Climate Change

Green Taxes Move Forward in Denmark & France

The Danish government is instituting Europe’s first tax on PVC. A voluntary agreement with industry in 1991 failed to achieve its goals. The government wants to keep the products out of incinerators, where 40 percent of Denmark’s municipal waste goes. Other measures call for: use of alternative products when PVC products can’t be recycled; development of PVC recycling technologies; a ban on lead in PVC; and boosting PVC recycling where the products do not contain heavy metals. In a separate policy proposal, the amount of phthalates would be cut in half over the next ten years. This group of chemicals is on Denmark’s official list of 100 “undesirable” chemicals. The French Ministries of the Environment, Economy and Industry are calling for a tax on industrial carbon emissions, dubbed the pollu-tax. It would will be tied to Frances existing green tax, the General Tax on Polluting Activities. The ministries argue an energy tax will raise about $2 billion and reduce emissions through lower energy consumption. The French government is consulting with key industries and other stakeholders until October 31 to determine an implementation scheme. In UK, 30 top companies agreed to pilot a greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme that may running […]

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No U.S. Growth in CO2 Emissions in 1998

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy reports that for the first year since 1991, energy-related carbon emissions did not rise. They remained flat in 1998 despite four percent economic growth. Emissions are 10.3 percent above 1990 levels. In comparison, the UK’s emissions declined 9 percent from 1990-1997; the U.K. emits less than half as much per capita as the U.S. ACEEE 1998 carbon emissions scorecard: [sorry this link is no longer available]

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Clinton Issues Energy Use Executive Order

In a June 3 Executive Order, President Clinton directed federal agencies to cut energy use 35 percent by 2010 compared to 1985 levels, expanding the current goal of 30 percent (of 1990 levels) by 2005. When the measures are fully implemented, taxpayers will save $750 million annually. Reportedly, about half the goal has been met. The federal government is the largest U.S. energy user, consuming 32 percent more per square foot than the average private sector building, and spends about $4.2 billion a year. The new policy covers about 500,000 government buildings, ranging from the Pentagon (which recently installed a 15 kW PV system) to local social security administration offices. The Defense Department accounts for 75 percent of the energy used. The Order also states that each agency must expand its use of renewable energy. As part of the Million Solar Roofs initiative, the President said the federal government is looking to install 2,000 solar energy systems at federal facilities by the end of 2000, and 20,000 solar energy systems at federal facilities by 2010. Provisions included in earlier drafts would have mandated the purchase of renewable energy to meet a minimum share of federal electricity needs. SMUD (Sacramento Municipal […]

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Partnership Will Develop International Greenhouse Gas Measurement Standards

An international partnership has formed to develop an international protocol for measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions from business. The protocol will help businesses simplify reporting, and improve the credibility, comparability, and usefulness of information. Standardized measurement and reporting is an important first step toward reducing emissions and responding to global climate change. The group includes Arthur D. Little, BP Amoco PLC, CERES, CEO Coalition to Advance Sustainable Technology, Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Climate Neutral Network, Enron International, Global Environmental Management Initiative, Global Reporting Initiative, Interface Research Corporation, Norsk Hydro, The Pew Center on Global Climate Change, PowerGen, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Public Service Enterprise Group, Royal Dutch Shell, ThermoRetec, Tokyo Electric Power Company, Trexler and Associates Inc., United Nations Environment Programme, World Wildlife Fund, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the World Resources Institute (WRI). It aims to reach agreement on unresolved reporting issues, such as how a reporting entity is defined, which reporting formats, units, and conversion factors to use, how to define measurement and reporting boundaries, and how to relate to national reporting and emissions inventory schemes.

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All Ford SUVs will be Low Emission

Ford Motor Co. announced it will voluntarily sell only low-emission SUVs in the U.S. and Canada by next year, with no added cost to customers. On a total fleet average basis, Ford’s LEV trucks will be about one-third cleaner than they are today, equal to removing 350,000 SUVs from the road. “Last year, when we announced our LEV Sport Utility initiative, we said that when the technology allowed, the cost to the customer was affordable, and we could do it in volume we would proceed with environmental actions without regard to regulation or regulatory timetables,” said Jacques Nasser, president and chief executive officer. We are finding other efficiencies so that no cost from this action is passed to the customer.”

