D.C.-Area Escorts Offer Free Services to Congress for Vote on Climate Bill

| Thursday April 1st, 2010 | 3 Comments

As the 40th anniversary of Earth Day approaches, Congress is heating up over debate around the proposed Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Bill, which would establish sweeping federal energy and climate legislation.

As tensions rise, high-end escorts in the greater Capitol Beltway area have offered their services for free to any member of Congress who votes in favor of the bi-partisan effort on the part of Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) that hopes to spur clean energy growth and create green jobs.

Mary Walters, who is the proprietor of a well-known escort service in the Washington, D.C. area, first announced that her company would not charge when she noticed environmental issues taking a back-seat in the political process to health care reform, which recently passed Congress in historic fashion.

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Fair Trade Tea Party Stages Violent Protest in Washington

| Thursday April 1st, 2010 | 0 Comments

Yesterday, protesters from the divisive Fair Trade Tea Party clashed with D.C. police, as violent protests erupted when throngs of activists descended upon Capitol Hill.

The group, inspired by the larger Tea Party Movement, demonstrated in front of the nation’s capitol, each member carrying clenched fistfuls of tea bags, many of which were ethically-sourced from sustainable plantations from around the world, as a gesture against government inaction.

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ExxonMobil to Stop Drilling; Will Cover Phoenix With Solar Panels

RP Siegel | Thursday April 1st, 2010 | 9 Comments

A year ago today…

A startling revelation has been leaked out of the headquarters of ExxonMobil Corporation in Irving, Texas. Apparently the company is planning to cease all drilling operations at the end of this year and to stop exploration immediately. According to a company spokesman who asked not to be identified, “Our CEO says he had a dream that a company of this magnitude truly has the potential to change the direction of history.”

When pressed, the spokesperson explained that the company would no longer be conducting exploration forays in the Seychelles nor off the shores of Fiji. In addition, by shutting down all of its oil drilling operations, the company can bring what many had thought of as an inexorable march towards climate catastrophe to a screeching halt. “Absent our four million barrels per day, the price of oil will skyrocket and people will be forced to make the tough decisions much sooner regarding conservation and efficiency and to move much more rapidly toward renewables.”

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Brazilian Carnaval Float Powers City of Two Million

Leon Kaye | Thursday April 1st, 2010 | 6 Comments

While Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval wins the attention of millions around the globe with its momentous floats and ostentatious feathery costumes, Salvador, Brazil’s third-largest city, hosts a festival that demonstrates why it is the cultural heart of Brazil.  This city of two million hosts a Carnaval lauded for the musical talent that performs during its week-long extravaganza.  The festival is noted for its trios elétricos, enormous trucks rigged with state-of-the-art sound systems on top of which Brazilian music stars regal the crowds that flock to Carnaval before Lent begins.  In recent years, the trios have converted to B20, a mix of 80% diesel and 20% biodiesel from sugar cane, which reduced the trio‘s carbon footprint.

This Carnaval, however, was noted for an engineering feat impressive for a disruptive technology that will change the direction of renewable energy:  researchers at the University of Bahia’s (UFBA) Department of Engineering revealed in a news conference this morning that Daniela Mercury’s trio, retrofitted with arrays of lithium ion batteries, not only fueled her roving stage, but powered the entire city of Salvador during her 7 hour concert.

How did this work?

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Carbon Abatement Failure Prompts New Strategies: Human Clones With Gills

Bill DiBenedetto | Thursday April 1st, 2010 | 0 Comments

With the failure of carbon abatement strategies after the collapse of COP 15 and resistance to any further United Nations meetings on climate change, scientists and academics gathered in California to determine alternate ways to manage climate systems in the face of a warming planet.

The result: There are no easy solutions in a post-carbon-abatement world with no government involvement but perhaps meeting to devise guidelines and norms for new approaches in climate intervention research is the first step.

“This is an urgent meeting of the world’s top climate change experts, because if we can no longer meet under the auspices of the United Nations, meetings must nevertheless continue, because the issue is too important, at least to some,” says Prof. Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the recently installed president of Huxley University in Dipswitch, CA.

More than two hundred renowned scientists and researchers from the world’s leading academic institutions, environmental groups, and policy think tanks, led by Wagstaff, are convening this week to debate the risks and social implications of research on climate intervention, which is also called geoengineering.

“That’s a fancy word that’s sure to get us the funding we need for what we estimate will be a need for at least 10 years of applied research on this topic, especially at the social level,” he says. “At this point, we’re taking every suggestion, from the ridiculous to the sublime, seriously.

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Ford Plugging Into Microsoft Hohm for Battery Management

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday March 31st, 2010 | 0 Comments

Ford announced at the New York Auto Show today that it will team up with Microsoft’ energy management software system, Hohm, to help drivers optimize the juice for Ford electric vehicles – starting with the Ford Focus next year.

