Issue 223    |   10 July  2017
Climate News Highlights: Focus on the Tropics

SINGAPORE: There's more to the Tropics than wonderful beaches, resorts and a normally very agreeable climate. (Pictured is Unawatuna in Sri Lanka.)

Close to half the world's population lives in the Tropical regions, which altogether occupy 40% of the Earth's surface. Some 134 nations and territories are all or partly situated in the Tropics. Large chunks of five continents and many thousands of islands. 

What's more, the Earth’s waistline is bulging. The Tropical atmosphere is expanding, which could have disastrous consequences. The Tropical zone between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn has grown about 85km per decade for almost 40 years. 

Some Tropical cities and countries might be thriving. Some cultures and communities are very productive and content. But  there's another side to the Tropics that we hear little about.

Set out in the State of the Tropics Report 2017, released on International Day of the Tropics (29 June) by James Cook University (Australia and Singapore), is the full story. It talks about issues and missed opportunities. And the size of the investment that's required to fund Sustainable Infrastructure in the Tropics. : 

  • US$2.3 trillion needs to be spent every year to meet infrastructure needs in the Tropics by 2030;
  • That includes US$764 billion on clean energy; US$234 billion on telecommunications and US$385 billion on water and sanitation.   
  • As we now know, climate change is extending the Tropical regions, jeopardising plans to develop places like northern Australia, and impacting farming, mining and tourism sectors. Read Jonathan Pearlman report for for The Straits Times from Sydney.

    Editor's Note: So who's responsible for the Tropics? Who's going to fund what this vital region requires? Beyond academic and research institutions like James Cook University, who is going to take the lead to promote the interests of the Tropics? There seems to be a vast gap, not only in funding for the Tropics, but in awareness of where it is and what's needed. - Ken Hickson


LONDON : In the Queen's speech to the new British Parliament, dominated by Brexit, the Government pledged to deliver its promised industrial strategy and step up support for green vehicles. It was also an occasion to reiterate its commitment to decarbonisation, with the Queen pledging her Government "will continue to support international action against climate change".  See what Business Green had to say about it.

EDINBURGH:  Around 24.8 million miles of roads crisscross the surface of Earth. And hundreds of millions of barrels of oil have been used to surface them. Scottish engineer Toby McCartney came up with a solution to cut waste of natural resources and the plastic pollution. His company,MacRebur, lays roads that are 60% stronger than asphalt roads and last 10 times longer – all made with recycled plastic .   Read in Inhabitat the rest of it.
NEW YORK: Beachgoers in can now flip-flop along a fully rebuilt boardwalk, reflecting a coastal re-imagination underway that heralds the staggering costs ahead of adapting to a changing climate. Rockaway Beach's wooden boardwalk was shredded by Hurricane Sandy, while homes behind it were crushed by a storm surge and inundated with floodwaters. Eight people died here.  Read the Green Biz story.

HAMBURG: Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are already as cheap or cheaper than traditional fuels in about half of G20 countries, and are soon to be the cheapest form of electricity in every G20 country, according to a new report from Greenpeace in advance of the Leaders' Summit. Read the full story in CleanTechnica.

SYDNEY: THE Great Barrier Reef is worth $56 billion to Australia’s economy and is “too big to fail”, according to a new report. Deloitte Access Economics found the reef contributed $6.4 billion to the Australian economy in 2015-16 and the World Heritage listed area supported 64,000 full time jobs. Read what News Ltd media had to say. 

GENEVA: Excess heat in Phoenix, USA grounded more than 40 flights in hot June days, the New York Times reported, and scientists say a warming climate could also mean more turbulent rides. Fortune Magazine has another take on this. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), with 275 member airlines, is committed to carbon-neutral growth: improve fuel efficiency of 1.5% per year to 2020, reduce CO2 emissions of 50% by 2050 and introduce "market measures" to do even more. The heat is on. See IATA's climate change policy.  
SAN FRANCISCO: The Governor of California, Jerry Brown is going against the grain of President Trump to host a Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, September 2018. He says: “It’s up to you and it’s up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonisation and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change". Read what the Los Angeles Times wrote about it.  

PARIS: President Macron of France is not only defending the image of Paris, where the landmark climate change agreement was reached in December 2015, but also showing that France and Europe were prepared to take the lead. He announced he is hosting on 12 December 2017 "a new summit on climate mobilisation". Read the story in Politico Europe. 
International Sustainability Education Initiative

Government and business leaders are invited to attend the Singapore launch on 13 July of an international sustainability education initiative by the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), in association with Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA).
Dr Adrian Ward (pictured at right), head of the Australian Centre for Sustainability Studies and Training (ACSST), will speak on “Preparing for the risks and opportunities of a low carbon/clean energy revolution”. 
He will talk about the Government-recognised course he has run in Australia since 2014 – Diploma of Sustainable Operations (Carbon and Energy Management) - and plans to introduce it to Singapore later this year.

