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    Taiwan's Feng Chia University has succeeded in boosting the production of hydrogen from biomass to 15 liters per hour, one of the world's highest biohydrogen production rates, a researcher at the university said Friday. The research team managed to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide (which can be captured and stored) from the fermentation of different strains of anaerobes in a sugar cane-based liquefied mixture. The highest yield was obtained by the Clostridium bacterium. Taiwan News - November 14, 2008.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

UK researcher: corporate responses to climate change not working, state intervention needed

The global economic crisis has seen the demise of a lot of 'corporate freedom' and the resurgence of the idea of direct government intervention. This comes at a time when more and more scientists are convinced of the fact that another planetary crisis with more far reaching consequences - namely climate change - needs to be tackled by strong state intervention as well. Especially so when it becomes apparent that corporate responses to this crisis may not be working.

An example comes from the U.K., where the green credentials of British businesses are falling far short of their environmental claims and don't have an effect on mitigating climate change. That is the conclusion of Gareth Dale, a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Brunel University, writing in the International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy. Dale too maintains that only government intervention offers the power and tools required to do what corporations can't or won't.

Dale has investigated how several major UK companies have responded to the threat of climate change. By comparing their public rhetoric with actual corporate adjustments made to address climate change, he has found that their business practices "fall far short of the claims made." This, he says, raises important questions about how far companies can go, particularly as we face impending recession, when confronting climate change. "Bad remedies may be diverting attention from and even driving out good ones," he says.

Big companies including multitasking corporations like Richard Branson's Virgin and Tesco, bankers such as HSBC and Barclaycard, media companies such as BSkyB and the major oil companies like BP, have all embraced the wider trends of the green revolution. Until the economic downturn hijacked the nation's news desks barely a day would pass without a report on how blue-chip companies were investigating climate-change mitigation strategies. But, asks Dale, was this investigating followed up by investment or is the talk of address global warming nothing more than boardroom hot air?

Several companies claim to have achieved carbon neutrality. Others are pumping cash into carbon sinks and surveys. Consumers are even rating the eco credentials of the likes of Virgin, Tesco, and Marks & Spencer, and BP as being in the top twenty of green firms:
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When it comes to biofuels, carbon offsetting, the use of renewables, carbon sequestration, many companies are flying the green flag and rebranding and relabelling themselves as champions of the green movement. Yet, Dale's analysis of the actual energy use and pollution production of many major corporations reveals this in many cases to be nothing more than a cynical attempt to trump their competitors with garbled ecological rationality in the name of profits.

"A more effective and more just strategy would involve concerted state intervention focused upon investment in public transport, housing and renewable energy, coupled with regulatory measures to radically reduce fossil-fuel use," concludes Dale.

Gareth Dale, "Green shift: an analysis of corporate responses to climate change", International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 2008, 3, n°2, 134-155, DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2008.021271


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