Thursday, April 30, 2015

US Assumes Chairmanship of the Arctic Council and Promises to Prioritize Climate and the Environment

The far north will assume a leading role in the war against climate change now that the U.S. has replaced Canada as the leader of the Arctic Council. On Friday April 24th 2015, the U.S. assumed the leadership of the international body that is charged with addressing climate change and other important issues facing the Arctic. The Council's mandate is to protect the Arctic environment and promote sustainable development in the northern communities.

The Council is composed of the United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Arctic Indigenous Peoples. Each nation is given the opportunity to lead the Council for two years on a rotating basis.

The Unacceptable Risks of Arctic Drilling

Drilling for fossil fuels in the Arctic is one of the most controversial corollaries of a warmer world. In addition to climate change causing emissions from the burning of fossil fuels there are also a number of environmental risks associated with drilling in a region as remote as the Arctic. The catastrophic impacts from oil spills and difficulties in cleaning up such spills are at the top of those risks.

As quoted by Earth Justice, Kevin Harun, Arctic Program Director, Pacific Environment said, “The Arctic’s marineenvironment is relatively pristine, yet fragile and extremely vulnerable to potential oil impacts. It is clear that the oil industry is not prepared to drill safely in Arctic waters. What’s at stake here is one of the important ecosystems on the planet and food security of indigenous peoples who depend on these Arctic marine waters for sustenance.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Shipping in the Arctic: Economic Opportunty or Environmental Calamity?

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average and as the ice disappears the Arctic Ocean is becoming more navigable. Previously inhospitable areas will see a lot more traffic from shipping, fishing, and tourism.

Tourism is on the rise in the Arctic. The number of nights spent by visitors to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard north of Norway has risen more than 300 percent between 1993 and 2013.

There is already a Canadian cruise ship that is preparing to travel the Northwest Passage in 2016. The cruise ship Crystal Serenity belongs to Crystal Cruises, escorted by an icebreaker, it will travel from Anchorage to New York in 2016.

The Vatican's Climate Conference Calls for a Moral Awakening that Includes Rejecting Fossil Fuels

On April 28th, the Vatican held a major conference on climate change that called for a moral awakening. The summit addressed the need for urgent action including reductions in our consumption of fossil fuels. The conference was titled, Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development. It was hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Science and included 60 scientists, religious leaders and diplomats.

Arctic Sea Ice is Disappearing

Arctic sea ice has been getting smaller and thinner as part of a general decline witnessed over the past four decades. In recent years Arctic sea ice has reached the lowest level ever recorded, shrinking to less than half the area it occupied a few decades ago.

Maximums

In 2015 Arctic sea ice maximum was the smallest on record. This information comes from satellite data produced by NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. On February 25th there were 5.61 million square miles (14.54 million square kilometers) of sea cap ice. That is 50,000 square miles below the previous lowest peak wintertime extent. It is both the earliest and the smallest maximum amount of floating ice on top of the Arctic Ocean since record taking began in 1979.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sustainability Communications: Internal and External

Good sustainability communications can mean the difference between success and failure. Sustainability leaders must understand the art of effective communication both internally and externally.

There are a host of challenged companies face in communicating sustainability. First and foremost they must do the work to minimize their environmental footprint and social impact. Second they must contribute to environmental and social betterment. Then they must develop a communications strategy.

Companies must not only find innovative ways of genuinely engaging sustainability they have to contend with distrust. The best way to combat distrust is through trust. Rather than become defensive, open up, speak authentically and truthfully.

Arctic Warming Feedback Loops: Algae Blooms and Thawing Permafrost

The Arctic is the epicenter of global warming and what happens in the far north has global implications. New research points to previously unknown warming feedback loops in the Arctic that could push us past irreversible tipping points. The latest research points to relationships between warming, algae blooms and carbon releases from the permafrost. Together these three phenomenon could significantly exacerbate global warming.

