Written by Rafael Reyes Friday, 28 December 2007 00:02Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced its grants. Many cities in our region secured funding including Mt View, San Carlos, San Mateo, Sunnyvale, Redwood City, plus San Mateo County, Santa Clara County (not to mention a bunch more in other parts of the Bay Area). And organizations: Acterra and Sustainable Silicon Valley. That's sure better than coal in the stocking!
Interestingly, many of these are for cities to "Integrate climate protection into general plan". What this should mean is more support for transit options and placing more homes and amenities at rail stops. Success in providing transit alternatives is directly related to putting homes and businesses in the right place -not just more busses or trains. It reduces housing prices, reduces pressure to buy homes far a way with long commutes (and emissions) and encourages friendlier neighborhoods for walking. An excellent example is the Bay Meadows project in San Mateo. Oddly, one of the recipients of such a grant is Mt. View, which historically has done an excellent job of placing homes for our growing population near downtown or on the rail stops. But the city has been backpeddling due to an unsupportive council that continues to weaken excellent opportunities such as the Mayfair project right on the San Antonio Caltrain stop. A better location for homes could not be found.
More in the San Mateo County Times.
In related news, C/CAG approved $6,500 in grants for every city in San Mateo County for the ICLEI/Joint Venture Government Operations GHG Inventory. No information on the web site though and unfortunately word is the recent ICLEI training wasn't very good. Concerns have also been raised about the Metropolitan Transportation Committee's transportation emissions methodology. We'll what's Christmas without at least a little humbug...
Written by Rafael Reyes Thursday, 27 December 2007 18:47
This isn't a Bay Area native but a neighbor. Aptera is a "future is now" electric car from Carlsbad. It's a lightweight super-efficient vehicle for two with excellent range (~120 miles per charge) and top speed (~90 mph). Soon it will also be offered in as a hybrid.
It's fair to ask if a vehicle like this will ever be more than a novelty like the ill-fated Corbin Sparrow. But despite the failure of the Sparrow and other entries in past years there seems to be increasing visibility, if not momentum, around a next generation practical two-seater. Vehicles like the Smart and Think show promise. Some will argue that no one wants a car that small but the allure of a hip small vehicle is well proven by the Mini Cooper. Even for families, a huge percentage of trips are short and with only one or two people. A practical 2-seater car makes sense not only for the young single urbanite but also a family's second car in many cases.
I wouldn't have minded one in my stocking...
See the clip from Popular Mechanics. Hat tip to former Cool Cities leader Pierre...
By the way, this blog will be renamed in January... Details soon...
Written by Rafael Reyes Tuesday, 18 December 2007 16:56Berkeley, San Francisco, San Jose - and soon it appears San Mateo) with financing mechanisms or ambitious goals, home grown Nanosolar seems to be lining up to meet the challenge having "printed" its first production solar cells.
CEO Martin Roscheisen reports in his blog the many leading edge qualities including:
- the world’s first printed thin-film solar cell in a commercial panel product;
- the world’s first thin-film solar cell with a low-cost back-contact capability;
- the world’s lowest-cost solar panel – which we believe will make us the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling solar panels at as little as $.99/Watt;
In fact, you can get yours here if you act now (Ginzu knives not included)
Hat tip C-Net
Written by Rafael Reyes Saturday, 15 December 2007 18:28
1:15 pm: Plenary session reconvenes. President of Indonesia and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon lecture delegates on importance of coming to agreement. China chastizes Secretary-General of UNFCCC for allowing scheduling of two meetings simultaneously to interfere with orderly progress of meeting. Secretary-General, who is exhausted, breaks down and leaves meeting. There follows one of the most extraordinary sessions of an international negotiation any of us have ever seen.
India presents a new text stating how the undertaking of developing countries to participate in the preparation of a global plan of carbon limits will be formulated, which has been arrived at by the G-77 in their caucus. The U.S. rejects it. All this is happens without any scripting or planning, in open session, on the floor, with NGO’s and press filling the sides and back of the room. One by one countries and blocs rise – to support India. South Africa. Papua New Guinea asks the US to lead or get out of the way. China. The EU. The small island states. One by one they rise to ask the US to yield to the new language. Frankly, the new language is not sensational; but it represents for the first time the entry of the developing countries together into the global preparation of a plan for carbon limits, and it is their language. Canada is silent. Japan speaks, and no one can figure out what they mean, possibly including themselves. Not one voice among 190 countries is raised in support of the US. The pressure is like a huge, crushing weight in the room. And finally the US asks for the floor and yields. The room bursts into wild applause, and the Bali Roadmap is adopted. 3:10 pm, Saturday, December 15
CNN reports here. The US delegation actively obstructed every constructive effort so the late break was hardly lauditory. Reports say China was suprisingly constructive. In the end, the agreement was very modest incremental progress - important on the mechanism to reduce deforestation and the inclusion of underdeveloped nations. However, there are no hard targets.
Written by Rafael Reyes Saturday, 15 December 2007 01:01Berkeley's outstanding initiative to make solar affordable, San Francisco follow suit. Word is that Newsom was upset that Berkeley stole his thunder. And while SF's plan may not be as strong as Berkeley's it's still good - adding momentum to efforts to fundamentally change the finances game and make solar readily accessible.
The bad: What looked to be an exceptional energy bill from Congress died yesterday by 1 vote despite having been passed by the House and showing prior support for its elements in the Senate. Instead we got a bill that raises auto fuel efficiency (CAFE) to an average of 35 mpg by 2020 but includes what many consider questionable "renewable fuel standards" which subsidizes ethanol. With the death of the good energy bill also died incentives for wind and solar which were to be funded by rolling back the outrageous give aways to the oil industry in the horrible 2005 energy bill. Clearly the bad.
The sunny: Despite the death of the federal renewable incentives California at least is maintaining strong momentum on distributed solar thanks to the state's Million Solar Roofs plus municipal and financial services initiatives. Nanosolar, one of the promising local "thin-film" solar manufacturers not only secured more funding this fall, but has started production. Let's just hope sunny California momentum can carry us through until the clouds break in Washington DC.
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