Archive for the ‘transport’ Category
Is it really possible that urban planners and transportation planners aren’t very much in sync when they do their planning things?
Apparently so, although it’s a situation that’s changing, according to a new book from Jeffrey Tumlin, Sustainable Transportation Planning, published this month by John Wiley & Sons.
“Transportation must be seen as inseparable from land use planning or economic development – indeed, the best transportation plan is a good land use plan,” he says.
Early on in the book, he makes this salient and telling point: “City planners and urban designers are often in conflict with transportation professionals.” Of course his statement is true if reversed, but he adds that for a long time “transportation professionals may have barely noticed the planners.” Read the rest of this entry »
An International Maritime Organization panel adopted what it is called “mandatory” design and operational measures to reduce greenhouse gases from international shipping.
According to the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, which has met 62 times on this issue, last month’s action is the “first ever mandatory greenhouse gas reduction regime for an international industry sector.”
Goods movement stakeholders in port areas and the Environmental Protection Agency have launched an initiative that’s designed to help clear the air and reduce emissions in the nation’s port areas.
The EPA SmartWay Drayage Program builds on clean truck programs that have been around at various port regions for several years.
The players with the EPA in the nationwide initiative include: The Coalition for Responsible Transportation and the Environmental Defense Fund. The CRT partners comprise: Best Buy; Hewlett Packard; Home Depot; JC Penney; Lowe’s; Nike; Target; Wal-Mart; and the following port trucking carriers: California Cartage Express, LLC; California Multimodal, LLC; Container Connection; Evans Delivery Company, Inc.; GSC Logistics; PDS Trucking Inc.; Performance Team/Gale Triangle; Total Transportation Services, Inc.; and the Western Ports Transportation.
The launch was announced recently at the Port of Charleston, SC. According to the joint announcement, the program “builds a partnership between numerous goods movement stakeholders including major national retailers, trucking companies, port communities, environmental groups and the U.S. EPA to solve a critical health and environmental challenge: how to reduce harmful air emissions from port drayage trucks.”
Drayage trucks, which haul cargo containers arriving at ports to storage areas, transload centers and nearby distribution centers, are usually old and a major source of diesel emissions in and around port areas. Getting those vehicles off the road is one of the thorniest and most controversial port and transportation issues around.
In a statement, Rick Gabrielson, who is the CRT President and is Target’s Director of Import Operations, said, “This partnership will generate private sector investment in clean technology, improve the environmental quality of our nation’s port communities and demonstrate the commitment we have made as the shipping industry’s leaders to emissions reductions.”
The program “offers great incentives for independent owner operators and trucking companies to replace their older drayage trucks with cleaner, less polluting models,” said Marcia Aronoff, the EDF’s senior vice president for programs. “With the rise in population and the growth of the freight transportation industry, we must be vigilant, forward thinking and creative in finding solutions that reduce toxic emissions and embrace market-based sustainability efforts.”
The drayage program is based on the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, generally regarded as an innovative and successful collaboration between the EPA and goods movement interests. The voluntary program provides a framework for assessing and addressing transportation-related emissions and energy efficiency while recognizing superior environmental performance through market-based incentives.
Under the program, port trucking companies and independent owner-operators sign a partnership agreement and commit to track diesel emissions, replace their older dirtier trucks with cleaner, newer ones, and achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in particulate matter and 25 percent reduction in nitrous oxide (NOx) below the national industry average within three years.
Then the SmartWay retailers sign a partnership agreement, committing to ship at least 75 percent of their port cargo with SmartWay trucking companies within three years.
“By giving business priority to SmartWay drayage carriers, the program creates a market-driven approach to incentivize emissions reductions at port communities across the country,” EPA says.
This approach has worked well in the Pacific Northwest, where market-based clean truck programs between stakeholders at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma have been around since 2008 and have removed hundreds of dirty drayage trucks from those port areas.
It’s not necessarily an either/or proposition. Logistics managers trying to optimize supply chains for sustainability and emissions reductions face a tough question: how to implement those goals without breaking the bank.
The conventional thinking is that there’s always tradeoff: A transport company can reduce its CO2 emissions along a supply chain, but at a higher operating cost. Often much higher.
Findings released last month during a webinar sponsored by Finished Vehicle Logistics magazine suggest that in certain cases at least the best of both worlds is possible. Read the rest of this entry »
Ford calls its sustainability report for the 2009/10 period the “future at work,” and for a relatively short 8-page document, it outlines a surprisingly broad and—OK I’ll admit it—visionary strategy for the future of the company and alternative energy vehicle production.
