B4E, the Business for Environment Global Summit, is the world's leading international conference for dialogue and business-driven action for the environment. The summit addresses the most urgent environmental challenges facing the world today. Important topics on the agenda include resource efficiency, renewable energies, new business models and climate policy and strategies. CEOs and senior executives join leaders from government, international agencies, NGOs and media to discuss environmental issues, forge partnerships and explore innovative solutions for a greener future.
Guy has been involved in the energy sector since 1984 working initially in the oil and gas industry as an exploration geologist for Amoco before joining the newly formed PowerGen in 1990. At PowerGen Guy worked initially in the UK core business before transferring to be part of the International expansion of developing conventional power stations in Portugal, Germany and Eastern Europe.
Pete is the Programme Director for Transport at the European Climate Foundation, where he has worked since 2011. Prior to that, he spent 10 years analysing and reporting on politics, business and markets for the international newswire Reuters. Since 2008, he has been living in Brussels, focusing on the European politics of climate and energy. He has published several books and papers on ecology, travel and communications.
Aled has 15 years’ experience in the development of regional sustainability policies and programmes in the UK and Europe. He started his career in local government working on the EU Structural Fund programme for West Wales and the Valleys before moving to the Wales office in Brussels as a policy adviser on regional and environmental policies. He returned to the UK to work for the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands on its low-carbon development projects.
By Jeremy Runnalls
This article was originally published on Corporate Knights and is republished with permission.
Among the diplomats, corporate titans, politicians and celebrities circulating at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year will be a fresh face: Chinese President Xi Jinping.
It is no accident that 2017 marks the first year that a Chinese president attends the Davos conference. U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is promising a less activist role for America on the global stage, one that includes curtailing the nation’s recent leadership in combating climate change both at home and abroad.
Early signs indicate that China is moving to fill this void by becoming the new global proponent of free trade and multilateral action against climate change. While China was once content to slow-walk the Kyoto protocol, the country’s leadership has grown increasingly hawkish on the need to aggressively shift towards a low-carbon future.
Like those in most other nations around the world, China’s political class is unsure how much of Trump’s rhetoric will translate into action. But there are two issues where the country has pointedly criticized the incoming American administration: relations with Taiwan and the climate change file.
During the U.S. election campaign, senior officials in China denounced Trump’s plan to pull out of the Paris agreement, a message reiterated by Chinese deputy foreign minister Liu Zhenmin after the election at a press conference in Marrakech. He also reported that the Chinese president, in his congratulatory phone call with Trump, had vowed to push ahead with addressing climate change “whatever the circumstances.”
China’s open advocacy on this issue is a relatively recent phenomenon. It spent decades arguing that domestic emissions reductions were unfair and would hurt economic growth, and was roundly criticized for blocking a more aggressive accord during the Copenhagen climate change talks in 2009.
A combination of positive and negative factors have changed the Chinese government’s position, starting with the ever-worsening problem of smog and other environmental externalities as a result of rapid industrialization. This has the potential to stir up unrest among the rising middle classes. Climate change has also sped up desertification of agricultural land, while putting a strain on already-scarce water resources. There are also the economic opportunities on offer, starting with the possibility of becoming a clean energy superpower.
China has executed this pivot with surprising speed, signing a landmark bilateral climate change agreement with the United States in 2014 that set the stage for the Paris deal a year later. In 2015 it invested $102 billion (U.S.) in renewables, representing 36 per cent of global expenditures.
These investments have been combined with forceful steps to shut down older coal plants and half the number of coal mines in the country. What’s more, the government has set aside $15.8 billion for retraining 1.8 million workers soon to be laid off in the coal and steel industries. While local and regional officials continue to green-light new coal plant construction, Beijing has been stepping in to veto some projects. In October the federal government revoked permits on dozens of new plants, including 10 that were already under construction. China’s energy regulator took this a step further in January, ordering 11 provinces to stop more than 100 coal-fired power projects.
