China and the United States, Westbrook, Hansen and former Sandia post-doctoral student Tina Kasper used a unique combination of laser spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and flame chemistry modeling to explore the decomposition and oxidation mechanisms of certain biofuels and the formation of harmful or toxic emissions.
"To understand the associated combustion reactions and to identify recurring reaction patterns, it is important to study prototypical variants of potential biofuels," Westbrook said.
The work leading to the paper was funded in part by the Department of Energy's Office of Science, which supports fundamental research, including research aimed at understanding, predicting and ultimately controlling matter and energy at the electronic, atomic and molecular levels in order to provide the foundations for new energy technologies and to support DOE missions in energy, environment and national security.
Angewandte Chemie is the weekly, peer-reviewed scientific journal of the German Chemical Society.
Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory ( is a national security laboratory that develops science and engineering technology and provides innovative solutions to our nation's most important challenges. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

India's greenhouse gas emissions rise by 58%

Energy sector responsible for over half of India's rise in emissions, says a new government report

From, part of the Guardian Environment Network, Wednesday 12 May 2010 15.06 BST

India's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rose by 58 per cent between 1994 and 2007 with the energy sector contributing over half of the emissions, a new government report said.But India's emissions per unit national wealth (or gross domestic product), a measure of GHG intensity, declined by 30 per cent during this period, the report showed.India released its last emissions estimate in 1994. Minister for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh, who released the new report yesterday, said India was the first developing country to release 'updated' estimates.India's emissions are up from 1.2 billion tonnes in 1994 to 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2007.
The country now ranks fifth globally in total GHG emissions, behind the United States, China, the European Union and Russia in 2007. The emissions of the United States and China are four times that of India in 2007.
India's energy sector contributed 58 per cent of emissions followed by industry with 22 per cent and 17 per cent by agriculture.
In November 2009, ahead of the international climate summit in Copenhagen, India announced it would reduce its 'GHG emission intensity' — amount of gases released per unit growth in national wealth — by 20–25 percent between 2005 and 2020.Ramesh said India would continue to improve its methods for emission estimates, bridge data gaps and develop country-specific GHG emission estimate models.In October 2009, India announced setting up a new climate research centre and building climates satellites to improve data collection.

Helicopter sows moss on moors

By Emily Beament
Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A rare moss was scattered across remote moorlands from a helicopter yesterday in an effort to help regenerate the moors.
The project is attempting to use sphagnum moss, which is able to hold many times its own weight in water and allows new peat to develop, to restore the peatlands of the Peak District.
The scheme's organisers said sphagnum moss maintained the high level of moisture needed to allow vegetation to flourish and protect peatlands from erosion. The moss was hit by acid rain and is in danger of disappearing from the national park.
Scientists have been able to propagate the tiny plant in a laboratory. If the trial by the Moors for the Future partnership is successful, the plan is to restore more than 2,000 acres of Peak District and South Pennine moorland.
Jon Stewart, from Natural England, said: "England's moorland peatlands are a crucial buffer against climate change through their role as a carbon store, but have been damaged by centuries of inappropriate management and pollution. We have to stop the rot and ensure that peatlands are properly looked after."

Coalition government: Could blue plus yellow equal green?

The Tories and Lib Dems agree that we need a low-carbon economy and the parties have common ground on environmental initiatives, says Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth

