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Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka and the one of the seminal thinkers behind the modern social enterprise movement, describes in a recent interview that moment of inspiration when a social entrepreneur sees the solution to a problem that has eluded all others. “The most powerful force in the world is a big pattern change idea, but only if it’s in the hands of a very good entrepreneur,” Drayton comments during the interview.
One such entrepreneur is Duane Sorenson, the owner of Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, OR. He experienced this moment of inspiration on a trip to Rwanda in 2006 where he was visiting the coffee cooperative Koakaka Koperative Ya Kawa Ya Karaba, or Karaba for short. More than a mile above sea level, Karaba grows bourbon-varietal coffee, a superior varietal, but a more delicate and difficult one to grow and process. Mr. Sorenson asked one of the farmers at Karaba what could Stumptown do to help him improve his coffees. “He said a bike would help him with transportation of ripe cherry to the mills, which would improve the coffee’s quality, since coffee needs to be milled within hours of picking.” Once a coffee cherry is harvested, the bean inside the cherry swiftly begins to degrade. Coffee cherries, especially delicate ones like the bourbon varietal, that sit in the sun can ferment and taint a batch of beans.
The trip provided Mr Sorenson and his colleagues at Stumptown the germ of an idea. After returning from Rwanda, they started a nonprofit group called Bikes to Rwanda (BTR). About their moment of inspiration, Clara Seasholtz, executive director of Bikes to Rwanda adds, “I have to say that it isn’t often that aid projects begin by asking the benefactors what they need, rather than a bunch of Westerners sitting around deciding what developing countries need, why not ask them?”
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Well I guess it was just a matter of time before the opposition to a new, potentially progressive environmental policy began to spread across the media like roach trails on a dirty counter top.
It’s no secret that President-elect Obama is likely to push for a massive increase in renewable energy investment, and a drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Not surprisingly, the latter isn’t sitting well with the folks that are responsible for a big chunk of those emissions.
With all the recent hullabaloo about the new greener Macbook, it’s easy to forget that there have been some green computers out on the market for some time, and that they address areas that Apple has not. While Apple is to be applauded for their efforts, there are other companies that take green computing further:
Iameco (said “I am eco”) is the product of Dublin based Micropro Computers. What makes them greener than your average beige box? As Paul Maher puts it, they are updateable, upgradeable, reusable, and recyclable. And in some cases, biodegradable. More on that in a moment.
By Nick Hodge
Should utilities be required to use the best available technology in order to minimize harm to the nation’s waterways?
Most people with half a brain would answer that question affirmatively. But apparently the upper reaches of our judicial system don’t fall into that category.
So today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that a five-year-old could decide in seconds.
It centers around the impact utilities have on waterways near power plants that use billions of gallons of water each and every day–all of it sucked up from our rivers and lakes.
You see, power plants–coal-fired, natural gas, and nuclear–all use incredible amounts of water for cooling. The total comes to more than 214 BILLION gallons of water each day, or tens of trillions of gallons every year.
And here’s what makes the correct decision here patently obvious: the cooling process kills every living organism in the water–fish, larvae, eggs, microorganisms–all of it.
Now, this court case isn’t going to have any financial implications for us as investors; I’ll get to some water-related investment ideas in a few moments.
First, let me just outline the facts of this case so we can all have a good chuckle, and reminisce about the Bush decision of yore, which will shortly be no more.
A Small Organic Tea Company With Big Environmental Plans: Ocean of Tea Pours Sustainability By the Cup Full
There’s been a lot of chatter about green and sustainable business lately with enterprise and high profile corporations adding eco-friendly activities to their portfolio in an attempt to demonstrate their focus on the environment. But with bureaucracy and corporate red tape, those efforts typically become ancillary to the company’s overall strategic imperatives, leaving a bulk of the responsibility to rest squarely on the shoulders of conscious entrepreneurs committed to doing their part in sustaining our planet.
For Terry Godier, Co-Founding Partner at Ocean of Tea, a high quality purveyor of eco-friendly tea, this is not only a responsibility that he happily accepts, but one that he bears proudly as he engineers his start up to save the world.
Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation– a.k.a. REDD– is a focal point of this week¬¥s UNFCC COP 14 global climate change negotiations in Poznan.
