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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:03 pm 
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Oregon set to double recycling rate to 10 cents a can
By KRISTENA HANSEN
March 31, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon was the first state in the nation to give 5-cent refunds for recycling used soda cans and glass bottles more than 45 years ago.

Today, with other recycling options now commonplace, this eco-trailblazing Pacific Northwest state is hoping to revamp the program by doubling that refund on bottled and canned water, soda, beer and malt beverages - regardless what their labels say.

Oregon's 1971 Bottle Bill - groundbreaking for its era in combating litter - has been replicated in nine other states plus the U.S. territory of Guam. Michigan is the only other with an across-the-board payout as high as 10 cents per bottle, although booze and other large bottles carry a 10-cent payout in California and 15 cents in Maine and Vermont.

The system was a big hit in those initial years. But as curbside recycling and pickup services were brought on board two decades later - not to mention inflationary effects on the nickel's value - the rates at which Oregonians cashed in their bottles and cans gradually tumbled from 90 percent averages to under 70 percent of all bottle sales statewide in 2014 and 2015.

That decline thus triggered the new 10-cent rate-a provision that lawmakers added in 2011 to the Bottle Bill. The higher refund goes into effect Saturday, and the most frugal of Oregonians have been hoarding bottles for months in anticipation of the roll-out.

Long lines are expected at the 20 bottle-redemption sites across the state as the roughly 2,000 or so grocery stores that participate in the refund program brace for a bustling weekend. Even the press pool at the state Capitol in Salem has been buying cases of water bottles and stockpiling the empties to pay for a pizza party.

Ted Ferrioli, Republican leader of the state Senate from John Day, Oregon, says he's seen some creative takes on the program by schools and community organizations to help raise money for kids to go to camp or 4-H.

"They put a horse trailer out with a sign on it and it fills up and then they take it in and cash it out," Ferrioli recalled with a chuckle.

Naysayers, meanwhile, are quick to criticize the higher amount as bad policy during a time of crisis for Oregon's upcoming budget, where jobs and taxes are on the line to help close a whopping $1.6 billion deficit.

Among the 10 Bottle Bill states, Oregon and Iowa differ in that private beverage industry, rather than state government, operates their bottle programs and claims all the unredeemed refunds.

Oregonians cashed in slightly more than 1 billion bottles and cans in 2015, roughly two-thirds of total sales that year, according to a 2017 report to the Legislature by the Oregon Liquor and Control Commission, which aids distributors in administering program operations.

That equates to almost $30 million in gross bottle refunds that Oregonians never redeemed, all of which stayed with local and national beverage distributors such as Pepsi and the Pendleton Bottle Company, plus others who participate in the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative.

Some of those funds help beverage distributors operate the program that involves transporting recyclables to processing sites and reimbursing grocery stores, which don't make a profit but are still required to accept empty containers and refund consumers.

But critics like Dan Meek, a Portland public interest attorney and spokesman for the Oregon Progressive Party, says at least some of that unclaimed cash would be better off going into state coffers for education, health care or other public services.

"This is how the programs work in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Connecticut," he said. "New York retains 80 percent of unclaimed refunds; Michigan retains 75 percent. Oregon currently retains 0 percent."

More recently, distributors participating in the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative nonprofit are using the funds to build, operate and staff upscale stand-alone redemption sites, which lifts the burden away from grocery stores. The process has been slow-going, however, with pushback from local communities and land-use issues, although the co-op is now retrofitting huge shipping containers as an alternative.

Sen. Betsy Johnson, a Democrat from the small town of Scappoose, Oregon, northwest of Portland, said the shift away from grocery stores has been among her concerns about the system, which hampers smaller communities like hers. But, she and others respect that it's part of Oregon's identity.