The company says it is “steadfastly focused on creating a strong business that builds great products that contribute to a better world,” the way it has been able to weather difficult economic times is because it’s business and sustainability strategies are aligned and intertwined.”
While Ford’s much-ballyhooed “ONE Ford” plan, which began in 2007, is mostly about aggressive restructuring and accelerated product development, sustainability is a key part of the mix, especially the accelerated product development part.
Ford says it has developed a “science-based global strategy” to reduce GHG emissions and processes while “working cooperatively with the public and private sectors to advance climate change solutions.”
In 2008 the carmaker set a target to reduce CO2 emissions from new U.S. and European vehicles by 30 percent by 2020, relative to the 2006 model-year baseline. Ford also set a “technology migration plan” for near-, mid- and long-term product plans to meet that goal. The company says it is “on track” to surpass that 30 percent CO2 reduction goal.
In 2009 and early 2010 Ford reduced CO2 emissions from its new 2009 models by 12 percent for U.S. vehicles and 6.7 percent for European vehicles. Among a host of progress points in 2009/10, Ford said it was delivering on a 2006 pledge to double the number of flexible-fuel vehicles produced in the United States by the end of 2010. Ford also committed to introduce five new electrified vehicles in Europe by 2013, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid electric vehicles that will also be introduced in North America by 2012.
The company this month unveiled a battery electric version of the Focus,which will debut in 2012.
Ford noted that the shift to EVs will “require unprecedented levels of collaboration and partnership” between automakers, government officials, utilities, transportation providers and IT companies. “A wide range of stakeholders will need to work together to develop charging infrastructure, integrate electric vehicles with electric utilities, and knit vehicles and grids together into an efficient system,” Ford says.
The company revealed it is collaborating with Microsoft on new energy management software that will help owners of plug-in EVs determine when and how to recharge their vehicles, “while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand.” Now there’s an app for the EV age.
Over the 2020-2030 period, Ford’s vision is for “volume expansion of hybrid technologies, “continued leverage” of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (whatever that means), introduction of fuel cell vehicles and increased use renewable fuels, clean electric/hydrogen fuels.
A surprising observation by the company is that “by 2050, there will be nine billion people on Earth, 75 percent of whom will live in urban areas. Putting nine billion people into private automobiles is neither practical nor desirable.”
There’s a switch, a company that doesn’t want to sell its products to every person on the planet.
It’s very possible that short sea shipping, long touted as an economically viable and environmentally sound option for transporting domestic cargo and products, is not all it’s cracked up to be from an eco-friendly perspective, according to a Friends of the Earth report.
Short sea shipping is the regional transport—on lakes, bays, rivers, canals and coastlines—of freight by ship and tug and barge units, rather than by truck or railcar.
FOE’s report, funded by the San Francisco Foundation, says the environmental consequences of increased short sea shipping have not received enough scrutiny, especially with regard to potentially harmful health and environmental effects. Read the rest of this entry »
Rather than dealing with a strew-pot full of environmental emissions regulations and fees, a group comprising the world’s largest international liner shipping companies is proposing a new global vessel efficiency system (VES) intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The 29-member World Shipping Council’s proposal is asking the UN’s International Maritime Organization take the lead in applying vessel efficiency design standards for new and existing vessels in the world fleet that will improve their carbon and fuel efficiency.
Under the VES proposal, newly-built vessels would be subject to mandatory efficiency standards requiring them to be built with features and technologies that further improve the energy efficiency to reach defined levels, according to a WSC statement. “These standards would be similar in nature to the fuel efficiency standards required of cars and trucks in many countries around the world today. The standards would also be tiered with higher standards required over time as technology developments allow further improvements.”
In this particular business it’s all about sustainability and energy reserves, more than most others.
A bordello in a Berlin red-light district is going green, largely out of economic necessity, a sign of our flagging economic times.
The country’s flaccid sex-for hire industry could learn a lesson from the Maison d’Envie, or House of Desire, which is offering discounts to customers who bicycle their way to to the brothel’s door.
“It’s very difficult to find parking around here, and this option is better for our environment,” says Regina Goetz in an AFP report, a former prostitute who with husband Thomas owns and operates the brothel.
The global economic crisis has slashed the Goetz’ turnover by about one-half in the last year, but the green discount program is proving successful. Under the eco-discount program, 15 minutes in the brothel costs 25 euros ($37) rather than 30 euros ($45). To get the discount clients who come by bike must show their helmet or their padlock key. Those using the bus can show their ticket or monthly pass. They haven’t come up with a way to extend the discount to walkers, however.
Local residents in Prenzlauer Berg — a part of former East Berlin that is now home to many trendy boutiques, restaurants and clubs — staunchly supported the Green party in recent elections and have welcomed the bordello’s offer to emphasize the environment.
