Earlier this year, Google announced the development of a gadget called Google PowerMeter which delivers personal electricity usage data to consumers on their individual computers. This effort took a big step forward on Wednesday of this week when Google announced a list of eight initial electric utilities that will serve as partners.
United by a common interest in connecting their customers with personal consumption data, the diverse list of partners includes utilities from India, Canada and the United States. The partnering utilities range in size from small providers to ones with millions of customers.
Earlier this week, Boeing released it’s 2009 Environmental Report which highlights 2008 reductions in energy and water consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. On the more innovative side, the Boeing report describes biofuel demonstration flights held over the past year which document the technical feasibility of using biofuels in commercial jetliners. The demonstration flights represent a significant step toward a long-term vision of sustainable fuel solutions for the aviation industry.
In addition to biofuel advancements, a Boeing subsidiary, Spectrolab, achieved a new solar cell world record with 40.7% efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity. The 2009 Environmental Report provides a clear indication that the company is pioneering innovative technologies that will realize even greater efficiencies in the coming year.
On Wednesday, The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released a first draft of a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol (1997) which is set to expire in 2012. This new 53 page document is considered to be the basis for the agreements to be made in the international climate talks scheduled for December 7th-18th in Copenhagen.
The key-differentiating factor between this document and the original Kyoto Protocol is that the newly proposed treaty calls for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by both developed and developing nations. Bridging this gap should satisfy the historical Kyoto opposition from both sides, which plagued the original framework since it’s inception. Under the Bush administration, opposition to Kyoto was founded in the notion that due to output volume of GHG emissions, developing nations should be included in the framework. Conversely, opposition from developing nations was founded in the argument that as the leaders in per capita pollution of CO2, the industrialized nations should hold the primary burden of emissions reductions.
China’s Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Environmental Protection have requested research from a regional think-tank to develop preliminary proposals for a national carbon tax. The proposals, which are due for publication within the month, may one day become a part of the Chinese government’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
International governments have pressed Beijing to implement legislation to curtail their carbon dioxide emissions and the Chinese response has typically been a call for rich countries to lead by example in the development of CO2 regulation schemes. With the possibility of a US cap-and-trade regime being approved later this year, the Chinese government’s request for research on carbon tax policies may indicate that China will head off in it’s own direction.
Alaska governor Sarah Palin has rejected $28.6 million dollars in federal stimulus money for Alaska’s State Energy Program. However, Gov. Palin did accept all other federal stimulus money that her state is eligible for ($930 million). Palin’s rejection of the funds is founded in her opposition to strengthening state building codes and making energy efficiency and renewable energy top priorities when spending the money.
Although other governors have voiced opposition to the stimulus package, Gov. Palin is the only governor who has not signed a letter of reassurance to Steven Chu (US Energy Secretary) that her state intends to accept the funds and will comply with the policies associated with the money for state energy departments.
The goal of this post is to make the point that corporations are one of our greatest assets in moving towards a sustainable future. There are two points that I propose to support this point:
1. Corporations represent a remarkable platform for the industrial capacity that is required to create the materials necessary for renewable energy systems.
2. Corporations represent a remarkable asset in terms of human knowledge and skills.
As industry leaders watch closely the consumer response to new electric vehicles, ideas are quickly taking shape in regards to where manufacturers should target their sales and production. While North American, European and Chinese auto manufacturers race to bring a viable electric car to market, the question remains, who will arrive first and where will the manufacturing centers be located?
A recent announcement that Think, Norway’s pioneering electric carmaker, will open a manufacturing plant in the US is an indication that the US may be overtaking Europe as more lucrative marketplace for the production of electric vehicles.
It’s been an exciting week as commentaries on the merits and shortcomings of the American Clean Energy and Security Act have taken place among the sustainability and business leadership communities. If enacted, this legislation could propel the US into an entirely new economy comprised of clean energy technologies & infrastructure, reduced greenhouse gas emissions across industries, and an innovative green jobs workforce.
If passed, this bill will certainly change the manners in which we do business and the costs of doing so. Forward thinking business leaders are staying ahead of the curve and preparing their businesses for the upcoming changes by closely following the development of this critical legislation.
With the increasing likelihood of a federally mandated system for regulating carbon emissions (aka “cap and trade”), it is becoming apparent that businesses will soon be required to implement accounting measures to report on their emissions of greenhouse gases. A cornerstone measurement to be required in this process will be the consumption of services and products that require the use of fossil fuels.
This type of consumption tracking is entirely new to many businesses and consumers. Steps taken now to develop in-house capabilities or forming outside partnerships to account for carbon emissions will ensure the long-term success of your organization assuming the new laws come into place.