It is only fitting that wind energy would supply power to an environmental conference. The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-16) is in full swing in Cancun, Mexico and renewable energies are taking center stage. Cancun’s windmill will produce 1.5 megawatts on each day, enough energy to power 1,500 houses. This according to the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.
“Mexico can generate up to 71 megawatts due to its geographic conditions. This will mean a reduction of as much as 2,000 tons of CO2,” stated Hinojosa during the inauguration of the windmill, just one day before COP16 kicked off on November 29, 2010.
Energy used for the Conference will be produced by the the windmill along with solar cells installed at the Moon Palace Hotel. This is a joint project with Italy. In addition, the country will “capture carbon” to offset the carbon produced during COP-16.
In the beginning of Hinojosa’s administration, Mexico generated only 2 megawatts of clean energy. The goal of the administration is to produce 2,160 megawatts by the end of the term. This means that 26 percent of the total energy produced in Mexico would be from renewable sources. Mexico is one of the leading countries in its reduction of CO2 emissions, right after Germany and South Africa.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is celebrating 40 years on December 2, 2010. To commemorate their anniversary, Green For All, a national organization dedicated to building a green economy, launched ThankYouEPA.com. The site lists several of EPA’s more important accomplishments and encourages Americans to share those successes through social media tools like Facebook and Twitter.
EPA’s actions have….
• Reduced 60% of dangerous air pollutants in the air we breathe.
• Prevented 205,000 premature American deaths in 1990 alone by providing cleaner air, and prevented hundreds of thousands more in subsequent years.
• Saved Americans more than $55 million in water and sewer bills in 2008.
• Cleaned more than 2,000 American rivers and lakes that were identified as impaired in 2002.
• Prevented 18 million American child respiratory illnesses in 1990 alone by providing cleaner air, and prevented millions more in following years.
• Increased recycling in American families and businesses that went from recycling about 10% of trash in 1980 to more than 33% in 2008.
• Increased the number of Americans receiving water that met health standards from 79% in 1993 to 92% in 2008.
Several accomplishments important to the biofuels industry include the implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) that set the goal of using 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022. The EPA also announced a historic ruling last month in which they approved the use of E15 in conventional vehicles manufactured after 2007.
According to UNICA, nearly 50 percent of all of Brazil’s energy comes from renewable sources. This is three times the global average and UNICA believes this gives Brazil a leading role in the search for solutions for global warming and climate change. To demonstrate their technologies, UNICA will conduce a seminar on alternatives to minimize emissions from transportation in emerging countries on December 6 at the Cacao Room in Hotel Moon. The organization will also at the Brazil Pavillion with support from the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil, who will also be at the upcoming AG CONNECT Expo in Atlanta, GA on January 7-10, 2011).
Marcos Jank, UNICA’s President, points out that Brazilian greenhouse gas emissions measured in 2006 would have been 10 percent greater without the contributions from the sugar and ethanol industries. “Over the 35 years of large-scale use of biofuels in Brazil, more than 600 million tons of CO2 were kept from the atmosphere while the country saved US $240 billion that didn’t have to be spent on foreign oil,” said Jank.
He also notes that ethanol is moving beyond the fuel tanks of cars and buses and is also being tested as fuel to power generators, farm implements and machinery, as well as to fly planes. In addition, ethanol is used a replacement for fossil fuels in resins, fine chemicals and “green” plastics. The result, says Jank, is a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading →
International business leaders are calling for immediate action during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-16) and the World Climate Summit (WCS) that are both set to begin on November 29, 2010 in Cancun Mexico. A group of global investors with collective assets worth more than $15 billion are asking global leaders to “take action now in the fight against global warming or risk economic disruptions far more severe than the recent financial crisis.”
The group is pushing for the passage of policies that limit carbon and spur the development and growth of low-carbon technologies. In a statement they cite potential climate-related GDP losses of up to 20 percent by 2050 and highlight the economic benefits of shifting to low-carbon and resource-efficient economies.
However, there is little hope that global policies will be passed, and less so that they will be enforced, in part due to the hesitation of the U.S. government in passing any policy to limit CO2 emissions such as cap and trade.
According to Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, an organization representing investors and environmentalists, “Current investment levels fall well short of what is needed to stem the rise of global temperatures and adapt to a warming world. Strong government policies that reward clean technologies and discourage dirty technologies are essential for closing the climate investment gap and building a low-carbon global economy.