"The Bottle Bill has been a beloved institution of Oregon," Johnson said. "The rationale was, we don't want this crap all over the roads and the beach, it's gross. And so if you give them money to take them back some place, everybody wins."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:59 pm 
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Austria introduces green number plates and free parking for electric cars
3 April 2017

VIENNA (ANSA) - Austria is focusing on electric cars. Starting April 1st, a car licence plate written in green instead of black has been introduced, for cars with green all-wheel drive, thus making them easily recognisable in the event of traffic restriction due to pollution.

Moreover, in some cities, electric cars with green plates can park for free on the blue lines. The Austrian Government has also introduced a 4,000 euro incentive for the purchase of green cars, allocating 72 million euro. In recent weeks, South Tyrol has also presented a package of measures to support zero emission mobility with incentives (up to 4,000 euro for electric cars and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and a network of charging stations throughout the province.

Source: ANSA

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 6:38 am 
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UAE's first solar-powered gas station opens in Dubai
26 April 2017

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- A government oil company in the United Arab Emirates says it has opened the country's first solar-powered gas station in Dubai.

The Dubai-owned Emirates National Oil Company said on Wednesday the service station on the city's main Sheikh Zayed Road thoroughfare is covered with solar panels that can generate up to 120 kilowatt hours. ENOC says that is about 30 percent more energy than the station needs, so the excess power is directed back into the city's electric grid.

Although it is OPEC's fourth biggest oil producer, the UAE has made a push to turn itself into a hub for renewable energy. It is building multiple solar farms and hosts the global headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 11:43 pm 
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Dutch group says it will soon start cleaning up ocean trash
By MIKE CORDER
11 May 2017

UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) -- A Dutch foundation aiming to rid the world's oceans of plastic waste says it will start cleaning up the huge area of floating junk known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within the next 12 months, two years earlier than planned.

The Ocean Cleanup aims to use long-distance floating booms that act like coastlines to gather plastic as it drifts on or near the surface of the water while allowing sea life to pass underneath. The plan originally was to anchor the barriers to the sea bed with a system used by oil rigs, but the organization said Thursday it now will use anchors that float beneath the water's surface, making it much more efficient.

The Ocean Cleanup, founded by Dutch university dropout Boyan Slat, announced that testing of the first system will start off the U.S. West coast by the end of the year and barriers will be shipped to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between California and Hawaii in the first half of 2018, two years ahead of the organization's earlier schedule. The patch is a huge area of the ocean where swirling currents concentrate the trash.

"At the ocean cleanup we always work with nature. So instead of going after the plastic, we let the plastic come to us, saving time, energy and cost," Slat, a shaggy-haired 22-year-old, told the Associated Press.

Floating barriers concentrate the plastic garbage at a central point where it can be fished out of the water and shipped back to dry land for recycling.

The organization discovered that the barriers are more efficient if they are allowed to slowly drift instead of anchoring them to the sea bed.

Free-floating barriers begin to act like the plastic they aim to snare, so "the cleanup systems will automatically gravitate to those places where most plastic is," Slat said. "And that now causes the efficiency to be a lot higher because there is just more plastic in front of these systems and therefore we can now clean up 50 percent of the patch in just five years' time."

The innovative system is the brainchild of Slat, who decided to dedicate himself to cleaning up the world's oceans after he went scuba diving in Greece at the age of 16 and saw more plastic bags than fish.

The young entrepreneur's system is making waves among America's super-rich philanthropists. Last month, his foundation announced it had raised $21.7 million in donations since November, clearing the way for large-scale trials at sea. Among donors were Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

Nancy Wallace, director of the Marine Debris Program at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said much of the garbage in the world's oceans is found throughout the water column - at different depths. That would likely put some of it out of reach of Slat's barriers.

However she applauded The Ocean Cleanup for bringing the issue to a broad public. "The more people are aware of it, the more they will be concerned about it," Wallace said. "My hope is that the next step is to say 'what can I do to stop it?' and that's where prevention comes in."

