GHG emissions trading providing environmental and economic returns in 9 states

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has released a report identifying the economic and environmental benefits of the RGGI ‘cap and trade’ program for the electricity industry in the nine states where it has been fully operational since 2008. These states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Revenues from the sale of allowances are used by the individual states to address energy and GHG related policy objectives.

Key findings are that:

  • the program has created an investment of $700 million investment in the region’s energy future: reducing energy bills, helping businesses become more competitive, accelerating the development of local clean and renewable energy sources, and limiting the release of harmful pollutants into the air and atmosphere.
  • over 16,000 job-years of work were created as a result of investments made during the first three years of the program.
  • six RGGI states were ranked among the top ten states nationwide for energy efficiency investments by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy in 2012.
  • RGGI investments in energy efficiency are expected to return more than $1.8 billion in lifetime energy bill savings to consumers in the region.
  • RGGI investments in direct bill assistance have returned more than $122 million in bill credits to more than 2 million participating households.
  • RGGI investments in GHG abatement are expected to avoid the release of 260,000 short tons of harmful CO2 pollution into the atmosphere.
  • RGGI related projects have offset the need for approximately 8.5 million megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity generation, and have saved more than 37 million mmBTU of fossil fuels.

Details of the findings organized by state are contained in the 32 page report which is available, along with a brief summary, at

Battling over transit systems in Toronto

For the last three years the City of Toronto has been battling over new transportation technologies. On the one side the Mayor and some of his supporters have argued for new subways. On the other are council members who support light rail transit (LRT) and a plan put in place by the previous municipal administration. Unfortunately the debate has been heated and highly political with little regard for the facts.

Toronto’s public transit system, consisting of a mix of subways, buses, streetcars, and one 6 km intermediate capacity rail line powered by linear induction motors. Everyone agrees that Toronto needs more public transit. For a while it seemed that City Council had agreed on a subway-based model, though the support of many councillors was weak. However, at least one mayoral candidate now says that, if elected, he will scrap this plan and revert to an LRT-based plan.

The public part of the Toronto debate has obfuscated some of the key facts:

  • there is little doubt that subways are in many ways a preferred approach to public transit where passenger volumes justify.
  • subways are many times more expensive than LRT on a per km basis.
  • subways normally take much longer to build than LRT.
  • subways can carry more passengers over longer distances than LRT but stations are often further apart than LRT stops, meaning that more walking or transfers from buses are needed.

In short, if people need transit now, to overcome congested buses, subways, and streetcars, the LRT provides a quicker and cheaper solution, meaning more transit for the money spent.

Some of the politicians promoting subways seem to think that someone other than the user or the taxpayer will pay for them (business?) and they often seem to confuse, perhaps deliberately, streetcars, which do cause traffic congestion, and LRTs, which can be synchronized with traffic control to minimize additional congestion.

The result of the ongoing debate, now extended at least until October’s municipal election, is that little progress is being made on new transit for Toronto. Transit users and potential users will be the casualties, at least in the short term.

Transit planning is important to business. People use transit to get to work. Congestion, both on transit systems and on roads, saps the energy of employees and reduces their productivity. Transit systems cost a lot of money, much of which comes from business taxes. Traffic congestion reduces the productivity of delivery systems and parking tickets cost business big dollars.

Last July the Toronto Board of Trade, the largest multi-sector voice for business in Toronto, said the following about transit:

Politics trumps progress. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen over the decades, this begets delayed projects and higher costs. Meanwhile our transportation network falls further and further behind the needs of our residents and our economy. There must be a better way.

Hopefully Toronto voters will get the message next October.

The Toronto Board of Trade statement on transit is at


A more realistic description of the energy potential from anaerobic digestion

GallonDaily has seen far too many highly exaggerated projections of the amount of energy produced from anaerobic digestion of municipal waste. That is not to say that we are opposed to anaerobic digestion (breakdown of biowastes in the absence of air) but even all the waste in the world is only going to produce a tiny fraction of our energy needs, not the huge fraction that some anaerobic digestion advocates have suggested.

For some time we have been looking for real data on how anaerobic digesters actually perform. The Norway-based power technology company Wärtsilä has provided some of the data we are seeking in a recent press release announcing a new aerobic digestion plant in Oslo.

