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  1. 1. THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Tuesday, July 22, 2009 UNEP and the Executive Director in the News • Cop15.dk (Denmark): Youngsters of the world: Climate action now, please! • CSRWire (US): New Report Says Advisors have Fiduciary Responsibility to Proactively Raise Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Issues with Clients • Scientific American (US): Will Global Warming Melt the Permafrost Supporting the China-Tibet Railway? • All Africa (Kenya): Sudan: Blue Helmets Think Green - Unamid Embarks on Tree- Planting Exercise Other Environment News • AFP: US moving toward strong climate action • AFP: Climate change: Bye-bye, black sheep? Environmental News from the UNEP Regions • RONA Other UN News • Environment News from the UN Daily News of July 21st 2009 (None) • Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of July 21st 2009 (None) 1
  2. 2. UNEP and the Executive Director in the News Cop15.dk (Denmark): Youngsters of the world: Climate action now, please! 21/07/2009 14:55 When representatives of three billion children meet in the Republic of Korea next month, the message is clear: They demand that their governments reach a scientifically credible and far-reaching new climate agreement in Copenhagen. 800 participants from over 100 countries, representing three billion children and young people, will meet 17-23 August in the Republic of Korea to present their demands for action at the UN climate conference in December in Copenhagen. The Tunza International Children and Youth Conference will be the biggest youth gathering on climate change ever. And the generation that will inherit the planet requires a low-carbon, resource efficient, environmentally sustainable future. “It will be in the lifetime of the three billion children and young people alive today that the glaciers of the Himalayas will either persist or melt away; that the sea levels will stabilize or rise, swamping a third of Africa's coastal infrastructure; that the Amazon will remain the lungs of the planet or become an increasingly dried-out and disappearing ecosystem, and the polar bear will continue as the iconic species of the Arctic or, like the Dodo and the dinosaurs, merely an artifact in the world's natural history museums," says Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ CSRWire (US): New Report Says Advisors have Fiduciary Responsibility to Proactively Raise Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Issues with Clients Jul 21, 2009 – 12:30 PM EST A group of asset managers, representing approximately $2 trillion in assets under management, say that integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into investment decisions should be a legal responsibility, as outlined in a new report: Fiduciary Responsibility - Legal and Practical Aspects of Integrating Environmental, Social and Governance Issue into Institutional Investment, produced by the Asset Management Working Group of United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a unique partnership between the UN's environmental arm and over 180 financial institutions worldwide. During today's news briefing, Calvert Investments, ClearBridge Advisors, Pax World Investments, and UNEP FI experts revealed key findings of the report and discussed the responsibility fiduciaries have to incorporate ESG factors into investment decisions. 2
  3. 3. The streaming audio of the press event will be available today at 2pm ET at www.calvert.com. "We finally made the case that prudent fiduciaries should consider material ESG issues as an integral part of their investment decisions. This report takes the next step by making the case that advisors must be proactive in raising ESG issues with their clients, and by collectively calling on the investment industry, policymakers and civil society to move toward responsible and sustainable capital markets to help avert a 'Natural Resources Crisis'," said Paul Hilton, Director of Advanced Equities Research at Calvert, and the Fiduciary II Co-Project Lead. "This new report on Fiduciary Duty provides a significant, multi-faceted analysis of the legal and practical ESG developments in the global investment arena, including updated legal views from North America. With forward-looking commentary and recommendations from leading legal experts, investment consultants, and asset managers, it appears that institutional investors will have an easier time allocating to well-managed sustainable investments," said Mary Jane McQuillen, Director & Portfolio Manager, Socially Aware Investment, ClearBridge Advisors, and the Fiduciary II Co- Project Lead. "In order for our economy to advance in a responsible, sustainable way, ESG criteria should be incorporated into every investment decision," said Dr. Julie Fox Gorte, Senior Vice President, PAX World Management Corp., Co-Chair of UNEP FI Asset Management Working Group. "This report makes a powerful case that investment managers may be putting clients at risk if ESG issues aren't considered, and should be held responsible for those decisions. There must be a shift in investment philosophy to focus more on long-term, sustainable options, rather than short-term gains." Professional investment advisors and service providers - such as investment consultants and asset managers--may have a legal obligation to incorporate ESG issues into their investment services or face a very real risk that they may open themselves up to legal liabilities if they do not, cites the report. "The worst financial and economic crisis in generations pales in comparison to a looming 'Natural Resources Crisis.' Investors and financial markets should put an end to 'short- termism' and embed inherently longer-term ESG issues in their organizational DNA. Fiduciary II offers a legal roadmap for responsible investing and marks an enlightened step towards a green, inclusive and sustainable global economy," said Butch Bacani, Programme Officer, Insurance & Investment, UNEP Finance Initiative, and the Fiduciary II Project Manager & Chief Editor. The report also provides indicative legal language that can be used to embed ESG considerations in the investment management agreements and related legal contracts between institutional investors and their asset managers. KEY HIGHTLIGHTS OF THE REPORT: • The global economy has now reached the point where ESG issues are a critical consideration for all institutional investors and their agents. 3
  4. 4. • Investment consultants and asset managers have a duty to proactively raise ESG issues within their advice and services to institutional investors. • ESG issues must be embedded in the legal contracts between institutional investors and their asset managers to hold asset managers to account, and that ESG issues should be included in periodic reporting by asset managers. Equally, the performance of asset managers should be assessed on a longer-term basis and linked to long-term incentives. • Institutional investors will increasingly come to understand the financial materiality of ESG issues and the systemic risk they pose, and the profound long-term costs of unsustainable development and the consequent impacts on the long-term value of their investment portfolios. • Institutional investors will increasingly apply pressure to their asset managers to develop robust investment strategies that integrate ESG issues into financial analysis, and to engage with companies in order to encourage more responsible and sustainable business practices. • Policymakers should ensure prudential regulatory frameworks that enable greater transparency and disclosure from institutional investors and their agents on the integration of ESG issues into their investment process--as well as from companies on their performance on ESG issues. • Civil society institutions should collectively bolster their understanding of capital markets such that they can play a full role in ensuring that capital markets are sustainable and delivering responsible ownership practices. • Market incentives that reward long-term investment must be made to help create responsible and sustainable capital markets that would help identify future challenges in the financial system, reduce the chances of further crises and help avert a "Natural Resources Crisis"--and accelerate the transformational process to a green, inclusive and sustainable global economy. The 120-page report titled: Fiduciary Responsibility - Legal and Practical Aspects of Integrating Environmental, Social and Governance Issue into Institutional Investment can be found at http://www.unepfi.org/fileadmin/documents/fiduciaryII.pdf. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ Scientific American (US): Will Global Warming Melt the Permafrost Supporting the China-Tibet Railway? July 21, 2009 This crucial line of transportation crosses the Tibetan Plateau, parts of which are barely below freezing. Will any added warmth--either from climate change or the railway itself-- destabilize the track's frozen foundation? Building a railway across the unstable soil of the Tibetan Plateau was an improbable endeavor from the start, but an army of Chinese government engineers did it anyway. Now, with the frozen soil disturbed by the process of laying down the rail and a warming climate on the plateau, some scientists question whether the $4-billion rail line will survive as is or require major reconstruction. 4
  5. 5. Three years after the railway opened in 2006, international research shows that the Tibetan territories are among the fastest warming, and fastest melting, on the planet. The research into the fate of glaciers and the permafrost soils—done by the United Nations, China's scientific agencies, and several independent scientists—is not focused on the railway. But the work raises concerns that the warming ground could lead to a buckling of the railway. (Im)permafrost According to a 2007 global outlook from the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), the frozen soil of the Tibetan plateau has warmed about 0.3 degree Celsius over the past 30 years—after the poles, faster than anywhere else on the planet. Where human activity has disturbed the soil, such as during the construction of the railway, the rate is double, 0.6 degree C. That might not seem like much, but it is enough to outpace the rate predicted by railway construction engineers for the landmark rail line, which has carried some six million passengers and five million tons of cargo since opening day. And the news would seem to get worse: UNEP says the permafrost area surrounding the nearby Qinghai–Tibet Highway decreased some 36 percent in size in the 20 years leading up to 1995, the period for which data were recorded. By the end of this century, the report says, China's permafrost (which is almost entirely on the Tibetan plateau) could decrease by half again. By 2050, another U.N. report predicts, the glaciers on the plateau will have shrunk by one third. Perhaps that outlook can explain the warning offered by the China Meteorological Administration at a meeting in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in early May that Tibet was warming faster than anywhere else in China. According to an account published by the Xinhua News Agency, China's state media service, the administration's chief, Zheng Guoguang, said that the railway may be in jeopardy and that the region must "tackle" the effects of climate change. Zheng warned that, where the railway crosses plateau regions, the thickness of the permafrost had been decreasing by as much as 25 centimeters each decade. Melting point Other research points to the railway itself as a contributing factor. A 2007 paper published by the University of Colorado at Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research indicated that the more delicate, warm permafrost areas are more affected by the climate warming because their natural balance has been upset by the construction's disturbance of the land. Whereas it would take about 20 years for the warm permafrost regions to thaw under present climate change conditions, the paper says it could take just five years for that permafrost underneath the disturbed land to reach the melting point. The study, published in Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, was written in part by Chinese scientists close to the railway project. That research, however, is general to the region and does not examine the railway itself. Nor does it account for effectiveness of the methods that engineers used to cool the soil while they built the tracks. Methods included using pipes called thermosiphons along the sides of the tracks to refrigerate vulnerable parts of the soil along the highest parts of the plateau, an area that comprises the largest continuous sub-Arctic permafrost region on the planet. These cooling sticks are 7.6-meter-long steel tubes drilled into the soil; they 5
