Thursday, January 29, 2015

Growth of US Renewable Energy (NREL's Energy Data Book)

Renewable energy continues to show strong growth in the US. Led by solar power, new renewable electricity accounted for over 61 percent of total new US generation capacity in 2013. This represents almost 15 percent of total installed capacity and 13 percent of total US electricity generation. Renewables' 61 percent share of new capacity in 2013 compares favorably to preceding years. In 2004 this number was only 4 percent and in 2008 it was 57 percent.

Infographic - Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Collaboration and Cooperation are Imperitive (WEF Summaries)

Collaboration and cooperation are commonly mentioned as important aspects of sustainability and they emerged as salient themes at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Over the course of the last year we have seen historic collaboration on carbon emissions reduction between the US and China. We have also seen tremendous progress in some private sector areas.

While many are talking about global disunity, others are pointing to significant examples of global collaboration. John Kerry, US Secretary of State, said "I don’t see an unraveling [of international cooperation]. I see just the opposite. I see nations coming together … to reach an ambitious global agreement to address climate change, with the recent agreement by China and the United States that begins to set the targets to make the Paris negotiations this year a success."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Report - Benefits of Sustainability Branding & Communications

Ethical Corporation has produced an all-inclusive complimentary 16-page strategy pack on sustainable branding and communications. The pack provides 3 strategies related to the following:

1. How your brand can benefit from having an ethical slant
2. 12 ideas to create an effective comms strategy
3. 5 steps to effective social media campaigns

Road Salt Causes Pervasive Environmental Damage.

The more snow we get the more road salt we use and this is a troubling trend that has serious environmental implications.

The US uses 22 million tons of salt on its roads each year, this is more than 10 times the amount used in food processing.

We can expect more snow as the Earth warms and deicing with salt (NaCl, sodium chloride, calcium chloride) poses a number of environmental challenges.

Road salt is a potential danger to vegetation, wildlife and humans.

Towards a Global Climate Agreement at COP21 (WEF)

Much of the climate momentum that occurred at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos is in anticipation of COP21 where it is hoped that a global agreement can be signed.

Fran├žois Hollande, the President of France and host to next year's COP21 climate talks in Paris, made a number of prescient comments in Davos.

"I call upon the whole of business to make an economic contribution to the most fragile of states, in the name of solidarity and security. I call on you also to counter another threat which is one that looms over the very future of this world: we need to fight global warming,"  Hollande said.

Snowstorms are Consistent with Climate Change

Another storm influenced by climate change has struck the US east coast and while Juno was not as bad as predicted in places like NYC in wreaked havoc across New England. Boston had 23 inches of snow and 78 mph winds caused widespread power outages in Nantucket, Cape Cod and other coastal communities. In Newport Rhode Island, the tall ship Providence was knocked over by heavy winds. The National Guard had to rescue people inundated by flooding in the community of Scituate and snowfall records were broken in places like Worcester north of Boston.

Curbing Fossil Fuels - Carbon Pricing and an End to Subsidies (WEF Summaries)

Carbon pricing and fossil fuel subsidies were popular topics at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. The comments made by economists, business leaders and climate experts signal a global readiness to price carbon and remove oil subsidies.

Investors and business leaders need and want regulatory certainty. Regulations on fossil fuels are coming the only question is when. Climate economist Lord Nicholas Stern was among those who argued that we need to see carbon taxes and eliminate oil subsidies.

If we are to get serious about tackling climate change we will need to curb fossil fuel use. One of the best ways to do so is through carbon pricing schemes. Rowan Douglas, CEO Capital, Science & Policy Practice and Chairman, Willis Research Network, said, "Carbon pricing is a very important tool in the armory. I think it is difficult to see the world achieving its targets without some sort of pricing mechanism for this critical pollutant."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Weak Climate Test for the Energy East Pipeline

On February 3, 2015, the National Energy Board (NEB) will officially begin its review of the Energy East pipeline project. Energy East is a massive 4000 kilometer pipeline that if built would carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil from Alberta to Quebec.

If it is built, the Energy East pipeline would allow for a 40 percent expansion of the tar sands that would produce at least 32 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year. It is the largest tar sands pipeline ever proposed, with a climate impact equivalent to adding 7 million cars.

Webinar - New Paths in Environmental Management and Compliance

Download this Enviance webinar recorded on December 17th, 2014. It offers insights from industry leaders at four organizations from different vertical markets that are pioneering new paths in environmental management and compliance.