So here are the numbers as provided by Wärtsilä and not independently verified by GallonDaily:

  • the plant will accept 50,000 tonnes of food waste a year [that is the food waste from roughly 125,000 North American homes]
  • processing of the food waste will make about 14,000 Nm3 (normal cubic metres) per day of biomethane
  • that is enough methane to power 135 city buses
  • which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 10,000 tonnes per year
  • and which, according to a media report, will produce 90,000 cubic metres of organic waste material which can be applied to agricultural land as a fertilizer. [It is not clear how the 90,000 cubic metres output relates to the 50,000 tonnes input as the two streams likely have different moisture levels.]

GallonDaily suspects that Wärtsilä’s press people believe that we should be impressed that the waste to biogas plant produces enough fuel to keep 135 city buses on the road. However, GallonDaily is actually quite unimpressed. A city of 125,000 people [North America] or 590,000 [Oslo, Norway] needs more than 135 buses, so the waste to energy plant will not even keep all of the City’s buses on the road, let alone the cars and trucks and home heating and lights and everything else that takes energy to run. That is not to say that turning waste to fuel may not be a good idea – we see merit in it – but it will certainly be only a small part of our needed renewable energy future and, if we reduce food waste as we must if we are to feed the world’s rising population, then the amount of energy being derived from our food waste will inevitably decline. Energy from food waste has a role but it is by no means a panacea.

The Wärtsilä announcement concerning the Oslo food waste to energy plant can be found at

Ranking US environmental groups – a somewhat controversial initiative

The California-based GreenBiz Group Inc., an organization claiming to define and accelerate the business of sustainability, has published the 2014 GreenBiz NGO Report: How Companies Rate Activists as Partners. Though environmental groups frequently rate the performance of industry and business, they are less enthusiastic about being rated themselves. Remember that everything in this article applies to the USA. To GallonDaily’s knowledge no similar ranking takes place in Canada.

The Greenbiz report is based on a survey of sustainability executives in large corporations. They were asked to rank 30 well-known environmental groups into one of four categories:

Trusted Partners – Corporate-friendly, highly credible, long-term partners with easy-to-find public success stories
Useful Resources – Highly credible organizations known for creating helpful frameworks and services for corporate partners
Brand Challenged – Credible, but not influential, organizations
The Uninvited – Less broadly known groups, or those viewed more as critics than partners

The top three priority areas for corporations to engage with NGOs — that is, the topics or focus areas of partnerships
— were found to be the same for both large and small companies: climate change, community engagement, and energy (both renewables and efficiency). Smaller companies rank water and raising consumer awareness as next on the list while more large companies identified food and agriculture and health as the next-highest-ranked priority areas.

The survey found that companies ranked the following as trusted partners:

  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • World Wildlife Fund

Those ranked as useful resources include:

  • Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)
  • Ceres
  • Conservation International
  • Greenpeace
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Oxfam
  • Rainforest Alliance
  • Rocky Mountain Institute
  • Sierra Club
  • World Resources Institute

The remaining lists and much more information drawn from experience partnering or interfacing with environmental ngos can be found in the report at

Canadian shipping company receives North American award

One of our mantras at GallonDaily is that recognition should not be given for environmental initiatives until they have been implemented and proven. Too many simply run into trouble before producing results. Today, however, in recognition that ships take a long time to build and because another reputable organization has given recognition, we will set aside the rule and pass on the news that Canadian merchant marine company Fednav Limited has won the inaugural Lloyd’s List North American Maritime Environment Award for its efforts to improve its environmental performance.

The citation states that Fednav recently ordered twelve new highly efficient ships for delivery in 2015 and 2016. These vessels will produce 28% less GHG emissions than vessels built for Fednav 10 years ago, ships among the highest performers of their time. Additionally, the new engines will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by approximately 33%. In 2008, Fednav was the first shipping company in Canada to publish an environmental policy for its vessels that included annual targets and expected results. Fednav’s fleet is regularly inspected by an independent third-party verification body that provides detailed inspection reports under an Environmental, Quality, and Safety Inspection system.

