Is it Time for a Carbon Tax?

By Alan Grotheer

carbon taxLast week, CDP (formerly the Climate Disclosure Project) raised some hopes among conservationists by issuing a report showing that a large number of corporations are incorporating provisions for a carbon tax in their long range financial plans. Citing data received directly from the companies in response to a survey, the report indicates a tacit, if not explicit acknowledgement of the scientific consensus regarding the causes and potential threats of climate change, well in advance of any comprehensive international agreements or significant actions by most of the largest greenhouse gas emitting countries.

By including carbon tax expenditures in their projections, the companies' decisions reflect both a realistic approach to risk management and a desire to gain competitive advantage over corporate rivals who may be underestimating the financial implications of a carbon tax. Though according to CDP the specifics of a carbon allowance calculation vary greatly from company to company, most financial plans do one or more of the following:

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Another EV startup failure and what this means for the industry

by Sandy Tung

This is not a story about Fisker. This is Better Place, the battery-swapping startup that was set up in Israel in 2007 and was deemed the next big thing. Six years on, having raised over $850 million from huge corporations such as HSBC Group, Morgan Stanley, General Electric, Vantage Point Capital Partners, and Israel Corp, CEO Shai Agassi was forced out in October 12, his successor quit in January, and the startup has lost over $500 million. But first - why battery swapping?

The battery issue for EVs is a big one. Although battery life has improved by quite a bit since the first EV, its price and lifetime still makes the value of an EV depreciate quicker than its conventional counterpart. Why go for an EV knowing full well that your vehicle will be worth so much less than a regular car in a few years time?

There have been attempts to get around this, with Renault and Daimler AG selling electric cars and leasing out its batteries, so that the electric car (the electric Smart, in this case) would only cost 16,000 Euros (approx. $20,000), with the battery leased out at around 60 Euros per month ($80).

All this had been preceded by the hugely innovative Better Place, who pioneered battery swapping for vehicles in Israel. Instead of taking hours to charge your vehicle you simply drive up to a station (much like a gas station) and get your battery swapped in around five minutes. Lauded with praises, Deutsche Bank even suggested the business could lead a "paradigm shift" causing "massive disruption" to the car-making industry, and could even make gasoline vehicles obsolete. Renault-Nissan even agreed to 100,000 vehicles tailored to Better Place specifications. So much for success, then, as Better Place seems to have stalled and have delayed plans to roll out internationally.

Read more: Another EV startup failure and what this means for the industry

An Energy System As Revolutionary as the Internet

by Andy Mannle

We have made enormous progress on clean energy in recent years. We currently invest over $260 billion a year in clean energy globally, but much of this has come from government support, which is waning in the wake of global recession, fiscal crises, and economic austerity.

To truly make the transition to a clean economy, we need to do for energy what the internet has done for communication systems.

Our current energy system works like the old broadcast model for television: a top-down, centralized, one-way distribution system with a few channels that were the same for everybody. Moving forward, we need an energy system that is as localized, diverse, and networked as the web; where hundreds of millions of people can produce, store, share, and sell energy the way we currently do with information on the internet.

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Singapore Leaping on Eco-Friendly Retail Structures

By Stephanie Chiao

City Square Mall SingaporeThe development of eco-friendly malls has gained traction in recent years as retailers worldwide realize the environmental and economic benefits of energy-efficient shopping. Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, began its renewable energy and efficiency campaign in 2005. It has since emerged as a leading force in sustainable retail, fueling 21 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable sources.

Singapore has also made significant strides in this direction. According to its certifying body BCA Green Mark, the number of green projects has increased from 17 in 2005 to over 1,600 at present. Despite the higher initial costs of energy efficiency technology, Singapore’s City Development Limited managed to recoup its investment within two and a half years. According to CDL’s Sustainability Report for 2012, total energy savings from their 37 green-certified buildings amounted to $15.5 million between 2008 and 2011.

The 700,000 square feet City Square Mall, launched in 2009, is a symbol of Singapore’s successful green energy investment. It features energy-efficient technologies that save 12 million kWh annually, including a green roof fitted with solar panels, LED lighting and double-glazed façade glass that minimize heat penetration. High-efficiency air conditioners serve a dual purpose to reduce carbon emissions and collect condensation water. In addition, the basement carpark has 14 lots for hybrid and electric cars as well as a charging station for the latter.

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