Top 10 Carbon Market Predictions for 2015

3p Contributor | Wednesday January 14th, 2015 | 0 Comments

9114215588_6ee6221483_zBy The Climate Trust

Last week, the Climate Trust, a mission-driven nonprofit that specializes in climate solutions, with a reduction of 1.9 million tons of greenhouse gases to its name, announced its second annual prediction list of 10 carbon market trends to watch in 2015.

The trends, which range from increased climate change adaptation measures at the state and city-level to new protocols for agriculture and forestry, were identified by the Climate Trust based on interactions with their diverse group of working partners—government, utilities, project developers and large businesses.

“We’re excited to once again look at the overall market with fresh eyes and identify areas of potential movement and growth,” said Dick Kempka, vice president of business development for The Climate Trust.

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Florida Tea Party Group Clamoring for More Rooftop Solar

RP Siegel | Wednesday January 14th, 2015 | 6 Comments

rooftop solar revOur journey toward a sustainable future has been and will undoubtedly continue to be an uneven ride, marked by setbacks one day and breakthroughs the next. You can’t take much for granted on this landscape, either. It used to be that conservatives could be counted on to take the side of the established fossil fuel industries.

Look at North Carolina, for example. Down there you have utility giant Duke Energy trying to pass a bill that would allow fees to be charged to utility customers who generate their own electricity using rooftop solar and sell it back to the utility through net metering. Appalachian Power in Virginia has asked for similar fees. Public Service Co. of New Mexico has a similar proposal in the works. Most experts agree that these actions would have a discouraging effect on people who were considering the possibility of adding solar to their homes.

You might have thought it was safe to take that trend for granted as something that red states were doing. But a Tea Party group in Florida called Conservatives for Energy Freedom has taken the opposite tack, asking for a measure that would “encourage and promote local small-scale, solar-generated electricity production and to enhance the availability of solar power to customers.”

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Bolstering Regional Management for Sustainable Tuna Fisheries

3p Contributor | Wednesday January 14th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Triple Pundit picture copy 2By Susan Jackson

The overfishing of the bigeye tuna stock in the central and western Pacific Ocean was one of the most talked about fisheries stories of 2014. Maybe that’s why, at the end of last year, almost every stakeholder in the industry and conservation community expressed stern criticism for the lack of effective measures to end overfishing in the western and central Pacific, where the species’ decline is most pronounced.

When it comes to tunas, there are five regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) that cover all oceans. The members of these organizations – which include all of the major fishing nations and coastal states – have the mandate to collectively adopt conservation and management measures for those fisheries. Responsibilities vary depending on the region, but a tuna RFMO’s purview can include monitoring how much fish is harvested per year; the gear types that are allowed; when fishing in certain areas or times is closed; the number of vessels that can be active in a fishery; requiring the use of human observers or satellite tracking systems to monitor fishing activities on the water; mandating the use of technical solutions to mitigate the catch of sensitive marine species; and much more.  These RFMOs all also have systems for assessing compliance with their regulations by their member states. Most importantly, over decades these treaty-based organizations have established a legal framework within which members adopt binding measures that carry the force of law.

One of these five organizations, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) – whose membership includes nations from the EU to China, Japan to the U.S., and New Zealand to the Solomon Islands – recently wrapped up a disappointing year-end session. Little was accomplished for tuna sustainability despite calls for several necessary and significant policy changes from a diverse group of concerned parties.

Like any organization composed of many governments, bureaucratic slog and political posturing can too frequently reign over decisive action. With the example from the recent WCPFC meeting, it’s perhaps understandable that the calls for an entirely new, from-the-ground-up international governance system continue and may even be gaining some momentum. 

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Eat a Lionfish, Save a Coral Reef

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday January 14th, 2015 | 9 Comments

Red_lionfish_NCarolina_PaulaWhitfieldWith the growing focus on endangered species and diminishing fish stocks, it seems odd to report on one marine species that is doing quite well these days. In fact, it’s doing so well that it has gained the attention of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which sees the species as “one of the greatest threats of this century to tropical Atlantic reefs.”

It’s also gaining the attention of chefs, cookbook authors and opportunistic fishing enthusiasts — in fact, just about anyone that might have an occupational interest in harvesting large numbers of exquisitely beautiful, venomous fish with a mean sting.

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Dubai Solar Bid Awes Market Players

| Tuesday January 13th, 2015 | 31 Comments

Dubai-Solar-Park-570x408 Bidding to win a 100-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) contract for Dubai state utility DEWA, Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power in November stunned solar industry players by submitting a tender-low bid of 5.98 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour.

Acwa has become well known for its aggressive bidding in solar energy tenders across the Middle East-Africa region. Nonetheless, its sub-6 cents per kWh bid was unprecedented, setting a new record-low cost for the building and operation of new utility-scale solar energy facilities globally.

