Thursday, February 26, 2015

Graphic Climate Comparisons: Heat Ice and CO2

The Business Case for Sustainability: Corporations, Banks and Investors

In recent years the business case for sustainability has grown stronger. The combination of corporate engagement, banking support and shareholder demand support the drive towards sustainability. The demand for sustainability increases environmental commitments multiply. There is unprecedented demand for sustainability from consumers, clients and shareholders. Corporations, banks and shareholders are all in business to make money and sustainability is good business.

Corporations

There are a large and growing number of studies which make the business case for sustainability. Businesses are increasingly looking to capitalize on opportunities associated with the green economy and to protect themselves from exposure to environmental risks.

Citigroup Invests 100 Billion to Combat Climate Change

Citigroup, the third largest US investment institution, announced they will invest $100 billion to finance green initiatives and sustainable growth. Citigroup will support a wide range of mitigation efforts that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as adaptation projects that help communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

They plan to incorporate sustainability principles into everything they do and assist their clients to address environmental risks. Their efforts will cut GHG emissions through resource efficiency, sustainable transport, energy efficiency, renewable energy, green housing, and water waste reduction.

These new initiatives are designed to help them meet their 2020 environmental impact targets which include slashing GHGs by 35 percent, reducing energy and water use by 30 percent and cutting water waste by 60 percent. In 2007 the committed to invest 50bn in green investment by 2016. They met this goal in 2013, three years earlier than expected.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Infographic - States that Send the Most Climate Deniers to Washington


Duke Energy's $102 M Plea Bargain for its Coal Ash Dumping

Following years of protests and legal challenges from environmental groups, justice is finally catching up to Duke Energy. The company has accepted responsibility and begun to negotiate the amount of it will pay in response to a number of criminal charges stemming from years of dumping coal waste into North Carolina's rivers.

Since 2010 Duke has dumped thousands of tons of coal ash waste from power plants into the state's rivers. On Friday February 20, 2015, federal prosecutors filed nine counts of misdemeanors under the Clean Water Act.

Bristol Wins the European Green Capital Award

The UK city of Bristol has been selected as the winner of the European Green Capital award. Bristol is located in the South West England and it won the jury over with its ambitious investment plans in transport and energy. Since 2000 the city has implemented a series of strategies and action plans to combat climate change. This includes Bristol Climate Protection and Sustainable Energy Strategy and the Local Transport Plan to 2026.

President Obama Vetoes the Keytone XL Pipeline

On February 24 President Obama vetoed a bill that would have forced approval of the Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline. Thousands of people urged the President to reject the bill.

While the veto is good news, it is a little more than a stay of execution. The State Department is about to release its final decision on the fate of the pipeline.

The President said that he would not allow the Keystone to proceed if it increases climate change causing emissions. Millions of people expect the President to honor his pledge and cancel the KXL once and for all.

The Keystone XL bill included some small concessions including an energy efficiency amendment. However, a scaled-back version of bipartisan energy efficiency legislation and the promotion of energy efficiency retrofits for schools are small consolation compared to the massive carbon bomb associated with the KXL.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Online Course - Introduction to Sustainability Reporting

This course is an introduction for people who are thinking about getting into sustainability reporting and want to learn why it’s important. Participants will gain key tips for drafting their first sustainability report. This course is taught in 6 sections, each with its own video, notes, activities and list of follow-up resources. Intro to Reporting is designed to be an introduction for people who are thinking about getting into sustainability reporting, want to get a taste of why it’s an important practice, or hope to simply gain understanding of trends in the industry.

Webinar - Sustainability Consulting: Market Size And Future Forecast

This webinar will take place on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 11am - 12 noon (EST), 4.00pm - 5.00pm (UK), 8am - 9am (PST). It shares data from the new Verdantix market size and forecast study for sustainability consulting looking at multiple markets around the world.

Sustainability consulting burst into the mainstream business consulting market in 2007. But it has been a challenging segment for management consulting firms due to small deal sizes, the illusionary budgets of sustainability leaders and competition from not for profits with heavily networked consulting arms. This webinar shares data from the new Verdantix market size and forecast study for sustainability consulting looking at multiple markets around the world. You will have the opportunity to debate the future prospects for this enigmatic market in the context of our global sustainability survey data.

Sustainable Packaging is Good for the Enviroment and the Bottom LIne

Sustainable packaging reduces environmental impacts, saves money, it can even increase sales and support premium pricing. The 500 billion global packing industry is addressing burgeoning demand and meeting the challenge by developing packaging that saves on materials that do not compromise stability. This is hardly a new trend and it has been gaining momentum for a number of years now.

A 2009 AMR research study reported in an IndustryWeek article said the most frequently used method of generating savings is by reducing packaging waste. More than three quarters (76 percent) of the companies surveyed stated that they are engaged in efforts to reduce packaging waste.

