Saturday, July 4, 2015

Declaration of Freedom from Fossil Fuels and the Adoption of Renewable Energy (Video)

It is time for Americans to declare their independence from dirty sources of energy and begin working towards a future free of fossil fuels. Two hundred and thirty nine years ago, US colonies freed themselves from the injustice of British rule, now America needs to free itself from the injustice of fossil fuels.

The United States' Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. On that day, thirteen American colonies proclaimed their freedom from Great Britain. On the fourth of July 2015, America needs to start thinking seriously about a declaration of freedom from fossil fuels.

A few years after the American revolution, the industrial revolution dawned, beginning America's meteoric rise to global dominance. However, fossil fuels are the engine that drove this growth and they are also the leading cause of climate change.

Solar Powered Plane Traverses the Pacific Ocean Highlighting the Importance of Renewable Energy (Video)

The Solar Impulse, a plane powered by nothing other than the sun has succeeded in crossing the Pacific Ocean. This amazing accomplishment highlights the capabilities and the importance of renewable energy. This record setting voyage was flown by pilot Andre Borschberg. The 118-hours it took to make the journey breaks a record for the longest nonstop solo flight ever.

Friday, July 3, 2015

New GRI Sustainability Reporting Tools and Resources

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a leader in sustainability reporting and they continue to provide resources to help companies to track their performance. GRI's latest contribution is another helpful installment in this rapidly growing field. This fast moving and increasingly complex realm has seen the proliferation of a number of tools and resources to help companies rise to the challenge.

Extreme Heat in the Western World Marks the Start of Summer 2015

It is commonly said that climate change will adversely impact developing nations more than wealthy countries, however a spate of extreme heat reveals that no one is immune. There have been a number of heat waves across much of the Western world of late. Most notably we have seen high levels of heat in the Arctic, Western North America and Western Europe. These events are noteworthy because sustained periods of heat are a tangible way to communicate the impacts of climate change.

These heat waves are in addition to the devastating heat waves in India and Pakistan. The June heat wave in Pakistan caused the deaths of more than 1,400 people and a preceding heat wave in India killed 2,500 people in May.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Alaskan Glaciers are Melting and Adding to Sea Level Rise

In Alaska unprecedented heat is melting glaciers and causing sea levels to rise. According to a new study the amount of water from melting glaciers could cover the entire state of Alaska in a foot of water every seven years. This is the finding of the authors of a study called "Surface melt dominates Alaska glacier mass balance," published in the peer-reviewed Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Obama Administration Cuts Shell's Arctic Drilling in Half

Shell may be drilling the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska this summer but they will only be able to do half of the drilling they had planned. On Tuesday June 30, the Obama administration announced that it has limited shell's drilling plans in the Arctic citing wildlife protections. The federal government has effectively prevented them from simultaneously boring two wells.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service indicated that they want to reduce the noise from the drilling and they are using a 2013 regulation that prohibits drilling less than 15 miles between wells. Shell's plan was to bore two holes 9 miles apart.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On July 4 and 5 Canadians are Coming Together in Support of Climate Action and in Opposition to Tar Sands Pipelines

Despite the less than stellar leadership of Canada's federal government we are seeing a new reinvigorated climate movement taking shape in the country. Major actions are planned for the beginning of the month of July which is part of the grassroots climate movement that is emerging in Canada. Starting with indigenous communities in rural Alberta and culminating in nation wide protest, Canadians are getting serious about their desire for climate action.

Canada's Failed Climate Leadership is also an Economic Disaster

While Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ruling Conservatives love to taut their economic achievements, however their failed climate leadership is destined to impoverish the nation economically. 

Canada's Decarbonization Pledge from the ruling Conservatives is both inadequate and unachievable. Canada has announced that it will reduce emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This is below the emissions reduction pledges of other industrialized nations. This will mean that other nation's will have to cut emissions more deeply if we are to succeed in keeping temperatures below the 2 degrees Celsius upper threshold limit.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Pope's New Encyclical Opposes Fossil Fuels and Supports Renewables

The Encyclical of Pope Francis clearly states that fossil fuels are a leading cause of climate change causing emissions and as such we must reduce their use. He has called for stringent policies to restrict emissions and increased use of renewable energy.

"We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels — especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas — needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions. But the international community has still not reached adequate agreements about the responsibility for paying the costs of this energy transition."

Supreme Court Setback for EPA's Coal Plant Mercury and Toxics Rule

On Monday June 29th, the Supreme Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to clean-up pollution from US coal-fired power plants. The ruling appears to favor economic concerns over cleaner air and water. The EPA's 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standard rule was created to address some of the most toxic air pollution that emanates from coal-fired power plants.

