Friday Green Numbers round-up for Feb 4th 2011

Green Numbers

And here is a round-up of this week’s Green numbers…

  1. Europe’s Energy

    Member States of the European Union have agreed on targets aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by cutting energy consumption by 20% and increasing the share of renewables in the energy mix to 20% by 2020. The ‘Europe’s Energy’ project gives users a set of visual tools to put these targets into context and to understand and compare how progress is being made towards them in different countries.

  2. Survey results: Utilities executives on Energy Efficiency and the Smart Grid

    The survey asked 106 utility executives ? the people that arguably know more about the energy supply and demand challenges our nation faces than anyone else ? a range of questions on the smart grid, energy efficiency and related topics and issues.

    We issued a press release today with some of the highlights, but to help put this week?s news into context, we also wanted to share a full breakdown of the results. Nothing earth shattering, but worth keeping in mind as the week progresses?

  3. 10 Smart Grid Trends from Distributech

    The annual smart grid event Distributech kicked off in San Diego Tuesday morning and ? as expected ? unleashed a whole series of news from smart grid-focused firms. From new home energy management products, to plug-in car software, to distribution automation gear, this is a list of trends and news from the show.

  4. US Venture Capital Investment in Cleantech Grows to Nearly $4 Billion in 2010, an 8% Increase From 2009

    US venture capital (VC) investment in cleantech companies increased by 8% to $3.98 billion in 2010 from $3.7 billion in 2009 and deal total increased by 7% to 278, according to an Ernst & Young LLP analysis based on data from Dow Jones VentureSource. VC investment in cleantech in Q4 2010 reached $979 million with 72 financing rounds. VC investment in cleantech in Q4 2010 reached $979 million with 72 financing rounds, flat in terms of deals and down 14% in terms of capital invested compared to Q4 2009.

    “In comparison to the early days of cleantech, the 2010 US VC investment results reflect a turning point in the industry due to improving credit and capital markets, the deployment of stimulus spending and increasing corporate cleantech adoption,” said Jay Spencer, Ernst & Young LLP’s Americas Cleantech Director.

  5. A jump at the pump – bad news for more than motorists

    Few trends cast shadows on economies and politicians like a rise in the cost of petrol. Barack Obama?s presidency, so far a minefield of crises, can add one more in the form of higher prices at the pump. Entering the last full week of January the average price of a gallon (3.7 litres) of petrol stood at $3.11, up 40 cents from a year earlier. Fuel has never cost so much in January, but that is unlikely to be the highest price Americans pay for it this year.

  6. Arctic Oscillation brings record low January extent, unusual mid-latitude weather

    Arctic sea ice extent for January 2011 was the lowest in the satellite record for that month. The Arctic oscillation persisted in its strong negative phase for most of the month, keeping ice extent low.

    Arctic sea ice extent averaged over January 2011 was 13.55 million square kilometers (5.23 million square miles). This was the lowest January ice extent recorded since satellite records began in 1979.

  7. Despite emails and cold winter, 83% of Brits view climate change as a current or imminent threat

    The public?s belief in global warming as a man-made danger has weathered the storm of climate controversies and cold weather intact, according to a Guardian/ICM opinion poll.

    Asked if climate change was a current or imminent threat, 83% of Britons agreed, with just 14% saying global warming poses no threat. Compared with August 2009, when the same question was asked, opinion remained steady despite a series of events in the intervening 18 months that might have made people less certain about the perils of climate change

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Photo credit kirstyhall

15 Green Predictions for 2010

Looking into my crystal ball

Photo credit seanmcgrath

It is the end of the year – that time of year when everyone rolls out their X Predictions for 2010 post and, in that regard, GreenMonk is not going to be any different!

Well , maybe slightly different, some of the following predictions are more like hopes and aspirations on my part than likely outcomes!

