Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Global Warming Exposes Resources but Arctic Meeting Leaves Some Out in the Cold

Yesterday March 29, prior to welcoming the G8 foreign ministers for a meeting on global security, Lawrence Cannon, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs hosted a summit of five Arctic coastal countries (Canada, Russia, the U.S., Norway and Denmark). The talks addressed continental shelf delineation, resource development, national security, shipping routes and environmental protection.

Technically, the Arctic is the area within the Arctic Circle, but we can also think of the Arctic as the area north of the treeline, where there is only tundra and the Arctic Ocean, or the area where the average temperature for the warmest month is below 10°C (50°F).

In the last several years, Canada, the U.S., Denmark, Norway and Russia have all made competing claims to the Arctic. Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, countries bordering the Arctic can assert ownership of natural resources up to 200 miles off their coasts.

The renewed interest in the Arctic is due to global warming which is causing the ice cover to disappear for several months a year (in 2007, for the first time in modern history the North-West Passage was free of ice). The warming of the Arctic will open up a new Atlantic-Pacific shipping channel and access to up to 90 billion barrels of oil and other resources.

New transport routes will further increase tensions in the far north as well as imperil the fragile Arctic ecosystem.

Many are concerned that the environment is not getting the attention it deserves at these talks. In the Arctic, the majority of biological activity is limited to a very short window of time. As a result, any interference, such as shipping activities, can have a huge impact on the natural ecological and biological patterns of the Arctic.

The Arctic meeting was also criticized for excluding aboriginal people and other Arctic nations (Sweden, Finland and Iceland), pompting Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to say,"significant international discussions on Arctic issues should include those who have legitimate interests in the region."

In Monday's Press conference Cannon responding to these criticisms, repeatedly mentioned ''cooperation and collaboration,'' adding, ''protecting the environment is a priority.''

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Friday, March 26, 2010

The Business of Earth Hour and the Power of Social Media

Earth Hour is the world's largest event calling for action on climate change. This Saturday 27 March at 8.30 PM (local time), businesses will join people all around the world to turn off their lights for one hour to show that solutions to the threat of global warming are possible through collective action.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one hour to make their stand against climate change. In 2008, Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and the Colosseum in Rome, went dark, as a symbol of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people around the world took part in the third Earth Hour. Over 4000 cities in a record setting 88 countries switched off their lights for one hour to pledge their support for the planet.

This year, 92 countries have already made the pledge for Earth Hour to show the world what can be done to fight climate change. This year promises to be the biggest and best Earth Day in the event's short history, proving that environmental issues are able to unite people from all continents and every walk of life. The success of Earth Hour is not only due to the prescience of the climate change issue, it is also due to the power of social media.

Earth Hour has relied on social media to communicate its message to millions of people, businesses and organizations around the world. They employ all the major social networking sites including, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and My Space. At the WWF Earth Hour site you will also find tools for blogs and webpages.

Earth Hour underscores the importance of socially responsible business and the growing importance of cause marketing. In the wake of the recession, the need for greater efficiency and the widespread consumer support for the environment make sustainability an unavoidable bottom line issue. Businesses that incorporate sustainable practices are afforded some priceless PR. Many businesses know this and consequently they are increasingly eager to get involved with environmental events.

The big brands participating in Earth Hour this year include IKEA, HSBC, Canon, Hilton. To get your business involved, register to join Earth Hour and download the Blueprint for Businesses and Corporations. Here are a few simple steps you can take to help reduce your business's impact on the environment:

Replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones.
Buy reusable dishware to reduce waste.
Start recycling and ask employees to participate.
Organize community service days for employees to clean a park or public space.
Subscribe to online newspapers to reduce paper waste.
Teleconference, instead of commuting to meetings.
Turn off the lights when they are not needed.

Earth Hour welcomes inquiries from businesses that would like to know more about how they can support Earth Hour. For more information email Earth Hour at contact@earthhour.org.

Earth Hour is also a good opportunity to call for comprehensive energy and climate legislation in the US. Because the US accounts for one quarter of the world's economy, American legislation is crucial to the welfare of the planet and it inhabitants. Despite President Obama's earnest support for climate and energy legislation, we have yet to see a vote in the Senate (although an early version of a climate and energy bill passed in the House last year).

Pledge your support and don't forget to turn off your lights for one hour, Earth Hour, 8.30 PM, Saturday March 27, 2010.

Next: China Participates in Earth Hour

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Consumers Continue to Embrace the Burgeoning Green Market

The market for environmentally-friendly products has never been better and the demand has never been stronger. According to Mintel International,“the green marketplace is one of the fastest growing, most dynamic sectors of the US economy."

