Bdil fil-klima

 

Illum flimkien ma Arnold Cassola u oħrajn, għan-nom ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika ħadt sehem f’laqgħa ma’ David Spiteri Gingell, li qed imexxi kumitat imwaqqaf mill-Gvern dwar il-Bdil fil-Klima.

Il-laqgħa kienet waħda pożittiva ħafna li fihom iddiskutejna diversi miżuri li jistgħu jittieħdu mhux biss biex Malta tonora l-obbligi tagħha imma biex ilkoll ikollna kwalita’ tal-ħajja aħjar.

Fi tmiem il-laqgħa AD ħriġna l-istqarrija segwenti :

“  Arnold Cassola, Chairperson ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika stqarr li Malta għadha lura ħafna fil-miri tagħha, li suppost iwasslu biex fl-2020 Malta tuża 10% ta’ l-enerġija tagħha minn għejjun naturali bħax-xemx u r-riħ u biex nnaqqsu 20% tal-emissjonijiet tagħna ta’ CO2.
Ralph Cassar kelliemi dwar l-Enerġija, Trasport u Industrija qal: Alternattiva Demokratika terġa ttenni l-pjan tagħha għall-inċentivar ta’ enerġija alternattiva – fosthom li jiġu stallati minn 3 sa 4 rdieden tar-riħ fuq l-art, li jiġu introdotti inċentivi għall-installar ta’ pannelli fotovoltajċi b’tariffi speċjali għall-elettriku żejjed li dawn is-sistemi jipproduċu, u programm serju ta’ inċentivi għall-familji biex jistallaw sistemi li jsaħħnu l-ilma permezz tax-xemx. Nemmnu li b’inċentivi tajbin nistgħu nibdew nipproduċu persentaġġ tajjeb ta’ enerġija
minn sorsi alternattivi. AD mhux qed titlob l-impossibbli – hemm diversi mudelli ta’ incentivi li jistgħu jiġu addattati ghal Malta

, fosthom dak Ġermaniż li ġie introdott meta l-Ħodor kienu fil-Gvern ftit snin ilu.

Carmel Cacopardo kelliemi dwar l-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli u l-Gvern Lokali qal li l-qafas tal-ħidma tal-Gvern fil-kamp tal-bdil tal-klima huwa ġja imħejji fil-Pjan Nazzjonali dwar l-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli, approvat mill-Kabinett fi tmiem is-sena li ghaddiet. Cacopardo zied jghid li biex Malta tilħaq il-miri stabiliti u tnaqqas il-kontribut tagħha lejn il-bdil fil-klima jeħtieġ li bis-serjeta tkun inkoraġġita l-ġenerazzjoni ta’ enerġija alternattiva kif ukoll li jonqsu drastikament il-karozzi mit-toroq. Dan (tnaqqis ta’ karozzi mit-toroq) għad hemm diffikulta biex iseħħ minħabba li minkejja l-infieq ta’ miljuni ta’ liri mit-taxxi li nħallsu l-Gvern immexxi mill-Partit Nazzjonalista ma kienx kapaċi jirriforma t-trasport pubbliku wara 4 leġislaturi sħaħ.

 

 

Cacopardo kompla jghid illi huwa meħtieġ li mhux biss ikunu inkoraġġiti forom differenti ta’ transport pubbliku inkluż dak bil-baħar, talli huwa neċessarju li fit-toroq tinħoloq il-wisa’ għall-użu tar-roti b’mod partikolari għal distanzi żgħar.

Il-Gvern għandu l–obbligu, temm jgħid Cacopardo illi jfassal Carbon Budget u jressqu għad-diskusjoni tal-Parlament. Permezz ta’ dan il-Carbon Budget ikun possibli  li jitfasslu miri speċifiċi u kif dawn jistgħu jintlaħqu.”  

 

 

 

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The Big Question: Why is the world so slow to produce environmentally-friendly cars?

 

published in the UK Independent

 

By Sean O’Grady
Thursday, 17 April 2008

 

Why are we asking this now?

Because Britain’s first hydrogen filling station opens today at the University of Birmingham. Researchers there will be assessing alternative fuel vehicles in search of greener motoring.

Is hydrogen the answer?

The hydrogen fuel cell is revolutionary. It supersedes the internal combustion engine and does away with fossil fuels. So there are vested interests involved. That said, it isn’t so much a question of conspiracy as cost. Some of the world’s leading energy and motor companies are developing alternatives to the conventional car. If the world wants hydrogen it will have to invest in it, scrapping existing technology, factories, refineries, infrastructure and know-how. That means consumers would have to pay for the leap forward. Will they? Besides, not everyone is convinced about the hydrogen fuel cell.