  6. 6. contain ammonia, which draws latent heat out of the soil as it evaporates. The technique has been used along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and in Siberia, although those projects relied on the cooling sticks to a far lesser extent than the Tibet project and were built in colder climes. The skeptic The railway, which connects Lhasa to the China's national railway network, the largest in the world, traverses the Tibetan Plateau 5,182 meters above sea level and crosses about 550 kilometers of some of the most delicate and treacherous frozen soil regions on Earth. Half of the permafrost beneath the rails is within –1 degree C, meaning that it could melt with just a degree of climate change. Some question whether the engineers who planned the railway made the proper calculations to account for long-term climate change. The project's chief engineers counted on cooling sticks and other tricks to help the rails withstand soil warming of 0.2 degree C and air warming of 2 degrees C on the plateau over the next 50 years. The figures—decided on in early 2003—were the least conservative, and thus the least expensive, to accommodate. In early 2006, as the five-year construction project finally neared completion, a Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) engineer named Wu Ziwang predicted that the rate of change was more serious, concluding that the frozen ground supporting the railway could be soaked with puddles within a decade. A lone voice at the time, the researcher was admonished for his candor, rebuked by his department, and later declined to be interviewed for this story when I visited his CAS office in Lanzhou, located deep in central China. Out of danger? Clearly, not everyone believes the railway is in imminent danger. According to Cheng Guodong, one of the project's master scientists, the permafrost directly under the rail bed may be thinning, but it is holding firm, and that bodes well for its ability to withstand further warming. In his 2006 paper published in the journal Cold Regions Science and Technology, he wrote, "The temperature of the permafrost under the duct…decreased remarkably." As a result of this, according to the paper, the frozen layers have spread upward in some places, freezing the dirt infill of the rail bed itself. Guodong explains that the construction impact posed a greater threat to the plateau permafrost than global warming. "The first two to three years might be the most dangerous period," he wrote in a translated e-mail in May. "If we had not considered the influencing factors well enough, thermal and stress adjustments would tell us." If the railway has done well this far, as he says it has, then it will likely withstand whatever stresses the climate throws at it next—at least for awhile. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ All Africa (Kenya): Sudan: Blue Helmets Think Green - Unamid Embarks on Tree- Planting Exercise 21 July 2009 6
  7. 7. As part of its efforts to enhance and develop the physical environment in the Mission area, UNAMID today commenced planting trees at its headquarters in El Fasher. An initial 50 seedlings were planted during today's exercise and it is expected that the project will culminate in December when the goal of 1,000 trees will be planted in all UNAMID compounds. Deputy Joint Special Representative, General Henry K. Anyidoho, noted that, in addition to bringing peace and security to Darfur, UNAMID was demonstrating through this initiative that it was committed to contributing to the enhancement of the environment in the area. He pointed out that the area's vegetation had been subject to further desertification, but the Mission was helping to improve those environmental conditions through its tree-planting project. The exercise is being undertaken following a recommendation by the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) on engaging ways to address the impact of the conflict in Darfur on the environment. The saplings used for today's exercise were provided by the national non-governmental organization, Practical Action and the project is being led by UNAMID's Gender Advisory Unit. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ 7sur7 (Belgium): Les derniers gorilles rwandais menacés par un incendie mercredi 22 juillet 2009 Le parc national des Volcans, situé dans le nord du Rwanda et qui abrite l'espèce en danger des gorilles de montagnes, est la proie d'un incendie depuis samedi qui ne menace pas pour l'instant les primates, ont rapporté mardi les autorités sur Radio Rwanda. "Le feu continue mais tout le monde est mobilisé", a déclaré sur Radio Rwanda (gouvernementale), Rosette Chantal Rugambwa, directrice de l'Office rwandais du tourisme et des parcs nationaux (ORTPN). Elle a indiqué que l'incendie, qui a détruit "entre 100 et 200 hectares", n'avait pas affecté le tourisme dans la région car "les gorilles sont éloignés" de la zone en proie à l'incendie. Ces gorilles sont la principale attraction du parc des Volcans. Selon Radio Rwanda, des hélicoptères de l'armée ont prêté main forte à la police pour tenter de maîtriser l'incendie. L'incendie, qui s'est déclaré au pied du volcan Muhabura, serait le fait d'un paysan qui n'a pas réussi à éteindre le feu qu'il avait allumé alors qu'il extrayait du miel d'une ruche, a ajouté la radio. Mme Rugambwa a appelé les riverains des parcs à redoubler de prudence lorsqu'ils allument des feux en cette saison sèche. Les derniers gorilles des montagnes sont concentrés dans les chaînes de montagnes traversant le Rwanda, l'Ouganda et la 7
  8. 8. République démocratique du Congo (RDC). Leur population totale serait d'environ 700, selon le Programme des Nations unies pour l'environnement (PNUE). Back to Menu ============================================================= 8
  9. 9. Other Environment News AFP: US moving toward strong climate action Tue Jul 21, 2:39 pm ET The United States has undergone an important mood-shift on climate change and is on the path toward "strong climate action," a key UN official said here Tuesday. "The mood is completely different now... There's a sense that the country's on the move toward strong climate action," Michael Zammit Cutajar, who chairs the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) working group on long-term cooperative action, told reporters. The US House of Representatives last month approved a bill that sets long-term limits on greenhouse gas emissions, a prime contributing factor to global warming, and aims to shift the US economy to one that runs on cleaner energy. The proposed law, called Waxman-Markey after the lawmakers who introduced it, calls on the United States to reduce emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from the level they were at four years ago when the Kyoto Protocol on climate change came into effect. But in a move that Zammit Cutajar said breaks with the previous US stance on climate change, the bill also takes a longer view and calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be slashed to just 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2050. "Previous US negotiators have always made it clear that they are not bound to any action following the target year," he said. "I find positively striking the idea in Waxman-Markey that this country could commit itself over a 40-year period," he said. "This time you have a view that gets the country onto the path that keeps going in the desired direction." Under the Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated in 1997, developed countries agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 to an average of around five percent below 1990 levels. The United States negotiated an emissions cut of seven percent below 1990 levels for itself, but then famously rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001. The cuts set by the American Clean Energy and Security Act for 2020 are the equivalent of a four-percent cut from 1990 levels. The US Senate has yet to vote on the bill. Back to Menu _________________________________________________________________ 9
  10. 10. AFP: Climate change: Bye-bye, black sheep? Tue Jul 21, 7:36 pm ET Another clue has been found in the Case of the Shrinking Sheep, an animal mystery in which climate change features as the principal culprit. The tale of scientific sleuthing is unfolding on two Scottish islands, Soay and Hirta, in the remote Outer Hebrides. Their sole inhabitants are wild sheep which probably arrived there with the first human settlers some 4,000 years ago. The sheep's isolation and lack of predators make them terrific candidates for studying the impact of weather, food and genetics on a wild animal population. The flock, suffering occasional surges and crashes in numbers, has been closely scrutinised since the 1950s. Two years ago, researchers came across a strange thing: The average size of the Soay sheep was progressively falling. That finding ran counter to Darwinian intuition. Evolutionary theory said that, given the cold, rough winter on the islands, bigger sheep had the better chance of survival, so their genes should progressively dominate the flock. The solution to this enigma, suggested Imperial College London scientists earlier this month, lies in global warming. Milder winters in recent decades have enabled smaller lambs, which otherwise would have died after birth, to survive into adulthood and then reproduce, they said. The climate whodunnit has now been backed by a trio of Australian experts, who have matched weather and population records with the colour of the sheep's coats. The smaller sheep that now dominate the flock are also lighter-haired ones, a link that has been proven by gene analysis. Bigger sheep tend to be darker. Why would coat colour make a difference? The answer, suggests the team led by University of Western Australia's Shane Maloney, is that, in colder times, sheep with darker coats have an advantage. Mammals with darker coats absorb more solar radiation and thus need to expend less food energy to keep warm than do their lighter counterparts. But, as the climate has warmed in the North Atlantic, this advantage has diminished, which gives more of a chance for lighter-haired (and smaller) rivals in the struggle to survive. 10
  11. 11. "If environmental effects are the cause of the decline, then we can expect the proportion of dark-coloured Soay sheep to decrease further," the fleece police add soberly. The study appears on Wednesday in Biology Letters, published by the Royal Society, Britain's de-facto academy of sciences. Back to Menu ============================================================= 11
