Tag Archive | "China"

Chinese climate scientist awarded the Volvo Environment Prize

Dr Qin Dahe, Chinese glaciologist and climate scientist, has been awarded this year’s Volvo Environment Prize. The award winner is a key contributor to the fifth assessment report from the UN climate panel (IPPC), whose first section, the “Physical Science Basis”, was released in September.

He attracted wide attention last year with a report on how climate change leads to more extreme weather events. It was the first report to show scientifically what many had already suspected, that extreme weather and climate phenomena have become more frequent over the last 50 years. The findings gained wide currency since they showed a clear connection between climate change and periods of extreme conditions, such as extended droughts and heat waves, but also torrential storms and rain in other regions. In its citation for this year’s Volvo Environment Prize laureate, the Award Jury calls the report “a game-changer”. In the words of the Jury, “the report demonstrated for the first time a clear link between climate change and many extreme events, an issue of immediate relevance for human well-being in many parts of the world”.

Dr Qin Dahe hopes that the scientific evidence in the fifth assessment report from the UN climate panel will be enough to lead to a breakthrough in global climate negotiations.

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Water scarcity increasingly threatens global security

Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and an author, most recently, of Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis. 

According to his research, water shortages in the densely populated parts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa could create large numbers of “water refugees” and overwhelm some states’ institutional capacity to contain the effects. The struggle for water is already escalating political tensions in certain parts of the world.

Downstream Egypt, for example, uses the bulk of the Nile River’s water, yet it is now threatening unspecified reprisals against Ethiopia’s continuing construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam.

China, already the world’s most-dammed nation, has approved the construction of 54 new dams – many of them on rivers that are the lifeblood of neighbouring countries. Turkey is accelerating an ambitious dam-building programme, which threatens to diminish cross-border flows into Syria and Iraq.

Meanwhile, intrastate water-sharing disputes have become common. Water conflicts within culturally diverse nations, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Sudan, often assume ethnic dimensions, thereby accentuating internal-security challenges.

But as illustrated by the disputes within, for example, the United States, Spain and Australia, intra-country water conflict is not restricted to the developing world.

Water conflicts in America have spread from the arid west to the east. Violent water struggles, however, occur mostly in developing nations, with resource scarcity often promoting environmental degradation and perpetuating poverty. Adequate access to natural resources, historically, has been a key factor in peace and war.

Countries can import fossil fuels, mineral ores and resources originating in the biosphere, such as fish and timber. But they cannot import water, or at least not in a major or sustainable manner. Water is essentially local and very expensive to ship.

Potable water supplies will come under strain if oceans rise. Rapid economic and demographic expansion has already turned potable water into a major issue across large parts of the world. Lifestyle changes have increased per capita water consumption.

It is against this background that water wars (in a political and economic sense) are already being waged between competing states, including by building dams on international rivers or by resorting to coercive diplomacy to prevent such construction.

US intelligence has warned that such water disputes could turn violent.

According to a report reflecting the joint judgement of US intelligence agencies, the use of water as a weapon of war or a tool of terrorism could become more likely in the next decade in some regions.

The InterAction Council, comprising more than 30 former heads of state or government, meanwhile, has called for urgent action, saying some countries battling severe water shortages risk failing. Water stress is adding to socio-economic costs.

The World Bank has estimated the economic cost of China’s water problems at 2.3% of its GDP. China, however, is not as yet under water stress – a term internationally defined as the availability of less than 1,700 cubic metres of water per person per year. By contrast, the already water-stressed economies, stretching from South Korea and India to Egypt and Morocco, are paying a higher price for their problems.

Nature’s fixed water-replenishment capacity limits the world’s freshwater resources to nearly 43 trillion cubic metres per year. But the human population has almost doubled since 1970.

Growth in consumption has become the single biggest driver of water stress. Rising incomes, for example, have promoted changing diets, especially a greater intake of meat, the production of which is notoriously water-intensive. It is about 10 times more water-intensive to produce meat than plant-based calories and proteins.

As a result, water could become the world’s next major security and economic challenge.

Bottled water at the supermarket is already more expensive than crude oil on the spot market. More people today own or use a mobile phone than have access to water-sanitation services. Unclean water is the greatest killer on the globe, yet a fifth of humankind still lacks easy access to potable water. More than half of the global population currently lives under water stress – a figure projected to increase dramatically during the next decade.

Although no modern war has been fought just over water, this resource has been an underlying factor in several armed conflicts.

With the era of cheap, bountiful water now gone, to be replaced by increasing constraints on supply and quality, the risks of overt water wars are increasing.

Avoiding conflict over water demands international cooperation. But there is still no international water law in force, and most regional water agreements are toothless, lacking monitoring and enforcement rules and provisions formally dividing water among users. Worse still, unilateralism is endemic in the parched world.