The court was responding to a legal challenge from industry groups and 21 states which argued that the EPA’s regulations imposed unfair costs on utilities that burn coal to make electricity. The court appears to have been convinced by the argument that the EPA should have conducted a cost­ benefit analysis.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pope Francis and COP21

While Pope Francis is not the first pope to address environmental concerns he is the first to embark on a global campaign with lofty ambitions that include influencing the outcome at COP21 later this year in Paris. Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II, spoke about the environment and “creation”, but unlike his predecessors Pope Francis has made climate change the focus of his efforts. The recently released encyclical is highly critical of capitalism and advocates nothing short of a revolution.

It is no coincidence that the pope chose Francis of Assisi the patron saint of animals, as his namesake at the start of his papacy in 2011. The pope claimed that he shares values with the 12th century Franciscan monk.

Improving Health by Tackling Climate Change

A recent has identified several significant opportunities to improve human health by tackling climate change, most notably the phasing out of coal. This is the finding in the 2015 edition of The Lancet, Comission on Health and Climate. This report involved the work of more than 40 researchers and it was published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Event - Energy Storage World Forum

The ninth annual Energy Storage World Forum will take place on September 14 - 17th in Sydney, Austria.

Some of the issues that will be addressed at the Forum include the following.

Examining The Business Case For Solar With Energy Storage

• How will solar benefit from energy storage?
• In which scenarios and applications?
• What is the estimated ROI?

Event - Sustainable Brands Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This event will take place on August 25-27, 2015 at the Windsor Barra Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At this event participants can learn how to successfully innovate their brands for sustainability. This events takes place in Rio de Janeiro which continues to inspire brand, sustainability and design leaders to spark the innovation. This event will help attendees see the value that brands create and the impact they have on the world around them.
“The Sustainable Brands community is the main movement of business leaders concerned to transform their business using sustainability as a major driver of innovation.”
- Álvaro Almeida, founder-partner, Report Sustentabilidade.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sustainability in the Apparel Industry and Eco Fashion (Video)

Sustainable apparel and eco-friendly fashion is growing. This type of fashion has a much smaller environmental footprint this includes minimizing waste and eliminating the use of harmful chemicals. For years the clothing industry has been dominated by cheap imports from places like China and India, however, burgeoning consumer awareness about social and environmental issues are pushing brands in more responsible directions.

Nike has been pushed by consumers to become a more sustainable company and Patagonia has made a name for itself by being one of the most responsible and sustainable companies in the world. A host of other brands have also boarded the sustainability train. This includes accessible brands like H&M and North Face, to high end designer brands like Gucci, Calvin Klein and Stella McCartney.

Market Based Green Growth: Natural Capital and Sustainable Economic Growth (Videos)

Green growth that factors natural capital can drive competitiveness and power innovation for generations. Resource productivity alone is a $3 trillion opportunity. We must start with the understanding that the  choice between the economy and the environment is a false choice. As demonstrated by countries like Germany, we can increase our productivity while decreasing our emissions. To green our economies we must determine the true economic value of our resources which means we must ensure that markets factor the environmental costs of a product or service.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Pope Deprives Republican Climate Deniers of Religious Support

Climate denying Republicans can no longer take refuge in religion. Those who eschew the virtues of science have been morally defrocked by the Pope's recent rejection. In the process of calling for bold environmental action, the Pope has admonished conservative critics in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The Pope squarely addressed Republican climate deniers when he said, "It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment.”

Danish Legal Victory Shows How the Courts Can Combat Climate Change

Precedent setting Danish legal decision forces the government to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.Government legislatures and corporate boardrooms may be the most logical places to lower GHG emissions. However, in some places lawmakers and board members are either corrupt (eg beholden to the oil industry) or ill informed (ie unaware of the science of climate change) and consequently they are not acting responsibly. In these cases legal challenges may open up additional fronts that effectively combat climate change. The courts have a legal duty to protect people from climate change if their elected officials and corporate entities fail to do so.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sustainability, CSR, ESG & SRI = $

Responsible business practices pay dividends.  The value of this apprach has been demonstrated in the areas of socially responsible investment (SRI) corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and sustainability. In fact thee are now years of research that show a strong correlation between respnsible business practices and Performance.

According to a 2015 Deutsche Bank study high CSR and ESG scores are correlated with higher performance. A summary report from DB Climate Change advisers titled Sustainable Investing: Establishing Long-Term Value and Performance, found that sustainable firms have a lower cost of capital and provide lower levels of risks to investors.