Formerly Federal Commerce & Navigation Company Limited, Fednav was founded in Toronto in 1944 and moved to Montreal in 1953. Fednav owns a fleet of 23 ships and operates 41 short- and long-term charters. Many of the ships operate in the arctic. Fednav has been a leader in the greener shipping industry for some years and is a founding member of Green Marine, a voluntary binational initiative in an industry sector that regular readers of Gallon Environment Letter will recognize as one that truly needs green leadership. GallonDaily encourages readers to add Fednav to the list of companies that they think of as green leaders in North America.

Announcement of the award and a link to Fednav’s environment page is at 

Forest and wildlife ‘crime’ – new website encourages whistleblowers

A new website with the provocative title Wildleaks is encouraging people who know about wildlife and forest ‘crimes’ to report them anonymously so that the group can turn them into actionable items while protecting the identity of the whistleblower. The site is operated by a group of individuals with funding from the California-based Elephant Action League.

The site defines forest crime as illegal logging and the international trade in illegally logged timber. It states that forest crime:

  • has a significant Human Toll as it impedes sustainable development in some of the poorest countries of the world.
  • costs governments billions of dollars, promotes corruption, and funds armed conflict.
  • is responsible for up to 17% of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions, 50% more than that from ships, aviation and land transport combined.
  • can also have huge financial implications for a country. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, in Indonesia illegal logging and forest-sector mismanagement resulted in losses to the Indonesian government of more than US$7 billion between 2007 and 2011.
  • creates social conflict with indigenous and local populations and leads to violence, crime, corruption, human exploitation and human rights abuses. It is estimated that some 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihood and 60 million peoples depend on forests for their subsistence.

Poaching and illegal trade of wildlife is said to be a cause of:

  • people dying and getting injured (e.g., rangers, law enforcement officers, villagers, poachers).
  • people encouraged or forced to engage in criminal activities (e.g., breaking the law, possession and use of weapons, bribery, corruption).
  • exploitation of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.
  • families losing the breadwinners (e.g., due to death, injury, incarceration) – orphans & widows.
  • conflict (e.g., financing terrorism and rebel militia).
  • other related criminal activities (e.g., threatening the rangers and their families, money laundering, tax evasion).

The site uses the Tor browser, software built to enable people to navigate the Internet anonymously, in order to facilitate the submission of information without revealing the identity of the sender.

Wildleaks is at

Sierra Club offers advice on what not to eat

The Jan/Feb 2014 issue of the US-based Sierra Club magazine, Sierra, highlights on the cover page an article with the eye-catching headline Don’t Eat That! Five Foods That Are Killing the Planet. While we are not endorsing the selection of foods to avoid, it is already clear that US retailers, and possibly some Canadian retailers, are experiencing the impact of this kind of article. A few impacts are visible at the retail level:

  • a few, but not too many, customers will turn away from the listed products.
  • a higher percentage of customers, still small but indicative of a trend, will ask about the environmental aspects of the listed products, sometimes just requesting information but sometimes asking whether alternatives are available.
  • competitive products that avoid, or hopefully avoid, the harmful environmental effects, will more aggressively advertise their green benefits.

It is interesting how small a percentage of customers, often less than 10%, can sometimes influence brandowner and retailer behaviour. Articles like this one in Sierra play a significant, though not necessarily a comprehensive role, in greening of the marketplace.

The five foods that Sierra Club says we should not eat are:

  • bluefin tuna, of the sushi bar variety [Greenpeace Canada ranks canned tuna for sustainability]
  • conventional coffee, but organic shade-grown coffee is OK
  • factory-farmed beef
  • genetically modified corn
  • palm oil

Much more information [again not all endorsed by GallonDaily] is in the Sierra Club article at

The Greenpeace Canada ranking of canned tuna sustainability is at

US investor owned utility association signs leading edge agreement

The Edison Electric Institute, the major US association of shareholder-owned electricity companies, has, in partnership with major US environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, signed a joint statement to state utility regulators that could become a model for many other industry sectors, especially those involved in selling commodity goods. Key elements include the electricity companies agreeing to sell energy services instead of electricity; The joint statement includes the following concepts:


  • the retail electricity distribution business should not be viewed or regulated as if it were a commodity business dependent on growth in electricity use to keep its owners financially whole. Instead, utility businesses should focus on meeting customers’ energy service needs.
  • payments for use of grids by owners and operators of distributed generation systems.
  • rates that reward customers for using electricity more efficiently.
  • performance based incentives tied to benefits delivered to customers by cost effective initiatives to improve energy efficiency, integrate clean energy generation, and improve grids.
  • working together to ensure that energy efficiency services reach underserved populations,
  • helping electricity users take advantage of all cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities through an integrated combination of financial incentives to customers and minimum standards governing the performance of buildings and equipment; and
  • asking regulators to support significantly enhanced utility investment in ‘smart meters’ and a ‘smart grid’ that focuses on delivering new energy management tools to customers, enabling increased energy efficiency, supporting efficient new technology such as plug-in electric vehicles, and reducing the cost of integrating renewable energy generation with variable output into resource portfolios.

