Saturday, April 30, 2011

Video: Vote Mobs Getting Youth Involved in Canada's Democracy



The video above was taken at the second vote mob at the University of Guelph. With the Canadian Federal election scheduled for Monday (May 2, 2011). Vote mobs have sparked a wave of mobilisation across Canada that is encouraging young people to get out and vote. To see a list of vote mobs at Leadnow.ca click here.

Aided by social media, vote mobs are initiating young voters into Canada's democracy. Canadian youth have clearly indicated that the environment is a priority issue and this will inform their voting decision. A significant increase in the number of young voters could have a dramatic impact on the outcome of this election.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Social Media is Mobilizing the Youth Vote in the Canadian Federal Election

Social media has been driving the environmental movement to new heights and encouraging businesses to be more sustainable, now it is being used to challenge Canada's federal government. As the first social media influenced election in Canadian history, the 2011 Canadian federal election seems to be poised to produce dramatic results.

Due to fragmented nature of Canadian politics pundits predicted a Harper majority even though the majority of Canadians do not support him. Organizations like LeadNow are working hard to mobilize the youth vote in the face of historic voter apathy. In 2008, just 58.8 percent of Canadians voted and only 37.4 percent of the 18- to 24-year old demographic bothered to vote.

Leadnow is using the power of social media to encourage a Vote Wave and social media campaigns like Vote Mobs are connecting with the young voters and mobilizing youth which is increasing support for the New Democrats.

Flash mobs are well known to supporters of the environment and now we are seeing a more organized event known as a “vote mobs.” In a vote mob, university students use social media to encourage their peers to get out to advanced polls. Leadnow asked people to host 'voter socials' during advanced polling between April 22nd and the 25th. Organizers of voter socials invited friends and family to meet at an advanced poll, vote, and then celebrate together afterwards.

These vote mobs are getting Canada's youth involved to help energize and encourage them to vote and engage in the political process. The first vote mob appears to have taken place at Ontario’s University of Guelph, at the end of March. There are now 38 separate vote mobs listed on the website of LeadNow.

Whether or not social media and initiatives like vote mobs will actually get more young people to the polls depends on whether they shed their tendency towards slacktivism. (Slacktivism is the tendency express interest but not follow-up). There is reason to believe that young people will actually vote on May 2. Voter turnout at the advance polls this year set records, rising 34 per cent over 2008 numbers.

On May 2, we could see a radically different outcome than the one predicted by the pundits. The polls are suggesting that a big turnout for the under-35s could end in unprecedented gains for the NDP. This would be of immense benefit to Canada's environment.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Strategic Voting by Canada's Youth Threatens Conservatives

Canada's youth are mounting a serious challenge to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government. With the Conservatives leading and Canadians heading to the polls in a few days, organizations like Avaaz have been working feverishly to oppose Harper's bid for reelection.

Compared to the opposition parties, the Conservatives do not have much of an environmental platform and opinion polls decisively show that a majority of Canadians oppose Harper on all the major issues. Harper's Conservatives are at odds with Canadians on a wide range of issues including Canada's role in the war against climate change. According to an Avaaz national poll, conducted by Environics Research, 82 percent of Canadians want a UN treaty on climate change. Rather than work towards signing a binding treaty, Conservatives blocked progress at international climate change summits, they also made no progress on greenhouse gas emissions reductions and they left Canadian oceans vulnerable to oil spills

In addition to their crimes against the environment, Harper and the Conservatives have amassed an impressive rap sheet, they shut down parliament for months, fired civil service whistleblowers, ignored lawful requests for financial information, created a handbook on how to disrupt parliamentary meetings and processes, and flooded the airwaves with vicious attack ads.

Although the Conservatives were first elected to office in 2006 on the promise of having an honest and transparent party, Conservatives from top officials to staffers are being charged or investigated. The conservatives are the first party in office to be brought down on contempt charges in the history of the Canadian commonwealth. Recently four of the Conservative's top officials have been charged with election overspending and two RCMP investigations have been launched against former political staffers.

