Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Dubai to host international energy efficiency meet

Dubai, April 13 : UAE Environment and Water Minister Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad will open an international Energy Efficiency conference 2010 at Grand Habtoor Hotel here April 14.
The one-day meet is organised by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) to educate key stakeholders on details of certification and will feature speakers from the US, Australia and Korea, among others, to give information and guidance to manufacturers and sellers. On this occasion, ESMA has announced its new energy efficient labelling and standards scheme, an important step to make the UAE an energy efficient country, Mohammed Badri, ESMA director general, said Monday. Given the overall consumption of electricity in the UAE, particularly through air-conditioning usage, the scheme will make great strides to reduce the environmental impact of electrical usage by consumers and businesses.

Cameron: "I'll make the Welsh dragon roar again"

Apr 8 2010 by David Williamson, Western Mail

TORY leader David Cameron arrived in Cardiff last night and pledged to make the Welsh dragon “breathe some fire”.
Within minutes of getting out of the election battle bus he launched a fierce attack on Labour’s plan for a rise in National Insurance.
Declaring it “just about the craziest thing you could do”, he declared: “I believe this is a jobs tax. I think this is a huge mistake.
“If you are trying to get an economy to recover the worst thing you can do is to tax every additional job.”
The Conservative leader insisted the “economy is the absolutely key issue in this election” and before a small audience of local business people in a Cardiff cash-and-carry he presented his vision for Wales’ future. As part of that vision he argued for the return of coal mining to the UK.
He said: “We still have coal that we can mine. We have coal-fired power stations we can build.
“And with carbon capture and storage we can take the carbon dioxide out of that coal and we have the North Sea where we can store it. We should be world leaders in this technology and then selling it and licensing it around the world.”
Mr Cameron said the logic behind the proposed Defence Training College in the Vale of Glamorgan was “right” but a strategic defence review must be held first.
The visit, coming just a day after the calling of the election, underscored Tory hopes of pushing the number of Welsh Conservative MPs beyond the present total of three out of 40.
Mr Cameron said: “Wales is very important to me. There has been quite a Conservative recovery in Wales over these last four years and I’m proud to have played, I hope, a small part in that.
“You saw it in the Assembly elections, you saw it in the European elections and now I want it to happen in the parliamentary elections. I think we’ve got some great candidates, we’ve got a very good machine. The dragon has awoken, as I’ve put it, and I want to make sure it’s breathing some fire.”
Mr Cameron did not directly address the unanimous vote by AMs to request a referendum on full law-making powers for the Assembly; nor did he confirm that an autumn vote could be facilitated.
He said: “If the Welsh Assembly votes for one we will have the referendum, we will name the date. We’re in slight abeyance at the moment as the election is taking place but people should be in doubt, if they want one they can have one but no-one has yet set a date for it.”
He also stated there were no plans to raise VAT.
“We’ve set our plans and they don’t involve increasing VAT,” he said. “We’ve said, ‘You know, here is the waste we’re going to find, here are the taxes that we’re not getting rid of – because we can’t get rid of all of Labour’s tax rises – but VAT isn’t part of our plans.”
But he was adamant that the national debt must be tackled, saying: “We all know from our own lives that if you have big outstanding debts the longer you put it off the worse it gets.”
Claiming Britain had to “grab this problem”, he said: “I think the danger is not doing something about the deficit. We’re borrowing 11% of our GDP this year.
“That’s about the same level as Greece. This is a problem level of borrowing and we think putting off the problem won’t help.
“So we say it’s right to make some reductions in wasteful spending in this coming year, in 2010, and we’ve set out how we’d do that.”
In a bid to present Labour as a party of tax rises, he said: “The Government’s plans involve people earning over £20,000 paying more in tax.
“Now, I don’t think people earning over £20,000 are rich. I don’t think those are the ones who should be bearing the biggest burden.”
Turning his fire on Labour by insisting the Government should not delay cuts to “waste”, Mr Cameron said: “The Government itself has identified £11bn of waste in our economy but they’ve said [they won’t] do anything about it until 2011.
“So they are wasting that money in 2010 and then putting up everyone’s taxes in 2011 to pay for it.
“But why should we have to pay higher taxes for Government waste?
“Why not cut out the waste now and stop the tax rises?”
He continued: “We think that this National Insurance rise they are proposing is an economy killer, is a recovery killer, is a jobs killer.”
Mr Cameron’s visit came at the end of a day of clashes on this subject.
More business leaders yesterday went public with their support for the Tory suggestion that the rise should be cancelled.
The new backers included Corus chief executive Kirby Adams, Northern Foods chief executive Stefan Barden, Reed Elsevier chairman Anthony Habgood and Jewson chief executive Peter Hindle.
Gordon Brown also said last night that Labour would not raise the basic rate of income tax if it won the General Election, promising to keep it at 20p in the pound. “The income tax rate has come down from 23p to 20p and we’ve kept it at 20p and that is what we will pledge to do in our manifesto,” Mr Brown told Channel 4 News.

