When considering how he’d vote on the Waxman-Markety bill last month, Charlottesville, Virginia Representative, Tom Perriello, did what any legislator should. He listened to his constituents. Among the thousands of emails, letters, and faxes he received, a handful in particular stood out.
One was written by Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that works with Charlottesville’s Hispanic community. Five more from the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the NAACP. All urged the freshman congressman to vote against the important climate change bill. All, it turns out, were forgeries.
“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” Tim Freilich, an executive committee member of Creciendo Juntos, told the Charlottesville Daily Progress. “It’s this type of activity that undermines Americans’ faith in democracy.”
Concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) is not a new technology, but commercial utilization is. In the past, panels demonstrated high efficiency in the laboratory, but were not designed for manufacturability. Since SolFocus was founded in 2005, the company has taken a different approach to this technology.
“We have designed our product for manufacturability,” says Nancy Hartsoch, VP of Marketing for SolFocus. “Otherwise, we will end up with an expensive lab experiment.”
SolFocus recently announced raising over $77 million in Series C funding. This will help the company ramp up production to commercial scale production, something that they have had in mind from the beginning.
Feed-in tariffs—by which renewable power suppliers are guaranteed grid access and premium, long-term rates—are the surest, most effective and least costly regulatory means of stimulating the adoption and use of renewable power in the U.S., according to a policy paper published by the Heinrich Boell Foundation’s Transatlantic Climate Policy Group.
With the recent change in administration and subsequent Congressional initiatives, the international community is looking to the U.S. government to enact policies that will transform the US into a leader in, and leading market for, the development and adoption of renewable power and energy.
“Unfortunately, American renewable energy policy consists of a byzantine mix of tax incentives, rebates, state mandates and utility programs,” according to the report, hampering “the ability of states and communities to maximize the benefits of their renewable energy resources.”
Cityscape Farms, a greenhouse based urban farming initiative, promotes their mission with the slogan, “An idea whose time has come.” Whether it’s San Francisco’s new aggressive regional food policy or the famous organic garden on the White House lawn, the local food movement—specifically the urban local food movement—is garnering increasing media attention and validity. Yet, for Cityscape founder and CEO Mike Yohay, executing the launch of their pilot program has proven that where eco-entrepreneurship intersects with urban farming, there’s new ground to break.
Based in San Francisco, Cityscape Farms is a young company, currently in the initial stages of implementation. One could amend their slogan to read, “An idea in the making.” Yohay, a graduate of Dominican University’s Green MBA program, may be the next poster boy for the hipster meets locavore movement. Born in Brooklyn to a family of backyard farmers, his commitment to urban gardening evolved, paradoxically, when he left the city. When living in the Midwest, studying art and computer science, he observed industrial agriculture to be “massive and inefficient” and a stark contrast to the low-impact farming he participated in years later, in Costa Rica. There, he was impressed with the emphasis on recycling wastewater and its role in creating a self-sustaining food community.
The confluences of these experiences solidified Yohay’s vision. He has embraced, “the creative environment inherent in agriculture and horticulture,” and wants to seed cities with greenhouses, which he equates to “installations with a critical use.”
In some ways, donating to a charity can be like cleaning a really dirty house: when a cleaning sesh provides really visible results, it provides a heightened sense of satisfaction, thereby encouraging future clean up endeavors. A remarkable new startup, the Jolkona Foundation, is banking on this parallel. The organization encourages young donors to give (even contributions as small as 5 dollars) by obviating the results of each donation.
The Washington State-based organization seeks to fulfill a simple mission: to “build awareness and mobilize our youth to support successful community development projects around the world.” SpringWise.com reports that Jolkona targets donors between the ages of 15 and 35, using technology and social networking to add a sense of “pop appeal” (and immediacy) to charitable giving. It also allows donors to see the small-but-collectively-potent impact of each donation – hence the organization’s name, which means “drop of water” in Bengali.
The process is relatively straightforward. Donors create an online account in the Jolkona system. They may then choose from a variety of projects, basing their choices on criteria such as location, price, and focus area (public health, education, environment, empowerment, or cultural identity). Donors contribute online (securely) via Google Checkout, and their monies are tracked henceforth; Jolkona informs donors of their donation’s impact through online photos, stories, and other means.
Jolkona is involved in a number of projects, ranging from the (fair) trade of products hand-crafted by Bangladeshi women to the sale of pottery hand-hewn by Nicaraguan potters. Recently, Jolkona even rewarded donors – and benefitted several Indian, Ethiopian, and Haitian communities – by planting trees in those areas (one tree for every supporter on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, for a total of 750 trees).
How is Jolkona able to sustain its operations? By its self-described “no-nonsense” approach. The Foundation minimizes costs by partnering with existing projects. It also depends on technology for marketing, fundraising, and follow-up – operations Jolkona pays for through the Kona Fund, which is supported by private corporate donations. Jolkona maintains donor satisfaction through transparent reporting and the giving of 100 percent of donors’ gifts to their chosen project.