The record-low bids submitted during DEWA’s recent tender, and others in countries such as Brazil and South Africa, will prompt project developers to recalibrate their valuation models in light of: lower equipment and soft costs; higher performance; and more efficient and cost-effective operations and maintenance. It will also prompt national governments and utilities across the region to further streamline and reduce the administrative overhead associated with bidding and gaining approvals to construct solar energy facilities, Apricum-The Cleantech Advisory’s Dr. Moritz Borgmann asserts.

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Germany’s Carbon Emissions Fall as Renewable Energy Takes the Lead

| Tuesday January 13th, 2015 | 4 Comments

Agora Energiewende logo 2014 may have marked an inflection point in the transition to clean, renewable energy in Germany, Europe’s largest economy and the fifth largest in the world. Collectively, renewable energy resources supplied more electricity in Germany than any other category last year, surpassing lignite coal for the first time, according to Agora Energiewende‘s 2014 annual report.

Renewable energy resources, including wind, hydro, solar and biomass, accounted for 27.3 percent of German electricity generation in 2014, according to Agora’s The Energiewende in the Power Sector: State of Affairs 2014. Significantly, greenhouse gas emissions and electric power consumption both declined, and wholesale power prices fell to a record-low while Germany’s economy expanded 1.4 percent.

Commenting on the confluence of positive developments, Agora Energiewende Director Dr. Patrick Graichen said: “In 2013, we could still see an increase in the undesirable emission of carbon dioxide, parallel to the rise in renewables. At the time, we called this the Energiewende Paradox. Today we can say that this trend has been broken – energy from renewables continues to grow and greenhouse gas emissions are decreasing again.”

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Bananas, the Colombian Civil War and the U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Kourabas
| Tuesday January 13th, 2015 | 0 Comments

5451018142_b2113b21e9_zLast week, a group of Colombian plaintiffs asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revive their lawsuit against banana giant Chiquita.  This case presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to clarify its 2013 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell and give much needed guidance to plaintiffs and businesses regarding when a corporation may be liable under U.S. law for human rights abuses committed abroad.

Background on Colombia’s civil war

Colombia’s is the longest running civil war in the Western Hemisphere.  The conflict stretches back some 50 years and has resulted in the deaths of nearly a quarter-million people — mostly civilians.  A recently-concluded government study estimates that nearly 5 million people have been displaced since 1996 alone, helping Colombia become the state with the second largest internally-displaced population in the world.

The civil war began in earnest in the early-1960s, when high levels of poverty and income inequality sparked an uprising by leftist guerrillas.  In response, a network of paramilitary militias sprang up to protect landed interests.  These groups were funded by a combination of drug money, U.S. government largesse and, as we will see, American corporate dollars.

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New York City Bans Foam Packaging

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday January 13th, 2015 | 2 Comments

foam packagingNew York City is joining a slew of California cities that have banned foam packaging. Known as expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, the formerly common packaging product can’t be used by food service establishments, stores and manufacturers on and after July 1, 2015. Polystyrene loose packaging also falls under the ban.

New York City’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY) determined that there is not a sufficient market for post-consumer EPS collected curbside, and therefore it was unable to accept it for recycling.

In December 2013, the New York City Council passed Local Law 142, which required the sanitation commissioner to determine if EPS foam could be recycled at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in a way that is “environmentally effective, economically feasible and safe for employees.” The DSNY collected about 28,500 tons of EPS in 2014 and an estimated 90 percent is from single-use food service products.

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Embracing Natural Wisdom in a Volatile World

3p Contributor | Tuesday January 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment

butterfly1 By Giles Hutchins

The transformational times in our midst demand that organizations redesign for resilience in order to flourish in the volatile times ahead.

The most important challenge facing leaders, strategists and operational managers in these times is a shift in logic from the outdated mindset of mechanistic, reductive, quantized, atomized, silo’ed, command-and-control thinking to a logic inspired by and in harmony with nature; this logic allows us to thrive during uncertainty by opening up to emerging futures through co-creativity, networking and reciprocity. Nature’s patterns, processes and inherent grammar display a universal wisdom that we’d do well to attune to.

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Waste Management Tackles Landfill Diversion

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday January 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment

WMWaste Management is a company known for collecting trash. However, the company is making strides to reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills, as its 2014 sustainability report shows.

In 2013, WM took 15 million tons of recyclable materials from the waste stream, an 88 percent increase since 2007 and a 16 percent increase in the last two years. The company is well on its way to meet its goal of collecting 20 million tons of recyclable materials a year by 2020.