A fundamental question arises given the make-up of the government delegations who will be the ultimate decision makers as to what, if any form, a new global compact on climate change will eventually take: is any political body and process– even one as broad-based as the UNFCCC’s Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol-, open, inclusive and motivated enough to recognize and represent the interests of the indigenous forest peoples around the world? Traditionally run over by the wheels of “progress” and those motivated primarily by the narrow interests of maximizing profits and minimizing costs, will these people ever be included, and viewed as equals, in high-level political and commercial negotiations?
Forestry researchers and policy wonks have been putting forth various and numerous methods to inform and guide the UNFCC as it seeks to develop the means and mechanisms to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. None address the most fundamental issue, however, asserts ForestAction Nepal and the Nepal Federation of Community Forest Users.
The critical issue, according to these organizations, is not “how to implement” REDD, but “who is it that we are rewarding through REDD and carbon financing?”
As much as we might like to think that everyone would voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, regulations are the only way to ensure that GHG emissions are reduced at the rate needed to mitigate catastrophic climate change. Regardless of the notice given, any such legislation will come as a shock to those companies most affected. This is indeed the case currently for many in the agricultural industry, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently announced a proposal to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act. This week, ClimatePULSE will take a look at this potential piece of GHG legislation and the importance of turning these regulatory risks into opportunities.Click to continue reading »
Alternative energy schemes are going to be making important inroads around the globe. But the social implications of this should not be underestimated. A recent study by the Energy Savings Trust in the UK outlines how the scenario is likely to unfold in Britain.
The study, entitled Power in Numbers, underscores the vast untapped potential of schemes that are organized at local and community level. “Today energy generated by communities could produce about 13% of all household needs. With the right policies in place this potential could rise to 54%,” according to the report.
When Temple Nightclub and Zen Compound founder Paul Hemming first conceived of his idea for a nightclub and cultural venue in San Francisco, he immediately sought to create an established that would pursue the triple bottom line and his idea of the world as “one living organism and one family”.
Born of a Mormon father and Buddhist mother, Hemming was from an early age familiar with the concept of "East meets West" and combines this sensibility to his efforts in creating a nightclub built around the idea of sustainability.
I recently had an opportunity to talk with Mike Zuckerman, Temple Nightclub and Zen Compound’s director of sustainability since 2006. While I would expect some club owners will take exception, Mike counts Temple as one of three sustainable nightclubs in the world, the other two being Club4Climate in London (which apparently had a bit of a controversy this summer with Friends of the Earth) and the appropriately named Watt in Rotterdam. Watt bills itself as the “first” sustainable nightclub, opening just earlier this year, and E Magazine mentions other clubs around the U.S. as “eco-friendly, but Zuckerman says that Temple (which Hemming reincarnated from the old DV8 and Caribbean Zone clubs) isn’t really trying to compete for eco-marketing rights. He’s more interested in building awareness and community, both locally, regionally, and globally.
As the old saying goes: think globally, act locally.Click to continue reading »
The Wharton Energy Conference has become one of the top energy events for MBA’s, bringing together energy industry leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, government officials, journalists, academics and students for a day of learning and networking. This year’s conference incorporated a number of innovative events that broke the monotony of traditional conferences, delivering beyond expectations.Click to continue reading »
The two-week COP14 climate talks which start today in Poznan Poland, are the halfway mark in a two year negotiation effort by no less than 190 countries on a replacement for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
The new concept is way more ambitious than Kyoto which was signed by only 37 industrialized countries who committed to reducing carbon emissions to below 1990 levels by an average 5% by 2012. China, which had been hesitant about some of the issues on the table made a u-turn in its policy last December when it agreed to commit to a target in emissions reductions – on condition that it wouldn’t be bound to the same limits as industrial countries, and only if the rich world assists the poor countries in transitioning to cleaner production methods.
The Poznan conference will begin reviewing ideas on how to help poor nations in their efforts to combat climate change. A major part of this will be ideas as to how to finance the technological transfer that’s needed and what kind of targets are fair. Another focus point will be how to incentivize countries to successfully cut back on deforestation. Efforts will be made to agree to a time table for all these issues and achieve agreement by December next year.
As many as 9,000 participants are expected to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 14th Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in Poznan starting tomorrow, including an official US delegation led by Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Dr. Paula Dobriansky. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) will lead a Senate delegation. Members of President-elect Obama’s transition team are also expected to attend.
