“Vatican Announces Major Summit On Climate Change” – ThinkProgress, 16 April 2015

Pope Francis has made climate change one of the cornerstones of his papacy, recently hosting a climate change summit at the Vatican, which he hopes will bridge the gap between climate change and religion.

The conference, called “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity. The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development,” was held on April 28 and featured prominent leaders, like the Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Jeffrey Sachs, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who gave the opening speech.

Pope Francis hopes that his followers — and followers of other religions — will see the connection between their faith, environmental conservation, and the future of people. The pope’s upcoming encyclical, to be published in either June or July, will focus on the environment.

During Francis’ inauguration in 2013, he gave a moving speech that fixated on climate change, even calling abuse of the environment a sin. The following year, in 2014, he hosted a five-day conference that targeted sustainability, which brought microbiologists, economists, legal scholars, and various scientific experts to the Vatican to discuss our worsening climate.

April’s summit at the Vatican also hit close to home for Americans. As we all know, many conservatives and members of the GOP have rejected the concept of climate change and have found fault with Francis for being pro-green. Francis is slated to talk to Congress this coming September, and it’s certainly likely that he’ll bring up environmental conservation.

According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, 56 percent, or 169 members, of our current Congress are skeptical of the science backing climate change. Moreover, thirty-five of those 169 members recognize themselves as Catholic. It will be compelling to see if these Congress members’ faith — and the pope’s influence — can sway any of the Congressmen and women.

However, in the final analysis, it is not religion but economic — supply, demand, availability, and prices — environmental, and societal pressures, and technology issues, such as cost and effectiveness, that will determine the final outcome. Having said that, Vatican’s proactive approach will sway public opinion, which could be very significant.

(From ThinkProgress)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 17, 2015

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The ARPA-E 2014 Energy Innovation Summit

Screen shot 2014-03-05 at 3.08.09 PMThe ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit was held last week, February 24-26, in Washington DC. The goal of the summit was to create a space where thought leaders—from academia, business and government—can discuss innovative solutions to current energy issues. Phinix had a booth at the summit.

Phinix was recently awarded a contract by ARPA-E for Phinix’s project RE-12. RE-12 aims to provide a cleaner, more sustainable manufacturing solution for recovering magnesium and aluminum-magnesium alloys.

Current extraction and recovery processes for magnesium alloys are expensive and environmentally unfriendly. Premium and high demand applications of these processes—in areas like aluminum beverage cans, automotive and marine applications, and titanium manufacturing—all require high-purity alloys to manufacture their various components. Consequently, the majority of these alloys are produced from pure, expensive, energy-intensive primary aluminum and magnesium, instead of recycling materials.

Phinix is looking for partners and investors to scale up and commercialize the process.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

February 28, 2014

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“Obama’s Speech Softens Tone on Climate Change” – Wall Street Journal, 29 January 2014

It seems as if the President is relaxing on climate change, when, during his January 28 SOTU speech, he addressed how much natural gas has helped the environment, specifically by reducing carbon emission pollution and inciting businesses to invest $100 million. However, Obama’s statements weren’t directed to environmental groups, who have remained his most loyal allies. It seems that oil and natural gas will be crucial to America’s energy future.

Just last year, at the 2013 SOTU, Obama stated that he was willing to take climate policy into his own hands and wouldn’t support the use of fossil fuels; back then, many still believed that climate change wasn’t real. Now that that debate is over and Obama has introduced his Climate Action Plan, environmentalists aren’t so mad that he gave a nod to natural gas, as they see Obama pushing the US towards a more sustainable energy future.

Obama sees the matters of fossil fuels, oil, natural gas, coal and clean energy as inextricably linked to jobs and energy independence. Although environmentalists aren’t exactly upset with the SOTU speech, it didn’t pacify any of their concerns regarding the pending Keystone XL pipeline or proposed regulations on emissions. Obama also failed to commend the EPA by name, an agency whose role has been vital in his Climate Action Plan. What we can take away from the President’s speech is that while climate change is undeniable, so too is natural gas.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 29, 2014

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Novelis Sustainability Report 2013

In 2011, Novelis decided to strengthen their company by increasing their business’ sustainability and innovation. The most important component of their new vision is to use 80% recycled aluminum in all their products by 2020. Once they reach this goal, they will then halve their products’ embedded carbon.

In 2011, when Novelis set their intended goals, they used the average of fiscal years 2007-2009 as their standard. Some of their 2020 goals include:

  • Increase recycled metal content from the current 43% to 80%
  • Reduce energy usage by 39%, from the current 10 GJ/mt to 7.6
  • Reduce water usage by 25%, from the current 3.1 m3/mt to 2.7
  • Halve the absolute amount of GHG emissions, from the current 18 M mt to 11
  • Have zero landfill waste from the current 55.6 K mt

While the company is headquartered in Atlanta, George, there are also facilities in Sao Paulo, Zurich and Seoul, serving the beverage can, automotive and high-end specialty markets. There is a rising demand for aluminum in these markets, especially the automobile industry, since 2010 when Obama obligated car manufacturers to double their new-car average fuel economy by 2025. In 2013, the aluminum industry grew 25%, as aluminum allows for lightweighting vehicles, a crucial enabler in increasing fuel efficiency.

As mentioned before, another huge element of Novelis’ move to increase sustainability is to reduce the embedded carbon in their products, which can be done by boosting recycled content. By using more recycled materials and by creating fewer new materials, Novelis reduces their carbon footprint. They’ve recently invested almost $500 million in doubling their recycling space by opening two new recycling plants, one in South Korea and the other in Germany.

Novelis is directly addressing the global issue of climate change, particularly the current concern of the maximum safe limit for concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. The company’s method to decrease their GHG emissions can best be described as a life cycle approach, with a goal of reducing their emissions by 50% by 2020. This idea, coupled with increasing their recycled metal content to 80%, will help them reach their target.

Novelis has also incorporated supporting recycling education into their new vision, as well as advocating awareness and policy initiatives, which will escalate recycling rates and increase the company’s supply of post-consumer aluminum scrap. We at Phinix are huge proponents of all of the above, especially recycling education.

Take a look at Novelis’ website and the full report.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 28, 2014

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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