3p Contributor: Sarah Harper

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

Recent Articles

Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes’ 10-Year Anniversary on Twitter

| Tuesday September 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

DJSI-logoThis week marks the 10-year anniversary of the launching of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, a “key reference point for Sustainability Investing for investors and companies alike,” a DJSI media release reports. Investment bigwigs SAM, STOXX Ltd., and Dow Jones will join Chicago Climate Exchange founder Richard Sandor, Dow Jones Indexes editor John Prestbo, and others in Tuesday’s celebratory ceremony in New York (detailed on NYC Climate Week’s website), from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. EST. Others may join the celebration online, via Twitter and the DJSI blog. Dow Jones reps will be blogging and tweeting that night, covering the party live online and welcoming input from participants.

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Tony Blair: Collaborative Global Climate Action Will Benefit World Economies

| Tuesday September 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments


This just in from the Office of Tony Blair: a bold, collaborative climate deal will create millions of jobs while bolstering all major economies. His recently-released report, entitled “Cutting the Cost: The Economic Benefits of Collaborative Climate Action”, details the difference it would make if countries worked together (versus individually) to fight climate change. In addition to achieving huge cost savings, collaboration would spread the benefits to all countries and create 10 million new jobs over the next 10 years.

The report’s introductory paragraphs elucidate the connection between climate change and economy: “dealing with climate change is also primarily an economic issue, affecting investment…, international trade, competitiveness, jobs, equity and growth itself. It is this economic characteristic – coupled with the fact that climate change can only be successfully addressed at a global level – that has made reaching an ambitious international agreement so difficult, particularly in times of economic crisis.”

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EU Presses Obama on Curbing Climate Change and Capping Bank Bonuses

| Monday September 21st, 2009 | 2 Comments


The upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, and the G20 Summit this week, are on the front burner for the European Union, which issued a plea Thursday pressing Obama on some of the matters the conferences will cover. Specifically, the EU asked Obama to increase emissions standards in the upcoming climate change pact, and to limit bankers’ pay, the Enquirer-Herald reports.

The EU countries agreed on the plea at a preparatory meeting for the G20 Summit, which is scheduled for September 24th and 25th. All 27 EU nations are reportedly unified against bonuses for bank executives, as the countries believe such bonuses prompted banks to take huge risks and, in turn, caused the recession. While the EU did not reveal the exact value of the cap on bonuses it is seeking, it did reveal a desire for G-20 nations to impose sanctions on banks that pay excessive bonuses to execs.

In the meeting, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also reportedly said that the U.S. needs to do more “to reach the levels [they] have in Europe.” The EU is urging other developed countries to pledge to cut emissions by 20 percent by 2020, thereby matching the EU’s pledge. It is particularly important that the U.S. comply, since the U.S. and China are the world’s top two polluters. Failure to adopt an adequate climate bill could threaten the homes, food supplies, and lives of billions of people.

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Offset Your Flight’s Carbon Footprint Before You Even Take Off

| Friday September 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

San Francisco International Airport unveils new carbon offset kiosks

SFOHow much good can selling carbon offsets at airport kiosks have on a region’s economy and environment? The Bay Area is about to find out. According to a report by inhabitat.com, San Francisco’s International Airport (SFO) and 3Degrees (a local carbon firm) initiated the Climate Passport program on Thursday, the first program of its kind. The program will allow passengers to purchase carbon offsets right at the gate, thereby mitigating the environmental impact of their flights. Whether the program will appeal to a wide range of passengers, and whether it will significantly impact the region’s economy and environment, have yet to be determined.

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Africa Rural Connect – Using Good Ideas to Improve Sub-Saharan Farmers’ Quality of Life

| Friday September 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments


How can sustainability improve the lives of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa? Through the simple realization of good ideas and global collaboration – the founding principles of startup Africa Rural Connect (ARC). ARC seeks to change lives by engaging “anyone who cares about Africa” (including past and present Peace Corps Volunteers, the African Diaspora, development practitioners, technology innovators, and scholars), as well as requesting – and realizing – their ideas for positive change. In addition to demonstrating grassroots organization at its best, ARC also demonstrates the roles of technology, individuals, and businesses worldwide in promoting sustainable development in Africa.

According to an East Coast Blogging report, ARC was launched by several local firms in the DC area, plus the National Peace Corp Association. Their basic plan was to drive discussions of development challenges and solutions facing sub-Saharan Africa, aggregate participants’ knowledge, and turn participants’ ideas into action.

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Tucson Electric to Purchase Solar Power from Arizona Firms

| Friday September 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments


According to a recent Reuters report, Tucson Electric Power announced Wednesday that it will purchase power from two Arizona-based solar energy systems. The move is expected to benefit many of Tucson Electric’s 400,000 customers in Arizona by providing solar power for more than 6,000 homes. It will also prevent production of an estimated 64,000 tons of CO2.