  1. There will be an increasing emphasis on sustainability initiatives as organisations understand their financial benefits
  2. CSR reporting will become mandatory for large companies in the EU
  3. Companies will more and more look to IT to help them with their energy efficiency programs
  4. An heightened legislative emphasis on carbon reporting will spur the development of more carbon reporting software
  5. There will be greater and greater integration of carbon reporting functionality into ERP and financial reporting applications
  6. Standards will be agreed for energy and water footprint labels for products and services
  7. Water and energy footprint labels will be made mandatory in the EU
  8. At least one smart grid rollout in the US will fail spectacularly due, in large part, to poor stakeholder communications
  9. More and more Smart City initiatives will come on stream as cities aim to become more sustainable
  10. Mainstream car manufacturers will start to release plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles
  11. At least one major mobile phone handset manufacturer rolls out mobile phones with built-in environmental sensors (for crowd-sourced environmental data viewable in realtime with an Augmented Reality browser)
  12. Bluefin tuna stocks will crash in the atlantic
  13. It will be a record year for ice loss in the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets
  14. It will be a record year for damage from hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons in the Pacific
  15. 2010 will be the warmest year on record due to the combined influence of El Niño and global warming


  16. and a bonus prediction for good luck:

  17. The US will finally pass climate legislation limiting CO2 emissions (but it won’t go far enough!)

Enough of the half-measures

I’m worried. I’m very worried.

The recent report by MIT on Climate Change was the

most comprehensive modeling yet carried out on the likelihood of how much hotter the Earth’s climate will get in this century

It found that

without rapid and massive action, the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago – and could be even worse than that.

Specifically the peer-reviewed study projects a 90% probability range of a global warming of 3.5 to 7.4 degrees Celsius by 2100 with a median probability of surface warming of 5.2 degrees Celsius.

To put that in context, John Holdren, Barack Obama’s Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, says that the last time the earth was 3 degrees Celsius warmer was 120 million years ago. At that time there were palm trees in Wyoming, crocodiles swimming off the coast of Greenland and sea levels were 20-30m higher. Note – that was 3 degrees Celsius warmer, not the 3.5 degrees which is at the low end of the 90% probability the MIT paper.

The planet and more importantly, all life on it has had 120m years to adapt to the 3 degree cooling which has occurred since then and we have adapted well. However, a rise of 3 degrees in less than 100 years would have catastrophic consequences for most plant and animal species on the planet who are designed to adapt to changes in geological timeframes, not generational ones.

Against this backdrop you have the Barack Obama administration back-pedalling furiously on their climate commitments. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said he is no longer willing to block the construction of new coal-powered electricity plants in the US, despite the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jon Wellinghoff recently announcing no new nuclear or coal plants may ever be needed in the United States!

Further, the current climate bill working its way through the system in the US calls for a 17% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the 2005 figure. Compare that to the much more ambitious 40% reduction on 1990 emissions that the Chinese are calling for and you start to see just how uninspired the US position appears to be.

People need to watch the video above, grow a pair and act decisively on the problem. Enough of the half-measures.

Logica on Sustainability


I attended an excellent Logica briefing in the UK recently and had the opportunity to have a quick chat with Tony Rooke, Head of Sustainability & Environment for Logica UK.

In our chat we discussed Logica’s internal Sustainability projects as well as ways in which Logica are addressing the greater Sustainability agenda.

According to Tony, in this piece, their Windfarm control system is controlling 2,000 turbines in 80 windfarms across the Iberian peninsula!

What will it take for America to wake up to the threat of climate change?

Open for Questions

President Obama hosted an interesting experiment yesterday. On his Open For Questions site, he requested people to submit questions to him and vote on submitted questions. Subsequently, in a special online Town Hall, he answered several of the most popular questions – fabulous stuff.

However, despite hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans, one of the US’s best known cities and now Fargo and many parts of North Dakota under threat of 43 foot floods, the top two questions in the Green Jobs and Energy category were related to legalising marijuana, not climate. Wtf?

Unbelievable, to me at least.

92,935 people submitted 104,032 questions:

  • 7,444 were in the Green Jobs and Energy section.
  • 2,136 contained the term “Marijuana” (another 31 contained “Marajuana”, 6 contained “marijana”, 7 contained “marijuna”)
  • 262 contained the term “cannabis” (and another 9 contained “Canabis”)
  • Only 294 contained the term “Warming”
  • And a measly 207 contained the term “Climate”

Incredible!

I used to think Jonathon Porritt, founder director of Forum for the Future and chair of the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission, was being a bit extreme when he said:

I have occasionally fantasised about a low mortality-count scenario where a Force Six hurricane takes out Miami, but with plenty of warning so the entire city is evacuated with zero loss of life. The insurance industry in America would collapse because this could be a $50-60 billion climate-related ‘natural’ disaster. The industry wouldn’t be able to cope with that. There would be knock-on pain throughout the global economy, massive, traumatic dislocation. This would act as enough of an injection of physical reality, coupled with financial consequences for leaders to say: ‘Ok, we’ve got it now. This isn’t just about some nasty effects on poor countries: this is devastating for our entire model of progress.’ The response to that would be a negotiated transition towards a very low-carbon global economy that builds increased prosperity for people in more equitable and sustainable ways.

