Sunday, July 25, 2010

Electric Vehicles Combat Global Warming

Fully electric vehicles and hybrids are effective weapons in the war against global warming. According to an Environment America report, plug-in cars are an effective way to lower CO2 and use less oil. More than 40 studies demonstrate that plug-in vehicles produce substantially less carbon dioxide than traditional gas powered vehicles.

America can reduce emissions even further by increasing renewable energy production. A study by the Electric Power Research Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council found that a plug-in hybrid with a 20 mile electric range running on clean electricity would emit less than half the global warming emissions of a plug-in hybrid running on electricity from coal-fired power plants.

Fueling plug-in cars costs two to five cents per mile, or the equivalent of $0.50 to $1.25 a gallon of gasoline. Over a ten year period, fuel savings and federal incentives can reduce the lifetime cost of a plug-in car by as much as $17,000.

Although plug-in hybrids are currently more expensive than conventional vehicles, they will become cheaper over time as battery technology improves and as they are mass produced.
By making use of the energy grid at night when there is lower demand, the current US electric system could fuel 73 percent of US vehicles without requiring any additional power production.

One million plug-in cars charging simultaneously uses only a bit more than one tenth of one percent of America’s current electric capacity.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, plug-in hybrids alone could double wind power in the US by 2050. If three quarters of vehicles in the US were powered by electricity, oil use would be reduced by more than half. Electric vehicles can drive the production of renewable energy and reduce oil dependence.
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cannon`s Green Efforts Under Fire

Canon has been focused on making eco-friendly products for 30 years. In July of 2010, the electronics manufacturer launched an ambitious green marketing program in Asia.

Cannon`s GreenNation program touts the eco-friendliness and the energy efficiency of its products. The GreenNation campaign also has a program that recycles the Canon Selphy and PIXMA ink cartridges. Cannon has also produced Malaysia’s first “green” scientific calculator.

Despite these efforts, Cannon is under fire from environmentalists. Influential environmental media outlets like Triple Pundit and ENN are criticizing Cannon for what is seen as contradictions in its marketing message.

Canon claims that a new line of printers have components that are made with recycled materials, but its company’s literature indicates that the exterior is actually made from biomass plastic.
Canon`s new printers also use electricity more efficiently. Canon states that the devices use only 1 watt of power when at rest, or a 90% reduction. But this is now a common feature employed by many electronic manufacturers.

Although not as good as paperless offices, Canon`s line of “eco-image” paper, is sourced from eucalyptus trees which can be harvested quickly and replenished easily. While paper from post-consumer content is preferable, plant fiber is a better option than tree fiber.

Scrutiny encourages accurate sustainability claims and vigilance encourages ongoing environmental improvements. However, it is important to acknowledge progress and give credit where credit is due. Canon may be less than perfect, but we need to be very careful about unfounded allegations of greenwashing.
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

G3 Guidelines and GRI Sustainability Reporting

The The G3 Guidelines are the cornerstone of the GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework. They are used as the basis of an organization's annual reporting.

The Guidelines outline core content for reporting and are relevant to all organizations regardless of size, sector, or location. They are the foundation upon which all other GRI reporting guidance is based.

The G3 Guidelines outline a disclosure framework that organizations can be voluntarily, flexibly, and incrementally adopted. The flexibility of the G3 format allows organizations to plot a path for continual improvement of their sustainability reporting practices.

Part 1 – Reporting Principles and Guidance
-Principles to define report content: materiality, stakeholder inclusiveness, sustainability context, and completeness.
-Principles to define report quality: balance, comparability, accuracy, timeliness, reliability, and
clarity.
-Guidance on how to set the report boundary.

Part 2 – Standard Disclosures
-Strategy and Profile
-Management Approach
-Performance Indicators

The Guidelines are updated incrementally. This process represents a change from the previous revision cycles, in which the entire set of Guidelines were subject to revision. Going forward, GRI will use a process involving incremental updates that will target specific revision goals - addressing only certain portions of the Guidelines.