Gazeley leases space for photovoltaic installation

12 April 2010
Solergy AG recently inked a deal with Gazeley, a part of Economic Zones WorldEconomic Zones World group headquartered in Dubai, taking on lease a 24,000 square meters of roof space of one of Gazeley’s buildings in Ontigola to build a photovoltaic (PV) installation. According to a Gazeley statement, the electricity produced by the photovoltaic roof installation would be supplied to the city’s main power grid. The PV Installation would be capable of producing 1.285kWp (Kilowatts-peak or the peak output of the device), which is approximately twice the amount of energy needed for the building, the statement added. The PV installation is expected to reduce carbon footprint by 724 tons per year. It is also expected to substantially reduce solar radiation resulting in a healthier environment inside the building. The building is leased to CEVA Logistics, one of the world’s leading supply chain management companies. This is one of the two buildings Gazeley leased out to CEVA in Ontigola in 2009. We at Gazeley take pains to develop sustainable logistics developments and include various standard eco-initiatives into our designs at no extra cost to our customers.

Researchers plan to utilize greenhouse gas CO2 with solar energy

Germany Posted on April 12th, 2010
Utilizing carbon dioxide as an energy source with the aid of sunlight is the goal being pursued in a new research project for recycling of greenhouse gases. Researchers from BASF, Energie Baden-Württemberg AG (EnBW), Heidelberg University and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are seeking to convert CO2 into a fuel for fuel cells or retrofitted internal combustion engines - a step towards implementing environmentally conscious mobility technologies and simultaneously an alternative to existing carbon dioxide storage plans. The Verbund project "Solar2fuel" belongs to the "Forum Organic Electronics" excellence cluster and is being sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with more than €1 million over two years.While public discussion has so far centered mainly on the underground storage of carbon dioxide, the "Solar2fuel" project is focusing on the direct utilization of carbon dioxide. In this project, the carbon in carbon dioxide is converted into climate neutral fuels with the aid of sunlight. "A photocatalytic process of this nature could open up new ways of generating easy-to-handle energy sources," says Prof. Dr. Michael Grunze of the Physical-Chemical Institute of Heidelberg University. The aim is to combine approaches based on nanotechnology and material research with catalytic processes.The scientists at Heidelberg University are cooperating with BASF experts headed by Dr. Jan Schoeneboom to develop an air and light stable combination of dyes and functionalized nanoscale semiconductor particles. Under these conditions, sunlight can be absorbed in the optimal range with the aid of organic dyes and supply energy for the conversion of carbon dioxide. Photocatalysis is therefore used to convert the carbon dioxide - generated for example by combustion processes in a power plant - together with water into the energy source methanol. In this way, sunlight can be used directly as a regenerative energy source in the recycling of CO2 - a process not unlike plant photosynthesis but, the researchers hope, much more efficient.The experts at EnBW are investigating the energy, emission and cost balances of the overall process - from the power plant waste gas through the actual photocatalysis up to the utilization of the products. The cost of supplying carbon dioxide from power stations is also being analyzed. "With these activities, EnBW is attempting to establish the conditions under which such processes could be economically viable," explains Prof. Dr. Wolfram Münch, Head of the Research and Innovation Department at EnBW.The technical engineering aspects of "Solar2fuel" are being implemented by KIT scientists under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Henning Bockhorn. These experts are investigating the physico-chemical and process technology aspects within the overall process. Based on an analysis of the overall system, the design of a photochemical reactor is to be developed and simulated using computer assisted methods.In the "Forum Organic Electronics" excellence cluster sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, university and non-university research institutes are cooperating with industry in pursuing future-oriented developments in the field of organic electronics. Activities relating to the "Solar2fuel" project commenced in October of last year, BASF serves as coordinator for the consortium.
About BASFBASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics and performance products to agricultural products, fine chemicals as well as oil and gas. As a reliable partner BASF creates chemistry to help its customers in virtually all industries to be more successful. With its high-value products and intelligent solutions, BASF plays an important role in finding answers to global challenges such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility. BASF posted sales of more than €50 billion in 2009 and had approximately 105,000employees as of the end of the year. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN).