But, unfortunately now, I’m not even sure that’d do it.

George Lee keynotes the it@cork Green IT conference

RTE economics correspondent George Lee gave the opening keynote presentation at the 2008 it@cork conference – Green IT: Reduce CO2, Raise profits.

He gave an excellent presentation, showing off first his Segway (a personal electric transport device) and explaining his reasons for bringing it to the event. He then went on to give a superb talk diving deep into the numbers around the coming energy crisis, climate change and how they dwarf the current financial crisis their importance for the planet!

If you want to skip the Segway rant and get into the energy and carbon emissions data, skip forward to 16:50.

Great to hear from an economist who puts the long-term good of the planet before a short-term financial view!

[Disclaimer: GreenMonk were a media sponsor of the it@cork Green IT conference]

What is your company’s Sustainability Communications Program like?

Sustainability

Photo credit _ A l v a r o _

I guess the first question should be does your company have a Sustainability Communications Program? If not, why not?

As I mentioned in my last post, it is now time for everyone to

band together not only at national levels, but at company and community levels to do everything we can to work to reduce our impact on the planet. Don’t rely on your politicians to do it for you. Get together with friends, neighbours, co-workers and make a change.

So, what is your company doing about sustainability? Some companies invest heavily in this space. Others roll it under the marketing umbrella and still more, don’t even have a sustainability policy.

How do you improve your company’s sustainability policies? I don’t know! But more than likely, you or others in your organisation have great ideas about ways your company can be more environmentally responsible. Why not poll them?

Roll out a bottom-up Sustainability Suggestions Wiki in your organisation today. Most people have excellent ideas on how to improve things in their company but assume they will not be listened to. A wiki allows people to make suggestions in a transparent, meritocratic manner.

Incent people to do so. Give prizes for best suggestions every month. Prizes could be anything from something small like a CFL light bulb, or a Current Cost meter, all the way up to sponsorship of an MBA in Sustainable Business, or any number of things in between.

Go further, video and podcast interviews with winners – make them heroes in the company. The rewards for the company will often be cost savings through efficiencies but also a more highly motivated workforce, who see the company as being responsible and caring of what they (the employees) think.

Enabling bottom-up suggestions in this manner (and subsequently acting on them) promotes a “We are all in this together” spirit and empowers people to make a real difference in the fight against climate change, a difference which they may be unable to make as individuals.

Why wouldn’t you do this?

The temperature imperative!

Global Temperature Rise

Graph courtesy of the UK’s Climate Research Unit

The graph above, taken from the UK’s Climate Research Unit, is very sobering. I first noticed the graph when Joseph Romm did an excellent analysis of it on his Climate Progress site.

A few points to note from Joe’s piece:

  • * the 2000s are on track to be nearly 0.2°C warmer than the 1990s
  • * since the 1990s were only 0.14°C warmer than the 1980s => global warming is accelerating
  • * 2008, though cooler than most of the 2000s is on track to be almost 0.1°C warmer than the decade of the 1990s as a whole
  • * The 2000s will easily be the hottest decade in recorded history
  • * The “coming decade” (2010-20) is poised to be the warmest on record, globally
  • * The coming decade is poised to see faster temperature rise than any decade since the authors’ calculations began in 1960
  • * The fast warming would likely begin early in the next decade — similar to the 2007 prediction by the Hadley Center in Science (see “Climate Forecast: Hot — and then Very Hot“)

In case anyone had any doubts that global warming is occurring, this should set those doubts to rest.

Governments are acting too slowly on this. It is up to individuals and companies to take actions to reduce our impact on the planet.

The companies we cover on this blog: IBM, Microsoft, HP, Siemens, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Dell, SAP, Oracle, Nortel, Cisco, etc. are all making significant efforts to reduce their impacts on the planet (or we wouldn’t be covering them!).

However, as the graph above indicates, our way of life is under threat. Now, as George Monbiot says,

We need to resurrect the old-fashioned virtues of uniting in the face of a crisis, of resourcefulness and community action

We all need to band together not only at national levels, but at company and community levels to do everything we can to work to reduce our impact on the planet. Don’t rely on your politicians to do it for you. Get together with friends, neighbours, co-workers and make a change. Today.

