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This past Sunday I saw a very interesting commercial about clean coal. A group called, Thisisreality.org ran the spot during Meet The Press. Essentially, the ad calls out the coal industry for touting clean coal technology – which doesn’t actually exist in the U.S. Here’s a link to the clip if you haven’t seen it.
Now while I certainly enjoyed the ad, there’s only so much that can be said within 30 seconds. So in an effort to shed some light on the realities of coal – both environmental and economic – allow me to show you why coal-fired power plant operators are about to begin a long swim upstream against the backdrop of new climate change legislation and expedited depletion.
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Tomorrow morning, Jeff Siegel will have some intelligent thoughts about clean coal here on 3P. In the meantime, prepare yourself for an experience that takes greenwashing to a whole new level – The Clean Coal Christmas Carolers. I’m starting to pity these guys.
Ed Note: Apparently, so many people complained about this campaign, including a hilarious mention by Rachel Maddow, that it was pulled. Read more and see the painfully hilarious videos on TreeHugger.
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They say it takes a whole village to raise a child. A child, like an idea, must be nurtured by many people working together for a common cause. So too must socially responsible companies join together if we are to achieve our common goal of a socially responsible, environmentally stable world.
Eco-friendly or triple bottom line start ups and small businesses face a steep climb to success. Traditional companies are able to make products and services faster and cheaper because they are not necessarily as concerned with the effect of their practices. So small start ups must find ways to compete with companies that have a well developed relationship with retailers and consumers, have more sales/marketing dollars, and only have one bottom line to reach.
I believe that to succeed “Green” must be a movement, a group of unified businesses that are willing to help, support and guide each other through the many challenges so that we all can reach our goals in unison. TerraCycle strives to do this through our Brigade programs, which we first launched with the help of Honest Tea and Stonyfield Farm. I think both of these partnerships represent a different, but important way that triple bottom line companies can partner.
Nick and I are currently in Miami attending the Sustainable Brands International conference. Check it out via live streaming video below, the next best thing to actually being here in the just-opened, uber swanky, W Hotel on steroids, Fontainebleau Resort Miami Beach.
Check out the schedule for Wednesday and Thursday and join the discussions online, even if your company slashed its travel and conferences budgets.
The ongoing global climate negotiations in the Polish town of Poznan are all about financing, insiders say. So what proposals are on the table? A roundup of some headline generating plans:
The future of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is at the heart of the discussions. New projects in this mechanism, which allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to sell credits to industrialized countries wishing to meet their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol, are worth $25 billion. Last year alone, $82 billion worth of carbon credits were traded globally. The certificates are aimed at boosting technology transfer to developing countries.
The story of Andy Funk left me impressed, amazed, envious and motivated. I think it will do the same for you. Funk moved to the US from Germany at the age of 19. Just six years later, without a formal college education, he had founded and sold 3 companies, and then became the youngest founding member of a venture capital firm in the country. His firm, Funk Ventures, is also one of the leaders in a new category of VCs that maximize social and environmental impact as well as financial return in its investments.Click to continue reading »
Do you remember when you were a kid, making “houses” out of old boxes? Anything around you was fair game to be put into use, via your imagination. Well Joost, an artist and would be architect by accident never stopped. On display now in the middle of urban Melbourne is Greenhouse, a structure made almost entirely from repurposed waste, save for the 100% recyclable steel framework, which was uncoiled and cut on site.
The rest is composed of the now familiar strawbales for walls, and on into less familiar territory – using discarded scientific equipment for plates and “taste tubes,” street signs becoming chairs, fire hydrants turning into tables, and strawberries growing out of the walls in former plastic pallets. The living roof will supply produce for the fully functioning restaurant and bar running in the Greenhouse.
And it’s all going away by January, reappearing at the Milan Furniture Fair next year.
Combating climate change is a pro-growth, pro-economic recovery policy according to a survey of decision makers conducted by GlobeScan and released at the UN Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Poznan, Poland.
Three-quarters of the 1,000 experts from 115 countries agreed that “equitable economic growth and development and significant progress in combating climate change can be achieved at the same time,” according to the survey, which was conducted over a one month period in cooperation with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the International Development Research Center, Local Governments for Sustainability, the United Nations Environment Program and the World Bank, among others. Only 11% disagreed.
Those surveyed ranked improving energy conservation and efficiency as having the greatest potential impact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the short term among 17 specific approaches put forward. They ranked the removal of subsidies for carbon-intensive activities second.
In July of this year, Seventh Generation released its 2007 Corporate Consciousness Report, a wrap up of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Named the Number One Best Company on Earth by the Better World Shopping Guide, the Corporate Consciousness Report discloses where they are on the “journey of sustainability” and how their employees and stakeholders are getting them there.
To celebrate the CSR Report, and citing the journey of sustainability is one that can’t be embarked upon alone, Seventh Generation launched The Sphere of Influence Contest. Announced with the report’s release and running until the end of the year, the idea is simple. Read the report, and then submit the best and most inspiring idea you thought they had. If yours is selected, you win $5,000 to make that idea a reality next year.
It’s one of the biggest issues currently being addressed in Poznan: How can we stop the burning of forests as poor people burn firewood to make a living? Wood is also increasingly popular as a biomass fuel. So what’s the deal? Can we burn wood and not impact the environment?
