Don’t Flannery Yourself: Exxon’s Man in Copenhagen

3p Contributor | Wednesday December 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

road-to-copenhagen

Brian Flannery. Photo Credit: Grist

Brian Flannery. Photo Credit: Grist

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Grist, and is posted with permission.

By Jonathan Hiskes

I tracked down Brian Flannery today. He’s the top climate advisor for ExxonMobil, a veteran of international climate talks, and a bona fide villain in the eyes of environmental groups. That’s largely due to Exxon’s funding of front groups that sow misinformation about the urgency of climate change.

Today Flannery was wearing another hat: he led a panel on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce‘s Environment and Energy Commission, of which he’s vice chair. He would seem to be something of an odd choice for leadership at the International Chamber, which has embraced the opportunities of a low-carbon economy far more than the step-boldly-into-the-past U.S. Chamber.

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Water Cap And Trade? Coming Soon To A Watershed Near You

David Lewbin
| Wednesday December 9th, 2009 | 4 Comments

dry-waterOne of the most innovative initiatives I learned about at last week’s Corporate Water Footprinting Conference (Dec. 2-3, 2009) was the Water Restoration Certificates (WRC’s) mechanism created by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. At this point, it is the nation’s first voluntary water restoration marketplace.  So how does it work? The clearest description comes straight from the foundation’s website.

“WRCs come from rivers and streams where there’s been very little water. That’s because water laws in the western U.S. allow property owners to take a certain amount of water from these water sources, but in many cases, the rights to withdraw water exceed the total amount of water in the river or stream, particularly in late summer. These laws also mandate that property owners use their allotted water or risk forfeiting their water rights forever. So of course, landowners will withdraw all of their water, whether they need it or not. And withdrawing all that water leaves many streams completely dry or with so little water that they can’t support fish, wildlife, and recreation. BEF WRCs are designed to give landowners a choice in how they use their water. WRCs are a voluntary, market-based program that provides economic incentives for water rights holders to leave water in critically dewatered ecosystems. Quite simply, landowners are paid to keep water in stream.”

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Waste of Paper or Wellspring of Opportunity? The True Value of CSR Reports

| Wednesday December 9th, 2009 | 3 Comments

wastepaper-basketSome skeptics question the value of corporate social responsibility reports.  They point to the resources expended on producing these documents and demand  “Who reads them, anyway?”  While that may be a valid question, I think a more informative question is “What value does producing a CSR report offer to the company doing the reporting?”

Based on my experience producing CSR reports, I have seen firsthand the positive impact that publishing a report can have on a company’s employees and performance management.   So, I wasn’t too surprised when Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship’s new report, The Value of Social Reporting, found that “a social report, and the reporting process,” make CSR reports a “unique tool for promoting good corporate citizenship.”

Authors Belinda Richards and David Woods studied the evolution of social reporting at seven companies from a range of industries: Baxter International Inc., Gap, Nestle, Novo Nordisk, Seventh Generation, State Street and Telefonica. Their research focused not on the reports, but rather on the process and outcomes of reporting.

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Tata Nano Will Come in Hybrid Flavor

| Wednesday December 9th, 2009 | 2 Comments

tatananoNews from the Indian automotive world: the Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest production car, will someday be available as a hybrid electric.

Rumors became reality during the LA Auto Show, according to Wired, which reported a South Korean business paper got the scoop when Tata Chairman Ratan Tata let slip plans for a hybrid of the minicar. But according to StockWatch India, Ratan made the announcement at Tata’s 63rd annual meeting, and that the hybrid model “may also include some modification in exterior design.”

People and Profits, but…

The Nano has been hailed as a way to bring the advantages of car ownership to India’s billion plus citizens, who have an average per capita income of $1070. The Nano sells for just 100,000 rupees ($2,150), and gets 50 miles to the gallon, in part because the basic model eschews air conditioning, power brakes and other amenities that Western car buyers have come to expect.

Chairman Ratan Tata, whose family-run conglomerate has a hand in nearly every sector of the Indian economy, said the Nano can be assembled in remote locations from kits shipped from the factory. “we would create entrepreneurs across the country that would produce the car…That is my idea of dispersing wealth.”

Of course, once everyone in India has a car, expect that country’s CO2 output to explode — thus the nod towards hybrid technology. Few additional details were available, although according to one report, Tata would make use of existing hybrid technology rather than develop its own for the minicar.

One question: where, exactly, are you going to put that dual gas-electric drive-train? Because the Nano is not only the world’s cheapest car, but one of the smallest.

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UN Climate Chief Comments on EPA Endangerment Finding

| Wednesday December 9th, 2009 | 6 Comments


Yvo de Boer fields questions at Tuesday press conferenceIn concert with the opening of the COP15 climate talks here in Copenhagen, the EPA finalized their endangerment finding on Monday that specifies carbon emissions as a threat to human health and well being (see Bill DiBenedetto’s  detailed post from yesterday).