The international community thus confronts a problem more pressing than peak oil, economic slowdown and other oft-cited challenges.

Addressing this core problem holds the key to dealing with other challenges because of the nexus of water with global warming, energy shortages, stresses on food supply, population pressures, pollution, environmental degradation, global epidemics and natural disasters.


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ZTE provides green energy solutions in Africa

ZTE Corporation is launching five stories at GITEX Technology Week 2013, about advances the company has made in building business in South Africa, public safety systems worldwide, green energy, enterprise telecommunications devices, and networking.

ZTE is a global provider of telecommunications equipment, network solutions and mobile devices, is working with governments and enterprises across 15 African countries, including Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Niger, to deploy the use of renewable solar energy. The company is committed to corporate social responsibility and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

ZTE is providing governments and business with the means to meet local power needs for households, communication systems and mobile power sources, bringing light and telecoms to thousands of homes and businesses throughout the African continent. The projects involve a variety of ZTE’s green energy products and solutions, including solar lighting systems, mobile solar power systems, solar power for telecommunications base stations and solar power for household lighting systems.

“The solar street lighting project constructed by ZTE is one of the best renewable energy projects that exists in Niger,” said Mr. Oumarou Dogari Moumouni, the former mayor of Niamey, the capital of Niger.

Africa suffers from constant power shortages leaving more than 580 million people to light their homes with kerosene lamps that are harmful to both their health and the environment. Fortunately, Africa’s natural resources mean that it has a great source of renewable energy from the sun, and solar power is safe, reliable and low cost, making it an ideal alternative for countries suffering from energy shortages.

“ZTE’s cooperation with governments and businesses throughout Africa is providing both economic and social benefits across the region. We are helping African countries maximise the power of their local resources and use renewable energy in a number of innovative ways,” said Wang Yiwen, ZTE CTO of Government and Enterprise business in the Middle East and Africa region.

In recent years, ZTE has developed its enterprise business and increased its investment in the field of renewable energy. ZTE can provide a full range of products and solutions, including solar lighting, household solar power, solar-powered water supply systems, and solar power generation systems. It has become the most successful Chinese enterprise in the markets of energy and accessory products and an integrated-power solution provider with global service capabilities. The company has provided services for telecommunications operators and industrial customers in more than 160 countries and regions, and has provided renewable energy of over 300 megawatt through more than 75 operators and industrial customers in 52 countries.

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Heavy metal… lighter touch

Volvo Construction Equipment held its very first Innovation Forum at Eskilstuna – 100km west of Stockholm in Sweden – home of the heavy machinery division. Volvo CE invited journalists from around the world to share its vision for a sustainable future. BGreen’s Lorraine Bangera joined the ride

The two-day event began with a tour of the town’s Munktell Museum – a look into the company’s rich historic past. Volvo today has a direct link back to 1832 when Johan Theofron Munktell began building industrial machinery and by the middle of the century, steam engines and locomotives. Volvo CE is the oldest industrial company in the world still active in the field of construction equipment. The second day of the forum looked at the role innovation plays in the environment and in creating future technology. The day-long forum included work stations detailing six areas of Volvo CE innovation, as well as a factory tour and a manufacturing innovation session. The six work stations looked at the role innovation plays in drivelines, emerging market engineering, design, the company’s core values of quality, safety and environmental care, Tier 4 Final/ Stage IV compliant engines and the technology of the future. During the opening speech Anders P. Larsson, executive vice president of technology at Volvo CE, said: “An important aspect about innovation is quality.” He explained how innovation does not necessarily mean making more complex products, but simply making machine maintenance easier. Gunnar Stein, director of driveline systems at Volvo CE emphasised the role of sustainability, “Drivers for innovation must include environmental care and efficiency.” Volvo CE concentrates on using innovative solutions to help build the company from within as well. Employees are given the opportunity to be a part of the action, for example every month one day is solely dedicated to work and talk about improvements that must be made in the company. The factory is shut on that day to help all employees contribute. Ivan Obrovac, general manager of Eskilstuna operations said: “Last year 7% of the mistakes commonly made during production was reduced, while 5,600 improvements were made. KPI was the key.”