The quick answer is that so long as the wood comes from a well managed forest, you’re more or less in the clear. And in case you are worried about the ecological impact of the smoke and the carbon dioxide emissions, this recent article in The Telegraph newspaper points out that because wood is a biomass fuel, burning is is carbon neutral – when you burn wood, it releases the exact amount of carbon dioxide that it absorbed when growing. It may actually be better to burn wood in some cases because when wood decomposes, it slowly lets go of the carbon it soaked up, a process which in many cases goes by unaccounted for (also read my article Clearing Forests Of Dead Wood Prevents Massive CO2 Emissions). So long as replanting matches harvesting your burning it will not lead to an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Far more serious is what happens in the rainforests in Asia. The impact of people’s burning of firewood is dramatic because it leads to the loss of natural forests.
Bringing Alternative Fuel Technology into Large Scale Production – Triple Pundit to Attend First-Ever Biofuel Summit
Beyond the challenges of researching viable alternative second generation biofuels is that of bringing those technologies from the test tube to full-scale commercial production. Determining best practices and reducing risks are essential elements for bringing biofuel technology into mainstream use and meeting the increasing demand for energy.
In their just-released World Energy Outlook report, the International Energy Agency predicts a worldwide shortage of more than 28 million barrels of oil a day by 2030, making crystal clear (if it wasn’t already) the importance of alternative and sustainable sources of fuel to fill the gap.
This is the focus of a first-of-its-kind BioEnergy Summit this coming Thursday, December 11th in Madison, Wisconsin.
Emerson Process Management will host the event, bringing together researchers, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and policy wonks to converse, learn, and exchange ideas on how best to bring about what is essentially a revolution in alternative (some call it imperative) fuel development
TriplePundit’s own Sarah Lozanova will be attending the Summit. She’ll have access to key personalities, providing firsthand insight into the future of biofuel and bioenergy development and production.
In the meantime, to whet your appetite for Sarah’s reporting later this week, I had an opportunity to speak with Alan Novak, Emerson’s Director of Alternative Fuel Alan Novak, about the upcoming summit and the future of biofuel development in general.Click to continue reading »
The sunshine state is in the spotlight for a groundbreaking solar plant that will add solar thermal collectors to an existing gas fired power plant. The result will save 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions over 30 years, while providing reliable power.
Natural gas power plants are criticized for generating power from a costly fuel source. Solar power is criticized for generating electricity only when the sun shines (although solar energy storage is solving this problem). Could this hybrid power plant be a marriage made in heaven?
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Tuesday is Poznan Business Day at the ongoing COP14 Climate Talks. According to host organizations, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) the global economic crisis underscores the need for strong government leadership and the urgency of agreement on the road to Copenhagen.
Martin Wolf, Chief Economic Commentator for the Financial Times, suggests, “businesses will respond – or, in the technical jargon, “internalise” externalities [such as climate change] – only if it is in their interests to do so.”
The joint ICC and WBCSD presence in Poznan proves that’s not so, Bj√∂rn Stigson, President of the WBCSD, argues in a letter to the editor. Together the two organizations represent a diverse membership of thousands of companies worldwide. Clearly though, voluntary effort on the part of industry has proven an inadequate tool for fighting climate change. Effective regulation and incentives (read: subsidies) are imperative to systematize an impact on corporate culture.
Last year about this time I wrote about the insane waste that phone books represent in an age where almost everyone has a decent internet connection. I mentioned that, as a longtime shareholder of AT&T, I was particularly outraged to see the company spending money printing these useless tomes and dumping them in my building, plastic wrap and all – not to mention the absurd environmental cost and utter disregard for any principal of waste control.
Well, here we go again. This morning about 100 phonebooks in plastic bags showed up in my foyer and will undoubtedly sit there for weeks until (hopefully) finding their way into the recycling. I’d estimate about 3 of them will actually be used. Last year I found a use for 2 – to prop up a portion of my cracked bed-frame.
Commenters on last year’s post brought up two interesting points – that some local governments may actually require the printing and distribution of phone books, and that AT&T probably still makes money selling ads in them. News flash to local businesses – get a website and learn to use Yelp.
Now, I can’t find any proof that municipalities require phone books (if you can please leave a comment), so I have to assume that there is still profit in the industry, otherwise they’d have phased them out. So therefore, what we’ve got here is a reluctance to give up on an old practice perhaps for fear of change and and certainly for fear of disrupting a proven revenue stream. But is there a better way?Click to continue reading »
It started early this year when I began receiving spam emails asking if I wanted to power my car with water. More than a little skeptical and suspicious, I passed such enticements up and deleted them. Though they piqued my journalistic curiosity, the fact that I don’t own a car, and haven’t for more than a decade, made it easier to do so. Then, several months ago, I met a young electrician from a ranching family in rural Colorado. Using a mix of plain old water and plain old baking soda and applying an electric current, he was well on his way to devising a homemade electrolysis-hydrogen fuel production and delivery system for his late ’90s model pickup, one that was supplementing the engine’s intake and combustion of gasoline with hydrogen gas.
My eyes began to open and my skeptical mind turn on to the idea, one that, as it turns out, has been around for a long time. Like many such seemingly straightforward, practical and cost-effective clean technologies, somehow it just never caught on, which in turn, has led to various conspiracy theories as to why. All this may be changing, however…
Photo credit: Daughter of Dave Hawkin, Open Source Energy Project