Average temperatures in the Arctic are already 2.7°F higher than the 1971-2000 average, according to some estimates that is warmer than it has been in as much as 44,000 years. While the entire earth is warming, Arctic temperatures have increased at almost twice the global rate and far exceed the bounds of historical natural variability.

Sustainable Procurement: Environmental Social and Economic Supply Chain Considerations

Addressing supply chain issues are at the top of the list of sustainability initiatives because they represent more than half of business expenses and they are the source of around three quarters of GHG emissions. Scrutinizing upstream procurement issues is also important for downstream customers who themselves are increasingly imposing stringent standards.

Sustainable procurement involves a thorough review of what you are buying and who you are buying from. For sustainably oriented companies choosing suppliers that align with a companies values and improve overall performance can be daunting. Analyzing each link in the supply chain is a good starting point.

Suppliers should be assessed in terms of the environmental, social and economic risks they present. Environmentally oriented supply chains look at procurement with an eye to reducing carbon footprints and minimizing energy and water use. Resource efficiency is essential as we are currently using almost twice the amount of resources the earth can produce. Recycling, waste and end of life issues should also be considered throughout the supply chain.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Moving Towards 100 Percent Renewable Energy in the US

We are moving towards 100 percent renewable energy. While we are still a long way off (currently the world only gets about 1 percent of its total energy needs from renewables) we now know that it is possible. We are seeing promising reports about the feasibility of 100 percent renewables in nations and regions all around the world. This disproves the claims of the fossil fuel lobby and their political minions in the Republican party.  The urgent need to reduce emissions alongside declining costs give renewables unstoppable momentum.
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There are no technological or economic reasons why we cannot completely replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy. In addition to curbing climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy also improves human health. Minimizing climate impacts and reducing health costs would generate trillions of dollars of cumulative savings.

Creative Innovation in Sustainability

Sustainability is a creative enterprise that goes far beyond token environmental concern. Sustainability is about more than just minimizing egregious environmental and social impacts. As we head towards a global climate agreement at the end of 2015, companies must find the equilibrium between sustainability and economic growth. This means they must take the long view on a wide range or issues. The ways that these issues are addressed must be adapted to meet individual realities of each enterprise.

While climate change causing carbon emissions are an overarching concern, organizations must also consider a host of other factors including their demand on resources. Right now we are using almost twice the amount of resources that the earth is capable of producing. Our current trajectory ensures that we will run out of raw materials and looming resource scarcity represents a serious business risk.

Australian State Meets Energy Needs with Renewables

One Australian state has been able to meet all of its power demands with renewable energy. This corroborates reports which suggest that 100 percent renewable energy in Australia is achievable. On a few occasions the state of South Australia produced enough renewable energy to supply all the power needs of its 1.7 million citizens.

For brief periods on Sept. 27th and 28th the state produced more wind power than the state’s total energy demand. Between 9.30 and 6pm on Tuesday, September 30th 2014, all of South Australia's 1.7 million inhabitants derived their power from renewable energy.

Sustainability Lends Legitimacy to Profitability

Sustainability is helping organizations to shed the destructive business practices that earned them a reputation as resource devouring planet killers. Through environmental and social engagement corporations can be redeemed and capitalism can be rehabilitated.

To be viable a business must be profitable. This is the overarching concern of any business, however, the pursuit of profit must be understood in a wider context. Sustainability offers an alternative model that reinforces the mutual interdependence of business and society.

There was a time when profits were perceived as a social good in and of themselves. The argument behind this failed philosophy was that businesses contribute to society by providing jobs and paying taxes. This is the premise put forth by the economist Milton Friedman. Friedman may have won a Nobel Prize but the business philosophy that permeated the seventies and eighties fostered deep mistrust. It led to the veneration of wealth for its own sake and it has brought civilization to the brink of its own ruin. Such business philosophies are not only morally bankrupt they invite environmentally and socially calamity.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Event - Ottawa Riverkeepers Gala

This Gala event will take place on May 27th 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario. This is Ottawa's most important fundraising event for water. It will be hosted by Evan Solomon, with musical guests Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson of Skydiggers. This year's gala honors Canada's Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers and RBC Past President and CEO Gord Nixon. ecosystem.

