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Greenhouse gases

United Kingdom Defines Carbon Neutrality for the First Time

in Smart Grid by

WASHINGTON, November 15, 2009 – The government of the United Kingdom defined the term “carbon neutral” this month after holding a public consultation on the subject.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change, which was established in 2008, said that “carbon neutral means that – through a transparent process of calculating emissions, reducing those emissions and offsetting residual emissions – net carbon emissions equal zero.”

The term “carbon neutral” has been used by a number of prominent UnitedStates companies – including tech firms such as Yahoo, Google, and Dell — but what exactly the phrase means has not been clear.

The David Suzuki Foundation, for example, holds that “Going carbon neutral is an easy way to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions we create every time we drive our cars, take a plane, or turn on our computers. It’s based on the principle that, since climate change is a global problem, an emission reduction made elsewhere has the same positive effect as one made locally. Here’s how it works: if you add polluting emissions to the atmosphere, you can effectively subtract them by purchasing ‘carbon offsets’.”

Yahoo has defined its goal of going carbon neutral as not wanting “our energy use to add greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So we’re measuring our impacts, reducing within Yahoo! where we can, and, for what remains, investing in projects elsewhere that reduce greenhouse gases in amounts equal to what we are emitting. For every ton of greenhouse gas emissions that we can’t avoid putting into the atmosphere, we’ll take out the same amount somewhere else.”

However, Yahoo originally proposed doing this partially through carbon offset credits, which the company announced this year that it would stop doing.

A representative from Hewlett-Packard said last month that the use of carbon offsets in order to claim carbon neutrality has been put into question by a number of studies.

Information Technology Sees Gold in Regulation of Greenhouse Gases

in Broadband's Impact/Smart Grid by

WASHINGTON, October 29, 2009 – Under regulations recently finalized by the Environmental Protection Administration, large sources and suppliers in the U.S. must collect accurate and timely emissions data of greenhouse gases.

Information technology firms see big opportunities to find innovative solutions to help companies covered under the new rules comply with reporting requirements.

These representatives say that potential new regulatory changes, which were issued by the EPA on September 22, 2009 – and become effective at the beginning of the year – could spur new business ideas.

“The side effect of these regulations will be the creation of new opportunities for innovative, entrepreneurial firms in the information technology sector,” said Mark Blafkin, vice president for public affairs at the Association for Competitive Technology.

“For the first time, we begin collecting data from the largest facilities in this country, ones that account for approximately 85 percent of the total U.S. emissions,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. The regulations were called for by the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

“The data will also allow businesses to track their own emissions, compare them to similar facilities, and provide assistance in identifying cost effective ways to reduce emissions in the future. This comprehensive, nationwide emissions data will help in the fight against climate change,” the EPA said on its Web site.

Companies like Carbonetworks, a provider of software and services to help companies measure their output of greenhouse gas emissions, “are already creating powerful solutions in this space, and these new regulations will undoubtedly encourage others to enter the market as well,” said Blafkin.

SAP, which bills itself as the world’s largest business software company, has already jumped on the carbon-reporting bandwagon. The firm brought on board James Sullivan, a former EPA employee who helped draft the upcoming regulations, in June of this year.

Prior to joining SAP, Sullivan was vice president of advisory services at Clear Standards, where he helped companies reduce costs and risks associated with carbon emissions.

At SAP, Sullivan’s job is to help customers and partners get returns on investment through carbon management and technology solutions to manage carbon emissions across business operations. In addition to bringing Sullivan on board, SAP recently acquired Clear Standards and rebranded the company as SAP Carbon Impact.

Along similar lines to Carbonetworks, SAP Carbon Impact helps companies measure their greenhouse gas emissions across internal operations through information technology solutions. According to Carbon Impact’s Web site, the Web-based solution it offers can help a company establish an organized list of its carbon emissions and streamline carbon registry reporting, among other tools.

The EPA’s new rules cover carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and other fluorinated gases including nitrogen trifluoride and hydrofluorinated ethers.

The agency is requiring suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases, manufacturers of vehicles and engines, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of greenhouse gasses to provide annual reports. The EPA said that the “new reporting system will provide a better understanding of where GHGs are coming from and will guide development of the best possible policies and programs to reduce emissions.”

The Broadband Breakfast Club

Editor’s Note: Join the next Broadband Breakfast Club on Tuesday, November 10, 2009, when a panel of experts — including Jennifer Alcott, Telework!VA Program Manager, Commonwealth of Virginia; Kevin Moss, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, BT Americas; and Steven Ruth, Professor, George Mason University School of Public Policy — will discuss “Setting the Table for the National Broadband Plan: The Environment.”

Among the questions to be considered are how carbon-positive a technology is broadband? What’s keeping telecommuting from being more widely adopted as a technology? What are the other “green” benefits of broadband communication, and how can the National Broadband Plan best encourage them? Register at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com

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