The organization's barriers don't catch tiny plastic particles floating in the ocean, but Slat says that by scooping up larger garbage like fishing nets, crates and other rubbish, they prevent those items breaking down into smaller particles that can be eaten by fish and other wildlife. "Of course we will never get every last piece of plastic out of the ocean," Slat said. "There will always be a size that's too small to clean up but it's really about cleaning up the bulk - as much as possible for as little costs as possible."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 1:45 pm 
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Indian lawyer cleaned Mumbai city beach
28 May 2017

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MUMBAI, India (PTI) - A city-based lawyer, who was lauded today by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for cleanliness work he has done at the Versova beach here, thanked the prime minister, saying his words will act as a morale booster.

Afroz Shah, a 36-year-old lawyer at the Bombay High Court, was praised by Modi during the radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ for the cleanliness work done by him and his team to transform the Versova beach. “A few days ago, you must have heard that the Versova beach in Mumbai, which was infamous for its filth has now transformed into a clean and beautiful beach. People toiled for about 80-90 weeks, unceasingly and turned Versova beach around by extracting thousand of tonnes of waste materials and today Versova beach is clean and beautiful,” Modi had said.

“This campaign was owned by Versova Residence volunteer or VRV. A gentleman called Afroz Shah started this mission from October, 2015 whole heartedly with all his might, slowly people started joining his bandwagon and turned into a people’s movement. “For this outstanding work, United Nations Environment Programme or UNEP awarded the ‘Champion of the Earth’ Award to Afroz Shah, and thus he has become the first Indian to achieve this distinction. I congratulate Afroz Shah, and felicitate this people’s movement. The manner in which he gathered the people of the area into a peoples collective and gave it the shape of a people’s movement in itself an inspiring example,” Modi had said.

An elated Shah told PTI that he was thankful to the prime minister for the kind words. “This has further encouraged me to expand my mission and I would like to replicate (it) at all the beaches across the country, and not only in Mumbai,” said Shah. The lawyer said he has taken an oath to continue cleaning the beaches on a mission mode. “I would continue till I am physically active or my limbs help me and I am confident to take a large number people along with me in my mission,” he added.

According to Shah, since the drive has been launched, his team has so far removed around 5.5 million kg of waste in 85 weeks from the Versova beach. “My team members go to the beach every Saturday and Sunday and collect the garbage and dump it near the points from where BMC (civic body) men take it to segregation centres,” Shah explained.

Source: PTI via Financial Express, India

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:33 pm 
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Berlin homes to be heated with energy from wind power
1 June 2017

BERLIN (AP) -- Swedish utility company Vattenfall is investing almost 100 million euros ($112 million) to build a power-to-heat facility in the German capital.

Vattenfall says the 120-megawatt thermal energy facility in Berlin's western district of Spandau aims to use wind power to provide heating to thousands of homes in the city of 3.5 million. Berlin has long used a system known as district heating to pump water heated in coal and gas-fired power plants directly into households.

Germany is expanding the use of renewable energy sources as part of its effort to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. The country already generates a large amount of electricity from wind power plants in the north of the country, some of which will now be used to heat Berlin homes.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:12 pm 
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Swedish carmaker Volvo to phase out combustion engine
5 July 2017

Berlin (dpa) - Swedish carmaker Volvo announced plans on Wednesday to phase out the internal combustion engine (ICE) and increasingly move towards electric engines in its vehicles.

"This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car," Volvo chief Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement. The announcement represents one of the most significant moves by any carmaker to embrace electric engines. "This means that there will in future be no Volvo cars without an electric motor, as pure ICE cars are gradually phased out and replaced by ICE cars that are enhanced with electrified options," Samuelsson added.

Volvo wants to produce five electric models between 2019 and 2021. These are to be accompanied by a number of hybrid models with both electric and internal combustion technology in the firm's vehicle portfolio. Samuelsson said the move was driven in part by increasing consumer demand for electric motors. Volvo plans to sell 1 million electric vehicles by 2025.