Labour's plans for the environment

The Labour Party manifesto promises a greener future for Britain but what does it mean for you?

By Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentPublished: 7:47PM BST 12 Apr 2010
* ENERGY: Achieving around 40 per cent low-carbon electricity by 2020 and creating 400,000 new green jobs by 2015.
This was announced months ago and sounds a bit more impressive than it is. Electricity for our homes takes up just 20 per cent of energy use with the rest from heating, transport and industry. Also note the use of the word 'low carbon' rather than green. This means nuclear will take up 10 per cent of the target and "clean" coal-fired power stations that store carbon dioxide underground will be included. Planning reforms and money for research and development have already given these sectors a boost. Overall the amount of energy coming from renewables will be just 15 per cent – in line with EU targets – and already there are some doubts about whether the UK can achieve this. However, the Tories have not yet committed to the EU targets so at least Labour are giving a firm signal to the energy market and an ambitious goal for electricity is key. Labour have put most of their backing behind off shore wind with thousands of turbines planned over the next few years, although it is an expensive technology. Communities will also be encouraged to build their own wind farms onshore as well as hydro electric power stations, and the Severn Barrage should go ahead. The manifesto also pledges to support research into marine and tidal. So how will Labour achieve this shift to a "low carbon economy"? The manifesto states it will cost around £150 billion over the next ten years. This will mean energy bills will have to go up in the short term. There is also a Green Investment Bank that will put up around £2 billion to leverage more money, though environmental groups say the Government will have to do more to help new technologies get off the ground. The new jobs will mostly be in manufacturing green technology like wind turbines and installing insulation and micro-renewables on homes. It is a good idea but depends on companies coming to the UK to build green technology and households taking up the incentives to have their households refurbished.