This election is in large part about accountability, and now with the election looming, there is another massive misappropriation of taxpayer money. A report leaked earlier this month indicates that the Harper government illegally poured 50 million taxpayer dollars into a single Conservative riding and covered it up as G8 summit spending.

Even though the majority of Canadians oppose Harper, pundits predicted his reelection because Canada's democracy is fractured and the votes are split across 4 opposition partied. In some ridings this translates to Conservative wins with less than one third of the votes.

However, the momentum is shifting as Canada's youth are showing signs that they are serious about trying to defeat Harper on May 2nd. A new poll has the NDP gaining even more ground on the Conservatives, and experts say exceptional youth interest in the election could be responsible.

The latest Angus Reid Public Opinion survey, conducted on April 25 and 26, has the New Democrats sitting at 30-per-cent support, just behind the Conservative's 35 per cent. The Liberals have slipped to just 22-per-cent support. Among decided voters between the ages of 18 and 34, NDP support shoots up to 37 per cent, up seven per cent since the middle of the month. The Conservatives trail behind at 28 per cent, followed by the Liberals with 22 per cent.

Canada needs to reform their electoral system, but in the interim mobilizing the youth vote and voting strategically is the best way to ensure that Parliament will represent the majority of Canadians.

Avaaz and Project Democracy have created a strategic voting tool that could tip the balance in several close races. This online tool helps people to vote strategically by identifying the leading opposition challengers in ridings where Conservatives are most vulnerable. Avaaz used a similar tool in the 2008 election that swung 6 seats away from the Conservatives. With just 10 seats separating Harper from the unchecked power of a majority government, voting strategically can at the very least keep the Conservatives at bay. Click here to use the strategic voting tool.

If the youth vote the way they did in advanced polling, Harper may not only be deprived of a majority, he may even fail to get enough support to form the next government.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sustainable Business Is Growing But It Still Has A Long Way To Go

Despite the growth of sustainable business, this extrordinary transformation has only just begun. The combination of regulation and demand will color the future a much darker shade of green than what we see today. Whether you are a passionate supporter of efforts to combat climate change or a science-hating denier, everyone will have to contend with a business environment that will be unmistakably greener.

The core features of the new green economy are here to stay and will keep growing. This includes things like efficiency, conservation, waste reduction, pollution prevention, supply-chain management, environmental reporting, biomimicry and cradle-to-cradle products.

Although the green economy is a permanent fixture, companies will continue to rise and fall as new technologies emerge and old technologies are rendered obsolete. But the core features of green business will be with us for generations to come.

More and more companies are adopting greener practices and environmentally oriented consulting services are very much in demand. However, the green market is still very young.

The vast majority of businesses have yet to adopt sustainable practices. According to the Sustainability & Innovation Survey by MIT’s Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group, small business has been especially slow to adopt sustainability. Their survey revealed that 82 percent of small companies have yet to go green, and 66 percent of large companies have yet to embrace sustainability. That leaves a lot of room for growth.

The green market is now estimated to be worth $5.27 trillion (£3.2 trillion) worldwide. In the next couple of decades the clean energy market alone is expected to be worth more than$13 trillion.

Today the green market may seem big, but the business world of tomorrow will be much greener.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Response to Criticism of Cooperation Between Business and Mainstream Environmentalism

Some radical environmentalists are harshly critical of the increasing levels of cooperation between environmental organizations and major corporations. These extremists believe that the only way we can address the climate change crisis is through a revolution which overthrows the entire capitalist system.

This revolutionary rhetoric was reiterated in an article published on Saturday, April 23, 2011, by Cory Morningstar in the Huttington News. In an article titled "1Sky Unveils the New 350.org: More $ -- More Delusion," Morningstar claims that corporate support for the major environmental organizations is part of a global conspiracy by the "elites" to hijack grassroots environmentalism.

Morningstar's attack on environmental NGOs includes well respected organizations like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and 350.org. Morningstar points to the April 6, 2011, announcement of a merger that 1Sky and 350.org have officially merged.

