solarboat

An electric boat that runs virtually endlessly on solar power –  that’s the dream that’s been driving David and Alex Borton for the last 17 years. Since 2004, the father-and-son team has been working to fulfil their vision, building several custom, patented, solar-electric boats under the brand name of Solar Sal.

This summer, the two of them completed what they believe to be the first-ever solar-electric boat voyage from Bellingham, Washington, to Juneau, Alaska.

They departed on Tuesday, 25 May, in their 27-ft wooden hull solar boat Wayward Sun and made landfall at Ketchikan, Alaska, 13 June, then continued up the coast at a more leisurely pace to Glacier Bay and Juneau, concluding the voyage on 8 July.

The electric boat is powered 100 per cent by solar energy with no fossil-fuel combustion engine at all on board. “People always ask us if we have any gas or diesel back up,” said Alex Borton, “but the sun rises every day. If our batteries get too low, we just wait.”

Wayward Sun, built by Devlin Boat in Olympia, WA, is propelled by a Torqeedo Cruise 4.0 electric pod drive with six Torqeedo Power 24-3500 lithium batteries.  There is a separate 12-volt system for lights, electronics and other DC-powered systems and an inverter for occasional AC loads, like making waffles. The batteries are charged from a 1700-Watt array of solar cells on the boat’s rooftop.

Better than expected

“The solar-electric system has more than exceeded our expectations,” said Alex Borton. “During the 45-day passage from Bellingham to Glacier Bay to Juneau, we were underway for 38 days. We averaged 32 nautical miles per day at an average speed of 3.7 knots. While some days we stopped early or left late because of weather, there were only two full days we didn’t travel at all due to high winds or dense fog.

“Even on a completely overcast day this time of year, we can travel at 2-3 knots during daylight hours without drawing on our batteries at all,” Borton said. “With direct sunlight, we can do 5 knots or more all day without any battery use. Most of the trip was overcast and it rained a lot. Some days we travelled slowly because we had to; other days we travelled slowly and charged the batteries while underway.”

No limits

“Most electric boats on the market today are limited by their battery capacity, which means they have to return to shore power to charge,” explained Borton. “Until recently, solar panels and batteries were just not capable of severing the tie to shore power, so it was only functional for extending range or for partial charging. But now, thanks to advances in solar cells and Torqeedo’s efficient electric drives and high-capacity batteries, it’s possible to produce a solar boat with reasonable speeds and accommodation that can continuously cruise without ever charging from the shore. If I had more time I would keep going for another 1000 miles.”

They navigated from Bellingham to Ketchikan using the inside passage, anchoring at night since they were not permitted to go ashore in British Columbia due to Canadian Covid-19 travel restrictions. “That was no problem for us,” said Borton. “We had lots of food, a cosy cuddy for sleeping below deck. And, of course, our solar boat doesn’t need refuelling.”

“This is an important validation of state-of-the-art solar-electric boat propulsion technology, and we have enjoyed following their daily progress on their blog,” said Mary Jo Reinhart, director of OEM and retail sales, Torqeedo, Inc.

You can see the progress reports with photos and video clips from Wayward Sun’s epic voyage at squarespace.com

green lahti

The carbon-neutral symphony orchestra of Lahti has played a piece titled “ICE” to endangered coastal cities. The piece can be heard only in places threatened by climate change and rising sea levels.

If climate change is not curbed, rising sea levels threaten to drown several coastal cities by 2050 and 2100. The problem is global and affects many cities from Jakarta and Sydney to New York.

That’s why the city of Lahti, the European Green Capital 2021, has donated a piece to the world to remind us of the dangers of climate change. The piece, titled “ICE” has been composed by Cecilia Damström and is performed by the world’s first carbon-neutral symphony orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dalia Stasevksa.

“ICE” is a part of Lahti’s European Green Capital year 2021 programme, as Lahti is the first city from Finland to be awarded the honorary title.