* GREEN HOMES: Make greener living easier and fairer through ‘pay as you save’ home energy insulation, energy-bill discounts for pensioners and requiring landlords to properly insulate rented homes.
Not much of this is new and a lot of it is very similar to proposals made by the Tories. By 2020 every home will have a smart meter and seven million homes will have an ‘eco-upgrade’. The question is how will it be done? There will be more pressure on energy companies by giving local authorities the power to ensure houses are being upgraded "street by street". There will also be a warm home standard for social housing and landlords will have to make sure private accommodation is properly insulated. Energy companies will have to make compulsory contributions to ensure the vulnerable get discounts. The 'Pay as you Save' scheme will enable households to take out loans for insulation or installing solar panels and pay it back over time through the savings on their energy bills. Already households that install renewables are being paid for energy they feed back into the grid through ‘feed-in tariffs’. Water meters will be introduced in homes in the South East and other areas suffering "water stress". Again the burden of paying for all this will fall on the consumer in the short term as energy companies pass on the cost, though it should lead to cuts in fuel bills in the long term. Environmentalists said more incentives need to be provided such as an obligation to carry out an upgrade before selling on a house. All new homes will be "zero carbon" by 2016 and Labour will continue with the construction of new eco-towns, despite local protests.
* ENVIRONMENT: Link together new protected areas of habitat; maintain the Green Belt; increase forest and woodland areas.
The manifesto pledges to "sustain" the green belt, by ensuring 60 per cent of new development should be on brownfield land. But since Labour still plan to build millions of new homes and there is no moratorium on building on the green belt, countryside groups remain concerned. A whole new approach to managing land will ensure that nature is protected. As well as putting forward new areas for forests and wildlife protection, "green corridors" will connect nature reserves that already exist so animals are not confined to isolated pockets of countryside. Farms, industry and development will have to do more to protect the environment. A new path around the whole of the English coastline will be built. New legislation will improve water management and flood defence but there is no guarantee of more money for this area, despite repeated requests by the Environment Agency.
* FOOD: Ensure fairness for food producers through EU reform and a Supermarkets Ombudsman and support post offices, shops and pubs in rural communities.
A supermarket ombudsman to monitor and enforce "the grocery code of practice" will be introduced but the details have not been decided and farmers remain concerned that the retailers themselves are being given too much power over the new watchdog. But it will be left up the EU to ensure labels on meat are clearer. Farmers will also be watching closely to ensure that Labour fight to maintain subsidies for food production as well as environmental protection in the new Common Agricultural Policy due to come in from 2013. Councils will be encourage to provide more land for 'grow-your-own' and allotments and children will learn about growing food in schools.
* RURAL AFFAIRS: Maintain the hunting ban and support post offices, shops and pubs in rural communities.
A 50p per month broadband tax on phone bills will pay to ensure people in rural areas have better connection to the internet. Rural communities are promised continued funding for small businesses and affordable housing. Key services like bus services and rural schools will be protected. Councils will have to take into account the importance of local services to the community before changing the use of pubs, the post office and local shops. And communities will be encouraged to find "imaginative solutions" to retaining services locally like community ownership and running the post office from the pub. But countryside campaigners called for more help for key services. The ban on foxhunting is in danger of being over turned by the Tories so Labour will be hoping to pick up some votes from animal rights activists.
* BINS: Banning recyclable and biodegradable materials from landfill.
The manifesto does not go into detail but this means a lot more households will have to start collecting food waste separately in "slop buckets". There will also be more bins on the streets to provide more ‘recycling on the go’. But the manifesto stops short of mentioning 'bin taxes' as a way to encourage more recycling.
* CLIMATE CHANGE: Push for ambitious international deal on cutting carbon emissions.
You can guarantee all the parties are going to support an international climate change deal that will cut carbon emissions globally. Labour go a little further by confirming that from 2013 the UK will give money to developing countries vulnerable to climate change "additional to our commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of national income in overseas aid". Labour have promised to campaign internationally to protect rainforests and endangered species. However they do not go as far as the Tories who will ban the sale of illegal timber in Britain. The manifesto promises to invest in high speed rail but the third runway at Heathrow, that every other party would scrap, continues to be a black mark against Labour for many environmentalists. Greenpeace point out that the promise not to allow additional runways does not count out runways at Stansted as it is not likely to happen in the life of the next Parliament.

Amazon facing 'real-life Avatar' says James Cameron

James Cameron, the director, has said a real-life "Avatar" battle is playing out in Brazil's Amazon rain forest, where indigenous groups are trying to halt the construction of a huge hydroelectric project.

Cameron said he was in Brazil to support Indian and environmental groups as they stage protests against the Belo Monte dam project.
The Titanic director attended an environmental summit in the Amazon last month with former US Vice President Al Gore. He returned this week to Sao Paulo to promote the DVD version of his blockbuster movie Avatar, in which the fictitious Na'vi race fights to protect its homeland, the forest-covered moon, Pandora, from plans to extract oil. He said he came to Brasilia on his own initiative because he was drawn to the activists' plight.