Pope Francis' Moral Call to Environmental Action

The new encyclical written by pope Francis may draw heavily upon science, but it is ultimately a moral call to environmental and social action. Moral and faith based advocacy of climate action is of immense benefit in reaching those who are not familiar with the merits of science. We have needed a new narrative for some time and now we are seeing the beginning of a positive narrative take shape.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Pope's Encyclical is an Indictment of Capitalism

The recent encyclical of Pope Francis is as much about capitalism as it is about the environment. The pope clearly point to the interrelationship between unbridled capitalism and environmental degradation. His encyclical states that our economic system has importance implications for our efforts to combat climate change. We must reexamine the tenants of capitalism that give us license to abuse nature.

Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who coordinates the Vatican’s inner council of cardinals said, “the ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits."

The Greening of Quebec

June 24th is a good time to explore the greening of the Canadian province of Quebec. Each year Saint Jean Baptiste Day, also known as the "Fête nationale du Québec" and "Quebec's National Holiday" is held on this day. Traditionally the day marks the feast day of St John the Baptist, however, it has become a secular day of celebration in French Canada and Quebec in particular. A number of festivities will occur across the province on this day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Science Adds Weight to the Pope's Environmental Encyclical

The position of Pope Francis on the environment is premised on good science. In essence he agrees with the salient findings of the IPCC. While the Pope may not be a working scientist, he does have a "titulo" degree (between a bachelors and a masters) in chemistry and he even worked for a time as a chemist. Perhaps most importantly he regularly consults with leading scientists.

It is important to understand the amount of scientific research that went into the Pope's encyclical. For many months those who were assisting the pope and the pope himself consulted with scientific experts in their respective fields.

New Charges Against MMA Employees in Lac Mégantic Train Wreck

Several people have been indicted 2 years after the tragic oil train derailment that killed 47 people and decimated the town of Lac Mégantic Quebec. This includes President and CEO of the now defunct Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) rail company Robert Gindrod, managers and the train's engineer. These people face the possibility of jail terms or fines for violations of the Rail Safety Act and the Fisheries Act.

Climate Change has Potentially Catastrophic Health Impacts

A new study reiterates the fact that the health impacts of climate change are being felt today and it warns that they could soon become potentially "catastrophic" in the near future. Climate change makes us sick both physically and mentally.

Over the last half century we have seen dramatic improvements in public health, however these gains will be undone if we do not curtail climate change. A major study finds that climate change is a bigger health threat than is currently understood. The study also suggests that addressing climate change affords an unprecedented opportunity to improve it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

May was the Wettest Month on Record in the US

The month of May 2015 was the wettest month on record. We all know that heat is the most common corollary of climate change, however so is drought on the one hand and extreme precipitation on the other. While California has been plagued with drought, most of the southern 48 states have been inundated by record precipitation. Climate research suggests that drought and extreme precipitation becomes more likely in a world plagued by climate change.

The Encyclical of Pope Francis Calls for Revolution

The zeal surrounding the recently released encyclical of Pope Francis is as revolutionary in modern times as the message which it conveys. In his unprecedented encyclical called "Laudato Sii", or “"Praised Be", the pope has called for a " bold cultural revolution" to tackle environmental and social problems. Pope Francis has made waves around the world with his historic call for climate action. The Pontiff addressed the need for a revolutionary change in the hearts and minds of people in terms of the way we treat the Earth and each other.

Countdown to COP21 - Emissions Reductions and Economic Growth: The IEA's Energy and Climate Change Report 2015

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a champion of sustainable energy production and on June 15th they launched a special report on climate change. The World Energy Outlook Special Report 2015 is a 200 page document that was published just six months ahead of the COP21 Paris Climate Summit scheduled for December. It is hoped that all the nations will come together at the end of the year to endorse a global climate agreement. Such an agreement will reign-in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and put the world on a sustainable path.

Among other things the IEA report report offers an energy analysis that explores the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth. It finds that for the first time we are seeing declining emissions alongside growth in many parts of the world. It further posits five pragmatic energy measures that advance climate goals without thwarting economic growth. It also indicates that we must see GHGs peak in the near term.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Event - Water and Society Conference 2015

The 3rd International Conference on Water and Society will take place on the 15th to the 17th of July, 2015 in A Coruña, Spain. The first of which was held in Las Vegas in 2011, followed by the meeting in 2013 in the New Forest, UK, home to the Wessex Institute. Conference Proceedings Papers presented at Water and Society 2015 will disseminated worldwide. Delegates will recieve the conference book (hard cover or digital format) which will be catalogued and archived in the British Library, the American Library of Congress and the WIT eLibrary.

Event - Next steps for climate Change Policy: Delivering the National Adaptation Programme

This CDP certified event will take place Thursday July 9th, 2015, at the Congress Centre, 28, Great Russell Street, London, UK. With the new Conservative government committed to tackling climate change, this seminar will be a timely opportunity to discuss practical steps for the future of policy in this area - including sector-specific adaptation plans.