Where: London School of Business and Finance
3 Anson Road, Springleaf Tower #06-01, Singapore 079909
When: Thursday 13 July 2017 at 6pm. Refreshments will be served.

If you would like to attend the launch on 13 July or learn more about this Sustainability Education Initiative, please email:    or 

Energy Storage Game Changer for Renewable Revolution

ADELAIDE: Tesla, the company of tech billionaire Elon Musk, will partner with French renewable energy developer Neoen to build the “world’s biggest lithium ion battery” in South Australia. Pictured above is Tesla's Southern California Edison’s Mira Loma substation in Ontario, California. If Tesla doesn’t deliver the big battery plant in under 100 days from the contract being ticked off, it will be free. Premier Jay Weatherill announced that Tesla and Neoen would be tasked with providing the 100MW battery under a “historic agreement”. This will overcome any of the reservations that critics have voiced around the "intermittency and unreliability" of renewable energy. It's a game changer for clean energy production and distribution, not just in Australia, but around the world. Read the story from The Advertiser. 

Footnote: While we're talking about energy storage, check out this book - The Tesla Revolution: Why Big Oil Has Lost the Energy War - which looks ahead to the time when renewables will rule the world. 

The Sustainability Imperative

The Singapore Institute of Directors puts Sustainability in the spotlight at this year's annual conference on 12 September at Suntec City.  The flagship conference has grown to be a much-to-look-forward-to event for directors and corporate leaders to experience, learn and network on the latest megatrends and thinking to help their companies create value. The conference theme on the “Sustainability Imperative” will push the boundaries further than previous conferences have. The Singapore Sustainability Reporting Awards will also be presented at this conference. There's also the opportunity for companies and organisations to be part of the Sustainability Showcase exhibition. Go to Singapore Institute of Directors to book your place.

International Green Buildings in Singapore 

12-14 September

International Green Building Conference 2017, themed “Build Green: Be The Change”, seeks to catalyse behavioral change at the individual, interpersonal and community levels. IGBC 2017 provides a platform for the collaborative sharing of ideas among all stakeholders, widen the possibilities and broaden our imagination by having green buildings as a part of the built environment, co-existencing with the natural environment. Chairman of the World Green Building Council Tai Lee Siang will feature in more than one session, along with a host of world authorities and local green building leaders. More on the IGBC here. 

Brands for Good supports business, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that share the vision to make an impact and focus on the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability. SMEs add up to 99% of private companies, employ 70% of the workforce and contribute up to 50% to Asia’s GDP. Today’s conscious SMEs can successfully redefine their brand purpose and develop their social license. Larger organisations, as well as industry leaders, have an unprecedented opportunity to lead, guide and nurture SMEs to become Brands For Good, thereby creating a multiplier effect. For more about Brands for Good and its awards programme, see this.

Students in villages in the southeast region of the Ivory Coast are on the receiving end of Solarpaks, to light up their lives and improve their academic performance. Evariste Akoumian is the man behind these solar bags and the creator of the Solarpak. The idea came to him while he was delivering computer equipment and office supplies to remote villages around the country. It took Evariste two years of research and six months of field-testing to finalise the product. He then distributed 500 free solar bags in four localities of the Ivory Coast. He used the profits of his computer hardware business to fund Solarpak. Just one of the 50 stories to change the world in the global Impact Journalism Day, by Sparknews, which we read first in the Singapore Straits Times and also appeared in 49 other papers around the world..  See the rest of the stories here.
Paperless TravelEase Mobile App Connects Tourists to Asian Attractions

New mobile app TravelEase allows users to make advance booking for tours, attractions and shows in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and very soon Tokyo and Taipei. Plus, it's free. Mallika Naguran reports in Gaia Discovery on this and hundreds of other topics.

Holistic approach: Love our cities

Welcome to the first Cities of Love Awards, conceived by Tai Lee Siang and Valeria Ang, co-authors of the book "Cities of Love".

They’re looking for actions or initiatives in Singapore and Southeast Asia which have resulted in positive social, economic or environmental impact.

