Monday, May 25, 2015

A Compelling Argument for Carbon Pricing

Carbon pricing is the most powerful tool we have to reduce climate change causing emissions. The momentum for carbon pricing is building as we surpass 400 ppm of atmospheric carbon. The need to find workable carbon reduction mechanisms is great as we head towards a hoped for climate agreement at COP 21 in Paris at the end of this year.

Carbon Emissions Keep Climbing

Our current carbon dioxide trajectory gives us very little hope that we can keep temperatures within the internationally agreed upon upper threshold limit (2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial times). Extrapolating from the current trend we are at the upper end of CO2 emissions scenarios. This could translate to temperature increases of more than 10 degrees C. by the end of the century.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Event - Grid Scale Energy Storage

ACI's 2nd Grid-Scale Energy Storage will take place on Tuesday 16 June 2015 - Thursday 18 June 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Bloomberg News said, "Annual investment in storage is currently about $2.6 billion…that’s set to grow to $9.2 billion in 2015 and then to $25 billion by 2021. Energy storage (is expected) to generate $500 million to $1 billion in annual revenue by 2020."

Climate Change Technology Conference (CCTC 2015)

The fourth Climate Change Technology Conference (CCTC 2015) will take place on Monday May 25 to Wednesday May 27, 2015, at the Omni Mont-Royal Hotel, Montreal, Quebec. This Canadian and international forum will offer engineering solutions for dealing with the impacts of climate change.

Event - Energy Storage Association Conference and Expo

The 25th Energy Storage Association (ESA) Conference will take place on May 27 - 29 at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, 300 Reunion Blvd., Dallas, Texas. This is the energy storage industry's premiere event. It will gather the most influential leaders and decision makers along with global experts. This event will help to shape the future of the energy storage industry.

The ESA Conference and Expo is designed for companies and individuals who are positioned for expansive growth in energy storage. This applies to those who are engaged and understand the dynamic market and policies that are driving future opportunities.

Event - Carbon Expo 2015

The 12th edition of Carbon Expo will take place on May 26 - 28, 2015 at the Downtown Montjuic Venue, in Barcelona. Since 2004 this has been the world's largest multi-sectoral climate finance and carbon market Conference and Trade Fair.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

3 Electric Tricycles: Raht Racer, Adventure Vehicle, Kylad-e (Videos)

Santa Barbara Oil Spill 1969 and 2015 Redux (Videos)

On May 19th a pipeline ruptured off the coast of Santa Barbara California and spilled more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil into the pacific ocean. This spill has is deadly to wildlife. Anyone who sees oiled wildlife in the area can call 877-823-6926 to get help from the UC Davis Wildlife Care Network.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Plains Pipeline, the company responsible for the spill has amassed a lamentable rap sheet of violations. In less than a decade they have been been found guilt of a total of 175 safety and maintenance infractions. Plains All American Pipeline is one of the worst pipeline operators in the country (out of 1,700 pipeline operators, that had the fifth most infractions). In 2014 Plains All American Pipeline earned $43 billion in revenue.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Summary of 18 Electric Trike Vehicles

An electric tricycle has all of the advantages of a two wheeled bike with the extra stability provided by a third wheel. Many electric trikes can be propelled with the motor or through pedal power or a combination of both. Unlike four wheeled electric golf carts many of electric trikes have virtually no restrictions in terms of where they can be ridden. Most of these trikes can travel at least 30 miles on a single charge. Many of them come with an abundance of bells and whistles including things like turn signals, speedometer and a suspension system. Some cruise at typical bicycle speeds while others are capable of driving at highway speeds. Despite their functionality they can be hard to find.

Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Goals

The abundance of life on Earth is declining due to human activity. Our growing understanding of the interconnectedness of nature adds additional importance to all the life forms that comprise the world's biodiversity. This includes animals, plants, micro-organisms and the ecosystems within which they live and interact.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Climate Change is a National Security Issue

The US military has acknowledged a diverse assortment of risks from climate change. One of those risk involves infrastructure. The Pentagon currently manages more than 555,000 facilities and 28 million acres of land including 704 coastal installations and sites that are vulnerable to flooding. Other military bases and installations are susceptible to a wide range of climate impacts.