California scored a minor victory during the November elections when Prop 23, a regulation that would in essence have undone California’s environmental and low-carbon policies was defeated. Those supporting Prop 23 wanted green polices scaled back claiming that the companies footing the bills to install low-carbon technology would go bankrupt and employees would lose jobs – the opposite of what policy makers are aiming for during an economic recession. Continue reading →
Many years ago on a high school field trip, we were taken to the local landfill. It was nearly full and the city needed to do something – find somewhere to take its trash. Out of this field trip came my first environmental inspiration. I researched recycling and determined that at that time, the only way to get people to participate would be to give them bins that would be picked up at the curb. I pitched it to my class, they joined in the effort…we went door to door …and the during the next election, the resolution passed.
I felt pretty good for years to come but that enthusiasm has waned as I’ve learned that recycling programs are barely effective and we still generate too much stuff. “The Story of Stuff” came of out the internet movie sensation by the same name. Author Annie Leonard has been traveling around the world for more than 20 years learning about the world’s obsession with “Stuff.”. Not only do we have too much, but its too toxic. According to Leonard, we’re also using our natural resources far faster than the Earth can replenish them.
Leonard explains that the expanding economic system is about to hit a wall. It is running up against the limits of our planet’s capacity to sustain life. Economists predict that with the rate of growing populations, especially those in countries like China and India, coupled with the amount of CO2 emissions created from the production and transportation of our Stuff, we’re in trouble.
While I don’t agree with her wholeheartedly, I do agree that she is on to something. I can’t tell you how many times in the past few years I’ve purchased something I usually don’t even need and it has a crazy amount of wasteful packaging. I am now even more aware as Leonard takes you through the entire process of Stuff from extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. Continue reading →
According to School Transportation News, the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Institute (AFVI) announced that it will no longer hold their Alternative Fuels & Vehicles National Conference + Expo (AF&V), a four-day annual conference that brought together groups interested in advancing alternative fuels. The conference, which was formally called the annual Clean Cities Conference and Exposition, held 16 years of consecutive conferences.
“Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen alternative fuels go from the obscure to the mainstream,” said Annalloyd Thomason, Executive Director. “Federal Recovery Act funding puts the alternative fuels and vehicles industries in extremely good positions for the future. While the Conference once served as a tool to foster the further development of the industry, we see that role shrinking…and that’s a good thing.”
Thomason added that she sees alternative fuels not being an “alternative” for much longer. With strict federal emission and fuel economy mandates coming into effect soon, fleets will increasingly use alternative fuels and vehicles to meet the new standards.
“It’s a bittersweet ending,” she said. “We so appreciate the support of our sponsors and exhibitors throughout the years, and we’ll continue to work with them in the future on other projects.” Thomason doesn’t rule out resurrecting the Conference in the future. “If the marketplace demonstrates a need, we’ll re-evaluate it at that time.”
AFVi will continue its efforts to develop the alternative fuels market and continue to brand itself as “The Answer Place for Fleets” through market development and consulting.
Friends of the Earth International (FOE) has released a report about Africa’s move to produce biofuels to help meet the global needs of renewable energy. “Africa, up for grabs: the scale and impact of land grabbing for agrofuels” looked at 11 African countries and found that five million hectares of land, or an area the size of Denmark, is being acquired by foreign companies to produce biofuels, mainly for European markets. Dubbed “land grabbing,” the majority of entities entering the country are European and Chinese companies with Brazil making a play as well.
According to FOE, the purpose of the report was to take a closer look at these land deals and determine how many of them are for agrofuels and how they will affect local communities and the environment. In the report the authors write, “although information is limited, there is growing evidence that significant levels of farmland are being acquired for fuel crops, in some cases without the consent of local communities and often without a full
assessment of the impact on the local environment.”
The report says that many African countries are waking up to the realities of biofuels and have halted their biofuels programs. Others, they say are moving forward. FOE offers several actions that they believe should be taken including putting a stop to land grabbing; re-prioritize political priorities that include local sustainable farm programs and energy efficiency brought about through public transportation, walking and cycling; and creating fair and appropriate land deals.
In a press release, Mariann Bassey, food and agriculture coordinator for Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria said, “The expansion of biofuels on our continent is transforming forests and natural vegetation into fuel crops, taking away food-growing farmland from communities, and creating conflicts with local people over land ownership. We want real investment in agriculture that allows us to produce food and not fuel for foreign cars.”
The report points out that jatropha, often hailed as a wonder crop for biodiesel production, is actually one of the worst enviornmental offenders and claim that those who have converted food crops to this biofuels crop, can not make a living.
In conjunction with the report, FOE is calling for the EU to scrap its biofuels policy and asking governments to invest in environmentally friendly agriculture and decrease the energy used for transportation through conservation efforts.
