Sunday, February 14, 2016

An Economic Valuation of Coastal Ecosystems in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Conserving mangroves and coral reefs has become an increasingly important topic of public debate in developing countries like Thailand. This is particularly important to the mangroves and coral reefs in areas such as Phang Nga Bay, a bay along the coast of the provinces of Phuket, Phang Nga, and Krabi, Thailand. This study estimated the economic value of the changes to the quality of the mangroves and coral reefs ecosystems in Phang Nga Bay by using a choice experiment to value the economic impacts of the changes to the quality of coastal ecosystems in Phang Nga Bay. The welfare estimate indicates a willingness to pay (WTP) of THB 1133 (USD 28) per year for improved diversity of flora and fauna. Local livelihood (e.g., income from fishery) and ecological function (e.g., flood protection benefits) are tied as the second most important attributes of Phang Nga Bay. The rare and endangered species attribute is held as the least important attribute of Phang Nga Bay. The aggregate benefits were computed by multiplying the number of people in the beneficiary groups with the welfare estimate of improving Phang Nga Bay ecosystem—THB 2263 (USD 57) per person—yielding THB 5784 million (USD 144.6 million) per year.
by Udomsak Seenprachawong
Chapter in Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Valuation, Institutions, and Policy in Southeast Asia
pages 71-91; February 4, 2016
Keywords: Economic valuation Coastal ecosystem Choice experiment Entrance fee Thailand

The economics of green transition strategies for cities: Can low carbon, energy efficient development approaches be adapted to demand side urban water efficiency?

Cities are major contributors to global emissions, producers of waste and consumers of resources such as energy, water and food: implementing green development strategies is hence a core challenge of modern city-planning. The attention of research has been focusing on the development of energy efficient, low carbon strategies, yet city decision-makers need truly integrated approaches, as the one proposed by the water-energy-food Nexus. The purpose of our paper is to investigate whether it is possible to take one step in this direction by extending existing approaches to energy efficiency strategies to progressively include other priority resources, in particular water. To test this hypothesis we have taken a robust and well accepted methodology, the ELCC (Economics of Low Carbon development strategies for Cities) developed by SEI and CCCEP, and we have extended it to the case of demand side water efficiency strategies for cities. We have then applied the adapted ELCC framework to the case study of the domestic sector of the city of Bologna (Italy), identifying and prioritizing several efficiency measures. Measures were evaluated through their capital investment, annual values of savings, payback period and reduction in consumption, and then aggregated in different scenarios in order to highlight potential urban investments and to showcase a possible approach to the prioritization of demand side water efficiency measures. The results show that, with an upfront investment of € 17 million, a feasible subset of Bologna’s households could be equipped with five selected cost-effective measures, generating annual savings of € 10.2 million and reducing the total domestic water consumption of 34% by 2020 compared to the 2012 initial value. With additional € 28.5 million, households could be equipped with more costly appliances reaching an overall water reduction of 37% by 2020. Our findings confirm that it is possible to successfully extend current approaches to urban energy efficiency strategies to include demand side water efficiency, adding an important building block to the construction of an integrated Nexus-based approach to green development strategies at the city-level. We encourage further tests to confirm the robustness of the methodology.
• We showcase a prioritization methodology for demand side water efficiency measures.
• 8 domestic measures appraised using economical and environmental indicators.
• 6 show attractive pay-back period producing € 10.2 million annual savings overall.
• Domestic water consumption could be reduced of 34% by 2020.

by Corrado Topi 1 and 2, Edoardo Esposto 1, Valentino Marini Govigli 1 and 3
1. Green Economics (GECO), Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York, York, United Kingdom
2. Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
3. Department of Biological Applications and Technologies, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece
Environmental Science & Policy via Elsevier Science Direct
Volume 58; April, 2016 Available online 22 January 2016; Pages 74–82
Keywords: Demand-side water management; Green economy transition; Italy; Nexus; Sustainability; Urban resilience.

Paying for Forest Ecosystem Services: Voluntary Versus Mandatory Payments

The emergence of new markets for forest ecosystem services can be a compelling opportunity for market diversification for private forest landowners, while increasing the provision of public goods from private lands. However, there is limited information available on the willingness-to-pay (WTP) for specific forest ecosystem services, particularly across different ecosystem market mechanisms. We utilize survey data from Oregon and Washington households to compare marginal WTP for forest ecosystem services and the total WTP for cost-effective bundles of forest ecosystem services obtained from a typical Pacific Northwest forest across two value elicitation formats representing two different ecosystem market mechanisms: an incentive-compatible choice experiment involving mandatory tax payments and a hypothetical private provision scenario modeled as eliciting contributions to the preferred forest management alternative via a provision point mechanism with a refund. A representative household’s total WTP for the average forest management program was estimated at $217.59 per household/year under a mandatory tax mechanism and $160.44 per household/per year under a voluntary, crowdfunding-style, contribution mechanism; however, these estimates are not statistically different. Marginal WTP estimates were assessed for particular forest ecosystem service attributes including water quality, carbon storage, mature forest habitat, and public recreational access. This study finds that survey respondents place significant economic value on forest ecosystem services in both elicitation formats and that the distributions of the marginal WTP are not statistically significantly different.
Scenic of ponderosa forest, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 

by Gabrielle E. Roesch-McNally and Sergey S. Rabotyagov
Environmental Management via Springer
Volume 57, Issue 3; March 2016, First online: December 11, 2015; pages 585-600
Keywords: Forest ecosystem service Provision point mechanism Preference elicitation Stated choice Payment mechanism Crowdfunding

