The Quick & Dirty: A CEO. A Leader. Sometimes We Need a Bit of Both.

Henk Campher
| Wednesday April 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

5161094177_7b6a708567_zBy Henk Campher

I participated in another great Twitter chat with Aman Singh from CSRwire and Nick Aster from Triple Pundit hosting Aron Cramer from BSR, Nigel Topping from CDP and Peter Graf from SAP.

One of the many interesting side discussions I had was with Christine Bader, John Friedman and a few others about how CEOs say they want to lead when it comes to sustainability but most of them are completely absent in the debate. There are leaders — like Elon Musk from Tesla, Sir Richard Branson from Virgin, Craig Jelinek from Costco and Blake Mycoskie from TOMS — who have taken up very vocal and thoughtful leadership roles. But in most cases, CEOs say they want to lead but go completely missing when it comes to substance. They give us the usual “it is in our DNA” nonsense and jargon and lack substance to back it up. Sometimes they even give us the “our employees are our greatest asset” baloney.

When we are lucky these empty words will give us lots of hot air for a little while, but many CEOs aren’t willing to take up true leadership. To lead is to suffer the consequences of leading; to sometimes have to take people (consumers, investors, employees, etc.) to places they do not want to go. That is what leadership requires — brave and bold like a Star Trek captain who will “boldly go where no man has gone before.” Unfortunately most business leaders are just plain missing in action and hiding behind the soft and cozy walls of “investment community.” That isn’t leadership. That is the yes-men mentality that has taken hold amongst too many leaders.

Novel idea: To be a thought leader you need a thought — and you need to lead. A bit of both please.

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Shell Joins Pledge For Drastic Cuts In Greenhouse Gases, But…

| Wednesday April 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Shell signs TTC but it could be an empty promiseLast week, the Royal Dutch Shell company got a lot of nice publicity for signing the  Trillion Tonne Communiqué (TTC), a climate action project of the Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group. However, when we took a quick look at the group’s FAQ page and put that together with a news item from our friends over at TheHill.com, two things jumped out at us: coal and carbon capture.

When you put coal and carbon capture together with TTC, the most you can say about Shell is that the energy company is using the declaration more as publicity leverage for its existing oil and gas operations, rather than a meaningful step toward transitioning its business model into renewable sources. So, let’s take a closer look at TTC and the answers to those frequently asked questions (FAQs).

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Transmission for Renewables: Cheaper and Greener Than Natural Gas Pipelines

| Tuesday April 15th, 2014 | 1 Comment

3ÒÀReducing carbon emissions, boosting energy and water resource efficiency, creating green jobs and boosting local economies, and reducing waste and the potential for conflicts – numerous studies, and actual results – have shown the substantial triple bottom line benefits of bringing renewable energy systems and power transmission infrastructure online.

When it comes to energy, the U.S. has thrived on fossil fuels, however. Expanding to become the largest, most profitable multinational businesses in history, U.S. oil and gas companies have conveyed dependence on, as well as the costs and benefits of, these fossil fuels globally. Along the way, securing steady, affordable supplies of oil and natural gas became the central pillar of U.S. national security, as well as energy, policy.

Our ongoing dependence on, and affinity for, oil and natural gas shows through clearly in numerous instances, one of the most controversial of which is the proposed construction of Keystone XL, as well as numerous other natural gas pipelines. According to recent industry-unaffiliated studies, however, investing in renewable energy transmission infrastructure would not only be better from environmental and social perspectives, but it would also be a lot cheaper and give the U.S. a much bigger bang for its energy buck.

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Boeing: Something Electric in Space

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday April 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

ABS F1All-electric satellite propulsion is becoming a big deal, and Boeing says it is “on track” to deliver the world’s first all-electric xenon-ion propulsion satellites in late 2014 or early 2015 after meeting key production milestones on its initial 702SP (small platform) satellites.

Boeing announced that it has completed static qualification testing, verification and assembly of the primary structures for 702SP inaugural customers ABS and Eutelsat, meaning the satellites are well on their way to launch. The initial contract for the satellite was signed in 2012 between Boeing and Satmex. Eutelsat acquired Satmex in January 2014.

The four 702SP communications satellites will launch in pairs, and once in orbit, they will be entirely powered and propelled by electricity, rather than relying on rockets.

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Can Glad Start a National Conversation on Waste?

Alexis Petru
| Tuesday April 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments
The Radchenko-Halabi family of New York City pose with one week’s worth of their household’s trash, as part of Glad’s Waste in Focus project. Recyclables are on the left-hand side of the photo, and items destined for the landfill are on the right.

The Radchenko-Halabi family of New York City pose with one week’s worth of their household’s trash, as part of Glad’s Waste in Focus project. Recyclables are on the left-hand side of the photo, and items destined for the landfill are on the right.

How much waste do you throw away every day? That’s the question the Glad Products Co. hopes people will ask themselves after viewing its new “Waste in Focus“ photo series that peeked inside the trash, recycling and compost bins of eight families in four cities across the United States for one week.

Glad commissioned photojournalist Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio to meet with, collect data from and photograph eight families who live in San Francisco, Atlanta, Phoenix and New York City. The participating families – each with four members – were asked to save a week’s worth of their household garbage and recycling, but were told not to change their daily behavior just for the study.

After a week, the husband-and-wife writing and photography team, who agreed to carry out the project on the condition of total independence from Glad, sorted, weighed, cleaned and recorded the waste. Then they took a portrait of each family with its discards; recycled and composted items were placed on the left side of the photo, and trash headed to landfill was positioned on the right. Each photo in the series is presented with the family’s back story, as well as data about the waste the family produced: the amount of trash, recyclables and compostables by weight and percentage of the total waste generated.

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EPA Port Grants Help Spur Clean Diesel, Sustainable Technologies

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday April 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA new Environmental Protection Agency initiative will recognize U.S. ports that act to improve their environmental performance.

It’s a good idea because port areas generate some of the worst diesel emission problems in the nation, whether it’s from the cargo ships that dock at terminals without powering down their engines, the terminal equipment that services the ships, or the hundreds of trucks moving to and from terminals to load and unload the cargo.

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Electricity Prices Fall In Europe As German Renewable Energy Output Increases

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday April 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

wind powerFor the fifth consecutive month, electricity prices in countries neighboring Germany have decreased, recently released Platts data reveals, due in large part to increased solar and wind generation in Germany.

The Platts Continental Power Index (CONT), described as a “demand-weighted base load average of day-ahead contracts assessed in Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands,” dropped steadily in early 2014. The index decreased to €35.06 (or about $48.50) per megawatt hour in March, an 18 percent drop from February. Overall, the index is down by more than 39 percent since peaking at €50.50/MWh in November of last year.

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SolarCoin: Cryptocurrency with Value for People and Planet

3p Contributor | Tuesday April 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a series on electricity-backed currency. In case you missed it, you can read the first post here

By Sam Bliss
SolarCoin is a digital currency intended to reward producers of solar electricity. Image: SolarCoin.org
SolarCoin is a decentralized digital currency that we can trade person-to-person over the Internet, without PayPal or Visa playing middleman and charging fees. Each SolarCoin represents 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of solar electricity generation.

In my first blog post about SolarCoin, I described the two “proofs of work” that back the currency: a cryptographic proof of work that secures the online currency and verifies transactions, and a proof of solar power production. That introductory piece also explains how one can claim or trade for SolarCoins, but leaves unanswered the question of why one would want to do that.

So, is SolarCoin valuable? What can we buy with it?

Money value

All currencies, including U.S. dollars and Euros, are valuable as long as a network of merchants, people and other organizations deem them valuable. But unlike the currencies with which we are required to pay our taxes, digital currencies must provide value as a complement to national currencies.

For SolarCoins to succeed as a means of exchange, we need to begin treating them like money. They must be in people’s hands — or digital wallets — and they must be used for purchases and exchanges.

This is how Bitcoin gained value.