On May 20, 2015, the President gave a commencement address to the Coast Guard at Cadet Memorial Field in which he called climate change a National Security issue. The President delivered his address as more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil were spilling into the Pacific Ocean and contaminating beaches and killing wildlife along the Californian coast near Santa Barbara. Around the same time as he was speaking the Coast Guard was actively surveying the extent of the spill.

The Importance of Cultural Diversity for Sustainable Development

Cultural diversity is an integral part of sustainable development. In fact it has been called the fourth pillar of sustainability. The UN General Assembly has declared that May 21 is the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. This day is an opportunity to deepen our understanding and appreciation of each others cultures. This helps us to build a more inclusive society based on common civic values. Although it may seem paradoxical, encouraging cultural diversity can help us to find the common ground for living together. When people are secure in their right to live their lives according to their cultural values, they are better able to enter relations of dialogue and co-operation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fire Water: A Cautionary Tale of Toxic Water Pollution

Waterways around the world are filled with a highly flammable combination of chemical pollution, fossil fuels and sewage. This toxic industrial cocktail has caused a number of rivers, lakes and canals to catch fire. People living near fracking wells know what it is like to have flammable tap water. Here are two recent examples of burning water and one infamous fire that helped augur meaningful change.

On Friday May 15th, Bellandur Lake in Bangalore India caught fire after being covered in several feet of toxic foam. The black sewage infested water contains both oil and phosphorus from untreated industrial waste. The problem has been exacerbated in recent years due to the clearing and development of wetlands that once helped to filter pollutants. The heavily polluted lake burst into flames that billowed clouds of putrid smoke.

Pipeline Spill in Santa Barbara Calls Us to Reflect on Oil

An oil spill in the ocean near Santa Barbara, California is reminiscent of a similar incident that occurred forty five years ago. The 1969 spill that killed wildlife and fouled vast stretches of shoreline spawned the modern US environmental movement.

While the 1969 spill was caused by an oil platform blowout, the 2015 spill was caused by the rupture of a 24 inch oil pipe. In the latest spill more than 21,000 gallons of crude are known to have seeped into the ocean before it was finally shut off on May 19th. The resultant oil slick now extends for 5 miles along California's sensitive central coastline which teams with marine wildlife. The spill has fouled Refugio State Beach near Santa Barbara forcing evacuation of beach goers. The spill threatens everything from fish to birds and migrating whales. Winds are pushing the spill ever closer to Santa Barbara.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Growth of Electric Water Craft

Electric boats have been around for more than a century however, they are experiencing a resurgence. This is due largely to the growing interest in electric cars that has driven down the price of lithium-ion batteries. Electric boats are very attractive as they boast zero emissions, less maintenance, low operating costs, and noiseless travel akin to sailing.

The environmental importance of electric boats cannot be overstated. While we often hear about the emissions load from fossil fuel power cars we rarely hear about the considerable emissions associated with water craft.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a Polluters Bill of Rights

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal between the US and several Asian countries that will make environmental regulations vulnerable to legal challenges from business. It has been described as a secretive, far reaching corporate bill of rights because it will give corporations the legal authority to sue governments if they impede their capacity for profit. This could include attempts by government to limit pollution through carbon pricing or emissions reduction pledges.

The deal provides an incentive to expand production of some of the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth (oil sands and coal). The TTP makes President Obama's climate policy vulnerable to litigation. There are also concerns that it could impose restrictions on green procurement policies, lift limits on chemical companies, prevent full food labeling disclosure and even support biopiracy.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Canadian Conservatives New Emissions Reduction Pledges

On Friday May 15th the Canadian government announced that it was setting a greenhouse gas emissions target that is 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. While this is important as we head towards UN climate talks at the end of this year in Paris, many are wondering if this is just another election year lie. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ruling Conservative government has already admitted that they cannot meet the much less ambitious target of 17 percent reductions which they set back in Copenhagen 6 years ago.

