Global environmental challenges
Coca-Cola is the latest American brand working to improve its environmental credentials with a sweeping new program that pledges to improve water efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions throughout its massive global system.
The soft drink maker today said that through a partnership with environmental group WWF, it has commited to eliminating 50 billion liters of water from its bottling plants by 2012 by improving water efficiency by 20 percent over 2004 levels. Coke’s announcement comes a few months after General Electric said it would cut water usage by 20 percent by 2012.
The beverage industry has increasingly become a target for environmentalists, who say plastic soda and water bottles add to landfills while the companies themselves use too much energy producing and shipping bottles across the world.
Coke also pledged to promote more sustainable agricultural practices, initially focusing on sugar cane production. It will work with two additional crops beginning next year.
No pun intended but for the world’s carbon community, times are looking a little black.
The global financial crisis, or GFC as it is being called this week during Australia’s largest ever carbon market gathering, is deeply troubling many participants. But a larger, more worrying issue remains “post 2012″.
With worries about recession in many countries, does it make sense to try out some more radical ideas for fighting global warming, like placing mirrors in the sky to block the sun or fertilising the oceans to soak up greenhouse gases?
They sound like great proposals at first sight: simple, probably cheaper and in some cases reversible. See a story about the technologies here. But there’s a lot of scepticism among scientists in the U.N. Climate Panel – there could be nasty side effects.
Getting caught speeding changed my life — for the better.
It inadvertently turned me into a devoted bike commuter, has saved me lots of money, aggravation — and even saved the world a little bit of carbon dioxide to boot. Since giving up the car for my daily commutes by bike to work in August, I’ve also lost about 2 kilos and now look forward to my daily 16 km journeys each way to and from the office.
Other colleagues who cycle to work had long tried to encourage me to try out commuting by bike. We’ve even got a little shower here where I work in the centre of Berlin. But it was always so much easier to jump into the car.
Emissions of the main greenhouse gas are rocketing — despite international efforts to slow them down, according to a study today.
Read my colleague David Fogarty’s worrying article about carbon dioxide emissions — China has definitely overtaken the United States as top emitter, India is catching up with third placed Russia.
Is this the silver bullet everyone’s been waiting for? Or just pie in the sky? Is capturing and storing carbon dioxide the technology breakthrough to cut greenhouse gas emissions without getting in the way of economic growth and industry’s “addiction” to fossil fuels? Or is it just a “greenwash” — a token gesture by some of the utilities responsible for so much of the world’s CO2 to try to persuade an increasingly green public that the great emitters are doing something to fight climate change?
Those are the questions that were hurled at Vattenfall executives on Tuesday when the Swedish-based utility opened the world’s first CCS plant in a small town south of Berlin called Schwarze Pumpe. The company believes it will be economically feasible before long to capture carbon, liquify it, and store it permanently on a large scale underground. This is only a small pilot plant producing enough power for a town of 20,000. But if it works, Vattenfall plans to build two conventional power plants 10 times larger in Germany and Denmark by 2015 and from 2020 they hope CCS will be a viable option for large-scale industrial use.
It may be a distinct miniority opinion, but if you were to ask me, I’d say I think they’re not high enough — and I sincerely hope they keep rising. It may be the only way the world wakes up to the perils of climate change — hitting people in their pocketbooks where it hurts most.
The higher energy costs are truly a blessing in disguise for anyone concerned about climate change and worried about the inability of world leaders to take any tough measures to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With the growing scientific evidence that global warming has been happening, there’s no excuse for this generation’s inaction.
And with the WTO talks ending in abject failure, who could possibly be optimistic about the world ever agreeing on taking the costly, pain-inducing steps necessary to at least slow global warming in our time?
So it is the soaring energy prices are filling the void the cowardly political leaders have left. Rising prices for petrol, natural gas and electricity are causing pain and leading to conservation — and reduced emissions of carbon dioxide It’s a good thing.
Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.
Often when seeing anti-environmental commentary about global warming in the media, I feel like the first question I would like to ask these commentators is: “Why do you deny that carbon dioxide (CO2), which is increasing in an unprecedented way in the atmosphere, is a greenhouse gas?”
Japan budgeted $283 million for security at the summit and $30 million to build a temporary, low-emissions media centre far from where the G8 leaders are meeting in a luxury hotel.
The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society is working with the government of Madagascar to sell about 9.5 million tonnes of carbon credits to help save the Makira Forest, which contains 22 species of lemurs, hundreds of bird species and thousands of plants. Many of those species are found nowhere else on the planet.