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U.S. EPA is Accepting Comments for Emissions and Gasoline Standards

You can call the EPA toll-free or email them your comments on the proposed new rules for tailpipe emissions from autos and sulfur levels in gasoline. This proposal significantly reduces emissions from cars and light trucks, including sport utility vehicles (SUVs), minivans, and pickup trucks. Automakers will be required to sell cleaner cars and refineries will be required to make cleaner gasoline. 888-TELL-EPA (888-835-5372): 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Listen to the instructions and leave a message (up to two minutes long). It will be transcribed and included in the official docket. You can Email them or submit comments from the

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DoE Approves P-series Fuels

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) added a new category of fuels to the regulatory definition of “alternative fuel,” the P-series. These are blends of ethanol, methyltetrahydrofuran (MTHF), natural gas liquids and butane. The ethanol and MTHF will be derived from renewable domestic feedstocks, such as corn, waste paper, cellulosic biomass, agricultural waste and construction wood waste. The P-series fuels’ emissions are generally below those for reformulated gasoline and are well below federal emissions standards. The fuels have the potential to replace a billion gallons of gasoline annually by 2005. Pure Energy Corporation, a New York-based company, holds the exclusive world-wide license to manufacture and distribute the P-series fuels.

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Computer Chip Makers to Cut Greenhouse Gas

During its April meeting in Italy, members of the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) agreed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases called perfluorocompounds (PFCs), to at least 10 percent below 1995 levels by 2010. The Council’s members produce over 90 percent of the world’s semiconductors and represent $125 billion in world sales for 1998. PFCs are the most potent and persistent of all greenhouse gases, having on average 10,000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over 100 years, and atmospheric lifetimes ranging from 2,000 to 50,000 years. The chemicals play a critical role in semiconductor manufacturing and reducing them will be a formidable technical challenge. Source: EarthVision Reports: [sorry this link is no longer available]

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Non-Profit Retires Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Two subsidiaries of California-based PG&E Corporation, U.S. Generating Company and PG&E Energy Trading, will transfer greenhouse gas reduction credits to the Barnard/Columbia Earth Coalition through Natsource Inc., an environmental emissions brokerage. This is the first sale between private industry and an environmental nonprofit and is one of a handful of greenhouse gas transactions that have been performed worldwide. The New York City-based student coalition will retire the credits, ensuring they can’t be used to allow future emissions. The group raised funds to pay for the transaction and the companies agreed to invest the proceeds in greenhouse gas emission reduction measures. The companies will transfer 10,000 greenhouse gas reduction credits to the non-profit. Each tradable unit is equal to one ton of carbon dioxide or CO2 equivalent reduced. USGEn earned the credits by taking voluntary actions under the federal government’s Climate Challenge program. These actions include improvements to the efficiency of the company’s power plants, operational changes such as fuel switching, and other efforts such as methane recovery and a carbon sequestration forestry projects in Malaysia.

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Union of Concerned Scientists Define Benefits of Renewables

The U.S. could increase the share of electricity generated from renewable sources (wind, solar, plants and geothermal) to about 10 times current levels over the next 20 years, and still see a 13 percent decrease in electricity prices, according to Union of Concerned Scientists study, “A Powerful Opportunity: Making Renewable Electricity the Standard.” Expanding renewable electricity use to these levels would freeze power plant emissions of carbon dioxide at about year 2000 levels, making a major contribution to meeting the US reduction targets under the Kyoto global warming treaty. Another report, “Powerful Solutions: 7 Ways to Switch America to Renewable Electricity,” UCS details methods to switch America to renewable electricity: renewable portfolio standards, public benefits funding, net metering, fair transmission and distribution rules, fair pollution rules, consumer information, and putting green customer demand to work. ucs@ucsusa.org The reports are available online: [sorry this link is no longer available]

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