San Francisco (AFP) Feb 01, 2007
British oil giant BP announced Thursday an award of 500 million dollars for "Big Science" research into green energy. BP will fund an Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) with a mandate to "perform ground-breaking research aimed at the production of new and cleaner energy" with an initial focus on biofuels for cars and trucks.
EBI research will be conducted at the University of California, Berkeley and its affiliated Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and at the University of Illinois.
BP said as many as 50 of its employees will be involved in EBI research.
The US institutions were selected from a worldwide pool of of applicants, according to BP.
"The proposal from UC Berkeley and its partners was selected in large part because these institutions have excellent track records of delivering 'Big Science,'" said BP group chief executive John Browne.
Browne described big science as "large and complex developments predicated on both scientific breakthroughs and engineering applications that can be deployed in the real world."
The institute will merge academia and the private sector to create "the discipline of Energy Biosciences," Browne said.
LBNL deputy director Graham Fleming stressed that the institute "is not going to have any vested interest in a particular outcome" because of funding by one of the world's largest petroleum companies.
"We are going to try to draw on the best science and information to come up with an unbiased analysis of where the opportunities are, what the problems are, and then what the solutions to those problems are," Fleming said.
BP contends it is "already a top player" in the global biofuels market with a 10 percent stake.
BP reported that in 2006 it blended 718 million gallons (2,717,925 kiloliters) of ethanol with gasoline, a 25 percent increase from the previous year.
EBI is the first public-private research lab dedicated to renewable fuels and clean energy, according to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office.
"I can't tell you how excited I am," Schwarzenegger said of the grant.
"This is a perfect complement to our new low-carbon fuel standard which will more than triple alternative fuel demand in California by 2020. With research facilities like (EBI), California will continue to be the leader in the Cleantech industry."
Schwarzenegger met with BP executives "on many occasions" in recent months to discuss the EBI grant, according to his office.
The governor included 40 million dollars in funding for the institute in the state's budget for 2007 to 2008, a move that strongly influenced BP's grant decision, Schwarzenegger's representatives said in a release.
In September of last year, Schwarzenegger signed a landmark bill to cap greenhouse gas emissions in California.
earlier related report
This would cut emissions by 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020, equivalent to the combined emissions of Spain and Sweden today, the EU's executive arm stated.
Diesel fuel for cars will also have to be sulphur-free throughout the European Union from 2009.
Also, to enable a higher volume of biofuels to be used in petrol, a separate petrol blend would be established including up to 10 percent of ethanol, under the new rules, which must be passed by the European Parliament and the 27 member states before going into effect.
The new fuel standards were announced three weeks after a similar plan was put forward by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. But the Commission delayed for another week an announcement on the hotly debated issue of laws to reduce average carbon dioxide emissions from new cars to 120 grams per kilometre, a move strongly opposed by Germany.
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the announced measures would "further underpin Europe's shift towards the low-carbon economy that is essential if we are to prevent climate change."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday waded into an escalating battle over EU plans to enforce big cuts in carbon dioxide emissions from cars by voicing opposition to a wholesale solution.
It was "regrettable" that European car makers would not meet the targets they had set themselves, but it would be wrong for a wholesale solution to be imposed as a result, Merkel told a meeting of industry leaders in Berlin.
The European Commission deems bloc-wide legislation to be the answer as the voluntary industry targets are not being met.
The Commission has on the table proposals to limit CO2 emission levels to 120 grams per kilometre travelled, down from about 160 grams/km currently.
A compromise is being thrashed out between environment commissioner Dimas and his industry counterpart Gunter Verheugen who is seeking a broader approach which will include factors such as tyre pressure and driving skills in the final emissions formula.
The European Petroleum Industry Association (Europia) decried the fact that the Commission had split up the fuel policy, after promising an integrated approach.
Europia also slammed the new fuel quality targets as "unachievable".
"My biggest objection is that the Commission is adding more and more legislation, trying to regulate something that has already been regulated and setting in that process increasingly unrealistic targets," Europia Secretary General Peter Tjan told AFP.
"As for the CO2 reduction by one percent a year progressively to 10 percent in 2020, there simply won't be enough biofuels to go around to do that."
Environmental groups described the proposals as "one step forward and one step back" in the fight against global climate change.
BirdLife International, the European Environment Bureau and Transport and Environment (T and E) welcomed the EU plans to introduce carbon reduction targets for transport fuels but slammed the failure to announce a legally-binding target for car fuel-efficiency following "high-level intervention by the German car industry".
"What we are seeing is mindless scaremongering from the German car industry" said T and E director Jos Dings in a joint statement.
"It is simply wrong that the Commission is preparing to water down an absolutely key element of Europe's climate policy on the basis of the misleading claims of one industry in one country."
Source: Agence France-Presse
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Top Multinationals Pledge To Cut Carbon Pollution
Paris (AFP) Feb 01, 2007
Some of the very corporations once vilified by environmentalists promised on Thursday to reduce by 10 million tons annually their collective output of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, the World Wildlife Fund announced. Sony, Nike, IMB, Polaroid, building-materials giant Lafarge and seven other top multinationals said they would fulfill their carbon pledge by no later than 2010.
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