United Prosperity’s Powerful Upgrade to the Microfinance Model

| Friday March 19th, 2010 | 2 Comments

ban-startup-friday

Microfinance is feel-good. It’s win-win-win for investors without demanding return requirements. It’s low risk. It helps the poor and empowers an escape from subsistence living. Microfinance is finance we can live with, far from Wall Street’s psychotic derivatives and Madoff-styled sociopaths. Microfinance is lending and investing that’s so ideal that it’s almost cutesy. However, it’s also small-scale, and its small scale reduces its potential to change the world quickly. United Prosperity is a new organization that includes all of the charm of a typical microfinance outfit, but also incorporates more serious, higher impact financial strategy. Ladies and gentlemen: the power of the guarantor.

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Burgerville Adds Compostable Cups and Lids to Menu

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Friday March 19th, 2010 | 6 Comments

Fast food chain, Burgerville, recently announced it is switching to commercially compostable cups and lids as part of its goal to divert 85 percent of the company’s waste stream from landfills. Burgerville is the first fast food chain to use compostable paper cups company-wide.

The compostable “ecotainer” soda cups and lids, developed by International Paper in cooperation with Coca-Cola, are made from fiber from sustainably-managed forests that meet the Sustainable Forestry Institute (SFI) guidelines.  A corn-based coating, NatureWorks Ingeo, is used in the cups and lids to create a water-resistant barrier. And ecotainer products require less energy to produce than traditional paper cups.

Burgerville has also teamed with the Portland Roasting Company in an effort to bring Farm Friendly Direct coffee to all its customers. Proceeds from coffee sales help improve the lives of coffee farmers and their communities though the building of community centers, schools and water treatment centers.

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AT&T’s New ZERO Charger a Stake Through the Heart of Vampire Power

| Friday March 19th, 2010 | 3 Comments

No, it’s not an euphemism for a two-year-old cellphone battery. The new ZERO Charger from AT&T, in stores in May, automatically cuts off the electrical circuit when not charging, eliminating wasted electricity, also known as “vampire power.”

The US Department of Energy estimates internal and external adapters burn through about 120 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) per year of electricity wasted as heat, costing consumers more than $12 billion in electric bills.

Why don’t we have these already?

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Economist: “Nopenhagen” is Rich Countries’ Fault

| Friday March 19th, 2010 | 0 Comments

A prominent British economist said “arrogance” on the part of the planet’s wealthier nations contributed to the disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen climate conference in December.

In an interview with the BBC, Lord Nicholas Stern said the conference should not be considered a failure, however, despite producing only the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, which has been signed by 73 nations so far.

Lord Stern is perhaps best known as the lead author of the Stern Review, a 2006 study of the economic effects of climate change. The study concluded that the benefits of strong, early action outweigh the costs.

Easy for you to say

Lord Stern, a former Chief Economist at the World Bank, said a failure on the part of the EU nations to really understand the concerns of developing nations like China and India contributed to the weak closing document.

Both China and India are grappling with how to move more than one billion people out of poverty without completely wrecking their, and the planet’s, ecosystem. Developed nations have had a hard time convincing them that the latter takes precedence over the former, especially when those nations, like the EU or US, are already rich.

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What’s Green and Clean and RED All Over?

RP Siegel | Friday March 19th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Fact: Electric utilities contribute 42% of greenhouse gases in the US.
Fact: Heat and power contribute 69% of all greenhouse gases in the US.
Fact: The efficiency of US electric power plants has not improved since the 1950s.

(Barriers: Breaking through energy recycling obstacles from Recycled Energy Development on Vimeo)

The average efficiency of power plants in Eisenhower’s day was 33%, same as it is now, despite unbelievable technological advances in every other sector of society.

These are the words of Tom Casten, CEO of Recycled Energy Development, imploring citizens and business leaders to take action. But Casten is not just a cheerleader. He knows how to do it. He knows that the other 67% of the energy that goes into a power plant and doesn’t produce electricity is given off as heat. Waste heat. The same kind of heat that we need to warm our homes and offices, heat our water, and support industrial processes. Yet we throw that heat away and then use lots more fossil fuels, to get more heat. This is where Recycled Energy Development (RED) comes in.

