Reviewing Fiat’s 2013 Sustainability Report with GRI G4 in Mind

Elaine Cohen
Elaine Cohen | Thursday September 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post compares Fiat Group’s 2011, 2012 and 2013 sustainability reports. The automaker’s 2011 and 2012 reports complied with the Global Reporting Initiative’s G3.1 standard and both received an A+ ranking. Its 2013 report is GRI G4 Comprehensive. A version of this post originally appeared on the CSR Reporting blog as part of the site’s ongoing G4 Game-Changer series.

Click to read the 2011 report.

Click to read the 2011 report.

The first thing you might notice about the 2013 Fiat report is that it is around 100 pages shorter than the two prior reports. Bad news for graphic designers but great news for those who predicted that the Global Reporting Initiative’s G4 Guidelines would lead to compactness. However, despite the fewer pages, Fiat identified more material issues in 2013 (23) than in 2012 (18) (material issues were not specified in 2011).

Not only that, Fiat actually fully reported more general disclosures and more performance indicators in 2013 than in both prior reports. (2011 and 2012: 42 general disclosures; 2013: 55 general disclosures; 2011 and 2012: 83 performance indicators; 2013: 88 performance indicators.) Fiat reports on everything in the framework, material or otherwise.

Let’s take a closer look at the 2013 report and how the G4 Guidelines fit in. 

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The Top 10 U.S. States for Solar Power — And What They Can Teach Us

3p Contributor | Thursday September 4th, 2014 | 4 Comments

By Julia Young

The United States is witnessing a solar energy revolution with a massive, 120-fold increase in solar capacity over the last decade.

The solar market in the U.S. had its second largest quarter in 2014. A huge 1,330 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was installed in the first quarter, enough to power 3 million homes. This is the result of increasing awareness among Americans, as each year tens of thousands of them opt to install solar panels in order to reap the benefits of clean, natural and renewable energy from the sun.

Why is solar energy on the rise?

Solar energy is not only good for consumers, but it is also extremely beneficial for the environment and the economy in the long run. Following are a few reasons which highlight the rise in the demand for solar energy in the U.S.:

  • The installation cost of solar energy systems has decreased considerably — by as much as 60 percent since 2011.
  • Solar energy is helpful in downsizing expensive investments in long-distance transmission lines.
  • Solar photovoltaic cells produce much less (91 to 96 percent) global warming pollution than coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants.
  • Solar power plants have played an important role in providing clean energy jobs to local Americans. Approximately 140,000 people are currently employed in this industry, and around half of these jobs, such as installation, are in close proximity to their hometowns.

Local governments, businesses and everyday homeowners in a growing number of U.S. states are taking note of these benefits and adding solar to their energy mixes. Here’s a look at the top 10 states for solar energy in the U.S. and what we can learn from their example.

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Green Lighting Can Save the Federal Government Cash … and Cut Our Taxes

3p Contributor | Thursday September 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments
A new 3M bulb made by MSi Lighting. Saving cash, energy, bottom line and tax payer dollars

A new 3M bulb made by MSi Lighting. Saving cash, energy, bottom line and tax payer dollars

By Seth Leitman

While the green lighting wave comes across the U.S., let’s not forget that the main motive for our federal government to install these energy-efficient bulbs is to save cash, cut costs and — bottom line — help us to cut taxes.

A company I know, MSi Lighting (now partnering with 3M), has already installed LED lights at the Liberty Bell, Air and Space Museums, and even cruise ships (which save more per watt than on land due to fuel costs). This is equal to a lot of cash.

Yes, tax dollars are our cash, so I want to save our tax policy wonks a lot of time on Sunday talk shows: Install green lighting aka clean technology.

So let us dig a bit into some numbers here and realize we need to be asking our elected officials to ‘Show us the money!’  Tax money, that is.

Since we do not have figures yet from the federal government on energy savings due to green lighting, let’s look at a study a lighting company did for some businesses.  Then we can start to equate that to budgets and inevitably our taxes. Fair?  Ok. Here we go.

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Users Concerned About Data Security, Companies Slow to Respond

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday September 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

data privacyNew devices, apps and websites have increased the demand and use of data. We can now receive the results of a blood test, hear about a friend’s breakup, check the electricity usage of our home and watch our child play in their preschool classroom from our devices. Although online data can provide great benefit, it presents numerous security issues as well.