Climate Savers
“Environmental care is much more than just a corporate goal, it’s something we take very seriously and are working hard to do,” says Arvid Rinaldo, global communications strategy manager. Joining forces with the Volvo Group, the company joined the Climate Savers Programme operated by established environmental organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2010. The Climate Savers programme is WWF’s global platform to engage business and industry on climate and energy. Member companies take on two commitments: First, become the best in class in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and second to influence market or policy developments by promoting their vision, solutions and achievements. Volvo Group was the first heavy truck manufacturer to sign the agreement. The company undertook to reduce carbon emissions by 13 million tonnes from vehicles manufactured and sold between 2009 and 2014. Volvo CE aims to reduce carbon emissions from its products and factories, while developing new technologies to improve fuel efficiency and develop alternative fuel solutions. As part of the Climate Savers programme, Volvo CE to develop new prototypes with improved fuel performance. Volvo CE will explore advanced powertrain technologies internally and present a prototype with significantly improved fuel efficiency by the year 2014.

Innovation in design
Innovation isn’t just about the technical elements of a machine, says Volvo CE. Design, helps people experience things with their senses. In a recent survey, one machine operator said that working with a Volvo CE machine makes his job seem less brutal – demonstrating that design can have a profound impact on how operators feel about their working lives. Design isn’t just about form but also about function: if a machine looks good but isn’t useful, that isn’t design – it’s just style. Design director Stina Nilimaa Wickstöm said: “Design merges the technology and human relation. The combination of ergonomics, aesthetics, and emotions, is essential to create demand for a product.”

Tier 4 Final/Stage IV engines
In one of the largest development projects in the Volvo Group’s history, Volvo CE’s Tier 4f/Stage IV compliant engine line – developed with Volvo Trucks will be fitted to the company’s machines in 2014. Peter Engdahl, manager of engine performance, discussed product development for the new engines, including the rigorous testing and validation process that took the engines into the world’s harshest climates. Engdahl specified some of the new changes made include: a further optimised engine platform, a new developed exhaust, machine installations and new engine management systems. Asked if the new installations make the engine more complex, Engdahl said: “We actually take out the complex process and keep the new installation. This is tricky, it isn’t easy. It takes four years of research and development.”

Emerging markets
Deeply rooted in its Swedish heritage, Volvo CE has managed to spread wider on a global scale and plans to increasingly do so in the future. Tommy Streipel, director of wheel loader platforms, talked about the wheel loader product line and how it is tailored to different markets. For example, the new L105 wheel loader is geared specifically towards customers in China. Research indicates that some of the emerging markets in the next 20 years in terms of innovation and construction include Brazil, Africa, and India. On the other hand, today the US is the biggest market for construction, Japan is another big player in the sector. However, Streipel concludes, “market size of the emerging countries will definitely increase more than Europe and North America as urbanisation grows.”

Factory tour
There are 840 employees working at the Eskilstuna Volvo Factory. Machining, hardening, assembling and painting are carried out at the factory. Journalists were given a tour of Volvo’s Eskilstuna production campus to learn more about how operations contribute to innovation within the company. The tour was led by Jocke Höök who is the internal communication manager.

Volvo days
This year marked the 55th anniversary of Volvo CE’s popular Volvo Days event. More than 5,000 customers and visitors from Sweden and around the world were invited to visit the customer centre in Eskilstuna. The three week event started on August 27, and gave visitors a glimpse into the company’s history, products and services. The performance featuring construction equipment used from the 1960s to the latest form was showcased at its best with rock music pumping up the crowd. Journalists were given the opportunity to be the first to witness the Volvo Days this year. Volvo CE presented the opportunity to drive the trucks individually with the guidance of a qualified professional.

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Forest-first furniture design

With sustainability at the forefront of her designs, American designer Maria Yee started small. Now she owns her own furniture factory, with her work gracing high-end stores the world over. Tahira Mehmood catches up with BGreen’s Personality of the Month

Maria Yee followed her instincts to make museum quality Chinese Ming Dynasty furniture using plantation hardwood that is responsibly grown and selectively harvested. Yee’s design philosophy centres on her belief that artistic creations made with natural materials are innately satisfying. After intense research for raw material to create a range of sustainable furniture, Yee discovered that timber was exactly what she was looking for. Yee’s patented BambooTimbre™ is rapidly renewable. Even the solid hardwood used is responsibly grown and harvested. Artisans remodel these materials into beautiful works of art using BreathingJoinery™, where no nails or screws are used to join and fix the furniture.
She now owns a furniture factory in Guangzhou, her birth place in China. Yee also works with the local bamboo farmers there to utilise the entire bamboo culm – in an effort to minimise waste and help enhance her country’s economy.
Yee claims that the manufacturing stage is energy efficient and is done in ways as eco friendly as possible. Sawdust is recycled to run low-emission boilers, utilising waste and using it to generate heat for more than 35 acres and one million feet of production space. Furthermore, whole wood is used to minimise waste and cardboard and other materials are recycled, which are used in the packaging of furniture.
Maria Yee Design Group uses biodegradable products like bamboo, which is one of the fastest growing renewable resources on the planet. Unlike hardwood, which takes decades to mature, Moso bamboo can be harvested within five years. According to the US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, it is qualified as a “rapidly renewable resource”. In addition it helps reduce carbon dioxide gases, a cause of global warming, by absorbing up to 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare, and prevents soil erosion with its extensive root system.
Yee’s creation of BambooTimbre™ as a natural alternative to solid hardwood acts as an alternative to offset the effects of deforestation. BambooTimbre™ claims to exceed steel in tensile strength and is harder than red oak, which makes it water resistant and very durable.
Also, Yee’s BreathingJoinery™ ensures the furniture will last for generations. She wants to create designs for the younger generation and help them furnish their home with eco friendly décor. In addition, she talks about new interpretations and reaching for EcoLuxury™ furnishings. Maria Yee’s introduction of RidgeBamboo™ complies with the company’s goal of consistently providing new, unique options in EcoLuxury™ home furnishings.