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Go Green or Go Home: Why Being Eco-Friendly is Good for Delivery

3p Contributor | Tuesday April 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

1680773717_1074b44e62_zBy Phil Dumontet

People often assume that making eco-friendly choices means spending more money. But more often than not, going green will actually save you money. Even mega corporations like Walmart are increasing profits by adopting environmentally friendly practices.

It turns out that what’s good for the earth is also good for your business and its employees, especially if you offer delivery services. Additionally, you can save on expenses by offering environmentally friendly options.

Green means speed

The most environmentally friendly modes of transportation are also the cheapest. Using scooters, bikes and Smart cars can save you loads on gas while also increasing the number of deliveries you can manage in a day.

At Dashed, about 25 percent of our restaurant deliveries are done via bicycles and scooters, with another 50 percent done by Smart cars. That means 75 percent of our deliveries are maximizing speed and minimizing environmental impact, which has given us an advantage over our competitors.

When employees make deliveries on bikes or scooters, they can find faster routes easier than in a conventional car. Alleys and smaller side roads become valid routes, and the problem of parking is completely removed. Smart cars can also fit into tighter parking spots than larger vehicles.

When you factor in better routes and fewer parking worries, that equates to faster delivery times — the most important competitive advantage you can have. Fast deliveries maximize profit and keep your customers happy.

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Rio Tinto Pulls Out Of Pebble Mine, Gifts Shares to Nonprofits

| Monday April 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

copperDealing another major setback to Northern Dynasty Minerals’ plans to develop the world’s largest known undeveloped copper ore deposit, multinational mining giant Rio Tinto, the project’s sole remaining major mining company backer, announced it is divesting its 19.1 percent equity stake in the junior Canadian mining company.

Rio Tinto is taking an extraordinary step in the way of divestment: Rather than trying to find a buyer for its Northern Dynasty shares, management announced it is gifting them to two local nonprofit organizations, dividing them equally between the Alaska Community Foundation and the Bristol Bay Native Corp. Education Foundation.

Situated on state land in southwest Alaska at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, Northern Dynasty aims to build North America’s largest open-pit copper mine at the Pebble Mine site. The Bristol Bay area is also home to one of the world’s richest remaining wild salmon habitat and Alaska’s richest fisheries, however.

IHS Global Insight projects the extraction and processing of copper, gold and molybdenum ore from the Pebble Mine site will create 15,000 jobs and provide a more than $2.5-billion boost to U.S. GDP over at least a 20-year period. Set on the scales against the project is the the value of the Bristol Bay fishery and watershed, which opponents contend would be threatened and significantly degraded, if not destroyed, were the Pebble Mine project to be developed — taking local communities and ways of life along with it.

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Policy Points: Cut Pollution, Move to Safer Chemicals and Keep Our Water Clean

The crew of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s vessel Elizabeth work to clear storm debris from the protected Dismal Swamp Canal in Virginia.

The crew of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s vessel Elizabeth work to clear storm debris from the protected Dismal Swamp Canal in Virginia.

By Richard Eidlin

Voluntary corporate sustainability initiatives and social enterprises are essential but are not game-changers by themselves. In addition, we need laws and regulations that guide our economy toward sound, long-term decision-making, with full recognition of social and environmental externalities. As business leaders, we can and must support policy changes to help make the economy more sustainable.

A sustainable economy will depend on policies that will help advance change on a societal level.  Here are three important policies that will help – and specific actions you can take.

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Report: China Holds a ‘Wide Lead’ in the Clean Energy Investment Race

Sarah Lozanova | Monday April 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

solar panel installationAs clean energy finance falls in Europe — most notably Germany and Italy — it is soaring in Asia, particularly in Japan and China, according to the 2013 “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?” report by Pew Charitable Trusts. Renewable energy capacity in the Asia and Oceania regions grew by 64 percent last year, with 50 GW of new capacity added in one year.

Despite the global recession, the clean energy sector is a $250 billion industry, with over $100 billion in investment in Asia. China alone attracted $54 billion in investment in 2013 and was the global leader in wind energy investment with 38 percent of the global total. Several factors indicate that renewable energy has a bright future, particularly in Asia, and that China will remain a clean energy superpower.