Event - Monterey County Hospitality Association (MCHA) Sustainability Seminar

The MCHA Sustainability Seminar will take place on April 28th 2015 at Asilomar Conference Grounds. At this seminar, which is part of MCHA’s 2015 leadership seminar series, professionals will discuss ambitious environmental stewardship efforts. This year’s MCHA sustainability seminar is titled "Creating Sustainability to Drive Profits through Best Practices." This event explores how conservation helps businesses improve the environment, strengthen the bottom line and better engage with customers, community members and employees.

From 1 to 2 p.m., a tradeshow-style "Great Sustainable Ideas" session will connect participants with vendors offering sustainable products and services. Then, from 2 to 4 p.m., speakers will share real-world success stories related to water and energy conservation, composting, recycling and more.

Participants will explore best practices and discuss specific steps to implement in their own operations.

Event - Cause Marketing Forum (CMF) Chicago: Nonprofit/Business

CMF Chicago will take place from May 27 to May 29. This event is for everyone from cause marketing beginners to veterans. This includes people who work for a businesses and nonprofits. There are a number of special programs geared towards all of the groups (separate fees apply for the small group sessions).

Event - Sustainable Investing Conference: Risk Value Impact

The 5th annual Sustainable Investing: Risk, Value, Impact conference will take place May 4th–6th at the Westin Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Participants will learn about new approaches, trends and policy developments while networking with industry leaders.

This event offers a unique opportunity to network with leaders of the sustainable, responsible and impact investing community, and to learn about new approaches, trends and policy developments in the field. The conference will attract representatives of investment management and advisory firms, research firms, financial planners and advisors, broker-dealers, community development institutions and asset owners such as pension funds and foundations, along with policymakers and corporate leaders.

Event - Responsible Business Summit Asia

Ethical Corporation's Responsible Business Summit Asia will take place on May 6 - 7 2015 in Singapore. This event is the regional leading meeting place to find out where business leaders and innovators are headed around their sustainability and CSR strategy – so you can be a leader too.

Cutting edge industry debates: Discover the key issues and opportunities for your role going forward including how to generate profits through embedded sustainability strategy and community engagement.

Event - Culture in Sustainable Futures: Theories Policies and Practices

The International Conference in Sustainable Future Culture in Sustainable Futures: Theories Policies and Practices will take place in Helsinki on May 6 - 8, 2015. This conference will address the following questions:

Is culture the fourth pillar of sustainability, alongside the ecological, economic and social aspects?

How does culture act as a catalyst for ecological sustainability, human well-being and economic viability?

What would our futures look like if sustainability was embedded in the multiple dimensions of culture, including different worldviews and values, ways of life, and other forms of cultural expression?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

President Obama Discusses Science and Climate Change with Bill Nye (Video)


This discussion between President Obama and Bill Nye "the science guy" focused on the importance of science to understand and address climate change. The President expressed optimism that we can solve the problem of climate change. It is important to encourage children to appreciate and value science Nye said. "Our culture has to support and elevate science," the President said. Nye talked about the importance of promoting science in the Constitution (section one paragraph 8).

President Obama's Earth Day Address: Action on Climate Change Cannot Wait (Video)


On Earth Day April 22 President Obama visited the Florida Everglades for Earth Day and spoke about the urgent need for action on climate change. The President called on Congress to support the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He spoke about the importance of providing access to nature and announced that he will be providing free access to America's national parks.

President Obama: Climate Change can No Longer be Ignored or Denied (Video)



On April 18, 2015 the White House released President Obama's weekly address in which he said that climate change can no longer be ignored. He reviewed two salient observations showing that the planet is warming:

Last Hours: The Urgency of Action on Climate Change (Video)


This video series offer a succinct fact based summary of the urgency of engaging solutions to the the challenges. We simply cannot afford to allow partisan politics to stymie science based efforts to understand and engage it. This video titled "Last Hours" is the first in a series of short films that explores the perils of climate change and the solutions required to avert climate disaster. This and subsequent films in the series take a science based approach to the problems and solutions of climate change. Global action on climate change must be informed by the facts. Together these videos will culminate in a feature film that will be presented prior to COP21, the 2015 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris.

Click here to see another installment of Last Hours.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Australia Can go 100% Renewables due to Falling Costs

A new report reiterates the finding that Australia can supply all of its energy needs from renewables. Due to declining costs of emissions free technologies like wind and solar Australia is well positioned to derive all of its energy from renewables by 2050 the report says.

This report corroborates other studies which indicate that Australia could supply all of its energy needs with renewables.

The new report produced by the WWF and the Australian National University (ANU) indicates that Australia can go entirely renewable without incurring massive adjustment costs or depressing economic growth. To get there Australia will need, clear targets, stable national policy and regulatory efforts that support investment in renewables. The growth of renewables could be further stimulated if the government allowed the use of international permits.

Investors in Renewables Flee Australia Causing Job Losses

Australia offers a good example of what happens to green energy investment under a political regime that is hostile to renewables. Australia had doubled its renewable energy capacity between 2001 and 2012. Under the leadership of Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard Australia was working towards a low carbon future. Then the government of Tony Abbott came to power in September 2013. He vowed to kill Australia's green dream and as a result investment in renewable energy began to fall. Uncertainty surrounding the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) continues to drive investors away at an ever accelerating pace. A new analysis reveals that since March 31, 2014 new investment in Australian renewables have plummeted by 90 percent.

Canada's 2015 Budget Ignores Climate Change

The Canadian Conservatives are fiddling as the world mobilizes to act on climate change. On Tuesday April 21, the federal Conservatives unveiled their 2015 budget. The 500 page long document did not mention climate change once. While described by many as the most important challenge in human history, the government of Stephen Harper appears to have its head firmly stuck in the ground.

As we head towards COP 21 in Paris at the end of this year, mention of emissions reduction is nowhere to be found among Conservative spending initiatives. Neither are the issues of sustainability and renewable energy both of which are excluded in the Conservative budget. There is exactly 0 new dollars earmarked for investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation, clean energy, air quality, nature conservation, marine protection and an environmental health equity agenda. Even the $300 million Green Climate Fund pledge that was promised last year was not mentioned in the budget.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Canada's Greenest Employers

Here is the 9th edition of Canada's Greenest Employers. This list was announced on Earth Day April 22, 2015. Any employer of any size (public or private) may apply for this competition as long as they operate in Canada. This editorial competition is organized by the Canada's Top 100 Employers project and the winners were selected with the help of the Globe and Mail.

The employers in this list "lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness in their organizations." These employers attract talent due to their environmental leadership. They were selected based on their environmental initiatives and programs as well as their success in reducing their own environmental footprint. Part of the selection criteria involves the extent to which they have involved employees in their programs and the extent to which these initiatives are linked to their public identity.

Renewable Energy Can Replace Fossil Fuels

This article from 2013 shows that even two years ago there was already strong evidence to support the contention that renewable energy can replace fossil fuels. ________________________________________

As the primary driver of climate change we need to replace fossil fuels with clean energy. If we are to succeed in reducing emissions from petrochemicals we will need to expedite the expansion of renewable energy.

Contrary to the views expressed by the dirty energy lobby, it is entirely realistic to believe that renewable energy can replace fossil fuels. As explained by the Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2013, we need to do so before its too late. Renewables have shown tremendous growth and with the right support this can be accelerated.