Avatar has struck a chord with environmentalists worldwide, from China, where millions have been displaced by major infrastructure projects, to Bolivia, where Evo Morales, the nation's first indigenous president, praised the film for sending the message of saving the environment from exploitation.
"I'm drawn into a situation where a real-life 'Avatar' confrontation is in progress," Cameron said in a telephone interview while en route to protests taking place in front of the Mines and Energy Ministry.
"What's happening in 'Avatar' is happening in Brazil and places like India and China, where traditional villages are displaced by big infrastructure projects," he added.
The $11 billion Belo Monte hydroelectric dam - which if completed would be the world's third-largest such project - was cleared for construction Feb. 1 by the Environment Ministry. Bidding for prospective builders is expected to take place later this month.
Brazil's government has said that even if it can't find private partners for the dam's construction on the Xingu River, which feeds the Amazon River, the nation has the funds to finish the project itself.
The administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva argues that the dam will provide clean energy and is needed to meet current and future energy needs.
Environmentalists are sharply opposed. They say it will devastate wildlife and the livelihoods of 40,000 people who live in the area to be flooded. They also argue that the energy generated by the dam will largely go to big mining operations in the Amazon, not benefit the average person.
Cameron said he sent a letter to Silva five days ago requesting a meeting and urging him to stop the project. He has not received a reply from the president, who is currently visiting the U.S.
"I wrote to him that, 'This is an opportunity for you to be a hero, a visionary leader of the 21st century, and modify Brazil's path in such a way that you have sustainable economic growth instead of economic growth that has serious consequences for certain sectors of the population,"' Cameron said.
He said if he were able to meet with Silva he also would tell him that he believes North America and Europe have to help pay to preserve the rain forest, which he said "provides a service to the entire world" by helping fight global warming.
The Brazilian Amazon is arguably the world's biggest natural defense against global warming, acting as a "sink," or absorber, of carbon dioxide. But it is also a great contributor to warming. About 75 percent of Brazil's emissions come from rain-forest clearing, as vegetation burns and felled trees rot.
"If North America and Europe have been responsible for the carbon pollution that started us down this inevitable slide of global warming, then they should take financial responsibility for those services that nature naturally provides," Cameron said.

Pavement power lights up Toulouse

Electricity generated by pedestrians used to illuminate street lights in France's technology capital

Lizzy Davies in Paris
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 13 April 2010 14.40 BST

It is a pleasingly Gallic phrase that brings to mind marauding students and protesting unions. But, while Toulouse's "pavement power" project has nothing to do with social unrest or burning barricades, it could yet prove revolutionary.
As part of wider efforts to put France's south-western technology capital at the forefront of green wizardry, city authorities are testing out a scheme to generate electricity for street lights through the stamping feet of passers-by.
Designers say the section of eight custom-made modules placed in the city centre for a two-week trial period can produce between 50 and 60 watts of electricity to power a nearby street lamp.
It is the first time the modules – unveiled to the world by Dutch company Sustainable Dance Club (SDC) for use in nightclubs – have been tested on the street. For Alexandre Marciel, the city's deputy mayor in charge of sustainable development, the new function is potentially ground-breaking.
"It is a world first," he said. "It is an idea which has existed for a long time in people's minds but which has never actually been made a reality."
Toulouse, France's technological and aeronautical hub, is the latest stop-off for the SDC modules, which had their first outing at Rotterdam's Club Watt last year and which have since lit the imagination of designers the world over.
Embedded with microsensors which produce energy when people move over them, the modules seemed to Marciel to provide an unprecedented opportunity to alter how cities save and produce energy.
"It all stems from an observation that, in the public sphere, energy is wasted and it would be good if we could somehow get it back. There is nothing original in that but what the Dutch start-up had created was new," he said.
Although the authorities say they have succeeded in proving that the idea works – to the bewilderment of some sceptical Toulouse residents – they and the designers admit there have been problems.
The prototype of the modules, said Marciel, was unsuitable for street use as "at that stage they only worked if you jumped on them like a kangaroo". "So a model was developed on which you can walk normally and still produce enough energy to power the lights," he said.
Since last year, SDC designers have been flooded with demands for the modules in increasingly varied locations. Though Toulouse is the first, it is not the only European city to have recognised the potential .
Jaap van den Braak, the company's marketing director, said Rotterdam's football stadium had recently signed a contract to run a pilot scheme. "There are several similar pilots projects being considered which use the modules in public spaces where there is a high traffic movement, such as train stations and sports stadiums," he said.
Marciel admitted there was a way to go before the dream of pavement-powered street lighting could become a reality. The relatively high cost of the modules remained a deterrent, he said, but should not put off authorities in cities where the political will was strong.
"Toulouse has a mission to become the capital of our country in terms of innovation but practical innovation that responds to the needs of the population," he said, adding that a recent test of heat-sensitive lampposts in the city had led to the product being exploited commercially by two companies.