  12. 12. RONA MEDIA UPDATE THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Tuesday, July 21, 2009 UNEP or UN in the News • Washington Post: Top UN climate expert faults G-8 goal without deed • Washington Post: Tiny Tuvalu says all its energy renewable by 2020 • Deutsche Welle: Sarkozy calls for a global organization on the environment • Business Wire: United Nations Identifies Agriculture as a Solution to Soaring CO2 Emissions — Approves First Agricultural CDM Methodology Top UN climate expert faults G-8 goal without deed By JOHN HEILPRIN, The Associated Press, Monday, July 20, 2009 7:00 PM UNITED NATIONS -- The chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said Monday that the Group of Eight nations had "clearly ignored" taking any concrete action to accomplish its new goal of limiting climate change. Rajendra Pachauri, whose scientific panel shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former vice president Al Gore in 2007, praised the G-8 summit in Italy this month for taking "a big step forward" by agreeing to limit the planet's average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above levels recorded 150 years ago. He faulted the world's wealthiest countries, however, because he said they "clearly ignored what the IPCC came up with" to reach that goal. "It's interesting that the G-8 leaders agreed on this aspirational goal of (limiting) a temperature increase of (no more than) 2 degrees Celsius, which certainly is a big step forward in my view," he told reporters at U.N. headquarters. "But what I find as a dichotomy in this position is the fact that they clearly ignored what the IPCC came up with." The question of which nations will agree to limit their heat-trapping gases mainly from fossil fuels is taking on increasing urgency at the United Nations, which is sponsoring the key round of talks in December to achieve a climate deal in Copenhagen, Denmark. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made it his No. 1 priority to persuade nations to agree to a successor treaty to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for reducing greenhouse gases, which expires at the end of 2012. Pachauri said the G-8 leaders also should have accepted the panel's conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions must peak no later than 2015 and then rich countries must reduce emissions from 2005 levels by between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020. Doing that, climate scientists say, may help the world avoid the worst effects of warming, which they say will lead to widespread drought, floods, higher sea levels and worsening storms. 12
  13. 13. "Now if the G-8 leaders agreed on this 2 degree increase as being the limit that could be accepted, then I think they should have also accepted the attendant requirement of global emissions peaking by 2015," he said. "And if that were to be the case, then they should most categorically have said that ... by 2020 there would have to be deep cuts in emissions." He said it also would have been helpful "if they had also spelled out what these deep cuts would be, but I'm afraid they haven't talked either about the deep cuts." Pachauri, who also is director-general of India-based TERI, The Energy and Resources Institute, praised President Barack Obama for making it a priority of his administration to achieve a climate deal in Copenhagen. The Bush administration had been opposed to the Kyoto climate pact, saying it would harm the U.S. economy and unfairly excluded cuts by developing nations such as India and China - the latter of which is overtaking the U.S. as the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. and India had at least acknowledged their "different perspectives" on climate change. An Indian official told Clinton that India won't accept limits on its greenhouse gases. Tiny Tuvalu says all its energy renewable by 2020 By MICHAEL CASEY, The Associated Press, Monday, July 20, 2009 10:00 AM BANGKOK -- The tiny island nation of Tuvalu, already under threat from rising seas caused by global warming, vowed Sunday to do its part for climate change by fueling its economy entirely from renewable sources by 2020. The South Pacific nation of 12,000 people is part of a movement of countries and cities committed to going climate neutral. Since February 2008, 10 nations including New Zealand, Pakistan, Iceland and Costa Rica have vowed to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases as part of a goal of reaching zero emissions in the next decade. None of these commitments alone is expected to make a significant difference in the fight to cut heat-trapping gases. But the United Nations and many environmentalists say the moves can inspire bigger emitters like the United States and China to take bolder steps to limit their carbon footprints. "In a sense, they are paving the way for medium and larger economies which have to move if we are going combat climate change," said Nick Nuttal, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme. It sponsors the Climate Neutral Network, a group of 100 governments, nongovernment groups and companies looking to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. "These smaller economies are out to prove you can do it, and do it faster than some people previously thought." Major polluters at the Group of Eight nations' summit earlier this month failed to agree on commitments to reduce carbon emissions. That indicates how difficult it will be to craft a new climate treaty later this year in Copenhagen, Denmark, one that would be a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. 13
  14. 14. Climate scientists have urged rich countries to reduce emissions from 2005 levels by between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020 to avoid the worst effects of warming, which they say will lead to widespread drought, floods, higher sea levels and worsening storms. For its part, Tuvalu hopes to replace the fossil fuels that it imports by ship with solar energy and wind power, a project that it expects will cost $20 million. Tuvalu already releases almost no greenhouse gases. But because of climate change, many South Pacific islands see worsening flooding amid predictions of a large sea level rise this century. The country is just 10 square miles (26 square kilometers) in size, with most of its land less than a yard (meter) above sea level. So far, Tuvalu has installed a 40 kilowatt solar energy system with the help of Japan's Kansai Electric Power Co. and Tokyo Electric Power Company, both members of the e8, an international nonprofit organization of 10 leading power utilities from G8 countries. "There may be other, larger solar power installations in the world, but none could be more meaningful to customers than this one," Takao Shiraishi, general manager of the Kansai Electric Power Co., said in a statement. "The plight of Tuvalu versus the rising tide vividly represents the worst early consequence of climate change," he added. "For Tuvalu, after 3,000 years of history, the success of U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen this December may well be a matter of national survival." The Tuvalu government is working to expand the initial $410,000 project from 40 to 60 kilowatts, and will extend solar power to outer islands, starting later this year with the commission of a $800,000, 46 kilowatt solar power system for a secondary school. The Italian government is supporting the project. "We thank those who are helping Tuvalu reduce its carbon footprint as it will strengthen our voice in those international negotiations," Public Utilities and Industries Minister Kausea Natano said in a statement. "And we look forward to the day when our nation offers an example to all - powered entirely by natural resources such as the sun and the wind." Sarkozy calls for a global organization on the environment French President Nicolas Sarkozy has stressed the need for a global environmental organization to help countries fight climate change. Sarkozy is in New York to attend a concert honoring Nelson Mandela. Deutsche Welle Online, 18.07.2009 French President Nicolas Sarkozy made the call for a global environmental organization after a working lunch at the French consulate in New York City with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, where the two took part in wide-ranging discussions on global issues, with climate change topping the agenda. Speaking on French television 14
  15. 15. after the meeting, Sarkozy called for new action on environmental issues, which were a major part of discussions at this month's G8 summit in Italy. Sarkozy didn't give any indication of how he thought this new global organization should be laid out. "We will fight, hand in hand, a battle against the consequences of climate change. We must create a global organization on the environment," he added. The key decision of the G8 summit was an agreement that world efforts should be directed towards limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above eighteenth-century levels, to prevent catastrophic climate and weather changes around the world. Ban said he was grateful for Sarkozy's "full commitment to work together to seal the deal in Copenhagen on a globally acceptable" climate change agreement. UNEP left out? The world already has a global environmental organization. It's called the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in June1972 as a result of the UN Conference on the Human Environment. Part of the mandate of the UNEP is "to promote international co-operation in the field of the environment and to recommend, as appropriate, policies to this end." Almost every international agreement on the environment has come under the auspices of the UNEP, including the Kyoto Protocol. It is unclear how a new global environmental organization would really be different. At an international conference on climate change in Copenhagen in December, governments are to agree on goals to fight climate change under a new Kyoto Protocol. The current protocol will expire in 2012. Sarkozy is in New York with his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to attend a fund raising concert to celebrate the 91st birthday of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Bruni- Sarkozy, the model turned singer turned first lady, will be performing at the concert. United Nations Identifies Agriculture as a Solution to Soaring CO2 Emissions — Approves First Agricultural CDM Methodology Bacteria to Replace Nitrogen Fertilizer to Create a More Sustainable Agricultural Production System in Developing Countries DES MOINES, Iowa--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The United Nations, at its June meeting, gave approval for the broad application of the first agricultural methodology for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. “The UN’s decision highlights how agriculture can provide solutions to climate change issues while feeding a growing world population,” said Peg Armstrong-Gustafson, owner 15