At yesterday’s press briefing UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer was asked what influence the decision would have on the outcome of the conference:

“If I were a businessman,” de Boer replied, “I would say please, please, please do a deal in Copenhagen – and please, please, make it market-based. Because if we fail to get a market-based agreement here, and if the US Senate fails to agree cap-and-trade, then the regulatory agency will be obliged to regulate. Every business knows that taxes and regulation will be a lot less efficient and a lot more expensive than a market-based approach.”

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Seeking a Gold Standard for Green Practices: The Carter Center

3p Contributor | Wednesday December 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment

CarterLogoBy Martin Melaver

This past week, I was fortunate enough to be a guest of the Carter Center at its annual meeting.

President Carter, at 85, was jaw-droppingly impressive, speaking on his feet for 45 minutes without notes on a broad range of political and economic issues. The programs the Carter Center highlighted during this meeting were no less impressive, ranging from elimination of malaria in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to promoting greater openness and unfettered flow of information in China, to tee-ing up democratic elections in the Sudan.

But it was the underlying architecture of this organization that really grabbed my attention. I felt I was getting a glimpse of what a sustainably-rooted organization looks like.

We are certainly not lacking for one-off stories of numerous companies and organizations all announcing their various green initiatives. Bravo. It’s about time. Much rarer, however, are examples of entities that “get it.” By getting it, I mean having a clear, focused purpose that locates all one’s resources on the three keys to a more sustainable world order:

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SmartPower Taps Crowd Power in $10,000 Video Contest

Steve Puma | Wednesday December 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

According to non-profit marketing organization SmartPower, even though 80 to 90 percent of the public agrees that energy from renewable sources is better than energy produced from fossil fuels, and they are willing to pay $5 or $10 more per month for that energy, the market penetration of renewable energy products still remains below 5 percent. The company aims to change that by researching exactly what barriers consumers face when they are considering a clean energy or energy efficiency purchase, and then combining innovative marketing campaigns with grass-roots action to overcome these barriers.

SmartPower’s latest campaign is the Energy Smart Ad Challenge, offering a $10,000 prize for the best 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting how young adults can save money by being Energy Smart through energy efficiency and conservation. The 10 finalist videos were posted on YouTube Friday, and viewers are invited to comment on how well the videos “speak to young people about being energy smart.” Each day, one video will be eliminated from the competition, presumably with the viewer input weighing heavily in the decision. As of this writing, the video titled “Generation”, (posted at the top of this article), was far and away the viewers’ favorite.

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EcoUnits: Green Affinity Marketing

Bill Roth | Wednesday December 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

ECO_logo_final
I don’t know how many of you remember green stamps. Back when our phones were universally black and we saw the USA in our Chevrolets there was this fantastic brand loyalty marketing program where every purchase at a participating store resulted in an allocation of green stamps (just the like postage kind) that moms would paste into green stamp books. After accumulating enough books of stamps they could be taken to the green stamp store for redemption of household appliances, televisions, golf clubs, etc. It was a path for converting everyday shopping into the realization of a family’s dream consumer product purchase. I clearly remember those magical special days when our entire family would walk the green stamp store’s aisles trying to reconcile among ourselves which one of the thousands of products we dreamed of owning was going to be the one we actually took home by redeeming our green stamps.

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Why the EPA’s Endangerment Finding Sets the Stage for Action

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments

greenhouse_gasesShowing a fine sense of message and timing, the United States entered the first day of the crucial climate change conference in Copenhagen armed with a potentially game-changing decision from the Environmental Protection Agency:  Greenhouse gases threaten public health and the environment and must be regulated.

EPA’s announcement Monday sent a sharp signal to the world that the Obama administration is serious about addressing climate change on both the world stage and within its own borders. It tells the U.S. Congress that the administration is prepared to contain global warming without congressional action if necessary. And it adds a further layer to the battle for rapid congressional approval of health care reform.

More importantly the so-called “endangerment finding” goes beyond mere words. It sets the stage for action and underscores a firm break with the policies and inaction of the past decade or so.

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Hewlett Packard: What Does it Take to Be #1?

| Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

#1I was recently asked to highlight some of Hewlett-Packard’s environmental printing programs, but after reviewing the materials the PR folks sent, I decided the more interesting story was to reflect on how HP got listed #1 in Newsweek’s recent rankings of green companies, as well as ranked highest in the category of electronics by Climate Counts.

So to find out why, I referred to an interview I conducted (for a piece I did on Tips for Getting Your Sustainability Project Off the Ground) earlier this year with Bonnie Nixon, HP’s director of environmental sustainability.   I went back to those notes to help answer the question, “What Does it Take to Be #1?”