Responding to Grist's Anti-Earth Day Rants

Each year Grist likes to condescendingly whine about all the things they hate about Earth Day. This year in an article titled, Why Earth Day Doesn't Matter Anymore, they argue that the day has "lost its relevance." This could not be further from the truth. As we head towards a global climate agreement at the end of the year in Paris popular support for environmental action has never been more important. While Grist does provide a lot of great content, their anti-Earth-Day diatribes create divisions that are harmful to the growth of the environmental movement.

In their own self-righteous style they are speaking to their readership and offering what they deem to be poignant commentary (their audience is largely composed of deep greens who relish showering disdain on those who are not quite as ecologically pure). However, their righteous indignation and highfalutin derision is unproductive.

Top Green Brands for Customer Loyalty

Here is a list of leading green brands assessed by customer loyalty and released on Earth Day April 22, 2015. The brands were selected out of the 550 brands included in the 2015 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. The 50 top brands listed below are deemed to be "authentically and resolutely green by their own customers."

These environmentally-friendly brands were selected based on the results of a US survey of 36,000 men and women. Survey participants ranged in age between 18 to 65. The survey asked shoppers to indicate the brands they perceived to be the most green.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day Review of American Environmental Attitudes

A review of polling results reveals the sad truth about US attitudes on climate change. Despite the plethora of science and media coverage American attitudes on climate change are the same today as they were in 1989. Americans claim they want greener products and services and they also claim that they want corporations to be greener, however this is not reflected in their actual buying behavior.

The Importance of Science and Nature on Earth Day

One scientist and sustainability expert suggests we should go outside and play so that we can connect with nature on Earth Day.

Meg Lowman, is the Chief of Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences. She pioneered the science of canopy ecology which earned her the monikers, “Real-Life Lorax,” "Canopy Meg" and “Einstein of the treetops.” She is also a biologist, educator, and ecologist. Her personal mantra is “no child left indoors.”

Earth Day Activities and Actions in the US and Canada

Earth Day activities include a full slate of sustainability-conscious events and conservation efforts. This includes contests, awards, petitions, marches, parties, lectures, discussion groups, bike rides, tree planting, trash collection, film screenings and art projects.

While Earth Day is officially celebrated on April 22, there have been a number of actions that have taken place in the month of April and throughout the year. As part of an annual program called "One Billion Acts of Green," there have been well over one billion pledges and the goal is two billion.

Earth Day Activities and Actions in the US

In the US there are a range of activities promoted on Earth Day. One of these projects is called the Canopy Project. This initiative work with tree planting organizations around the world to ensure our trees are reaching people who need them most. The Canopy Project is an official partner of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Billion Trees Campaign

Earth Day 2015: The Marriage of Economic Growth and Sustainability

Each year Earth Day celebrated on April 22 and 2015 marks the 45th anniversary of this international environmental protection event. Earth Day is the largest civic observance in the world today. All around our planet a billion people will participate in thousands of events. Almost 2 billion "acts of green" will take place on and around the day to demonstrate support for a healthier environment and a sustainable life. Earth Day was first celebrated in the US in 1970 and now more than 192 countries are involved. The inaugural event saw 20 million Americans showing their support for the environment. The movement contributed to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Canadian Premiers Climate Change Declaration

On April 14th 2015 Canadian premiers released an outcome statement after the Quebec Summit on Climate Change. Here is an unedited version of their declaration.
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Recognizing that there is a scientific consensus calling for significant reductions in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to limit global warming to less than 2°C compared to the preindustrial era;

Carbon Reduction Makes Good Business Sense

Carbon reduction efforts are both low risk and profitable making them part of good business strategy. US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have dropped nine percent in the last ten years and we could see far greater declines if the business community understood that this is sound business strategy. There are proven tools available to help businesses assume a leadership role in GHG emission reductions that contribute to the bottom line.