Early results are promising, with Chinese emissions dropping 0.5 and 0.7 per cent over the past two years, respectively. The country will also launch its nationwide cap-and-trade system this year, instantly becoming the largest carbon market in the world.
“It is a new world order,” said Erik Solheim, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, in Marrakech. “Leadership on climate change policy has now gone to the developing countries, China among them.”
The surprise election of Trump is likely to realign the international order in myriad ways. The rise of China as climate hawk should be front of mind for all the attendees in Davos.
By Robert Brears
This article was originally published on Asian Development Blog and is republished with permission.
Asia’s breakneck urbanization is threatening the water security of its sprawling cities. If we don’t act soon, the region’s cities and huge urban populations will be starved of water in just a few years.
Currently, 16 of the world’s mega-cities are located in Asia, and by 2030 there could be 22. The emergence of mega-urban regions encompassing cities, towns, villages, and rural areas is placing further stress on water availability in a region where most countries already experience water scarcity. This will only worsen as urbanization spurs demand for more water, while climate change impacts such as more frequent droughts and floods make it less available.
Urban water security can be improved through better use of existing water stocks before plans are made to further increase supply. Water utilities can implement pricing systems to encourage the wise use of water; and develop innovative strategies to reduce water leakage in the network. They can set public water saving targets and encourage young people to save water by changing their lifestyle.
Thankfully, some of the region’s cities are rising to the challenge, perhaps providing models for other water-starved parts of the region on how to manage demand for water and raise awareness about conserving it.
In Singapore, the Public Utilities Board’s water tariff covers costs across the whole production process—collection of rainwater, treatment of raw water and distribution of treated potable water—with the tariff charged based on the amount of water consumed. The island-state’s water users are charged a Water Conservation Tax (currently set at 30% of the tariff) to encourage conservation and price water based on its scarcity value. The result is that Singaporeans now consume 151 liters of water per day, down from 165 liters per day in 2003.
Bangkok has taken a different approach. The Metropolitan Water Authority’s ‘Plumbers for People’ project seeks to turn the average resident into a competent plumber, with a basic knowledge and expertise of water pipe system maintenance and repair techniques. Theoretical and practical training is offered free of charge, together with plumber suits and toolboxes. Trainees can volunteer to repair the water system in various locations throughout the city, including at temples, schools, and communities. To date 14 classes have been conducted, with over 400 participants from 266 communities completing the course.
Public education and awareness programs can enhance public understanding of exactly how water makes it through the hydrological cycle to their taps, and why we need to do more to conserve it.
In 2014, Hong Kong’s Water Supplies Department launched the ‘Lets Save 10L Water’ campaign to encourage people to actively reduce their daily domestic water consumption by at least 10 liters, establish conservation habits, and use water wisely in their daily lives. Citizens are encouraged to sign a pledge to participate in the campaign, and are given a certificate they can share with their family and friends. As part of the campaign, pledgers receive a pair of complimentary flow controllers (small tap inserts that reduce water consumption). Due to the success of the program, the number of available flow controller packs has been increased from 30,000 to 120,000.
Malaysia has stepped up efforts to introduce water-sensitive elements into the school curriculum. The Ministry of Education and the National Water Service Commission have partnered with a private sector firm to educate students on wise management of water resources. Water-saving behavior is promoted among students through ‘water auditing’ and tips on how to sustain the audits at the school level. Overall, 10 schools and 20 teachers have participated in the program, which hopes to create a new platform to engage more students in the future.
While levels of development vary across Asia, cities can nonetheless take away some best practices from these examples that they could implement in their own administrative areas:
On water pricing, Asian cities can find a balance to encourage wise water use. Like Singapore, Phnom Penh’s Water Supply Authority has successfully modified its tariff over a number of years to save water with the utility developing three types of tariffs for domestic, commercial and government users. The tariff for each respective customer increases progressively with water consumption.