Source: dpa

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 7:02 pm 
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Britain to ban sale of new diesel and gasoline cars by 2040
By LEONORE SCHICK
26 July 2017

LONDON (AP) -- Britain will ban the sale of new cars and vans using diesel and gasoline starting in 2040 as part of a sweeping plan to tackle air pollution that experts say is feasible, if ambitious.

The government announcement Wednesday follows similar moves in France and Norway and comes amid a global debate on how quickly electric and hybrid cars can replace internal combustion engines. Traditional engines running on diesel and gasoline are still popular with consumers as they're relatively cheap and do not face some limits of electric cars, such as a limited range. But with the technology for electric and hybrid cars improving, governments are trying to set long-term goals to help guide the investments of automakers and, ultimately, consumers' choices.

Britain's government said it would put up 255 million pounds ($326 million) to help local communities address diesel pollution. The measures are part of a clean air strategy that authorities published only days before a deadline mandated by the High Court. The money is part of a 3 billion pound effort to clean up the air.

The government plan includes the consideration of a targeted scrappage scheme for drivers who need support and to provide an incentive to switch vehicles. It also aims for "almost every car and van on the road to be a zero emission vehicle by 2050," the government said in its overview of the program.

Frederik Dahlmann, an assistant professor of global energy at Warwick Business School, described the plans as "ambitious but realistic." "I am confident enough that the industry will be able to respond within that timeline," he said.

It would, however, require significant investment in in the infrastructure, such as a network of charging stations, that is required to make electric and hybrid vehicles more widely popular. Another point of focus is improving batteries so that they last longer.

While carmaker Volvo has committed to switching to only selling electric and hybrid cars within two years, most major manufacturers say that traditional engines will remain an important part of their sales for years. On Wednesday, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that diesel engines can help lower overall carbon dioxide emissions because they emit less than gasoline cars. Environmental activists note, however, that diesels emit more nitrogen oxide, which is harmful for people's health.

So far, growth in electric and hybrid vehicle sales has been strong, but from a low base. Analytics company IHS Markit estimate that sales of internal combustion engines are expected to fall from 17 million vehicles in 2015 across the EU to about 12 million in 2025, which would still make up a significant portion of cars on the road. Meanwhile, sales of electric and hybrid cars are expected to increase from about 350,000 in 2015 to 1.85 million by 2025.

Associated Press Writer Dee Ann Durbin contributed to this story.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:24 am 
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For electric cars to take off, they'll need place to charge
By DEE-ANN DURBIN
August 11, 2017

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In this Friday, April 14, 2017, file photo, a security guard moves past an electric vehicle charging station in Beijing. Momentum is building worldwide for electric cars thanks to rising government fuel economy standards and climate concerns. Automakers are jumping on board. But selling those cars will be difficult unless the world builds more charging stations. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

DETROIT (AP) -- Around the world, support is growing for electric cars. Automakers are delivering more electric models with longer range and lower prices, such as the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3.

China has set aggressive targets for electric vehicle sales to curb pollution; some European countries aim to be all-electric by 2040 or sooner. Those lofty ambitions face numerous challenges, including one practical consideration for consumers: If they buy electric cars, where will they charge them?

The distribution of public charging stations is wildly uneven around the globe. Places with lots of support from governments or utilities, like China, the Netherlands and California, have thousands of public charging outlets. Buyers of Tesla's luxury models have access to a company-funded Supercharger network. But in many places, public charging remains scarce. That's a problem for people who need to drive further than the 200 miles or so that most electric cars can travel. It's also a barrier for the millions of people who don't have a garage to plug in their cars overnight. "Do we have what we need? The answer at the moment is, 'No,'" says Graham Evans, an analyst with IHS Markit.