  16. 16. and founder, Amson Technology, LC, of Des Moines, Iowa, which, together with Becker Underwood, Inc., of Ames, Iowa, and Perspectives GmbH of Hamburg, Germany, is responsible for the agricultural methodology used to design projects that eliminate the use of synthetic nitrogen on legumes like soybeans and cowpeas. “By using a unique bacterium to stimulate the creation of nitrogen by the plant for its own use, called biological nitrogen fixation (BNF), the plant eliminates the need for the application of nitrogen fertilizer,” added Dr. Peter Innes, CEO, Becker Underwood. “We believe there are many bio-agronomic solutions to reducing CO2 emissions that could be implemented around the world to mitigate climate change.” “The methodology is pioneering,” said Matthias Krey, managing director, Perspectives GmbH. “Never before has the UN approved a CDM methodology for agriculture. We are unique in the marketplace in proposing a biological approach to reducing greenhouse gases. Through the UN process of methodology approval and revisions, we were able to craft a broad agricultural methodology that will bring new technology to farmers in emerging and developing countries.” “The production of nitrogen fertilizer is very energy intensive and releases considerable CO2 emissions,” Armstrong-Gustafson noted. “If we can eliminate the application of nitrogen fertilizer on legume crops, we can permanently reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer produced and avoid the CO2 it creates.” “We have identified the key countries where the methodology fits and will soon begin implementing local CDM projects,” Innes stated. “The unique bacteria from Becker Underwood will bring great benefit to the farmers enrolled in the projects and great benefit to the environment.” The three firms launched the project more than three years ago. “With the CDM methodology that we have developed, we are making an active contribution to climate protection and developing a sustainable transfer model for technology to emerging and developing countries,” Armstrong-Gustafson commented. “It is an environmentally and economically sensible model.” “CDM projects run for up to 21 years and operate under the terms of the methodology for measuring and monitoring the reduction of CO2 emissions,” Krey explained. “The long-term goal is to see the new technology expand beyond the borders of the project and be adopted by all farmers to create a more sustainable and productive farming operation.” The Companies: Amson Technology, LC, is a greenhouse-gas-reduction and sustainability consulting firm. Becker Underwood, Inc., is a leading developer of bio-agronomic and specialty products. Perspectives GmbH, a Point Carbon company, is a high-quality greenhouse gas reduction market solutions provider. 16
  17. 17. Background: Clean Development Mechanism The clean development mechanism (CDM) is part of the Kyoto Protocol, which industrialized countries have signed as a commitment to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. CDM enables the industrialized nations to meet their targets flexibly and cost effectively. Under the CDM, industrialized countries can purchase emission reduction certificates, called Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), from projects reducing emissions in developing countries that do not have a reduction commitment under the Kyoto Protocol. Stringent eligibility criteria and a robust emission reduction accounting mechanism is an important feature of CDM. This quality assurance is vital because CERs can be bought and sold globally, are eligible under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), and will very likely be accountable in the proposed federal U.S. ETS. General Environment News • Reuters: Some Shrinking U.S. Cities Find Splendor in Green • Reuters: U.S. says China must "pay" to cut greenhouse gases • Reuters: Obama feels the heat, changes the play • New York Times: How Accurate Is Emissions Reporting? • New York Times: Maritime Group Seeks Cleaner Fuel for Ships • Washington Post: Chemicals That Eased One Woe Worsen Another • New York Times: 137 Years Later • San Francisco Chronicle: Scientists zoom in on carbon dioxide in NYC • San Francisco Chronicle: HOT ISSUE: Should we deliberately move species? • Globe and Mail: TransAlta signals green intentions with Canadian Hydro bid • Globe and Mail: Prairie lakes drying up • Globe and Mail: Despite the recession, many are still spending green to be green • Globe and Mail: Green makeovers all the rage in an ugly market • Vancouver Sun: End of plastic bag era means relearning some old skills • Bloomberg: Bye Bye, Birdie: Global Warming Pushes Migratory Species North • Vancouver Sun: San Francisco on cutting edge of the carbon credit culture • Financial Post: Renewable Solutions to Energy, Manufacturing, and Consumer Products Presented • Ottawa Citizen: Good-news stories shine amid sorry environmental policy Some Shrinking U.S. Cities Find Splendor in Green Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:59am EDT, By Andy Sullivan and Kevin Krolicki WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - For some U.S. Rust Belt cities, the future will be smaller and greener. As communities from Buffalo to Milwaukee struggle with shuttered factories and vacant neighborhoods, some have turned abandoned properties into parks, gardens and other open space, even going so far as to plow under entire neighborhoods. 17
  18. 18. A recognition that the glory days of factory-powered prosperity will not return any time soon, this "shrinking cities" strategy aims to consolidate what remains into denser neighborhoods and more vibrant downtowns. In Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors, a pioneering program that allows local government to capture profits from tax foreclosures has generated funds to demolish over 1,000 abandoned homes in the past five years. "There's a gravitational pull that we're a part of and it's toward a smaller city," said Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County surrounding Flint. "This is not a plan to shrink Flint, it's an acknowledgment that we've lost half our population." Flint's fortunes -- like those of GM -- have been on the decline for decades. In the late 1970s, there were more than 80,000 GM workers in Flint centered on a sprawling industrial complex known as Buick City. GM's city-within-a-city covered 235 acres (951,000 square meters) and employed more than 25,000 people. Foremen had to ride bicycles to cover the distances between production areas. But GM had cut over 90 percent of its jobs in Flint even before it filed for bankruptcy in June. All that remains of Buick City is a bulldozed and fenced-in field and almost a third of the surrounding neighborhoods are abandoned. The solution Kildee is promoting is a county "land bank" that sells off more valuable foreclosed properties in the surrounding suburbs to generate cash to pay for demolition and create inner-city gardens and parks. THE WAY FORWARD A tour of one of the hardest-hit Flint neighborhoods just north of downtown shows the depth of the problem: The only occupied house on the block has a spray-painted warning to stay off the yard. Across the street, patches of grass are waist high and strewn with empty liquor bottles and broken glass. "It's really personal to me," Kildee said. "This is the neighborhood where my grandmother lived for 60 years." Other land bank funds, supported by grants from charities including the Mott Foundation, have underwritten an effort to reclaim and restore buildings in Flint's once largely abandoned downtown. "It's hard for political leaders to acknowledge that maybe we're just not going to grow," Kildee said. "This is a radical experiment in that it's accepting that it's okay to be smaller -- and to be better." Urban planners say Kildee has shown the way forward for other struggling cities. 18
  19. 19. "He's really forced folks in Flint to really make some hard decisions and accept some difficult realities," said Charles Smith, a planner with the Michigan-based firm Wade Trim. But this smaller-city approach risks a backlash from voters who may see it as an admission of defeat, planners say. "Nobody wants to admit that -- it's in part tied up with this American ideology of growth being good," said Jess Zimbabwe, executive director at the Urban Land Institute Rose Center, a nonprofit focused on sustainable land use. The concept was pioneered in former East German cities like Leipzig that emptied out when the Berlin Wall fell. Development efforts were concentrated on downtown areas, waterfronts and other pedestrian-friendly sites to foster a sense of vibrancy and density for those who remained, said Bruce Katz, director of the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. In the United States' older industrial areas, several cities are starting to take a similar approach: * Youngstown, Ohio, the poorest mid-size city in the United States, plans to knock down 2,000 abandoned buildings by next year as part of a citywide rezoning effort that aims to concentrate redevelopment on viable neighborhoods and commercial districts. * Cleveland is encouraging neighborhood-level experiments to turn vacant lots into parks, commercial vegetable gardens, orchards and other useful open space. The city does not plan to raze entire neighborhoods, even those where 80 percent of the housing stock is abandoned. "We're not at that point yet," said Bobbi Reichtel of the nonprofit group Neighborhood Progress, which has been directing federal money to these experiments. * Highland Park, just north of downtown Detroit, has applied for federal money to demolish several largely abandoned neighborhoods and let them lie fallow until a new use can be found. Home to Henry Ford's first assembly line, the city has experienced a drop in population to a third of its 1940 level. Unemployment is at 22 percent. * Philadelphia has cleaned up 11 million square feet (1.02 million square meters) of vacant land since 2003 and plans to convert some lots into parks or community gardens. AVOIDING THE PROBLEM Other cities, however, have avoided tackling the problem. Planners say Detroit could reinvent itself as a network of vibrant neighborhoods connected by parks or agricultural space, but scandal has racked the city's leadership and surrounding suburbs have no inclination to help fund the effort. New Orleans likewise rejected a proposal to raze some neighborhoods that Hurricane Katrina devastated in 2005. Now the city struggles to deliver services to sparsely 19
  20. 20. populated "jack o'lantern" neighborhoods, so named because only a few rebuilt houses on some blocks light up at night. States and the U.S. government can help. Michigan has passed "land bank" legislation that makes it easier for cities like Flint to take control of abandoned property and consolidate it into larger parcels. Instead of spending federal highway funds to encourage suburban sprawl, states could use that money to knock down underused freeways that carve barriers through cities such as Syracuse, New York, Katz said. The recession and the foreclosure crisis have forced many cities to take a second look at a policy they may have initially rejected, Katz said. "I think we're on the verge of something very different in many of these places," said Katz, who has urged other Ohio cities to follow Youngstown's lead. "I see a much greater openness to this than I did even five years ago." U.S. says China must "pay" to cut greenhouse gases Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:22pm EDT, By Doug Palmer WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China and other developing nations must help "pay" for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said on Monday, backing off a recent statement that put a greater burden on the United States. As the United States and other developed countries make costly commitments to address climate change, "developing countries like China must do the same," Locke told members of the Manufacturing Council, a private sector advisory group. "They've got to step up. They've got to pay for the cost of complying with global climate change. They've got to invest in energy efficiency and conservation, but also very definitive steps in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Locke said. The comment followed Locke's statement last week in China that U.S. consumers should pay for the carbon content of goods they consume from countries around the world. "It's important that those who consume the products being made all around the world to the benefit of America -- and it's our own consumption activity that's causing the emission of greenhouse gases, then quite frankly Americans need to pay for that," Locke told the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai after meetings with Chinese officials in Beijing. A Commerce Department spokesman said Locke was not endorsing a tax on imports or any other particular policy option to reduce the carbon content of imported goods. 20
