‘Environmental and Societal Innovation: Introduction and Overview’

Extract from Article: This new journal responds to an increasing awareness that solving resource scarcity and environmental problems, notably related to fossil energy use and climate change, represents a very tough problem,2 the solution to which requires a combination of technical, organizational, economic, institutional, social–cultural and political changes. Jointly, these are increasingly referred to as a socio-technical transition to an environmentally sustainable economy. The emerging field of transition studies examines both economy-wide and sector transitions, such as in energy, transport, chemicals, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism sectors. This journal is intended to report the results of fundamental and applied research on solutions to environmental problems that take the form of innovation in a broad sense. The ultimate aim is to contribute insights about the formulation and implementation of strategies and public policies aimed at resolving fundamental barriers to environmental innovations and sustainability transitions, whether of an economic, social, political or behavioral–psychological nature.

Full Citation: van den Bergh, J.C.J.M, Truffer, B., Kallis, G. (2011). Environmental and Societal Innovation: Introduction and Overview, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 1: 1-23 (Available with subscription from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/22104224).

Centre of Criminology Workshop Invitation: New Environmental Governance

The Centre of Criminology at the University of Cape Town, in collaboration with the Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet) at the Australian National University, are delighted to invite you to a one-day workshop to explore the emerging ‘New Environmental Governance (NEG)’ framework, and how the theory might relate and / or be applied to your personal work or research projects.

Speakers Include :
Prof Neil Gunningham
Director of the National Research Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Regulation
(RegNet), Australian National University

Dr Cameron Holley
Climate & Environmental Governance Network, Australian National University

Prof Clifford Shearing
Director of Criminology, University of Cape Town

The workshop will raise and discuss new emerging developments in environmental governance, and include discussions of a forthcoming book entitled : ‘New Environmental Governance’ by Neil, Cameron and Clifford, due to be published later this year by Earthscan.

For More Information: NEG Workshop Invitation

‘Renewables to supply 80% of the world’s energy needs by 2050′

Engineering News, 10 June 2011 

Renewable-energy sources are expected to contribute up to 80% of global energy supply by 2050, according to a new report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after a review of 164 scenarios.

“The report clearly demonstrates that renewable-energy technologies could supply the world with more energy than it would ever need and at highly competitive costs,” says Global Wind Energy Council secretary-general Steve Sawyer. “The IPCC report will be a key reference for policymakers and industry alike, as it represents the most comprehensive high-level review of renewable-energy to date.”

The 1 000-page report, which was adopted by 194 governments after marathon negotiations on May 9, deals with the potential contribution from biomass, geothermal, hydro, ocean, solar and wind energy, as well as their potential to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, their integration into energy networks, their contribu- tion to sustainable development, and the poli- cies needed to promote renewable energy.

Many technologies are already economically competitive, and the number will increase as further cost reductions and technological improvements are made.

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‘Doing the maths on the green economy’

by: Peter Victor and Tim Jackson, Nature 

In their 21 February report Towards a Green Economy, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) claims that “a green economy grows faster than a [conventional] brown economy, while maintaining and restoring natural capital”. We contend that this claim is founded on flawed assumptions.

First, it is based on an inadequate target for reducing energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. The reduction by 2050 under UNEP’s G2 green-economy scenario is only 35% relative to 2011 emissions. This cannot achieve the 450 parts per million (p.p.m.) target arising from IPCC’s Fourth Assessment, let alone more recent calls for 350 p.p.m. Also, UNEP is assuming that the investment needed to achieve this target is additional to (rather than just a reallocation of) business-as-usual investment funds, ignoring crucial questions about financing. This additional ‘green’ investment is 10% higher than that applied to the ‘brown’ scenario, causing partiality in the analysis.

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‘Multilevel risk governance and urban adaptation policy’

Abstract: Despite a flurry of activity in cities on climate change and growing interest in the research community, climate policy at city-scale remains fragmented and basic tools to facilitate good decision-making are lacking. This paper draws on an interdisciplinary literature review to establish a multilevel risk governance conceptual framework. It situates the local adaptation policy challenge and action within this to explore a range of institutional questions associated with strengthening local adaptation and related functions of local government. It highlights the value of institutional design to include analytic-deliberative practice, focusing on one possible key tool to support local decision-making—that of boundary organizations to facilitate local science-policy assessment. After exploring a number of examples of boundary organisations in place today, the authors conclude that a number of institutional models are valid. A common feature across the different approaches is the establishment of a science-policy competence through active deliberation and shared analysis engaging experts and decision-makers in an iterative exchange of information. Important features that vary include the geographic scope of operation and the origin of funding, the level and form of engagement of different actors, and the relationship with “producers” of scientific information. National and sub-national (regional) governments may play a key role to provide financial and technical assistance to support the creation of such boundary organizations with an explicit mandate to operate at local levels; in turn, in a number of instances boundary organizations have been shown to be able to facilitate local partnerships, engagement and decision-making on adaptation. While the agenda for multi-level governance of climate change is inevitably much broader than this, first steps by national governments to work with sub-national governments, urban authorities and other stakeholders to advance capacity in this area could be an important step for local adaptation policy agenda.