Take Norway, which has publicly funded charging and generous incentives for electric car buyers. Architect Nils Henningstad drives past 20 to 30 charging stations each day on his 22-mile (35-kilometer) commute to Oslo. He works for the city and can charge his Nissan Leaf at work; his fiancee charges her Tesla SUV at home or at one of the world's largest Tesla Supercharger stations, 20 miles away.

It's a very different landscape in New Berlin, Wisconsin, where Jeff Solie relies on the charging system he rigged up in his garage to charge two Tesla sedans and a Volt. Solie and his wife don't have chargers at their offices, and the nearest Tesla Superchargers are 45 miles (72 kilometers) away. "If I can't charge at home, there's no way for me to have electric cars as my primary source of transportation," says Solie, who works for the media company E.W. Scripps.

The uneven distribution of chargers worries many potential electric vehicle owners. It's one reason electric vehicles make up less than 1 percent of cars on the road. "Humans worst-case their purchases of automobiles. You have to prove to the consumer that they can drive across the country, even though they probably won't," says Pasquale Romano, the CEO of ChargePoint, one of the largest charging station providers in North America and Europe.

Romano says there's no exact ratio of the number of chargers needed per car. But he says workplaces should have around 2.5 chargers for every employee and retail stores need one for every 20 electric cars. Highways need one every 50 to 75 miles, he says. That suggests a lot of gaps still need to be filled.

Automakers and governments are pushing to fill them. The number of publicly available, global charging spots grew 72 percent to more than 322,000 last year, the International Energy Agency said. Navigant Research expects that to grow to more than 2.2 million by 2026; more than one-third of those will be in China.

Tesla Inc. - which figured out years ago that people wouldn't buy its cars without roadside charging - is doubling its global network of Supercharger stations to 10,000 this year. BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Ford are building 400 fast-charging stations in Europe. Volkswagen is building hundreds of stations across the U.S. as part of its settlement for selling polluting diesel engines. Even oil-rich Dubai, which just got its first Tesla showroom, has more than 50 locations to charge electric cars.

But there are pitfalls. There are different types of charging stations, and no one knows the exact mix drivers will eventually need. A grocery store might spend $5,000 for an AC charge point, which provides a car with 5 to 15 miles of range in 30 minutes. But once most cars get 200 or 300 miles per charge, slow chargers are less necessary. Electric cars with longer range need fast-charging DC chargers along highways, but DC chargers cost $35,000 or more.

That uncertainty makes it difficult to make money setting up chargers, says Lisa Jerram, an associate director with Navigant Research. For at least the next three to five years, she says, deep-pocketed automakers, governments and utilities will be primarily responsible for building charging infrastructure.

There's also the question of who will meet the needs of apartment dwellers. San Francisco, Shanghai and Vancouver, Canada, are now requiring new homes and apartment buildings to be wired for EV charging.

But without government support, plans for charging stations can falter. In Michigan, a utility's $15 million plan to install 800 public charging stations was scrapped in April after state officials and ChargePoint objected. Solie, the electric car owner in Wisconsin, likes Europe's approach: Governments should set bold targets for electric car sales and let the private sector meet the need. "If the U.S. were to send up a flare that policy was going to change... investments would become very attractive," he says.

AP Writers David McHugh in Frankfurt, Joe McDonald in Beijing and Aya Batrawy in Dubai contributed.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:09 pm 
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Kenya bans plastic bags, may fine violators up to $38,000
By TOM ODULA
28 August 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- A ban on plastic bags came into force Monday in Kenya and those found violating the new regulation could receive maximum fines of $38,000 or a four-year jail term.

The ban applies to the use, manufacture, and importation of plastic shopping bags and gives a minimum fine of about $19,000 or up to a year imprisonment, according to the government. Exemptions were made for manufacturers producing plastic bags for industrial use.

A spot check showed many people and shops in the capital city, Nairobi, still packaging goods in plastic bags. But most supermarkets chains had stopped giving out the bags and were selling cloth bags instead. Vehicles were being stopped at road blocks for bag checks.