On an annual basis, GRI invites stakeholders to identify their priorities in Q4 for further development of the guidelines. The stakeholder feedback is then reviewed and used to formulate a draft plan. The draft plan is posted on the GRI website for public comment. The Board of Directors will approve a final set of priorities for implementation for the next fiscal year based on feedback from the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and the Stakeholder Council (SC). This plan will take into account any ongoing projects from previous years that have not yet been completed. GRI will form working groups to develop draft revisions for review by the TAC. Following the TAC review, the draft revisions will be forwarded to the SC for their concur/non-concur and then to the Board for a final decision.
Updates to the guidelines are issued when the work is completed.

GRI is involved with several projects related to updating the guidelines including Community Indicators. As part of the general process of continuously improving the Sustainability Reporting Framework, GRI is working to improve the Community Indicators in the G3 Guidelines.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cititec ISO Environmental Management

Cititec is an IT recruitment solutions company that has earned ISO 14001, one of the leading international environmental management certification processes.

Created by the International Organization for Standardization, ISO 14001 was developed by an international selection of business groups, environmental bodies and governments with the aim of facilitating environmental improvement in the private sector. Companies implementing ISO 14001 are independently audited, thus ensuring the integrity of actions and the authenticity of improvements. Cititec was audited by Bureau Veritas, the world`s leading ISO 14001 certifier, assessing companies in 80 countries.

Cititec delivers IT recruitment solutions to the world's leading investment banks, corporate treasuries and banking system vendors. Cititec provides high calibre IT consultants across the whole spectrum of IT banking services in financial centers all over the world. Cititec currently supplies over 60 leading investment banks and are the preferred suppliers to 20 UK-based financial services companies.

Taking a step beyond simple environmental initiatives, ISO 14001 recognizes that Cititec has created a comprehensive Environmental Management System that addresses all its business areas and minimizes its impact on the environment. This is a prestigious award achieved by less than 1% of UK businesses, it is recognised worldwide and supported by the UK Government.

"Achieving ISO 14001 illustrates the importance given to environmental and sustainability issues in Cititec," said Stephen Grant, Managing Director. "Our achievements and reputation as a responsible organization reflect the beliefs at the core of Cititec's operations and aligns us with the most progressive and sustainable firms."
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Canadian Guidelines on Environmental Claims

The Competition Bureau of Canada and the Canadian Standards Association have developed guidelines based on ISO 14021 detailing the appropriate use of environmental terms. Their guide reflects the most current, internationally accepted, best practice information on the use of environmental claims. The guide is designed to help level playing field; reduce the risk of communicating misleading environmental claims; provide an incentive to improve environmental performance; and meet the growing consumer demand for products and packaging to have a reduced environmental impact.

The second edition of the guideline titled Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers, was published in June 2008 by Canadian Standards Association, a not-for-profit private sector organization. It supersedes the previous edition published in 2000, entitled The CAN/CSA-ISO 14021 Essentials.

The first objective of this guide is to provide the users of ISO 14021, with a best practice guide to the application of the standard and some practical examples of how the standard could be applied to environmental claims in the Canadian marketplace.

The second objective is to provide assistance to industry and advertisers in complying with certain provisions of the Competition Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, and the Textile Labelling Act.

This guide provides examples of preferred approaches and discouraged approaches to illustrate commonly used environmental claims; shows how to avoid misleading or deceptive claims relating to an implied or expressed environmental benefit; establishes the guidelines for Mobius loop markings; and suggests methodologies for tests that can be used to clarify claims.

The guide offers best practices for complying with the provisions that prohibit false or misleading representations. Download the entire document (PDF, 589 KB, 72 Pages) .

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Environmental Impact of Overpopulation and Sustainable Development

For all but the willfully ignorant, it is abundantly obvious that the population explosion has fueled environmental degradation. Although some try to argue that population is not the problem, the evidence indicates that overpopulation is directly linked to water shortages, soil exhaustion, loss of forests, air and water pollution.

According to an international population and family planning review journal titled Population Reports, unclean water, along with poor sanitation, kills over 12 million people a year. Air pollution kills 3 million more.

In 64 of 105 developing countries, population has grown faster than food supplies. Overcultivation, largely due to population pressures, has degraded some 2 billion hectares of arable land. This is equivalent to the combined land masses of Canada and the US.