Full Citation: Corfee-Merlot, J., Cochran, I., Hallegatte, S. and Teasdale, P.J. (2011). Multilevel Risk Governance and Urban Policy, Climatic Change – Special Issue: Understanding Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation at City Scale, 104 (1): 169-197 (Available full text with subscription at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/trj068574g161188/.



‘US researchers find high levels of methane contamination in wells near fracking sites, but think-tank doubts accuracy of study’

Engineering News, 27 May 2011 

Astudy by Duke University researchers has found high levels of leaked methane in well water collected near shale-gas drilling and hydrofracking sites, reports ScienceDaily.

The scientists collected and analysed water samples from 68 private groundwater wells across five counties in north-eastern Pennsylvania and New York, in the US. Hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking or fracking) involves pumping water, sand and chemicals deep underground into horizontal gas wells, at high pressure, to crack open hydrocarbon-rich shale and extract natural gas.

The peer-reviewed study found no evidence of contamination from chemical-laden fracking fluids (injected into gas wells to help break up shale deposits) or from ‘produced water’ (wastewater extracted back out of the wells after the shale had been fractured).  Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environ- ment postdoctoral research associate Stephen Osborn says measurable amounts of methane were found in 85% of the samples, but levels were 17 times higher on average in wells located within a kilometre of active hydro- fracking sites. The contamination was observed primarily in the Bradford and Susquehanna counties, in Pennsylvania.

Water wells farther from the gas wells contained lower levels of methane and had a different isotopic fingerprint.

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‘No ‘green’ earmarking plan for carbon tax revenue’

Engineering News, 2 June 2011 

Should South Africa, which produced about 500-million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) yearly, move ahead with the implementation of a carbon tax, the revenue generated would not necessarily be set aside specifically for environmental projects, National Treasury environmental and fuel taxes director Sharlin Hemraj stressed on Thursday.

The National Treasury, which aims to conclude its carbon-tax policy ahead of the 2012 Budget, currently favoured a tax on carbon emissions, and its discussion document proposed R75/t CO2e, increasing to around R200/t CO2e over time.

“The imposition of a tax is that money should be spent in a certain way and one of the common misconceptions is that revenue will be used to finance specific environmental activities with the implementation of a tax,” she explained at the Transport Forum, held in Johannesburg.

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‘Nuclear energy not a quick fix – Peters’

Engineering News, 30 May 2011

Nuclear energy is not a quick-fix solution for South Africa’s energy shortages, said Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters on Monday.

“We in South Africa have understand that nuclear is not a quick fix solution but a long term method to address the energy crisis and climate change challenge,” she said in a speech prepared for delivery at the second regional conference on Energy and Nuclear Power in Africa, held in Cape Town.

“Considering long term commitment to nuclear, countries interested in embarking on this programme will require at least 100 years to maintain sustainable and safety operation of the nuclear power, decommissioning and waste disposal,” she said.

Nuclear energy forms part of the integrated resources plan (IRP) which sets out the country’s energy mix up to 2030. Nuclear would contribute 23% of the energy supply.

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‘Review of Future Energy Supply and Targets for Climate Change: The Idea of Ecosystem Services’

Abstract: Climate change is considered as one of the biggest challenges for decades to come (BP 2008; CDIAC 2008; Reddy and Hodges 2000; IEA 2007). This is unless significant investments are diverted towards development of natural capital that regulates the environment (World Bank 2008). Although energy supply from renewable energy sources and renewable technologies are growing rapidly, their capacity will still not be enough to significantly offset fossil fuel demand (BP 2008; CDIAC 2008; Grunwald 2008; IEA 2007). This means energy supply from non-renewable sources will still contribute to the release of large emissions of GHGs that cause climate change (EPI 2010; ESRL 2010). Even though there are policies and strategies on emission control to fight climate change, it is argued here that these efforts should not only focus on emission reductions, but also on mitigation measures. An analysis of future energy projections (see World Bank 2010; EIA 2008; ESRL 2010; IEA 2007) reveals a need to explore other avenues for mitigating emissions from this energy trend.

Full Citation: Fongwa, E., Onyango, V. and Gnauck, A. (2011). Review of Future Energy Supply and Targets for Climate Change: The Idea of Ecosystems Services, in M.Schmidt, V. Onyango, D. Palekhov (eds). Implementing Environmental and Resource Management, London: Springer-Verlag (Available for download with subscription at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/v067528647862217/).


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