Thursday, March 31, 2016

Investments in Renewables are Eclipsing Fossil Fuels

We are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. While the combination of new regulatory regimes, climate action and divestment signal the end of fossil fuels, investments in renewable energy are booming. Recent research confirms that the transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewables is well under way. Competitive pressure from clean energy sources are hastening the demise of fossil fuels. The price of renewable energy and battery storage is falling as the demand for clean energy is increasing. Record amounts of renewable energy investment was documented in 2015. Investments are pouring into renewables at more than twice the rate of fossil fuels.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Renewables will Keep Growing Whether Oil Prices are Low or High

Regardless of whether oil prices are low or high we will continue to see massive increases in renewable energy which will ultimately help to make fossil fuels obsolete. Although low oil prices have historically hurt the growth of renewables, this appears to have changed. World Watch cites statistical analysis that shows low oil prices are no longer correlated with a slowdown in renewables. The data supports the contention that renewables have decoupled from the price of oil. As explained in a GMO article last February, low oil prices can't stop the growth of renewables. For more than a year we witnessed drastic declines in the price of oil but contrary to conventional wisdom renewables have kept growing.

Market Forces are Killing the Fossil Fuel Industry

A confluence of factors are providing some significant headwinds for the fossil fuel industry. Declining clean energy costs and low oil prices are driving investors away from fossil fuels and towards renewables.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Renewables Decoupled from the Price of Oil

Low oil prices are no longer holding back renewables, in fact they are proving to be a boon. Historically the price of oil has been tied to renewable energy. The higher the price of oil the more it benefited the growth of renewables. Conversely the low oil prices slowed the growth of renewables. However, according to recent statistical analysis this link appears to have been broken.

Despite the Oil Rally Expect Low Prices to Continue in 2016

Even though we have seen a recent uptick in oil prices the outlook in the short and medium term is anything but bullish. According to a number of energy pundits, there is little reason to believe that oil prices will keep their current value. First, despite the agreement to reduce production from Saudi Arabia and Russia, there is no agreement from other producers to curb production and secondly Iran’s oil shipment to Europe will rise sharply by May.

In a March 29th Seeking Alpha article titled, "Big Trouble For Oil Prices Could Be Brewing," Daniel Jones says that despite the rise in oil price the short term future does not look good. "[T]he market suggesting additional upside may not be possible near-term or downside is probable," Jones said.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hybrid and Fully Electric Cars at the New York Auto Show

A number of greener cars are being showcased at the 2016 edition of the New York International Auto show. This year almost every automaker is highlighting their hybrid and electric vehicles. As explained by Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel in New York, hybrids and pure electrics are a “mainstay” for the industry.The show opened on March 23 and will run until April 2.

General Motors

There has been a lot of buzz around GM's new affordable all electric family car called the Bolt What makes this car noteworthy is its 200-mile range all for around $30,000 after federal tax incentives. This is the first electric vehicle from GM since it launched its electric and gas powered Volt.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Event - California Higher Education Sustainability Conference

This event will take place on June 27th- July 1st, 2016 at California State University, Fullerton. The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) highlights cutting-edge research, as well as case studies with proven successes in curriculum development, operational programs, and community partnerships. This unique event is jointly organized by independent / private colleges, California Community Colleges, California State Universities, and the University of California creating the opportunity for dialogue across institutions.

The Symbolism of Easter in the Age of the Anthropocene

The symbolism of Easter offers an opportunity to reflect deeply on the shift of consciousness required to extricate ourselves from the horrors of climate change and the tragic state of environmental degradation we have created. We need the kind of philosophical and psychological insights that will enable us to extricate ourselves from the age of the Anthropocene, a time when human activities are having a significant adverse global impacts on Earth's geology and ecosystems.

The egg is a prominent symbol of Easter and a fitting metaphor for the Earth. An egg symbolizes the promise of new life and at the same it is fragile and can be easily broken. As a festival celebrating the return of spring and as a Christian holiday, Easter calls us to remember the cycles of renewal and the interconnectedness of life and death.

Event - Sustainable Brands San Diego

#SB16sd will take place on June 6-9, 2016 at the Paradise Point Spa and Resort in San Diego, California. As the demand for new products, services and business models that deliver purpose and profit continues to soar, brand leaders who are tapping into this shift are thriving in the face of uncertainty. This year, elevate your courage to galvanize purpose and mobilize your brand to succeed. Seek to clarify how your brand can make a unique contribution to the world and motivate others to follow to create impact at scale.