The Green Market did not escape Morningstar's conspiratorial musings. He rails against 350.org and its The US Chamber of Commerce Doesn't Speak For Me, campaign stating "350.org revealed its first order of business – that of business. In 2011, The Green Market website published an article titled 350.org and Business. The website promotes the 350 campaign to ask businesses to leave the US Chamber of Commerce in response to climate change; however, it neglected to critically analyze why such a campaign can only fail."

The truth is the campaign has actually been a great success with some of the most widely recognized brands joining over one thousand businesses of all sizes in saying no to the US Chamber of Commerce and its anti-environmental agenda.

Morningstar has a different interpretation, in his view this "incrementalism dooms humanity to failure." Although there is an urgent need to respond rapidly, an accelerated form of incrementalism may be the most efficient method of implementing the most effective broad spectrum changes.

Morningstar continues, "No matter how many businesses leave the Chamber, they will still be doing what they do...destroying the environment for the sake of profit...it will provide nothing of consequence to the solution set. It's nothing less than delusion, if not a crime against humanity, that those who understand the science actually believe such campaigns are helpful beyond our psyches."

Despite Morningstar's contention, the 350.org campaign is helping to build momentum which encourages ever larger numbers of businesses to adopt serious sustainability initiatives. Although Morningstar may believe that the climate scientists are delusional, there is a certain logic to accepting the conclusions derived from experimentation over ideologically driven rants.

350.org supports regulation, an end to fossil fuel subsidies and greater taxation for the wealthy, but Morningstar manages to convince himself that the real agenda is "keeping the wealth and power in the hands of a few." He goes on to say, "As long as the elites control the non-profit industrial complex we will never defeat the climate crisis."

Morningstar even dismisses proposed US climate change legislation as "completely inadequate and focused on false solutions and commodification of Earth’s final remaining natural resources." Although legislation is unlikely before 2012, assigning a value to the earth's resources and attaching a price to pollutants like carbon is an efficient means of slowing anthropogenic climate change in the near term.

At its core, Morningstar's tirade calls for a revolution against what he refers to as the 'ruling elite' which apparently now includes mainstream environmentalism. As he explains in the article, "institutions such as 1Sky, are manufactured and funded to serve the system and create a false pretext of dissent. And as long as such organizations refuse to focus on and examine the fundamental relationship between green capitalist logic and ecological disaster, they simply serve as nails in the coffin of humanity and nothing more than brilliantly executed distractions that allow us to embrace the comfort of denial...1Sky and all of the other interconnected heavily funded organizations are little more than convenient messengers for the ruling classes who continue to excel in ensuring ‘all the ducks are in a row’. Nothing is left to chance."

Although some would have us believe otherwise, the very system which created the ecological nightmare we are facing, is also our best hope for the future. The rapid growth of the green economy offer the only viable solution, the revolution that Morningstar advocates is a nightmare within a nightmare.

Morningstar portrays 350.org's founder Bill McKibben as having created "the world’s most heavily funded token movement tightly controlled by world’s most powerful ruling classes."

According to Morningstar, "If we truly want to save some resemblance of a livable planet for our children, we must confront and reject the non-profit industrial complex, who in reality, cannot and will not bite the hand which feeds them – the hand upon which they depend, in order to continue to exist."

It is important to follow the actions of corporate and organizational interests closely as there are undeniably many who are working to subvert the process of greater transparency, responsibility and accountability. However, the growing relationship between business and the 'non-profit industrial complex' as Morningstar calls them, drives the green economy and benefits the environment. It is nothing short of absurd to dismiss the business community's pivotal role in carbon reduction.

Morningstar's Marxist-Lenninist rants reduce the war against climate change to class conflict, but his revolutionary zeal is unproductive and does nothing to solve the dire crisis we are facing. We have seen this tired rhetoric before, and as we look back on the arc of history we see that anti-capitalist regimes are the polar opposite of a panacea.

If we are to make the kind of environmental changes we need to see in the time frames we have, we will have to use the mechanisms in place. Environmental organizations have a crucial role to play getting carbon below a safe threshold and the most expedient way of inducing this change is through the mechanism of capitalism.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Creating Climate Wealth Summit North America

Creating Climate Wealth Summit North America, will take place in Washington DC, between May 3-4, 2011. Two other summits are also scheduled for this year including a July Summit in Sydney, Australia and a September summit in London, England. These summits are dedicated to accelerating wealth creation opportunities, economic growth, and good green jobs. Creating climate wealth can also reduce carbon by one billion tons.