Sustainability Oriented Advertising Restores Trust in Marketing

Marketing in the context of a sustainability oriented enterprise can buoy confidence and build consumer loyalty. Advertising and marketing that is about authentic communications can combat the cynicism that permeates popular consciousness particularly in the developed world.

While those in the developing world may be less mistrustful than those in wealthier nations this may be attributable to the fact that they have a shorter history of being bombarded with multichannel advertising and marketing. If their experience mirrors that of the developed world, they can be expected to grow more cynical over time.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Event - Tourism for the Future Awards Africa 2015

This event will take place in Tanzania in June 2014, it will be hosted by Traveler’s Eye Tanzania alongside the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in Tanzania and other international Sustainable Tourism Support communities. This event has been internationally recognized and termed as the region's highest accolade for sustainable tourism development.

Event - Best Practices in Sustainable Materials Management Conference

The Association of Ohio Recyclers 2015 AOR, OALPRP, and Buckeye SWANA joint conference will take place on June 29 - 30 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dayton, Ohio. The conference will address best practices in sustainable materials management.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Melting Antarctic Ice and Sea Level Rise (Video)


Antarctica from Kalle Ljung on Vimeo.

This recently shot movie reveals the beauty of Antarctic ice and highlights what we stand to lose if we do not succeed in curbing climate change causing emissions. Global warming is melting the ice in Antarctica and this could cause flooding on a massive scale. Currently 159 billion tonnes of ice is melting each year in the Antarctic and the seas are rising by one meter per century. However melting ice and sea level rise appears to be radically accelerating. Studies show that the melting of Antarctic ice three million years ago led to sea level rises of at least 55 feet. If this happens today, places currently inhabited by hundreds of millions of people would be under water and some nations would disappear altogether. Beyond the catastrophic impacts of flooding every inch of sea level rise dramatically increases the destruction caused by storm surges.

Electric Quadrofoil Recreational Water Craft (Video)


In the US personal watercraft (PWC) are a leading cause of air and water pollution as well as climate change causing emissions, however the electric Quadrofoil could change this picture dramatically. The Quadrofoil provides a completely environmentally friendly mode of recreational marine transportation. The vessel generates little sound or wake and most importantly there are no emissions. The watercraft is so environmentally neutral that it can be driven through most environmentally protected sanctuaries where motor boats and PWC are prohibited. The Quadrofoil is suitable for lakes, rivers, seas.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Opposition to Science Invites a Climate Catastrophe

Our efforts must be informed by science if we are to seriously address the threat of climate change. However, there are a significant number of people, corporations and governments that are resistant to scientific discourse.

Science is at the heart of environmentalism. On a wide range of issues, it is the work of scientists that has brought important issues to light. Scientific research not only defines the problems, it has also put forth viable solutions. Scientific inquiry has exposed a wide range of ecological and climate threats, from the ozone hole in the Antarctic, to melting permafrost in the Arctic.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Science of Engaging Sustainability in Business

Science can be the most important tool an organization has to create value, increase efficiency, reduce risk, drive innovation that strengthen a brand. Whether to establish goals or assess the progress towards these goal science must be allowed to dictate strategy.

We are running short on time to address climate change and an all hands on deck approach is required if we are to have a chance of staving off the worst impacts. Our climate is changing and we must act quickly and act together. The business community is an integral part of the solution. Without private enterprise we simply will not succeed.

Innovative Self-Balancing Electric Vehicles

There are some very novel electric vehicles being developed some of which are incorporating some creative innovations. Two examples of such innovative technologies are Toyota's i-Road and the Future Motion's Onewheel both of which use gyros to be self-balancing.