Save Toms not Tonnes!

At the recent it@cork Green IT conference Gavin Starks of AMEE had an idea which he and Simon Wardley co-pitched to the audience, to change the carbon footprint metric from tonnes of CO2 to people!

The idea, as outlined in the video above was so well received that we decided to create a site to promote it and encourage anyone who also thinks it is a good idea to become involved. The site is at megatom.ning.com.

From the MegaTom about page:

The average European creates 10 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

The average American, 20 tonnes.

To avert the dangers of Climate Change, we need to drop our CO2 production to 1 tonne per person.

Problem: What is 1 tonne of CO2? How do you visualise it?

Answer: You don’t! You change the metric. 1 tonne = 1 person’s annual CO2 production.
1 average person. 1 Tom.

Because it’s not about saving tonnes, it’s about saving everyone.

For example, a 15 minute shower is 0.1% of a Tom, driving 100 miles in a standard car is 4% of a Tom and producing 1 laptop computer is 45% of a Tom.

How many Toms have you consumed? Don’t waste your Toms.

Save Toms, not tonnes!

If you agree that we should be saving Tom’s, not tonnes, why not go to the MegaTom, join and please leave any feedback/suggestions. Thanks.

If the current climate crisis is not addressed quickly, a global economic slowdown will be the least of our concerns!

Lights on, nobody home
Photo Credit Hil

Long time buddy Dennis Howlett wrote an interesting post earlier today where he talks about the dangers of being an evangelist.

In the post he takes me to task for being idealistic:

Solutions are only any good if they are solving an identifiable problem. Too often I see social media people trying to force fit solutions based on a perceived need. It is all done with the best of intentions but it is a fundamentally flawed strategy. Here’s a good illustration.

The other day, my good friend Tom Raftery was arguing that the $700 billion US financial industry rescue plan paled into insignificance compared to the good that could be done by investing a fraction of that amount in greening technologies. He may well be right. Many of us at least vaguely know we’re all going to hell in a hand basket if we don’t get a grip on climate change issues. But it isn’t top of mind in the US. Not even remotely close. Given the choice of an immediate resolution to what many believe is the imminent collapse of the US capital markets and a far off destruction of earthly resources is a non contest. The second reality is too remote for many to contemplate even though Tom’s argument is laudable. I suggested putting it in those comparative terms. Whether he does is another matter.

Dennis is referring to a couple of posts I put up on Twitter the other day where I said:

The climate crisis is infinitel more dire than the financial crisis, so why aren’t we spending billions on it? http://url.ie/q51

@jeffnolan I don’t think fixing the climate is noble, I think it is waaaaay beyond urgent and dwarves the importance of the financial crisis

and

@dahowlett The US gov’t isn’t investing in the climate prob but can spend $100billion on the financial crisis? Insanity!

At the time of writing those posts I incorrectly thought that the US government was investing $100 billion to fix the financial crisis. I have since realised that that figure is actually $700 billion.

I am not sure if Dennis saw the original post and my link to Joseph Romm’s excellent article because if he did and he had followed it he would have read things like:

If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.

So warned IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri last fall when the IPCC released its major multi-year report synthesizing our understanding of climate science. And remember Pachauri was handpicked by the Bush administration to replace the “alarmist” Bob Watson.

and

What happens if we fail to act in time to avert the climate catastrophe?

Note, none of the above points are opinion. They are facts culled from the IPCC reports, reports which are widely believed to be conservative and whose predictions up to now have been shown to underestimate the observed outcomes of climate change to-date.

Now, given that the IPCC think we need to take definitive action before 2012 or it will be too late and that most people believe the IPCC to be extremely conservative, I think Dennis may want to re-think his assertion that:

Given the choice of an immediate resolution to what many believe is the imminent collapse of the US capital markets and a far off destruction of earthly resources is a non contest

Then again, maybe he’s right!

How many people do you know who are aware that definitive action needs to be taken by 2012 or its too late? Not many I suspect.

As against that, how many people do you know who are aware of the immediacy of the current financial crisis? Significantly more, I imagine.

The message about the immediacy and urgency of climate change is not getting out there.

If the current financial crisis is not addressed quickly, we risk a global economic slowdown.

If the current climate crisis is not addressed quickly, a global economic slowdown will be the least of our concerns.