Similar bans have been implemented in other African countries such as Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Malawi.

Activist Boniface Mwangi has appealed to the Kenyan government to reduce the penalties, saying they are overly punitive and will mainly affect poor citizens who cannot afford to bribe their way to freedom. "So if you're rich, you can get away with anything, but if you're poor, don't use plastic bags from 28th August or you will go to jail," he said in a Facebook posting.

In the slums of Nairobi, plastic bags are not only used to pack food and store clothes, but also as mobile toilets, he said. "When you rent a house there, it doesn't come with a toilet and so every time you need to use a toilet, you have to pay," Mwangi said. "If you're a family, using the toilet becomes an expensive affair."

Some 100 million plastic bags are handed out every year in Kenya by supermarkets alone, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Thin plastic shopping bags litter Nairobi's streets and contribute to towering piles at dump sites. The Kenyan government says the bags harm the environment, block sewers and don't decompose.

Some Kenyan manufacturers have said the ban will cost jobs, but Environment Minister Judi Wakhungu last week said more jobs will be created from making bags from environment-friendly materials.

Plastic bags have long been identified as a major cause of environmental damage and health problems, killing birds, fish and other animals that mistake them for food, said the U.N. environment agency. The bags also provide breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:16 am 
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Dry Jordan launches project to grow crops from seawater
By FARES AKRAM
7 September 2017

AQABA, Jordan (AP) -- Water-poor Jordan on Thursday launched a project using seawater to produce crops with clean energy.

Jordan's King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, which contributed most of the $3.7 million cost, inaugurated the facility in the kingdom's Red Sea port city of Aqaba. Haakon told reporters he was "impressed by the way innovative ideas have been translated into a plant the size of four football fields."

The facility, part of the Sahara Forest Project (SFP), produces "energy, freshwater and food and all this in an arid desert," he said. The facility, surrounded by rocky desert, uses seawater to cool greenhouses. A solar-powered plant then desalinates the water for irrigation.

Inside the greenhouses, pesticide-free cucumbers flourish. The project is set to produce 130 tons of vegetables a year and 10,000 liters of freshwater a day. "This is just the start," said Joakim Hauge, head of SFP. He said the organization selected Jordan because it has the required abundance of sunlight and seawater.

Last month, a report by Stanford University suggested that Jordan, one of the world's driest countries, could face more severe droughts unless new technologies are applied in farming and other sectors. "Future adaptation to extreme droughts in Jordan will be an immense challenge," said the report by the university's School of Earth Science. "The projected negative impacts of more severe droughts of greater duration calls for essential alternatives."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:36 pm 
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Nauseating trash heaps in India spark citizen cleanup drives
By MANISH MEHTA and VAISHNAVEE SHARMA
9 September 2017

MUMBAI, India (AP) -- Lawyer Afroz Shah moved to Mumbai with a dream of looking out at the wild, blue Arabian Sea. What he saw instead was nauseating - waves churning with plastic shopping bags and empty chip packets, beaches covered so thick with soda bottles and snack wrappers he could no longer see the sand.

The coast off India's financial capital, like so many other places across the South Asian nation, has become choked by garbage tossed without much thought by the millions of people who live there. "I could have gone to the court. I could have complained" to municipal authorities, said Shah, 34. Instead, he decided to take action with his own two hands.

He and a neighbor near Mumbai's Versova Beach pulled on glove and face masks and began picking rubbish out of the sand. Gradually, they were joined by other volunteers and sometimes tourists. Over 98 weekends they gathered more than 5 million kilograms (11 million pounds) of trash. "This littering is done by us," Shah says of his fellow Indian citizens. "I should pick it up."

One environmental activist calls India's garbage problem a "ticking time bomb" that will ultimately bury the nation's cities and towns unless its 1.3 billion people stop littering at will. The country is "drowning in trash," says Chitra Mukherjee of the New Delhi-based Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group.