Is the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) putting the cart before the horse in their proposition to add greenhouse gas emission amendments to the Iowa Administrative Code? The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) think so. The two organizations have joined forces to urge the EPC to delay consideration on decisions that would increase the regulatory burden faced by Iowa’s biofuels producers. The industry has been struggling from an economic slowdown and faces additional uncertainty at the federal level regarding similar GHG regulations.
In addition, the groups say that passing GHG regulations at the state level could put Iowa at odds with federal regulations if and when they are passed.
The two organizations wrote in their comment letter, “In addition to substantially increasing the regulatory burden faced by the state’s biofuel producers, we are concerned that amendments by the EPC may result in Iowa implementing more stringent regulatory requirements than may ultimately be required by the federal regulation with which the state is seeking to harmonize. As such, we are urging the EPC to delay consideration of the proposed amendments until such time that there is more certainty surrounding federal regulatory actions intended to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Alternatively, and at the very least, EPC should add certain provisions to its amendments that would nullify regulatory actions based on federal rules that may ultimately be stayed or deemed invalid by a court.”
More than likely, if the EPC were to pass GHG regulations, they would face a similar fate as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who is facing a multitude of legal challenges opposing the rules including a motion to stay any further EPA action on this front.
“Given these pending legal challenges, the state of Iowa should not adopt proposed changes to the state law and revision to its Clean Air Act Implementation Plan that could ultimately make its regulations more stringent than federal regulations. This is precisely what would occur should the EPA Tailoring Rule be stayed or ultimately invalidated,” continued the letter.
Ultimately, RFA and IRFA are asking that if EPC continues to move forward with its GHG emission policy, then they should include provisions that would nullify their policies if the federal Tailoring Rule is stayed or deemed invalid. You can read the comments in full here.
This past Sunday, Tom Weis left Boulder, Colorado on a hybrid electric-assist recumbent trike on a 2,500 mile journey that will end in Washington, DC. Coined the Ride for Renewables, Weis is set out to gain support for his plan that calls for a 100% renewable electricity grid for the U.S. by 2020.
Weis believes that 2010 is the year America needs to set the agenda to address climate change and he is so passionate about making change, that he is willing to pedal across the country to build grassroots support for his plan. He writes on his website, “This is about everyday Americans “taking back our power” by demanding a green industrial revolution that will put unemployed Americans back to work, reestablish our role as world economic leader, and help ensure future generations a livable planet.”
Weis will be traveling through Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and ending in Washington, DC. Along the way, he will highlight local renewable projects, bring attention to old, dirty technologies that need to be replaced and solicit signatures for his petition that he will present to DC legislators. You can follow his journey online at www.climatecrisissolutions.com where he will post photos and videos and he will also be posting to various social media sites.
This week I read a book about the ongoing discussions regarding the causes of the food crisis. It should come as no surprise that several of the main reasons the globe is in the midst of a food crisis, according to a The Food Wars author Walden Bello, are commodity speculation, biofuels, increased demand for food in Asia brought on by prosperity, and most influential, the massive ag policy reorientation known as structural adjustment.
In this case, I’m going to focus on Bello’s explanation of how biofuels contributed to rising food costs. Bello states that biofuels have been blamed for the food price increases over the past few years, but continues by saying while they were a contributing factor, they were not the cause of the volatility of food prices.
He writes, “More central as root causes have been structural adjustment, free trade, and policies extracting surplus from agriculture for industrialization, all of which have destroyed or eroded the agricultural sector of many countries. No one factor can be pinpointed as the cause of the global food crisis. It is the confluence of these conditions that has made the contemporary food price crisis so threatening and difficult to solve.”
But despite this concession, he is still not a supporter of biofuels, at least in the context of environmental benefits, and he says, “Indeed agrofuels contribute to global warming and certainly do not provide a solution to climate change.” Continue reading →
Calling all green-minded college students. It’s time to take action for the environment in the new contest, “Greenest Student College Challenge.” College students are being asked to submit the most inventive and ingenious “green” ideas emerging from their college campus, and one lucky college student will become the owner of a new iPad provided by Duke’s Restaurants. The contest is sponsored by ThinkGreenLiveClean.
As the fall term is now underway for most students, they are being asked to make green resolutions. These resolutions will be reviewed by a panel of judges and one student with be given an award for the best idea. Entries will be judged on creativity of the green resolution and details on how the idea will be fulfilled.
“Since our contest’s green resolutions can be viewed by anyone anywhere, the Greenest Student College Challenge is essentially a national brainstorming session with an iPad as an incentive,” said Wyatt Taubman, founder of ThinkGreenLiveClean. “Students will be able to read what other students have written and will hopefully become inspired by all the great green ideas floating around. These students are going to have the ideas that will change the future so we want to let their ideas be heard now on a national level.”