Do you have mobile apps that collect data on you without your consent? Do you know how companies use your disclosed data and, more importantly, is their usage benefiting you? Are there data breaches involving your information that you might not be aware of? Is your personal information available for use by other people without your permission? Unfortunately, many companies are not rising to the data security challenge, and consumers are noticing.

A recent HyTrust poll found that 73 percent of respondents don’t believe their personal and financial information shared with companies is safe. This clearly demonstrates that companies are not fulfilling consumer demand for data security, and customers may be right to worry:

The Fourth Annual Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy and Data Security by Ponemon Institute found security threats to patient hospital records. The threats include: criminal attacks, employee negligence, unsecured mobile devices (laptops, smartphones and tablets), and third parties. A November 2012 study by Edelman found that companies are not prepared to meet consumer and regulator expectations around data security and privacy. It cites lack of resources, emphasis and transparency as the root causes of this divide, with an organization’s financial and reputational risk on the line.

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Are City Bicycle-Sharing Programs Doomed?

Leon Kaye | Wednesday September 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments
Bicycling, Zagster, bicycle sharing, bike sharing, Citi Bike Share, New York, Washington DC, Detroit, General Motors, Leon Kaye, bicycles, Kristine Johnson

Capital Bikeshare in D.C. loses money but is arguably successful overall.

A year has passed since Zagster launched a bike-sharing program for Rock Ventures’ portfolio of properties and companies in downtown Detroit. Considering all the challenges the Motor City has with crime, not to mention the harsh Michigan winters, success was hardly guaranteed. But the program is still humming along, and now GM is partnering with Zagster for a similar program at General Motor’s 330-acre technical center in nearby Warren.

Such success is behind the growth of Zagster as it focuses on bicycle-sharing projects at universities and corporate campuses. The latest coup for the Massachusetts-based firm is a pilot program at Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI). Bicycles docked outside BWI’s international terminal will be available for airport employees looking for some exercise and travellers wanting to use those legs during long layovers. As the Guardian’s Marc Gunther points out, Zagster’s focus on bike sharing for large organizations, and innovative programs such as the one at BWI, accounts for its continued growth. Meanwhile, large-scale bicycle programs such as ones in Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C. lose money. So are citywide bike programs doomed to failure?

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Dansko’s CEO on the Benefits and Challenges of B Corp Certification

Ryan Honeyman | Wednesday September 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is the fourth in a weekly series of excerpts from the upcoming book “The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good” (Berrett-Koehler, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the series.

Mandy CabotBy Ryan Honeyman

More than 1,000 Certified B Corporations from 80 industries and 35 countries — led by well-known icons like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s and disruptive upstarts like Warby Parker and Etsy — are leading a global movement to redefine success in business.

One of the most powerful ways to learn about the movement is to hear about the benefits, challenges, and surprises of becoming a Certified B Corporation directly from the B Corp community.

I recently interviewed Mandy Cabot, CEO of Dansko, for my upcoming book “The B Corp Handbook.” Dansko is a great example of how using business as a force for good has benefitted their customers, employees, local community, the environment and the company’s bottom line.

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China Plans World’s Largest CO2 Market While U.S. Drags Its Feet

Eric Justian
| Wednesday September 3rd, 2014 | 28 Comments

Chinese flag American flagUpon learning today that China has a plan in place for a carbon emissions “cap and trade” market by 2016, my joy was mixed with frustration at U.S. foot-dragging. The D.C. gridlock and politicizing of energy sources like wind and solar — the politicizing of energy sources — has consistently ceded manufacturing and renewable energy technological ground to China and Europe for decades. Are we going to let that happen again with carbon markets?

Apparently so.

China aims to finalize its plans for the largest “cap and trade” program in the world by 2016 — a program that will eclipse the scope of European emissions trading. China’s market will be the main trading hub for Asia and the Pacific. It’ll place a cap on CO2 emissions from power plants and the nation’s many manufacturers. Basically, if an entity wants to emit carbon dioxide above the cap, it needs to buy permits from the market.

China has made a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product to about 45 percent of its 2005 emissions — and by 2020. Mind you, that’s no small feat.

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Hawaiian Electric to Retool with Solar, Smart Grid and Energy Storage

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2014 | 3 Comments

best-value-in-solar-661x308 Distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems, along with smart grid and energy storage capacity, will play a much larger role in Hawaii’s energy future if a recently proposed plan comes to fruition.

Pursuing a goal to achieve the highest level of renewable energy use in the U.S., Hawaiian Electric Co. proposes to nearly triple the amount of distributed solar power capacity coursing through its grid by 2030, as well as install smart grid and energy storage systems.

Almost completely reliant on fossil fuel imports for energy generation, electricity costs – as well associated costs in terms of human and environmental health and safety impacts – in Hawaii are roughly twice that of any other U.S. state. That’s changing for the better, however, as Hawaiians embrace renewable energy technology, enhance energy efficiency and try to dial down energy usage.

Hawaiian Electric’s plan sets a goal of sourcing 65 percent of electricity supply from renewable sources by 2030. Realizing this goal would drastically reduce Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuel imports, greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution associated with fossil fuel use. In addition, Hawaiian Electric expects customers’ electric bills would be reduced by 20 percent.

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Making the Case for Nonprofits in Microfinance

3p Contributor | Wednesday September 3rd, 2014 | 2 Comments
Most families in Maungu have no electricity or water. Zawadisha provides loans for solar lamps and rain water harvesting tanks to women, making these products accessible to poor, rural families.

Most families in Maungu have no electricity or water. Providing small loans for items such as solar lamps and rain water harvesting tanks is one way that micro-finance organizations can experiment to better serve the poor. 

By Jennifer Gurecki

Risk-taking and experimentation are not necessarily terms synonymous with the nonprofit sector. In fact, we normally look toward for-profit entities to take the lead on innovating systems and products, but in the case of financial inclusion for the poor, perhaps it is time to revisit the role of nonprofits. Dean Karlan, in the Fall 2014 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, does just this, illuminating three important functions that nonprofits can serve in the ever-evolving sector of microfinance: serving the unprofitable, building trust and promoting innovation.

At Zawadisha, we are quite familiar with working with people who have been considered too poor and too rural. We have dedicated more time to building relationships with these individuals than we have with developing policies and protocols that inhibit experimentation. We have gained valuable insight from these individuals, resulting in the quick implementation of new products and services that truly meet people’s needs.  We have been able to accomplish all of this precisely because we are not a financial institution. We are not bound by top-heavy policies and red-tape that slows down processes and places a heavy emphasis profitability. In this way, we have benefitted from our nonprofit status, allowing us to test different methods of financial inclusion while still working toward achieving a triple-bottom-line approach to poverty reduction.

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Green Beams for the Blue Revolution: How Standards Can Benefit Aquaculture

3p Contributor | Wednesday September 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Erik Bonsaksen

When world fisheries catches declined in the late 1980s, it was explained by the combination of overfishing, size of resource base and changes in ocean climate. At the same time, global aquaculture production began to blossom, expanding by 12 times and becoming today the fastest-growing food production industry on the planet, a development famously coined the “Blue Revolution.”

Aquaculture became a promising field in terms of countering food production challenges for the U.N.-estimated world population of 9.3 billion by 2050. However, as the World Wildlife Fund and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment suggest, human consumption patterns are already now approaching the upper limit of what Earth’s resources can sustain with signs of depletion on nearly two-thirds of the planet’s natural resources. To evade a global food supply crisis, an increased level of sustainable management is required as further exhaustion of natural fish populations and surrounding environment can be fatal for the upcoming demand.

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Beijing Recycling Program Turns Bottles Into Subway Rides

Lauren Zanolli
| Wednesday September 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

beijing recycleForget your reusable bottle at home this morning and find yourself towing an unwanted plastic bottle? If you are in Beijing, you are in luck — you could trade in that empty bottle for a subway ticket.

“Reverse vending machines” in subway stations around the city allow riders to deposit polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles in exchange for a commuter pass or mobile phone credit. Donors receive 5 fen to 1 yuan (about 16 cents) for each PET bottle, depending on its weight and composition. Incom Recycling, which is owned by Asia’s largest PET processor, Incom Resources Recovery, first introduced the system to Beijing subway stops in late 2012, with 10 machines across the city. The company has since expanded to include 34 machines, and it plans to install as many as 3,000 across the city, according to local media reports.

