Perspective

Bloom Energy fuel cell
July 22, 2013
The announcement of Japan's telecom and Internet giant, Softbank, signing up with US-company Bloom Energy to distribute stationary fuel-cell technology belies a cleantech sector that is quietly flourishing in Asia. Softbank and Bloom have created Bloom Energy Japan, a 50/50 partnership in which each is investing USD10 million. While sales of the new venture have not been projected, research from Navigant earlier in the year points to annual revenue from stationary fuel cells to grow from USD1.7 billion in 2013 to USD9 billion in 2022, with Japan and South Korea being seen as particularly healthy markets.
Farm adjacent to a new town in Hong Kong's New Territories
July 19, 2013
Local farming communities has been up in arms in Hong Kong this month over the government’s latest plans to develop a new town in the north eastern end of the territory, not far from its border with Shenzhen. After three public consultations and years of planning, Paul Chan, the HKSAR Secretary for Development, announced what he describes as the ultimate plan for new towns in Kwu Tong North and Fanling North. In summary, the three proposed areas for development have been cut down to two, now with a strong focus on providing for residential housing and much less on industry and jobs.
Kevin Rudd looks at Australia's carbon market once again
July 17, 2013
Kevin Rudd, Australia's re-emergent Prime Minister, is gearing up for elections by announcing a plan – that can only be implemented after the election – to transition from the country’s current carbon tax to a cap and trade system in 2014 instead of 2015. His facts and figures were dominated by promising average households an annual saving of AUD380 (USD350) on gas and electricity bills. In a magical piece of political jiggery-pokery he said the nation's 370 biggest greenhouse gas emitters would still pay for the carbon footprint but by switching from the tax to a European-style emissions trading scheme, they would pay less
Measuring China's awful water pollution
July 12, 2013
As the debate over revisions to China’s Environmental Law rumbles on, new incidents of groundwater and river pollution pour out of the Chinese media on a near daily basis. New studies are showing the damaging effects of contamination are worse than previously thought and more widespread: only 22 percent of underground water in the densely populated North China Plain qualifies as drinking water. The calls for reform of the way water is managed by the government, and for harsher legal penalties, are growing louder. The reality is the nation's water monitoring and protection is not up to scratch.
CCBF - The New Normal: A Hong Kong Business Primer on Climate Change Adaptation
July 11, 2013
Climate change predictions – espoused by scientists for decades – are coming to life, and in some cases are more extreme than expected. In May 2013, the world passed a carbon threshold, when the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million. Such levels haven’t been seen for 3–to-5 million years, when the global environment was much hotter and much less hospitable to human life.   Indeed, temperature increases, and related extreme weather events, are taking hold.
What a stink! Everyone notices pollution in China
July 10, 2013
Critics have responded vociferously to new draft amendments to China's Environmental Law, focusing their ire on limiting litigation rights to the All-China Environmental Federation (ACEF). So negative has been the reaction, with one commentator saying it would set the country's cause back 40 years, that one Chinese media outlet after another denounced it as removing rights from the people. It is hard to imagine that any draft bill could be so bad considering the litany of environmental disasters that have befallen the country in the past few years.
China city air pollution
July 08, 2013
In late February 2012, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China announced a plan to revise the national ambient air quality standards, which will be implemented across the entire country on 1 January 2016. Key regions such as the Pearl River Delta and the Yangtze River Delta will implement the new standards well before 2016. One of the highlights of the announcement was the inclusion, for the first time, of standards for PM2.5 (that is, particulates with diameter of 2.5 microns or less). This is a breakthrough in air quality management in China, as tighter standards will improve the living environment and better protect public health.
A barrel of toxic waste
July 05, 2013
Toxic waste is an under-recognised major global health burden comparable to outdoor air pollution and malaria, according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.   The paper says that people's exposure to industrial pollutants such as lead, asbestos and chromium from toxic waste sites in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines in 2010 resulted in the loss of 829,000 years of good health due to serious diseases or early death. Such a health burden, the researchers say, is comparable to that caused by outdoor air pollution and malaria — both serious problems in developing countries in Asia.
Environmental protest in Kunming, China
July 02, 2013
In recent years, growing public awareness of environmental violations by companies and a fear of potential environmental impacts from large projects in China have led to an increasing number of protests across a range of industries, such as manufacturing, chemicals, waste incineration, and transportation. As they have increased in scale, these protests have resulted in projects being cancelled, postponed, or relocated, with significant financial consequences for companies and their investors.
Malaysia's solar biomass choice
June 14, 2013
The Malaysian Government is thinking about revamping the way it allocates feed-in tariff (FiT) to the solar power sector, as applications continue to far outstrip available budget. Under the country’s Renewable Energy Bill the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (SEDA) allocates FiT budget – split between biogas, biomass, small hydro and solar photovoltaic – on a first-come, first-served basis, every six months. To fund the FiT Tenaga Nasional, the country’s state-controlled electricity company, charges customers on the Malaysian Peninsular a one percent levy on electricity bills.