Through the partnership, which will also involve utilities and municipalities around the country, the carmaker is playing a role in establishing an infrastructure for charging EVs, while also smartly managing electricity allocation. Charging a vehicle requires a significant amount of power–in fact it can double the amount of power a single household draws from the electrical grid. This is significant not only for the ratepayers but also for the utilities, many of which worry that as EVs become more popular, the increased demand for power in residential areas will cause a strain on the grid–or worse, power outages.

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Can the US Learn from India’s Climate Change Policy?

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 31st, 2010 | 2 Comments

India’s Contribution to Climate Change Mitigation: Carbon Trading and Beyond
By Swapan Mehra

2010 could well end up being a landmark year for Green Development in India. On February 26th, Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian Finance Minister, announced the creation of a National Clean Energy Fund to support development of Renewable Energy to be financed by a tax of Rs. 50 (USD 1) per metric ton of coal used for power generation. Estimates show this could yield more than USD $600 million per year. This was followed on March 5th by the release of working details of India’s ambitious National Solar Mission, aiming to install 20,000 MW of solar energy by 2022, which was  the same day that the National Finance Commission allocated nearly USD $1 billion to highly forested provinces of India towards conservation. A few days later, on March 9th, India formally submitted support for the Copenhagen accord. Given the diverse nature of India’s politics, a convergence of leadership on these issues to this degree is more than a great achievement.

India initiated climate change mitigation activities in 2002, ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding emission reduction targets.  India is currently exempt from these targets and is eligible to host Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects, which promote technology transfer and clean investments, offsetting emissions.  It currently hosts 490 such Registered CDM Projects, the second largest after China, and is expected to issue over 41 million carbon credits annually.

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Not-So-Cool-Cars: Calif. Board Drops Efficiency Requirement from AB32

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday March 31st, 2010 | 0 Comments

After getting heat from police, public safety groups and transportation agencies, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) decided to drop an impending requirement for automakers to incorporate heat-blocking coatings on windows, which decreases the need for air conditioning and makes cars more fuel efficient.  This so-called Cool Cars initiative was to be implemented as part of California’s AB32 Global Warming Solutions Act, which is already under heat on multiple fronts.

The problem with the requirement to add reflective metallic glazing on car windshields (would have applied to all cars sold in California starting in 2012), according to law enforcement and transportation agencies, is that in addition to heat, the reflective coatings sometimes also block wireless transmissions. This, they said, could mean that criminals who are issued GPS-based location tracking bracelets would be harder for police to track when traveling in cars treated with this coating. They claimed the glazing could also restrict cell phone transmissions, which would make it harder for emergency personnel to locate and rescue lost or injured drivers. Finally, toll agencies claimed that the coating would disrupt the radio frequency signals emitted from FasTrak transponders, used for electronic toll collection in the state.

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One Person Really Can Make a Difference

RP Siegel | Wednesday March 31st, 2010 | 7 Comments

Blog, blog, action. It all started with a blog that Beth Terry of Oakland, Calif., read on rodale.com about the monstrous plastic garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. She was particularly struck by a photo of an albatross that had essentially been shrink-wrapped. It inspired her to start cleaning up her act, when it came to plastic waste. And she started a blog, fakeplasticfish.com and wrote about her plastic concerns. As she set about finding homes for all of the plastic items in her life that had served their useful purpose, she discovered that when it came to Brita plastic water filters, there was no room at the inn. This was particularly troubling because not only was this a lot of wasted plastic but due to the way that the filters extract toxic chemicals from the water, they became concentrated sources of toxins by the time they were spent.

People started writing back to her and when she began to analyze the search terms that people used to find her blog (she was, after all, an accountant by day) she realized that there were lots of other people seeking an answer to the Brita problem.  Besides, Brita was representing itself as a green company and was already taking back filters in Europe! She’d seen the effectiveness of a website set up by two bloggers from El Cerrito, Calif., who managed to discourage AOL from sending out the millions of CDs that had been part of a carpet-bombing style marketing campaign, back in the bubbly days.  So she put out a call to action which led, in January of 2008, to the formation of the Take Back the Filter Campaign

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Employee Engagement through Sustainability–Upcoming Free Event!

Scott Cooney | Wednesday March 31st, 2010 | 0 Comments

Earlier this year, and as reported on Triple Pundit, Brighter Planet released the results of a corporate survey on employee engagement around sustainability initiatives.  Thanks in part to the pioneering work of Saatchi & Saatchi S (formerly Act Now Productions) and its founder Adam Werbach, employee engagement is becoming an increasingly popular means to drive corporate sustainability efforts.  Companies have found success mobilizing workforces to reduce waste, save energy, and create new sustainable products and services in the meantime.  As a tangible side benefit, these kinds of programs tend to engender employee satisfaction and loyalty.  The analysis by Brighter Planet, however, suggests that employees are generally dissatisfied with their employers’ sustainability initiatives.  In addition, many employers are frustrated by a dearth of metrics that can quantify the results of their internal efforts.