The piece can be listened to only in the 100 most endangered cities across the world, on the site https://greenlahti.fi/icemusic based on your browser’s IP address.

In “ICE” the Earth fights for its existence through each beat

The 10-minute piece starts with a peaceful harp melody which intensifies quickly. As the song continues, powerful rhythms with contrasting harmonies can be heard: the piece sounds like our planet is fighting for its existence.

– Through this piece I wanted to express how global warming as well as the collapse of ecosystems is destroying the Earth’s beautiful glaciers. The heart of the Earth is fighting for its existence through each beat, says the composer Cecilia Damström.

The title “ICE” refers to the In Case of Emergency emergency tag. The piece ends with a glimpse of hope: during the last seconds, the harp heard at the beginning can be heard again; finally, a small bell rings as a reminder that there is still a chance to influence the future.

Lahti carbon neutrality target for 2025

In the city of Lahti, the European Green Capital of 2021, multiple actions have been taken to cut emissions from energy production, transport, housing, and other consumption to combat climate change.

– The climate is in an undeniable state of emergency. The role of European cities in halting climate change is significant; slowing down climate change requires rapid action and commitment to carbon neutrality targets. That is why Lahti has set its carbon neutrality targets for 2025, says Mayor of Lahti Pekka Timonen.

You can listen to “ICE” from here.

ev demand electric car

European consumers are increasingly turning to electric vehicles as focus turns to the industry. Several initiatives from governments are inspiring the ev demand from consumers.

According to data acquired by Finbold, the demand for new passenger battery electric (all-electric) vehicles across Europe surged 231.58% between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021, from 63,422 to 210,298. The figures reflect a triple growth in demand for all-electric vehicles.

Elsewhere, demand for the hybrid electric vehicle also spiked by 213.54% to 541,162 representing the biggest growth for all new passenger vehicles in Europe. In total, the electric vehicle registration as of Q2 2021 stands at 751,460, a growth of at least three times from the Q2 2020 cumulative figure of 236,015.

During the period, plug-in hybrid vehicle demand surged 255.8%, from 66,252 to 235,730. Natural gas vehicles recorded demand of 41.84% from 9,515 to 13,497.

Furthermore, during the first half of 2021, battery electric vehicles recorded a share of 6.7% under new passenger cars by fuel type in the region. Hybrid electric vehicles had a share of 18.9%, while plug-in hybrids stood at 8.3%. Petrol accounted for the highest share at 42%, followed by diesel at 21.7%. Natural gas had a share of 0.5%.

Government incentives spurs EV demand

The report explains how different government policies contributed to the surge in demand for electric vehicles in Europe. According to the research report:

“For instance, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, most governments across the region focused their stimulus packages on companies that are operating in line with fighting climate change. Notably, a big part of the support focused on incentives for consumers to buy EVs, creating a surge in demand.”

Additionally, the demand emerged at a period, the electric vehicle industry suffered a chip shortage due to supply chain constraints due to the pandemic. However, the full impact will manifest later this year.

Read the full story with statistics here.

Behaving environmentally responsible makes people feel happy. That is the outcome of research by the Dutch Groningen University. 

While it is often suggested that individuals’ pro-environmental behaviors may be linked with their subjective wellbeing, the strength and direction (e.g. positive or negative) of this relation is unclear. Because pro-environmental behaviors impact peoples’ everyday lives, understanding this relation is critical for promoting long-term environmental solutions.

Using a series of meta-analyses, we systematically reviewed the literature on the association between individuals’ pro-environmental behaviors and their subjective wellbeing. The researchers hypothesized that the relation between pro-environmental behavior and subjective wellbeing would be positive and strongest among types of behaviors (e.g. sustainable purchase decisions) and indicators of subjective wellbeing which more clearly reflect personal meaning (e.g. warm glow). The researchers sourced studies via PsychINFO, PsychARTICLES, GreenFile, SocINDEX, Web of Science, and Scopus, as well as professional email lists, direct contact with authors who publish in this domain, data from the authorship team, and the European Social Survey (2016).