The climate change talks in Poznan mark the critical halfway point between the 2007 meeting in Bali in which a draft blueprint of a global action plan was set and next year’s COP meeting in Copenhagen, which is expected to result in the establishment of a global climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Kerry warned that although the US is now in a position to play a leading role in global climate change negotiations, Congress and the incoming Obama administration’s ability to offer greenhouse gas emission reduction incentives to rapidly industrializing countries such as China and India would be limited by the economic crisis. “The bottom line is we are not going to be in the position we were two years ago in the short term to do as much technology transfer or economic assistance in terms of transitional issues that might have led other countries to participate,” Kerry was quoted as saying in a news report.
Investment managers at cleantech funds are looking at the world with totally new eyes these days – the financial crisis, which has ravaged stock prices and wiped out major financial institutions, offers buying opportunities that are unprecedented. Now’s the best time to snap up bargains, they say.
The hard numbers prove this ain’t illogical. Investment in the US clean tech sector rose 55% to more than $2.4 billion over the past twelve months. One of the main drivers of this could be the US government’s $700 billion Housing and Recovery Act stimulus package. The tax concessions boosted wind energy, geothermal and biomass projects and are expected to have a long lasting effect on the capital markets.
Apologies for the delay in delivering this weekly wrap up! I am still recovering from my Tryptophan haze.
This was a big week in sustainable business news! Read on for the biggest stories:
Five Reasons You Should Consider Generating Your Own Green Energy While 3P’s own Ryan Mickle doesn’t much like the idea at least as compared with other solutions for combating climate change, there are some compelling reasons for going off the grid, not the least of which is turning on every light in the house and blasting Blondie when the power goes off on your block, just to stick it to your neighbors who refuse to compost.
Electric Car Network on the Fast Track in San Francisco San Francisco joins the fine company of Israel and Denmark as one of Better Place’s inaugural networks for electric cars. A couple of us from 3P were at a presentation by Better Place’s founder last week, and they’ve got it all figured out! Plug-in parking spaces at home, work, and shopping centers, battery exchange stations, and the cars are pretty cute to boot. I’m working on getting Nick to buy us one, for business use *only* of course. Click on lots of pages, people!
LA wants a Seat at the Green Team Table LA has no shortage of sunshine, and Mayor Villaraigosa made a commitment last week to put it to better use than tanning aspiring actresses: he committed the city to reaching 10% solar by 2020. That is a fine, fine commitment, Mayor! Keep it up and we’ll work on getting you a fancy electric car network too.
Can Wind Farms Change the Weather? Ecogeek has given me another reason for eco-panic insomnia. This gives the butterfly effect a whole new meaning (with one turn of the windmill…). Luckily it looks like the windfarm would have to stretch from Texas to Canada to have an impact. That doesn’t mean this isn’t fodder for another eco thriller B movie.
Walmart Goes Big with Two Newspopping Stories
First they pledge to buy 226 million kilowatt-hours of renewable power each year from a wind farm that’s set to be up and running by April 2009 (avoiding the production of a staggering 139,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually).
Then CEO Lee Scott, champion of the superpower’s green initiatives, resigns. Will this mean the end of the green happy face?
Corn Based Plastic Sales Skyrocket Sales have jumped 450% in the most recent period recorded. Now you know where to put that money you yanked out of the stock market. Just don’t forget to compost your bio-plastics! (Otherwise they offgas methane in the landfill and contribute to global warming.) Just call me the eco-Debbie Downer.
A Cap and Trade Thanksgiving This is a great piece about the compromises inherent in any 100 mile meal undertaking. I love me some carbon humor.3P had its own share of Thanksgiving coverage: sustainable turkey farming and food economics in a fuel based economy.
The German solar panel company SolarWorld has installed solar panels on the roofs of the Vatican. The Pope switched to the system earlier this week and is expected to announce drastic plans to expand on the project. The solar panels are placed on top of the massive roof of the Vatican’s Nervi Hall, where the pope receives general audiences.
A total of 2,400 photovoltaic panels have been attached to this 5,000 square meter roof. They are not noticeable from the ground below and can provide all of the energy for the hall and a few other buildings adjacent to it. Exact output is 300 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually.