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.

This week we take a somewhat optimist’s view of climate issues. The Guardian reports on Obama’s historic plan to reduce US carbon pollution. If successful the plan will meet US commitments from the Copenhagen Conference. Of interest is that this move is based on current legislation cutting emissions from fossil fuel power stations. Success of this initiative hinges on the Republicans conceding to the pressure.

Despite facing the costs and emitting 264 million tonnes of carbon, the big ten food companies including Kellogg and General Mills are not doing enough about Climate Change says an Oxfam report.

On the other extreme Shell has indicated they may increase their internal carbon price in response to tightening government rules. The quoted prices are higher than current emission trading scheme prices thus confirming how policy is undervaluing carbon.

Sara Gutterman calls those corporates taking action on climate change 'Climate Heroes'. Actions by the innovative leaders are creating unstoppable momentum which may not need policy change to sustain it. The heroes are investing in solar power, making smart homes, recycling electronic waste and influencing behaviour of homeowners, amongst other actions.

In our next series of articles we look at some innovative processes and products that could prove positive if implemented on a large commercial scale.

New light Technologies says it has achieved commercial scale production of its ‘AirCarbon’ technology at its production plant in California. The company uses carbon sequestration to make plastic based products. This plastic will soon be found in Dell packaging, initially in the USA., with plans to extend it globally in the coming months, and also incorporate it in to Dell's saleable goods. Having a strong partnership helps New Light with production, and Dell meeting their sustainable material goals.

We next look at roads paved not with gold but solar PV panels, a concept and project that has been round since 2009. It’s initially hard to imagine glass PV panelled roads effectively standing up to the abuse of vehicles travelling over them but testing indicates a load of 250,000 pounds (113,000kg) per panel is no problem. Many advantages are to be had such as interconnected panels meaning easy removal of ones that are faulty or damaged beyond repair and fitting replacement panels. Hopefully this roading system will move to full scale commercial use in the near future.

We next look at lighting by Phillips; in partnership with Chicago based Green Sense Farms have created one of the largest indoor commercial farms using lighting technology that uses less energy while producing higher and fresher yields. Imagine your favourite fruit or vegetable being available and on your door step year round, sounds perfect. Although we don’t see this type of farming replacing traditional farming methods we do see it as a way of supplementing current farm production to assist feeding the world’s ever increasing population.

Most of us here at the ETSL Offices are of an age where if something is broken we try and fix it. By and large in today's society, if something is broken people tend to buy a new one. That’s why we like the idea of ‘Repair Cafes’, people that need things fixed bring along said item and people with the necessary knowledge assist them with repairs. These people then hopefully pass on the skills they have learned. We think this is definitely a great way to avoid waste and increase the longevity of a product that may only have a minor fault.

In our next article we look at the potential risk to ‘Smart Building’. In previous Snippets we have covered off articles that show smart building controls and processes can enhance building operation. Buildings may have a number of operating systems which effectively can talk to each other to smooth operation. Through the ease of which these systems talk to each other may make it easier for security to be bypassed and unauthorised access to occur. In this article various examples are provided along with the need for monitoring and security measures.

The next two articles  look air quality. Many more Australians are killed by air pollution in a year than die in road accidents and shark attacks. Worldwide, more deaths occur from air pollution than AIDS, road deaths and diabetes combined. A recent Report on global air quality has ranked 17 New Zealand centres by their air quality (PM10 levels). The NZ average was below the World Health Organisation guideline limit, but some centres were close to the limit, or higher. Australia is not mentioned in this article, but the Air Quality Report referred to shows that Australian centres levels are similar to New Zealand levels, but with none exceeding the limit. Relating this back to the article on deaths in Australia from pollution, does this mean that New Zealand has a similar proportion of deaths from Air Pollution, something to think about?

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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