Quoted in an AFP report, Goetz says the brothel is a “business like any other. In these tight times, we are cutting costs. We’ve binned the tax advisor, reduced the hours of the cleaning lady, and I only buy low-cost cleaning products.”
Indeed, prostitution is big, and legal, business in Germany with some 400,000 workers, working like Trojans. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Brothels and prostitutes must be registered like normal businesses or it’s considered tax evasion. In general, police officers are not interested in the clients but if you’re game you must have a photo ID, such as a copy of your passport, with you.
It’s definitely a business with ups and downs, especially in dysfunctioning economic times. The House of Desire’s eco-discount is a win-win incentive all around: biking to a favorite sex spot is great foreplay if done correctly, it helps the environment by reducing certain noxious emissions, and saves gas, meaning more money and energy available for, well, you know.
DHL’s GoGreen climate change program has reached North America’s shores, but not the U.S. A year after the GoGreen launch in Europe the German package express delivery and logistics has made it available in Canada.
DHL Express Canada’s GoGreen service is described by the company as a “carbon-neutral” shipping option that “enables Canadian businesses of all sizes to ship their goods internationally without leaving an environmental footprint.”
DHL adds that the value-added service that makes use of carbon offsets and low emission transporation technologies provides companies with a seamless, eco-friendly friendly shipping option; it’s available from anywhere in Canada to more than 220 countries around the world.
The United Kingdom’s Environment Agency has given a somewhat grudging endorsement of biofuels in a new report that asks this question in its title, Biomass – carbon sink or carbon sinner?
It seems an overly clunky and cutesy title for a government agency, but that aside, the report highlights how biomass energy “could play a key role in delivering our greenhouse gas emission targets but only if action is taken to ensure it is genuinely low carbon.”
Parsing that sentence could drive one crazy: “Could play a key role?” and what does “genuinely low carbon” mean?
Somewhat better is this quote about the report on the agency website: “Using biomass to generate electricity and heat can deliver very large greenhouse gas emission savings compared with using gas or coal but only if the fuel is produced in an environmentally sustainable way and used efficiently.
“Best practice can deliver up to 98 percent less emissions than using coal but worst practice can result in more greenhouse gas emissions overall than using gas. The report estimates that greenhouse gas emissions of over three million tons of carbon dioxide per year could be saved by 2020 if good practice is followed.”
The agency urges the government to ensure that all power generators publicly report GHG emissions from producing, transporting ands using biomass fuels and “be ready to set minimum standards if required.”
GHG emissions from energy generated using biomass “are generally, but not always, lower than those from fossil fuels,” the report says. How it is produced has a major impact on emissions.
Overall the best performing biomass schemes in terms of greenhouse gas emissions are those that deliver combined heat and power rather than just electricity, which is the current trend, the report continues. “They use wastes or energy crops that have not been transported too far. The worst performing schemes are those where energy crops are grown on what was previously grassland using a lot of nitrogen fertilizers. They expend energy in processing the biomass, for example into fuel pellets, and the fuel is transported thousands of miles and burned to generate electricity only.”
Biomass heat and power is currently the largest source of renewable energy in the UK but it accounts for only 2.3 percent of the UK’s electricity generation and 1 percent of the country’s heat needs.
“It can be a low carbon renewable energy source because it is either based on wastes which would otherwise go to landfill or on energy crops and forestry that, after being harvested, continue to grow and absorb the carbon emitted when they are burned.”
The UK government’s renewable energy strategy does plan for huge growth in energy generation from biomass so that by 2020 it provides about 30 percent of renewable electricity and heat towards the UK’s overall target of 15 percent renewable energy.
“We want to ensure that the sector’s growth is environmentally sustainable and that the mistakes made with biofuels are avoided, where unsustainable growth has had to be curbed,” says Tony Grayling, the agency’s Head of Climate Change and Sustainable Development. “Biomass operators have a responsibility to ensure that biomass comes from sustainable sources, and is used efficiently to deliver the greatest greenhouse gas savings and the most renewable energy.”
Read the 12-page report here.
More backlash: There was this provocative assertion on the UK-based PeakOil news & message board: Biofuels ‘Like Pouring Vodka Into Beer.’
Huh? Is that bad or good? The short item sees that as a bad thing apparently, considering the opening line: “Biofuels could produce twice the carbon emissions of fossil fuels they replace, environmentalists have claimed.”
Talking about the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, the item says Friends of the Earth have said rules introduced a year ago requiring a percentage of UK transport fuels to be “green” could have created an extra 1.3 million tons of CO2.
Considering the source of this one, is it possible that FOE were taken out of context a teensy bit?