Each day, every Indian generates about 200 to 600 grams (7 ounces to 1.3 pounds) of garbage, the government estimates. The vast majority of that ends up tossed into the country's forests, parks, streets and sidewalks, rivers or surrounding oceans. "The citizen has to realize that 'this is my waste, nobody is going to take care of it but me,'" says Mukherjee.

In 2014, the government tried to raise awareness with a campaign called "Swacch Bharath Abhiyan," or "Clean India Mission." Prime Minister Narendra Modi even hammed it up for media photographers by posing with a broom. But three years later, little has changed. People still carry their household trash in plastic bags to the edge of the water and toss it out to sea, watching as it bobs away.

The slow progress means Shah and others continue leading small citizens' movements to help. But not every effort has been successful. A group called New Delhi Rising says it's been unable to find enough volunteers to handle the 15,500 tons of waste generated every day in the Indian capital.

New Delhi's three landfills are already overflowing, says the group's founder, Nakul, who like many in India goes by only one name. Even the swankiest neighborhoods often have garbage tucked into the corners between buildings or beneath park benches. Some Delhi students volunteer regularly to help pick it up, but most of New Delhi Rising's engagement has come from social media 'likes' and follows. Nakul hopes more residents will come out to help. "It only takes two hours, it doesn't take money," he said.

Sharma reported from New Delhi.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:00 pm 
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Tata wins bid to make electric cars for Indian government
29 September 2017

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's Tata Motors has won a bid to manufacture thousands of electric cars for the government as part of a push to promote battery-powered vehicles as the nation grapples with soaring pollution levels.

State-owned energy efficiency services limited (ESSL) will procure 10,000 cars from Tata Motors, with the first batch hitting roads later this year, the company said in a statement. The cars, priced at nearly $15,500, are the first attempt by the Indian government to replace its half-a-million fleet of diesel and petrol cars -- used by high ranking government employees -- with electric vehicles. "First 500 e-cars will be supplied to EESL in November 2017 and the rest 9,500 EVs will be delivered in the second phase," ESSL said.

Tata's rival in the market, Mahindra -- currently the only company manufacturing electric vehicles in India -- lost the bid. Japanese Nissan Motor also failed to win the contract. Most foreign car majors are not ready to bring their electric offerings to India. Mercedes said it needs a reasonable timeline and improved incentives for motorists, while Tesla boss Elon Musk has postponed entry to the Indian market.

As one of the world's most polluted nations, India has one of the most ambitious plans to kick its fossil fuel addiction, nearly 80 percent of which is imported. Vehicles that rely on petrol and diesel are a major source of carbon emissions in the country and Greenpeace blames at least 1.2 million deaths a year in India on pollution. New Delhi has said it wants all new vehicles to be electric by 2030. In addition to the 10,000 electric cars, it will also roll out nearly 100,000 electric auto rickshaws and buses in the next few weeks. A government report in May said the mobility of passengers through shared and electric vehicles can cut India's energy demand by 64 percent and carbon emissions by 37 percent in 2030.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:06 pm 
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Norway solar firm signs 2.5 billion-euro deal with Iran
by Eric Randolph
17 October 2017

TEHRAN (AFP) - Just days after US President Donald Trump called for further isolation of Iran, a Norwegian solar company signed a deal to invest 2.5 billion euros in the country over the next five years.

"Norway is fully committed to the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and this is proof that we have taken the opening very seriously, and we will see more investment very soon," Norwegian ambassador Lars Nordrum told AFP. He was hosting the signing at his residence in Tehran by Norway's Saga Energy, which will work with Iran's Amin Energy Developers to install two gigawatts of solar panels in multiple sites around the central desert region.

It comes just days after Trump gave a bellicose speech, imposing further sanctions on Iran and calling for European allies to curb their financial dealings with the country. The new solar project is being financed by a consortium of European private and state investors, and backed by a sovereign guarantee from the government of Iran. "I'd like to thank Norway, which has always been one of the best friends to Iran, for this exciting opportunity," said Saeid Zakeri, head of international affairs for Amin.