The market is huge and getting bigger. In 2007 there were already 36 million Americans spending more than a quarter trillion dollars per year on green products and services. The Chicago Tribune reported that 36 million consumers, or 12 percent of the US population, "happily" embraced the green market in 2007. That same year, the green market was estimated at 230 billion,

The number of Americans who say they “almost always” or “regularly” buy green tripled from 12% in 2007 to 36% in 2008.

Prior to the recession, a survey conducted by Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates, and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, anticipated that consumers would spend an estimated $500 billion in 2008.

When the recession began in 2008, many predicted that green spending would slow, however, according to recent Mintel consumer data and contrary to the expectations of many, consumer interest in green was not diminished by the recession.

Last March, at the height of the recession, four out of five people said they were still buying green products and services, according to a study commissioned by Green Seal and EnviroMedia Social Marketing. A 2009 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey indicated that 44 percent of Americans have not changed their environmental buying habits as a result of the economy.

In the next ten years sustainable consumer spending could exceed $1 trillion dollars per year. Greentech industries are poised to grow exponentially (Chinese greentech alone is expected to be between $500 billion and $1 trillion annually in the next couple of years).

According to the results of the 2009 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey, roughly 34 percent of American consumers indicated they are more likely to buy environmentally responsible products.

DoubleClick Performics' research indicates that, “When choosing between two similar products, 83 percent of consumers are extremely or very likely to choose the environmentally friendly option. The vast majority of Americans who make online purchases say it is important to them that an online company is environmentally-conscious, including 60 percent who say it is extremely or very important.”

Ethical products are not only doing well, they are outperforming conventional products. Packaged Fact states that, between 2003 and 2008, the ethical products business experienced double-digit annual growth compared with low-single-digit growth in conventional products.

Despite a global recession, the sustainable business movement did not retreat and in the coming years it is destined to grow as it tries to keep pace with the explosive demand for greener products and services.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The 2010 World Energy Technologies Summit

On Thursday March 18, the 2010 World Energy Technology Summit will convene in New York city. The summit will explore technologies that can help save the planet and shape the future. Some of the world's brightest minds and innovators in energy-tech will lead a daylong summit on game-changing green technologies. Core subjects will include power, food, heat and light. TIME Magazine and the World Technology Network are partners in this daylong gathering of influential energy technology experts and stakeholders. The Summit will bring together leading experts – technologists, scientists, business leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, investors, government and NGO representatives, and more – each working in or deeply tied to the fields of energy, alternative energy and environmental technologies. Throughout a day of discussions, panels and demonstrations, the Summit will explore the role and influence of emerging energy technologies on climate change, business, infrastructure and the environment. Speakers include Peter Goldmark, Program Director, Climate and Air, Environmental Defense Fund, and Mindy S. Lubber, President of CERES. Guided by the theme, REALITY CHECK: Technologies Putting us on the Path to Sustainability, programming will explore long and short term technologies and strategies that can re-shape our lives, our businesses, our policies, our planet and our future.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pepsi Refresh Project's Cause Marketing Videos

Pepsi is using cause marketing to improve their brand awareness in a declining market. Consumers are moving away from sugary, carbonated beverages to a diverse array of healthier alternatives. Pepsi and Coke have been vying for the $60 billion soft drink market for decades. Although Coke and Pepsi own major stakes in non-cola beverages, slowing sales, especially in North America, have forced both companies to seek new ways to generate profits and advertise their brands.

Through its Refresh campaign, Pepsi has established itself as a leading presence in cause marketing in 2010. Pepsi has created videos with high production values. Here are several examples of Pepsi's use of online video for cause marketing.

Pepsi's page on YouTube provides a variety of engaging videos including appeals for support from celebrities like Kevin Bacon and Demi Moore. As a reflection of the changing times, rather than advertising during the Super Bowl this year, Pepsi created this broadcast commercial.

The Pepsi Refresh Project seeks to engage the masses to help Pepsi give away over $20 million. Each month, Pepsi is giving away millions in grants to fund great ideas. So far it has garnered nearly half a million views. You can vote on submission or share an idea of your own. Get the idea toolkit to get involved.

One of the 6 categories on the Pepsi Refresh site is entittled Planet. People have made a variety of submissions to help protect the earth including an environmental education summer camp and a youth run green composting business.

The Pepsi Refresh Project illustrates some of the ways that marketing can create buzz through a unique experience that connects with consumers through causes. Cause marketing can expand a brand's reach and forge greater customer loyalty, it can also help to make the world a better place.

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