ArcelorMittal, Tri-State Generation, Tampa Electric Company and Southern Ute Growth Fund are tapping environmental technologies in new ways to experience greater environmental compliance breakthroughs and efficiencies.

Hear the panelists discuss environmental successes and lessons learned in 2014 and what changes are in store for 2015!

For more information click here.

The Value of Investing in Climate Mitigation (WEF Summaries)

One of the salient themes that emerged at the 2015 edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is that investors are very interested in climate action. There have been a number of important developments during the course of the WEF but few are more important than the emerging trend of integrating climate risks into financial assessments. The risks and the opportunities  posed by climate change are bottom line issues.

Low carbon energy investments are providing considerable returns. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, clean energy investment increased by 16 percent in 2014. The We Mean Business Coalition reports that companies are achieving 20+ percent internal rates of return on their own clean energy projects.

Anthropogenic Climate Change Moving Us Closer to Doomsday

Due in large part to our inaction on climate change we are moving ever closer to an apocalypse. On Thursday January 22, 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, moved the doomsday clock two minutes closer to midnight. This timepiece is meant to symbolize our proximity to global catastrophe. It was created in 1947 to symbolize the likelihood of a nuclear war, however, it has subsequently been adapted to incorporate other threats. For the last three years we have been stalled at five minutes to midnight, we are now only three minutes before the end.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists executive director Kennette Benedict, concerns about anthropogenic climate change is the primary reason why the hands were moved forward. The other reason is the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Global Economies Feeling the Heat from Climate Change (WEF Summaries)

Economic assessments of climate risks and the potential returns from mitigation and adaptation emerged as salient themes at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. 

A number of speakers made the point that it is important to calculate the massive risks associated with climate change. We are already seeing that climate change is systemically disrupting the global economy and the situation is destined to get far worse if we do not significantly reduce global carbon emissions.

As explained by several economists, we do not have to make the false choice between combating climate change and growth. We can both grow our economy and act on climate change.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Infographic - Global Energy Efficiency Rankings (ACEEE)

Clean Energy Ranking: Best and Worst US States

In the US some states provide more support for renewable energy than others. Legislation, initiatives and incentives vary greatly from state to state.

To help understand what each state is doing the American Council For An Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released their annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard last fall. This scorecard ranks the best and worst states for energy efficiency based on a 50-point scale. These scores rated government initiatives on 31 different metrics related to seven different policy divisions, including utilities, government-led initiatives, and efficiency building codes.

Here are the 10 best and 10 worst states for clean energy based on the ACEEE scorecard and presented in the Huffington Post with the assistance of NRG Energy:

Business Leadership on Climate Change (WEF Summaries)

The 2015 edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) put unprecedented emphasis on the role of business to manage climate change. Both to mitigate costly risks and reap lucrative benefits, the business community is beginning to take climate concerns very seriously.

One of the key stories that emerged out of the WED last week is that an unprecedented number of business leaders are showing bold leadership on climate action. Business leaders are speaking more clearly and more cohesively than ever about the need to address climate change.

As Al Gore explained in a Davos presentation, "We have the solutions at hand. And this is why I’m so excited about all of the work being done, led by the business community," he said. "The private sector is leading the way," he added.

Infographic - Canadians on Emissions Reduction, Carbon Pricing & Pipelines

WEF Summaries: Climate Change

Climate change was a central part of this year's World Economic Forum (WEF) which took place in Davos Switzerland from January 21 to 24. Unlike previous meetings there was an unprecedented sense of urgency in this year's discussions about climate change.

A WEF plenary titled "Tackling Climate, Development and Growth" included Paul Polman, A. Michael Spence, Jakaya M. Kikwete, Christine Lagarde, Ban Ki-moon and Jim Yong Kim. This distinguished panel shared the view that to combat climate change we must engage sustainable development. They also said that to succeed in efforts to reduce climate impacts we must see significant investments from both the public and private sector.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Event - Renewable Energy Exhibition McHewel 2015

The Renewable Energy Exhibition (REE) McHewel 2015 will take place on Wednesday February 18 to Tuesday January 20, 2015, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 650 Dixon Road, Toronto, Canada in Toronto, Ontario.

The theme for this year is "Increasing Energy Capacity with Sustainable renewable sources." REE is Canada’s Leading renewable energy event, it is organized by the McHewel Investment Group.