The green economy is the 21st century's most lucrative opportunity. In the US alone the green economy is valued at $500 billion and it is poised for growth. There could be between 1.8 million and 2.4 million green jobs in energy conservation, resource conservation and pollution control.

A new UN report has suggested that investing $1.3 trillion each year in green sectors would deliver long-term stability in the global economy. Spending about 2% of global GDP in 10 key areas would kick-start a global low carbon, resource efficient green economy.

Since the oil crises of the 1970s, billions of dollars have been pumped into technology development in the areas of energy efficiency, low carbon energy, efficient transportation, bio-fuels, and other areas. This investment has led to hundreds of breakthroughs that are today cost effective. Yet, full commercial utilization of this innovation and their financial rewards still elude us.

Creating Climate Wealth (CCW) Summit North America aims to fast-track this amazing wealth creation opportunity to create economic growth, entrepreneurial wealth, well paid jobs, and a gigaton of carbon reductions.

The summits are an invitation only event that provide a unique workshop-driven convening of US executives, investors, entrepreneurs, and leaders from the private and public sector. The purpose is to identify specific US pathways to accelerate deployment of green solutions in the face of low expectations and weak mandates.

During the summit, delegates will address ways to bring existing technologies to scale, while meeting employment, economics and sustainability goals. The technologies are spread across seven clean tech tracks: Distributed Generation, Energy Efficiency, Island Nations, Renewable Fuels, Shipping and Freight, Sustainable Agriculture, and Future of Person Transportation.

Each working track begins ahead of the Summit with a Carbon War Room pre-read report on market barriers where delegates use their entrepreneurial expertise to problem-solve and technology expertise to build new approaches to delivering high-profit solutions.

For more information click here.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Related Summits and Conferences
Green California Summit Education Program
Green California Summit 2011
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The 2010 World Energy Technologies Summit
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2011 Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo
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Ten Videos from the 2011 Renewable Energy World
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2010 Green Schools Summit Workshop & Conference
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter from The Green Market


Best wishes for a happy, safe and peaceful Easter to all our readers and their loved ones throughout the country and around the world from The Green Market.



To explore the meaningfulness of the environment at this time of year see:

Easter and the Environment

To see how some businesses have redeemed themselves see:

Surveys of America's Greenest Brands Suggest that Redemption is Possible

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Two Examples of Business at Work on Earth Day 2011

Earth Day 2011 included some helpful efforts to get business people involved with environmental issues. Women and the Green Economy (WAGE) and the New Orleans Green Business Expo stand out due to their efforts to accelerate the growth of the green economy.

WAGE promotes sustainability and solutions to climate change. This group is engaging women leaders in the creation and development of a global green economy by providing new thinking and creative power.

Women constitute more than half of the world’s population and make 85 percent of all consumer choices. Women are also rising to key positions of power and their increasing prominence can help lead the way to a sustainable green economy.

This group enjoys the support of a wide range of leading women including some of the world's best business women, including: people like Mindy Lubber, President, CERES and Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind Energy Association

WAGE's goal is to create a policy agenda for Rio+20 and generate relevant national initiatives that will promote the green economy, secure educational and job training opportunities for women and channel green investment to benefit women.

The city of New Orleans distinguished itself by holding an Earth Day Festival that included a green business exposition.

New Orleans' Earth Day Festival held a service on Palm Sunday honoring victims of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, followed by informative talks on solutions to the spill. The Green Business Expo, highlighted Louisiana businesses working toward a greener future as well as the organizations working to protect coastal heritage and make New Orleans a hub for progressive environmental action.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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10 Business Pledges in Support of A Billion Acts of Green

A Billion Acts of Green® is the largest environmental service campaign in the world and this year it included an increasing number of commitments from businesses. A Billion Acts of Green® is an annual campaign that inspires and rewards both simple individual acts and larger organizational initiatives that further the goal of measurably reducing carbon emissions and supporting sustainability.