Andy Atkins, Wednesday 12 May 2010 17.03 BST
As the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats inched towards a coalition government over the past few days, much was made of the issues they differ on.
But one of the key things they agree about is the urgent need to develop a low-carbon economy and reap the huge economic benefits this will bring the UK.
With a coalition representing more than half of those who voted and 362 of 650 parliamentary seats, there is a clear mandate and opportunity to deliver a greener, safer future.
The possible appointment of Chris Huhne as energy and climate change secretary would be an encouraging development. Huhne championed green issues in his bid to lead the Lib Dems, and their manifesto made the most ambitious and integrated environmental commitments of the main parties.
An examination of the Lib Dem and Tory election manifestos and recent policy pledges shows significant common ground on green initiatives which could form the basis of a programme to cut emissions.
Based on this, the Queen's speech should contain at least two new green laws.
A new energy bill would deliver on pledges to boost green energy development, with both parties agreeing similar 2020 targets – the Conservatives want 15% of UK energy to come from renewable sources by this date, the Lib Dems 40% of electricity.
There is agreement on the need for new rules to limit climate-changing pollution from fossil fuel power stations and develop a smart electricity grid.
Nuclear is less clear – but if new legislation guarantees the Conservative commitment not to provide public money for new nuclear plants, it will be economically very difficult to build new reactors.
And a housing and local government bill would help deliver on pledges for more energy-efficient homes. It would also ensure local councils play their part in meeting UK climate targets by establishing local carbon budgets and thus limiting the carbon emissions their area can emit.
The emergency budget must have the development of a low-carbon economy at its heart. New green jobs and industries could be created by developing the UK's vast renewable energy potential – one of Europe's best – and slashing energy waste. This would also help tackle fuel poverty and increase fuel security by reducing our reliance on overseas fossil fuels.
The budget must deliver the promised green investment bank and create a fund to further boost the creation of new green jobs.
Opposition to Heathrow expansion was another common policy between the blue and yellow parties - the plan has now been scrapped
Of course other policies are clearly needed. Friends of the Earth is calling for new laws to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation caused by the UK's dependence on imported feeds for meat and dairy.
The UK must also play a leading role in securing a strong and fair international agreement to cut global emissions – with the richest countries making the deepest cuts first.
And there must be a much stronger 2020 UK climate change target. Scientists have warned that the current policy, to curb UK emissions by 34%, is inadequate – and must be increased to at least 42% if the UK is to play its fair part in tackling climate change.
The Liberal Democrats backed this new target in the previous parliament – they must now do all they can to make it a central plank of the coalition's approach to curbing emissions.
Both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives must show that a new approach to politics will also deliver a new approach to delivering the low-carbon future we all need.
And if this government is successful in creating a greener future, it will set a powerful international example – and help kick-start real action to combat global warming and the devastation of our planet's natural resources.
• Andy Atkins is the executive director of Friends of the Earth

Coalition pledges to cut central government emissions by 10%

Commitment by new government will account for 1% of all UK emissions - equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road

James Randerson, Wednesday 12 May 2010 17.34 BST

The new Conservative-Lib Dem coalition has pledged to cut central government emissions by 10% in the next 12 months - equivalent to taking more than 200,000 cars off the road. The commitment is the most high-profile success to date for the 10:10 climate change campaign, which launched in September last year.
Emissions from central government are about 1% of total UK emissions - as much as the city of Liverpool. A 10% cut is amounts to 600,000 tonnes of CO2.
"This is the first announcement the coalition has made, and the inclusion of their 10:10 commitment bodes well for the importance they'll place on carbon reduction this term," said Eugenie Harvey, campaign director of 10:10. "We're glad to see they're walking the walk."
The campaign, which is supported by the Guardian, calls on individuals, businesses and other organisations to make similar 10% cuts and has signed up over 65,000 people, 2,610 businesses and 3,100 organisations and educational institutions.
The movement includes Royal Mail, Lovebox music festival, Tottenham Hotspur football club and the Tate Modern as well as celebrities such as Delia Smith, Colin Firth and Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox.
Within days of the launch of the campaign, the members of all three front bench teams signed up on an individual basis. So far 158 local authorities have signed up. When they made the commitment, 50 councils were Conservative held, 32 Labour, 40 Lib Dem and 36 with no overall control (the balance of some of these councils will have changed in last week's elections).
In October, the Liberal Democrats brought legislation before parliament to sign up government and public sector bodies to 10:10. The Conservatives supported the measure but it was defeated by the Labour government.
The 10:10 movement has also spawned sister groups in France, Ghana, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal and Germany.