Monday, April 20, 2015

BP's Legal Wrangling Five Years After the Gulf Oil Spill

BP has a lengthy criminal rap sheet that culminated in the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite BP's long criminal history they are anything but repentant. Rather than accept the penalties levied against them for the 2010 spill they are doing everything in their power to minimize their legal and financial responsibilities.

US District Court judge Carl Barbier found that BP was guilty of "gross negligence" and "willful misconduct." Although the trial concluded earlier this year, the final settlement has yet to be announced.

The Toll on Wildlife from the Gulf of Mexico BP Oil Spill

A number of wildlife species have been devastated by the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This includes seabirds, turtles, fish, and vegetation.

Between 800,000 and one million sea birds have died from oil exposure in the Gulf of Mexico since 2010. Entire seabird populations have suffered from major die-offs. Oil related deaths include 12 percent of brown pelicans (over 200,000 have been exposed to oil),  almost one third (32 percent) of northern gulf laughing birds and 13 percent of royal turns. A total of 20,000 Kemp's turtles and 60,000 Ridley turtles died in 2010.

Five times the normal rate of lung disease have been observed in bottlenose dolphins and a total of 1000 dolphins have been found stranded between 2010 and 2015.

Research Summary of BP's Gulf Oil Spill

A number of studies indicate that the environmental impacts of the BP's 2010 oil spill in the gulf is anything but over. Huge amounts of oil are still on the ocean floor and this is finding its way into the food chain. Other studies show fish that spawn in these oil contaminated waters in the Gulf are suffering from a wide range of lethal deformities.

A study published earlier this year suggested that the oil that lingers in the Gulf of Mexico continues to pose a threat to local ecosystems. The study by Florida researchers indicates that About 3,243 sq miles (8,400 square km) of the sea floor is still covered with oil from the disaster.

The BP Oil Spill in the Gulf Five Years Later

Exactly five years ago (April 20, 2010), BP's Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing 11 people and injuring 17 more. The explosion unleashed one of the worst environmental disasters in human history. For 87 days (April 20 and July 15, 2010) the oil spewed from the well and by the time it was finally contained at least 3.2 million barrels (134 million gallons) of crude oil had contaminated the Gulf of Mexico and 1,100 miles of coastline.

The worst marine disaster ever damaged bird sanctuaries, marine and wildlife habitats. It also soiled beaches, killed wildlife and devastated local economies. The ecologically vital marsh lands of the gulf coast have not recovered and wildlife is still suffering.

The Gulf may look clean but it is not. Even after a five year $28 billion clean-up operation the repercussions from the spill continue to this day. While much of the oil has evaporated or dissolved, up to 10 million gallons of oil remain on the sea floor. About 3,243 sq miles of the sea floor is still covered with oil from the disaster. Oil can also be found in marshes along the coast and deposits still wash up on shore.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Connect the Blue Dots National Day of Action

On Sunday, April 19 there will be a national day of action in support of environmental rights. This includes fresh air, clean water and healthy food.  As part of the Blue Dot movement people are coming together all across the country.

So far more than 70,000 Canadians have signed up to participate in events that are planned in more than 60 communities from coast to coast (the actual turn out is expected to far exceed this number).

Big and small events will take place in living rooms and community spaces, parks and outdoor places. All of these events are intended to protect the people and places that we love.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Blue Dot Movement Advocating for a Healthy Environment


Rather than just address individual environmental insults, the Blue Dot movement seeks to entrench a legal framework that will protect Canada's environment from coast to coast. A growing number of Canadians are demanding the right to a healthy environment. Historically Canadians have been at the forefront of environmental issues, but in recent years these issues have been ignored by Canada's federal government. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Renewable Energy in Africa and the Middle East

Africa and the middle east have vast untapped renewable energy potential particularly with regard to solar power. Renewable energy projects from large to small scale are popping up across the region. An example of small scale projects can be found in the sparsely populated island of El Hierro in the Canary Islands. This island has employed water and wind power to become the world’s first energy self-sufficient island. There are a number of large scale projects in the Middle East and Africa.