Heavy industry claims carbon emission targets are 'death by a thousand cuts'

• EU aims to cut emissions by a fifth in 2020 against 2005 levels • Manufacturers warn higher carbon taxes will drive firms abroad

Tim Webb
The Observer, Sunday 11 April 2010

Both political parties have been falling over themselves to declare their new-found affection for British industry, which had been neglected for years in favour of a now discredited City. Business secretary Lord Mandelson talks of Labour promoting the "low carbon reindustrialisation" of the economy where British manufacturers deliver the new nuclear plants, wind farms and other technologies needed to meet the UK's tough carbon emissions targets. But high carbon emitters like steelmakers and chemical plants are becoming concerned that new environmental taxes could mean that within a decade, there won't be much of Britain's heavy industry left to lead this revolution.
In the next month, the European commission will decide how industry will meet tough new targets for the third phase of the EU emissions trading scheme, which begins in 2012. The scheme sets a cap on companies' emissions by issuing permits to pollute and imposes a penalty if they exceed this. Under the scheme, which runs until 2020, the cap is tightened each year. The EU wants the scheme to achieve its targets of reducing Europe's emissions by a fifth in 2020 compared with 2005 levels. But industry fears the extra costs will put them at a disadvantage against rivals outside the EU.
One large steelmaker in the UK, which spoke on the condition of anonymity, estimates that to maintain current production, it would have to buy millions more permits, at an estimated cost of at least €100m (£88m). The steelmaker warned that moving production overseas would be an inevitable consequence. One executive said: "This is death by a thousand cuts."
The chemical industry in the UK, which employs 180,000 people and represents about 12% of value added in manufacturing, is likely to be similarly affected. More than two-thirds of chemical companies are multinationals with overseas headquarters, making relocation more likely.
The EU trading scheme affects industry equally across Europe. But British companies fear that the UK's more ambitious policies will put them at a disadvantage to competitors. The government has pledged to reduce emissions by at least 34% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels, much higher than the EU's pledge of 20%. Much of the responsibility for meeting these targets falls on energy companies, requiring them to build new nuclear plants and wind farms. The government estimates that electricity bills for business could increase by 70% by 2020, much higher than in the rest of Europe. These higher energy costs would put manufacturers at a significant disadvantage. Moreover, reducing emissions from industry could allow sectors – such as aviation – to pollute more. To have any chance of maintaining existing production without having to pay large penalties, companies would have to invest billions of pounds in new technologies. Ian Rodgers, director of trade body UK Steel, complains that the government is only providing aid for carbon capture (CCS) technology to power plant owners. In Germany, by contrast, the government is providing €30m to steelmaker ArcelorMittal for a CCS project at one of its blast furnaces.
Some executives fear that the department of energy and climate change (DECC) is keen on reducing emissions whatever the economic cost. Jeremy Nicholson, from the Energy Intensive Users Group, said: "Talking to DECC officials about the extent of the recession, the enthusiasm at the reduction of electricity and gas consumption because of the recession was obvious. The plan is supposed to be decarbonising the economy while growing it, not shrinking it."
Industry is key to developing new energy efficient technologies to combat climate change, whether they are steelmakers making wind turbines or chemical plants developing greener fuels and materials. If they can't be provided by UK industry, because environmental regulations killed it off, the kit and technologies will have to be imported from overseas, ironically often from less energy efficient manufacturers. Rodgers adds: "The climate change agenda won't affect the amount of steel consumed, but will determine where it's produced."

Carbon credit documentary should not have been shown, BBC admits

Corporation acts on Observer investigation into secretive trust  linked to socialite Robin Birley that funded film on his carbon credits firm, Envirotrade