Negative Externalities of Rail Noise and Housing Values: Evidence from the Cessation of Railway Operations in Singapore

The governments of Malaysia and Singapore reached a landmark agreement in May 2010 to end the operations of nearly 80-year-old railway lines and stations in Singapore. In our study, the cessation of the railway services operated by Keretapi Tanah Malaya (KTM), a firm owned by the Malaysian government, with effect from July 1, 2011 is used in a quasi-experiment design to test the effects of the removal of train noise externalities on real estate values. Based on the nonlanded private housing transactions data from January 2005 to June 2013, we find that average prices for houses located within a 400-m boundary from the railway lines increased by 3.5% relative to prices for houses located outside the 400-m boundary after the cessation agreement has been announced. The removal of train noise externalities increases housing prices in the affected area by 13.7% on average in the post-cessation period of the KTM railway services. Realized economic benefits associated with the railway services cessation were estimated at S$0.36 billion based on houses sold in the post cessation period of the KTM railway services.
by Mi Diao, Yu Qin andTien Foo Sing; all  of  the Department of Real Estate, National University of Singapore, Singapore
American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association
Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue); Article first published online: November 4, 2015

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Nissan electric taxis clock up three million miles in the U.K.

The all-electric LEAF hatchback and e-NV200 Combi passed the landmark mileage this month...

There are currently more than 140 Nissan EV taxis in operation across Britain, with dozens more on order....

Had the same distance ... been covered in the diesel vehicles the Nissan EVs replaced, it would have cost an estimated £350,000 in fuel.... 899 tonnes of carbon would also have been generated.  However, with average running costs of just two pence per mile, covering three million miles in the LEAFs and e-NV200s would have cost around £60,000 – a ...  saving of £290,000.  With zero tailpipe emissions, the models would also have emitted no carbon during operation.

During their time in taxi and private hire service, both the LEAF and e-NV200 have proved their durability, reliability and cost efficiency time and time again.

At least four LEAF taxis have passed the 100,000 mile mark with more than 30 having covered over 30,000 miles.   The first LEAF put into service by C&C Taxis in Cornwall passed 100,000 miles without losing a single bar of battery life and on its first set of brake pads.  The average Nissan EV taxi is rapid charged (a process taking as little as 30 minutes from zero to 80%) hundreds of times a year with minimal degradation.  Many Nissan EV taxi drivers are taking home thousands of pounds extra per year as a result of fuel savings. At 203020 Electric, in Dundee, for example, drivers are between £120 and £130 a week better off.

Karl Anders, National EV Manager at Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd, said: “no matter what challenges the vehicles have faced they have come up trumps."
Nissan UK Insider January 19, 2016

In a separate news story at the company notes that two years after the ground-breaking EV went on s ale in Europe, Nissan LEAF taxis are now operating in Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the UK. And more are on the way!

Stair Climbing: Heath & Cost-Benefits

National Health Service (NHS) hospitals across England could save more than £100 million a year and significantly reduce their carbon footprint simply by encouraging staff to use the stairs.

The savings would be achieved if just 15 per cent of England’s 350,000 NHS hospital nurses stopped using hospital lifts and used the stairs instead.

The analysis is by StepJockey - a Department of Health seed-funded start-up. StepJockey was seed-funded by the UK Department of Health.... It seeks to combat sedentary behaviour in large office buildings, sedentary behaviour recognised as a major cause of long-term illness and lost productivity.

Since its launch in 2013, StepJockey has labelled more than 6,000 staircases in 90 countries. Customers include Deloitte, Disney, Barclays,...

The organisation uses energy and time saving data from published studies to calculate gains, which include reduced lift energy consumption, staff time saved and improved staff wellness and attendance.
StepJockey points to research in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that shows that nurses using the stairs and ditching the lift will benefit from a 3 per cent time saving per day.
StepJockey app
PWC research shows sick days cost UK business nearly £23 billion a year and, on average, sickness absence costs employers 8 working days per employee per year.

For every 10 employees substituting the lift for the stairs, a hospital could expect to save £7 per year on its energy bills according to the Carbon Trust.

StepJockey uses evidence-based Smart signs, a mobile app and digital gamification to encourage stair use and build greater physical activity into people’s working lives. Typically it reports a 500 per cent increase in stair use when implementing its stair prompts alongside its Challenge platform.

Stair climbing burns 8-9 times more energy than sitting and about 7 times more energy than taking a lift. Per minute, stair climbing burns more calories than jogging. A Harvard Alumni Study found that men who average at least eight flights a day enjoy a 33 per cent lower mortality rate than men who are sedentary.

Other obvious benefits of increased stair climbing include reduced lift congestion, reduced carbon emissions and improved fire safety.

Xperdon Charity News, headed in the UK by Alan Cole, an experienced award-winning journalist and copywriter. 

A September 21, 2016 Press release noted that StepJockey Ltd secured £600,000 in private investment [in addition to] a £200,000 SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) contract from the Department of Health.

The signs use near field technology and display calorie burn data for the stairs, increasing stair use in buildings by 20%-40%. The app can read the signs and record data on stair use. This allows employers to introduce stair climbing challenges that can increase stair use by up to 800%.

Stair climbing burns 8-9 times more energy than sitting and 7 times more energy than taking a lift. It also burns more calories per minute than jogging. Just 7 minutes of stair climbing a day has been estimated to more than halve the risk of a heart attack over 10 years.