North American Leaders Support Using Ozone Treaty to Cut ‘Potent Greenhouse Gases’

Yesterday the leaders of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico committed to “work together under the Montreal Protocol to phase down the use of HFCs and bring about significant reductions of this potent greenhouse gas.”  The agreement is included in the Leaders Declaration on Climate Change and Energy from the North American Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“Phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol is a brilliant strategy,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “This is the treaty that never fails to deliver.  It’s already phased out 96 chemicals by 97%, and it’s ready to tackle these super greenhouse gases.”

The campaign to tackle HFCs began earlier this year with a proposal by two small island nations, the Federated States of Micronesia and Mauritius. “The support of North America leaders is appreciated,” said Ambassador Yosiwo George from the Federated States of Micronesia.  “It brings strong reinforcements and gives our islands a fighting chance to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.”

However, success of the proposal will be largely in the hands of the U.S. “These island nations need the muscle of the U.S. to get an agreement,” added Zaelke. “This is a great opportunity for the Administration to show its leadership on climate change.”

The North American leaders’ commitment to the Montreal Protocol follows the commitment made by G8 leaders in July to “work with our partners to ensure that HFC emissions reductions are achieved under the appropriate framework….”

Since April, the HFC phase-down proposal has gained eight additional co-sponsors from fellow island nations, all of which are promoting this fast-action measure as a way to stave off abrupt climate change and rising sea levels that threaten their homes and cultures. The final negotiations on the islands’ proposal will take place this November at the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Port Ghalib, Egypt.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that HFCs (used widely in refrigeration and air conditioning applications) could grow to almost 45 percent of CO2 emissions by 2050 under a 2˚C scenario where CO2 emissions are stabilized at 450 ppm. Although downstream emissions of HFCs are currently included under the Kyoto Protocol, quicker and more cost-effective reductions could be achieved by using the Montreal Protocol to control upstream production and consumption of HFCs. Because HFCs are short-lived (about a decade in the atmosphere in contrast to centuries for CO2), cutting these emissions now would result in huge climate benefits in the near term.

With the tipping points for abrupt climate change on the horizon, there is an even greater need for ‘fast-action’ measures that can be implemented now, with current technology. Other near-term actions include reducing emissions of black carbon soot, methane, and tropospheric ozone, and expanding bio-sequestration through production of biochar.

Source: The Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD)

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New York City – Town of Smithtown NY Chooses CNG to Cut Refuse Collection Costs

Faced with rising refuse collection costs, the Town of Smithtown, New York, decided to require its refuse collection contractors to use compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks. It was the first New York municipality to institute such a requirement. On January 1, 2007, the 30 contractor-owned diesel refuse trucks collecting solid waste and recyclables from the town’s 116,000 residents were replaced by 22 CNG models.

Smithtown selected four bidders for seven-year contracts: Brothers Carting, Dejana Industries, Jody Industries, and V. Garafalo Carting. The companies were responsible for buying the new CNG trucks. To offset the higher cost for these trucks versus diesel trucks, the companies had the option of claiming the Federal Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit for up to 80% of the incremental cost. An alliance of local organizations helped the contractors find financing options.

To establish CNG fueling infrastructure, Smithtown partnered with natural gas supplier Clean Energy. With no leasing agreements, access fees, or capital outlay for Smithtown, the contract required Clean Energy to provide the fueling infrastructure and commission local service providers. Because of Smithtown’s new contract with the refuse collectors, Clean Energy had to complete the fueling station in six months–two to four months faster than it usually takes to locate a station, obtain permits, and secure a compressor.

To accomplish this, Clean Energy received permission from the New York Department of Transportation (NYDOT) and Office of General Services to allow expansion of a station in nearby Hauppauge, which Clean Energy already operated for New York State. The Hauppauge expansion supported NYDOT’s goal to increase natural gas use as a vehicle fuel and brought additional revenue to the state of $0.05 per gasoline gallon equivalent. Clean Energy expanded the Hauppauge volumetric gas flow rate from 15 to 2,000 scfm and opened the station within four months.Smithtown entered into an agreement on fuel pricing with Clean Energy through 2013. CNG costs for the refuse trucks started at $2.33 per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) through 2008 and increase each year to conclude at $2.94 per DGE in 2013. The contracted CNG price could decrease if the price differential between diesel and CNG goes above a set threshold.

“Controlling refuse collection costs for town residents was the primary reason Smithtown chose CNG,” explained the coordinator of the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition. “The commitment from Clean Energy to set a stable fuel price was very important.” Switching to CNG provides environmental and energy-security benefits for Smithtown.

The CNG refuse trucks are projected over the life of the contract to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by 265 tons and particulate matter by 15 tons. Smithtown also expects to displace more than 1.5 million DGE of petroleum-based fuel.The benefits are amplified when other towns adopt a similar strategy. Smithtown’s success inspired nearby Brookhaven to plan the deployment of 67 CNG trucks in 2009 in a similar effort.

Clean Cities inspired Smithtown’s move to CNG. In May 2006, Russell Barnett, Smithtown’s Environmental Protection Director, saw a Clean Cities alternative fuel presentation at the Federation of New York Solid Waste Associations Solid Waste/Recycling Conference & Trade Show in Bolton Landing, New York. The presentation persuaded him that CNG was the best choice for Smithtown’s refuse fleet. For more information, contact Russell Barnett.

Source: United States Department of Energy (DOE)

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New Mexico Recycling Coalition Offers Members Sound Recycling Advice

The New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) board and its Executive Director, recently provide guidance to its Coalition Members  for 2009 relative to the current downturn in the recycling markets.   It provided the following advice and recommendations on how best to sustain recycling programs and ensure success for this year and the future:


1.       Prices for recycled material have collapsed.  Indeed this was a shock to many of us, but in truth this is a cyclical market like any other, and it has had its lows and highs in the past.  Recycling will always see volatility and members should plan accordingly.


2.       To buffer from the shock of sudden market fluctuations, the NMRC recommends that members work with the same processor for material, rather than spot marketing material to the highest bidder each month, suggesting that loyalty will pay off in times like these.


3.       In this current year, the NMRC advises members to focus on the quality of material.  In these lower value times, it is doubly important to be providing processors with marketable material.  NMRC suggests to members to ask end-markets users as to their detailed material specifications and pass that on to commodity suppliers, participants and customers.  


4.       Re-evaluate your education materials to ensure that recycled content suppliers know how to prepare the material.


NMRC traditionally serves as an advocate for increases in recycling and program expansions.  NMRC Board still wish for this to happen, but in the current economy they also want to be realistic in their expectations.  NMRC encourages members to do the same with their recycling programs.   Again, focusing on improving quality of material for programs already in place is key.  In the move to expand, weigh the opportunity carefully.  Evaluate the need to scale-back carefully as well.  In these times, there may not be a market for certain materials and tough decisions will need to be made, however it is hard to take something away from participants and then re-educate them when you begin to accept that material again.


Source: New Mexico Recycling Coalition Board


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