By 2025, with world population projected to be at 8 billion, 48 countries containing 3 billion people will face chronic water shortages. In 25 years, humankind could be using over 90 percent of all available freshwater, leaving just 10 percent for the rest of the world's plants and animals.

Half the world population lives on 10 percent of the global land mass. Almost three and a half billion people live on a densly populated coastal strip about 200 kilometers wide and this is damaging coastal ecosystems.

Over the past 50 years nearly half of the world's original forest cover has been lost. Current demand for forest products may exceed the limits of sustainable consumption by 25 percent.
Since 1950, according to one estimate, some 600,000 plant and animal species have disappeared, and currently nearly 40,000 more are threatened. This is the fastest rate of extinction in human history.

Over the past 40 years ocean surfaces have warmed an average of over half a degree Celsius, mainly as a result of carbon emissions from fossil fuel use and from burning of forests. Global warming could raise the sea level by 1 to 3 meters as polar ice sheets melt, flooding low-lying coastal areas and displacing millions of people. Global warming also could result in droughts and disrupt agriculture.

Governments and policymakers need to implement sustainable development, and this requires slower global population growth. While the rate of population growth has slowed over the past few decades, the absolute number of people continues to increase by about 1 billion every 13 years, and the environment continues to deteriorate.

Steps toward sustainable development include using energy more efficiently; managing cities better; phasing out subsidies that encourage waste; managing water resources and protecting freshwater sources; harvesting forest products rather than destroying forests; preserving arable land and increasing food production; managing coastal zones and ocean fisheries; protecting biodiversity hotspots; adopting a climate change convention among nations and stabilizing population through good quality family planning services.
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Growth in World Population Threatens Environment

The world population has grown tremendously over the past two thousand years. In 1999, the world population passed the six billion mark. This growth is due to the agricultural and industrial revolutions that decreased childhood mortality rates and increased life expectancies.

Current projections show a steady decline in the population growth rate, with the population expected to peak at around 9 billion between the year 2040 and 2050. The growth rate peaked at 2.2% in 1963 and annual births peaked at 163 million in the late 1990s.

Current estimates by the United States Census Bureau put the global population at 6,854,901,988. The CIA Factbook estimates that as of 2009, 220,980 people where being born every day.

The rapid increase in human population over the course of the 20th century has raised concerns about overpopulation. The scientific consensus is that the current population expansion and accompanying increase in usage of resources are linked to threats to the ecosystem, including rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, and pollution.

Asia accounts for over 60% of the world population with almost 3.8 billion people. China and India together have about 40 percent of the world's population. Africa follows with 840 million people, 12% of the world's population. Europe's 710 million people make up 11% of the world's population. North America is home to 514 million (8%), South America to 371 million (5.3%), and Australia to 21 million (0.3%).

The list below shows past world population data back to the year one and future world population projections through the year 2050.

World Population Growth

Year 1: Population 200 million
Year 1000: Population 275 million
Year 1500: Population 450 million
Year 1650: Population 500 million
Year 1750: Population 700 million
Year 1804: Population 1 billion
Year 1850: Population 1.2 billion
Year 1900: Population 1.6 billion
Year 1927: Population 2 billion
Year 1950: Population 2.55 billion
Year 1955: Population 2.8 billion
Year 1960: Population 3 billion
Year 1965: Population 3.3 billion
Year 1970: Population Year 3.7 billion
Year 1975: Population 4 billion
Year 1980: Population 4.5 billion
Year 1985: Population 4.85 billion
Year 1990: Population 5.3 billion
Year 1995: Population 5.7 billion
Year 1999: Population 6 billion
Year 2006: Population 6.5 billion
Year 2009: Population 6.8 billion
Year 2011: Population 7 billion
Year 2025: Population 8 billion
Year 2050: Population 9.4 billion
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ISO 14020 Series: Three Types of Environmental Labels and Declarations

The ISO 14020 series (14020, 14021, 14024, 14025) is designed to assist businesses with measuring and communicating their efforts to minimize their environmental impacts.

ISO 14001 offer standards for environmental management systems.
ISO 14030 deals with issues of environmental performance evaluation, indicators, and reporting. The same information is sometimes required for environmental reports and for verification of environmental claims.