Too much coal in this coalition, but I was expecting worse

New government's green policies are progressive, but onshore wind and nuclear could prove stumbling blocks for Lib Dem-Tory coalition• Read the full text of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition deal

Perhaps it's just as well that the environment was shoved to the bottom of the coalition agreement: by the time they got there, it seems, the Neanderthal wing of the Conservative party was too exhausted to oppose it. It's sketchy and covers only some of the issues the new government will have to deal with, but it could have been a lot worse.
Possibly the most important measure it contains is the commitment to create "a floor price for carbon, as well as efforts to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of emissions trading scheme (ETS) permits". The government can't act alone on either issue, but if it's serious about this it could help turn the ETS from a useless, nobbled programme, governed by the demands of pollutocrats, into a system that forces companies to clean up. Whether you like carbon trading or not, if we're going to have it, it's got to work.
But as if to show that they haven't really thought this through, they've decided to supplement the ETS belt with braces and suspenders: as well as creating a functioning emissions trading system, they intend to maintain feed-in tariffs and the renewables obligation system. This could be an insurance policy, in case a sensible ETS doesn't materialise. But if it does, they will end up with three separate and incompatible systems.
Sorry, make that four. Like the renewables obligation, the proposed emissions performance standard – forcing power stations to produce no more than a certain amount of carbon – is a good idea in its own right, but it would become redundant if the ETS really kicks in. Which policy do they intend to prioritise?
There's nothing in the document about the supply of fossil fuels, but judging from both parties' manifestos they'll be seeking to maximise production, even as they are trying to minimise consumption.
They say that the emissions performance standard will prevent new coal-fired power stations from being built unless they use sufficient carbon capture and storage.
But they don't tell us what the standard will be, so at the moment we don't know what proportion of their CO2 power stations will have to capture.
In either case, without a constraint on fossil fuel supply and without any mention of stopping opencast mining, it looks as if there'll be too much coal in this coalition.
None of this really distinguishes the new government from the last one. But that's the problem. You might have thought that some fresh thinking would have identified and tackled the contradictions.
Another gap is the absence of policy on onshore renewable energy. There's an intention "to increase the target for energy from renewable sources" and introduce "measures to encourage marine energy", but nothing about onshore developments.
Keep an eye on this issue: there could be some big bust-ups as the Lib Dems insist that onshore windfarms are needed to help meet the government's targets, while the shire Tories fight them tooth and nail. Expect plenty of aggro over nuclear power too, even though they have politely agreed to disagree.
The cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow and the refusal of additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted is a definite improvement.
It would have been even more cheering if the agreement had said no new airport space in the UK.
The danger is that flights are displaced from the south-east to other parts of the country. If the government is serious about this issue, why not introduce a moratorium on all new runways or runway extensions?
But the measures which might do more than any others to change environment policies aren't listed in the environment section. Who would have thought that a majority Tory government would introduce "the restoration of rights to non-violent protest"? Or, to be more accurate, that 13 years of Labour government would have made this restoration necessary?
If the coalition is serious about this, and if it repeals outrageous measures such as powers to stop peaceful protests under the Protection from Harassment Act, 2000 Terrorism Act and 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, we'll be better able to make our voices heard if politicians don't protect the environment.
We must push them to get these measures repealed as quickly as possible.
So it's better than I had expected. The agreement's environmental policies are more Lib Dem than Conservative, and more progressive than most of the other proposals in the document. Let's see how it works in practice.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Mozambique: Government Remains Committed to Biofuels

11 May 2010

Maputo — Mozambican Energy Minster Salvador Namburete declared in Maputo on Tuesday that the government remains committed to mobilising investment in biofuels.
Namburete was speaking at the opening of an international conference on bio-energy markets.
He noted the damaging economic effects of dependence on fossil fuels, and said that oil-importing countries would have had much higher rates of growth over the past decade, had it not been for the sharp increases in fuel prices.
To minimise the impact of rising fuel prices, the government had to diversify the sources of energy. "This situation demands a combined solution of using alternative, renewable sources of energy, and the resort to low cost technologies which will ensure that more people have access to energy, and will reduce dependence on oil", said Namburete.
He stressed that Mozambique has been promoting the use of renewable energy, including biofuels. Apart from providing alternative energy for industrial investments, biofuels also provided an opportunity to generate income and employment.
"Our determination to advance with these initiatives seeking to diversify the energy matrix also results from our commitment to joint efforts to ensure energy security and stability, and to react to the phenomenon of global warning", added the Minister.
Currently 26 biofuel projects are under way in Mozambique. Most are still at the stage of seed multiplication, and the first harvest is not scheduled until 2012.
Namburete stressed that Mozambique can produce biofuels competitively because of its favourable agro-ecological conditions, the availability of soil and water, its favourable geographical location, and the existence of port and storage facilities.
The conference, which brings together representatives of African countries and potential investors, is due to end on Thursday.

