European business briefs: Irish flood alert, Porsche could build hybrid car, Environmental conference, Spanish wind monopoly, Danish statistician in climate change row

Irish Local Authorities in all vulnerable flood areas have been requested to prepare for the worst by the Department of Environment Heritage and Local Government, and were urged to have staff, equipment and materials ready to deal with flood problems. Local Authorities were also requested to have civil defence units on standby. The Environment Minister contacted County Managers or their designated alternates in all flood areas requesting a report of problems and an indication as to how the Local Authorities were coping with problems in their area. In all cases the Local Authorities indicated that they were coping with any problems arising from the weather conditions.

Germany luxury carmaker Porsche is allegedly studying whether to build a hybrid version of its Cayenne sport utility vehicle using a Toyota Motor Corp powertrain. Should current feasibility studies work out, Porsche may adopt the 270 horsepower petrol-electric powertrain to be used in the Lexus RX 400h SUV, according to an industry insider. The RX 400h, based on the Lexus RX 330, will go on sale in the US this December.

Speaking at the Sixth National Environment Conference in County Louth this week, Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Mr Batt O'Keeffe, stated: "Tackling the problems associated with waste generation can be challenging but the choices to be examined and the decisions to be taken cannot be avoided. We have an individual and collective responsibility to deal with these issues head on. This is the bottom line for any modern society." Exploring the many potential challenges and opportunities that face businesses and other stakeholders operating within the waste sector, the conference provides a broad overview on waste management issues, including Government policy and best practice for business development.

Spanish wind energy company Gamesa is currently negotiating the possibility of building wind farms in the UK with an electricity capacity of 400 megawatts. In an official statement, the Spanish company said the farms would be built in Wales, where the government is actively backing the expansion and development of wind-generated power. UK Government targets require for at least 10% of national electricity to be produced by clean, renewable energy sources by 2010.

And finally, the widespread assumption that dealing with climate change will lead to the biggest economic disaster in history was challenged by controversial Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg with the publication of his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, and he has now had a face-off with Friends of the Earth Director, Tony Juniper at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Mr Juniper said: "There is a basic flaw in Bjorn Lomborg's analysis because tackling climate change will actually be good for the global economy. Lomborg seriously underestimates the cost of not dealing with climate change and the economic impacts that are already being seen around the globe as climate change radically alters the world we live in."


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