Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2016 Toyota Mirai: Green Star at the LA Auto Show

One of the biggest green stars at the LA Auto Show is the hydrogen powered Toyota Mirai. In terms of performance, this four-door, mid-size sedan compares favorably to cars with internal combustion engines. However, it is a far better environmental choice as it does not use gasoline and emits only water vapor. It also has advantages over electric cars as it re-fuels much faster (about five minutes) and triples the average range of EVs by traveling up to 300 miles on a full tank.

Toyota's Mirai is a groundbreaking production vehicle that will be available to customers in California beginning in fall 2015. The only drawback is hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Its availability is limited to areas that provide adequate refueling stations and right now there is very little in the US outside of California.

The 2016 Toyota Mirai is priced at $57,500 and there is a $499 monthly lease option.

Online Holiday Season Spending

Online holiday spending is increasing every year. As reported by Ad Age, in 2014 online buying is expected to rise 16 percent to more than $61 billion according to ComScore.

E-commerce spending on desktop personal computing in the months of November and December is projected to reach $53.2 billion. This represents a 14 percent increase over 2013 and 4 percent more than the November – December totals from last year.

The largest growth is being seen in mobile shopping which is expected to increase 25 percent to reach a total of $7.87 billion. The mobile spend accounts for 13 percent of total holiday e-commerce. ComScore data indicates that mobile spending in the fourth quarter of 2013 had a year-over-year increase of 16 percent.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

World Bank to Stop Funding Coal

The World Bank has indicated that due to the impacts of climate change on poverty, it will cease its funding of coal projects and support renewable sources of energy. The announcement came from World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in an address ahead of COP 20, the UN climate summit scheduled to take place in Lima, Peru next month.

Kim related the decision to a report that his organization commissioned which showed how the world's poorest people will be impacted by extreme weather, declining agricultural yields, water instability, communicable diseases and flooding from higher sea levels.

Let the Consumer Buying Frenzy Begin

Thanksgiving is the undisputed king of consumer holiday over-consumption. It ranks at the top of all shopping days. Spending during this period is unparalleled as millions of bargain-hungry Americans descend on retail outlets.

ShopperTrak, expects sales to rise 3.8 percent this holiday season while the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts holiday sales growth of 4.1 percent in 2014. Americans are expected to spend at least $600 billion dollars this holiday season.

Infographic - How a Fuel Cell Vehicle Works

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Steal the Spotlight but how do they Compare to Traditional EVs?

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are the rage at this year's LA Auto Show, but how do they stack up to traditional electric and hybrid vehicles? This 107 year old show is one of the most influential and best attended auto shows in the world, it runs from November 21-30, 2014. This year hydrogen fuel cell powered cars appear to have stolen the alternative vehicle spotlight from hybrids and fully electrics.

Hydrogen vehicles are quiet, they have no emissions and they are more than twice as fuel-efficient as conventionally powered vehicles.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Efforts in Support of Sustainable Palm Oil

Responsible sourcing of palm oil is a growing concern with consumers and by extension a growing number of corporations. Palm oil plantations are infamous for destroying both forests and peatlands. At the start of 2014 a survey of the state of responsible sourcing of palm oil showed just how bad things are. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analysis revealed that twenty-four of the 30 leading companies they surveyed do not source palm oil responsibly.

In a report titled Donuts, Deodorant and Deforestation: Scoring America’s Top Brands on their Palm Oil Commitments, USC looked at the 10 biggest companies in the packaged food, fast food and personal care industries and found that the vast majority have inadequate commitments or lack commitments altogether.

Infographic - Evolution of Waste to Energy (Advanced Plasma Power)

Record Breaking Buffalo Snow Storm Consistent with Global Warming

The massive snow storm that shattered records and dumped more than seven feet of snow on Buffalo is consistent with what we can expect from a world ravaged by climate change. Far from being evidence to disprove global warming it actually supports the predictions of climate change models.