Only around a third of Africa’s population has access to energy. Across Africa renewable energy projects, whether utilities-level or small and widely distributed can bring power and electricity to areas that are currently off the grid. This would replace emissions intensive diesel power and help to electrify the continent.

The ABCs of Latin American Renewable Energy (Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica)

Throughout Latin America renewable energy is growing and there is huge untapped potential. From tiny island states like Bonaire to large countries like Brazil renewable energy is reshaping the energy map of the region. In Latin America there are five primary sources of renewable energy: Solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass.

Central America possesses a wealth of renewable energy potential particularly in electricity generation. Renewable energy development is becoming a central part of the economic, development and poverty alleviation strategies of all Central American countries.

A 2012 report suggests that interconnected and integrated renewable energy infrastructure in Central America can decrease reliance on fossil fuels, increase energy security, grow the green economy and minimize poverty.

Asian Renewable Energy (China, India Japan, South Korea)

Led by China and India Asia is an economic powerhouse that is expected to continue to experience major growth. Here are four Asian nations (China, India, Japan and South Korea) on the forefront of the renewable energy expansion around the world.

China

China is at the leading edge of renewable energy growth. The nation leads the world in installed renewable energy capacity (both including and excluding hydro). Currently renewables provide more than a quarter of China’s electricity generating capacity and that number is expected to reach 50 percent by 2050. The government has previously set installed generating capacity targets for 2010 and now 2020. The three main sources of renewable energy for China are hydropower, wind and solar.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Australia Can Dump Coal and Adopt Renewables

Although the current ruling government in Australia has doubled down on coal, the nation is capable of getting all of its electricity needs from renewable sources of energy. After a brief political leadership focused on combating climate change, Australia reverted back to the coal focused political leadership of Tony Abbott.

Australia ranks among the highest nations in the world for per capita greenhouse gas emissions; its energy capacity is mostly made up of fossil fuels, and it is one of the world's largest exporters of coal. However, the nation's coal expansion plans may be undermined by shrinking markets in particular China's efforts to reduce its coal use.

Canada Could Get All of Its Electricity from Renewables

Canada may be a fossil fuel superpower, but the nation could easily derive all of its electrical energy needs from renewables. Mayor Gregor Robertson and the City Council have pledged to make Vancouver Canada's first 100 percent renewable city. The rest of the country could also adopt a 100 percent renewable energy development plan. New research reveals that we already have the technology all that is missing is committed political leadership.

According to a new study, Canada could become 100 percent reliant on low-carbon electricity in just 20 years and reduce its emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Europe Moving Towards 100 percent Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has seen steady growth in renewable energy installations in Europe. Here is a summary of the past, present of future of renewable energy in in five leading European nations (Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and the UK):

Denmark

Denmark already got almost 23 percent of its power from renewables and 41 percent of its electricity needs in 2012 and in 2013 the nation derived 30 percent of its electricity needs from renewables. The Danish government has a strategy that includes a long term target of 100% renewable energy by 2050. The nation's power and heat supply to be based on 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2035. Coal will be completely phased out by 2030.

Denmark expects a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 in relation to 1990 (about 34% will come from the energy sector, and 6% from agriculture and transport).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Canada Needs Carbon Pricing but Harper Says No

Canada needs a carbon pricing scheme to reduce its climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions and help renewable energy to grow. However, the ruling federal Conservatives are strong allies of the fossil fuel industry and they are staunchly opposed to putting a price on carbon.

As reported in the Globe and Mail, a recently released policy document supports carbon pricing in Canada.  The report by scientists, engineers and economists claims that this would enable the nation to wean itself off of fossil fuels and get all of its electricity from renewables by 2035. Most importantly it would substantially reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. The report's authors said that the most significant barrier is not technical or economic, but a lack of political will from the federal government.

