The plan is comprehensive and lays out several targets for the year 2020:
- * More than 1.2 million people will be in green jobs
- * more than 1.5 million households will be supported to produce their own clean energy
- * Around 40% of electricity will be from low carbon sources, from renewables, nuclear and coal (with CCS)
- * We will be importing 20-30% less gas than we otherwise would
- * The average new car will emit 40% less carbon than now.
The announcement is a world first because emissions reductions targets from each sector of the UK economy are quantified and policies to achieve them are laid out. More significantly, the budgets are legally binding making the UK the first country in the world to write its carbon targets into law.
Highlights from the Twitter posts include:
Why only six cities? Surely this is something which should be rolled out nationwide as a single project. With vehicle to grid technologies this would even help the UK government increase the level of renewables on the grid helping meet the 40% low carbon emissions target (with less coal!).
As mentioned above, this target will be met by a combination of renewables, nuclear and coal (with CCS). The inclusion of both nuclear and coal in this figure is bad news. Coal is dirty for all kinds of reasons (coal fly ash slurry spill anyone? Coal ash contains arsenic, copper, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel, and thallium!) and the problems associated with storage of nuclear waste are well known.
It is not all negative though.
are all superb announcements and will help the government reach its targets.
The full announcement is available for download but be warned it is a 228 page pdf behemoth!
In conclusion, this is a hugely important piece of legislation setting out for the first time anywhere legally binding CO2 emissions targets for all sectors of the UK. The policies to achieve them as laid out may not all be perfect (and in the case of continuing to use coal, very far from perfect) but these are just that, policies – they will change at the whim of whoever is in power at any time. The coal and nuclear lobbies are extremely well funded and have managed to inveigle their way into this document at policy level but their days are numbered.
The legally binding CO2 emissions targets will be far harder to change.
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Photo credit crustmania
Paper reduction is just not a sexy topic. Virtualising your servers, making your building more energy efficient, or using TelePresence to reduce your carbon footprint – these are big, exciting, engineering projects. How can you compete with that?
Well consider three little known facts:
- The pulp and paper industry is the single largest consumer of water used in industrial activities in OECD countries and is the third greatest industrial greenhouse gas emitter, after the chemical and steel industries (OECD Environmental Outlook, p. 218)
- Most of the world’s paper supply, about 71 percent, is not made from timber harvested at tree farms but from forest-harvested timber, from regions with ecologically valuable, biologically diverse habitat. (Toward a Sustainable Paper Cycle: An Independent Study on the Sustainability of the Pulp and Paper Industry, 1996) and
- Tree plantations host about 90 percent fewer species than the forests that preceded them. (Allen Hershkowitz, Bronx Ecology, p. 75, 2002)
Paper production is an enormous consumer of water, massive producer of greenhouse gases and it contributes significantly to loss of biodiversity?
Now paper reduction initiatives should start looking attractive!
What kind of paper reduction initiatives are out there?
There are lots of them and they start with simple initiatives like configuring printers to do double-sided printing by default and also to require people who send print jobs to networked printers to be physically at the printer (using a pin code or swipe code to verify) before it prints to avoid documents being printed and forgotten about. Adobe’s Randy Knox informed me when he gave me a tour of their San Jose HQ that Adobe managed to reduce their paper consumption by 40% simply by defaulting their printers to double-sided printing.
The move to digital printing is also proving hugely beneficial for paper reduction. HP have several offerings in this space. HP’s Forms and Document Automation product [PDF], by enabling on-demand printing, dynamic form creation and electronic distribution, drastically reduces paper use and does away with the costs and environmental impacts associated with warehousing and logistics. While HP’s Output Manager’s ability to manage, distribute and share information can cut down on the need for printed pages by as much as 70%. HP are obviously not the only ones in this space but I am acutely aware of their solutions as they are a GreenMonk client. Also, HP have had a long and successful track record in printing and imaging solutions.