ISO 14040 series deals with the product life cycle; it covers the guiding principles of life cycle analysis, inventory, impact assessment, and interpretation, and provides some sample applications. Credible environmental labeling is dependent on an understanding of the life cycle of a product; consequently, the linkages between the 14020 series and 14040 standards are very important.

ISO and IEC guides are also available to help those developing technical standards to consider the environmental aspects of products. One such guide is ISO Guide 64.

Here is a brief review of ISO's three types of environmental labels:

Type I environmental labeling — Principles and proceduresEstablishes procedures to establish and operate a Type I, or eco-logo, program. Type I programs employ a third-party certification process to verify product or service compliance with a pre-selected set of criteria. Provides guidance on developing criteria, compliance, systems, and operating procedures for awarding eco-logos for third-party verifiers.

Type II environmental labeling — Self-declared environmental claims
Defines commonly used environmental claims, establishes use guidelines for the Mobius loop markings, and suggests methodologies for tests that can be used to verify these claims.

Type III environmental declarationsSpecifies a format for reporting quantifiable life cycle data (environmental loads, such as energy used, emissions generated, etc.) Describes business-to-business declarations and labels, which require independent verification of the data only, not third-party certification. Business-to-consumer declarations require third-party certification.
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Saturday, July 10, 2010

ISO Principles for Environmental Labels and Claims

These principles are part of ISO 14020, they serve as a prerequisite for all the other standards in the series.

1. Environmental labels and declarations shall be accurate, verifiable, relevant, and not misleading.

2. Procedures and requirements for environmental labels and declarations shall not be prepared, adopted, or applied with a view to, or with the effect of, creating unnecessary obstacles to international trade.

3. Environmental labels and declarations shall be based on scientific methodology that is sufficiently thorough and comprehensive to support the claim and that produces results that are accurate and reproducible.

4. Information concerning the procedure, methodology, and any criteria used to support environmental labels and declarations shall be available and provided upon request to all interested parties.

5. The development of environmental labels and declarations shall take into consideration all relevant aspects of the life cycle of the product.

6. Environmental labels and declarations shall not inhibit innovation that maintains, or has the potential to improve, environmental performance.

7. Any administrative requirements of information demands related to environmental labels and declarations shall be limited to those necessary to establish conformance with applicable criteria and standards of the labels and declarations.

8. The process of developing environmental labels and declarations should include an open, participatory consultation with interested parties. Reasonable efforts should be made to achieve a consensus throughout the process.

9. Information on the environmental aspects of products and services relevant to an environmental label or declaration shall be available to purchasers and potential purchasers from the party making the environmental label or declaration.
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Friday, July 9, 2010

The History and Value of Environmental Labeling

Environmental labels have been around for more than a quarter century, yet their value rests on the assurance that the information provided is credible, objective, easily identifiable and understood by consumers.

The demand for environmental information on consumer products has been growing since the late 1970s. There are now many different approaches and systems for assessing and communicating environmental product information.

In 1992, the concept of environmental labeling was endorsed by participating governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) to "encourage expansion of environmental labeling and other environmentally related product information programs designed to assist consumers to make informed choices".

In 1993, ISO established a technical committee to develop international environmental labeling standards. These standards are intended to incorporate requirements for consistency and accuracy, and create fair competition in the marketplace. ISO 14020 series is part of a family of international environmental labeling standards.

Environmental labeling is based on international standards and is recognized as an effective instrument of environmental policy by the World Trade Organization (WTO) secretariat, (see WTO Web page on environmental labeling).

Standards play an important role in providing guidance to ensure responsible claims in industry and advertising.

Standards for environmental claims benefit consumers, industry, and advertisers by providing a level playing field and consistency of application. They also provide continual improvement through the maintenance of a standards program that is updated as environmental practices and scientific information evolve.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Standards are Required to Combat Eco-label and Eco-Certification Confusion

With the plethora of competing green claims it is imperative that we develop industry specific standards. There are a wide range of eco-labels and eco-certification approaches, they include self-managed or third-party-managed: verified in-house or independently verified and/or certified; based on the product life cycle or a single attribute; available for single or multiple sectors and product categories; and designed to demonstrate environmental leadership, relative performance, or just provide information.