The theme for the 2011 campaign was ‘A Billion Acts of Green: Personal, organizational and corporate pledges to live and act sustainably’.

Driven by the extraordinary reach of social media platforms like Facebook, the Earth Day message was propeled across cultural, national, and religious divides. The Earth Day Network mobilized one billion people in 192 countries with the help of 25,000 partners.

These Acts of Green, involved cleanups, restoration, pledges, proclamations, petitions, letters, festivals, reports, fairs, expositions, parades, concerts, contests, plantings, awards, runs, walks, hikes, writing, speaking, and other events.

Around the world, companies of all sizes also contributed millions of acts of green. Businesses ranging from international corporations to mom and pops got involved by pledging to be greener. They also leveraged the marketing appeal of this time of year through giveaways, and other promotions.

Increasingly companies are coming together to share their green experience and expertise. However, According to the Sustainability & Innovation Survey by MIT’s Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group, small business has been especially slow to adopt sustainability. Their survey revealed that only 9 percent of small companies have embraced sustainability, compared to 34 percent of large companies.

Despite these numbers, some businesses are showing sustainable leadership while reducing their costs and benefiting their reputation in the process. Here are 10 areas where companies are being more sustainable:

Energy

Companies are lowering their energy needs by encourageing employees and maintenance crews to turn off lights, computers, and other devices when they are not in use. Some are installing timers to cut the power automatically.

Many businesses are buying energy-saving appliances and taking advantage of the saving that come from increased lighting efficiency like LEDs. Some are installing ooccupancy sensors for frequently vacant rooms and reflectors for fluorescent fixtures.

Companies are also using solid-state drives, laptops with energy efficient chips, power stations, and Direct Current power instead of Alternating Current power.
An increasing number of businesses are contacting their local power providers to source electricity from renewable-energy sources such as solar and wind power, some are even generating their own power onsite.

Recycling

Companies are notifying employees to recycle through emails. They are also placing recycling bins in convenient locations like near trash bins, copiers, mail boxes and in break rooms and cafeterias. Some companies are upgrading their office equipment and listing it on freecycle or donating it to a charity. Others are using Recycling for Charities to recycle e-waste like cell phones, cameras, and palm pilots. Businesses are also taking advantage of computer manufacturers take-back programs for old computers.

Paper

Many companies have committed to use less paper. As paper constitutes more than a third of our waste, businesses around the world are pledging to use less paper by using digital technology. Simple things like e-mailing documents and using an external drive rather than a filing cabinet. Apps are also being used to help businesses go paperless. When paper is being used it is 100 percent recycled paper Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and set your printer or copier to print on both sides of the page.

Companies are sending proposals, contracts, and invoices entirely through e-mail as PDF attachments. Companies are also reducing paper use with electronic signatures like Adobe Acrobat Professional or software like DocuSign or e-signature. Using digital pay portals like PayPal to send invoices, is also being used to reduce paper usage.

Water

Businesses are getting involved with reducing their consumption of water with low-flow appliances like aerators for faucets, and "dams" or other devices for toilets. They are diligent about fixing sources of leaking water and they employ efficient landscaping techniques.

Transportation

Some businesses have made an alternative transportation pledge for Earth Day that reduces fuel use and the resulting emissions. These businesses are encouraging their employees to commute to work by carpooling, walking, biking, or taking Metro bus or rail. Some employers are providing incentives to take mass transit such as transit subsidies, supporting preferred parking for carpoolers, and racks or lockers for bicyclists' gear. Companies are also greening the vehicles that compose their fleets. One of the best things owners can do to save money and increase efficiency is to implement mobile workforce management software that lowers fuel expenditures, improves productivity and reduces paper usage.

Packaging

Companies are using less packaging and better materials including replacements for plastics that are biodegradable.

Supply Chain

More and more companies are greening their supply chain by sourcing green vendors for their business needs.

Toxics

Businesses are removing toxic substances from the workplace. They are sourcing alternatives to toxic products like cleaning supplies, glues, solvents, paints and other products.