  21. 21. Instead, Locke was trying to say U.S. companies must not be put at a trade disadvantage as the United States moves to pass legislation to rein in greenhouse gas emissions that come primarily from burning fossil fuels, the spokesman said. "There's an obvious concern that U.S. companies compete on a level playing field. As the voice in the cabinet for American business, that's the concern the secretary was trying to convey," the spokesman said. China recently passed the United States as the largest overall greenhouse gas emitter, though U.S. per capita emissions still far exceed China's. Locke and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu were in China last week to discuss how the two countries could work together on clean energy technologies to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. At a closing press conference in Beijing, the two cabinet secretaries praised China for the steps it was already taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and said it was a model for other developing countries to follow. The Commerce spokesman said Locke had in fact stressed to Chinese leaders throughout his visit that they needed to take further steps to reduce the country's "carbon footprint." Obama feels the heat, changes the play Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:26pm EDT, By BEN SMITH POLITICO (Washington) -- Finally, we're starting to see him sweat. President Barack Obama made his personal icy cool the trademark of his campaign, the tenor of his White House and the hallmark of an early run of successes at home and abroad. But as the glamour wears off and a long, frustrating summer wears on, he is being forced to improvise — stooping to respond to political foes and adjusting his tactics and demeanor for the trench warfare of a legislative agenda. The root of the change is one that faces every president: Economic and international realities that resist political charm. Iran and North Korea have shown no interest in the president's outstretched hand. The economy has delivered a double-whammy, with rising unemployment stirring voters' concerns while sluggish growth deprives the government of tax revenues Obama would like to spend on new programs. Health care reform, which once appeared flush with momentum from earlier congressional victories, is now on a slog through no less than five committees, which include Democrats who either aren't sold on Obama's expansive vision or can't figure out how to convince voters to pay for it. "This is when it gets harder," the president told supporters June 30. And so it has. 21
  22. 22. In turn, Obama has adjusted, deviating from the playbook on every front. The cool president has turned hot on the stump, stripping to shirtsleeves to lambaste doubters in New Jersey Thursday. He departed from his prepared remarks last week to accept a Republican challenge to take personal ownership of the economy: "That's fine. Give it to me," he said. Even Obama's scripted speeches are deliberately more forceful, aggressive and direct in taking on critics, aides say. Friday remarks at the White House had a trash-talk edge - count me out and you'll be sorry. Obama's political operation has dispensed with its post-inauguration cocktails for Republicans - or more often, ignoring them outright — in favor of the old politics of engage, attack and cajole. Obama's even engaging in a little Democrat-on-Democrat politics, as his ex-campaign arm is beaming TV ads into the home states of moderate fence-sitters on health care. The tightly programed White House also is champing at the bit, kicking off what officials say will be a relentless three-week push on health care, starting with the hastily scheduled Friday address. But its first event might have backfired a bit. Its main consequence was proving that the magnetism of Obama's personal appearances has worn off, as it drew little media attention and a dismissive tweet from the key Senate Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa: "Waste of time." The sum has been a new sense of uncertainty and strain, and a growing murmur among Democrats in Washington nervous about the White House's tactics, and a rising tide of concern in the states as local Democratic parties eye midterm elections that are traditionally a challenge for a new president. "That honeymoon period is over, " said Chris Redfern, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. "Now they're having to push back, and push back hard." White House officials and allies brush off any notion that this new sense of unease is meaningful. The only true test, they say, will be results. Obama still might win major health care reform legislation this year that could be the most important new government program in decades. He has a fighting chance to pass regulations on greenhouse gases, in the form of a "cap and trade" mechanism, through the Senate. And Obama continues to press hard, if with no clear progress, for a breakthrough in the Middle East. "It's the third quarter, he's down by a point, and he's got his best player on the bench - what really is going to be important is the fall," said James Carville, the veteran Democratic observer. "If he gets what's perceived to be some kind of a major health care thing, gets the climate bill through, if the economy recovers, then we'll all say he had a hell of a summer. Conversely, if the thing falls apart, we'll say that by July the 19th we could tell the thing was going bad." 22
  23. 23. White House Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer dismissed the suggestion that Obama should be expected to succeed effortlessly - or that he's on a path toward failure on any of these varied fronts. "Obama and his team have been down this road dozens of times and been declared dead many times and always succeeded," he said. "No one gets rich betting against Barack Obama." The most visible aspect of the White House's new feistiness is an increasing willingness to engage Republican legislators whose criticisms Obama earlier had been happier to overlook. Relentless criticism of the stimulus package from a House Republican leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, drew a furious barrage from the Democratic National Committee and a visit from no smaller figure than the Vice President of the United States. Rank and file Republicans who criticize the stimulus have also suddenly found themselves under a concerted DNC assault that asks if they'd prefer the federal funding left their districts out. And criticism from Sen Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) drew letters from no fewer than four Cabinet secretaries to his state's governor, asking if she would prefer they withheld stimulus money. That pushback has been urged, and welcomed, by state leaders like Redfern and Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer. "The DNC has been and we were quickly able to rebut and demonstrate all the money that is being spent in their respective districts," said Brewer of two GOP congressmen attacking the stimulus. "They've backed off." Still, many Democrats say the Republican attacks on spending are taking their toll. "The rhetoric is so empty, but it is fairly consistent and I think it's had an impact on those in middle," said Ohio's Redfern. But when the White House pushback focused not on Republicans but Democrats on health-care - in the form of Organizing for America ads running in the home states of moderate senators -- some in the party called foul, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) The vote last month in the House on the American Clean Energy Security Act showed a willingness to get White House hands dirty in a different way. Wrangling votes for the "cap and trade" legislation in the House, Obama backed off a campaign promise to auction off all "allowances" - permits to release a set amount of greenhouse gases. Instead of selling them to raise money for other environmental initiatives, the White House allowed congressional Democratic leaders to trade them for votes, assigning allowances to the refinery-heavy district of, for instance, Texas Rep. Gene Green in exchange for his support. The battle over health care, the centerpiece of the President's summer, has also hardened into a fairly conventional Washington fight, a new president's sweeping agenda colliding with congressional caution. Obscure Washington figures like Congressional Budget Office chief Doug Elmendorf and Senate Finance Committee 23
  24. 24. Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) have shown the ability to pose a real threat to the White House juggernaut. And some of the White House's close allies have grown jittery about what they say is a strategy to spend the three weeks leading up to the Senate's August recess - the insecure deadline for health care votes in both houses - with a series of events aimed at building public pressure on Congress. "They're great at campaigns, but legislative battles are different," said a senior Democrat close to the White House. "It's not about persuading 51 percent of the American people - it's about seven senators." In another mark of Obama's constant adjustments, his latest remarks didn't mention the August deadline. White House allies acknowledge the new strains, but say the hard work will pay off. "A lot of the hard stuff he's doing now will pay dividends," said John Del Cecato, a former Obama campaign aide. Meanwhile, admiration of Obama's personal qualities has been tempered, even among sympathetic observers, with anxiety for where his agenda will stand at summer's end. Comedy Central's Jon Stewart noted recently that Obama told a Pakistani interviewer that he is an accomplished chef of Pakistani cuisines and reads the great Urdu poets. "Mr. President," Stewart said, "while I am impressed with your Renaissance Man-level of knowledge in a plethora of subjects, may I humbly say: That's great. Just fix the economy!" How Accurate Is Emissions Reporting? New York Times, July 20, 2009, 11:37 am ,By Kate Galbraith The Carbon Disclosure Project said that about 59 percent of Fortune 500 companies that voluntarily conduct emissions assessments have their numbers independently verified. Each day, more companies claim to have slashed their carbon footprints or achieved other sustainability goals. But how meaningful are these claims, and are they independently verified? The short answer: It’s murky. In the United States, which does not yet require companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, experts say there is no clear standard for reporting carbon footprints, and not every company gets their numbers verified by a third party. “There’s a lack of standardization, and that’s the biggest issue right now,” said Eric Israel, who heads the sustainability practice at KPMG, an auditing firm. 24
