“International policies that would direct “just 2 percent of global GDP into 10 key sectors would kick-start” the global transition to a more sustainable, ‘Green Economy,’ according to a UN Environmental Program report.
All the elements to enact a transition to a “low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive global economic model” are here now, and businesses and governments are already promoting and fostering greater investments in 10 key sectors UNEP has singled out: agriculture, energy, buildings, water, forestry, fisheries, manufacturing, waste, tourism and transport.
Investing 2 percent of global GDP in these sectors would not only “shift the global economy on to a more sustainable growth trajectory, but it would maintain or increase growth over time compared to the current business models,” according to UNEP’s “Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication.”
Investing $100 billion to $300 billion per year in sustainable agriculture between now and 2050, according to UNEP, “could lead to better soil quality and better yields for major crops, representing a 10% increase over the current strategies.”
“The elements of a transition to a Green Economy are clearly emerging across developing and developed countries alike,” UNEP executive director Achim Steiner stated. “There are now some nations going further and faster than others, which is in many ways generating a ‘pull factor’ that, if maintained, may bring others along over the coming months and years.”
Time is Ripe
The time is ripe, the UN points out, as UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiators, stakeholders and participating observers prepare to convene in Durban, South Africa at the end of the month to try and negotiate an extension or a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
“With the world looking ahead to the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, the UNEP Green Economy report challenges the myth that there is a trade-off between the economy and the environment,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement issued on the release of the report.
“With smart public policies, governments can grow their economies, generate decent employment and accelerate social progress in a way that keeps humanity’s ecological footprint within the planet’s carrying capacity.” “
via Invest 2% of GDP in 10 Sectors Result: A Green Global Economy | CleanTechnica.
United Airlines just announced that Flight 1403, scheduled to take off today, Monday November 7th will be powered by Solazyme’s algae-derived biofuel. This will be the world’s first commercial biofuel powered flight. The flight’s route, from Houston to Chicago, is significant in several ways. First, the departure from Houston can be taken to symbolize a departure from the ”big oil” that Houston has come to represent. Second, it represents a full merging of United and Continental. The flight will be traveling from Continental’s hub in Houston to United’s hub in Chicago. Continental pilots will be manning the cockpit of the United 737-800 Eco-Skies aircraft.The fuel, branded Solafuel, is a 40/60 blend of algae-based fuel and traditional petroleum-based jet fuel that was produced by a partnership between Solazyme and UOP.Back in February, Solazyme announced a partnership with Qantas to provide biofuel to the Australian carrier, but United has beaten them to the punch with the first commercial flight. Solazyme was also the first company to produce an algae-derived jet fuel that met FAA specifications. In what is certain to become a major new industry, a major competitor has emerged in Sapphire Energy, which was named one of the top ten green startups of 2010, receiving more than $100 million in venture capital funding.Other players in this new field that were also spotlighted at last week’s Algal Biofuels Organization ABO Summit in Minneapolis include Phycal, BioProcess Algae, Heliae and Algenol.Two years ago, Continental Airlines launched the first US biofuel test flight, also from Houston, burning a blend of 50 percent standard aviation fuel, 3 percent algae-based fuel from Sapphire also partnering with UOP and 47 percent jatropha oil. A month earlier, Air New Zealand ran a test flight using 50/50 jet fuel and jatropha oil. Some consider jatropha, a tropical succulent, a promising jet fuel alternative, but concerns have been raised about the amount of water required to grow it, which is said to be five times more than corn or sugar cane.Meanwhile, Solazyme is producing not only oil, but also food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Last month they announced an expanded agreement with Unilever to produce algae-derived oils for making soap and other personal care products, presumably, to cut back on the use of palm oil and petroleum-derived components.A week later, their Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals subsidiary announced that it will begin producing its microalgae derived food ingredient, Whole Algalin Flour, at Roquette’s commercial production plant in Lestrem, France.Writing about the ABO conference, biofuels analyst Jim Lane says, “It could be that biofuels, renewable chemicals and materials have an overly complicated and wrongly-told story. What investors have been trained to think is that “green” equals “higher costs,” [meaning it] is a luxury, requires subsidies, and is currently unaffordable. Their belief: carbon mitigation is a cost that will be saddled on the hard-pressed and possibly unemployed consumer. They have come to believe that renewables equal subsidies… The message of the industry’s current investors to the world: the military should provide the capital for renewable diesel, that airlines should build out aviation biofuels, that governments need to provide incentives, tax credits, mandates and tariffs for the development at scale of everything else. And that anything not already paid for by any of the above should be paid for by oil companies, who apparently should be delighted at the opportunity to invest in putting themselves out of business.”RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC. He is also the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Like airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.
via United Completes First Commercial Biofuel Powered Flight.
“The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has published an interesting data collection of how the world has dealt with its ecological challenges since the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Despite some progress in certain areas, overall the picture does not look rosy.
The publication entitled “Keeping Track of our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20″ is part of UNEP’s “Global Environmental Outlook-5″ (GEO -5) series, the UN’s landmark report on the state and outlook of the global environment. The complete GEO-5 report will be launched in May 2012, one month before the Rio+20 in Brazil.
Although the authors of the report have carefully avoided providing any critical evaluation of the statistical data, anyone reading the 111-pages study can hardly conclude that global leaders have done a great job since they received a wake-up call about the world’s sustainability challenges twenty years ago.