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Poll: Can Markets Solve the Climate Crisis?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday March 19th, 2010 | 6 Comments

All month long, we’re putting carbon trading under the microscope, looking at who’s doing what, and examining the promises and pitfalls for what lies ahead. Will carbon trading be the answer to our growing climate pains? Or will it be another example of the world shifting the focus from where it really needs to be? As we peer into the rather smoggy carbon trading crystal ball, we’d like to know what you think.

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PepsiCo Wants to Make Tropicana Orange Juice Greener

Kathryn Siranosian | Thursday March 18th, 2010 | 5 Comments

Earlier today, PepsiCo announced that it is launching a new pilot program to reduce the carbon footprint of its Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice.

About a year ago, the company released results of a lifecycle analysis (LCA) it had completed on the juice. That data, compiled in partnership with the Carbon Trust, revealed that each half-gallon of orange juice emits the equivalent of 3.75 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. (Need a point of reference? Consider this: Burning one gallon of gas creates 20 pounds of CO2.)

By completing the LCA, PepisCo also discovered that the largest single source of carbon emissions in the production of the drink came from the growing process. Specifically, about 35 percent of Tropicana Pure Premium’s carbon footprint derives from fertilizer use and application in the orange groves.

So now, Tropicana is going to team up with one of its long-time growers, SMR Farms in Bradenton, Fla., to test two lower-carbon fertilizers. If successful, the company estimates that this change could reduce the total carbon footprint of Tropicana Pure Premium by as much as 15 percent.

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Breaking: LAX No Longer Lax on the Environment

Leon Kaye | Thursday March 18th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX, is the third busiest busiest airport in the US and sixth busiest in the world.  LAX has long faced a bevy of environmental challenges, especially the amount of emissions for which this notoriously congested airport is responsible.  In September 2008, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the agency operating LAX and three regional airports, developed ambitious guidelines for sustainable airport planning.  Now LAWA is accelerating its efforts by becoming the first organization to implement Enviance’s Greenhouse Gas (GHS) FastTrack program.

Established in 1999, Carlsbad-based Enviance is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software company that uses cloud computing to host and integrate data necessary for GHG management, carbon accounting, regulatory compliance, and sustainability programs.  For 10 years, Enviance worked with large utilities including American Electric Power, a huge consumer of coal.  Meanwhile, the company worked with the US Army in building a carbon monitoring system, completing the task in 9 weeks.  The result:  Enviance can provide clients with an Internet-based software package that includes data points for over 120 stationary sources of GHG emissions, 100 for mobile sources, and a library of 300 models and scenarios translated into data points that give any organization the tools and modeling needed for measuring its carbon footprint.

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Reframing Cap and Trade

3p Contributor | Thursday March 18th, 2010 | 2 Comments

By Peter Fusaro, Founder, Wall Street Green Trading Summit

Cap and Trade has been hijacked, the wind taken out of its sails by climate change skeptics. More specifically, the issue of market-based solutions for addressing environmental problems has been utterly distorted. The truth of the matter is that markets have worked to drive efficient, environmental results.

One of the prime examples of this is the acid rain problem. In the US Northeast, it has been remediated in a cost effective way using environmental financial markets since 1995. The urban ozone (smog) problem has been lessened in 22 states due to the use of markets to reduce nitrous oxide (NOX) emissions since 1999. In fact, in the US today, there are 38 environmental financial markets that remediate environmental problems for air quality and water quality and protect endangered species.

What this means is that it’s time for the issue of cap and trade to be reframed. My argument is that environmental trading is only the facilitator to the implementation of cleaner technology and renewable energy. Cap and trade facilitates scaling of cleaner technologies by generating needed capital. And it has proven to be cost effective and adopted by industry with little violation of the law due to financial sanctions.