The price of solar and wind energy technology has fallen significantly in recent decades and is increasingly competitive in the market. As a result, clean energy stocks soared in 2013, the report noted. Despite the European market contracting, renewable energy markets in Asia, South America and Africa are expanding. The solar energy sector emerged as an industry leader in 2013, outpacing new generation capacity in other technologies.

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Coal and the Role of Multi-Stakeholderism

3p Contributor | Monday April 14th, 2014 | 1 Comment

4430473232_14103ec2ac_zBy Michael Kourabas

When the U.N. Human Rights Council announced, in June 2011, that it was endorsing the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had this to say:  “The Guiding Principles are the product of six years of research … involving governments, companies, business associations, civil society, affected individuals and groups, investors and others around the world.”

The OHCHR went on to note that the UNGPs were “based on 47 consultations and site visits in more than 20 countries; an online consultation that attracted thousands of visitors from 120 countries; and voluminous research and submissions from experts from all over the world.”  In other words, without this kind of extensive collaboration across sectors, countries and industries, the UNGPs may not have been born.

Perhaps because of the UNGPs’ success, multi-stakeholderism is often highlighted as an essential ingredient in the continued progress of the business and human rights (BHR) movement. For example: in February, vice-chair of the U.N. Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Michael Addo, called attention to the importance of multi-stakeholder consultations in the development of National Action Plans; just last week, at an American Bar Association’s Section on International Law panel, Addo again took pains to stress the crucial role of multi-stakeholder participation in the promotion of the rule of law in the BHR context; and the OHCHR recently called for multi-stakeholder consultations in an effort to close the BHR justice gap.

Not surprising, right? After all, presidents get elected by promising to transcend partisanship and bring rival caucuses together. There’s little doubt that multi-stakeholderism is crucial to elements of the BHR movement, but is this type of collaboration always the best strategy? Or, more to the point, is it even realistic? A look at the  behavior of the major stakeholders in the coal industry is illustrative and sobering.

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McDonald’s Recognizes 51 Suppliers With 2014 ‘Best of Sustainable Supply’ Awards

| Monday April 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

McD2014SustainableSupplyAwardsAs one of the world’s widest ranging multinational corporations, McDonald’s, has received its fair share of criticism — whether the issues are social, environmental or economic. That’s certainly the case when it comes to the overall sustainability of McDonald’s far-flung network of fast-food restaurants and suppliers. The company has also garnered negative attention for its influence and impact on people’s eating habits and nutrition, as well as the wages and benefits it offers employees.

Yet McDonald’s, as is true of a growing number of multinationals, has been dedicating an increasing amount of resources, time and effort to develop a strategic vision and implement sustainable business methods and practices that improve and enhance the social and environmental, as well as economic, impacts of its operations.

Aiming to spur sustainable business methods and practices throughout its vast network of suppliers, McDonald’s on April 1 announced the winners of its 2014 “Best of Sustainable Supply” awards.

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SEEED Summit at Brown University: Interview with Ira Magaziner

3p Conferences
| Monday April 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Interview by Julia Xu (Brown ’17) and Lainie Rowland (Brown ’17)

We were fortunate enough to be able to sit down and talk with Ira Magaziner, Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and Chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), and hear about his journey as a social entrepreneur and activist. Here is what we learned!

“I think the meaning of our life is being able to do something that transforms things.” -Ira Magaziner
032014_BrownPH_Levenger_ASK_9749
Julia Xu: Hello, Mr. Magaziner. We are excited to interview you in anticipation of the SEEED Summit 2014, which you’re speaking at on April 26. We have learned a lot about you in our Social Entrepreneurship class, and we especially admire you for the sustainable approach of using scale to cut down prices and eventually create a virtuous cycle.

Lainie Rowland: We would love to know more about what skills you’ve learned and acquired that you’ve used to become a change-maker. We are especially interested in talking to you because you have the Brown background and because you’re the architect of the open curriculum.

Ira Magaziner: The most important thing is the values, and whether you make a decision to live a life by your values. To me, what we are doing now is trying to deal with the terrible income inequality existing in the world, and trying to help the poorest people with health care.

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