Energy and Global Warming News for November 29th: Japan to help India build 24 green cities; The electric Fiat 500 with a Prius price tag

Japan to help India build 24 green cities

Japan will contribute in terms of credit and technology in an ambitious and ground-breaking infrastructure project which will build 24 green cities in India’s western region. The project is part of the proposed $90 billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor mega-infrastructure project which aims at boosting the economic growth along the about 1500-km-long stretch that joins the most important cities of India, New Delhi and Mumbai.

The aim of the green cities projects is to boost the basic infrastructure requirements in the smaller towns along this corridor so as to increase and expand the economic growth and prosperity. The improved infrastructure in these towns and cities would mean new generation and export capabilities which would immensely contribute to the economic development and GDP growth of India.

The two metropolitans central to this project are completely developed but still face some basic infrastructure problems due to increasing load of transportation and degrading roads, public transport being unpopular, and a very high influx of people from villages in search of jobs. In order to provide inclusive growth and better living standards to people living in the rural areas, it is important to concentrate the infrastructure push towards the rural and less developed areas.

Therefore, the Indian and Japanese governments are planning to develop green cities which would be planned and executed in a manner that would ensure sustainable growth. The cities would have better transport facilities centered around public transport. The micro infrastructure located within the city would be developed in a way so that it would be easily accessible to the people without the use of any kind of transportation. Electricity and water supply are among the biggest problems in India and these cities would have optimized power supply and 24-hour water supply. The cities would also have waste and water recycling plants.

Such projects would not only improve the economic conditions of the relatively less developed areas of India but also help them participate and further boost India’s economic growth. With several macro and micro infrastructure projects planned over the next five to seven years under this mega project, thousands of jobs would be created which would reduce the migration of people towards the metros.

The end of deep water drilling? Not in Brazil

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill brought deep-water drilling in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to a halt, derailing decades of U.S. energy policy and casting a long-lasting pall over the industry that operates there. In other parts of the world, however, deep-water drilling has continued at a frenetic pace. The industry is moving full speed ahead in places like the Gulf of Guinea, the Mediterranean and the Turkish Black Sea. But nowhere is that more apparent than in Brazil, where state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, last month began production in one of the largest oil fields discovered in the Western Hemisphere in 30 years. And a recently discovered field nearby could contain the equivalent of 15 billion barrels of oil, say Brazilian regulators, equal to almost two-thirds of the total proven deposits of crude in the U.S.

Petrobras and companies such as Chevron Corp., Norwegian oil giant Statoil ASA and Tullow Oil PLC of the U.K. are racing to drill thousands of feet below sea level because that is where the last remaining undiscovered reserves of oil are located. Companies can derive huge profits from tapping these fields””and countries can gain long-sought energy security.

Once the stuff of science fiction, deep-water oil production has almost doubled in the past five years to some five million barrels a day””about 6% of the world’s total crude output””and is expected to double again by 2020, according to Leta Smith, a consultant with IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which analyzes energy markets and trends. She says she doesn’t anticipate a “huge impact” from the Deepwater disaster outside of the Gulf “because of the reserves that are out there.”

Indeed, even as the moratorium paralyzed U.S. deep-water drilling since May, the practice flourished in the Gulf of Guinea. Tullow in July announced a significant discovery off Ghana after drilling in 4,685 feet of water. A nearby field, estimated to contain up to 1.5 billion barrels of oil, is scheduled for first production in December. Chevron, meanwhile, announced the acquisition of three large deep-water exploration blocks in Liberia. It plans to begin drilling there this year. The company also bought deep-water acreage in the Turkish Black Sea and in China.

Australia must decided in 2011 how to place a price on carbon

Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, must decide in 2011 on a way to make polluters pay for their carbon emissions, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said. “I promise you, no responsible decision maker will be able to say next year that they need more time or more information on climate change — in 2011 there will be nowhere to hide,” Gillard said in a speech in Sydney today. Her ruling Labor Party in April shelved a plan to curb carbon emissions until after 2012 because of opposition in the upper-house Senate.

Gillard pledged to restart an effort to tackle climate change when she replaced Kevin Rudd in June, seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a country that burns coal to generate more than 80 percent of its electricity. A committee set up by Gillard in September to study ways to impose a carbon price has met twice and will hold regular discussions next year, Gillard said today. She assembled the multi-party group as part of an accord with the Greens Party, which received a surge in voter support in the August election.

Gillard’s comments signal that the Australian government wants to introduce a carbon price more quickly than previously targeted, said Anthony Hobley, a Sydney-based lawyer and climate change specialist at Norton Rose LLP. “It’s going to be tough one to win, but they’re quite determined about bringing this forward and bringing this forward quickly,” Hobley said in a phone interview today.

A delegation of 35 Australian government officials will attend United Nations climate change talks that begin today in Cancun, Mexico. More than 80 countries have promised to cut emissions since discussions last year in Copenhagen. Australian legislators need to decide on a plan in 2011 that wins broad enough support to pass in parliament, Gillard said in her speech. “Climate change was first discussed in our parliament in the 1980s,” she said. “It’s been central to public debate in two successive federal election campaigns, but a working consensus for action has eluded us.”

Modest climate change steps are goal of meeting in Mexico

Nearly 200 nations were to meet in Mexico on Monday to try to agree on modest steps to slow climate change, a United Nations gathering overshadowed by global economic problems and strains between the top two emitters, the United States and China. The 12-day meeting, in a heavily guarded resort, will seek to revive negotiations stalled after last year’s Copenhagen summit meeting fell short of a binding United Nations treaty to slow global warming.

Delegates began arriving Sunday for the talks that will seek agreement on lesser measures, like a “green fund” to channel aid to poor nations and new ways to share clean technologies and to protect tropical forests that absorb carbon as they grow. The ultimate goal is to extend the present Kyoto Protocol, which controls the greenhouse gas emissions of all industrialized countries except the United States, which did not ratify the pact. The United States and major emerging economies now have to make emissions pledges if the protocol is to survive, the European Union said Sunday.

This year is likely to be recorded as one of the warmest since record keeping began in the 19th century. The United Nations panel of climate scientists says rising temperatures will mean more floods, droughts and sandstorms, as well as rising sea levels. For Cancºn participants, the major challenge is to end a deadlock on sharing the burden of emissions cuts between China and the United States. Their relationship already is strained over China’s trade surplus, North Korea and other issues.

CARe 500; The electric Fiat 500 with a Prius price tag is for sale in Europe

It looks like the Fiat 500 is the source of inspiration for many start-up car manufacturers lately. After the TwinAir enhancement Fiat did to its own famous brand and the plug-in hybrid presented in Vienna, a company called mk-group Holding GmbH, is selling a pure electric car based on the 500, the CARe 500, for an interesting price.

Mk-group, led by CEO Martin Richard Kristek, announces the price of the CARe 500 at 23,900 euros, just like the tag of the beloved Prius (more or less). With subsidies, the car can be purchased for less, although this price contains a battery leasing program that, for 150 euros per month, gives you a top-performing battery, and a flat-rate fee for electricity. If you don’t want to contract the leasing plan, the car costs from 36,900.

“The advantage of purchasing the car without batteries is that, for 150 euros per month, you will always have fully functional batteries at your disposal, you don’t have to actually purchase the most expensive part of an electric car and fuel is included at a flat rate,” says Kristek.

The CARe 500 is manufactured in Sweden by EVadapt, boasts a range of 120 km (75 miles) and a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). Its battery can be recharged in 6 to 8 hours in an European 230 V socket. It’s readily available for sale for anyone interested through mk-group, Hamburg.