When you think about paper reduction, though you also have to consider the heavy use accountancy systems make of paper. This is a problem companies the likes of billFLO are trying to address. billFLO creates a machine readable invoice which can be emailed alongside a pdf (human-readable) invoice. When the buyer receives the billFLO Invoice they import it into their accounting system with a click and archive the pdf invoice for future reference. This reduces paper use and the likelihood of data entry errors.
When it comes to paper reduction though, few companies have the focus, capabilities or paper reduction potential that GreenMonk’s latest client, StreamServe has. StreamServe’s customers are the telco’s, utilities, insurance companies, etc. – companies who can be easily creating 100m invoices per year and up. One StreamServe customer, Emdeon, was printing and distributing as many as 800,000 paper reports a day. By moving to StreamServe and SAP’s Business Objects, Emdeon has now automated that process and makes the reports available online.
StreamServe also works with their customers to reduce paper output by moving marketing messages from separate inserts accompanying bills to onserts printed directly on invoices reducing the number of pages sent. StreamServe also highlights the benefits of e-invoices to end customers. This typically increases the uptake of e-invoices, reducing the telco/utility’s paper footprint. And when you are talking of companies who print hundreds of thousands of invoices per day, moving customers to e-invoices can have a significant environmental benefit.
What other paper reduction initiatives can you think of? E-books e-paper and audio books are another superb way of reducing paper but I want to leave discussing them for a separate post.
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At the recent [email protected] 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.
I talked to Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist, Rob Bernard the other day. We discussed how large organisations can reduce their environmental footprint, using Microsoft’s own example; we discussed how Microsoft software is helping other companies reduce their carbon footprint and we discussed how Microsoft people and products are helping research into Climate Change.
Photo Credit Thomas Hawk
I see Grist reporting that the US’ first Cap and Trade program went live. Power plant owners in 10 Northeastern states had to submit sealed bids in order to emit greenhouse gases yesterday.
Then the New York Times has a story about an alliance of 7 Western States and 4 Canadian provinces who have come together under the name Western Climate Initiative to also put a Cap and Trade system in place.
While the WCI draft plan doesn’t come into effect until 2012, the Northeastern states is now live! It only requires a 10 percent reduction in emissions by 2019 and that only in emissions generated by power plants but it is better than nothing and it sets a precedent.
And, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said
We’re sending a strong message to our federal governments that states and provinces are moving forward in the absence of federal action, and we’re setting the stage for national programs that are just as aggressive.
More aggressive, I hope – looks like politics has seriously diminished the “Terminator’s” definition of aggressive!
Photo Credit aplumb
I received a press release from HP the other day informing me that HP have
qualified all business PC, printing and server products shipped throughout the United States and Canada for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) SmartWay logo labeling program
Perhaps the SmartWay program is well known within the United States but I hadn’t heard of it before so I went to the SmartWay site to have a look.
From the site’s basic information page:
The SmartWay brand identifies products and services that reduce transportation-related emissions. However, the impact of the brand is much greater as the SmartWay brand signifies a partnership among government, business and consumers to protect our environment, reduce fuel consumption, and improve our air quality for future generations.
The site links to the EPS’a Green Vehicle Guide which allows you to compare the fuel efficiency across hundreds of different car models.
However the real meat is in the Smartway Transport section of the site. This is a
collaboration between EPA and the freight sector designed to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions, and improve energy security
So responsible haulage companies can join the Smartway program and get help in becoming more efficient and Smartway certified (joining Smartway is free). Smartway certification then means that as well as reducing costs, responsible shipping companies will pick up extra business from companies like HP who are looking to have a greener supply chain.
However, if HP really wanted to show its commitment to Green they could announce their intention to become a carbon neutral company, as Dell has done.
On the other hand, Dell could take a leaf from HP’s book and also receive approval from the EPA to have the SmartWay logo displayed on its product packaging for the compliance of its shipping network. You are only as Green as your supply chain after all!
[Disclosure – Dell are a GreenMonk client company]