Event - Cleantech Revolution Tour (Berlin)

The first CleanTechnica Event that is part of the Cleantech Revolution Tour will take place on April 9th - 10th, 2016, in Berlin, Germany. This event will focus on Cleantech inspiration, education & empowerment. The Cleantech Revolution Tour, brought to you by CleanTechnica in partnership with GridHub, will include speakers, analysts, and experts focused on stimulating the greater adoption of electric vehicles (EV) and solar energy. This is the first in a series of events that are planned for cities across North America and Europe.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Our Forests are Being Decimated but they can be Reborn

Forest are a critical part of our efforts to protect biodiversity and manage global warming. In fact we cannot talk about addressing climate change without also talking about protecting forests.

On March 21st 2016 we celebrated the sixth International Day of Forests. On this day efforts are made to make people aware of the immense importance of forests.

A New York Times article titled, "With Deaths of Forests, a Loss of Key Climate Protectors," makes this point emphatically. Some scientists have said that the extent to which our planet is habitable is related to the number of trees on Earth.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Warmest Winter Ever and the Coming Climate Catastrophe

The oft repeated refrain that weather does not equal climate is giving way to the realization that when you string decades of weather data together a clear and irrefutable warming pattern emerges. In 2015 the hottest summer in recorded history eventually culminated in the hottest year in recorded history. The new numbers posted for last year broke the record set the year before.

Worse still global temperature data suggested that the warming trend is accelerating. As the new year commenced we saw even more support for this contention. February 2016 saw the biggest temperature increase on record and we now know that last winter was the warmest ever.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

David Suzuki's Passion for Nature

Today, March 24, 2016, we celebrate the 80th birthday of the iconic Canadian environmentalist and elder Dr. David Suzuki. This internationally respected nature lover is considered by many to be the greatest living Canadian. He has been an academic, science broadcaster and author but he is best known for his work as a passionate defender of the natural world.

It will come as a surprise to many but Suzuki's passion for nature was born in a Canadian concentration camp. While Suzuki has earned global praise, he was not always venerated as he is today. Due to his Japanese heritage, the Suzuki family was subject to the racist brutality of internment during the Second World War.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Liberal Budget Delivers a Raft of Green Promises

The newly elected Liberals first budget makes good on their green campaign promises. The budget called "Growing the Middle Class," was released on March 22, it is intended to help make Canada "a champion of clean growth," and "make a speedy transition to a low-carbon economy."

As explained in the document Canada must now strive to catch up to the low carbon leaders in the world. This is no easy feat after ten years of climate inaction from Stephen Harper's Conservative government. However, rather than focus solely on the challenge ahead, the Liberals are looking to capitalize on the opportunities.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Businesses Make Water Stewardship Pledges at a White House Summit

Water is essential to sustain life and it is also crucial to many business including some of the staples of our economy (eg: food, clothing, cars and mobile phones). At a White House Summit on World Water Day several businesses made ambitious pledges related to water conservation strategies and technological investments.  Together these water related private sector efforts will amount to more than $1 billion over the next ten years.

Ask the Canadian Government to Protect our Water Resources

In honor of David Suzuki's 80th birthday on March 24, Canadians are calling for more action to "protect, respect and fulfill our right to clean water." Canada has one-fifth of the Earth's fresh water, a quarter of its remaining wetlands and the world's longest coastline so it should come as no surprise that water is an important issue for Canadians. Led by the Suzuki Foundation, the Blue Dot movement said:
"Access to clean water is a fundamental pillar in the right to a healthy environment. Finland, Uruguay and Greece have already used environmental rights legislation to protect marine biodiversity, limit overfishing, stop destructive dam projects and protect indigenous peoples' right to clean drinking water."

World Water Day 2016: Employment and Energy

Each year World Water Day is celebrated on March 22 and this year the focus is on jobs and by extension energy. The day is an opportunity to raise awareness and engage concrete actions related to responsible water stewardship. The first World Water Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly on March 22, 1993.

Water stewardship is a global issue. As reviewed in a 2016 Yale report, since 2000 the number of people who lack access to clean water has been cut nearly in half from over one billion to 550 million.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Forests Combat Climate Change and Benefit the Economy (Infographic)

February Heat Smashes Records Prompting Scientists to Declare a Climate Emergency

While new heat records are commonplace, February 2016 is in a class of its own for having the largest ever average monthly departure from global norms in the history of temperature measurements. The global average temperature in February was 1.35 degrees Celsius (2.43 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1951-1980 average.

NASA, NOAA, the Japan Meteorological Agency and a satellite-based estimate of lower atmospheric temperature from the University of Alabama at Huntsville all confirm February's record setting heat.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Event - Compliance & Conduct Risk in Financial Services Forum

This event will take place on June 21 and 22, 2016 at the Crown Plaza in London, UK.

This two day Conference is focused on Culture, Ethics and Integrity and it will bring together leadership from Compliance, Conduct Risk and European Regulators in a series of interactive and dynamic sessions to deliver a holistic view on how compliance and conduct risk are each changing financial services.

Event - Fuel Cells Science and Technology 2016

This event will take place on April 13 and 14, 2016 at the Hilton Glasgow in Glasgow, UK. This event will have a good mix of industrial and academic delegates and presenters and an excellent balance between research and technology.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Earth Hour 2016: A Global Celebration and Call to Climate Action

Earth Hour will take place between 8:30 and 9:30 local time on Saturday March 19, 2016. This year Earth Hour celebrates its 10th anniversary and people in more than 170 countries and more than 7000 cities and towns are expected to participate.

This annual event calls individuals, households, communities and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for an hour as a symbolic gesture to call attention to the environmental stewardship and climate action throughout the year.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Auto Brands Hedge Against Reputational Risks by Building More EVs

Car companies know that they will come under increasing scrutiny and some forward looking auto brands realize that building more electric vehicles (EV's) may be the best defense. There are a number of automakers that are concerned allegations of cheating in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal. The fallout from the Volkswagen scandal is fascinating not only for what VW did to deceive, but for what auto brands are doing in response. Many know that they are guilty of misrepresenting their own fuel efficiency and emissions numbers. To get ahead of this issue some car companies are doubling down on low and zero emission vehicles. In the face of vulnerabilities about their own misrepresentations, auto makers like Mercedes are struggling to get ahead of the issue by producing more green cars.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Ireland Continues to Benefit from Being Green

In Ireland, green has many meanings. It can be seen as the color of their national symbol, a way of describing the government's environmentally responsible initiatives and the economic benefits the nation gleans from sustainability.

Ireland's investments in sustainability are paying off. Ireland continues to have the fastest growing economy in the European Union. In 2015 the country led the EU with a 6.9 percent growth rate and in 2014 the country led with a 4.8 percent growth rate. As reported in the Irish Times, the European Commission has indicated that it expects Ireland will continue to lead the EU with 4.5 percent growth in 2016.

The government is engaging a number of sustainability related programs and they rank very favorably on a number of green indices.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why Obama's Decison to Shut Down Atlantic Oil and Gas Drilling Makes Sense

The Obama administration will not move forward with proposed oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic off the US East Coast. US secretary of the interior Sally Jewell made the announcement on March 15. The move to deny leases means that 104 million acres off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia are effectively closed to oil and gas drilling. The news about Atlantic drilling comes after the administration shut down Arctic drilling last year.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Climate Change Misinformation at the GOP's March 10 Primary Debate

The subject of climate change made a rare, albeit brief, appearance at the Republican presidential primary debate on Thursday March 10. The Florida debate comes just ahead of some important state primaries and caucuses that will be held next Tuesday. The two Republican presidential hopefuls who fielded questions on climate change misrepresented the facts.

Marco Rubio was asked: "Will you acknowledge the reality of the scientific consensus of climate change?" Although Rubio is a Senator from Florida, a state that will be one of the most severely impacted from rising seas associated with global warming, he refused to attribute climate change to human activities. Rubio embraced the fossil fuel industry's message and dismissed the science that shows reducing emissions will minimize the impacts of climate change. Rubio's broken logic in the debate went as follows:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Event - Green California Summit and Exposition

The Green Market Oracle is once again proud to be an Outreach Partner for the tenth annual Green California Summit and Exposition that will take place on April 21 - 22, 2016 at the Sacramento Convention Center in Sacramento, California. This is a time of unprecedented opportunity and this event will highlight the strategies, technologies and best practices that are essential to the attainment of California's green goals. The summit is developed with leadership from an advisory board composed of leaders from state and local government and the private sector.