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The Copenhagen Bike Share Competition – Modeling “Modern City” Development

| Thursday September 17th, 2009 | 0 Comments


Copenhagen’s upcoming bike share competition is a glimpse into the City’s vision for itself: that of a “modern city, with emphasis on effective and environmentally-friendly transport forms,” the CPH bike share competition website says. The primary goal of the contest is simple: To conceptualize and implement a custom-made-for-Copenhagen bike share program that will help the City meet its sustainable development goals. In doing so, the contest will help build a green, dynamic City that is workable for Copenhagen residents, commuters, and tourists. It will also cement sustainability into Copenhagen’s transportation system while (its creators hope) making the City a model of green transport development. But will the program result in financial benefits substantial enough for other communities worldwide to follow suit?

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House to Vote on Expanding Green Vehicle Research

| Thursday September 17th, 2009 | 0 Comments


The House of Representatives is considering expanding government-led research into fuel efficient vehicle technology while increasing research dollars for auto parts suppliers, the Star Tribune reports. The expansion would boost funding for the auto industry, helping the industry meet tougher fuel economy standards and potentially creating more green jobs.

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New Vehicle Standards Make Huge Efficiency Improvements

| Wednesday September 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments


The EPA and Department of Transportation (DOT) recently released new vehicle standards, which would make new vehicles’ fuel economy the highest seen in over 30 years. Sustainability groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), are urging the Obama administration to finalize the standards (and prevent loopholes), a UCS press release reports. If finalized, the proposed standards would potentially benefit the environment, consumers’ finances, and the nation’s energy security.

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy: GDP Is Inadequate for Measuring Economic Health

| Wednesday September 16th, 2009 | 4 Comments

GPD-map On Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed the French national statistics agency on the adequacy of GDP in measuring a country’s economic well-being. He requested that the agency give greater consideration to factors such as quality of life and the environment (versus solely relying on GDP’s reporting of goods and services produced) in determining the nation’s fiscal health. If realized, what effect would this mentality have on sustainable development in France and worldwide?

According to a report by the New York Times, Sarkozy made the request after reviewing a report by a panel of top economists, which he commissioned in February 2008 to evaluate the adequacy of GDP as a fiscal standard. (The report is known formally as “The Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress Revisited.”) According to the report, while GDP accurately gauges an economy’s overall growth or reduction, it is a poor measurement of social health – a vital component of national well-being. GDP measurements ignore damage to society and the environment by unsustainable activities, and they do not always accurately reflect average citizens’ disposable incomes. Moreover, disproportionate focus on GDP metrics by policy makers (to the exclusion of data indicating increased unsustainable indebtedness of households and businesses – precursors to the recession) contributed to the current financial crisis’ onset.

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EPA’s Green Power Leadership Awards – Rewarding Baby Steps or Greenwashing?

| Tuesday September 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments


When the EPA recently announced the 2009 winners of its Green Power Leadership Awards, the list included a number of corporate heavyweights (including Wal-Mart, Deutsche Bank AG, and Intel Corporation) as well as several smaller companies. These companies aren’t typically the first to come to mind when I think of environmentalism. Are the awards a step in the right direction in terms of making sustainability more mainstream, or are they awarding close-but-no-cigar “sustainability”?

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California Lawmakers Pass Tougher Clean Energy Legislation – But Will Schwarzenegger Veto it?

| Tuesday September 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments


California lawmakers passed legislation Friday that would bolster the state’s already-ambitious renewable energy goals – a potential victory for clean energy proponents in California and nationwide. However, the bill hangs in the balance, awaiting Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision about whether or not to veto it.

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy Urges Carbon Tax

| Saturday September 12th, 2009 | 2 Comments


In a recent speech, French President Nicolas Sarkozy sought to convince compatriots of the need for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions by households and businesses. France’s imposition of a carbon tax would help the country reduce its greenhouse gas output in upcoming years, and it would make France the largest economy so far to impose such a tax.

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Plastic “Temple of Trash”—Upcycling, the Arts, and Making the Case for Sustainability

| Friday September 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments

temple-of-trash “What will future generations think of us when they uncover our landfill waste?” The question is just one of many that have inspired artists, including Salig Design, to create art out of up-cycled plastic bottles. Last year, Salig Design created the Temple of Trash (in Rotterdam, Netherlands) constructed of 100 tons of PET bottles pressed into bales. While the Temple is no longer standing, it was a visual representation of what sustainable business proponents already believe: that waste and overconsumption is not inconsequential. Pieces like these also highlight the role of artists in raising awareness about the importance of global sustainability.

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REI’s Annual Stewardship Report: Recycling Versus Carbon Neutrality?

| Friday September 11th, 2009 | 1 Comment


The 2008 stewardship report of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) proves that recycling and carbon-neutrality don’t necessarily go hand in hand – and that growing businesses may face additional challenges in becoming or remaining sustainable. The report indicates that while REI is on track for meeting its zero-waste-to-landfill goal by 2020, it also fell short of its greenhouse gas goals last year, with emissions rising by 11 percent.

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