REE showcases products like wind, solar, bio fuel, hydrocarbon, geothermal, agriculture, environment, finance, and hydrogen based products and services associated with this field etc. in the Power, Renewable Energy & Energy Conservation industry.

Event - Moving Toward a Circular Economy

Progressing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in Ontario: Moving Toward a Circular Economy, will take place on Thursday February 5 to Friday February 6, 2015, in Toronto, Ontario. EPR originated in Europe more than 30 years ago and continues to evolve. It is also a pivotal policy needed to further Ontario's waste reduction performance.

Recycling Council of Ontario is hosting a two-day session that provides opportunity to hear the latest information from the European Union (EU) on newly proposed amendments to its waste directives, as well as the research commissioned to inform these amendments. The sessions also provide an opportunity to gather stakeholders from all sectors to discuss the key elements of what should be part of Ontario's new waste reduction and EPR legislation.

Event - Teleconference: Top Ten Countries Turning the Corner on Toxic Pollution

A Teleconference on the report Top Ten Cleanups of the Worst Polluted Toxic Sites, Global Solutions will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, 10am, EST. The report was released by the Blacksmith Institute For A Pure Earth and Green Cross Switzerland, with the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution.


Release of 2014/15 Top Ten Countries Turning the Corner on Toxic Pollution, the latest global report on toxic pollution affecting some of the world’s worst polluted places, highlighting top ten success stories and solutions to this global threat. Report is from Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth andGreen Cross Switzerland, with Global Alliance on Health and Pollution.

Event - Climate Challenges and Opportunities for the Insurance Sector

The event, feeling the heat? Climate challenges and opportunities for the insurance sector will take place on March 24, 2015 at 09:00 (registration from 08:30 am) - 12:30 at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), 51 - 55 Gresham Street, London, UK.

ABI’s half day climate change conference will highlight the associated challenges and opportunities for the insurance industry.

Event - Putting a Price on Carbon

The event Putting a Price on Carbon will take place on Tuesday, January 27; 7:30 - 9:30 pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles Street West, Toronto, Ontario. A panel of carbon pricing experts will provide the case for either carbon fee and dividend and cap and trade.

Stephen Lewis will moderate a debate comparing the merits of a Carbon Tax vs Cap and Trade, the two principal methods proposed to set a price on carbon.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Video - WED 2015: A Climate for Action

Video - Climate More Sensitive to Atmospheric Warming than Previously Thought

There have been many studies published in 2014 that indicate the climate crisis is worse than previously thought. A study published on January 1, 2014 titled, "Spread in model climate sensitivity traced to atmospheric convective mixing," found that the climate is much more sensitive to atmospheric carbon than previously thought. The paper was written by Steven Sherwood from the University of New South Wales’ Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. His research revealed that if we continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere at current rates we will see warming of roughly 5°C [9°F] above modern temperatures or 6°C [11°F] above preindustrial temperatures this century.

Video - WEF Global Risks Report

The 2015 edition of the Global Risks report completes a decade of highlighting the most significant long-term risks worldwide, drawing on the perspectives of experts and global decision-makers.

The report is broken down into the following areas:

1. Global Risks Landscape 2015
2. Global Risks 2015 Interconnections Map
3. Risks-Trends 2015 Interconnections Map
4. Executive Opinion Survey 2014

Click here for more information on environmental issues in the Global Risks 2015 Report.

What is The World Economic Forum (WEF)
Risks Associated with Environment, Climate, Water Crisis and Extreme Weather in the WEF Report
Infographic - Global Risks Report

Video - Climate Risks: Abrupt Unpredictable Irreversible Changes

People often think that global warming is a slow and gradual process that will take generations. However, this film from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (the world's largest scientific society), warns that we are at risk of pushing the earth’s climate system toward, "abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes."

Video - WEF Pre-Annual Meeting Press Conference

The Pre Annual Meeting Press Conference outlines the official programme and participants at this year’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

What is The World Economic Forum (WEF)
Risks Associated with Environment, Climate, Water Crisis and Extreme Weather in the WEF Report
Infographic - Global Risks Report

Friday, January 23, 2015

Three Charts on Ocean Warming

Canada's Harper Government Loves Oil & Hates Wildlife

Canada both contributes to climate change and refuses to offer wildlife protections. Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada is the worst country in the world in terms of wildlife protections. Their failure to sign on to international treaties, enact protective legislation and deal with the broader issue of climate change poses a direct threat to wildlife.

