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November 3rd, 2014:

Chinese Deal for Waste to Biofuel & Chemicals Firm Enerkem

28 October 2014

Canadian waste to biofuels and chemicals firm, Enerkem, has signed an agreement with Shanghai Marine Diesel Engine Research Institute (SMDERI) to develop a project partnership to jointly build a waste to biofuels facility in China.

SMDERI is a state research institute on marine diesel engine in China, as well as an enterprise group engaged in R&D, manufacturing, service and project contract.

For its part in the new project partnership, Enerkem said that it will license its proprietary technology to convert a variety of waste feedstocks into biofuels and chemicals.

The company added that the final business structure and sites are under discussions and will be announced at a later time.

The agreement was signed by Dr. Donghan Jin, president of Shanghai Marine Diesel Engine Research Institute, and Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem in the presence of the Premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, as part of the Quebec government’s trade mission in China.

“Combining SMDERI’S expertise in equipment manufacturing and fuel ethanol distribution with our own strength in the conversion of waste to ethanol will create powerful synergies,” commented Chornet.

“The deployment of our disruptive technology in this market to produce clean transportation fuels from a variety of waste feedstocks also demonstrates that Enerkem’s global export capacity can help sustainably address the growing issue of waste disposal in China,” he added.

France and US lead calls for urgent action on climate change

03 November, 2014

Reuters in Copenhagen

France and the United States led a chorus of alarm yesterday after a major UN report on climate change warned that the earth was on track for potentially disastrous global warming.

France, which is hosting a UN conference in December 2015 that is supposed to seal cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions, said the report required “immediate, all-round mobilisation”.

“The message from this report is clear,” the foreign ministry and environment ministry said. “The 2015 Paris agreement has to provide a political response that is in line with the science.”

In Washington, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the report was a fresh warning – “another canary in the coal mine”.

“Those who choose to ignore or dispute the science clearly laid out in this report do so at great risk for all of us and for our kids and grandkids,” he said.

The report, published in Copenhagen, is the final chapter in an overview on global warming and its impacts by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The 40-page synthesis, summing up 5,000 pages of work by 800 scientists, said global warming was now causing more heat extremes, downpours, acidifying the oceans and pushing up sea levels.

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message. Leaders must act, time is not on our side,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in presenting the report, meant to guide global climate policymaking.

With fast action, climate change could be kept in check at manageable costs, he said, referring to a UN goal of limiting average temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. Temperatures are already up 0.85 C.

The study, approved by more than 120 governments, will be the main handbook for negotiators of a UN deal to combat global warming due at next year’s Paris summit.

To get a good chance of staying below 2 degrees, the report’s scenarios show that world emissions would have to fall by between 40 and 70 per cent by 2050 from current levels and to “near zero or below in 2100”.

Below zero would require extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – for instance by planting forests that soak up carbon as they grow or by burying emissions from power plants that burn wood or other biomass.

To cut emissions, the report points to options including energy efficiency, renewable energies from wind to solar power, nuclear energy or coal-fired power plants where carbon dioxide is stripped from exhaust fumes and buried underground.

Without extra efforts to cut emissions, “warming by the end of the 21st century will bring high risks of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally,” the IPCC said.

“Irreversible” could mean, for instance, a runaway melt of Greenland’s vast ice sheets that could swamp coastal regions and cities or disruptions to monsoons vital for growing food.

“The cost of inaction will be horrendously higher than the cost of action,” IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said.

Environmental groups welcomed the report, including its focus on zero emissions.

“This is no longer about dividing up the pie. You need to get to zero. At some stage there is no pie left for anyone,” said Kaisa Kosonen of Greenpeace.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

This Is How Thoroughly Rotten and Corrupt Hong Kong’s Government Is


When I read Hong Kong leader C.Y. Leung’s statements to the foreign media, I think, “He really needs to sack his PR guy.” Whether he believes what he is saying or not, we know that he is mouthing the party line because to control Hong Kong, the Communist Party requires the maintenance of the current system.

Although the path along which our political development was supposed to run was the eventual abolition of functional constituencies, not a single step has ever been taken towards dismantling them since 1997. And why would a constituency of vested interests take any step towards removing the source of their political power?

C.Y. inadvertently pointed this out with his reference to the sports community. According to him, they would not have been on his radar screen but for the fact that they have representatives on the Election Committee. That he got his facts wrong is neither here nor there (There are 15 representatives of the sports sub-sector on the Election Committee — not 20).

The point is that it is essential for someone who aspires to be Chief Executive to glad-hand enough people who are on the Election Committee to ensure his election. This is where the election is stitched up with back-room deals. This is where the pork-barrel politics takes place. Only some pigs are more equal than others. Out of the 1,200 members of the Election Committee, precisely 35 members represent the general voting public, namely the 35 members of the Legislative Council who are returned through direct elections from geographical constituencies. Any aspiring candidate can safely ignore them as he can get by without their support but the various special interest groups that make up the rest of the Election Committee have to be assiduously courted and wooed.