Fast Company reflected on this same question last month and concluded, “What was confirmed to me is that behind every major corporate transformation story is a truly heroic man or woman. While I am sure HP has a team of hundreds who have contributed strongly to this position as number one on the Newsweek list, I was certain after spending more time with Nixon that she was an integral part of it.”

Five critical factors make a company like HP stand out:

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The Dragon in Africa: How Chinese Investment Changes The Game

| Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

By David Abraham

Al-Jazeera recently posted a video highlighting an investment surge in the tiny central African nation of Equatorial Guinea.  The country is the third largest exporter of petroleum and gas–a fact that is not immediately obvious when looking at the quality of life for its 500,000 citizens.  But with important infrastructure projects funded by China underway, conditions may be changing.

Chinese attention reaches well beyond Equatorial Guinea and the China Export-Import Bank is financing energy and transportation projects throughout the continent.  An excellent 2008 World Bank report revealed that Nigeria, Angola, Sudan, and Ethiopia were the largest African recipients of funding from China.  The Communist Regime’s intense interest in the region has stirred strong feelings for two reasons.  First, China has shown that it will deal with governments with questionable (and I’m being generous) human rights records.  Second, there is concern that the Chinese will bring a “New Colonialism” by not providing local laborers with fair wages or working conditions.

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The Green Brewhaha: What Makes Your Beer Sustainable?

| Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Triple Pundit has been investigating what makes the world’s biggest and smallest companies sustainable for over five years. We’re not ashamed to admit that we often end a long day with a cold one. Beer has been a catalyst in our discussions and networking, not to mention something we enjoy in our time off. Now, we’re reaching out to brewers large and small to seek out what
“sustainability” means to them, and to help tell the story of “green,” socially conscious brewing.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you stories from some of the most sustainable breweries in the world. Their tales are quite remarkable since food and beverage is a highly competitive, low margin business. First up: New Belgium Brewing

All our brewery responses can be found on this page. Follow along into January!

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Is there an Impetus for Climate Change Legislation in the Senate?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

us-capitol

While speaking to the Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s National Climate Seminar last week, Jeff Sharp, one of Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-MA) staff members, said about climate change legislation, “We expect more things to be moving forward.” Passing cap-and-trade legislation in the Senate “will be a very tough fight,” he added. However, Sharp pointed out that the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act last summer which would create a cap-and-trade program, and set an emissions reduction target of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The Senate Environment Committee approved a version of ACES early last month. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) will have to “put votes together” to pass the legislation, Sharp said. He said there are “solid votes in favor of the bill.” Ten to fifteen votes on both sides of the political aisle “must be picked up in order to pass the legislation. Although climate change legislation will not be passed in the Senate until next year, Sharp said, “There will continue to be impetus for climate change legislation.”

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Why Renewable Energy Developers Must Win Community Support

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 6 Comments

140px-Windmills_D1-D4_(Thornton_Bank)Renewable energy is desperately needed to combat climate change, and communities should support developers of solar and wind energy projects. However, the acronym NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) still expresses well the sentiment of some folks. Take a recent Los Angeles Superior Court case, for example. The Tesoro del Valle Master Homeowners Association (HOA), a 1,100 home community, sued a neighbor who had installed 300 square feet of solar panels “close to a sidewalk.” The jury ruled against the homeowner.

The HOA denied the homeowners application to install the solar panels, and several requests were made to “cease and desist,” according to a press release by the Greenberg Glusker, the legal firm representing the HOA. The release also stated that the HOA allowed other members of the community to install solar panels, but the offending homeowner’s “installation was rejected for reasons of safety and aesthetics.”

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Where Were the Electric Utilities on Cyber Monday?

Bill Roth | Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

cyber mondayWhere Were the Electric Utilities on Cyber Monday?
I post this question drawing upon the following two data-points:

1. Almost 100 million Americans (certainly all of whom are electric utility customers) shopped via the Internet on Cyber Monday, the online retail event following Black Friday.

2. ALL of the top 15 products that consumers searched for on Cyber Monday are consumer electronics, which, of course, use an electric battery or household current for their operation!

But while consumers are increasingly interested in consumer electronics, the ways in which they use electricity are changing. The utility industry’s future could be one of revenue erosion as consumers adopt off grid self-generation and the customer side of energy efficiency solutions.  Additionally, revenue erosion could occur from consumer conservation, sparked by a price backlash against utility rate increases in both average prices and peak period prices. At the same time, smart metering and the potential of plug-in electric cars afford “killer app” opportunities for managed revenue growth that can increase operating margins. So in defining its role in advancing energy efficiency, renewable energy and electric transportation enabled through smart metering and grids, electric utilities have a complex set of messages to communicate.

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