What’s so good about hydrogen?

Hydrogen is green at the point of use. Hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles emit no carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide or carcinogenic particles. All that emerges from the exhaust is water vapour. The hydrogen fuel, stored in pressurised tanks, is used to create a chemical reaction using catalysts. That is converted into electric power and drives a motor which moves the vehicle along. It is quiet, and performance is acceptable for many purposes; in any case it is early days yet. After all, we’ve had a long time to get from Karl Benz’s 1886 Patent Motorwagen (top speed: 11mph) to today’s Formula 1 wonders.

Do hydrogen fuel cells work?

Yes. Buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells have been judged “really successful” by Transport for London. Californian and South Korean authorities have tested fleets of Honda and Hyundai fuel cell cars satisfactorily. Mercedes-Benz and General Motors are two other companies who’ve produced running everyday fuel-cell models (Mercedes A-Class and a Vauxhall Zafira, respectively). The Honda FCX Clarity, a “proper” executive fuel-cell car, will be available for lease in the United States this summer.

So what’s the snag?

The greenness of hydrogen does depend on how much energy is inefficiently expended in generating it and moving it around. If, at one extreme, a much more efficient method of making hydrogen could be discovered, and if the energy used in it s manufacture and transport was sustainable (like from a power station using solar energy), then it might well be the greenest option. At worst there isn’t much advance on fossil fuels. Storing hydrogen requires pressurisation or cooling, which can be troublesome. Hydrogen also tends to vaporise, so there can be losses in transit. Some, with the tragedy of the Hindenburg airship in mind, wonder whether this highly combustible fuel can ever be safe.

How about just using hydrogen as fuel?

Simply replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen in a conventional internal combustion engine can be done. BMW’s Hydrogen 7 is almost as quiet and refined as its petrol-powered cousin. However, it needs a huge tank for the (unpressurised) hydrogen, and that tank of fuel can evaporate in as little as 10 days.

Are biofuels any use?

Biofuel versions of Saabs and Fords can be bought now, though there are few filling stations. This technology is also controversial. In theory, biofuels are carbon neutral, as the carbon dioxide used in producing them is “absorbed” by the plants grown to make create the biofuel. So-called first generation biofuels do suffer from drawbacks. First, they can displace food crops. Biofuels, even their best friends would agree, have had some effect on rising food prices. The EU wants to see monitoring systems to assure consumers that biofuels are not damaging the environment or food supplies, but those safeguards are yet to be implemented . Second, they can reduce biodiversity, as witnessed in the Indonesian rain forest, where palm oil crops for biodiesel have done much damage.

Third, critics point to the energy expended in producing and transporting the biofuels, the artificial fertilisers used, the western subsidies to grow them in Europe and the US, and so on. More defensible are second, third and fourth generation biofuels, which become progressively greener, though none are commercially available. The next stage will be to find ways to use the waste product of crops rather than the nutritionally valuable seeds and grains in biofuel production. One day, the scientists promise “carbon positive” biofuels – enzymes that can save the planet.

Why aren’t there more hybrids?

Toyota’s Prius leads the field, although Honda and Ford and General Motors in America are also on the scene. Using power wasted, for example in braking, and recycling that via an electric motor to supplement a petrol engine is a clever one. But many manufacturers say small, efficient diesels engines are just as effective and a lot cheaper to make, with no problematic batteries to dispose of. Japanese and US makers tend to favour petrol/electric hybrids because their main markets have very little appetite for diesel; European makes such as Mercedes and Peugeot are more traditionally committed to diesel. “Plug-in hybrids”, where energy direct from the mains can add to the cars’ range, are a step forward.

What happened to the electric car?

Nothing especially, though GM did can one of its more promising projects on the grounds of cost. However, the motor-show concept Chevrolet Volt (a “plug-in” hybrid) promises much, and GM are committed to making it. Electric cars can be extremely green, but again much crucially depends on how their power is generated. They used to be slow and fragile; mainstream makers are working on that. The Modec van is a fine example of a practical vehicle.

What can I do now?

