Geoff Bennett - Editor

Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.

Before we continue, we would like to welcome Palmerston North City Council as our latest subscriber to e-Bench™

We would also like to congratulate Air New Zealand as winners of the 2012 EECA Energywise Supreme Award and extend acknowledgement to all the other awardees including three of our e-Bench™ subscribers – New Plymouth District Council (joint winner with NZ Post of the Public Sector Award, Kapiti Coast District Council and New Zealand Defence Force (both highly commended).

This week saw the news that Greenhouse gas levels in the Arctic had passed the symbolic 400 ppm milestone. Whilst globally the level stands at 395 ppm, this is well above what the scientists regard as the ‘safe’ upper limit and 800,000 years since it had last been at these levels. It is however the alarming and accelerating rate of the increase that holds real concern – with emissions in 2011 of 34.8 billion tonnes; a rise of 3.2% over 2010.

One thing for sure, is that we are reaching limits in all sorts of ways. These include constraints on oil supply, financial markets and economic well-being, fresh water shortages, adequate and safe supply of food, access to fertile land, soil erosion exceeding the rate that new soil is being formed, etc. Sometimes it is hard to grasp just what we might be doing to the environment we live in and that perhaps Al Gore’s depiction of the frog in the slowly heating pot might be closer to the truth than anyone of us might care to admit. It is sure getting hot in here.

Perhaps this is what has prompted Brittany Trilford, a fellow Wellingtonian to produce a video exhorting the world’s leaders to step up and give future generations hope. The killer line: “What kind of future do I want? Frankly, I’d just be happy to have a future – to have that guaranteed – because right now, it’s not”. And we have plenty of examples how NZ has failed to meet it’s pledges made at the 1992 Rio Summit. Furthermore, it doesn’t instil much hope that things are likely to change when the NZ Prime Minister – John Key, whilst accepting that the country’s environmental record may have worsened over 20 years, seems to think it hard to believe that other nations might be doing better. Great, so that makes it all okay then.

Well, John, maybe you should ask some of your Govt. officials to take a look at Wales to see how NZ compares? Wales, with a population of 3 million has sustainable development enshrined in its constitution and hopes later in 2012 to pass a law requiring all government spending to take into account environmental and social needs.

So if we are unlikely to see a real lead being taken from our politicians, who is going to do this? Increasing evidence is suggesting that will be our corporate business sector, as they respond to investors demands to manage emissions as well as seeking to become more efficient and differentiate themselves from competitors.

Our next couple of articles examines how senior executives are quickly coming around to the belief that sustainability is critical to their business and that energy management will be a substantial and vital component of these changes. Furthermore, it appears their change to become more sustainable is reflecting demand from consumers, with a report by Accenture revealing that many firms selling environmentally-friendly products are struggling to keep up with consumer demand.

Of course, with every change, there will be winners and losers. The US coal industry would certainly be feeling the heat as they construct even more elaborate ways of trying to keep the consumer weaned to their greenhouse gas emitting dirty fuel. In this case, by constructing a fabrication that there might be a war on coal…

Well there may not be a war on coal, but there is a growing backlash on the climate change sceptics as our next two articles examine. The US based and Koch Brothers founded anti climate-change organisation Heartland Institute has been haemorrhaging supporters and funding ever since it mounted a spectacularly ill-fated billboard campaign suggesting support for climate change responses were equal to mass killers like Unabomber.

The public reaction has caused many corporates like General Motors to pull funding, with other industry groups such as the Coal Association having to publically come to their aid. This says more about how the fossil fuel sector doesn’t want any of us to change our ways. Sorry guys, too late, consumers are voting with their feet and the corporate sector is responding. Maybe there is some hope after all.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.

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