Canada is a climate Luddite that has backed out of its Kyoto commitments and failed to meet its GHG reduction targets. The nation is also a strong supporter of the fossil fuel industry and the tar sands in particular.

Man Made Extinction Killing off Half of all Wildlife on Earth

The mass extinction of our oceans is already underway and this is part of a wider trend of species destruction.  While species like tigers capture headlines, many less well known species are also being lost each and everyday.

The list of endangered species keeps growing.  There are almost 4000 animal species that are critically endangered, 5,700 that are endangered, and more than 10,000 that are vulnerable.

The world is losing its wildlife at a rate not seen in 65 million years. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in the past half-billion years. Through a combination of climate change, habitat loss/degradation, poaching and the introduction of exotic species, we are killing off species at an unprecedented rate.

What makes this extinction crisis unique is that it is man-made. As explained by the Center for Biological Diversity, humans are responsible for 99 percent of currently threatened species.

Typically, extinction of a species occurs at a rate of about one to five species per year. We are currently losing 1,000 to 10,000 times that amount. On average, dozens of species are going extinct every day. At the current rate, by 2050, as much as half of all species may be eradicated.

Research on Bee Mortality and Efforts to Address It

Since this article was written there have been a number of developments. Scientists are increasingly pointing to neonicotinoids as the source of massive bee mortality.

Last May a Harvard study found a link between neonicotinoids and bee deaths. This view was reiterated in the summer of 2014 in a study by the international Task Force on Systemic Pesticides which analyzed 800 scientific studies and concluded that systemic pesticides like neonicotinoid are harming bees and other species. These results corroborate a September 2013 report from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Infographic - The Deteriorating State of our Oceans (1950 - 2014)

The US has the Most Big Sustainability Companies

The United States has more top ranked sustainability corporations than any other country. A total of 20 percent of the top 100 sustainable businesses were located in the US. This is one of the findings of the 2015 Global 100 list which is compiled by the Toronto based media and investment research firm Corporate Knights.

This is the best performance ever for US companies and indicates that American companies are improving. Not only do American firms compare favorable to the rest of the world, they occupy the top two positions in the Global 100 list.

Bakken Oil Spill May Force the Retirement of the Popular Pipeline

On January 17 Bridger's Popular Pipeline spilled Bakken crude into the Yellowstone River. Initial estimates indicate that between 300 to 1200 barrels of crude oil have been spilled with an unspecified amount flowing into the Yellowstone.

An oil slick is visible by air 25 miles from the alleged spill site. The water supply of nearby communities Glendive, Mont., have been contaminated by the spill.

GOP Denial and President Obama's Climate Legacy

Republicans continue to resist the veracity of anthropogenic climate change despite an endless stream of scientific warnings. The GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address was given by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and she did not mention climate change once. The only time she mentioned the environment was in the context of her party's support for the Keystone XL.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Report - Hot Trends In Sustainability Management For 2015

The six page complimentary report on trends in sustainability management explores the key issues that will impact businesses in 2015 and beyond. It builds on detailed Verdantix research into regulations, innovations, competitive dynamics and corporate strategies from around the globe, including interviews with over 500 sustainability and EH&S leaders in 2013 and 2014. The analysis finds that with approaches to sustainability maturing, leaders will find their attention drawn towards company specific risk-based thinking objectives and how to efficiently integrate alternative strategies, such as green infrastructure, into their plans for 2015 onwards.

The organizations mentioned in the report include, 3M, Alcoa, Apple, AT&T, China Labor Watch, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical Company, Eni, FEMSA, Gap, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Greenpeace, Holcim, International Organization for Standardization, Johnson & Johnson, Oger International, P&G, PepsiCo, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

Infographic - Green Alternatives to Conventional Building Materials

Climate and Sustainability Oriented Excerpts of President Obama's 2015 State of the Union Speech

In his State of the Union speech President Obama talked about fair wages for workers, he reviewed his administrations efforts to combat climate change and he made some of his boldest remarks to date about the need to do more (see his comments below).

He referenced 9/11 and the recession saying that "we have turned the page." He talked about economic growth, health care and immigration. He also spoke directly to Republicans saying, "We can't slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns." and followed that up by threatening to use his veto power when he deems it necessary.