The San Francisco Carbon Collaborative, Climatini, and CarbonFlow are cosponsoring a panel discussion on the subject with Brighter Planet.  Topics to be covered include:

  • How can companies enhance CSR strategies by fusing employee initiative and forward green thinking?
  • How does the strategy of sustainable employee engagement fit within the larger theme of CSR?
  • How can we measure CSR/EE impacts upon triple bottom lines?
  • What are the pros and cons of implementing top-down vs. bottom-up sustainability programs?
  • How should companies incentivize employee-led initiatives?
  • Where are the cutting-edge opportunities and best-practice ideas?

Panelists will include the CEO of Brighter Planet, Patti Prairie, representatives from Gap, Saatchi & Saatchi S and Sun Light & Power.  David Pascal, President of the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative, will moderate the panel.

The event is in San Francisco, April 14th.  Admission is free.  Register here!

Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill), and is a former employee of Saatchi & Saatchi S, sustainable employee engagement specialists.

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Solar Firms Turn to Foreclosed Properties for Land

| Wednesday March 31st, 2010 | 0 Comments

Finding the land to build a solar power plant can be a headache. Solar plants require a large footprint to soak up the maximum amount of sun’s energy — anywhere from 4 to 14 acres per megawatt of electricity generated.

This need for land puts solar firms in direct conflict with a tangle of environmental and bureaucratic regulations, and has helped stymie new projects even as demand for renewable energy from state governments has soared.

Now, some firms are turning to an alternative resource that, unfortunately, is in great supply right now: abandoned real estate developments.

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Trader Joe’s to Adopt Sustainable Seafood Policy After Greenpeace Campaign

| Wednesday March 31st, 2010 | 3 Comments

Supermarket chain Trader Joe’s has announced that by the end of 2012, all seafood it sells will be from sustainable sources.

The move follows a months’ long campaign by Greenpeace to lobby the popular retailer to change its seafood sourcing practices. The campaign included a pirate-themed website, “Traitor Joe’s,” which now praises the retailer for “turning over a new barnacle.”

Despite its reputation as an ethical company, fueled no doubt by its folksy marketing and simplified, vegetarian-friendly selection, Trader Joe’s last year placed 17th out of 20 national supermarkets in a ranking of sustainable seafood policies.

In addition to switching to sustainable seafood, Trader Joe’s has also promised to:

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Former Sprint, Radio Shack CEOs Get Serious About Recycling

Leon Kaye | Wednesday March 31st, 2010 | 0 Comments

Cell phones keep getting smaller and smaller while boasting more and more features.  Most of those phones, PDAs, and smartphones, however, are eventually tossed out, and the results are disturbing.  In the US, consumers purchase about 140 million new cell phones a year, replacing them on average about every 18 months.  Americans are actually global leaders in cell phone recycling at 10%, compared to the global rate of 1%.  That still means 90% of unwanted phones, however, are sent to the landfill, where they leech toxins while wasting precious rare metals that are becoming more difficult to find.  But what some dismiss as trash can be lucrative treasure to others, so keep your eye on two CEOs who are launching a new cell phone recycling venture.
Ron LeMay, formerly of Sprint, and David Edmonson, a past CEO of Radio Shack, unveiled eRecyclingCorps at the CTIA Wireless Conference in Las Vegas last week.  Based in Dallas, the new firm will work with cellular phone dealers in creating incentive programs to encourage customers to trade in their old phone when purchasing a new one.  Working with wireless service providers, eRecyclingCorps will either recycle the phones or resell them in emerging markets.

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Carbon Trading Complexity Putting Strains on Market Reputation

| Wednesday March 31st, 2010 | 2 Comments

A series of criminal investigations and auditor suspensions in carbon trading markets threaten to give the process of trading pollution credits the same bad reputation as “collateral debt obligations” and other arcane financial instruments that helped trigger the Great Recession.

The problems also highlight a lack of personnel qualified to do the complex work of auditing carbon trading schemes effectively. A similar lack of understanding of various financial instruments is generally agreed to have contributed to the ’08 meltdown.

Who understands this stuff?

German carbon auditor TUEV SUED and Korea Energy Management Corporation (KEMCO) were both suspended last week (KEMCO’s was a partial suspension) by the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the main overseeing body for carbon credit trading activity.

The Executive Board’s decisions specifically mentioned a lack of adequate training for personnel responsible for auditing carbon credit schemes.

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Can Apple’s iPad and Interactive Magazines Save The Landfills?

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 31st, 2010 | 4 Comments

By D. Salmons

Magazines are being printed in volumes every day, and the sheer bulk in waste is staggering. Time magazine prints more than four million copies a year, all in a slick glossy format that has not always been recyclable. But now, a technological gadget could provide a means for curbing the amount of glossy magazines that are produced–and therefore the number that end up in landfills.

Apple is bringing the iPad to the world on April 3rd, and as usual for Apple, it is being delivered with a lot of hoopla and plenty of pre-orders. However, this device is different from past debuts in that its strengths may not be the device itself, but rather the deals and the support surrounding it. To be more precise, Apple has been working with major publishers to bring their wares to the device.

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