A Smashing Idea: Eco-Friendly Aggression

Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times
They love the sound of breaking glass: At “Glassphemy!,” a recycling installation along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, participants hurl bottles at one another. (No one gets hurt.)

For David Belt, a developer who created a stir last summer by installing do-it-yourself swimming pools made from Dumpsters in a semi-secret location in Brooklyn, the answer was once again in trash.
His latest project, called “Glassphemy!,” is billed as a psychological recycling experiment. The idea is to make recycling a more direct, visceral experience and to purge some New York aggression simultaneously. The installation, set like the previous project in a private space along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, is a 20-foot-by-30-foot clear box, with high walls made of steel and bulletproof glass. People stand on a high platform at one end of the box and a low platform on the other. Those on the higher platform take empty glass bottles and just chuck ’em into the box — aiming, perhaps, at their compatriots across the way, who are safely outside the onslaught zone. The bottles smash fantastically, artfully designed lights flash, and no one is harmed.
“Recycling’s so boring,” Mr. Belt said. “We tried to make it a little bit more exciting.”
He added, “People just want to smash things.”
At a preview party last week, Scott Cohen, a filmmaker, agreed. Mr. Cohen hurled bottles and had them thrown at him. “You don’t realize how much aggression you have until you get up there with a bottle in your hand,” he said. “It was deeply, deeply satisfying.”
For whom was he aiming? “Anybody that I could find,” he said. “There were a lot of faces up there that reminded me of people from my past, and I just kind of went for it. I think it could serve as a kind of therapy.”
With bottles donated by neighborhood bars, “Glassphemy!” will officially open on May 20 to invited guests. The shards of glass collected will be recycled onsite. To finish out the project, ReadyMade magazine will run a contest asking readers for their best recycling ideas, and Mr. Belt’s company, Macro Sea, will make the discarded glass into the winning design. A few potential reuses have already been explored: designers from Hecho, a Brooklyn company, developed a DIY glass polisher out of a cement mixer that is powered by a couple of bikes chained together; the smooth, colored shards created after hours of pedaling are pretty enough to become part of lamps that light the space. Another machine will pulverize the glass into sand for use in the beer garden that Mr. Belt plans for the site, the sort of add-on that helped make the Dumpster pools a must-know-about spot last summer.
The immediate and visible reuse also helps counter the widespread suspicion that recyclables are just thrown out anyway. Though for logistical reasons, “Glassphemy!” will not generally be open to the public — the lot where it sits is hidden from the street — people who send good recycling ideas to the Macro Sea Web site,, may earn an invitation with the address, Mr. Belt said.
Macro Sea, the company Mr. Belt formed with Jocko Weyland, an author and social connecter, and Alix Feinkind, a creative director, has a history of turning loopy ideas into cutting-edge coolness. Their Dumpster pools caught on in unexpected ways: Hollywood party planners came calling, as did TV show hosts, Mr. Belt said. Macro Sea is now working on a mobile version of the pool, which is expected to be used as part of New York City’s Summer Streets program this year. What started out as a lark in industrial Brooklyn has gone legit.
Mr. Belt, a successful developer and construction consultant and manager — his main company, DBI, has a spacious loft office in SoHo, and works on commissions all over the world — said he viewed his Macro Sea projects as a creative mission, to help turn underused objects and areas into covetable destinations. It makes things on the cheap so people can copy and improve on them. (The Dumpster pool, a concept borrowed from a musician in Georgia, cost barely $1,000.)
Mr. Belt got the idea for “Glassphemy!” when he participated in a panel about urban renewal in Philadelphia. Some other panelists were fretting over a vacant lot that was a repository for broken glass.
“So all these architects and urban planners were, like, scratching their heads, saying, ‘What can we put there that will make people stop breaking glass?’ ” Mr. Belt said.