Even if cities cannot train citizens to spot and repair leaks they can still provide tips on how to save water and what to do if they spot a leak. A good example is Manila’s Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewage System, which offers tips for saving water both indoors and outdoors.
Cities can encourage water savings at the local level through innovative activities, involving Hong Kong-style public campaigns and Malaysia-inspired water education. An NGO in Bangladesh is running a water-themed drawing and painting competition for children, while teachers, local authorities and community members are distributing water-saving handouts to the local community.
If we want to avert an urban drought in Asia, the region’s cities should learn from each other and extend best practices to save water. Manila’s urban water system, for instance, may face different challenges than Hong Kong or Singapore’s. But it can nevertheless adopt solutions that have worked for the latter.
The alternative is imminent urban water crises that will wreak havoc on the region’s urban poor.
By Alex Kirby
This article was originally published on Climate News Network and is republished with permission.
A quarter more energy will be required in 23 years’ time due to population growth, and oil will remain the primary source, report estimates.
LONDON, 6 January, 2017 – The world’s biggest oil conglomerate says it expects global energy demand to increase by a quarter in the next 23 years.
ExxonMobil is the largest of the world’s big oil companies, the supermajors. Up to the end of 2016, Rex Tillerson, who has been nominated by US President-elect Donald Trump as his Secretary of State, was Exxon’s chairman and CEO.
In this year’s annual Outlook for Energy , a look-ahead to 2040, Exxon says: “Over the next 25 years, growing economies and an expanding middle class will mean better living standards for billions, through increased access to better education and health care as well as new homes, appliances and cars. This means the world will need more energy, even with significant efficiency gains.”
With world population expected to grow by 1.8 billion people to a total of 9bn by 2040, the company believes global energy demand will increase by 25% – and that India and China together will account for 45% of that increase.
Exxon expects overall global energy demand for transport will also rise by 25%, but says commercial transport energy consumption will be 50% higher than today’s.
Yet, against this sobering background, Exxon forecasts that global greenhouse gas emissions will rise by only 10%, peaking in the 2030s and then declining, because of improvements in the efficiency of buildings, transport, industry and power generation.
The report states that by 2040 natural gas will provide 25% of all energy needs, and that the 85% of natural gas resources that it says are still untapped will provide enough energy to last for more than 200 years at present global consumption rates.
Nuclear power and renewable energy sources, it says, will meet almost as much demand as natural gas, “approaching” 25% of the total. It is striking that Exxon distinguishes between nuclear and renewable energy rather than describing them both simply as renewables, a classification challenged by many scientists.
The report concludes that all types of energy will be needed to meet world demand, with the use of each continuing to evolve in ways designed to reduce their environmental impact
Perhaps not surprisingly, given its pedigree, Exxon maintains that oil will by 2040 “remain the world’s primary energy source, fulfilling one-third of all demand”. It says oil will go on playing a leading role in the energy mix because of demand for it from transport and for its use as a raw material in the chemical industry.
The report concludes that all types of energy will be needed to meet world demand in 23 years from now, with the use of each continuing to evolve in ways designed to reduce their environmental impact.
The mix it foresees for 2040 is oil, 32%; gas, 25%; coal, 20%; nuclear, 7%; wind, solar and biofuels, 4%; and “other”, 12%.
The low estimate for renewables will surprise many experts, who point to the rapidly falling prices and rising output of wind and solar power, in particular, as evidence of their growing market appeal and potential to deliver, not least in remote and off-grid applications.
Exxon also states its faith in the ultimate success of the controversial and still commercially unproven carbon capture and sequestration process as a way of rendering greenhouse gas emissions harmless.
The company’s website states: “Broad-based deployment of cost-effective carbon capture and sequestration has the potential to make a massive impact on the world’s greenhouse gas levels.”
Despite some recent advances in the technology, it is far from certain that it could work reliably and affordably at the scale needed.
And ExxonMobil is still distrusted by many people who believe that it has sought to steer and distort the public understanding of the risks of climate change, and even of its reality. – Climate News Network
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