Mark Olden and Michael Gillard
The Observer, Sunday 11 April 2010
A BBC documentary about socialite Robin Birley and his carbon credits business venture in Africa should never have been broadcast, an internal inquiry by the corporation has found. Millions of viewers were misled because the sympathetic documentary shown on BBC World News failed to declare that it was financed by a secretive trust that was linked to Birley.
The BBC acted in response to an Observer investigation into Birley's "philanthropy capitalism" venture in Mozambique. Taxpayers' money was used to subsidise poor farmers there to protect forests and plant trees that absorb carbon dioxide. Envirotrade, Birley's company, then sells "carbon credits" to celebrities and businesses wanting to offset their emissions. Customers who used Birley's venture to offset emissions included the agency that handles Brad Pitt and George Clooney.
Rockhopper TV, the production company that made the documentary, knew but did not disclose to BBC executives, of links between Envirotrade and the Africa Carbon Livelihood Trust, which funded the making of the documentary. Had it done so, Taking The Credit, the documentary, would never have been shown, the BBC ruled, although it also claimed the programme was balanced.
Birley set up and funded the Mauritius-based trust but would not say who its other donors are or how much Rockhopper was paid to make the programme. Envirotrade saw it as a "marketing" opportunity.
A BBC statement said: "As a consequence of this case, [we] will work closely with Rockhopper to ensure that robust compliance measures are implemented … Until the BBC is fully satisfied that these measures have been put in place, no Rockhopper programmes will be acquired or commissioned."
Rockhopper, which is run by Richard Wilson, a former BBC environment correspondent, and ex-Sky News presenter Anya Sitaram, told the Observer that every indication suggested that the trust was independent.
However, the inquiry found there was a "conflict of interest [that] risked bringing the BBC's editorial reputation into disrepute" because the trust's managing director, Charles Hall, is also chief executive of Envirotrade.
The BBC's own compliance failures have not been made known because the corporation refuses to release its report into the Rockhopper affair, adding to concern that a wider problem exists over commercial sponsorship arrangements on its international channel.
Birley founded Envirotrade in 2002 with a South African, Philip Powell. A year later, the European Commission awarded a €1.5m (£1.3m) grant to Envirotrade and Edinburgh University to pilot a forest project at N'hambita, Mozambique. However, in October 2007, the EC suspended its last €450,000 payment for the project and concluded the following year that unsubstantiated claims were being made about its environmental impact. The suspension was still in force when Rockhopper filmed with Birley in Mozambique last August. By then, a second team of experts working for the EC had just returned from the project. Their report was more positive than the first, but continued to find "major drawbacks" with the implementation of an aspect key to N'hambita's survival – the sale of carbon credits. Viewers of the documentary, which was shown last October, were not told about these criticisms.
Envirotrade says it has sold £1m of carbon credits. However, the EC's criticisms could mean at least £150,000 are unverified and may have to be paid back. Charles Hall, Envirotrade's chief executive, told the Observer: "The business model for Envirotrade frankly remains to be proven. The fact that this can be made into a sustainable business on the basis of selling carbon offsets remains to be seen."
It has also emerged that Envirotrade's London arm is insolvent and owes £800,000 to its parent company in Mauritius.
Hall revealed that the N'hambita project needs an immediate £1m injection from Birley. However, Birley, who says he has already put in more than £1.5m, has given no legal undertaking to provide these extra funds.
Sitaram, executive producer of the documentary, said that had Rockhopper known about the EC's criticisms it would not have touched the project. However, six weeks before broadcast, Fern, a climate campaign group, outlined these criticisms in an email exchange with the programme's researcher.

Shell fights shareholders' campaign for oil sands review

• Investors table special resolution prior to May meeting• Campaigners argue project is an environmental liability

Tim Webb
guardian.co.uk, Monday 12 April 2010 21.29 BST
Shell has dismissed shareholder calls for a review of its controversial oil sands developments.
A group of institutional investors, led by campaign group FairPensions, had tabled a special resolution ahead of the Anglo-Dutch company's annual meeting next month. They want Shell to review the commercial and environmental viability of going ahead with its new projects in Canada's boreal forests.
But the Anglo-Dutch oil company today urged other investors to vote down the resolution. "Whilst the issues raised by the group of shareholders ... are valid and appreciated ... it would set a precedent which, if applied more generally to the company's major investment opportunities, would add unnecessary costs and duplication of effort."
The letter to shareholders, giving notice of the meeting in the Hague on 18 May, added that the company had already provided all the non commercially sensitive information to shareholders about its oil sands projects. BP, whose annual meeting takes place on Thursday, is facing similar pressure from shareholders over its own oil sands activities.
Shell's next development phase of its Athabasca joint venture will soon add 100,000 barrels per day. This will take production from oil sands mining to 4% of its total production. About 0.6% of its current production comes from in situ operations, where the oil is recovered from beneath the ground by drilling.
The campaign led by FairPensions, whose supporters include the Co-operative and trade union Unison, argue that the projects are too big an environmental and economic liability. They also argue that climate change caused by oil sands development could put at risk shareholders' other investments.
The issue of oil sands has soared up the political and environmental agenda since the Copenhagen summit highlighted the need for a clampdown on carbon-intensive activities.