A Case Study on the Value of Sustainable Sourcing

Sustainable sourcing really does make good business sense. The value of this view has been demonstrated by a very successful US restaurant chain. They are showing that responsible procurement is entirely consistent with bottom line concerns. Sustainable sourcing goes beyond economic considerations and takes into account environmental, social and ethical factors as well.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Infographic - EVs Around the World

Webinar - Sustainability Reporting to GRI G4: Time to Make The Switch

This free webinar will take place on Tuesday March 10, 2015. Sustainability Reporting to GRI G4, is aimed at helping organizations to succeed in developing winning sustainability strategies. Key to an integrated and effective organizational strategy is a clear sustainability story – this is central to business in 2015.

Organizations are advised strongly that they have until December 2015 to make the switch to GRI G4. This webinar gives organizations the guidance on what GRI G4 is and how to apply it. It is a taster session to support organizations as they prepare to report. GRI G4 is a robust framework and this webinar will help you to get started.

Sustainability Best Practices and Case Studies

A new guide and toolkit helps organizations to cultivate a sustainability. The GEMI Quick Guide uses best practice and case studies to illustrate how corporations demonstrate and communicate the value of sustainability to achieve key sustainability objectives.

Cold and Snow Steal Headlines but we are Still Warming

While it may seem as though the US is enduring a record cold winter it is actually quite warm. We have witnessed record breaking snowfalls and parts of the North East are indeed colder than usual. The US is still in the grips of global warming and record snowfalls are consistent with climate change particularly in the Northeast.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, the period from December 2014 to January 2015 is the sixth hottest ever recorded for the contiguous US. Globally the month of January was the second hottest on record.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Event - Smart Cities

The Smart Cities event will take place on March, 11 - 13, 2015 at the Inter Expo Center in Sofia, Bulgaria. The focus of ‘Smart Cities’ Exhibition and Conference will be on intelligent transport, building management and automation, ICT technology implementation in the overall urban activity. It will attract representatives of institutions, municipalities, branch organizations, private companies, providing interactivity and networking between them.

Today, 80 pecent of the Europeans live in cities. They occupy only about 2% of the land area, but they consume 75% of resources and emit 80% CO2. It is really important to change the way we consume and produce. The intelligent vision of the cities can be a reality through wider introduction of advanced solutions. ‘Smart Cities’ will identify the path towards the sustainable urban development in South-East Europe.

Event - Energy Efficiency & Renewables

The 11th edition of the event Energy Efficiency & Renewables will take place on March 11 - 13, 2015 in Sofia, Bulgaria at the Inter Expo Center.

The 2015 edition aims to promote the latest energy developments and encourage their large-scale implementation in South-East Europe as well as speed up foreign investment in the regional economy. It is a great networking place for the international and local industry players.

Event - Ecobuild 2015

The Ecobuild 2015 event will take place on March 3-5 in London, UK. This is the sustainable design, construction and energy event for new, refurbished, commercial and domestic buildings. Across three days, the seminar programme will deliver practical and applied information focusing on the key issues for sustainability professionals. Each seminar is structured to provide key learning points, supported by case studies, analysis and examples of best practice.

Discover the new innovative products, future materials, new thinking and solutions.

Event - Zero Waste Awards

The deadline to enter the Zero Waste Awards is March 2 2015. Businesses, public authorities and third sector organizations are becoming more and more aware of the importance of zero waste. They want to be part of the sustainability solution, and the Zero Waste Awards recognizes and rewards them for doing so.

Event - Carbon Pricing Discussion Forum

A Carbon Pricing Discussion Forum will take place on Monday February 23, 2015, at 6:30 pm at the McNabb Community Centre, 180 Percy street, Ottawa, Ontario. Carbon pricing is the method most favored by economics for reducing global warming emissions. Such a system charges those who emit carbon dioxide (CO2) for their emissions. That charge, called a carbon price, is the amount that must be paid for the right to emit one tonne of CO2 into the atmosphere. This conversation is particularly relevant for Ontario as the province gets ready to implement carbon pricing. Come to this discussion forum to hear the thoughts of a distinguished panel of experts. They will discuss their views on different systems and invite the opinions of those in attendance.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Video - Live Earth 2015: Pharrell Williams and Al Gore Launch Live Earth Climate Action Concert


Climate campaigner and former US vice-president Al Gore and hit musician Pharrell Williams announce Live Earth, concerts in seven continents intended to galvanise support for climate action. Announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the event is intended to 'have humanity harmonise all at once.' 

Video - Trailer of Oscar Nominated Film White Earth and Interview with the Director



The Oscars will be taking place on Sunday February 22 and one of the films nominated is about the oil boom in America’s Northern Plains called "White Earth." This is the tale of three children and an immigrant mother as they brave winter. This film explores themes of innocence, home and the American Dream.