Not only did thirteen people die as a consequence of the storm, there were major cleanup costs, significant damage and thousands of hours of lost productivity. As of Sunday morning, more than 84,000 tons of snow had been removed from portions of South Buffalo and Kaisertown. At least 30 roofs are known to have collapsed from the weight of the accumulated snowfall. Economic costs related to the storm are expected to exceed $3.2 million for Erie County and $27 million for the state.

Webinar - Doing Business in Mexico (Renewable Energy World)

The free webinar, "Doing Business in Mexico," Premieres today (November 24, 2014) at 10:00 AM EST (for other time zone see the bottom of this page).

The Mexican wind industry now faces the challenge of its consolidation and growth, opening up opportunities in generation, manufacturing and procurement, becoming the largest supplier of clean energy in the country. AMDEE has set as a primary goal the development between 15-20 GW by 2020 - 2022. By the end of 2013, the wind farms' installed capacity was 1,917 MW, with 25 wind farms in operation; 19 are located in Oaxaca and the rest in the states of Baja California, Chiapas, Jalisco, Tamaulipas, and Nuevo Leon. It is expected to have more than 9,500 MW by the end of 2018, representing about 12% of the total installed capacity in Mexico.

Event - 2015 General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency

The fifth session of the Assembly will take place on 17 and 18 January 17 and 18, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This event is part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

The Assembly is IRENA’s ultimate decision-making authority and is made up of one representative from each Member. It convenes annually to discuss and decide upon issues such as the work programme, the budget, the adoption of reports, applications for membership and potential amendments to Agency activities.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Event - Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW)

This event will take place from January 17 - 24, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sustainability Week (ADSW) offers a private sector approach to tackling complex, interconnected sustainability challenges. This initiative is designed to address the challenges affecting energy, water and sustainable development.

Taking place every January, ADSW comprises the World Future Energy Summit, International Water Summit and EcoWASTE, as well as the general assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency. This Masdar – hosted annual event will also feature the Zayed Future Energy Prize (ZFEP).

ADSW is the largest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East, attracting global policy makers, industry thought-leaders and clean technology innovators together with 32,000 delegates and visitors from more than 170 countries.

ADSW will build international momentum for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, bringing together 32,000 delegates from more than 170 countries to drive innovation and implement transformative solutions.

Event - EcoWASTE 2015: Waste Management for Sustainable Development

This event will take place on January 19 - 22, 2015 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. EcoWASTE 2015 is part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week). Hosted by Masdar and held in partnership with Tadweer, this event will cover the entire solid waste management services and solutions required to address the dramatic increase per capita of waste production in the region and the new methods of reusing, reducing and recycling whilst maintaining a sustainable environment, in an effort to:

Event - The World Future Energy Summit 2015

This event will be held from 19 - 22 January at ADNEC in Abu Dhabi. The World Future Energy Summit (WFES) is the world’s foremost event dedicated to renewable energies, energy efficiency and clean technologies. This event is part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, WFES includes a world-class Conference, an international Exhibition, the Project & Finance Village, the Young Future Energy Leaders program, as well as a number of corporate meetings and concurrent social events.

Event - Building Health Forum

This unique event will take place on December 11, 2014 at Genentech Hall – UCSF Mission Bay 600 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94158-2517.

Unlike any event before it, the Building Health Forum welcomes nearly 300 of the world’s preeminent experts and thought leaders pioneering the healthy buildings and healthy communities movement for a series of provocative keynotes, educational sessions, tours and networking receptions.

It is the first feature-length event produced by the Building Health Initiative, an unprecedented coalition of 45 world-class companies and organizations from multiple sectors revolutionizing procurement strategies, fostering healthier communities and, ultimately, reframing green building as a public health issue.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Video - Quant e-Sportlimousine Hydrogen Powered Car

nanoFLOWCELL AG developed the QUANT e-Sportlimousine -- the first car equipped with nanoFLOWCELL® drive. The prototype is set to generate new impulses for research into battery development and flow-cell technology.

Video - Bookreview: The Quest for Sustainable Business

The Quest for Sustainable Business is a book by Wayne Visser. It contains Visser's interviews with entrepreneurs and business professionals about their accounts of sustainability.