Offsetting

Very few companies are carbon neutral, but many businesses are offsetting their environmental impacts by calculating their carbon emissions and working to offset them through tree planting, forest protection efforts, and energy-efficiency projects.

Building

Some companies are building (or redesigning) offices using a growing number of eco-friendly options. Offices are being designed with minimal amounts of square footage, natural lighting, green ventilation, desk-sharing for employees who workshift and smart systems including heat and motion detection lighting systems.

Earth Day activities are of increasing importance to the business community and finding solutions to the issue of climate change is clearly a matter that must include business.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Green Your Business on Earth Day 2011

Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970, as an environmental teach-in and to raise awareness and appreciation for the Earth's natural environment. It started in the US but through the Earth Day Network it is now a world wide event that includes the business community.

For businesses, Earth Day is a good time to make the pledge to implement sustainability initiatives. This is the time of year when employees and customers are most likely to be receptive to a green message.

Even for those businesses that cannot afford new capital expenditures, there are many ways of increasing energy efficiency, reducing waste and conserving water that actually save money.

Being green can reduce costs while boosting a company's image. By engaging eco-friendly policies and practices businesses can be part of a growing movement and be more competitive in the process.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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The Green Market's Earth Day Activity

Happy Earth Day! The Green Market is celebrating Earth Day with ten days of posts devoted to providing green resources and examples of sustainable businesses. The Green Market is also working to support sustainable business and to share best practices that ensure an ecologically and economically balanced future.

The business community is essential if we are to reverse the environmental crisis we are facing which is why The Green Market is celebrating Earth Day with a series of posts focusing on green and sustainable business. These posts offer important resources and information to help make every day Earth Day. The Green Market's homage to Earth Day includes a total of 26 posts, it started on April 12 and runs until April 23.

Two Examples of Business at Work on Earth Day 2011
10 Business Pledges in Support of A Billion Acts of Green
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Small Businesses Can Benefit from the Growing Green Market Too
Businesses are Combating Climate Change and Turning a Profit
The Rise of the Green Consumer
U.S. Consumer Attitudes on Green
Cost Benefit Analysis of Sustainable Business Practices
New Types of Insurance Reduce Risk and Accelerate the Adoption of Green Energy
A Greener Insurance Company
HP's Sustainable Innovation Serves the Planet and Profits
PUMA's Sustainable Packaging Innovation
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Bschool.com's "10 Great Companies Who Were Green Before It Was Cool"
Power Shift Rally at the US Chamber of Commerce in DC
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Greener Japanese Companies
Dan Miller on the Psychology of Climate Change and the Business of Change
WWF's Long History of Helping Businesses to be More Sustainable
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Deal Between Carbon Trust and Siemens Good for UK`s Green Economy
Green Guide for SMEs from the Carbon Trust
Cooperation Between Environmental Organizations and Businesses
Zotos Earns a Place on the EPA’s Top 20 On-Site Power Generation List
EPA’s Top 20 On-Site Power Generation List

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Small Businesses Can Benefit from the Growing Green Market Too

Many owners of small enterprises mistakenly dismiss sustainable initiatives as the prerogative of large corporations, not small business.

Green business is no longer a niche market, it is now a major economic driver.
Small businesses do have to be more frugal, however, being more efficient is part of that frugality. Small businesses can develop green products and services and take advantage of the growing low-carbon market.

Increasingly, there are also new financing options like the UK's Green Investment Bank, a Government-backed fund for green businesses due to launch in 2012.

Although the market for green products and services is growing, many consumers are still concerned about cost. While it may be difficult for a small company to acquire expensive equipment, every company can start with radical efficiency.

The green economy is the opportunity of the century. Green products and services are already estimated to be worth $5.27 trillion worldwide. With this much money at play, small businesses cannot afford to ignore the green market.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Businesses are Combating Climate Change and Turning a Profit

All around the world, there are many sustainable success stories from companies that are seeing tremendous profit from green.