The Greenest Student College Challenge marks the first in a series of contests to be hosted by ThinkGreenLiveClean, an environmental news website launched in 2009 by 23 year old Wyatt Taubman. The contests will run throughout the school year, and future contests will explore different aspects of students living sustainably. Green Resolution contest entrants must enter by October 18 at www.ThinkGreenLiveClean.com.
The event is open to the public to highlight ways to reduce energy and recycle at home and on the farm, and to learn about ethanol and the future of alternative fuels. There will be exhibitor booths, tours of Didion Ethanol and panel discussions on a variety of topics, including the benefits of ethanol and the future of biofuels. Visitors can also qualify to enter a drawing for tickets to Farm Aid 2010 to be held in Milwaukee on October 2.
Among the celebrities who will be at the Expo are Alice in Dairyland 2010 with her E-85 Flex-Fuel Chevrolet Tahoe and Captain Cornelius. Children will be able to make their own putty made from corn starch and also participate in a coloring contest for a chance to win a gift card.
By the end of the year, Canadians will be using more ethanol in their fuel. According to The Epoch Times, regulations were finaized by the government yesterday requiring that all gasoline must contain 5% biofuels starting December 15.
“Regulating renewable fuel content in gasoline is just one of several steps the Government is taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, which account for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Environment Minister Jim Prentice in a statement.
This regulation is part of a strategy by the government to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.
“Support for renewable fuels is support for farmers, rural communities and our economy,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a statement. “This is a vital step in generating new market opportunities for our farmers and maximizing Canada’s high quality resources to produce food and fuel for the world.”
Last week, Creighton University economist Ernie Goss was quoted on NPR saying the country is preparing itself for another wave of lay offs. It will start at the coasts and move its way to the Midwest. Not good news for the millions of people who are currently unemployed. Unfortunately, a good number of people have become unemployed in the alternative energy industry, but a group in California is set to reverse this trend.
A new alliance of California business, labor, environmental and community leaders have formed the California Apollo Program to help create clean energy jobs in the state. According to the organization, the program is a “blueprint for moving California toward broadly shared economic prosperity, energy security and climate stability, while reinforcing the state’s commitment to a new clean energy future.”
“By implementing the California Apollo Program, we will be making the right moves to secure our economic future, retain our global leadership in clean energy and technological innovation, and engage the workers and businesses who can keep the world’s eighth-largest economy growing,” said Phil Angelides, chairman of the national Apollo Alliance. “The Apollo Alliance will work with our diverse coalition of business, labor, community and environmental leaders to ensure our state seizes the opportunity to invest in California businesses and create new jobs producing the clean technologies of the future.”
The organizations blueprint has identified several key areas it believes will create and retain clean energy jobs including: modernizing the power grid to support clean energy generation and smart grid technology; revitalizing rural California by expanding environmentally sustainable renewable energy and carbon sequestration projects; investing in clean energy research and development; and helping manufacturers retool their factories and retrain their employees to produce clean energy product.
Several of California’s environmental and energy laws are under fire citing the “economic” costs of implementing the technologies required under the laws will cause financial destruction for companies in the state. The supporters of the policies claim that they will help generate up to $104 billion in economic activity by 2020.
“I am under no illusion that this book will settle the scientific debate over the roles of mankind versus nature in global warming and climate change. Quite the opposite. I am hoping that the scientific debate will finally begin.” These are the final words of author and climatologist, Dr. Roy Spencer in his new book, The Great Global Blunder.
While the mainstream media continues to report that global climate change is real and caused by man, Spencer argues that it is in fact real, but not manmade. He says that global warming is just part of a natural cycle. In fact, he said that cloud cover is one of the “feedbacks” (i.e. causes) of warming and cooling trends.
Spencer is not the first scientist to speak out against the theory that global climate change is manmade. Climate physicist Henrik Svensmark and award winning science writer Nigel Calder also believe that clouds are a cause of global warming. They lay out their theory in “The Chilling Stars A New Theory of Climate Change.”
Spencer argues that scientists who take a risk and offer other ideas for the cause of climate change, are not often published in scientific journals nor are their theories covered by the mainstream media who likes stories that bring the message of doom and gloom.
“Why am I willing to stick my neck out on an issue where there is so much momentum running in the opposite direction? Because the United States is making decisions on energy policy that will literally lead to death and suffering. The environmental lobby, activist news media, opportunistic politicians–and even a few Big Oil interests–have led the public to believe that we can “go green” in generating energy,” writes Spencer. Continue reading →