Video - B Corp Anthem: B The Change

B Corps are leading a global movement of people using business as force for good.

Video - Cleantech in Canada: Economic Opportunties from Environmental Solutions

Although it is under-reported, cleantech is the fastest growing industry in Canada. To help draw attention to this fact the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pacific Institute for Climate co-hosted an event in Vancouver on September 18th. This event explored how solutions to environmental challenges are creating economic opportunities.

Canadian leader in the rapidly expanding cleantech economy, Céline Bak, shared her insights on Canada’s advantage in clean technology, and how to build on this momentum towards a clean and prosperous future. Cleantech business leaders joined in a post-presentation discussion and audience-participation question and answer session.

The speakers included Dr. David Suzuki, Dr. Tom Pedersen, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, Céline Bak, Analytica Advisors, Jonathan Rhone, BC Cleantech CEO Alliance, Ross Beaty, Alterra Power Corp. and David Helliwell, Pulse Energy

Friday, November 21, 2014

Infographic - The Declining Atlantic Fishery

Costs to Fisheries from Human Activities: Climate Change, Acidification, Pollution and Plastic Waste

In addition to commercial overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and plastic waste are all adversely impacting aquaculture. Each of these phenomenon incur considerable costs. The emissions from human activities are causing climate change and ocean acidification. In addition to climate change and ocean acidification, plastic waste is also contributing to the breakdown of our marine ecosystems all of which deplete the world's fisheries.

Bottom Trawling and the Collapse of Wild Fisheries

Current methods of commercial fishing are decimating wild fish stocks and none are more destructive than bottom trawling. If the trend of unsustainable fishing continues we will see a complete collapse of wild fisheries by 2050. Bottom trawling not only jeopardizes commercial fisheries, it is also a threat to aquatic eco-systems.

Bottom trawling employs massive heavy nets that are dragged along the ocean floor. These nets scoop up everything in their path and leave a wasteland in their wake. Vast quantities of non-targeted species also known as by catch, are caught, killed and thrown back into the water. Up to 90 percent of drag net bottom trawling is composed of by catch. As fish populations decline in shallower waters these bottom trawlers are going into ever deeper waters.

Infographic - The State of Word Fisheries & Aquaculture

World Fisheries Day: A Call to Responsible Stewardship

November 21 is World Fisheries day, in addition to celebrations surrounding the value of fisheries this is also an opportunity to take stock of the dramatic implications of overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and climate change.

According to a recent United Nations study more than two-thirds of the world's fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

African Renewable Energy Alliance (AREA)

The African Renewable Energy Alliance, or AREA, is focused on expanding research, development and use of renewable energy throughout Africa. This organization is composed of utility companies, industries, policy makers, and civil society members.

This organization facilitates the exchange of information on new technologies as well as workable funding mechanisms for renewable energy. Ultimately AREA expedites renewable energy production in Africa.

African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF)

A new fund is bringing renewable energy funding to Africa. Developing renewable energy takes resources and this is hard to come by in much of the developing world.

The African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) was established was launched in June 2014 with $100 million and it is expected to climb to $200 million within a year. The fund dedicated to supporting small to medium independent power producers (IPPs).

Celebrating Renewables on Africa Industrialization Day

There is no better time to review the future of renewable energy on the dark continent than on Africa Industrialization Day which is celebrated every year on November 20. This day is meant to draw attention to the ways of stimulating industry on the continent. With 30 of the world's 50 least development nations located in Africa, there are few places more in need of such attention. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) plays an important role promoting the day and African development in general. This year marks the 24th Africa Industrialization Day.

There is no industry that holds more promise for Africa than renewable energy. Renewable energy could transform the living standards of millions of Africans. This is particularly true in remote and rural areas. On site renewable energy production is ideal in remote areas because it is far cheaper than building infrastructure to gain access to an energy grid.

3 Charts: Record Breaking Heat August - October 2014

How Much Heat is Required to Spur Global Action?