“Business Groups: U.S. Faces ‘Green Trade War’ over Carbon Tariffs.” When I read this Environmental Leader headline, the idealist in me sighed. Wouldn’t it be nice if passing environmentally helpful legislation was, well, easy? In reality, though, businesses are expressing strong concerns – and warnings – as legislators attempt to shape a more eco-friendly economy.
According to a Reuters report, four powerful U.S. business groups (including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Foreign Trade Council) wrote a letter to Congress warning against levying tariffs against carbon-intensive products. Doing so, the letter said, could start a “green trade war,” disrupting global trade systems, violating U.S. trade obligations, and negatively impacting the nation’s relations with key trading partners. The letter reportedly advised “international cooperation” instead of “unilateral ultimatums.”
Not exactly music to legislators’ ears, given the already-intense debate in the Senate over passing Obama’s climate change legislation, which passed in the House last month. (The bill is due to pass the Senate in September.) Senators have debated everything from the bill’s provisions to its language. The bill, which is designed to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions by 83 percent by 2050, includes a “border adjustment” program that would, if passed in its current form, allow additional tariffs on carbon-intensive goods (i.e. steel, cement, and paper) from countries not doing enough to trim their emissions (per the U.S.’s estimation).
U.S. businesses are not alone in their objections to the bill. China, India, and other developing countries have also objected strongly to it, asserting that the U.S. (and other emissions-heavy developed nations) should take responsibility for curbing emissions.
Climate change will, expectedly, be high on the White House’s agenda next week, when it will host talks with Chinese Vice President Premier Wang Qishan and other Chinese officials. (The U.S. is second only to China in per-capita greenhouse gas emissions, and the two countries combined account for approximately 40 percent of emissions annually.)
It’s a great day, apparently, for Australian green job enthusiasts. Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, promised today to create 50,000 such jobs (and apprenticeships) and tackle climate change, the Boston Globe reports. His promise is part of a greater pledge to prioritize environmental legislation while tackling the country’s burgeoning unemployment problem.
The PM’s 94 million Australian dollar ($77 million) green jobs package will support a number of programs designed to equip Australians for employment in the emerging eco-friendly economy. These programs include 30,000 apprentice programs (offering training in sustainable building practices); creation of 10,000 Green Jobs Corps positions (offering training and public works jobs for unemployed youth); and creation of 10,000 additional jobs that encourage sustainability and green building practices.
President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions reportedly described the green job plan a “great step forward.” The plan is also, judging from unemployment statistics, direly necessary: analysts predict Australia’s unemployment rate will rise almost 30 percent next year (from its current 5.8 percent to a whopping 8.5 percent).
In an effort to curb Australia’s CO2 emissions, Rudd, a member of the Labor Party, is also seeking to pass some tough climate legislation, which most opposition parties oppose. (Climate change is a hot topic among Australia’s legislators, many of whom are embroiled over the issue.) The legislation goes before the Senate for a second round of voting next month. If it doesn’t pass, the government may have to call a snap election.
As long as gasoline-powered vehicles ply the nation’s highways reducing transportation pollution is perhaps the most critical element in the effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report from group of federal agencies and advocacy groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund.
Once that realization sinks fully in and actions are implemented it will still take a long time, like 40 years, before significantly measurable reductions actually occur.
Will it be too-little-too-late? Possibly but that’s not the theme of Moving Cooler: Transportation Strategies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, a study released Tuesday by Cambridge Systematics, a transportation consulting firm.
The 97-page report outlines six “strategy bundles,” including various pricing strategies such as congestion pricing, pay-as-you drive insurance and vehicle miles traveled, that if implemented in their entirety would result in annual GHG reductions of up to 47 percent annually by 2050. Pricing strategies are always controversial and political hot spots; without those in place, the GHG reductions drop dramatically to 24 percent a year by 2050.
Big news in the environmental legislation world: the Senate passed a $34.3 billion energy spending bill yesterday that will cover hundreds of Army Corps of Engineers water projects and allow for the closing of the Yucca Mountain (Nevada) nuclear waste facility. (Obama promised, during his campaign, to close the facility.)
According to an NPR report, the federal government has scrapped plans to open the Yucca Mountain facility, although it is 25 years (and $13.5 billion) in the making. Closing the Yucca Mountain facility will leave the nation without a long-term nuclear waste storage solution. (Radioactive waste is now stored, instead, on nuclear plant grounds [and storage containers] around the country.) A 1987 law requiring that nuclear waste be stored at Yucca Mountain is still on the books, so the facility could, in theory, be re-opened (in which case, the bill affirms, the facility would still receive $196.8 million for work on the site).
The funds will also cover a variety of water, energy, and transportation projects: clean energy research, improvement of mass transit (including the Washington Metro and Amtrak systems), cleaner-fueled buses, airport improvements, high-speed rail systems, and (hotly debated) subsidies for rural air travel. The bill also includes an amendment that will allow for water transfers (from the eastern portion of California’s Central Valley to the western portion of the San Joaquin Valley) to mitigate the effects of drought in the region.
The bill essentially freezes spending for the programs it covers (this distinguishes it most other bills for the 2010 budget year beginning on October 1, which contain spending increases in excess of inflation).
There are too many economists. That, it seems, is the surest deduction one could make about a new Spanish study, which claims that for every renewable energy job financed by the government, approximately 2.2 traditional jobs are lost.