  25. 25. Andrea Moffat of CERES, a group of investors and environmentalists, said that the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development have come up with a methodology for reporting emissions related to a company’s on-site energy usage. However, she said, there is no agreed-on protocol for emissions drawn from a company’s supply chain. Mr. Israel said that even the existing emissions guidelines from those groups were not enough. “It gives some very high-level guidance about how to measure your greenhouse gases, but it doesn’t really provide the kind of detail you need,” he said. As for information contained in corporate sustainability reports, Mr. Israel said, these tend to be “company-specific standards.” Look to the fine print, he advised, for details of the methodology. At the Carbon Disclosure Project, which claims the “largest database of corporate climate change information in the world,” 59 percent of the Fortune 500 companies that voluntarily reported their emissions got those numbers externally verified, according to Andrea Lee, a spokeswoman. Meanwhile, the clamor for emissions reporting continues to increase. Last week, Wal- Mart announced that it would ask its suppliers 15 questions about their emissions of greenhouse gases (among other factors), in order to give items sold in Wal-Mart stores an overall sustainability rating. “We expect our suppliers to answers these questions honestly,” said Kory Lundberg, a media manager at Wal-Mart, in an e-mail message. “We will have ways to verify, both internally and through independent third parties, the responses to our questions, but we don’t plan to audit every answer from every supplier.” Mr. Israel of KPMG said that climate legislation in the United States could prompt improved reporting and verification. “If we have a cap-and-trade system in place, we have to be very clear about what’s included and what’s not included in greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “Right now there’s no consistency.” Maritime Group Seeks Cleaner Fuel for Ships Washington Post, By HENRY FOUNTAIN, July 21, 2009, Observatory Oceangoing ships are not the cleanest form of transportation. Their fuels usually have high sulfur content, which leads to high particulate emissions. And air that is high in particulates has been linked to health problems like asthma, heart attacks and lung cancer, particularly among people who live in coastal areas. As a result, the International Maritime Organization has adopted policies calling for reducing the sulfur content of marine fuels, from an average of about 3 percent currently to 0.5 percent by 2020. A few areas have been created, notably in the Baltic and North seas, that will require use of fuel with even less sulfur. 25
  26. 26. A study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology suggests that such reductions, if enforced, would cut the number of potential premature deaths due to ship emissions in half in some cases. James J. Winebrake of the Rochester Institute of Technology and colleagues modeled the impact of reducing sulfur content globally, and within 200 miles of coastal areas, versus maintaining the status quo. They found that by 2012, with no reduction in sulfur content, about 87,000 premature deaths annually could be attributed to ship emissions. Reducing sulfur content to half of one percent worldwide would cut that number by about 41,000, they said. Chemicals That Eased One Woe Worsen Another By David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, July 20, 2009 This is not the funny kind of irony: Scientists say the chemicals that helped solve the last global environmental crisis -- the hole in the ozone layer -- are making the current one worse. The chemicals, called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), were introduced widely in the 1990s to replace ozone-depleting gases used in air conditioners, refrigerators and insulating foam. They worked: The earth's protective shield seems to be recovering. But researchers say what's good for ozone is bad for climate change. In the atmosphere, these replacement chemicals act like "super" greenhouse gases, with a heat-trapping power that can be 4,470 times that of carbon dioxide. Now, scientists say, the world must find replacements for the replacements -- or these super-emissions could cancel out other efforts to stop global warming. "Whatever targets you thought you were going to make," said David Fahey, a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "it will be undermined by the fact that you have . . . additional emissions that you hadn't planned on." The colorless, odorless replacement chemicals enter the atmosphere in tiny amounts, often leaking out of refrigerators and air conditioners, or escaping when those machines break and are improperly dumped. They now account for about 2 percent of the climate- warming power of U.S. emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That is still far less than carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning fossil fuels and accounts for about 85 percent of the problem. And it is less than the roughly 10 percent of warming from methane, which comes from sources including farm animals and decomposing trash. But in recent weeks, these obscure gases have been given a higher profile in the carbon-dominated debate on climate change. 26
  27. 27. Last month, a group of scientists published a paper projecting that, if unchecked, the emissions would rise rapidly over the next 40 years. By 2050, they found, the amount of super greenhouse gases in the atmosphere might be equal to six or more years' worth of carbon dioxide emissions. And last week, diplomats met in Geneva to discuss ideas for a worldwide reduction in HFCs. "You have this moment when you could nip this problem in the bud and avoid this very large growth of a dangerous chemical," said David Doniger, policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center, from Geneva. "Now, in the next couple of years, is when you have to do this." The roots of the problem go back to the 1970s, when scientists theorized that chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were slowly eroding stratospheric ozone. That was a dangerous thing, since the ozone layer protects the planet from harmful UV radiation. In 1987, governments signed the Montreal Protocol, agreeing to reduce CFCs. Since then, this agreement has been a kind of bureaucratic miracle: Ninety-six percent of ozone-depleting substances have been phased out, according to the United Nations. The United Nations says there is still a hole in the ozone above the South Pole, but global ozone levels are expected to return to their pre-1980 level by about 2050. "If this were a soccer team . . . it's won every single game," said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. "That's astounding in the international environmental field." It worked because chemists engineered substitutes for CFCs, new gases without the propensity to chemically unlock ozone molecules. The replacements could still chill cold cuts and Chevrolets -- in refrigerators and under car hoods, they are compressed and uncompressed in a process that sucks heat out of passing air. But the chemicals' strong bonds also cause them to act as heat sponges in Earth's atmosphere, absorbing energy from the sun and keeping it from being reflected out into space. In the "blanket" created by heat-trapping gases, that makes them especially heavy strands. "Pound for pound, they're much more powerful than CO2, you know -- hundreds or thousands of times more powerful," said NOAA physicist Fahey. Exactly how powerful depends on the makeup of the gases. One, common in fridges and auto air conditioners, lasts 12 to 14 years in the atmosphere and has 1,430 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide. Another has a 52-year life and 4,470 times the power. According to the recent paper, there will soon be many more of them, as developing countries become more prosperous and their people buy vehicles and air conditioners. 27
  28. 28. Even if the world makes significant progress in reducing carbon dioxide and methane -- still a big if, since recent negotiations on the topic have produced little -- the scientists said the growth in HFCs could undo a significant part of their work. Internationally, the gases are still supposed to be dealt with in the same vast and balky negotiations that will reduce carbon dioxide. So they will probably be on the table when diplomats gather in Copenhagen in December to create a successor to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. But many environmental groups, including the nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency, say they would like to see the gases regulated using the Montreal Protocol, because the framework succeeded in dealing with other pollutants. "The climate problem is not one global problem. It's a package of global problems," said Zaelke, of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. "You can reach in and pull out a piece." Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chair two powerful committees, urged this approach in a letter to President Obama in April. Last week, an official said the administration was still deciding what approach to support. A bigger question: What will replace these chemicals? Experts say that some substitutes, with less global warming impact, can be made with new HFCs or by using ammonia or butane. But others are needed. "We don't know all of them yet," said Mack McFarland, global environmental manager for DuPont Fluoroproducts, a division of Delaware-based DuPont. 137 Years Later New York Times, July 21, 2009, Editorial It’s hard to believe that the 1872 mining law is still with us. Signed by Ulysses S. Grant four years before the invention of the telephone, the law sets the rules for mining hardrock minerals like gold and copper. Useful in the days of westward expansion, it is a disaster now. It demands no royalties from the mining companies and provides minimal environmental protections. Its legacy, if it can be called that, is a battered landscape of abandoned mines and poisoned streams. Republican and Democratic presidents alike have urged Congress to reform the law. Yet it survives, thanks largely to Congressional inertia and friends in high places. At the moment, that friend is Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader who resists reform because mining is big business in his home state of Nevada. Still there is hope for change. In 2007, the House passed a good bill that would require mining companies to pay royalties, just like oil and coal producers do. The money would help pay for cleanups of abandoned mines. The bill would also strengthen environmental safeguards and allow the secretary of the interior to block mines that pose a clear danger to the environment. 28
  29. 29. Senator Jeff Bingaman, the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced a comparable bill in April. This is the first comprehensive reform bill the Senate has seen in years. But what really encourages those who seek a better law is the Obama administration’s ardent and public support. Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, told Mr. Bingaman’s committee last week that he saw mining law reform as a “top-tier issue” that he hoped would not be buried under other Congressional priorities. And this week, using his emergency authority under another law, Mr. Salazar placed a temporary hold on any new mines on about one million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon. These are enormously encouraging gestures from a department that resisted reform during the Bush years. It bears repeating that these reforms do no more than subject the mining industry to practices that oil and gas operators, coal miners and other intensive users of the public lands — including ski areas — have operated under without strain for decades. Our hope is that Mr. Bingaman’s leadership and Mr. Salazar’s enthusiasm for change will command the attention of Mr. Reid and, in time, force a vote on the Senate floor. One can live in the 19th century for only so long. Scientists zoom in on carbon dioxide in NYC By JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press Writer, San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, July 19, 2009 (07-19) 09:39 PDT New York (AP) -- Wade McGillis peered up at the structure propped like a high-tech stick figure — minus the head — on an elementary school roof. Then he examined the electronics attached to its spindly metal frame, looking out over the Harlem brownstones nearby and the skyscrapers farther away. Within 15 minutes, a graph spiked in his office eight blocks away. The abrupt peak marked the carbon dioxide the Columbia University environmental engineering professor and three visitors had exhaled. The spike was an anomaly, but it proved the rooftop device had done its job, helping to break down questions about global warming to a local level. "We're unraveling the story of how carbon (dioxide) changes over the day, changes from neighborhood to neighborhood, and changes from the country to the city," said McGillis, who has set up seven sensors in and around New York City. The newest, in Central Park, was installed this spring. The urban experiment shows a growing interest by researchers in tracking how much of the heat-trapping gas a city, neighborhood or building puts in the atmosphere, and how much the urban environment can suck out. Some scientists hope the data might eventually help shape efforts to curb emissions of carbon dioxide — one of the main contributors to global warming — and measure whether such efforts are effective. 29
