Last week business lobby group Pure Advantage launched [Herald, Stuff] a specially commissioned report, Green Growth: Opportunities for New Zealand, which presents, they say, “an exhaustive, objective economic argument for embracing green growth”. The report was produced by a London-based economics consultancy in conjunction with the University of Auckland Business School, and is the culmination of two years work to identify the most effective ways of implementing green growth business strategies in NZ.
Launching the report, Pure Advantage (PA) chairman Rob Morrison said:
We firmly believe on the basis of this significant macroeconomic report that New Zealand has the potential to generate billions of dollars in new high-value economic growth, whilst at the same time improving New Zealand’s environmental performance.
Morrison said that PA intends to use the report as “a basis to establish, in consultation with industry, seven industry-specific green growth programmes”. The seven key ‘advantages’ are (links go to PA web explanations):
- Home Advantage: Retrofitting an efficient building environment;
- Geothermal Advantage: Creating a significant geothermal export industry
- Agricultural Advantage:
Investing in sustainable and efficient agricultural technologies
- Waste-to-Energy Advantage: Installing bio-energy and waste-to-energy infrastructure
- Biofuel Advantage: Establishing a woody mass biofuel and bio-products industry
- Smart Grid Advantage: Installing the building blocks of a smart grid
- Biodiversity Advantage: Establishing a world-class biodiversity driven ecotourism and conservation education programme.
PA note that the report was “not driven by environmental idealism or fear of climate change”, yet the recommendations look a lot like the sort of joined up thinking on environment and emissions policy that has been so lacking from the present government. By making the business case for green growth, perhaps PA can start a bottom-up change of economic direction that will do for NZ what the government will not. It’s certainly a worthwhile effort, but while there are other lobby groups out there promoting rampant population growth as the way to stop economic decline, it will continue to be an uphill struggle.
The title to this post may seem like an odd question, but I think it is an inescapable one, as I hope to demonstrate. The US Department of Agriculture has a mandate for a huge biofuel planting programme, the largest in the world in 2005. Currently around 13.5 billion gallons are produced per annum. The aim is to grow this to 36 billion gallons by 2022.
Then along came the US drought of 2012. US farmers are asking the USDA to forgo the biofuel mandate. It turns out that that they need all of that corn to keep food prices down.
The fact that biofuels compete with land for food crops and can produce food shortages has been noted by others. The US drought has simply demonstrated that the issue will affect rich and poor nations.
But the dream of using biofuels on a large scale for transportation has always been fanciful. US production targets for biofuels have been based on assumptions about technological developments and the availability and productivity of farmland. A recent report, using satellite data about climate, plant cover and usable land, showed that meeting current US biofuel production targets with existing technology would require “devoting almost 80 percent of current farmland in the US to raising corn for ethanol production or converting 60 percent of existing rangeland to biofuels.”
Continue reading “Do you want to fly or do you want to eat?”
Positive news this week from the Nelson-based algae company Aquaflow whose fortunes we have followed on Hot Topic over the past three years. I last reported on them in August 2011, when they had signed an agreement for joint testing and evaluation with Texas-based CRI Catalyst Company (CRI). Now they have announced a full technology cooperation agreement with that company which they believe leaves them poised to make refining next generation biofuels a commercial reality in New Zealand and in overseas projects within the two to three years it takes to build a refinery.
That’s big news if it comes to fruition. Director Nick Gerritsen says: “We should be able to produce renewable hydrocarbon fuel that is equivalent to fossil fuel at a cost that is highly competitive with the current per barrel price of crude oil.” He adds that New Zealand could turn its biomass into enough carbon-neutral biofuel to meet its renewable fuels requirement within ten years.
Continue reading “Aquaflow: next-gen biofuels a commercial reality”
As the northern hemisphere starts to warm (rather rapidly in the USA), climate watchers’ thoughts turn to melting ice, and to tell us what happened last year and what might be in store this summer, Glenn and Gareth welcome back Greenland expert Jason Box from the Byrd Polar research Centre at Ohio State University. It’s a wide ranging and fascinating discussion, not to be missed. John Cook looks at the differences between sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, and we have news coverage of the new HadCRUT4 global temperature series, summertime in winter in the USA, worrying news about sea level from the Pliocene, a new report on climate change in the Pacific, and new developments in solar power and biofuels.
Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, listen to us via Stitcher on your smartphone or listen direct/download from the link below the fold.
Follow The Climate Show at The Climate Show web site, and on Facebook and Twitter.
Continue reading “The Climate Show #25: Box on ice (a polar special)”
Is a fully sustainable global energy system possible by 2050? It’s hard to imagine a more important question if we entertain hopes of avoiding the worst effects of climate change. It is the question addressed by a new and substantial report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the sustainable energy research and consultancy company Ecofys.
The answer to the question is a careful yes, with a caveat. The Ecofys team writes:
Continue reading “Here comes the sun: 100% renewables by 2050”