Event - Sustainability at MIPIM 2016 (Video)

This event will be held in Cannes from 15 to 18 March, 2016. MIPIM (the world’s property market) is the largest gathering of real estate investors, developers, occupiers, architects, hotel groups, public authorities, city mayors and property associations from around the world. The event is organized by Reed MIDEM, a subsidiary of Reed Exhibitions. Climate change impacts on real estate will be a key topic and sustainability will be prominently featured. This includes talks and panels on different aspects of how sustainable development impacts and influences the world of real estate.

Event - 19th Annual Transmission Summit 2016

This event will take place on March 29 - 31, 2016, at the Washington Marriott Georgetown, in Washington DC. UTILITIES, TRANSCOS, ISOs, AND REGULATORS MEET TO EXPLORE THE CHANGING DRIVERS FOR GRID DEVELOPMENT AND EMERGING OPPORTUNITIES, INCLUDING:

Event - Local Solutions: Eastern Regional Climate Preparedness Conference

This event will take place in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on April 4-6, 2016. This capacity-building, “how to” conference, convened by Antioch University’s Center for Climate Preparedness & Community Resilience in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is designed to build capacity for local decision makers from throughout the Eastern United States (EPA Regions 1-4).

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Trump's Climate Ignorance Would be Laughable if the Implications weren't so Serious

Trump is likely to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States and at first glance this is hilarious, however if he were to elected it would be an unprecedented disaster for climate and the environment.

It is surreal that the man who is likely to secure the Republican nomination for the most powerful office in the world could be so incredibly ignorant about the scientific consensus on climate change.

Here is a review of some of his absurd climate statements and a summary of what he would do to the environment if he were to be elected President.

Friday, March 11, 2016

US and Canada Agree on Climate Action and Arctic Protections

US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed on an ambitious climate action plan that includes efforts to protect the Arctic. The official visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the White Hose set the stage for some poetic political theater. As the greenest President in US history nears the end of his term, he symbolically passes the torch to a young leader who is full of hope and promise. Despite the optics this meeting cannot be reduced to merely symbolic rapprochement between the two nations. We have not seen this level of agreement between Canadian and American leaders since Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan's so called "Shamrock Summit" in 1985.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Climate Related Excerpts from the March 9th Democratic Presidential Debate

Although immigration related concerns dominated, climate issues were a key part of the fourth one-on-one debate between democratic presidential hopefuls Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The March 9 debate in Miami, Florida was hosted by The Washington Post and Univision. Although Hilary is trying to keep up with Bernie on climate action, in this debate she was once again bested by her rival. Here are excerpts related to combating climate change, rising sea levels, fossil fuels and fracking.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Exxon is not the Only Bad Apple: The Whole Fossil Fuel Industry is Rotten to the Core

Exxon is not the only bad apple, the whole fossil fuel industry is rotten to the core. Exxon is a corporate devil but it is not alone in its demonic subterfuge. Exxon is being investigated for criminal wrongdoings and some other fossil fuel companies are also coming under legal scrutiny.   
In November, a criminal investigation was launched into Exxon and a month later, many other fossil fuel industry CEO’s were formally asked to clarify what they knew about the relationship between fossil fuels and climate. Almost four dozen members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the CEOs of BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy, and Royal Dutch Shell asking them to share what they knew about the climate risks associated with their core business activities.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

100 Inspirational Female Environmentalists

Here is a series of comprehensive lists of female environmentalists from well known environmental organizations and individuals. From activists to sustainability focused business women, this ethnically and geographically diverse group of women includes both young and old and everything in between.

While we are seeing a growing number of young feminist climate activists, there is still so much that needs to be done in the area of gender equality. The inclusion of women is key to climate action. Whether in the workplace or in the home, women are the greener sex. Simply put,  empowering women is synonymous with climate action.

Remembering Berta on International Women's Day

On International Women's Day 2016 we mourn the loss of Berta Cáceres, a truly heroic environmental organizer. On March 3rd she was gunned down in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca in Honduras. Her assassins are still at large and unlikely to ever be brought to justice.

Berta was an indigenous women who championed land and resource rights. In 1993 she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She was a dedicated protector of the natural world who bravely stood up to powerful corporations, corrupt governments and police with ties to death squads.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Snowless Iditorod Draws Attention to Arctic Warming

Declining snowfall and warmer temperatures threaten the Iditarod and other sled dog races in Alaska. In recent years the absence of snow and balmy temperatures have made the iconic competition challenging for mushers and organizers alike. In recent years the race has had to be rerouted to accommodate the changing climatic situation. Last year the race was moved 225 miles north, to Fairbanks from Willow. Much of the 2015 edition of the Iditorod took place against the backdrop of brown tundra rather than white snow.