Drive more carefully; downsize; use public transport more. There’s an argument for keeping an old car on the road for longer, thus saving the resources and energy used in producing a new one. A Morris Minor Traveller even uses renewable ash in its bodywork. The car makers are doing their bit, too. Modern cars are much greener than their predecessors (see chart). Ford and Volkswagen are tuning existing models to return exceptional economy and low emissions, the VW Polo “Bluemotion” being an outstanding example. But manufacturers such as VW and Citroë*do tend to price their green or diesel cars on the high side compared to the equivalent petrol models.

Will cars be greener any time soon?

Yes…

* All new cars are greener than their ancestors, so it is a process of evolution

* Small diesels are the way forward at the moment, and there are plenty on sale now

* Everyone is downsizing anyway. That might be the immediate means of cutting vehicle emissions

No…

* The car makers and oil companies will try to protect their old ‘brown’ technologies

* Consumers aren’t demanding them loudly enough, giving makers no incentive to crank up production

* ‘Green’ technologies aren’t as clean as they say. A real solution has not arrived yet

Hydrogen fuel stations for cars land in Britain

BOV’s CSR : The next step

This was originally published on the 5 January 2008 as an article in The Times

BOV’s CSR: The next step

 

Bank of Valletta is to be congratulated on the recent publication of its second Corporate Social Responsibility Report covering 2007.

In its mission statement BOV defines its commitment as being that of playing a leading and effective role in the country’s sustainable development “whilst tangibly proving ourselves to be responsible and caring citizens in the community in which we operate”. The objective of the CSR report is hence that of informing the community as to the manner in which the bank is acting as a responsible citizen. The bank’s CEO makes this even more clear in his statement on page four of the report. In fact, he rightly underlines that while the bank is responsible towards its shareholders it is also accountable towards society.

This is the crux of CSR: the accountability of business towards all stakeholders, the community at large. Profits generated on their own are not a measure of success, as the business of business is not just business!

The bank has ploughed back into the community 1.31 per cent of its profits (Lm350,000 or €815,500) through engagement in seven pillars of activity, namely the arts and culture, heritage, environment, sports, social, education and business sectors.

In particular, BOV has assisted Heritage Malta in preserving the Tarxien Temples. It has furthermore supported the restoration programme at Palazzo Falson, Mdina.

Reading through the BOV 2007 CSR report one encounters many a positive note as to the manner in which the bank is being eco-efficient. First on the list is its Santa Venera centre which, through both design and operation, is energy-efficient. Its Marsascala branch has, during 2007, been equipped with photo-voltaic panels, thereby contributing to an annual reduction of three tonnes of CO2 emissions as a minimum. The other branches await their turn.

BOV recycles its paper and has taken the first steps which will eventually lead to a paperless administration. Furthermore, it makes use of recycled toners and cartridges, not only contributing to less waste going to landfill but also paying less eco-taxes as a result. Reducing environmental impacts has a positive financial impact too!

The BOV report does not mention the environmental impacts generated by the use of transport (by both the bank and its employees). Nor is any reference made to the use of water in its branches, including the collection and utilisation of rainwater.

BOV has also sponsored a number of environmental initiatives aimed at the environmental education of the community.

While BOV is setting a good example which should filter through the business community, this should be seen as only a first step. In addition to improving the management of its direct environmental impacts, thereby reducing them, BOV can move forward, in the process retaining its leading role in banking CSR in Malta.

BOV should, on the basis of this eco-efficient experience, move on to new initiatives that address the eco-effectiveness of the banking system. In addressing its corporate responsibilities, BOV as any exemplary citizen would undoubtedly ask whether its services are being misused. In particular, whether any of its customers have used its services to contribute towards the ever-increasing national environmental deficit.

It would be interesting if in a future report we could read about environmental criteria applied in the consideration of requests for business loans, including those utilised to finance the construction industry. Additional interesting information would be whether BOV has refused its services to any client on the basis of environmental criteria.

The financial balance sheet on its own does not measure progress. It is only concerned with profits. The environmental and social balance sheets need to be addressed too, thereby having a “triple bottom line” approach to measuring progress.

Through its 2007 CSR report, BOV has proven that it is serious about managing its direct impacts. It now needs to move further by managing its upstream and downstream impacts. Managing its upstream impacts signifies addressing the environmental impacts generated by its suppliers – hence the introduction and maintaining of a green procurement service. Managing its downstream impacts would address the environmental impacts of those using its services. When this is done successfully BOV would be eco-effective, as a result contributing to a reduction of Malta’s environmental deficit.

BOV has taken the lead. I hope others will follow because profits and principles can co-exist.