Here are a few of the “gloomy” messages of the study:
World population has grown by 26% since 1992 (from 5.5 billion to 7 billion).
More people than ever live in megacities.
Global average meat consumption grew from 34 kg per person per year to 43 kg.
GDP has continued to increase but there are increasing doubts as to whether this has created more quality of life and more happiness.
The global use of natural resource materials increased by over 40% between 1992 and 2005, from about 42 to nearly 60 thousand million tonnes.
CO2 emissions increased by 36% between 1992 and 2008, from around 22 000 million to just over 30, 000 million tonnes.
The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998.
Sea levels have been rising at an average rate of about 2.5 mm per year between 1992 and 2011.
Oceans are becoming more acidic: the ocean’s pH declined from 8.11 in 1992 to 8.06 in 2007.
Nearly all mountain glaciers around the world are retreating and getting thinner; and the speed with which this is happening is increasing.
Forest area has decreased by 300 million hectare since 1990, an area larger than Argentina.
Biodiversity is in serious decline and every year more species move closer to extinction.
The world has seen a huge increase in natural disasters.
Food production has continued to rise but only thanks to more use of fertilizer. It takes an average of seven to ten calories of input energy (i.e., mostly fossil fuels) to produce one calorie of food.
Irrigation has raised crop yields but also put pressure on freshwater availability
Since 1992, the proportion of fully exploited fish stocks increased by 13% and overexploited, depleted or recovering stocks increased by 33%, reaching 52% and 33%, respectively, of all fish stocks.
In 2010, 1,440 million people globally—that is 20% of the world population—are still suffering from “energy poverty.
And here are a few of the “good stories”:
Over the past 20 years, the Human Development Index has grown globally by 2.5% per year, climbing from 0.52 in 1990 to 0.62 in 2010, or 19% overall, showing substantial improvement in many aspects of human development but big inequalities still remain.
Women’s political influence is rising.
The value of internationally traded products has tripled between 1992 and 2009, from over US$ 9 to 28 million millions.
Although overall energy and material use continue to grow, there is a simultaneous general decline in emissions, energy and material use per unit of output (resource efficiency).
The consumption of ozone-depleting substances decreased by 93% from 1992 to 2009, and 98% since the Montreal Protocol’s was established in 1987.
Numerous multilateral environmental agreements were signed since 1992.
The private sector is increasingly adopting environmental management standards.
Land area used for organic farming is growing by nearly 13% per year.
Investment in sustainable energy has skyrocketed in recent years (although from very low starting levels).
The “global village” has developed rapidly as a result of new technologies and the Internet.
All in all, the UNEP study is an impressive work of data collection but it could have done with a little bit less spin and a bit more “hard” evaluation. But then again, maybe this document has a political function and the real meat can be expected in May of next year? “
By Willy De Backer
Head of the Greening Europe Forum
via Report for Rio+20 shows world still increasing its ecological debts > Friends of Europe > Friends of Europe | Library | Paper.
Hamburg has vision, measurable goals and definitive strategies to get, keep it on track and ultimately reach its enironmental goals. All cities can achieve that if they aspire to and enforce their collective will.
“Taking over the crown from Stockholm, Hamburg has emerged the European Green Capital 2011 in the competition organised by the European Commission. The European Commission believes that the future of European environmental protection lies in the hands of its cities who have to manage its resources of energy and combat issues of climate change since they have the most potential to develop and apply solutions to battling matters that harm the environment.
That’s why its creation of the title European Green Capital has a three fold objective of rewarding cities who have shown environmental awareness and a consistency in green practices, to encourage them to act as role models to other cities in Europe and set plans to achieve optimum environmentally friendly standards of living and functioning. Hamburg with its population of about 1.8 million has aimed to reduce its green house gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050. Its climate change combat plan for 2010 was a comprehensive one. Hamburg’s long term vision and future strategies for its environmental initiatives saw it emerge a winner.
More than rewards
But winning here isn’t just about prizes. The city now has to frame and implement intelligent solutions to its issues of urban living, development of its renewable energies and aim to increase sustainable consumption.”
via Hamburg is the European Green Capital 2011 | Going Green | The Earth Times.
“Even though the sustainability movement has come a long way, it’s clear that it could benefit from some rebranding. At Sustainable Brands ’11, key insights from consumer research shed some light on where practitioners can refocus their efforts.
OgilvyEarth recently released results of a 2011 study called Mainstream Green: Moving sustainability from niche to normal. The study focused on what OgilvyEarth refers to as the Green Gap – the gap between what people say they intend to do and what they actually do when it comes to green. Here are some key findings:… “
via Why Sustainability Needs a Makeover.
“The League of Green Embassies was created by the United States Department of State. It was established as an initiative to promote international cooperation for clean technologies and energy efficiency. There are three major objectives of the League of Green Embassies are, “To advance the Presidential mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in USG buildings; to demonstrate the capabilities of U.S. products and technologies to the world market; and to increase the exports of U.S. products and services in line with the national Export Initiative.” When the league was established in 2007, it was run by former U.S Ambassador to Sweden, Michael M. Wood. In 2010, the U.S. Embassy in Helskini’s ambassador, Bruce J. Orek, took over the league.”
via Top Ten Highlights of the League of Green Embassies | CleanTechies Blog – CleanTechies.com.
Although this is USA centric , all nations can take note and focus on the methods and merits of greeen building… nad principles of sustainability.