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Can We Put a Price on Solving Climate Change?

| Thursday March 18th, 2010 | 4 Comments

Earlier this week, Lisa Zelljadt from Point Carbon wrote of her company’s new “Carbon 2010” report, which is a worthy attempt at covering the complex set of variables involved in creating and sustaining markets for carbon allowances. The report quantifies the responses from their proprietary data and marketing survey of approximately 1,500 carbon professionals who are all involved in some way in carbon markets/ resource finance (and who are disproportionately carbon traders).

It looks at the success of market-based carbon initiatives, with particular focus on the EU Emission Trading System, where problems may be used as case studies for the eventual U.S. carbon market (as sixty percent of the respondents still think will happen by 2015).

Thus far, most people involved in the day-to-day of carbon markets come from regulated organizations (output sources) and dealers—aggregators or middlemen between governments distributing allowances and the firms that need them for compliance. Europe is suffering from an EUA (EU Emission Allowance) oversupply, and illustrates some of the problems that can occur with mispriced carbon.

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Renewable Energy Grew in Recession Year: Report

| Thursday March 18th, 2010 | 1 Comment

Investment in renewable energy grew in 2009 in wind and biofuels – despite most of the world’s economy being mired in recession, according to a new Clean Energy Trends report from market research firm Clean Edge, Inc.

The third pillar of clean energy, solar power, saw revenues shrink, but only because of a crash in the price of solar panels, which have seen double-digit decreases.

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Los Angeles Taxes Consumers for Energy Consumption

| Thursday March 18th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Eco-friendly LA is about to put its money where its mouth is. A proposal by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would raise electricity bills 8.8% to 28.4% to pay for an ambitious clean energy initiative.

The rate hikes would be implemented by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), and must be approved by its board (which is appointed by the Mayor). The increases have been expected for a while, but the specifics were only announced at a press conference Monday.

Now that a dollar figure has been put on green electricity, will Angelenos still support it?

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Champagne Bottles to Slim Down for the Environment

| Thursday March 18th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Why are Champagne bottles so darn heavy? To fool us into thinking we’re getting more than we are? To be handy in un petit bar brawl?

No! Because of their excitable contents, Champagne bottles must withstand 6 Gs of force (most humans black out at 5 or 6 Gs), and thus are thicker-walled than normal wine bottles.

What does this have to do with green business? Heavy bottles mean more glass used in manufacture and more fuel burned in transportation, which adds up to more carbon released into the atmosphere. To address this problem, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), announced yesterday the launch of a new standard Champagne bottle that is 2 ounces lighter.

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EPA Putting Tighter Leash on Makers of Flea and Tick Products

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday March 18th, 2010 | 2 Comments

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has outlined plans, announced last year, to place new restrictions on products designed to prevent flea and tick infestations on cats and dogs.

The agency is taking action because in 2008 it received nearly double the number of reports of adverse reactions and, in some cases, death, in dogs and cats who were treated with the pesticide products, as compared to the number received in 2007. Of the 44,263 reports in 2008, 600 resulted in the death of an animal.

The EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances formed a task force and reviewed many reported incidents, finding that two pesticides, cyphenothrin and permethrin, were linked to reports of adverse reactions to the topical treatments. The EPA’s research also showed that small dogs more commonly showed adverse reactions to the treatments, compared to medium or large dogs. And overall, cats had more adverse reactions that dogs.

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2014: New and Improved Peak Oil Forecast

Shannon Arvizu | Wednesday March 17th, 2010 | 10 Comments

Global Oil Production

While petroleum companies have announced record profits as of late, a new study published in Energy & Fuels has some startling news. Using an improved forecasting model, researchers from Kuwait University and Kuwaiti Oil Company predict that conventional crude oil production will peak in 2014.

“Peak oil” refers to the point at which oil production reaches a maximum output and then declines. Ibrahim Nashawi and colleagues have developed a new way  to calculate peak oil that builds upon the Hubbert model. The Hubbert forecast model is known for accurately predicting peak oil production in the United States in 1970.  However, this model relies upon a single production cycle within each country.

The new model includes several production cycles that reflect contemporary oil production. The additional production cycles are influenced by technology advances, government regulations, economic conditions, and political events.  According to the authors, “The model  is simple, accurate, and totally data driven, which allows a continuous updating once new data is available.”

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