At HP, carbon reductions are now 33 percent better than in 2005, fossil fuel use has been cut by 62 percent and the water savings have increased to 89 percent. Companies like the UK's British Sky Broadcasting having reduced customers' carbon emissions by around 124,000 tonnes. Some corporations, like PUMA are committed to carbon neutrality.

Du Pont has set a goal to increase annual revenue by at least $2 billion USD by 2015 from products that reduce carbon emissions, which were already generating $731 million USD as of 2009.

According to a 2010 global survey, seventy percent of firms with revenue of $1 billion or more say they plan to increase spending on climate change initiatives in the next two years.

Nearly half of the 300 corporate executives who responded to a survey conducted for the accounting and consulting giant Ernst & Young said their climate change investments will range from 0.5 percent to more than 5 percent of revenues by 2012.

Whether to enhance brand loyalty or to reduce costs, businesses are seeing the merit of going green. More than four out of five respondents, or 82 percent, said they plan to invest in energy efficiency in the next 12 months, with 92 percent saying that energy costs will be an important driver.

Despite the challenges, the Ernst & Young Survey indicates that corporate executives are increasingly committed to taking action on climate change. The fact that 70 percent of executives said they planned to spend more on climate change programs is clear evidence of this trend.

Even in the absence of government regulations on climate change, businesses see the value of investing in sustainable programs because they see the opportunities to grow through new services and products, as well as save money through enhanced efficiency and limit risk. This is more than just public relations, it is a reflection of the market driven movement.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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The Rise of the Green Consumer

Increasing numbers of consumers are considering green factors in their purchase decisions. According to Forrester Research, 41 percent of the U.S. population are either interested in or are already purchasing from green companies or they are choosing green products and services. The Natural Marketing Institute reports that 63 million adults in the United States are considered lifestyles Of health and sustainability (LOHAS)consumers.

LOHAS consumers spend more than $230 billion dollars per year and are much more likely to purchase from a company that shares their green values.

An extensive survey of 1,254 international executives by the Economist Intelligence Unit on corporate responsibility showed that do-gooder companies [companies that implement strong green programs] … saw profits rise 16% last year [2007] and enjoyed price growth of 45%.” Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this study was that “companies that rated their own sustainability [green] practices poorly registered only 7% profit growth and 12% price growth.

Although current research on consumer attitudes towards green is murky, taken as a whole the trend in this data offers compelling reasons for businesses to adopt green programs and communicate green efforts to customers.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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US Consumer Attitudes on Green

The most significant obstacle to the growth of the green economy involves consumer ignorance. Consumer attitudes on the green market need to be understood in the context of consumer segments. Exaggerated reporting also confounds an accurate portrayal of consumer attitudes on green.

In a recent GreenBiz article, Joel Makower provided his annual review of surveys, polls, and analyses related to the green market. His review of the research suggests that a lack of understanding about climate change is adversely impacting US consumer attitudes toward green business and green shopping.

Despite the plethora of consciousness raising events, the American public is confused about climate change. A report by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found that while 63 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, “many do not understand why.” This study echoed other research that indicates many Americans do not understand the issues surrounding climate change.

Americans have growing misconceptions about their actions. The Shelton Group, found that “more Americans than in previous years 1) think that they’re doing more than they really are, 2) think that they’re doing all that they can, or 3) think that they’ve done enough already. All three of these perceptions are troubling because they increase resistance to taking on the more substantial home improvements that truly reduce energy consumption.”

Research by the polling firm Harris Interactive found a one-year drop in the number of Americans who say they are “going green.” American adults, “are now less likely to engage in various green behaviors in their daily life,” says Harris, including purchasing locally grown produce, locally manufactured products, and organic products; using less water; and composting food and organic waste.

American consumers are unimpressed, according to the Cone Shared Responsibility Study, 75 percent of American companies get a grade of ”C” or worse when it comes to how well they are engaging consumers around critical social and environmental issues.

On a brighter note, the public’s awareness of sustainability is growing. According to the Hartman Group, 15 percent more consumers are now aware of the term “sustainability” compared to three years ago (69 percent in 2010 vs. 54 percent in 2007). However, with only 21 percent of consumers able to identify a sustainable product and only 12 percent able to name a sustainable company, consumers still do not understand what is meant by sustainability in the marketplace.