Then Bethany Edwards, an art director in the audience, weighed in: “She said, ‘Well, I like breaking glass; let’s just make it a place where you break glass,’ ” Mr. Belt recalled. “I thought, ‘That’s a great idea.’ ”

He sketched a design and worked with a Brooklyn firm, Vamos Architects, to refine and construct it over several months. The firm connected him with Jason Krugman, a 27-year-old interactive lighting designer — “a genius kid,” Mr. Belt said — who installed lights activated by the vibration and sound of the bottles breaking. With time and services donated by friends, the installation cost about $5,000, Mr. Belt said, with most of the money going toward the bulletproof glass and paying for Mr. Krugman’s work. (Mr. Krugman proudly called his contribution “my biggest commission.”)
Danny Tinneny, the 64-year-old owner of the industrial space, gave it to Macro Sea rent-free. “To tell you the truth, when they first came here, I thought they were nuts,” he said of Mr. Belt and his partners. But the success of the Dumpster pools and Mr. Belt’s belief in his own ideas persuaded Mr. Tinneny to welcome “Glassphemy!”
“When he gets something in his head, it’s going to happen, no matter how far-fetched it sounds,” Mr. Tinneny said. “He’s the type of guy you want to hang around with.”
At the preview party a few dozen of Mr. Belt’s friends and colleagues donned safety glasses and drank beer kept on ice not in a cooler but in the shovel of a backhoe. Heavy metal blared from a boombox, and Mr. Tinneny operated the scissor lift to get people to the top of the installation, which has a twinkling view of the city beyond. The inaugural bottle was thrown at Mr. Belt by his wife, Antonia. She really seemed to enjoy it.
Taken together, aesthetically and as an experience, “Glassphemy!” is as addictive as a video game, with the added social coup of being at least potentially eco-friendly. But it is hard to tell if it will inspire the same kind of viral reaction as the Dumpster pools.
“Ideally, people will think it’s interesting, and they’ll want to do something with the broken glass,” Mr. Belt said. “If not, it’ll be fun, and we’ll just break some glass.”

Canadian timber chief bullish on softwood lumber trade

With export tax poised to disappear next month, high prices and heavy logging of cheap B.C. timber has the U.S. worried about a flood of softwood across the border