In 2007, Yee inaugurated a new 350,000 square-foot factory – the first industrial building in China to wholly employ hydronic heating, an energy efficient heating source according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The campus also has 14 large skylights, each one measuring more than 420 feet long, which eliminate the need for electrical lighting during the day and cut energy consumption by nearly half. At night, energy-efficient light bulbs are used.
In 2008, Yee’s factories were awarded the ISO 9001 Quality Management System certification. Also, Maria Yee Inc. received 100% Forest Stewardship Council certification on select hardwood products. In order to receive “FSC Pure” status, all the hardwood used in a product must come from an FSC-certified forest. The FSC label assures consumers that the materials come from forests that are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.
In 2009, Maria Yee started using a water-based coating, consisting of eco-friendly material. It contains polyurethane and it has several ecological benefits like being low in Volatile Organic Compounds and no added formaldehyde. The leather is aniline-dyed and is certified with the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System certification.
Maria Yee Design Group declares that its manufacturing services take into account the international recommendations of caring for the ecology and follow strict environmental practices to assure the same. In 2010, the Yee’s factories received the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System certification. ISO 14001 requires annual re-certification as well.
Having lived in California for 23 years, Yee incorporated the central Californian style into her contemporary designs. Maria Yee Design Group features their designs at Crate & Barrel in the region

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Green manufacturing facility in China to set precedent

A new LEED certified food manufacturing facility in Wuhan, China, was announced by PepsiCo, using advanced technology to promote environmental sustainability and reduce operating costs.

The Wuhan plant is the first foods facility built by PepsiCo in China in line with the criteria established by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the world’s leading green building standard. With state-of-the-art technologies and processes, the plant is expected to use 30 percent less water and 20 percent less energy compared to the 2006 baseline for PepsiCo China Foods manufacturing plants, reducing operating costs in the long term. Three existing plants in PepsiCo’s manufacturing network in China are LEED-certified: Pepsi bottling plants in Chongqing, Nanchang and Kunming.

The PepsiCo plant in Wuhan, which includes 25,000 square metres of production space, is equipped with one of the most advanced potato chip production lines in the world and has the capacity to produce approximately 15,000 tonnes of Lay’s potato chips annually. Lay’s is the world’s largest food brand and China’s top-selling chip brand.

PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi officially opened the new Wuhan plant at a ceremony attended by Jia Yaobin, executive vice mayor of the Wuhan Municipal Government, and other leading Wuhan officials.  Saad Abdul-Latif, CEO of PepsiCo Asia, Middle East, Africa; Tim Minges, chairman of PepsiCo Greater China Region; and Katty Lam, president of PepsiCo Greater China Region Foods also attended the event.

“From the local government’s perspective, we recognise the significant role played by the business community in promoting local economic development,” Jia Yaobin said, appreciating PepsiCo’s drive for expansion within China.

“We’re making investments to drive sustainable long-term growth,” Nooyi said. “The Wuhan plant is a crucial piece of our growth strategy, as it opens new opportunities for PepsiCo in central and western China and will allow more Chinese consumers to enjoy Lay’s and other great PepsiCo brands. It also continues our commitment to sustainable development, which we believe is a key driver of both China’s and PepsiCo’s future success.”

Since entering the Chinese market in 1981, PepsiCo has established a leading position in China’s rapidly growing food and beverage industry.

PepsiCo is also a major agricultural company in China, having opened eight sustainable demonstration potato farms and invested in agricultural farm development. Over the past 12 years, more than 10,000 Chinese rural households have benefited from PepsiCo’s agricultural projects in China. PepsiCo signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China in September 2011 to promote sustainable agriculture projects and accelerate the development of the Chinese countryside.

In the Middle East context, green factories could mean sustainable supply chain practices on a large scale across the burgeoning food and beverages industry.

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