Global Briefs Jul-Aug 2008

people1

Remake a Living: The Jobs Are Blowin’ in The Wind

Turbines are sprouting like wildflowers after rain in Texas, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Not to mention China.

As the hype about “green” jobs has grown, the wind-energy industry has done a pretty good job of reporting accurately on their job creation. Industry analysts estimate that wind energy currently employs about 50,000 domestic workers, both on-site at wind farms and down the chain of products and services needed to build, transport, install, and operate all those turbines.

The number of jobs is growing quickly and wind companies could support as many as 500,000 jobs 20 years from now. That’s according to a U.S. Department of Energy report that outlines a plan for the nation to get 20 percent of its electricity from wind power by 2030.

The World Wind Power Asso-ciation says that wind already provides 19 percent of electricity production in Denmark, 9 percent in Spain and Portugal, and 6 percent in Germany and Ireland.

The fastest growing job title in the wind-energy world might just be wind technician. Community colleges across windy states are gearing up to train big incoming classes.

Technicians perform a wide variety of tasks in the construction, operation, and maintenance of wind turbines. Requirements include a year of mechanical experience and a basic understanding of hydraulics and electrical systems.

Several hiring authorities recom-mend that technician positions are great career development starting places for people interested in the wind power industry. After gaining some experience in this field, technicians can explore education in technical/engineering fields, sales, and marketing, management, finance, and regulation professions.

Green Banking Innovation Award

China’s first-ever award specifically focused on green banking and sustainable finance, called the Green Banking Innovation Award was given to China Industrial Bank in July this year. This is a bank that promises to integrate social responsibility and sustainable development into its strategy, and has implemented numbers of activities.

At the event, Xiaogang, Director of Green Watershed, said that: “Green Banking is defined from two dimensions. Internally, a green bank often improves resource efficiency and encourages employees to participate in environmental activities. Externally and more importantly, it has to minimize indirect environmental impacts through financing activities, and explores new opportunities from environment-related business.” The jury committee, consisting of eight NGOs, developed an approach to assess the overall performance of nominated banks based on materials submitted by banks as well as public information.

The award promotes banks and other financial institutions to consider their roles in environ-mental protection. This initiative shows that Chinese NGOs are using more diversified approaches to advocate sustainable development, and highlights the efforts of Chinese banking sector on environment.

The Green Banking Innovation Award is backed by Green Watershed, Friends of Nature, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, Green Earth Volunteer, Global Environmental Institute, Civil Society Watch, China Development Brief and Green Volunteer League of Chongqing. SynTao, a leading consulting firm in China on CSR, was an advisor to the award.

“Green Rating” of Colleges: Princeton Review

The Princeton Review recently released its new “Green Rating” of colleges for 2009 – a measure of how environmentally friendly, responsible, and committed the institutions are. The Princeton Review developed the Green Rating, which is a numerical score on a scale of 60 to 99, in consultation with ecoAmerica , a non-profit environmental marketing agency. The Green Rating was based on data collected from the schools in the 2007-08 academic year concerning their environmentally related policies, practices, and academic offerings.

The review rated 534 U.S. colleges on their commitment to environ-mental responsibility, provision of “healthy and sustainable” campus life, and preparation of students for “citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges.” The review graded on factors including energy use, buildings, transpor-tation, food, recycling, and classes. The institutional survey for the rating included questions on everything from energy use, recycling, food, buildings, and transportation to academic offerings and action plans and goals concerning greenhouse gas emission reductions. The highest-scoring schools, in alphabetical order: Arizona State; Bates (Maine); Binghamton (N.Y.); College of the Atlantic (Maine); Emory (Ga.); Georgia Institute of Technology; Harvard (Mass.); U. of New Hampshire; U. of Oregon; U. of Washington; and Yale (Conn.). Arizona State and U. of New Hampshire.