Pepe's Bistro: Small Scale Sustainability

Here is a review of how one small business is engaging sustainability on a shoestring budget.

Not all of the companies engaging sustainability are big corporates. Some small mom and pop operations see real value in reducing energy costs and appealing to a public drawn towards more responsible business practices.

Pepe's Bistro is a vegetarian food truck owned by Pepito "Pepe" Fierro. His experience is a model for small businesses that are striving to find a way to engage sustainability with very limited budgets.

Allstate is a Leader in Environmental Social and Governance Disclosures

When it comes to environmental and social disclosures in the insurance industry Allstate is a leader. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosures (sometimes called goodwill or reputation), include everything from climate change to gender diversity. ESG disclosures are commonly part of corporate sustainability reporting.

A growing number of investors focus on key corporate ESG metrics to make more informed investment and business decisions. Stakeholders are increasingly demanding ESG metrics in 2015.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Low Oil Prices Hurt Recycling More than Renewables

It has been widely reported that low oil prices hurt renewable energy while this point may be overstated it appears clear that falling fossil fuel prices are wreaking havoc on the recycling industry.

Many predicted that the gravitational pull of fossil fuels will drag down renewables. There does appear to be some merit to this prediction as renewable energy stocks have declined alongside oil prices.

Innovations in Sustainability Can Meet the Climate Challenges we Face

Innovation is key to making the most of sustainability. We will need to develop creative solutions to meet the challenges we face. Innovations in sustainability both lowers costs and increases revenues.

We have seen how innovations in renewable energy have radically increased efficiency while driving down costs. Such innovations are evident in thin film photovoltaics and giant solar concentrators. Other solar innovations include solar paint, solar windows and solar curtains. Wind energy and electric vehicle technology has also been improved by a number of innovations.

As revealed in an Ethical Corp Survey sustainable innovation is among the top three priorities for business executives in 2015. The survey further indicated that they perceive an even greater role for sustainable innovation in the future. A total of 30 percent of respondents said that sustainable innovation is the most exciting opportunity for organizations over the next five years.

Global Consistency in Sustainability

The ongoing growth of sustainability demands more coherence. Sustainability is now a mainstay of forward looking businesses. There is still so much that remains to be done, we are seeing progress in sustainable business. Companies are reducing their negative impacts and increasing their positive contributions.

From circular economies to dematerializations, business models are evolving quickly and it is hard to keep up with the rapid changes. While there are a number of guidelines, codes, standards and best practices they are anything but universal. Consequently, the focus of sustainability efforts vary widely from company to company.

In its simplest essence sustainability is about good business that functions in harmony with people, society and the environment. While the morality of good business is a driving concern, the key to successfully engaging sustainability is real and quantifiable business returns. A business cannot sustain itself if it is not profitable. Balancing all of these often contradictory issues can be both complex and daunting.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Marine Oil Spill in Vancouver Adds to Pipeline Concerns

On the afternoon of Wednesday April 8th there was an oil spill in Vancouver's English Bay and Stanley Park. Approximately 2,700 litres of toxic bunker oil leaked from a the vessel M/V Marathassa and fowled Vancouver's beaches.

International shipping expert Joe Spears called the incident a wake-up call saying that the clean up effort was anything but world class. "We've got to do better," he said. We're Canada's largest port. We've lost our way. Response to the spill was slow and inadequate.

Canada's Largest Ever Climate March

On Saturday, April 11th people from all walks of life came together in Quebec City for the largest climate themed protest in Canadian history. The Act on Climate March was timed to take place just ahead of a premiers' summit planned for Quebec City on April 14. At the summit provincial and territorial leaders are expected to discuss the role the provinces can play leading up to the COP 21 climate summit scheduled for Paris at the end of the year.

A total of 25,000 people including a number of families peacefully marched to tell Canada's provincial and territorial leaders demanding immediate action on climate change. Protestors encouraged Canada's leadership to adopt green policies, including more renewable energy and less pipelines.