Here is an interview published on 350.org with the film's director J. Chrstian Jensen.

Video - Drought in California: No Rain in San Francisco



Drought is making life difficult in areas all over the world and one of the worst hit areas is California. As a sign California's persistent drought, downtown San Francisco recorded no measurable rain in January 2015, this is the first time this has happened in at least 165 years. The National Weather Service also said Santa Cruz recorded no rain in January for the first time since 1893. Normal rainfall for that city in January is more than 6 inches. For the Bay Area as a whole, last month was the driest January on record, the weather service said.

Video - Paulson and Page Live Discussion on the release of "Heat in the Heartland"


Risky Business Project co-chair Henry Paulson and Risk Committee member Gregory Page hold a live discussion on the release of "Heat in the Heartland: Climate Change and Economic Risk in the Midwest," the second report from the Risky Business Project.

Click here to see the report "Heat in the Heartland: Climate Change and Economic Risk in the Midwest"

Video - Launch of Heat in Heartland: Climate Change and Economic Risk in the Midwest



The new Risky Business Project report report, "Heat in the Heartland: Climate Change and Economic Risk in the Midwest, "quantifies climate risk for Midwestern metro areas in a more granular and industry specific way than any ever has before. In this video Risky Business Project Co-Chair and Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Risk Committee member and Former CEO of Cargill Inc. Gregory Page introduce the report.

Click here to see the report "Heat in the Heartland: Climate Change and Economic Risk in the Midwest"

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Growing Strength of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

Fossil fuel companies will never voluntarily walk away from dirty energy, so it is up to us to walk away from them. It is futile to try to encourage Big Oil to stop sucking at the teat of their carbon rich cash cow. They will continue to use their vast wealth and influence to advance their own agenda at the expense of people and the planet.

Esteemed environmentalist Jonathon Porritt worked on sustainability projects with big oil companies for years and he has indicated that it is "impossible" for today’s oil and gas companies to adapt to climate change and it is equally unlikely that they will voluntarily stop extracting fossil fuels. They are part of an entrenched culture that is resistant to the very idea of green energy. As Porritt said, these “hydrocarbon supremacists” persist despite the fact that they know that their business model threatens the future of humanity.

Webinar - Collaborating for Resilience

The one hour Webinar Collaborating for Resilience will take place on Thursday, February 26, 2015 12:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

The challenging impacts of climate change disproportionately affect those with the least resources to prepare, sustain and recover.

How do municipal decision makers and civic leaders promote effective engagement with all community members, especially those that are likely to be most impacted?

Click here to register.

Water Pipes that Provide Sustainable Energy

A new source of power uses water pipes to generate electricity. Clean energy is being captured by small turbines which spin as water flows through pipes.

Unlike typical hydroelectric dams this new source of hydropower has no environmental impact whatsoever.

In many respects this energy generation system is better than other renewables that operate intermittently (solar only operate when there is sun and turbines only work when there is wind).

Why Big PR is Dropping Big Oil

The world's dirtiest power couple has broken up. The biggest PR firm has recently split with the largest oil lobby. The fact that PR firms are refusing to represent fossil fuels is very significant even if it is a matter of self interest. It suggests that it is getting harder to create a compelling oil narrative. It also suggests that fronting for oil interests undermines the image of those who represent them. In the process of trying to improve the image of the fossil fuel industry, PR firms have done harm to their own reputations.

According to news reports, Edelman public relations has dropped the American Petroleum Institute (API). API gets its money from dues paid by companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Chinese Government's Support for Greener Cars

For many years now China has been working to be the world leader in electric and hybrid cars. China is striving to advance its role as a global player in the production and sale of electric, hybrid and fuel efficient cars. They aim to be the leading supplier both domestically and abroad. Top selling Chinese car maker BYD is currently marketing an SUV called the Tang in the US.

China currently ranks third (behind the US and Japan) in electric car ownership.

The government set the goal to raise the country's annual production capacity to 500,000 plug-in hybrid or all-electric cars and buses by the end of 2011. In June 2012 China introduced set a sales target of 500,000 new energy vehicles (plug in electric) by 2015 and 5 million by 2020. Both pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are subject to purchase incentives. The Chinese government has ordered electric utilities to build electric car charging stations in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

China's Environment and Climate Efforts

China may be the world's largest carbon emitter but they are also a leader in climate mitigation efforts. Their leadership includes the government support for renewable energy including both solar and wind power.

In addition to signing an ambitious emissions reduction deal with the US that will reduce domestic emissions, China is also helping other nations to cope with climate change.