The Green Rating scores appear in the website profiles of the 534 schools and are posted on The Princeton Review’s website.

planet

ECO Pedal System Improves Fuel-efficiency

Want to be an eco-driver but can’t seem to keep the pedal off the metal? Nissan Motor Co.’s recently announced its new “ECO pedal” system, which pushes back against excess foot pressure to encourage fuel-efficient driving. It makes the gas pedal press upward when it senses motorists are speeding up too quickly. It calculates the most efficient rate of acceleration in a vehicle based on how fast fuel is being burned and other factors and causes the gas pedal to push back to alert overzealous drivers.

The ECO accelerator will be installed in some Nissan cars starting next year and be accompanied by a real-time dash-board display of fuel consumption. Nissan says the ECO pedal could help drivers increase fuel efficiency 5 to 10 percent, and the device can easily be switched off by those who don’t like Big Brother watching their lead foot.

Gorilla Census Finds 125,000 More Western Lowland Gorillas than Expected

A new gorilla census in the Republic of the Congo has found about 125,000 more western lowland gorillas than expected living in the northern part of the Montana-sized country, effectively doubling the known population of the species. Western lowland gorillas are one of four gorilla subspecies, all of which are in danger of extinction. “These figures show that northern Republic of Congo contains the mother lode of gorillas,” said Steven Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society. However, very real threats to the gorillas remain, including hunting, disease, and habitat loss. “Far from being safe, the gorillas are still under threat from Ebola and hunting for bush meat. We must not become complacent about this. Ebola can wipe out thousands in a short period of time,” said Emma Stokes of the Wildlife Conservation Society. A separate study released this week by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature found that almost half of the world’s 634 kinds of primates are in danger of extinction due to deforestation and hunting.

Climate Change Adaptation Report: WBCSD

The World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has published ‘Adaptation: An Issue Brief for Business’ which briefly explains the potential impacts of climate change on business and associated risks and opportunities for a number of sectors including tourisms, retail, logistics and manufacturing. Adaptation refers to “taking the right measures to reduce the negative effects of climate change (or exploit the positive ones) by making the appropriate adjustments and changes”.

The report emphasizes that adaptation implementation should be assessed as it could generate tangible and short-term benefits for business operations. It could also yield benefits for local commu-nities. Key drivers of adaptation planning or implementation include: competitive advantage, cost savings, liability management, investor pressure. The WBCSD highlights that minimizing risk and leveraging opportunities require the building of adaptation strategies into risk management and business planning processes across the value chain.

According to the report, the impacts of climate change are still not fully understood. That is why the effects of climate change should be evaluated on a sectoral and geographic basis. The report states that: “From a business perspective, climate change is likely to affect the location, design, operation and marketing of infrastructure, products and services. From a human perspective, climate change will have socioeconomic implications for workforces and markets.”

Biodiversity Bank Established for Rainforest Conservation

A biodiversity bank has been set up to raise funds to protect and conserve the biodiversity-rich 34,000 hectares of Malua Forest Reserves in the east coast of Sabah. The rainforest is inhabited by the Sumatran rhinoceros, about 1,000 orang utans and other rare animal species. The Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank, or Malua BioBank will be jointly managed by New Forests and the state government.

The Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank (Malua BioBank) is a first-of-its-kind business model for investing in tropical rainforest conservation on a commercial basis. Located next to one of the last areas of virgin rainforest in Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo, the Malua BioBank will restore and protect 34,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of critical orangutan habitat called the Malua Forest Reserve.

The Malua BioBank project will entail rehabilitation of the Malua Forest reserves and sell Biodiversity Conservation Certificates, with each certificate offered at US$ 10, representing 100-square meters of rainforest restoration and protection. The certificates will be registered in the TZ1 environmental registry and will be tradable, or can be retired.