  30. 30. Carbon dioxide is emitted by various natural processes, including animals' breathing. But human activities — especially burning coal, oil natural gas and other fossil fuels — have greatly increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap heat on the planet's surface, causing a range of climate effects, many scientists and regulators say. The rise of greenhouse gases already has increased temperatures, sea levels and heavy rains enough to affect water supplies, agriculture and health, and the effects are expected to worsen, scientists told the Obama administration in a report released last month. The report calls for more work on distinguishing human and natural factors in climate change and scaling the information down to local levels. McGillis' monitors are in locales ranging from Harlem to rural eastern Long Island, about 80 miles away. The sensors measure carbon dioxide levels, wind speeds and other weather data every 15 minutes, submitting the data wirelessly. Readings are posted online soon after they're taken. The monitors in Central Park and Harlem are only about two miles apart but often show notable differences in carbon dioxide levels, he said, and reflect how people and nature intertwine to affect the gases' ebb and flow. McGillis' three-year-old project joins a growing list of efforts to keep tabs on carbon dioxide. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now has about 70 carbon dioxide sensors around the world, many in remote areas. The agency hopes to do more carbon dioxide monitoring in cities to help test whether efforts to curb carbon emissions are effective, said Pieter Tans, who runs the monitor network. Most power plants have been required to monitor their carbon dioxide emissions since the 1990s. Scientists have done carbon monitoring experiments of their own in Chicago, Salt Lake City and southern California, among other places. Purdue University researcher Kevin Gurney sends a low-flying plane over Indianapolis to sample the gas in an attempt to gauge carbon dioxide emissions building by building. He combines air samples with a range of emissions, traffic and other data. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also is seeking more local specifics on greenhouse gas emissions, and proposed requiring annual reports from about 13,000 fuel refineries, car manufacturers and other large industrial facilities. The reporting could involve some monitoring but would largely rely on calculating emissions from burning fuel, said Bill Irving, an official in the EPA's climate change division. "Our view is, at this stage, the advanced, rigorous calculation approaches are justified," he said. 30
  31. 31. Coal industry lobbyist Scott Segal says industrial emissions calculations are refined enough that more monitoring wouldn't add much information. HOT ISSUE: Should we deliberately move species? By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer, Monday, July 20, 2009, San Francisco Chronicle, (07-20) 12:52 PDT LOS ANGELES, (AP) -- On naked patches of land in western Canada and United States, scientists are planting trees that don't belong there. It's a bold experiment to move trees threatened by global warming into places where they may thrive amid a changing climate. Take the Western larch with its thick grooved bark and green needles. It grows in the valleys and lower mountain slopes in British Columbia's southern interior. Canadian foresters are testing how its seeds will fare when planted farther north — just below the Arctic Circle. Something similar will be tried in the Lower 48. Researchers will uproot moisture-loving Sitka spruce and Western redcedar that grace British Columbia's coastal rainforests and drop their seedlings in the dry ponderosa pine forests of Idaho. All of this swapping begs the question: Should humans lend nature a helping hand? With global warming threatening the livelihoods of certain plants and animals, this radical idea once dismissed in scientific circles has moved to the forefront of debate and triggered strong emotions among conservationists. About 20 to 30 percent of species worldwide face a high risk of becoming extinct possibly by 2100 as global temperatures rise, estimated a 2007 report by the Nobel- winning international climate change panel. The group noted that current conservation practices are "generally poorly prepared to adapt to this level of change." Deliberating moving a species has long been opposed by some, who believe we should not play God with nature and worry that introducing an exotic species — intentionally or not — could upset the natural balance and cause unforeseen ripple effects. It has happened before with dire results. Two decades ago, zebra mussels were accidentally introduced into the Great Lakes and millions are now spent every year removing the pest from water pipes. Others counter that given the grim realities of a warming planet, it would be irresponsible not to intervene as a conservation strategy. Otherwise, trees may suffer from ravaging disease epidemics while critters unable to head north may find themselves trapped in a declining landscape. "A tree that we plant today better damn well be adapted to the climate for 80 years, not just the climate today," said Greg O'Neill, a geneticist with the British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range. "We really have to think long-term." O'Neill is heading the government-funded experiment that will transform certain North American forests into climate change laboratories. The large-scale, first-of-its-kind test 31
  32. 32. involves purposely planting seeds from more a dozen timber species outside their normal comfort zone to see how well they survive decades from now. It's more than just a brainy exercise. The findings are expected to guide the British Columbia government on forest management policies. While the experiment deals with moving seeds long distances into unaccustomed climates, O'Neill said any real-life action will not be as drastic. Outsiders are also keenly watching the experiment as a test case for what is professionally known as "assisted migration." "We'd all prefer species to move naturally," said Duke conservation biologist Stuart Pimm. But "sometimes you just can't get there from here. Some species are going to be isolated and they're going to get stuck." The notion of relocating species as a pre-emptive strike against climate change has been largely theoretical. In recent years, some groups have tried assisted migration on a limited basis, most notably the effort by volunteers who last year planted seedlings of the endangered Torreya tree found in Florida to the cooler southern Appalachians. The Canadian experiment currently under way will cover a broad swath, with tree plantings dotting the Yukon near Alaska to southern Oregon. Past warmings have forced species to migrate to survive without human help. While some have learned to adapt to new surroundings, other have gone extinct. Faced with the possibility of much more rapid climate change, scientists say, some species may not be able to move fast enough to their new destinations and may need a little power boost to preserve biodiversity. In North America, some critters have already started their march north. The Edith's checkerspot butterfly, which vanished from its southern range, is now fluttering 75 miles higher in elevation. Red foxes have encroached farther into northern Canada and evicted the arctic foxes. On the plant side, spruce forests are invading the Arctic tundra and impacting caribou and sheep that live there. In the past century, aspen trees in Colorado have moved into the cold-loving spruce fir forests. How trees will fare in a warmer world is a concern because they tend to be less flighty than animals. Trees depend on wind and pollinators to spread their seeds. And once a tree is planted, it's harder to move it. Last year, the British Columbia government took the first steps toward ensuring that trees in the province are adapted to future climates by relaxing its seed rules for timber companies when they replant on logged land. Seeds of most tree species can now be planted up to 1,600 feet higher than their current location. The government's latest experiment will study how humans can help trees move to more northerly spots where they do not currently grow, but may find themselves existing there years from now. It will not deal with introducing foreign tree species, O'Neill said. 32
  33. 33. This spring, crews fanned across rugged mountains and began the first dozen plantings on cleared forest land in British Columbia's southern interior and on a private plot near Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Each test site contains some 3,000 seedlings, on average a foot tall, planted side-by- side on five acres. Fluorescent pin-flags and aluminum stakes dot the corners so that scientists can come back every five years to document their health. The project will eventually include 48 plots around British Columbia, Washington state, Oregon, Montana and Idaho. It will test the ability of 15 tree species to survive in environments colder and hotter than they're used to. O'Neill knows that some trees will die and others will go through erratic growth cycles. In fact, he estimates about 50 percent of the plantings may die, but he needs to collect the data to get an idea of how much they can tolerate. "It will take several extreme climatic events to find out the winners and losers," he said. TransAlta signals green intentions with Canadian Hydro bid $653-million offer would give the heavily coal-based company one of the largest wind and renewable portfolios in the country By Shawn McCarthy, Ottawa — Globe and Mail Update Last updated on Tuesday, Jul. 21, 2009 04:39AM EDT TransAlta Corp. (TA-T20.950.150.72%) is sending a clear signal that it is counting on renewable power to fuel its growth for at least the next decade, unveiling a hostile offer for Canada's largest independent alternative energy producer. TransAlta, whose traditional coal-fired power business faces years of government- imposed stagnation as a result of pending climate change regulations, Monday launched a $653-million bid for Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., (KHD-T4.980.081.63%) which has a stable of operating and planned wind, hydro and biomass projects. Analysts said they expect TransAlta, one of Canada's largest electricity producers, will have to boost its $4.55-a-share offer after Canadian Hydro rebuffed TransAlta's earlier, seven-month courtship aimed at securing a friendly deal. Faced with burdensome climate change regulations, the company doesn't expect to build any new coal plants once it completes its Keephills 3 plant, scheduled to open in 2011. TransAlta chief executive officer Steve Snyder said the industry has to find commercially viable means to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions for new coal- and natural-gas-fired plants. “Thermal energy, and coal in particular, are going to have to develop cost-competitive technologies to fundamentally reduce their carbon footprint in order to be a viable part of the electricity mix,” Mr. Snyder said in a telephone interview. 33
