I am excited to host my first technical committee meeting on IEC 60335-2-40. It is in technical committees such as these where the initial steps for manufacturers are made before finally casting into steel the claims for their equipment. Often these claims contains information on the greenhouse gas emissions from the equipment during operations based on test and performance validation results.
I guess I have issued over a hundred audit findings related to equipment nameplates. Nonconformities ranging from content mismatch with environmental permits to physical damage to the nameplate during routine maintenance (painting, etching or losing its entirety).
With climate change as a pressing issue of global importance, I believe that its also high time for us to give a high regard for equipment nameplates. Who reads nameplates anyway?
GHG verifiers are trained to read equipment nameplates with an assumption that the nameplate rating is the best record of measure of the performance of the equipment. However, nameplate ratings are still estimates based on the accuracy and precision of the performance validation tests and a certain degree of uncertainty is still involved in the nameplate rating. Moreover, a weak test validation system can allow manufacturers to make false claims, to the point of permanently etching it on the nameplate, but global good practice and intense conformity assessments make this practice outright dishonesty.
Every now and then, I would randomly look into appliance nameplates more than the other marks such as marketing stickers or even regulatory labels. Nameplates are a good ballpark estimate of the carbon footprint of the equipment.
Its been seven years already since I came across my first technology transfer project on climate change mitigation. Anaerobic biodigesters at that time, was seen as a major force in methane capture and waste to energy as part of the Clean Development Mechanism or CDM. The Philippines was seen as having a very large potential due to the widespread practice of microscale pig farmers which is embedded in our Filipino culture. Also, the concept and projects have taken off in Thailand and had been earning enough from emission trading schemes.
So what happened after seven years? Not much really but of course there was the camaraderie developed among the trainers and project implementers. Though the funding from the US EPA has somewhat died down.
When a technology is transferred, how do you sustain it? How do you localize it, how do you make it a point everyone will work on it with a common goal in mind?
This is the best time to write about Gina Lopez. She has been my favorite subject matter for a few years now ever since that fateful first impression at the Development Academy of the Philippines seven years ago. “What is DAP?” she haughtily asked, that bravado kind of turned us off, given her limited knowledge of those working for a government think thank. How come she doesn’t know what we do, what is our purpose and mandate. I think that meeting was merely using the facilities of DAP. We were looking for funding and we were thinking she would be a good benefactor for sustainable development projects and policies.
I have no idea what was the outcome of that meeting but fast forward to 2017, we meet again at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. I’m writing this at my temporary space at the DENR compound a few days after her rejection by the commission of appointments as DENR Secretary.
Her leadership approach was totally unconventional but at the end of it all what can we learn from it? I have encountered people from the entire spectrum of for and against her, I don’t want to comment on that, I respect their stance. The last blog I wrote on her was the fact that people compare me to her given my educational background in environmental science. I remember my early years in UPLB when former classmates perceive our presence in the university as merely farming, similar to that, environmentalists are like Gina Lopez, which is totally stereotypical.
How about people who have worked all of their lives at the DENR, particularly the Environmental Management Bureau, are they environmentalists, or are just government employees working for the environment. The public will judge not only Gina, but the DENR itself, but after her 10-month stints, some thing will totally change drastically.
What could be the objective of this coal-fired power plant for publishing its weekly air emission data in a nationally circulated newspaper? I find it quite strange and they even have to put it on the front page which calls for much public attention. Given the nice green graphics, of course they do want to gain positive feedback about their emissions profile.
However, being the outlier in the population, with training and education on these matters, the first reaction from me is of course….”greenwashing”. In the first place, there is nothing exemplary or extraordinary about these air emission data. It is very likely that the other coal fired power plants within the vicinity such as the ones in Zambales or Pangasinan have the same emissions profile and they also monitor their emissions daily through an integrated measurement and monitoring device known as the Continuous Emission Monitoring System or CEMS.
The CEMS is a mandatory legal requirement as specified in the rules and regulations under Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act of the Philippines. How come the Bataan plant has to publish an inforgraphic about its own emission? How come the other coal fired power plants don’t? Maybe the other coal fired power plants are not insecure or they don’t have the public relations team that were previously employed in a beer company.
After the Clean Air Act was enacted more than 17 years ago, thermal power plants have come a long way. I have seen the CEMS profile of natural gas plants and its way better than these figures. Prior to the entry of coal, almost two thirds of the power supplied in the Luzon Grid was natural gas, but with the trend towards coal plants that are “cheap and dirty “to operate.
Remember in school when we would show our fingernails to the teachers to check whether the fingernails are clean and trimmed? To a certain degree, showing your emissions data is just like showing the tips of your fingers. You could not see how clean and efficient your entire body is by the tips of your fingers.
My last post in my other blog Fast Food Greenwash was posted last October 7, 2012. I haven’t seemed to access that blog for a quite a while since I haven’t had any work related to the fast food industry or they say “quick-serve restaurant” for quite a while. Thankfully, I only eat fast food during emergency like when stuck in Metro Manila traffic and starving as hell in my 3-hour commute.
2009 was a long time ago when I started blogging about Greenwashing and now that its 2007, things are getting worse and worse. Given the age of climate change mitigation actions, and the complicated rules of calculating GHG emissions, companies are playing around with the carbon footprint and stamping it in their products and marketing materials. Anyway, I will write something about it separately.
In 2016, I had the opportunity to work for a GIZ project on Green Cooling. The programme has been around for quite a while, since the enforcement of the Montreal Protocol on the control of substances that deplete the Ozone Layer more than two decades ago. Honestly, I have to admit, prior to this engagement, I have not connected Ozone Depletion with Climate Change even if I have claimed expertise in environmental management.
ODS have always been treated independently from GHGs. A “True or False” question in my GHG verification course in 2011 even asked if Ozone Depletion causes Climate Change, of course the answer was false. Simply, Ozone Depletion is caused by Ultraviolet Radiation entering the atmosphere while Climate Change is caused by the trapping of heat from Infrared Radiation. Who cares about UV and IR Radiation when all we see is White Light? What is true considering human activities was that prior solutions to ozone depletion have contributed to increased greenhouse gas emissions.
This is a truly complicated concept that has led to well… Greenwashing, particularly in refrigeration and air conditioning. Ok sell us the fridge and A/C, just get that “Eco-Friendly” sticker off.
Honestly, when I buy an A/C, I consider the price. I don’t really look at the nameplate. But if you really want to be “ecofriendly” look at the nameplate. Why? Because that’s where you will find the rated capacity in terms of energy consumption and the refrigerant type. Looking at the nameplate is not equivalent to looking at the bright and colorful stickers manufacturers place that are colorful and bright. Your attention is directed upon their “Greenwashing”.
The fact is, the Montreal Protocol has set the cap for ODS refrigerants and parties are directed to replace it with ODS alternatives….and these ODS alternatives are high GWP GHGs….why did this happen? Because, Ozone Depletion have always been treated independent of Climate Change? except in 2016 when the Kigali Amendments to the Montreal Protocol was agreed upon.
Below are four nameplates of various cooling appliances, can you guess which one is the most eco-friendly?