Event: Canadian Water Summit: The Energy of Water

The 6th Annual Canadian Water Summit will take place on June 24 and 25, 2015 at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, British Columbia. The water professionals in attendance will be engaged and inspired by the full day program to collaborate and take advantage of the energy of water - in Canada and around the world. Since 2009, the Canadian Water Summit has served as a collaborative forum for leaders from diverse sectors to share insights and further a united mission: to build a sustainable water future for Canada.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Implications of Pope Francis' Environmental Encyclical and Republican Attacks (Videos)

This first video covers a recent Yale summit which explains why the Pope's environmental encyclical matters and how it may transform the global debate. This video also provides context for the Pope's efforts from the perspectives of a multidisciplinary panel of expert. The video which follows reviews some of the conservative push-back including GOP presidential hopefuls and right wing media pundits. 

Bernie Sanders' Climate Leadership (Videos)

US Senator Bernard (Bernie) Sanders (I–VT) is a presidential hopeful and a longtime champion of climate action. In 2010 Sanders was among a dozen senators who sent a letter to then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid enumerating four principles for energy and climate legislation. In 2013 Sanders was among those who sought ambitious climate legislation including a price on carbon. In 2014 he was one of a number of Senators who held an all night vigil urging action on climate change.

Friday, June 19, 2015

EPA Proposes New Fuel Efficiency Rules for Heavy Trucks

On Friday June 19th the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed new fuel efficiency rules for heavy trucks. These rules are expected to reduce American carbon emissions by 1.1 billion tons.

Transportation related greenhouse gas emissions are the second largest source of emissions. The EPA has already put forth new regulations for the power sector which is the largest source of emissions in the country. The new power plant rules are expected to be finalized in August.

TD Takes Environmental Responsiblity Seriously

TD is working to integrate environmental responsibility into every aspect of their business. In 2010 TD was the first bank to go entirely carbon-neutral. In 2011, four yeas ahead of schedule they reached their goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one metric ton per employee by 2015, relative to 2008 levels. This represents a 28 percent reduction in carbon per person.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pope's Environmental Encyclical Supports the Poor While Demanding Change from the Rich

As promised Pope Francis has released his long awaited encyclical which is called, "Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home." The document is all people to support the poor. It is also an indictment of the rich who refuse to change their ways. The pope characterizes wealthy people as being the primary contributors to climate change and he calls for an end to consumers and greed to help avert an ecological disaster.

An encyclical is the highest level of teaching that a pope can issue. Francis has made it clear that he hopes his encyclical will influence those who are gathering for climate talks at the end of the year in Paris. It is hoped that the pope's message will make it more difficult for special interest groups to derail the work that needs to be done at COP21 where it is hoped we will secure a global climate agreement.

Germany is Both an Environmental and an Economic Leader

Germany not only leads by its green example it works to encourage other nations to follow. With its emphasis on renewable energy and emissions reductions Germany has proven itself to be the world's leading champion of the green economy. Germany is the first major renewable energy economy in the world and the strongest promoter of zero emissions. What makes their efforts so remarkable is that their green leadership has reinforced their position as an economic Juggernaut.

It is no coincidence that Germany also has one of the greenest leaders in the world. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel Germany has become the world's leading green advocate. Her crowning achievement to date has been pushing the G7 to abandon fossil fuels. This was no easy feat particularly with climate laggards like Canada who would rather cash out petro-dollars than enjoin the struggle against climate change.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Investing in Renewable Energy

Renewable energy investments are attracting a lot of attention. Historically this has focused on hydro and off shore wind, however, solar PV is an increasingly important part of the mix as Individual, institutional and corporate investors look to diversify their renewable energy portfolios.

Solar is particularly interesting when compared against volatility in the wind sector. According to Allianz wind can fluctuate by as much as 25 percent on a year on year basis while solar PV has an annual deviation of between 3 and 5 percent.

An Electric Truck Case Study: Smith Electric Goes Chinese to Stay Alive

While there are a multitude of reasons why greener commercial transportation makes sense, the case of Smith Electric Vehicles proves that there must be adequate cash flow to keep a company alive until the business environment matures and demand grows. Government policy and investment has been instrumental to the success of electric vehicle producers, however, as illustrated by the case of Kansas City based Smith Electric, help sometimes comes from unexpected sources.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Environmental Justice Tool Launched by the EPA

A new web-based mapping and screening tool from the EPA provides environmental and health information throughout the US. The tool is called EJSCREEN provides high-resolution maps showing nationally-based demographic and environmental information. Users choose a geographic area; the tool then combines demographic and environmental information for that area into indexes.