The researchers included studies with quantitative data on the relation between individuals’ pro-environmental behavior and their subjective wellbeing, ultimately identifying 78 studies (73 published, 5 unpublished) for synthesis. Across multiple indicators of pro-environmental behaviors and subjective wellbeing, we found a significant, positive relation (overall r = .243), and this relation did not meaningfully differ across study characteristics (e.g. sample, design). As predicted, the relation was particularly strong for indicators of pro-environmental behavior and subjective wellbeing which clearly reflect meaning, such as sustainable purchase decisions (r = .291) and for warm glow (r = .408).

The researchers found a robust, positive relation between people’s pro-environmental behaviors and subjective wellbeing, and initial evidence that this relation may be stronger the more clearly behaviors and indicators of subjective wellbeing reflect meaning. Our results indicate that program and policy-makers can seek opportunities to design ‘win-win’ sustainability programs which could positively impact both people and the environment.

Read the publication

fair tomato

Our awareness of problems with human rights arise mainly from the textile chains. But working conditions in other chains, such as the tomato chain, are also under pressure. The Dutch Central Bureau for Food Trade (CBL) and the Dutch trade union FNV are planning to conduct research into the production chain of the canned tomato trade. The research focuses on Italy, a major supplier of tomatoes. The aim is to identify by the end of July the specific risks of human rights violations in the tomato chain and which improvements are needed. Recommendations have been drawn up on how the Dutch participants in the chain can initiate positive change.

Various studies and risk analyses show that the tomato chain is a so-called high-risk chain. Jos Hendriks, director FNV Food Industry: “We are investigating the supply chain of canned tomatoes to determine the risks we face when it comes to violations of human rights, trade union rights and the environment and to identify who is involved. But the most important part comes after the research: how do we ensure that the guidelines of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and United Nations with regard to people and the environment are applied in the cultivation, harvesting, transport and processing of the tomatoes?”

Guarding human rights

The CBL agrees with the importance of tackling the risks. Jennifer Muller, Sustainability Manager at CBL: “Dutch supermarkets find it essential that human rights are safeguarded throughout the chains. It is therefore important to investigate possible social abuses in the Italian tomato chain and to gain insight into the operational perspective of the parties involved. Collaboration is crucial for thorough research. We are therefore happy to join forces with the FNV to bring about positive change.”

Research into the share of Dutch producers and buyers

An important part of the research is mapping the share of Dutch producers and buyers in the Italian tomato chain. In this way, it is possible to better see in which component steps can be taken to improve the position of employees. This includes investigating the role played by supermarkets, manufacturers and organizations that issue quality certificates.

lng terminal

A proposed boom in new LNG import and export terminals is increasingly going bust, according to a new survey and report by Global Energy Monitor. Coming on the heels of the IEA’s recent call for a halt to new gas, oil, and coal investments, the report finds that more than one-third of proposed new global LNG terminal capacity is facing financing and project delays.

The report, “Nervous Money: Global LNG Terminals Update 2021,” includes the following highlights:

  • Worldwide, at least 26 LNG export terminals totaling 265 million tonnes per annum (MPTA) of capacity report final investment decision (FID) delays or other serious disruption—38% of the 700 MTPA of export capacity under development worldwide. In the US, at least 10 LNG export terminals totaling 123 MPTA of capacity report FID delays or other serious disruption—39% of the 314 MTPA under development.
  • Total’s declaration of force majeure for the Mozambique LNG Terminal, following an attack by insurgents, has highlighted the vulnerability of terminals priced in the tens of billions of dollars.
  • The cost overruns, scheduling delays, and high outage rate that plagued the LNG sector were further exacerbated in the past year by Covid-related workforce disruption.
  • Once regarded as a potential climate solution, the LNG sector is increasingly seen as a climate problem, particularly for European buyers. According to the IEA, inter-regional LNG trade would need to decline rapidly after 2025 under a 2050 net zero scenario.
  • Globally, only one LNG export project has reached FID in the past year, Costa Azul LNG terminal in Mexico.
  • North America accounts for 64% of the global export capacity in construction or pre-construction. North America also has the most troubled projects, with 11 of the 26 LNG export terminals reporting FID delays or other serious disruption.
  • Aggressive expansion of capacity in low-production-cost Qatar and the Russian Arctic has increased risks to U.S. LNG export developers.
  • Despite the rise in delays in development of LNG export capacity, global LNG import capacity continues on an aggressive expansion path, with enough projects in construction or pre-construction to increase global capacity by 70%. Of the capacity in construction or pre-construction, 32% is in China, 11% is in India, and 7% is in Thailand. Outside Asia, Brazil is a hotspot with 13 LNG import terminals in construction or pre-construction.