Nothing like this has ever been done for the biodiversity in tropical rainforests. The sale of certificates will make rainforest rehabilitation and conservation a commercially competitive land use. By figuring out a commercial model for biodiversity conservation in the tropics, you effectively increase the pool of possible funds for rainforest conservation.

profit

What Gets Measured Gets Done

The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA), in association with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) recently announced the development of a methodology for calculating greenhouse gas emissions from pulp and paper mills. This innovative calculation tool will serve as a simple unified industry approach to emissions accounting and is an example of the forest products industry taking the worldwide lead in developing simple, transparent methods to calculate greenhouse gas emissions. ICFPA President W. Henson Moore (also President and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association) said that: “The tool can be used on any scale, from determining emissions from a specific mill, from a specific company, or for our industry as whole.”

The collaborating institutions recommend that governments and other organizations recognize the tool they developed as the appropriate method for calculating greenhouse gas emissions for pulp and paper mills. Other industry sectors, including cement and aluminum, have recently adopted similar methodologies utilizing the GHG Protocol to calculate total industry as well as factory specific emissions.

This process provides a model for other industry associations developing sector-specific greenhouse gas calculation tools,” said Jonathan Lash, WRI president. The tool is based on protocols previously developed by WRI and the WBCSD, and was peer reviewed and endorsed by their project, the GHG Protocol.
According to WBCSD President, Björn Stigson: “This new calculation tool will enable the forest and paper sector to collect and report accurate data in a unified way, thus helping to achieve comparability worldwide”.

China’s Renewables Sector Booming: The Climate Group Study

A study by nonprofit The Climate Group reveals that China’s renewable-energy sector is growing substantially. China is the world’s largest carbon emitter and builds about one coal-fired power plant a week on average. The country’s renewables industry is also setting records. In 2007, China’s $12 billion investment in renewables was second only to Germany’s; by 2009, China’s renewables-investment is expected to be the world’s largest.

According to the study, China already has the world’s largest installed capacity for renewables generation, due in large part to the huge Three Gorges Dam. The report states that China is the world’s fifth-largest wind-power producer, the biggest manufacturer of both solar panels and solar water heaters, and will soon be the world’s top exporter of wind turbines. “Everybody sees China as this monster polluter, but it is doing so much more than that,” said Changhua Wu of The Climate Group. “China has got the green message.”

Advocates Pushing LEDs into the Spotlight

Compact fluorescents have had their time in the sun; it’s time to herald the era of LEDs, say advocates. Light-emitting diodes are bright, extremely long-lasting, über-efficient, and can color-shift by remote control (fun!). The bulbs shine in many traffic lights, colored the Times Square ball on New Year’s Eve, may soon light up the Empire State Building, and are becoming the bulb of choice for commercial lighting. Many bulb manufacturers expect that they’ll soon widely light up households as well; so sure is Philips Lighting, in fact, that it is spending no R&D money on CFLs, focusing solely on LEDs. The downside, however, is price. A 60-watt incandescent bulb costs about $1, a comparable CFL $2; Philips will introduce its equivalent LED bulb in September at the eyebrow-raising price of $107. That will no doubt drop as time goes on, but some experts say the barrier is high enough that LEDs’ reach will remain limited.

Full Steam Ahead

Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the search giant, has announced a $10.25 million investment in geothermal energy technology. The money will back two start-up companies that specialize in enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), the process of pumping water underground to crack hot rocks and use the resulting steam to power a turbine and create electricity. “EGS could be the ‘killer app’ of the energy world,” says Dan Reicher of Google.org. “It has the potential to deliver vast quantities of power 24/7 and be captured nearly anywhere on the planet. And it would be a perfect complement to intermittent sources like solar and wind.” Geothermal currently supplies a mere 0.5 percent of global energy supply and 0.4 percent of U.S. supply. The investment is a part of Google.org’s RE

    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Author Information

    Rutaba Ahmed is Managing Editor of tbl. She holds a Bachelors in Business Management from University of Georgia, USA and a Masters in Communications Studies from University of Leeds, UK.

    No comments yet.

    Leave a Reply