Environmental Differences Between Hillary and Bernie in the Flint Presidential Debate

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders faced off in a presidential primary debate at the University of Michigan in Flint, on March 6, 2016. During this substantive debate some salient differences emerged between the two remaining Democratic presidential contenders.

These differences included Sander's relatively stronger emphasis on combating climate change, and opposition to both fracking and campaign finance from the fossil fuel industry.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Event - Environmental Leader 2016 Conference

This event will take place on June 21-23, 2016 at The Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, in Denver, Colorado. This event is presented by Business Sector Media, LLC, Environmental Leader and Energy Manager Today. This Conference is all about current and emerging real-world challenges and the practical tools and solutions to help you meet them. What you'll take away are ready-to-­go solutions that are tangible, replicable, measurable and transferable across multiple industry sectors.

Event - Responsible Business Summit Europe

This event will take place on June 7-8, 2016 at the Hilton Hotel, in London UK. This year's edition of the Responsible Business Summit is the most popular year to date. There has bee a 180 percent increase in attendance and 15 new CEOs. The summit's 100 percent business focus reflects the growing need to manage business risk. Also integrated into the summit are the topical subjects of SDGs and COP21. These two themes will be woven into all discussions to ensure you get answers to the opportunities that face your company.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Coming to Terms with the Risks of Climate Change (Video)

We have not come to terms with the risks associated with climate change. These changes can be very sudden and altogether catastrophic. Accurately assessing risk when it comes to climate change is undeniably difficult. So it should come as no surprise that the general public is inept at assessing risk. What is truly troubling is that politicians and even scientists do not appear to do a good job evaluating risk.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Agreement on a Pan-Canadian Carbon Pricing Scheme

It looks as though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals are moving forward with a national carbon pricing scheme albeit adapted to regional circumstances. On Thursday March 3, 2016, Trudeau announced that the federal government along with all ten provinces have agreed to a "comprehensive and ambitious plan" to put a price on carbon.

Carbon pricing (which includes both cap and trade and a carbon tax) leverages the market to disincentivize emissions intensive activities by making them more expensive while incentivizing low carbon technologies. In effect carbon pricing integrates the true cost of carbon which is currently not reflected in the market. Carbon pricing is the best way to help governments reduce emissions while minimizing economic impacts.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pope Francis' Homage to Wildlife

Early in December just ahead of the successful conclusion of the COP21 climate talks in Paris, Pope Francis hosted a moving photographic homage to wildlife. This show was part of a wider initiative by the pontiff to address environmental degradation and climate change in particular.

The show was titled “Fiat Lux: Illuminating Our Common Home” and it was inspired by the Pope's recently released "Laudato si," meaning ‘Praise be to you,’ a phrase commonly used by Saint Francis, the Pope's namesake. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and ecology. He is one of the most famous Saints in all of Christianity and in one well known miracle St. Francis is said to have tamed a wolf that was terrorizing the people of Gubbio.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Less Expensive EVs Will Drive a Transportation Revolution

Declining prices are hugely important to the widespread adoption of electric cars. Electric vehicles are known to reduce emissions and declining prices are bringing this technology within reach of the average consumer. Combustion engine vehicles are a major contributor to climate change with each gallon of gas creating 20 pounds of CO2. A lifecycle analysis of EVs reveals that they emit less than half the greenhouse gases of combustion vehicles.

While replacing combustion engine vehicles would be hugely beneficial to emissions reduction efforts, this transition has been hampered by the higher price points of EVs. However, as many predicted, this barrier of entry is about to be overcome through economies of scale. The growing number of EVs being produced is reducing the cost per unit as the fixed costs are being spread out over more units of output. The cost of an item goes down as the volume of units goes up.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Climate Change is the Biggest Threat Facing the World in 2016

There are a number of threats facing the world today but the globe's biggest threat is not nuclear proliferation, ISIS, or the Zika virus, the biggest threat facing the world in 2016 is climate change. According to a poll of 750 experts conducted prior to the World Economic Forum a climate related catastrophe is considered to be the biggest threat facing the global economy in 2016.

This is the first time in more than a decade of Global Risk reports that climate change is ranked as the leading threat to the world. While climate change impacts are considered to be the biggest threat, the most likely threat in 2016 is large scale involuntary migration followed by extreme weather events, and climate change.