“LNG was sold to policymakers and to investors as a safe, clean, secure bet,” said Lydia Plante, lead author of the report. “Now all those attributes have turned into liabilities. The sheer size of the projects has exposed investors to catastrophic losses. And the recent IEA 2050 scenarios show that LNG has no place in a climate-safe energy future. The industry has lost its climate halo, and the only question is whether the Biden Administration will waste precious political capital propping up potential white elephant projects.”

“Those who are accustomed to thinking of infrastructure as a ‘safe’ investment may be in for a rocky ride with LNG terminals,” said Ted Nace, Executive Director of Global Energy Monitor. “The opportunity has narrowed for more export capacity to be built, and North American projects have fallen behind for several reasons. They’re rightly seen, especially by European buyers, as particularly dirty, due to their reliance on fracked gas. In addition, Qatar and Russia both have access to cheaper gas, and they’re not about to relinquish market share.”

Read the report here.

Image: photographic services, Shell International Limited.

ecocide

Commissioned by the Stop Ecocide Foundation, an expert drafting panel of 12 highly renowned international criminal and environmental lawyers from around the world has just concluded six months of deliberations.  The result: a legal definition of “ecocide” as a potential 5th international crime, to sit alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide, chaired by barrister and author Philippe Sands QC (UK) together with UN jurist and former prosecutor Dior Fall Sow (Senegal), was convened in late 2020 at a powerfully symbolic moment, 75 years after the terms “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” were first used at Nuremberg.  The project emerged in response to a request from parliamentarians in the governing parties of Sweden.

The proposed definition will now be made available for states to consider, and will henceforth be visible on the newly launched Ecocide Law website, an academic and legal resource hub co-managed by the Stop Ecocide Foundation and the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law.

Jojo Mehta, Chair of the Stop Ecocide Foundation and convenor of the panel, said: “This is an historic moment.  This expert panel came together in direct response to a growing political appetite for real answers to the climate and ecological crisis. The moment is right – the world is waking up to the danger we are facing if we continue along our current trajectory.”

 The drafting work, she explained, “was high-level, collaborative and informed by many experts as well as a public consultation comprising hundreds of legal, economic, political, youth, faith and indigenous perspectives.  The resulting definition is well pitched between what needs to be done concretely to protect ecosystems and what will be acceptable to states.  It’s concise, it’s based on strong legal precedents and it will mesh well with existing laws.  Governments will take it seriously, and it offers a workable legal tool corresponding to a real and pressing need in the world.”

Rebecka Le Moine, Member of Swedish Parliament, who initially approached the Stop Ecocide Foundation with a request for a definition of ecocide, said:

“I welcome this definition, as it makes the term ecocide more concrete and clear, it also makes it a lot easier for me as a politician and a lawmaker to find support for criminalization of it.”

ifad sslrp

All over the world, it’s small scale farmers who suffer severely from climate change. Effects can differ locally, but hit the poorest hardest. In South Sudan, IFAD set up a support program, investing almost 20 million US dollar which will affect some 40,000 local households of small-scale food producers.

