Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some Important New Books

Now or Never: Why we need to act now to achieve a sustainable future, by Tim Flannery. Harper Collins, 2009. A long essential essay by Tim Flannery, followed by responses from Bill McKibben, Richard Branson, Peter Singer, Fred Krupp and Peter Goldmark, Gwynne Dyer and Alanna Mitchell.

Climate Wars, by Gwynne Dyer. Random House, 2008. Gwynne is a geopolitical and military analyst, and these are his thoughts built around some worst-case scenarios of the conflicts that could break out over scarce resources, linked to climate change. Gwynne is thoroughly well-informed, and while it’s not cheery reading, it’s essential that we know the dangers.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded - Why we need a Green Revolution - and How it can Renew America, by Thomas L. Friedman. FSG, 2008. Hot, because its warming. Flat, because democracy and economic growth are happening everywhere. Crowded - because there are 75 million more of us every year. This is a big read, written in Friedman’s easy inimitable manner, spiced with important conversations with people he’s met. He presents with powerful urgency the case for ‘Code Green’ - a rapid retrofit of the US economy based on efficiency, renewables and sustainable technology. Equally valid for any country.

The Truth about Green Business, by Gil Friend. 52 clear and profound “truths’, gathered and distilled down from Gil’s many years of working in the field.

Crossing the Energy Divide: Moving from Fossil Fuel Dependence to a Clean-energy Future, by Robert and Ed Ayres, Prentice Hall 2009.

Climate Cover-Up - The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, by James Hoggan with Richard Littlemore, Greystone Books, 2009


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Update to Solution #90: Solutions for China

China is aiming to lead the world in the production of hybrid and all-electric vehicles by 2012, reducing China’s GHGs by 19%, and clearing the skies of China’s heavily polluted cities. In 13 Chinese cities, subsidies of up to $8,800 are being offered for taxi fleets and local government agencies to make the switch. The production goal for the end of 2011 is 500,000 hybrid or all-electric cars and buses.

Source: New York Times

China is also accelerating research to grow algae using the CO2 emissions from its coal-fired power plants, using wind and solar energy to extract the CO2. The algae would then be used to make biofuel, fertilizer or animal feed. The Chinese company ENN is encouraged by the results from its trial 10,000 litre algae greenhouse, and planning to expand to a 100 hectare test facility either next to a coal mine in Inner Mongolia, or on the warm-weather Hainan Island. The less encouraging news is that the facility will not be operational until 2020.

Source: Guardian


Update to Solution #89: Build Solar Villages

India is pushing ahead with a huge national plan to advance its use of solar PV energy from almost zero today to 20 GW by 2020, and a target of 200 GW by 2040. This is very big by any current global standard, but when set against India’s population of 1.15 billion people, if each household was to have a 1 kW PV system, they would need 383 GW. The financial details have yet to be sorted out, but are premised on falling solar costs.

Source: Guardian


Update to Solution #86: Scramble! This is Serious

After examining more than 200 ways of reducing carbon emissions, McKinsey and Company has found that the growth in India’s carbon emissions could be halved using known practices and technologies, reducing the growth from 1.6 billion tons in 2005 to only 2.8 billion tons in 2030, instead of a previously projected 5-6 billion tons. The investment needed would be around $1 trillion, or 2% of India’s GDP.

Source: Worldwatch Institute, Sept 2009


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Update to Solution #76: Develop a Sustainable Vehicles Strategy

Germany plans to become a world leader for low-carbon vehicles, increasing production from 2000 units in 2009 to 1 million units by 2020 and 5 million by 2030. Daimler and BMW plan to introduce their first electric cars in 2012; Volkswagen in 2013. To put this in context, Germany has 53 million vehicles, so 1 million low-carbon or electric cars by 2030 would be less than 1%.

Source: Worldwatch Institute, Sept 2009


Update to Solution #73: Reduce the Impact of Food and Farming

Sweden is introducing carbon labeling for food that has on average 25% less climate impact than a similar related product. Sweden has also published guidelines for climate-friendly food choices, recommending that its citizens reduce their meat and rice consumption as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: EurActiv, October 2009 and EurActiv, June 2009.

Vancouver has produced a major paper on The Economy of Local Food in Vancouver, which looks at ways of expanding the cultivation, distribution and retailing of locally grown food, ad the regulatory barriers that stand in the way.

Source: City of Vancouver, 2009.


Update to Solution #71: Phase Out All Fossil Fuels

In July 2009, the Sierra Club announced the 100th cancellation of a proposed coal-fired power plant since 2001, keeping 400 million tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere. The 100th plant was a proposed 900-megawatt coal-fired generating unit at the Intermountain Power Plant near Delta, Utah, triggered by Los Angeles’ decision to be a coal-free city by 2020.

Source: Sierra Club