A new report, issued by mainstream economic authority Standard & Poor’s (S&P), acknowledges, perhaps for the first time, that the extreme level of income inequality in this country is actually hurting the economy. In fact, the revered oracle has actually cut its forecast for economic growth (from 2.8 percent to 2.5 percent) based on these conditions.
Policy & Government
A catch all category for government, politics and initiatives to influence either.
Local authorities in Beijing announced that the city will ban coal sales and use by 2020 to reduce air pollution, Xinhua News Agency reports. Six Beijing districts will not be using coal and will close coal-fired power plants by 2020.
Already in wide use, renewable energy certificate tracking systems offer states a cost-effective means of complying with the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, according to a study from the Center of Resource Solutions and the Regulatory Assistance Project.
GDP doesn’t actually tell us much about the value of natural capital, like clean air or healthy forests. Such natural goods and services, despite their great economic contributions, are largely viewed as free. We need a better metric that accounts for not only monetized economic wealth but, more importantly, includes vital environmental and social factors.
It looks like the World Bank is succumbing to budgetary pressures and choosing to neglect its human rights responsibilities as the world’s largest and most influential development bank.
According to the study, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, many of which have loudly protested the EPA’s new carbon rules, would see a combined annual net economic benefit of up to about $16 billion by implementing them.
With memories of the devastation Superstorm Sandy caused still fresh, the Christie administration launched the N.J. Energy Resilience Bank. The first of its kind in the nation, ERB was seeded with an initial $200 million in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds.
The need for policies that promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services is more important than ever. World Resource Institute (WRI) estimates the value of ecosystem services to be US$33 trillion a year, nearly twice the value of the global gross national product (GNP) of US$18 trillion.
Earlier this year, on this forum, I proclaimed that 2014 would be The Year of Impact Investing. Now that half the year is in the history books, it’s fair to ask if 2014 is living up to that billing. Let’s take a look at what the first six months of the year have produced.
More extreme droughts, floods and wildfires – these are just some of the impacts of climate change that won’t just occur in the distant future to our great-great grandchildren, but are happening now. To address the changing climate’s current effects on communities in the U.S., President Barack Obama announced a plan to strengthen national infrastructure and help cities, states and tribal communities better prepare for and recover from natural disasters.
Has there ever been a better time to be a corporation? I doubt it. Corporations might disagree, and we’re all familiar with corporate lamentations regarding the increasingly challenging web of federal regulations (Dodd-Frank; the FCPA) they supposedly struggle to navigate. Yet, it’s hard to dispute that these are good times for big business, and “Exhibit A” could easily be the utter dearth of criminal prosecutions for corporations that are guilty of pollution.
This week, NRG announced the Petra Nova Carbon Capture Project, the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture power generation plant. This commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) system will utilize existing technology to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the processed flue gas from an existing coal plant in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston. Construction on the project has already begun.
California ranked tops in clean tech leadership among U.S. states for the fifth year running, while three California metro areas took the top three spots. Following Massachusetts, Oregon ranked third among U.S. states, with Portland earning fourth place among U.S. metro areas, according to Clean Edge’s “2014 Clean Tech Leadership Index.”
RGGI – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – is the first market-based regulatory program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program has proven to be a revenue generator in its first six years, but Gov. Chris Christie seems to have other ideas for New Jersey.
Divest from fossil fuels? The climate may be screaming yes, but our mindset, our kitchens and our manufacturing processes are still a long way off from ready.