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    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Studies make business case for fighting climate change

The anticipated high economic cost of climate action was the main reason behind the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol by the United States. In Europe, business circles have criticised the EU's CO2 trading scheme for pushing up electricity prices.

Researchers at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University (United States) now say that trillions of dollars of damage could be avoided by the end of the century if resolute action is taken now to reduce global warming.

Meanwhile, other research carried out for oil major Shell [*.pdf] for the first time quantified the potential size of the market for businesses [report *.pdf] that propose technologies or services to combat climate change.

A study commissioned by environmental group Friends of the Earth and published on 13 October looks at the potential costs and benefits of warmer weather around the globe. The Tufts study, "Climate change - the costs of inaction" [*.pdf], says possible benefits of global warming such as increased agricultural yields will quickly be offset by the costs of extreme weather events - droughts, floods, powerful storms, heat waves.

"The effects of variable and extreme weather events are bad for everyone, North and South - and outweigh any potential benefits," the researchers write. "Beyond 2° Celsius, all regions will suffer from the worsening average effects of climate change." Based on the assumption that average global temperatures would rise by 4°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, the researchers predict that annual economic damages could reach US$20 trillion by 2100, or "6 to 8% of global economic output at that time".

In comparison, they say limiting the temperature increase to 2°C would eliminate more than half of these predicted damages. Citing an estimate by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), they say that, by 2100, this would result in $12 trillion worth of avoided annual damages - something that would be achieved by spending "only" $3 trillion per year on climate protection:

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

For the researchers, the economic implication is that the cost of reducing the damage is worth more than the cost of reducing emissions of global warming gases.

For Friends of the Earth, the environmental NGO that commissioned the study, the report demonstrates that climate change "will not only be an environmental and social disaster, it will also be an economic catastrophe". It says a key tool that could be used at national and European levels would be to define a certain amount of carbon dioxide that the economy would be allowed to emit over a given period of time. Such a "carbon budget" [*.pdf] would differ from Kyoto-style emissions reductions targets in that it would be strictly limited and could not be exceeded without a penalty.

In a separate study carried out for Shell, researchers for the first time quantify the businesses opportunities of developing technologies or services to combat climate change. The study suggests that demand for these products and services could rise as a result of government action and provide a host of new opportunities for SMEs by the year 2010.

It says the market could reach £30bn for British business over the next ten years. Markets identified in the report include the building sector, renewable electricity, renewable road and transport fuels and energy efficiency.

Shell boss Lord Oxburgh said: "The urgent need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions offers opportunities to the nimble. There is now scope for a wide range of devices and services, which a decade ago would have made no economic sense, and for which there would have been no demand."

The studies will feed in to a wide review on the economics of climate-change launched in Britain a year ago. The review, headed by Sir Nick Stern, tries to draw a comprehensive understanding of the economic challenges posed by climate change and how they can be met, in the UK and globally.

The review is expected to produce a report to the UK Prime Minister and Chancellor by autumn 2006.

More information:

British Treasury: Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University (GDAE): Report - "Climate Change - The Costs of Inaction" [*.pdf] (11 Oct. 2006)

Tyndall Centre: Living within a carbon budget [*.pdf] (July 2006)

Ecofys: Developing a carbon budget for the UK with opportunities for EU action [*.pdf] (Sept. 2006)

Shell: New report on business and climate change for Shell Springboard (12 Oct. 2006)

Shell: Report - The business opportunities for SMEs in tackling the causes of climate change [*.pdf] (Oct. 2006)

Friends of the Earth UK: Economists Warn Climate Change Will Cost World Trillions If Governments Fail To Act [*pdf] (13 Oct. 2006)

Friends of the Earth UK: Briefing - New research on the economics of climate change [*.doc] (Oct. 2006)


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