Is Mooncup's mass marketing strategy a model for green campaigns?

Can a high-profile campaign encouraging women to 'love their vaginas' take this green sanitary product into the mainstream?

Hopping off the Tube the other day, one of the posters caught my eye. This is no mean feat given that on a typical 45-minute London commute we're exposed to around 130 different adverts. And we're all increasingly talented at subconsciously filtering out these uninvited intrusions.
The striking image that had grabbed my attention featured a brightly coloured floral triangle emblazoned with the legend "Lady Garden", beneath which a web address implored me to "loveyourvagina". Maybe that was what had caught my eye.
Now clearly this advert wasn't aimed at me. Yet, curiosity sparked, back in the office a few minutes later I was Googling the ad. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the poster was part of a Mooncup promotion. These rubber menstrual cup devices first appeared in the 1930s according to the Canadian team behind Diva Cup. The benefits of Mooncups are well documented. They're safer (significantly reduced risk of toxic shock syndrome), cheaper (the sanitary product market in the EU is worth an annual £2.5bn), and much better for the environment (around 40,000 tonnes of sanitary product are used in the UK each year and Beachwatch surveys still find an average of 14 sanitary items per kilometre). But they are used in the UK by only 1% of the female population. So clearly a little persuasive communication wouldn't go amiss.
Futerra, the sustainability communications company that I co-direct, has taken our Earthly Sins confessional booth to the Green Fields at Glastonbury on several occasions, and each time we've been pitched up next to the lovely ladies from the Women's Environmental Network. As a result I am intimately familiar with the sight of washing lines of Mooncups and Lunapanties dangling gently in the Somerset sunshine. But engaging inquisitive or slightly spangled festival punters on the merits of these products is one thing. Taking a high-profile poster campaign onto the London Underground is very much another.
So there are two reasons why I love this. Firstly I used to joke in the early Noughties that communicating climate change to the public was like selling Tampax to men. We blokes saw the adverts of women dressed entirely in figure-hugging white outfits rollerskating along California beach fronts, but we knew they weren't directed at us so we ignored them. The need to make informed decisions on the purchase of sanitary products is most definitely not "front of mind" for men.
Similarly, early attempts at presenting the challenge of climate change came up against this same "front of mind" dilemma. Ten years ago, while most of us had heard of global warming, climate change and its implications certainly weren't at the front of our minds.
We were, like men and tampons, convinced it had little to do with us. But that's where the similarity ends, because while blokes can perhaps justifiably dismiss sanitary products as "women's things", we can't collectively dismiss climate change as being something that only
environmentalists worry about.
Since then the creeping reality of the accumulating scientific evidence, coupled with the notion that action for a safer climate might actually present enormous opportunities, have combined to make the challenge more personal, relevant and urgent. We may not quite be willing yet to actually do what's required, but we are increasingly aware, climate change being much more "front of mind", that something must be done. And fast.
Secondly, the Mooncup campaign takes an environmental product from the eco-ghetto realms of receptive, environmentally minded festival goers and pushes it artfully into the mainstream. Its more 'hip' than 'hippy' and its deeply held ethical
convictions are worn lightly. Its "What do you call yours?" online poll and call to action has clearly gone viral, with suggestions ranging from the cute ("Choupinette"), and the willfully obtuse ("Perlimpimpin le magicien") to more crass suggestions. So it wins on smart, genuinely "discussable and shareable" social media content too.
Ultimately though it's a great communications campaign, embodying two key principles of effective engagement – making an issue "front of mind" and aiming for mass appeal. Many environmental and sustainability campaigners could learn a lot. Let's hope their bold approach leads to actual behaviour change and takes Mooncup usage beyond that minority 1% of women. Finally having been unexpectedly fished-in by such a campaign I now also find myself drawn to this advert … which is obviously about gardening, right?
• Ed Gillespie is the co-founder of Futerra Sustainability Communications