The Toyota i-Road is a cross between a car and a motorcycle. What makes this two seater vehicle truly innovative is the way it leans into corners.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Politics of Conservative Anti-Science Climate Denial

It is unconscionable that Conservative government leaderships deride climate science for the sake of political gain. Sadly this is the case in many of the world's leading democracies. Both houses of the US the congress are chalk full of anti-science climate denying Republicans. In Canada under the leadership of Stephen Harper's Conservatives science driven climate policy has been pushed off the agenda. In Australia, Tony Abbott's conservative Liberal party have taken climate denial to a new level.

The midterm election of 2014 opened the flood gates for all forms of climate denial in US legislatures. Now both house of Congress are controlled by the climate deniers. The anti-science warbling of Republicans has been unrelenting in recent years.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Apple Makes Sustainability Investments in China

Apple is making China greener and expanding their market presence. From solar farms, to forests and greener supply chains Apple is making some serious sustainability focused investments in China.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is presently in China. He announced his arrival on his new Weibo account (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter). He said that he is in China to launch, "innovative environmental programs." As of Tuesday morning Cook already had 400,000 followers.

Comprehensive Summary of Sustainability Reporting Guidance

This summary is designed to provide guidance for businesses seeking to navigate the complicated landscape of sustainability reporting. There are a number of different ways to approach sustainability reporting and this has led to considerable confusion.

While it is generally accepting that sustainability reporting has a number of benefits, businesses can have a difficult time understanding the differences between approaches and deciding which system is best for their organization. One of the most important trends involves integrated reporting and specifically the 4D approach.

Monday, May 11, 2015

2015 Energy Efficient LED Fixture Awards: Next Generation Luminaires (DOE)

As announced on May 5, 2015 here are the winners of The Energy Department's seventh annual Next Generation Luminaires design competition for energy efficient indoor and outdoor lighting. The Next Generation Luminaires™ (NGL) Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Design Competition seeks to encourage technical innovation and promote excellence in the design of LED lighting fixtures (luminaires) for commercial, industrial and institutional applications. The competition is sponsored by DOE, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and the International Association of Lighting Designers.

2015 NGL Design Competition Winners. Twelve entries were designated as Outstanding in one or more evaluation categories:

Green Alternatives to Traditional Electric Vehicles

Fossil fuel powered vehicles are a leading source of global warming causing emissions. If we are curtail climate change we must find alternatives to gas power cars. Gas consumption has remained flat due to improved vehicle fuel economy. The prospects for electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles look good, however, these are not the only alternatives to the combustion engine. There are some lesser known emissions free alternative vehicles that run on everything from air to radioactive thorium.

The Future of Integrated Sustainability Reporting

Integrated reporting helps to cut through the complicated morass of sustainability metrics. This effort helps tor provide greater consensus regarding the understanding of issues like materiality, transparency and comparability. In 2014 and into 2015 we have seen the proliferation of sustainability reporting that incorporates both environmental, financial and other elements.

While the benefits of sustainability reporting have been widely document there is a need for more comprehensive and integrated sustainability reporting. This is revealed in a number of surveys which show that there is a lack of shared understanding. As reported in Responsible Investor Magazine, a 2013 survey indicated that CEO's see many barriers to implementing ESG issues.

Sustainable Business Essentials Workshop

A workshop titled Sustainable Business Essentials will take place on Thursday, 30 July 2015 from 9 - 5pm in Hong Kong. This one day training course is a fast-paced overview of what it means to be a sustainable and responsible business. Participants will explore the fundamentals of sustainable business practices, using the ISO26000 international guidance for social responsibility as an overarching framework. The course will focus specifically on the Asia-Pacific context, and will be highly practical, designed to equip each participant to drive sustainable business practices in their own organization. You will get practical suggestions for starting to develop your sustainable business approach and case studies of best practice.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Event - Socially Responsible Investing (San Francisco)

Net Impact's Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) event will take place on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (PDT) in San Francisco, California. If you have ever wondered how to invest in the future of sustainability and see a return on your investment than this SRI discussion is for you.