Awards for sustainable issues all too often go to prominent figures such as government or business leaders who have helped to implement large-scale change. Whilst important, they rarely show high levels of innovation, care and love for the communities around them. 

Lee Sang and Valerie believe smaller enterprises or individuals who are making a bigger impact should share in the glory too. No project is too small, no step is too insignificant - if your actions have made a positive impact in some way, they should not be discounted!

SASA and ABC Carbon welcomes the opportunity to be associated with the Cities of Love Awards.

Check out the Cities of Love Awards here.

Rethinking Energy; Navigating Change is the theme for the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW). Now in its 10th year, SIEW has witnessed many changes in the global energy landscape. This year’s theme reflects the ways in which geopolitical developments, the momentum of renewables and grid storage, and the oil and gas demand-supply imbalance will impact the global energy landscape. Speakers from governments and global industry will explore different aspects of the theme including a possible shift towards more inward-looking policies which could dampen trade, hinder longer term growth, and – if international decarbonisation commitments are diluted – set back efforts to build a sustainable energy future.This is where businesses can make a significant contribution, as there is a strong business case for decarbonisation, especially as low carbon technologies continue to come online, bringing down the costs and improving the productivity of renewables. Don't miss the 2017 Singapore International Energy Week from 23-27 October at Marina Bay Sands.

Building a Future in Sustainability
Higher education is an exciting and growing area for sustainability, with many opportunities to reduce impact through innovation and leadership.  For this reason, top-tier universities from across the world have joined forces through the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), to incorporate sustainability in their teaching, research, and campus operations.The winner of the 2016 ISCN Sustainable Campus Excellence Award for  Building and Innovative Infrastructure was the  National University of Singapore (NUS), for its University Town (pictured above). Here's more on the property's sustainability characteristics. 
    Thanks to Amy Ho, Director, NUS' Office of Environmental Sustainability, for keeping us in the picture.  

    In line with its mission to promote sustainability among the industry and community, the Singapore Sustainability Academy (SSA) which opened on 5 June 2017,  is the first to be constructed using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glued Laminated Timber (Glulam) verified by the Nature’s BarcodeTM system as coming from responsible sources.  The use of CLT and Glulam increased productivity by more than 30% and saved around 130 man days in building. The Academy was designed by Ong & Ong, while Kevin Hill's  Venturer provided the CLT and Glulam materials and expertise. SSA was jointly developed by CDL and Sustainable Energy Association Singapore (SEAS). Solar PV panels - from REC Singapore -  provides the building with all the electricity it needs. 

    Last Word from Ken Hickson:

    The Art of Coming Clean for  Good
    Optimism is on the rise. The power of good matters most. A critical ingredient in our initiative - the Global Campaign 4 Good - is the commitment to focus only on good news. No longer will we report the good, the bad and the ugly. So we're turning over a new leaf. We're Here for Good, so here are four for starters:

     1. Delegates to the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn this November will be able to experience a major exhibition at the Bundeskunsthalle designed to highlight the linkages between climate, science and art.  “Weather Report – About Weather Culture and Climate Science”  runs from 7 October to 4 March 2018.

    2. ‘Artists for a Better World’ programme has been launched by the Singapore International Foundation to b uild capacity through exposure, expanding perspectives, growing understanding and boosting skills through programme design, impact measurement and stakeholder management. It will also  form a regional ecosystem  involving corporates, social welfare organisations, education and cultural institutions that are keen to harness the arts for social change. More here from Artists for a Better World 

    3.  It’s not child’s play, but there are stage plays that have some aspect of climate change in them, including “Oil” by Ella Hickson (no relation, as far as we know).Today, interesting artistic work about climate change is popping up all over the world, in all kinds of venues. It's the initiative of The Arctic Circle.   Read more about Artists and Climate change 

    4.  Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the amount of plastic in our lives by encouraging people to eliminate the use of single-use plastic during July each year. Its focus is on creating awareness of the issues surrounding plastic, particularly single-use, providing alternatives and solutions, and encouraging new habits.What started in Western Australia in 2011 has now spread across the country and globally.   Read all about Plastic Free July here.                                                                       

    ABC Carbon Express is brought  to you by SASA       
    We're Ten Years Old: ABC Carbon started in Brisbane, Australia in July 2007 as a business to promote climate change action in the public and private sectors. Besides offering consulting and communication services, Ken Hickson also set about to publish, firstly the ABC Carbon Express as an free e-newsletter and then the landmark book, The ABC of Carbon.  The social enterprise is now incorporated into the Singapore operations of Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA), but it maintains its own website,, where you can access previous issues of the newsletter.