The complete Joint Statement can be found at The press release is at

Canada Federal Budget 2014: initiatives relevant to the environment sector

We know from recent years that an omnibus federal budget implementation bill, released subsequent to the Budget itself, may contain environment-related initiatives that are not apparent from the budget documents released along with the Finance Minister’s budget presentation. Hence the following extract from the 2014 Federal Budget should be considered preliminary. Canada Federal Budget 2014 environment and energy related initiatives, in no particular order, include:

  • an additional $500 million over two years to the Automotive Innovation Fund to support significant new strategic research and development projects and long-term investments in the Canadian automotive sector.
  • committing to respond to the recommendations made by the Tanker Safety Expert Panel and the Special Representative on West Coast Energy Infrastructure.
  • action to deepen bilateral cooperation between Canadian and U.S. regulators to reduce duplication, streamline

    operations and eliminate the burden of unnecessary requirements on stakeholders. This will include changes to Canada’s regulatory processes to 

    help synchronize the adoption of technical regulations in areas where Canada

    and the U.S. have similar policy objectives.

  • amendments to the Hazardous Products Act and other consequential amendments to align and synchronize implementation of common classification and labelling requirements for workplace hazardous chemicals.
  • consultations with the private sector to develop a “Made-in-Canada” branding campaign.
  • an updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy will be released later this year.
  • new support for research and innovation totalling more than $1.6 billion over the next five years. This includes the largest annual increase in research support through the granting councils in over a decade when fully phased in, providing stable and predictable funding for leading-edge research, including discovery research funded through core granting council programming.
  • steps to foster social innovation through projects at colleges and polytechnics, and support the translation of knowledge into new business opportunities that benefit Canadians.
  • the Canada First Research Excellence Fund will have $1.5 billion in funding over the next decade, $50 million in 2015–16, growing to $100 million in 2016–17, $150 million in 2017–18, and reaching a steady-state level of $200 million annually in 2018–19, to help Canadian post-secondary institutions excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada.
  • $15 million per year to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, to support advanced research in the natural sciences and engineering.
  • $7 million per year for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, to support advanced research in the social sciences and humanities.
  • Mitacs, a Canadian not-for-profit organization, is a leader in facilitating industry-academic research collaborations that help to prepare talented graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to become the next generation of innovators and research and development (R&D) managers. Mitacs’ programming includes the Elevate initiative, which provides postdoctoral fellows with industry-relevant research experience and training. Mitacs will be provided with $8 million over two years to Mitacs in order to expand its Elevate program. Going forward, Mitacs will become the single delivery agent of federal support for postdoctoral industrial R&D fellowships, as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Industrial R&D Fellowships program will be wound down with its resources redeployed to other priorities within the Council, including basic discovery research.
  • $117 million over two years for Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to maintain safe and reliable operations at the Chalk River Laboratories, ensure a secure supply of medical isotopes and prepare for the expected transition of the laboratories to a Government-Owned, Contractor-Operated model.
  • the Government will develop and present detailed responses to the recommendations made by the Tanker Safety Expert Panel and the Special Representative on West Coast Energy Infrastructure.
  • eliminating tariffs on mobile offshore drilling units used in offshore oil and gas exploration and development.
  • $66.1 million over two years to renew the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative.
  • supporting mineral exploration by junior companies by extending the 15-per-cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for flow-through share investors for an additional year.
  • $90.4 million over four years to continue to support the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program.
  • $18 million over four years for early intervention to prevent the spread of spruce budworm in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
  • working with territorial governments to develop transportation infrastructure in the North.
  • $391.5 million over five years on a cash basis to the Parks Canada Agency to make improvements to highways, bridges and dams located in our national parks and along our historic canals.
  • $15 million over two years to extend the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program.