European and Asian businesses have shown great interest in tapping into Iran's relatively wealthy and largely untouched market of 80 million people. But despite the 2015 deal with world powers that lifted global sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran's nuclear programme, the United States has maintained a raft of tough measures that have made investors wary of taking the plunge.

There have been a few big deals, most notably France's Total which signed a $5 billion gas deal in June alongside China's CNPC. A few other major firms such as Siemens, Renault and Peugeot have extensive investments in the country.

But Trump's aggressive rhetoric, which included a demand on Friday for Congress to pass new sanctions against Iran, has done little to allay concerns. The Norwegian solar deal was eight months in the planning, and the timing so soon after Trump's speech was purely coincidental. But it will be seen as a sign of the challenge Washington hardliners face in convincing Europeans to abandon their growing commercial ties with Iran. "We expect there to be some business risk in the Middle East, and Europe stands united in its support of the JCPOA," said Nordrum.
"This is a great win because Iran really needs renewables and this is a new sector for us," he added.

Saga is a young company, formed by former oil and gas project managers and engineers who shifted into the renewables sector after traditional energy markets were struck by falling prices. A partnership with Taiwan's Delta Electronic, a major player in the solar sector, has helped them mobilise considerable capital from Europe. "We are a small company with mighty partners," said Saga's development manager Gaute Steinkopf at the signing. "We hope to build a factory in Iran to build the panels so that we are also generating jobs here," he added.

The tough climatic conditions in Iran offer a chance for research as well as business. "To withstand the heat here, you need very good panels. This is the huge challenge," said Saga director Rune Haaland. "We want to learn more about this, and we're hoping to establish a relationship between a university here and in Norway," he said.

Source: AFP

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New Zealand aims to go green with electricity, tree planting
By NICK PERRY
24 October 2017

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- New Zealand's incoming government is hoping to make the nation greener by planting 100 million trees each year, ensuring the electricity grid runs entirely from renewable energy, and spending more money on cycle ways and rail transport.

Jacinda Ardern, who takes over as prime minister this week, on Tuesday outlined agreements her Labour Party reached with other political parties joining them in the new government. In addition to the environmental initiatives, Ardern also outlined plans to raise the minimum wage, stop foreigners from buying existing homes, and possibly change how New Zealand's Reserve Bank operates.

The 37-year-old will be New Zealand's youngest leader in more than 150 years and hopes to take the country on a more liberal path following nine years of rule by the conservative National Party. "I don't need to be influenced on climate change," she said. "It will sit at the heart of what this government does."

Ardern's plan is for New Zealand to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the year 2050. Some of the targets will require only incremental changes. New Zealand already generates about 85 percent of its electricity from renewable sources including hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. Ardern plans to increase that to 100 percent by 2035, in part by investigating whether solar panels can be used atop schools.

She said the country will need to double the amount of trees it plants each year, a goal she said was "absolutely achievable" by using land that was marginal for farming animals. Her plans also call for the government's vehicle fleet to be green within a decade.

Not everybody is happy with the plans. Many farmers are worried they will be required to pay more if they are absorbed into an emissions trading scheme. "There is concern that if this should happen, New Zealand will become less competitive with other food-producing nations," said Katie Milne, the president of advocacy group Federated Farmers.

The government also plans to raise the minimum wage to 20 New Zealand dollars ($14) per hour over the next few years, a 27 percent increase over its current level. And Ardern said a review of the way the Reserve Bank operates would take into account factors such as employment levels and price stability. Currently the bank primarily considers inflation when setting interest rates.

Ardern also outlined a plan to spend 1 billion New Zealand dollars ($693 million) a year on the country's smaller towns and regions to improve rail and other infrastructure. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a region that hasn't experienced neglect," she said.

Source: AP

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