The key phrase is “financed by the government.” The study (PDF), written by Professor Gabriel Calzada Álvarez of Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, is essentially another salvo in an ideological war over opportunity costs, state subsidies and climate change. The argument, in a nutshell, is that when the government mandates that money be spent on a certain industry, such as wind turbines or solar panels, as is the case in Spain, it sucks away money from private enterprise, which, as the old saw goes, knows how to allocate resources the best.
Like on Wall Street. Or those free-and-efficient energy markets created by Enron.
Nike and Creative Commons are not two organizations you’d typically hear in the same sentence. And especially not working together. Try, “…a project of Nike, Creative Commons, and Best Buy.” That’s what GreenXchange is. Here’s a video laying the groundwork:
GreenXchange is a part of CC’s Science Commons project. As in other Creative Commons efforts, this is about sharing knowledge so that others can create new works based on this knowledge, building upon it in ways that weren’t anticipated by the originator. The GreenXChange website goes into some depth as to the how and why the acceleration of sustainable innovation is important and possible, but these three sentences from their pdf on the project sum it up quite well, in a way that the most tight fisted businesses can understand:
AirTran is a budget airline that you’re most likely familiar with for popping up on all the flight promo aggregators online. Today, they made an interesting announcement. They will feature the world’s first Carbon Neutral water.
Carbon Neutral water you say? Yes, starting today, passengers on AirTran flights will get treated to bottles of Icelandic Glacial, water made with fully recyclable PET plastic from a Carbon Neutral certified bottler in Iceland.
Citing an AirTran press release, “Icelandic Glacial is a pioneer in water with environmentally responsible consumer products including industry leading Carbon Neutral certified bottled water, great taste, exceptional Icelandic purity, fully recyclable PET bottle sizes, and award winning bottle design.”
Imposing a tax on imported goods that are carbon-intensive is an idea being tossed around as much these days as driftwood on a shore. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, “If other countries don’t impose a cost on carbon, then we will be at a disadvantage…[and] we would look at considering perhaps duties that would offset that cost.”
Earlier this month, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke mentioned carbon tariffs while speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shangai. “It’s important that those who consume the products being made all around the world to the benefit of America — and it’s our own consumption activity that’s causing the emission of greenhouse gases, then quite frankly Americans need to pay for that,” he said. Locke later told reporters that Chinese officials expressed concerned about carbon tariffs. “They feel in essence it’s a tax on their carbon activity,” Locke said.
I have heard the future. And it sounds… quiet. As a new transplant to DC, I started accepting road noise and grimy air as inevitabilities of city life. On Tuesday, Bryan Hansel, CEO of Smith Electric Vehicles, showed me an alternative. (Thank you, Bryan.)
On Tuesday, at the footsteps of the US Capitol, six companies accepted keys to their brand-new Smith Newton vehicles, the world’s largest all-electric truck.
We all know individuals who are committed to living sustainably, conscious of the impact their daily lives have on the environment. They may take public transport, bike, or walk wherever they can, rather than drive. Perhaps they recycled their bottles long before it became popular, or used their kitchen and garden waste to make compost. Like some people, there are companies that were ahead of the curve, openly calling out sustainability as an integral part of their mission – companies like Seventh Generation, The Body Shop, and Whole Foods.
Today, it’s no longer just these true believers who embrace sustainability. There is an ever-growing number of individuals and companies who take sustainability very seriously, even though they never started out with that conscious intention. How does that (rather dramatic) change come about?
Online: Oct 7 HP Twitter Chat from SXSW Eco Join TriplePundit's Founder, Nick Aster, and HP's Senior Director of Strategy and Communications, Chris Librie, for a Twitter chat live on #LivingProgress from SXSWeco on October 7th! Register here.
Greenwich: Oct 23 – Oct 26 Social Venture Network 2014 Connect with like-minded business leaders at an SVN conference, Social Venture Institute or workshop. Get recharged, supported and inspired! Register here.
Los Angeles: Oct 28 – Oct 31 Sustainatopia Consisting of 5 Conferences and a broad-ranging Festival, SUSTAINATOPIA brings together the global ecosystem of social, financial and environmental sustainability like no other single event. Register here.
London: Nov 3 – Nov 5 Sustainable Brands London 2014 Connect with Sustainability Executives, Brand Strategists, and Design & Innovation Leaders as the Sustainable Brands London Conference convenes to drive the innovation that leads to enhanced business. Discount with code: NW3pSB14LRegister here.
New York: Nov 4 – Nov 6 BSR Conference 2014 BSR 2014 will explore how transparency can transform supply chains, energy and climate, consumer engagement, community impacts, and more. Register here.
Minneapolis: Nov 6 – Nov 8 Net Impact 2014 We're ready to break boundaries—leaving limits behind, forging unexpected alliances, and exploring creative solutions—to transform the world. Register here.
TriplePundit.com is published under a creative commons license. You are free to republish only headlines and excerpts of 3p articles except where explicitly permitted by agreement with 3p. We reserve the right to ask any publication to cease syndication. Please Contact Us for details or read more here.