There are a variety of ways that WM is reducing waste sent to landfills. One of them is through mining: At many of its facilities, WM mines waste for cardboard and metal that can be recycled and resold. It began mining in 2011 by focusing on mining cardboard from its transfer stations. In 2013, WM focused on landfills and expanded the materials it mines. WM is mining materials at 117 of its transfer stations and 21 of its landfills.

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Elk River Pollution Indictments Announced in West Virginia

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday January 12th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Toxic_water_pollution_citizens_WVNationalGuardLast month, the U.S. Attorney General’s office indicted four owners and operators of a chemical company that was accused last January of polluting the drinking water of 30,000 residents in Charleston, West Virginia.

Freedom Industries CEO Gary Southern was charged with 13 counts of violation of the Clean Water Act and intent to defraud and give false oath, while three other executives, Dennis P. Farrell, William E. Tis and Charles E. Herzing, each were charged with three counts of violating U.S. environmental laws. All four were indicted for failing to ensure that the facility was operated in a “reasonable and environmentally sound manner when they knew or should have known of the facts and circumstances constituting Freedom’s negligence.”

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Top 10 Social Innovation Trends of 2015

3p Contributor | Monday January 12th, 2015 | 2 Comments

Sources of InnovationBy Joi M. Sears

We get it, your inboxes are jam-packed with must-read trend predictions for 2015, and no doubt some of them are right on the money. We can all feel the shift: This year will be a game-changer, especially in the field of social innovation. If we want to be ahead of the curve, we have to be creative, forward-thinking and incredibly innovative when it comes to designing new products, services and brands.

This list is all about taking the top 10 innovation trends of 2015 and transforming them into actionable opportunities that you can run with and profit from in the year to come.

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Talk to the Hand: Engagement With Fossil Fuel Companies Offers Little Promise

3p Contributor | Monday January 12th, 2015 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Clean Yield Asset Management blog.

4657599708_1a2bb29174_zBy Shelley Alpern

As more and more institutions face pressure to divest from fossil fuel companies, some are looking to shareholder engagement as an alternative. Decades of such engagement, however, have produced strikingly little result.

As a long-time shareholder activist, I’ve spent more time than I can calculate filing shareholder proposals and engaging in conversation with fossil fuel companies, often in collaboration with major pension funds with large positions in such companies. I’ve engaged with ConocoPhillips, BP, Anadarko, Apache, Royal Dutch Shell, Energen and ExxonMobil on topics including carbon emissions, hydrofracking, biodiversity and human rights.

My takeaway from these efforts, along with a lingering concussion from too much cranial contact with brick walls, is that the time for polite conversation is over.

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EICC and Electronics Industry Promise to Fight Forced Labor in Malaysia

Leon Kaye | Monday January 12th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Malaysia, electronics industry, forced labor, human rights, Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, EICC, supply chain, Leon Kaye, electronics, migrant workers

This is not the Kuala Lumpur most electronics workers in Malaysia see.

The electrical and electronics sector is the top manufacturing industry in Malaysia, providing almost one-third of the country’s exports and employing 27 percent of its workforce. The Malaysian electronics industry, which relies heavily on migrant workers, is also rife with abuse. One study suggests that 28 percent of workers were trapped into forced labor, and another 46 percent were on the “threshold” of finding themselves in a forced labor situation.

To that end, the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), an NGO focused on supply chain sustainability within the electronics sector, announced it will conduct audits and work with Malaysian government agencies to halt what has become a massive human rights tragedy.

Founded in 2004, the EICC was launched by a small group of electronics manufacturers that have a goal to adopt industry-wide standards covering environmental, social and ethical issues within the industry’s entire supply chain. The organization was completely run by volunteers until 2013, when a full-time staff was hired to manage the EICC’s next growth phase. Malaysia will test this organization’s success.

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SFI Releases New Sustainable Forestry Standards, NGO Says Not So Fast

Leon Kaye | Monday January 12th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Forest Stewardship Council, FSC, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, SFI, forestry, transparency, Forest Ethics, Leon Kaye, auditing, Canada, forests, biodiversity

Who is more accountable — FSC or SFI?

Last week the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) released a new set of standards that will guide the organization’s certification practices through 2019. SFI claims that its standards include policies and guidelines that will help protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife, endangered species and old-growth forests in the United States and Canada.

The new rules also promise everything from managing the “visual impact” of forests, respect for indigenous peoples’ rights, investment in forestry research and technology, and transparency. According to Lawrence Selzer, chair of the SFI’s board of directors, “The revised SFI standards will continue to serve as a proof point for responsible forestry in North America  … These standards are shaped by the people and communities who put them into practice every day.”

This could be a new beginning for SFI, which has been dogged by allegations of deceptive marketing while working as a front for private companies. In recent years companies have shunned SFI while the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) continues to gain more traction in the industry. So, with these new directives, is SFI to be believed?

Not so fast, says one NGO.

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