It is becoming increasingly important for consumers and institutional buyers to know if a product or service is truly green.

Producers use eco-labels and eco-certification to validate green claims, guide green purchasing, and improve environmental performance standards. According to a 2007 USDA report, eco-labels in organic food products and forestry practices have grown at 20-30% per year since the late 1990s and early 2000s.

A report titled Global Ecolabel Monitor 2010, Towards Transparency (PDF), was produced by Ecolabel Index, the largest global database of ecolabels, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute. The report provides a snapshot of eco-label transparency, including the results of a survey of 340 eco-labels from 42 countries, conducted between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010.

The report indicates that demand for products with eco-labels is growing, although confusion about which companies are truly environmentally responsible persists. A 2009 UK Carbon Trust study indicated that 44% of UK consumers want more information on what companies are doing to be green, but 70% do not feel confident about identifying which companies are environmentally responsible.

Several large companies and government agencies have recently announced or improved their green- or eco-purchasing policies, notably Wal-Mart, Office Depot, Mars, Dow, Dell and the US Federal Government. In order to meet their policies, these large-scale institutional purchasers need standards, detailed information, and proof that a product is green.

With differing criteria as to what constitutes green, eco-labels are lacking the credibility they require to be effective. According to a European market research study (OECD, 2006), marketing, consumer confusion and competition between similar schemes has caused low market penetration for some ecolabels.

Eco-labels and eco-certification can provide an effective baseline and encourage best practices and guidelines but only if we first develop industry specific standards.
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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Growing US Corporate Investments are Driving Cleantech in 2010

American corporate investments are powering green in 2010. Corporate activity in cleantech innovation continues to play an important role and corporations are becoming key participants in many of the largest venture and growth capital investment deals.

US corporate involvement is responsible for many of 2010's top deals. Due to the participation of companies like Intel Capital, GE Capital, Shell, and Cargill Ventures, American corporate investments are driving cleantech.

Increasing corporate commitments in renewable energy and broader cleantech sectors are evident in the strong growth of corporate investment in the first half of 2010.

Due to the pressure of meeting Renewable Portfolio Standards in many US states, companies are forging a business case for operational cleantech integration. Companies are looking to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in order to reduce operational costs, mitigate energy price volatility risk, drive sustainable growth, and comply with existing and pending regulations around carbon and climate change risk disclosure.

In the first half of 2010, the total announced capacity additions by US utilities increased 197 percent compared to the second half of 2009. Levels rose from 1,393MW to 4,134MW, primarily driven by wind and solar. Power purchase agreements (PPAs) rose 148 percent in the first half of 2010, compared to the second half of 2009. Levels rose from 621MW to 1,539MW.

Corporate investment announcements reached a new high of $5.1 billion in the first half of 2010, a 325 percent increase from the same period last year. "The significant strengthening of corporate and utility investment into the cleantech sector, relative to 2009, is very encouraging, given the key role they will play in enabling broader adoption of clean technologies at scale," said Scott Smith, partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP. "Major U.S. utilities are increasing direct investments in wind and solar due to improving cost scenarios, favorable tax credits and incentives, and evolving pressure to meet Renewable Portfolio Standards."

The US is responsible for some of the largest cleantech transactions in 2010. Solyndra, a California-based thin film company received $175 million in investments. BrightSource Energy, a California-based developer of utility-scale solar thermal power plants, received $150 million. Amonix, a California-based developer of concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems, received $129.4 million. Amyris Biotechnologies, a California-based developer of technology for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals, garned $61 million in investments and also raised a further $47.8 million from Temasek Holdings.

Virent Energy Systems, a Wisconsin-based developer of a catalytic bio-refinery platform, received $46 million. Kior, a Texas-based developer of a catalytic cracking technology for turning biomass into bio-crude, received $40 million. OpenPeak, a Florida-based developer of home energy management products, received $52 million.

North American companies received a total of $1.46 billion in investments, up 47 percent from second quarter of 2009 and accounting for 72 percent of the total global venture investment in cleantech.
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