This event is about investing in companies that encourage environmental stewardship, human rights, diversity, and consumer protection. Speakers with extensive experience in this field will explain their strategies and perspectives as well as discuss their visions for SRI and its impact on the global economy and society.

Event - IGEM 2015

International Greentech & Eco Products Exhibition & Conference Malaysia (IGEM) will take place September 9 - 12, 2015 at the Kuala Lampur Convention Center in Malaysia. IGEM 2015 will look to provide a platform for the key drivers within the Malaysian Government’s Green Technology mandate.

Conceived in the year 2010, the IGEM series was positioned to take the lead and gather industry players and professionals from the public and private sectors (local & international) to explore and grasp the lucrative opportunities in the green market.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The EPA on the Costs of Failing to Act on Climate Change (Video)



We know that climate change comes with considerable costs. In this video from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the costs of inaction are explored. Climate change is already having impacts on people's lives across the country. It's affecting many things that people care about including health, drinking water, food supplies, energy and a safe place to live.

Risky Business Report Quantifies the Cost of Climate Change (Video)



Last year a powerful report was released that was intended to demonstrate the costs of climate change. While it is particularly useful to investors and the business community it is a warning for everyone. Regardless of your political stripes the Risky Business Report is hard to refute. It is written by some credible people including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, billionaire financier Tom Steyer and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. These business and political leaders have come together to quantify the cost of climate change. In this video Judy Woodruff talks to Paulson about the project.

Sustainability Reporting: New GRI G4 Guidelines, SASB, AECOM's Engagement Efforts (Video replay of 3BL Media Webinar)



Here is a recap of a 3BL Media webinar on sustainability reporting. This video features the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and AECOM. It includes a discussion of the new G4 guidelines, an exam for sustainability accounting certification and tricks of the trade for corporate communicators.

Click here to read about some of the benefits of sustainability reporting.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Highly Efficient Three wheeled Tadpole Designed Vehicles

When we think about cars we automatically think about four wheels, but that is not necessarily the best configuration. To start with four wheels have more drag and are therefore less efficient than three wheels. When it comes to three wheeled vehicles there are two basic designs Delta and Tadpole. Delta has one wheel in front, two in back and Tadpole has two wheels in front and one in back.

The Tadpole design offers better dynamic stability, meaning it reacts more safely and predictably under various driving conditions than the Delta design. The Tadpole also offers better breaking. Because the front wheels do the most the breaking and considering the Tadpole's two wheels in the front are better than the Delta's one. Although it may appear counter-intuitive the Tadpole's teardrop shape is also a more aerodynamic design than the Delta. Despite the relative simplicity of the Delta's steering and suspension the the Tadpole is the better overall design. A Tadpole's rear mounted engine and batteries provide for more stability than if all the weight was in the front as with a Delta design.

The SNP may Offer an Environmental Silver Lining in the UK Conservative Election Win

The only bright spot for the environment and climate change in the 2015 UK election is the SNP's sweep of Scotland. David Cameron and his center right Conservative party have won a majority government and this does not bode well for climate action in the UK. Of all the major parties the Conservatives are the least likely to advance environmental and climate issues, this includes movement towards zero emissions and renewable energy.

The Conservatives ran on a platform that focused on economic stewardship and fear mongering about the dangers of electing their competitors. They specifically derided the economic competence of the Labour Party under ED Miliband. It should be noted that as part of the the Labour Party's strategy to position themselves as economically capable they did not take ambitious stands on climate and environmental issues.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Cost Oriented Approach to Climate Change for Conservatives

One climate economists has suggested that the best way to reach conservatives on climate change is through being "radically practical." Most people want to see more action on climate change but some are reluctant due to the costs to the economy. This is the case for US Republicans and Canadian Conservatives. Rather than examine the human devastation caused by climate change a purely economic appraisal may be more likely to reach conservatives. There are a number of reports that convincingly make the point that climate change is both a business risk and the source of trillions of dollars worth of costs.