Since the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress is that the number of members, composition and formation method of the nominating committee shall be made in accordance with the number of members, composition and formation method of the Election Committee for the Fourth Chief Executive (namely C.Y. Leung), the glad-handing remains essential to become one of the two or three candidates that the nominating committee will nominate. Except this time, to become a candidate, it will be necessary to secure the endorsement of more than half of all members of the nominating committee.

The Election Committee consists of four sectors. The First Sector consists of seventeen subsectors all of which have corporations or associations of various kinds as voters. Nine out of the seventeen sub-sectors have no natural persons as voters and out of those that have individuals as voters as well, in four of them, the individuals are way outnumbered by the corporate voters. Individual voters have to be permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) but corporate voters can be wholly under the control of persons who are not permanent residents. So much for foreign interference in our internal affairs.

As we know, there are many businesses set up by mainland interests in Hong Kong. They just have to appoint a dummy who is a Hong Kong permanent resident to go and vote on their behalf for the representative of their choice. It is also possible to buy up the controlling interests over corporations with votes. Those with controlling interests in different businesses have multiple representations through having corporate votes in different sub-sectors. Most of the representation is decided without any sub-sector election.

This what the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress considers to be “balanced participation.” The most extreme example of this so-called balance is the electorate of the Agriculture and Fisheries sub-sector whose corporate voters, all 159 of them, have 61 representatives on the Election Committee whereas the 3,466,201 ordinary registered electors have 35 representatives on the Election Committee. Yes, the Agriculture and Fisheries sub-sector had no election, with all representatives being returned uncontested. And more than half of the electorate in that sub-sector simply have their names listed in the legislation. There are no objective criteria provided in the legislation setting out the qualifications for being a voter. You could say that the Government of the HKSAR gets to appoint the voters.

To Beijing and C.Y., it is completely acceptable not to have equal representation in the nomination committee “because you would be talking to the half of the people who earn less than US$1,800 a month.” Apart from the bone-headed assumption that all people within a certain income bracket would vote in a particular way, he ignores the facts that the vested interests make demands for their support. The community at large has already had to pay the ransom demanded by the transport industry for taking filthy polluting vehicles off the road at some time in the future.

With such a thoroughly rotten and corrupt system, is it surprising that the majority of the general voting public want the option of nomination by citizen voters instead of nomination by a rigged nomination committee? Is it at all surprising that so many thousands, young, middle-aged and old, have turned out into the streets to repudiate this vision of their future and refuse to yield up the public areas they have occupied, despite pepper spray, tear gas and the violence unleashed on them? When there is no prospect of constitutional change to the institutionalized inequality in our political system, which nakedly favors vested interests, what other option is there?

Lamma islanders warned over pile of waste they cleared from beach

02 November, 2014

Lana Lam

Far from the heart of Occupy Central, one woman is battling the government bureaucracy over accusations of a different kind of illegal occupation.

Long-time Lamma Island resident Jo Wilson, 45, has drawn the battle lines over the Yung Shue Wan waterfront rather than roads and government buildings.

Fed up with seeing piles of litter strewn along the coastline, the mother of two started a 42-day clean-up project, picking up all manner of rubbish that had washed on to the shore, with the help of dozens of volunteers.

Every morning since September 21, Wilson has gone to the beach, laboriously sieving sand to separate bits of glass, plastic and polystyrene as well as collecting construction waste.

Yesterday was the 42nd and final day – the figure is a nod to the number of kilometres that marathon runners cover during a race.

But little did she suspect that her sustained efforts – along with those of parents and children who have given up their time – would be rewarded with a warning from the Lands Department.

Two weeks ago, she was startled to find a letter from the department on top of a large pile of rubbish that volunteers had collected and placed in a corner.

The letter stated that the debris had to be moved as it was an “illegal occupation” of the land.

“Does that mean we are all liable to prosecution for cleaning up?” Wilson said.

She contacted several government departments and was met by a wall of bureaucracy, with reasons including that the area was not gazetted as a beach and interdepartmental confusion over responsibility for the rubbish.

Eventually, she found Food and Environmental Hygiene Department staff to help collect the rubbish.

A spokeswoman for the Lands Department said it knew about the clean-up but received complaints about the waste pile. Issuing the notice was routine procedure, she added.

Wilson said it was not the first time she had come up against officialdom.

About five years ago, she helped form local advocacy group Living Lamma. They wrote dozens of reports on environmental problems on Lamma and submitted them to the relevant Legislative Council bodies, but the group’s efforts were futile.

“We wrote reports; it didn’t work. We cleaned up beaches; it didn’t work,” she said.

So she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“We’ve occupied the beach with love and peace,” she said, in a nod to the official name of the Occupy Central movement.

“It will continue and I will continue. We’ve got to have a new normal, but what we need is participation.”

On Friday, a group of children from the Banyan House preschool joined Wilson to clean up the area. Maeve Cheng accompanied her three-year-old son Tak to pick up rubbish as well as good practices: “If you learn from an early age that you should recycle, it becomes a habit.”