Barrie McKenna
Published on Tuesday, May. 11, 2010 6:00AM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, May. 11, 2010 1:32PM EDT
West Fraser Timber Co. (WFT-T43.081.483.56%)chief executive Hank Ketcham thinks Canada is on the brink of a new era of trade peace with the United States.
No duties, no border taxes and no litigation. Within a few years Canada would be free to sell as much softwood lumber as it wants to the United States.
“It's too soon to say, but I subscribe to that notion,” Mr. Ketcham, who runs North America’s largest lumber producer, said recently.
Mr. Ketcham must be dreaming. The U.S. lumber industry and its trade arm, the Washington-based Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, is unlikely to concede defeat any time soon. The group is a perpetual litigation machine, committed to protecting as much of the U.S. market as it can, for as long as possible.
If anything, the coalition has become more emboldened since Canada and the United States signed a six-year deal in 2006 to limit Canadian softwood exports. It has been quietly collecting a list of alleged violations by Canada, including what it says are illegal subsidies to mills in several provinces and policies in British Columbia that give away healthy tracts of timber for pennies to companies such as West Fraser under the guise of the pine beetle infestation.
Mr. Ketcham’s sunny demeanour comes as the export tax is poised to disappear in next month – at least temporarily. Under the 2006 softwood deal, the tax ratchets down as North American prices go up.
And thanks to a wave of mill closings on both sides of the border and an apparent end to the U.S. housing depression, prices have been climbing since late last year.
In May, the tax dropped to 10 per cent from 15 per cent. With prices still climbing this month, the tax will vanish altogether in June, and stay off for as long as prices remain high. Last week, the average price for 1,000 board-feet of standard lumber hit $361 (U.S.) for the period used to calculate the tax, or above the zero-tax threshold $356 per 1,000 board-feet.
Mr. Ketcham may see the removal of the tax as a sign of hope.
For the U.S. industry, it is a call to arms.
Coalition officials, who are huddling in Atlanta this week, worry that a combination of high prices, the removal of the tax and heavy logging of cheap B.C. timber will trigger a flood of Canadian softwood across the border.
And they aren’t about to stand idly by and let that happen.
The U.S. industry argues that Canadian provinces are routinely violating the softwood agreement’s anti-circumvention clause.
No. 1 on the coalition’s target list is British Columbia, Canada’s largest lumber-producing province. The U.S. industry alleges that about 40 per cent of the trees now being harvested in B.C.’s interior are being labelled “reject” timber because of a tree-destroying pine beetle infestation. So the province sell the timber for roughly 25 cents per cubic metre, compared to the normal rate of $5, providing a direct benefit to companies such as West Fraser.
“The beetle outbreak cannot obscure the government’s continuing policy to take timber pricing in the province even further away from market timber pricing, in direct violation of the terms of the U.S.-Canada accord,” coalition chairman Steve Swanson pointed out last month.
The coalition has similarly complained about proposed government loans to Miramichi Lumber Products in New Brunswick and AbitibiBowater in Quebec.
In 2008, the U.S. government fought and won a multi-million-dollar judgment from the London Court of International Arbitration related to how Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan applied their export quota.
The pattern is well established. The United States will fight anything that gives the Canadian industry a cost or volume edge in their market.
So while Canadian lumber producers are about to enjoy a break from the export tax, it would be naive to see it as a harbinger of free trade.

Education key in global green movement

By Qian Yanfeng (China Daily Shanghai Bureau)Updated: 2010-05-11 17:36
SHANGHAI - Edward Guiliano, president and CEO of New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), said education - whether through its traditional role of teaching, or its role of creating knowledge through research, or simply through its role of modeling solutions - is as important as government or business in today's global discourse on sustainability and thinking green.
Speaking at a conference titled "Think Green: Energy, Education, Environmental Initiatives" - a global forum sponsored by NYIT and Nanjing University of Posts and Communications - in Nanjing in early April, Guiliano said while governments provide the necessary policy framework, bringing together business and academic communities with government "is a tested model for innovation, change, and getting things done."
Using NYIT's practice as an example, he said schools could help to stimulate and popularize new ideas by hosting energy innovation conferences, and also serving as the starting point for ideas from the classroom and the laboratory to be applied to the factory and the marketplace.
"As early as 1978, we hosted a conference on hydrogen fuel cells, which led to further development of hybrid vehicle prototypes just now coming into use. The academy, through its traditional role of teaching, scholarship and service, is particularly well positioned and compelled both by mission and compassionate imperative to play a central role in advancing solutions and policies on these vital subjects," he said.
In the battlefront against global warming, Guiliano also believes China is the right place to be.
He noted that many famous American energy and technology companies are building offices and laboratories in China, and are transferring top employees and their families here. Further, an increasing number of Chinese engineering students who studied in the U.S. are now returning to promising, rewarding, and important careers here in China.
Many of the best ideas in green technology - solar wind farms, electric cars, clean coal processing - are also being tested, applied, and brought to the market here in China, he added.
Although China also faces mounting challenges - as the world's largest car market with 2,000 cars added to its streets a day, it has surpassed the United States as the largest producer of greenhouse gases - China has made strenuous efforts to tackle those challenges.
The Chinese government, he said, has been strongly committed to developing green technology since the launch of the 863 Program as far back as 1986. The 863 Program has made it possible to take innovative ideas in wind, solar, electric, and coal energy alternatives first developed in the U.S. and Europe and apply them in China.
"We are here because Chinese and American thinkers and movers must lead along the road to a sustainable future in this century," he said.