Climate Change News: Roundup of Climate Blog Stories (#2)
Roundup of recent climate change stories bellow, many of these stories have been highlighted in the sidebar of Climate Change News/Action/Resources as 'Top Climate Blog Stories'.
This week the blogosphere has been dealing with questions of transport, future energy solutions, negawatts as a source of energy, carbon offsets, weird weather, china's development and environmental devastation, and continued business innovation.
In the case of transport, the main developments this week have been increasing concern over the rapid expansion of corn based ethanol in the US and more broadly about the global blueprint for biofuels. Advancements in ultra-capacitors have been seen, and these promise to increase the durability and performance of electric cars which both utilise energy more efficiently and promise a low emissions route to mobility if renewables can be used to source this power.
The electricity sector as always has shown some of the more positive trends. Solar power is expanding dramatically, Sharp's largest plant will soon have a production capacity of 800MW per year--a large fraction of global manufacturing capacity just a couple of years ago. The rapid rise of both solar and wind power is being supported by record, and rapidly increasing CleanTech investment. Wind power contracts have grown to 1400MW for Siemens in the US, a figure that would have seemed enormous just a couple of years ago; today several wind farms either already built or in the planning will individually approach this size. In a significant partnership, India and Europe are starting to undertake serious discussions of how to scale up wind power across the sub-continent. All of this development is starting to be integrated, visions of a 'Green Unifying Theory' are being developed. Many discussions are taking place about the contents of such a theory, one component that isn't to likely to be included is coal. That's a shame because in a reversal of the famous dash-to-gas, the UK seems to be undergoing a somewhat smaller but rather disconcerting career-to-coal.
Meanwhile, in efficiency, negawatts have been in the news again, a report just release in Texas has found that they don't actually need new coal, or wind, they need efficiency and this option is remarkably affordable. Technological developments that may help with such improvements in the future include frequency regulation using flywheels that produce a tiny fraction of the GHG emissions associated with typical regulation facilities.
After 'Carbon Neutral' made it as word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary it was perhaps predictable that there would be more scrutiny of this nascent market. This has proved to be the case. In the UK the Environmental Audit Comitte has started an investigation and the UK government is planning offset standards. I recently also made my views on the topic clear and supported my preferred company, MyClimate.
All of which has become even more relevant, and discussed due to the extremely weird 'winter' weather occurring throughout the northern hemisphere. Weather that is having many unforceen impacts.
In Asian news, ASEAN has come to an agreement on encouraging energy efficiency, cheap energy and biofules (ahem..). The tensions between economic development, energy security and climate change are really showing themselves. China's continuing rapid expansion to the detriment of its environment has been written about over at china dialogue in a two piece article. Meanwhile, more on Bejing's efforts to clean up prior to the 2012 Olympics can be found here.
Finishing off with some good news, Marks and Spencer's (M&S) has join the growing ranks of businesses prepared to take on (to some degree) the issues of climate change. This general willingness can also be seen the in the continued growth of the Climate Group which has just acquired three new members.