  • encouraging additional donations of ecologically sensitive land by doubling, for income tax purposes, the carry-forward period for donations of such land.
  • $10 million over two years to improve and expand snowmobile and recreational trails across the country.
  • $3 million over three years to support the Earth Rangers Foundation to expand its existing family-oriented conservation and biodiversity programming.
  • expanding tax incentives for clean energy generation to include a broader range of equipment.
  • provide $28 million over two years to the National Energy Board to review project applications, such as TransCanada Pipelines Limited’s Energy East Pipeline Project, within legislated timelines to provide timeline certainty and to enhance the Participant Funding Program. This funding will be fully cost-recovered from industry.
  • permanently eliminate tariffs on mobile offshore drilling units used in offshore oil and gas exploration and development.
  • extend the 15-per-cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for flow-through share investors for an additional year.
  • the Agricultural Growth Act will enhance trade opportunities and the safety of agricultural products, reduce red tape and contribute to Canada’s overall economic growth. The legislation will also amend the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act to align it with the 1991 Convention of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91). Stronger intellectual property rights for plant breeders will encourage investment in Canadian research and development, improving access to new and innovative seed varieties for Canadian farmers. The new legislation includes Farmers’ Privilege, allowing farmers to continue to save and reuse seeds for replanting on their own farms.
  • $1.25 billion over five years for a renewed P3 Canada Fund to continue supporting innovative ways to build infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships (P3s).
  • $6 billion in federal support to provinces, territories and municipalities under current infrastructure programs in 2014–15 and beyond.
  • $155 million over 10 years for First Nations on-reserve infrastructure from the new Building Canada Fund, in addition to allocations from the Gas Tax Fund.
  • infrastructure projects with eligible costs of more than $100 million submitted for federal funding under the new Building Canada Fund will be subject to a P3 screen.
  • $200 million over five years to establish a National Disaster Mitigation Program; $40 million over five years for disaster mitigation in First Nations communities; and $11.4 million over five years on a cash basis to upgrade the earthquake monitoring system to incorporate more advanced technologies that provide timely public alerts in high-risk and urban areas.
  • $323.4 million over two years to continue the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan.
  • the 5-year carry-forward period for claiming donations of ecologically sensitive land will be doubled to 10 years.
  • a freeze on departmental operating budgets will apply for two years beginning in 2014–15.
  • the Accelerated Capital Cost allowance of 50 per cent per year on a declining-balance basis will be expanded to include water-current energy equipment and equipment used to gasify eligible waste fuel for use in a broader range of applications.

UK clothing sector agree to cut environmental impacts by almost 15% by 2020

According to WRAP, the UK’s Waste and Resources Action Programme, the clothing industry represents the fifth-biggest environmental footprint of any UK industry after transport, utilities, construction, and food. To reduce this footprint, WRAP today launched a Sustainable Clothing Action Plan and has obtained the commitment of companies representing 40% of UK clothing sales and many leading charities and recyclers.

Committed companies, which include such household names as Tesco and Marks & Spencer, pledge to achieve by 2020 a lifecycle:

  • 15% reduction in carbon footprint;
  • 15% reduction in water footprint;
  • 15% reduction in waste to landfill; and
  • 3.5% reduction in waste.

The companies also commit to:

  • use a common assessment tool, developed by WRAP, to measure baseline position and track changes in footprint over time.
  • reduce the environmental footprint of clothing through fibre and fabric selection.
  • over the longer term, work with supply chain partners to reduce the environmental footprint of their processes.
  • extend the useful life of clothes and reduce the environmental impact of clothing in use through our product design and services.
  • develop effective messaging to influence key consumer behaviours which will reduce the environmental footprint of clothing.
  • increase re-use and recycling to recover maximum value from used clothing.
  • develop actions that help keep clothes out of landfill.

This is one of the most aggressive large industry sector environmental initiatives that GallonDaily has seen. We will watch its progress with interest but we have a hunch that it will be a success.

Lots more details are available at and through links from that page, the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan itself is at, and an interesting report Valuing our clothes: the true cost of how we design, use and dispose of clothing in the UK, is at

To GallonDaily’s knowledge there is no program anything like the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan anywhere in North America.