A new US$19.9 million project will bring much needed help to 38,800 rural households facing the impacts of poverty, food insecurity and climate change. The South Sudan Livelihoods Resilience Project (SSLRP) will empower rural people to boost productivity, food security and nutrition, and resilience. At a time when the COVID-19 crisis and climate change could further push the 85 per cent of South Sudanese who live in rural areas into deeper poverty, SSLRP will target the most vulnerable, food insecure and small-scale producers, engaged in fishing, cropping and livestock production.

In South Sudan, poverty is higher in rural areas, with 80 per cent of the population living below the poverty line and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Therefore agriculture is key to defeating poverty and hunger. However, South Sudan, a resource-rich country and the youngest nation in Africa, remains the third most fragile in the world.

Conflict and poverty

Its agriculture sector’s potential is not fully exploited to due to a long conflict and prolonged instability, and poverty and food insecurity remain challenges. Irrigation and water harvesting technologies are inadequate, and there are poor post-harvest and value addition facilities. Adverse weather conditions and flooding are also challenges to small-scale production and access to markets.

In SSLRP, 70 per cent of beneficiaries will be youth and 60 per cent will be women, including returnees, women-headed households and persons with disabilities, who will receive particular attention to facilitate their integration into agricultural production and rural economy activities.

In South Sudan, farmers continue to bear the brunt of climate change, and the project will address their need for access to drought tolerant and early maturing seeds, drought tolerant agroforestry fodder species, water conservation and management, afforestation, mangroves rehabilitation and conservation, solar and other renewable energy sources. SSLRP will also rehabilitate and construct water infrastructure, rural roads to give access to markets, and processing and storage facilities. To build and strengthen the capacity of the beneficiaries and the government during the implementation phases, SSLRP will partner with the African Development Bank (AfDB), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Bank.

 

delivery bicycle for sustainabler impact

ABN AMRO is proud to announce the Sustainable Impact Fund (SIF), a fund investing in companies accelerating the transition towards a sustainable and inclusive society.

ABN AMRO SIF will make private equity investments of 4 to 30 million euros in companies that have a proven business model and that are ready for the next phase of their growth. The fund will also make venture capital investments ranging from 500,000 euros to 4 million euros in companies with a proven concept. Three themes have been selected for these investments: the circular economy, the energy transition and social impact. The fund, which is owned and funded by ABN AMRO, has its own investment policy and will pursue a combination of social and financial returns.

Equity capital

Rutger van Nouhuijs of ABN AMRO’s Executive Committee explains, “Our bank finances countless sustainable initiatives, in the form of loans and credit. However, in some situations, companies need equity investments. Our new fund is able to offer this as a solution. Companies that link sustainable returns to a strong business plan can apply to ABN AMRO SIF.”

Smartglasses, wind turbines and sustainable urban logistics

The new fund made its first two venture capital investments last month, in Envision and Foodlogica. Envision is a Dutch company that develops software for ‘smartglasses’. Combined with an app and innovative AI technology, the glasses translate images and written text into sound to make life more accessible for the visually impaired. Foodlogica solves the challenge of last-mile transport of refrigerated food in densely populated cities with a sustainable fleet that is free of greenhouse gas emissions. Fiberline Composites A/S also recently received private equity funding. This Danish company is developing a specific technology to increase the size of rotor blades for wind turbines. This investment was made by the Energy Transition Fund, which becomes part of ABN AMRO SIF.

The Netherlands and other countries nearby

In terms of geography, the new fund will focus on the Netherlands, but also companies from other countries in Northwestern Europe are eligible for investments. The fund reflects ABN AMRO’s strategic direction, which includes sustainability and a European focus as its key components.

New and mature companies

With the fund investing both private equity and venture capital, early-stage enterprises as well as established companies qualify for investment through this fund. Rutger van Nouhuijs adds, “What we want is to provide a solid financial basis for companies with potential that will help to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable society.”

To find out more about ABN AMRO SIF’s team, investments and investment criteria, visit www.abnamro.nl/SIF.