How many months of above average heat are required to convince us that we urgently need to reduce our emissions? In 2014 we witnessed consistently above average temperatures and we have broken many records. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicated that May registered the hottest average global temperatures ever recorded for that month. Likewise the average global temperature for the month of June was was the hottest since records began being kept in 1880. The June temperature readings were also the highest departure from average for any month.

Sustainable Manufacturing Enhances Profitability and Attracts Talent

Yet another study reveals that sustainable manufacturing benefits the bottom line, it also attracts new talent. A survey titled, "Success Paths to Sustainable Manufacturing," conducted by Indiana University's School of Public & Environmental Affairs, analyzed the factors in 12 companies that contribute to successful sustainable manufacturing efforts as well as implementation barriers.

Those companies surveyed in the study deemed success in sustainable manufacturing to be largely attributable to customer demand. There were also benefits to consumer trust and brand loyalty derived from positive media attention. Many of the companies reported cost savings from reducing their use of resources like water and energy and by generating less waste.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Infographic - Oil Cost and Risk

Infographic - Oil and Cost of Production

Keystone XL Loses Another Battle but the War Rages On

On Tuesday November 18th, the US Senate narrowly rejected a bill (2280) to speed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. The motion needed 60 votes in favour to pass. The bill failed after 59 senators voted in favour and 41 were against. Predictably, all 45 Senate Republicans voted in favour of the legislation alongside 14 Democrats and Independents. The pipeline was approved last week for the ninth time by the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.

Fossil Fuel Powered Manipulation

Big Oil uses its vast wealth to advocate for the ongoing extraction of climate change causing fossil fuels. Their ruthless manipulation was recently revealed in a leaked transcript of a speech from an oil and gas industry insider. As reported in a New York Times article, some of these disreputable tactics were outlined by veteran Washington political consultant Richard Berman in an address he gave to industry executives at a June event sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance.

"If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Insurance Industry Hit Hard by Climate Change

There are a host of industries that will be impacted by climate change but none more than the insurance industry. According to some assessments it will cost a total of 8 trillion by 2100 if we do not substantially reduce emissions in the coming years. Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather events will be very costly to the global economy. Climate change will increase global conflicts, increase food shortages, decrease water supplies and increase morbidity and mortality.

Extreme weather and floods will be the primary cost driver for the insurance industry. A recent Ceres report states that in 2013 just under a third of the $116 billion in worldwide losses from weather-related disasters were covered by insurance.

Infographic - Cradle to Cradle: Rethinking Design

New Tool will Integrate Sustainabilty Initiatives

A new tool will soon be released that represents a new tenant of sustainability focused on integrating existing resources.

There are a number of different sustainability initiatives, however, these sometimes diverging sometimes overlapping approaches can be complex and unwieldy. New comprehensive tools are required to integrate these resources.

Whether we are talking about Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), environmental product declarations (EPDs), health product declarations (HPDs) or Cradle to Cradle, the list of sustainability initiatives, design tools and reporting systems continues to proliferate. Many of these initiatives are very useful, but understanding how they work together can be a daunting task.

Republicans Keep Pushing Keystone XL Pipeline

Never let it be said that Republicans are not tenacious when it comes to their support for fossil fuels and knee-jerk opposition to President Obama. Republicans in Congress are trying yet again to force the President's hand on the Keystone XL pipeline. A motion was already passed in the House and another is expected today (November 18th) in the Senate.

The House of Representatives passed a measure Friday (November 14) that would force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline with a vote of 252 to 161. Nearly all Republicans voted for the bill, along with 31 Democrats. This is the ninth time the House has tried to push the President on the Keystone XL.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Growing Influence of Sustainability Leaders

Sustainability leaders at some of the wealthiest companies are increasingly influential. According to a Verdantix, 92 percent of companies that responded to a survey reported that they have a sustainability officer who reports directly to the CEO or a member of the executive committee.The Verdantix survey asked 260 senior sustainability decision-makers around the world about the influence of sustainability leaders on executive committees regarding decision-making authority and budgetary contributions in 21 key initiatives. These initiatives include assurance, consulting, energy management, natural capital, reporting, supply chain and other sustainability activities.

Infographic - Pledges to the Green Climate Fund