The Divestment Movement Comes of Age

Last Friday, February 13th, people across six continents stood up to the fossil fuel industry and called for divestment. People in sixty countries participated in over 450 events. There were actions in cities around the world including some especially powerful events in London, New York, Toronto, Johannesburg, Tacloban and Luxembourg. People asked governments, universities, financial institutions and religious groups to stop investing in fossil fuels.

California Oil Refinery Explosion Illustrates the Risks of Fossil Fuels

On Wednesday February 18, a massive explosion at an Exxon Mobile Corp. oil refinery in Torrence California, injured four and leveled a new four story processing facility. The earthquake like blast shook nearby homes and rained down ash on local residents. Although the heat from the resultant blaze could be felt blocks away, there were no causalities among the students at the 13 schools that surround the refinery. Two recent oil train derailments and this refinery explosion highlight the message of last week's historic fossil fuel divestment day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Will EV's Gain Respectability in 2015?

This may be the year that electric vehicles finally get the respect that they deserve. Electric vehicles are a crucial part of the efforts that will be required to radically reduce global carbon emissions. In 2015 it is expected that there will be at least 15 new electric vehicle models hitting the market this year.

In addition to offerings from Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Volvo, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Tesla there will be some brand new automotive offerings in the US. This includes an exotic Croatian car known as Rimac Concept One, a fast charging 1,000 horsepower muscle car that allegedly goes from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds.

SUVs are a popular vehicle category that is well known for being gas burning carbon emitting behemoths. However this year the category will be invaded by a number of highly efficient electric SUVs. This includes a diesel hybrid Audi Q7 plug-in, the a plug in Mitsubishi Outlander (with 512 mile cruising range) and the Chinese BYD Tang. There will also be a new BMW X5 eDrive SUV with a remarkable 62 mpg rating that is even better than the world leading Toyota Prius.

Renewable Energy Targets and Incentives in Canadian Provinces

Manitoba, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and Quebec produce over 90 percent of their power from hydroelectricity. Renewable energy currently provides about 16.9 percent of Canada’s total primary energy supply, the vast majority of which is produced by hydroelectric facilities. Canada generates a significant majority of its electricity from hydroelectric dams. A total of 59 percent of Canada's electricity comes from hydroelectric. It is the third largest producer of hydroelectric power in the world with Quebec providing half of Canada's total.

Wind power is growing quickly with Canada. As of 2011 being the 6th largest producer of wind power in the world. Currently 1.6 percent of electricity generation in Canada comes from wind.

Infographics - Global Climate Impacts

Recent Oil Train Explosion Underscores the Risks of Transporting Fossil Fuels by Rail

The crash of another oil train illustrates yet again why it is not safe to transport fossil fuels by rail. On Monday February 16 a train carrying more than 3 million gallons of Bakken crude oil derailed near Mount Carbon, West Virginia resulting in a massive explosion and ongoing fire. The wreck forced the evacuation of two towns and threatens the local water supply. At least one rail car is known to have fallen into the Kanawha River.

West Virginia is no stranger to fossil fuel disasters. There was an oil train wreck in Lynchburg Virginia last year and several recent coal industry related spills. The Mount Carbon oil train disaster was just 30 miles from the site of a coal industry spill that leaked 10,000 gallons of the chemical MCHM into the Elk River.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sustainable Business Trends in 2015 (PwC)

As sustainability continues to gain momentum in 2015 a few key trends are coming to light. Here is PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) take on what the business community should consider to secure a competitive edge in sustainability this year.

Climate change was once an obscure phenomenon taken seriously by a small handful of business leaders. This has changed and climate change is now on top of the agenda for people, companies and governments all around the world. Companies can expect to see climate action from the local sphere all the way up to the international level. This has implications for companies as we ebb ever closer to COP 21 and the global climate agreement that is expected to be signed in Paris this December.

Canada and the Green Economy: The Role for Philanthropy

This paper provides an understanding of what a green economy means in the Canadian context. Although it was published in 2011 it is still relevant today. It showcases a sample of existing philanthropic work in this area and identifies opportunities for further philanthropic investment.

This paper is a Sustainable Prosperity (SP) perspective commissioned by the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network (CEGN), written by Alex Wood (SP Senior Director, Policy and Markets), and is part of the CEGN Building Bridges papers on the Environment and the Economy.

This is one in a series of CEGN Building Bridges papers that addresses the need to forge new and more powerful partnerships to arrive at comprehensive solutions.

EPA Sustainability Workshops

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting sustainability workshops in 18 states and 22 communities. On January 27, EPA announced that it will provide technical assistance designed to engage smart and sustainable development strategies in local economies.

As part of this initiative one or two day sustainability workshops will be conducted in 22 communities selected from among 121 applicants to the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.

Since 2011 The Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program has helped 130 communities in 41 states to, "implement smart growth and sustainable approaches that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity, prepare for the effects of climate change, and improve overall quality of life.” ​​