While companies are becoming more sustainable, they are not effectively communicating their sustainability efforts to consumers. According to the Sense & Sustainability study by the public relations firm Gibbs & Soell, 29 percent of executives believe that a majority of businesses are committed to “going green,” compared to only 16 percent of consumers.

When considering consumers’ attitudes towards green, it is important to acknowledge that different market segments are going green at different rates. According to the advertising insight firm Crowd Science, men over 55 are almost twice as likely to hold the opinion that shopping for green products makes no difference. Conversely, Harris Interactive research found that lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) adults are increasing their personal commitment to environmental issues faster than their heterosexual counterparts. A majority (55 percent) of LGBT adults say they “personally care a great deal about the current state and future of the environment,” compared to just 33 percent of heterosexual American adults.

Although there are risks, there are also tremendous opportunities for companies who are ready to honestly and clearly engage customers through new media. Consumers want to contribute, but the perception is that the companies do not want to listen. According to Cone, 84 percent of Americans believe their ideas can help companies create products and services. But only 53 percent of consumers feel companies are encouraging them to speak up on corporate social and environmental practices and products. Cone found that 92 percent of consumers say they want companies to tell them what they’re doing to improve their products, services and operations. But 87 percent believe that companies share the positive information about their efforts, but withhold the negative. Many consumers (67 percent) say they are confused by the messages companies use to talk about their social and environmental commitments.

Research by the Natural Marketing Institute, found that four out of five of the consumer segmentations it tracks are “much more involved in the sustainability marketplace and lifestyle than they used to be,” as NMI’s Gwynne Rogers told Makower earlier this year, only one segment, the “Unconcerneds,” representing 17 percent of the marketplace, are holdouts.

When parsing data derived from surveys, it is important to understand that consumers profess a higher level of interest in environmental shopping and living than they actually demonstrate in their actions. For example, at the beginning of 2011, a survey by Opinion Research for the paper company Marcal revealed that 80 percent of Americans planned to be greener in 2011, but as noted by Makower, consumers are more exuberant about green shopping in word then they are in deed. NMI’s research recently led one green marketing author to say that “83 percent of consumers … are some shade of green.” But once again these numbers are a function of exaggerated statements made by consumers that do not match their actual buying behaviour.

More realistic figures come from reports like Brand Sustainable Futures, by Havas Media and MPG. They found that while sustainability remains a key issue for consumers worldwide, only 5 percent of US consumers always consider environmental/social aspects when making purchase decisions. Their research reveals that American consumers are deterred by confusion, lack of clarity and perceived higher prices.

The recession has had an impact on the priorities of Americans. Gallup found the widest margin in nearly 30 years in Americans prioritizing economic growth (54 percent) over environmental protection (36 percent). “Americans for the most part have given the environment higher priority since Gallup first asked this question in 1984.”

A BBMG report on The New Consumer — defined as that portion of the US adult population that are “values-aspirational, practical purchasers who are constantly looking to align their actions with their ideals; yet tight budgets and time constraints require them to make practical trade-offs every day.” BBMG estimates about a third of Americans fall into this category, but only one in three “strongly agrees that it’s important to purchase products with social and environmental benefits, even in a tough economy.” According to these numbers, only about 10 percent of the population consistently make green buying decisions. That seems a more realistic appraisal of who’s really committed to green shopping and lifestyles.

According to BBMG, the New Consumer represents US demographics but skews younger, female, and educated. BBMG research indicates that New Consumers are looking for brands that deliver “total value” — products that work well, last longer, cost less and, hopefully, do some good. They want brands that deliver the “triple value proposition” — uniting practical benefits (e.g., cost savings, durability and style), social and environmental benefits (e.g., local, fair trade and biodegradable), and tribal benefits (e.g., connecting them to a community of people who share their values and aspirations).

Americans need to be informed about the basics regarding climate change and consumers’ interest in green comes down to the value proposition (energy savings, health) and acceptable tradeoffs (higher prices, inconvenience).

Source: Global Warming is Real

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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