Saturday, January 30, 2010

Will China Eat America’s Lunch in Cleantech?

From TechCrunch/Editor’s note: Guest writer Vivek Wadhwa is an entrepreneur turned academic. He is a Visiting Scholar at UC-Berkeley, Senior Research Associate at Harvard Law School and Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University. Follow him on Twitter at @vwadhwa.

In the State of the Union Address last Wednesday, President Obama said “the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy and America must be that nation.” At the same time, on the other coast, 75 clean energy investors, entrepreneurs, and researchers were debating whether the U.S. can gain this leadership position. They agreed that even though Silicon Valley leads the world in technology, it is not clear if it will ever lead in Cleantech. The Valley may develop some breakthrough technologies, but without government help these are unlikely to translate into global leadership. The technology world is rightfully allergic to government assistance and intervention. Cleantech is different, however, and we aren’t dealing with a level global playing field.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jean-Michel Cousteau interviews Mikhail Gorbachev

Jacques Cousteau's 100th Birthday is on Jun 11th, 2010. His son Jean-Michel is preparing a movie for the occasion. On January 15 in Geneva, Jean-Michel Cousteau interviews Mikhail Gorbachev who knew Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997). A brief preview captured during the interview...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Climate Change and "Information and Communication Technologies"

Here are some excerpts from the speech by Dr. Hamadoun Touré at the Green Cross International general assembly which I attended last week in Geneva. I thought they were quite relevant especially to my other activities in the ICT world:

§ I am here today as one of the newest members of the GCI’s Climate Change Task Force – and I am deeply honoured to join a group which is led by President Mikhail Gorbachev and which includes Nobel Peace Laureates, the Club of Rome, the Club of Madrid, and other very distinguished members.

§ Those who know me well, know that I am an optimist. And as an optimist, I am positive that we can succeed.

§ There was an interesting interview last week on CNN’s website with another optimist, Mark Lynas, a British journalist and environmental expert. He said: “we need to try and change the language used to discuss climate change, from all about burden sharing, to opportunity sharing. That's a big mental shift, it's a big political shift and it's a big economic shift,” he added.

§ And he’s right. This is all about opportunity.

§ Information and Communication Technologies – ICTs – will play a vital role in helping us win this battle.

§ Indeed, I would go further, and say that without ICTs we cannot possibly hope to win.

§ ICTs are the single most powerful tool humankind has at its disposal to avoid potential climate catastrophe. While technology contributes around 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more efficient use of modern technologies could cut global power consumption by 15%.

§ ICTs help to reduce waste, cut business travel and make industry more efficient.

§ New technologies being developed within ITU – such as Next-Generation Networks – can reduce network and data centre power consumption by up to 40%.

§ The universal charger, which has just been standardized by ITU, will deliver a 50% reduction in standby energy consumption, eliminate up to 80,000 tonnes of redundant chargers, and cut GHG emissions by at least 13 million tonnes annually.

§ Satellites are also tremendously important – not just in monitoring, but in helping increase food output and reduce emissions. Satellite-based intelligence services for farmers, for example, which cost less than US$ 15 per hectare annually, can increase yields by as much as 10%. And using satellite monitoring produces 98% fewer emissions than ordinary ground monitoring

Green Cross Assembly renews priorities

The biennial General Assembly of Green Cross International (GCI), held on 15-16 January in Geneva, reviewed the priorities and programmes of the global network to build on its niche activities.

As the first order of business, the Assembly – led by President Gorbachev, the Founding President and the Board Chairman Dr. Jan Kulczyk - adopted a statement on Haiti. Nearly 100 delegates from 23 of the 29 Green Cross national organisations urged world leaders to speed up preparedness to natural calamites as part of responding to climate change.

Among the keynote opening speakers were Mr. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union and the newest member to join the Climate Change Task Force (CCTF). Both speakers outlined the importance of a timely and adequate global response to climate change within the extended one year deadline from Copenhagen.

The accent on promoting renewable sources energy and cutting down consumption of fossil fuels was prioritised in the programmes and strategic activities of Green Cross

national organisations. The Assembly decided to encourage partnerships that respond to climate change mitigation and adaptation needs.

The Green Cross national organisations will continue working on international Programmes. They discussed plans to strengthen them. These include focus areas such as Water; the Legacy of the Cold War (reduction of threats from nuclear and chemical weapons stockpiles); the Social, Medical and Education (SocMed) programme related to catastrophes such as Chernobyl and Agent Orange in Vietnam; the Smart Energy programme; and the Education and Value Change programme.

Professor Mohan Munasinghe, a renowned climate scholar and IPCC member, was welcomed as a member of the GCI Board. The GCI Board of Directors, shaped by the General Assembly, now consists of:

Mikhail Gorbachev, Founding President
Dr. Jan Kulczyk, Chairman
Alexander Likhotal, President
Sander Mallien, Treasurer & Green Cross Switzerland President
Mohan Munasinghe, Member of the IPCC and member of CCTF
Mario Soares, former President of Portugal
Sergey Baranovskiy, Green Cross Russia President
Celso Luiz Claro de Oliveira, Green Cross Brazil President
Ousséni Diallo, Green Cross Burkina Faso CEO
Shoo Iwasaki, Green Cross Japan President
Scott Seydel, Global Green USA Chairman

Friday, January 1, 2010

To Save the Planet, Save the Seas

FOR the many disappointments of the recent climate talks in Copenhagen, there was at least one clear positive outcome, and that was the progress made on a program called Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Under this program, key elements of which were agreed on at Copenhagen, developing countries would be compensated for preserving forests, peat soils, swamps and fields that are efficient absorbers of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas linked to global warming.