  34. 34. “Do I think it is going to happen? Yes. Do I think it is going to happen in the next 10 years? No. But it will happen.” In the meantime, power producers like TransAlta will have to turn to renewable sources – including wind, hydro and biomass – to meet electricity demand that is expected to grow again once the recession ends. TransAlta now relies on renewables for 15 per cent of its power output. That share would climb to 22 per cent with the acquisition of Canadian Hydro Developers. TransAlta would also reduce its emissions of greenhouse gas on a per-megawatt basis. It could use new projects planned by Canadian Hydro – as well as those TransAlta is currently developing – to offset emissions from its coal- and natural-gas-fired plants in order to meet federal climate change regulations that are expected to be announced later this year. However, until the federal government unveils its regulatory framework for the power sector, the value of the credits generated by renewable power sources remains uncertain. Mr. Snyder began courting Canadian Hydro in December, but received no indication that the company would entertain a takeover offer. John Keating, who founded Canadian Hydro with his brother Ross in 1989, recently retired as CEO, and some analysts believe TransAlta waited for the transition before making the hostile bid directly to shareholders. Canadian Hydro's board, which includes the founders, was meeting late yesterday to discuss the bid, but did not issue any response prior to deadline. Under a shareholders' rights plan adopted by Canadian Hydro, TransAlta would have to win the support of two- thirds of equity holders in order to succeed. TransAlta argues that the smaller independent faces a tough future given the depressed market for electricity in Canada, and the difficulties in credit markets. The cash offer of $4.55 a share represents a 25-per-cent premium over Friday's closing price. Including the assumption of Canadian Hydro's debt, the deal would be worth $1.5-billion. Investors clearly expect TransAlta to sweeten its bid, as Canadian Hydro jumped $1.25 – or 34 per cent – to $4.90 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Monday. TransAlta's offer provides a decent valuation of Canadian Hydro's assets compared with some recent deals in the power sector, but could be enriched, said analyst Ben Isaacson of Scotia Capital Inc. Mr. Isaacson said Canadian Hydro has been able to secure financing for its projects in the past and, with credit markets easing, will be able do so again. “I don't think the offer price is fairly valuing Canadian Hydro's potential value to TransAlta, and I think there is quite a bit more upside to go,” Mr. Isaacson said. Mr. Snyder said the market typically overinflates share prices in companies that are targets of acquisition, and insisted he is prepared to walk away before exceeding TransAlta's expected rate of return on the investment. 34
  35. 35. “This offer provides Canadian Hydro Developers shareholders with significant, immediate and certain value for the company's existing assets, as well as its future growth potential,” he said in a morning conference call. “For TransAlta, this transaction accelerates our current strategy and extends our leadership position to become the largest publicly traded provider of renewable energy in Canada,” he said. Canadian Hydro operates 694 megawatts of wind, hydro and biomass facilities in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, including the recently commissioned Wolfe Island wind farm near Kingston. It also has 252 megawatts in advanced stage of development elsewhere in Canada. TransAlta, which operates in Canada, the United States and Australia, has been expanding its own renewable portfolio in recently years, primarily through wind projects in southern Alberta. Prairie lakes drying up EDMONTON — Globe and Mail Last updated on Tuesday, Jul. 21, 2009 03:19AM EDT Every spring, wardens at Elk Island National Park just east of Edmonton patrol the shores of Astotin Lake to clean up debris exposed by receding water. The junk that shows up on the ever-lengthening beach provides a kind of index for just how long it has been since water levels were that low. "This year, I found a tire from a Model A car," Clayton Szafron said. "It's kind of disconcerting." Astotin isn't alone. The verdant parkland between Edmonton and Saskatoon was once home to dozens of so-called "prairie pothole" lakes - a type of lake unique to the Prairies that is fed only by rainwater and snowmelt. Now, whether from natural precipitation cycles, land use changes or as a consequence of climate change, most are drying up. At Cooking Lake, southeast of Edmonton, float plane pilots who have safely landed for decades are warned to watch for obstacles created by low water levels. In Tofield, Alta., the annual Snow Goose Festival - a popular tourist event based on the arrival of tens of thousands of migrating snow geese - had to be scrubbed a couple of years ago, after Beaverhill Lake nearly disappeared. Six out of the 10 such lakes in Central Alberta that are monitored by Alberta Environment are below normal levels by an average of a metre. That doesn't include Beaverhill or Astotin, which have lost more than one-quarter of their depth over the last decade. "Most of the lakes have been going down quite significantly pretty much over the whole Prairie region," said Garth van der Kamp, an Environment Canada scientist. Eight of the 35
  36. 36. 10 lakes he examined in Alberta and Saskatchewan are in long-term decline, some since the 1920s. Experts hasten to point out that water in these types of lakes has always fluctuated. "We've got some [lakes] that are reaching historic lows for recorded history," said Martin Grajczyk of the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority. "But we're uncovering tree stumps that show they were a lot lower in the past." Many of these lakes are on the mid-continent flyway, a major highway for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds. Despite the recession, many are still spending green to be green While the last economic downturn stopped the environmental movement in its tracks, Canadians are now proving that eco-consciousness can actually buck a recession By Roma Luciw, Globe and Mail, Monday, Jul. 20, 2009 07:37PM EDT When Mark Carli replaced the appliances, furnace and electric boiler in his North Toronto home, he spent an extra $700 for the energy-efficient options. He forked out a further $1,000 to insulate the basement, replace the windows and install water-efficient toilets and shower heads. Those hefty investments have paid off, chopping as much as $1,350 a year from his energy and hydro bills. “We are not necessarily tree-huggers but we try to make informed decisions regarding the environment,” Mr. Carli said of his family. They use cloth shopping bags, walk to the grocery store and try to buy local produce. Ultimately, however, their household buying decisions are decided by price. At a time when the economic recession is straining many household budgets, families such as the Carlis are looking for ways to marry their need to be frugal with their desire to be green. Turns out, a reduction in income does not automatically mean a drop in eco-consciousness as people continue to stop and consider the true cost – environmental and monetary – of their purchases. Unlike the 1980s, when the economic downturn stopped the environmental movement in its tracks, concern over the fate of our planet is still going strong, says Rick Smith, executive director of advocacy group Environmental Defence. “The environmental movement has proven to be recession- proof.” Ela Beres, a Toronto-based consultant with The Boston Consulting Group, interviewed several Canadian families on the impact green choices were having on their everyday spending. People are definitely interested in helping the environment if it costs the same or less, she says. “That's a no-brainer. But when it comes to saying I want to spend more money to protect the environment, that is more iffy.” Although it calls for a large initial investment, many people understand the value in starting with their house. “Families are going green from the outside in,” Ms. Beres said. “That is where the savings are most significant and most quantifiable, both financially and environmentally.” 36
  37. 37. Allison Wallis, a manager with GreenSaver, says government incentives are enticing home owners to undertake residential energy efficiency improvements in these tough economic times. (The federal home-renovation tax credit provides a credit of up to $1,350 for renovations costing between $1,000 and $10,000. Ottawa is also providing rebates of up to $5,000 for energy efficiency upgrades.) Sales at GreenSaver, a non- profit that performs energy and electricity audits, have risen by around 35 per cent from last year. But when it comes to smaller goods, Boston Consulting Group research found that purchases of green, local or organic products are more sporadic and depend on whether there is a clear and compelling reason to buy them: People need to be sure that the purchase will have a positive impact on the planet. “There are situations where environmental effects of consumer green products are not clear,” Ms. Beres said. “Everyone knows that if you use energy-efficient appliances, it translates into clear environmental benefits. That same research and data is not available for the effect of buying products made from recycled materials.” Mohamed Oqab is one Canadian who does his own research. “If there is a new product, we always read the package.” His 13-year-old son is a die-hard environmentalist who drew his father into the fold. Two years ago Mr. Oqab was laid off from his job as an IT consultant in Mississauga. Now that he is self-employed, finances are tighter. “We are much more aware of how much we spend,” he said. But the family still buys green cleaning products, composts part of their garbage and shops for local food. Consumers who don't have the time or passion to do their own homework can feel lost amid the dizzying selection of green, natural and organic products. Indeed, a walk down the aisle of a large Toronto grocery store found that prices varied among products, with organic and non-organic peaches carrying the same price tag while organic broccoli cost nearly twice as much as its non-organic counterpart. Diapers claiming to be environmentally responsible were $3 cheaper than the regular ones. Mr. Smith acknowledges that the explosion of new green products makes it confusing for shoppers to know whether they are making the right choice. “What we have at the moment is a lack of adequate labelling requirements, a lack of government oversight of company claims of greenness and an avalanche of information that is hard to sift though if you are a consumer.” There has been some progress. A national Canadian organic products standard came into effect on July 1. But in many cases, the onus is on the consumer to go and search for the information they need to make an informed decision. Claudio Gemmiti, vice-president responsible for the PC Green brand and Loblaw Brands at Loblaw Companies Ltd., says they are taking steps to address customer confusion. “We try to be as specific as we can. To provide real scientific facts on how each product will help the Earth.” Sales of both green and organic products at their stores are growing quickly, he added, despite a comparatively small amount of promotion. In the meantime, Canadians continue to weigh the pros and cons of where – and on what – they spend their hard-earned dollars. Mr. Oqab says he would have loved to buy 37