The machines would seem like a great way to encourage recycling in a city of upwards of 20 million. Except that Beijing doesn’t have a plastics recycling problem — it already has a 90 percent recycling rate for PET bottles, above most cities around the world.

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Obama to Seek ‘Politically Binding’ Climate Agreement

RP Siegel | Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 | 16 Comments

ObamaHow much room is there to maneuver between a rock and a hard place?

That’s a question President Barack Obama must be asking himself, when it comes to the question of climate change. On one hand, you have overwhelming evidence of an increasingly unstable climate system, posing an existential threat to the future of mankind — and most of the entire world angry at the U.S. for being the leading cumulative emitter and doing so little at the governmental level to address the problem. On the other hand, you have some Senate Republicans who are politically entrenched in denial of the problem, along with coal-state Democrats ready to contribute enough down-votes to block any attempt at a climate treaty — which requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

With a United Nations summit meeting coming up in Paris next year that will attempt to come up with some kind of meaningful global agreement, the president is determined not to show up empty-handed this time.

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Green Job Openings More Than Double in the Second Quarter of 2014

| Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

E2ClnEnTrnsprtJobs2QMore than 12,500 clean energy and transportation jobs were announced in this year’s second quarter (Q2 2014), more than double that of Q1, according to a report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) on the eve of the Labor Day weekend.

The announcement of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan instilled confidence and greater certainty regarding the future of clean energy in the U.S. That, in turn, helped spur the jump in clean energy job announcements in Q2, Environmental Entrepreneurs stated in a press release.

“This Labor Day weekend, the story is that more Americans are working because of clean energy,” E2 Executive Director Bob Keefe was quoted as saying. “But to keep that growth going, we need our state and federal leaders to do their jobs too. We need them to support smart policies that grow our economy and protect our environment – policies like the federal Clean Power Plan.”

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The Value of Bike Sharing: Looking Beyond Carbon Emissions

Raz Godelnik
| Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 | 3 Comments

citibikeWhile the sharing economy fan base continues to expand, questions rise  about the true economic and social impacts of sharing.

Interestingly, one part that is still missing from these discussions (well, not entirely) is the environmental impacts of the sharing economy. The general notion is that the sharing economy has a positive environmental impact as it promotes a greater use of underutilized assets. But is this true?

This answer no doubt is complicated. There are even doubts about the environmental impacts of first appears to be one of the greener parts of the sharing economy – bike sharing.

As Bobby Magill reported recently on Climate Central, while we know for sure that nobody has ever died on a bike-share bike, we can’t really be sure what impact bike sharing has on climate change.

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Millenial Voices: Navigating the Intersection of Race, Sexuality and Profession

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in “The Millennials Perspective” issue of Green Money JournalClick here to view more posts in this series.

TDBy Julius Tapper

As you may have noticed, there’s a theme to this issue of GreenMoney. As I write this article, featured as a “millennial voice,” I can’t hide a small smirk of irony. I grew up hating labels. Or, more diplomatically put, I had a strong aversion to them – especially my own. As a kid, my labels made me uncomfortable; black, gay, nerd. By definition, they were accurate, but they didn’t seem to fit. They felt limiting and prescriptive; they came with baggage that wasn’t my own. I felt my individuality, my identity, was undercut by my group affiliations.

My perceived stereotypes of “gay” and “black” were incongruent with my desire to be socially accepted and professionally successful. Inhabiting my intersection of race and sexuality was also difficult; Jamaica (where my parents are from) has a notoriously homophobic culture. In response to the tension between my identities, I retreated from them. When I stopped running from – and turned to examine – my ascribed labels, I found community, culture, and stories with personal resonance. I came to acknowledge that my individuality is enhanced by the intersectionality of my identities, and the history they bring. Frankly, I’m now quite proud of my labels, and they are an active and living part of who I am. Maya Angelou’s recent passing, for me, reinforced one of her most poignant lessons: “I go forth alone, and stand as ten thousand,” and I call on those tribes often.

Having been called on as a millennial to share my story for this article, I’m a little less suspicious of the label, and a little more interested in exploring what it means to me and what it might mean for the investment community. All of this talk of identity may seem a little sentimental for an investment publication, but I argue that identity will be a critical consideration for the investment community going forward.

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