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Commemorating the centennial of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt’s 1908 Conference of Governors, present day governors and representatives from 18 states, Washington and other national governments including Canada, the Czech Republic and Mexico set out to review state programs aimed at combating climate change, develop a strategy for future action and advocate greater federal-state and public-private collaboration and cooperation as Yale hosted the Yale Conference of Governors April 17-18.
Capping Friday’s keystone address, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger humorously yet pointedly zoomed in on the tremendous scale and complexities involved in making the transition to a low carbon, more environmentally sustainable society. Along the way he highlighted some of the antagonistic, at times seemingly absurd, stances taken by opposing interest groups and stressed the need for greater cooperation.
“So, as one of my environmental friends and advisors said that ‚Äòthere is no silver bullets [sic.], only silver buckshot.’ We need to find creative ways to overcome those obstacles. There’s no two ways about it. Neither business nor environmentalists nor Republicans nor Democrats can be set in their ways. I suggest then relax, exhale … [EXHALES]…Just exhale and relax and let things move forward,” he stated.
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If there is any doubt about the promise and feasibility of renewable energy, consider its true source – human innovation paired with a visionary entrepreneurial spirit.
This might sound a bit trite at first, but it is hard to deny (and I’m a bit of curmudgeon myself) when reading Fred Krupp’s new book Earth: The Sequel (The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming). Krupp is the president of Environmental Defense Fund and in Earth:The Sequel he outlines emerging technologies and methodologies under development by enterprising and forward thinking individuals and companies in the ever more urgent quest to transform our energy economy.
Krupp devotes a chapter to startups like Amyris BioTechnologies of Emeryville, California, working to create biofuel solutions that address the principal problems of fuel derived from corn and palm oil.
Biofuels, especially ethanol, has been getting a lot of press these days, and much of it is bad. (see my post here on 3P for an example – make sure to read the comments for a counter-argument).
Amyris develops technologies in synthetic biology and “platform technology”. The company launched in 2003 with a grant of $12 million from the the Institute for One World Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Their first objective – a “million-to-one shot” – was to find a way to alleviate suffering from Malaria in developing countries, particularly Asia and Africa. The more effective and faster-acting treatment for Malaria is artemisinin. The problem with artemisinin is it’s expense and the land required to grow the wormwood from which it is derived.
Through an innovative process using synthetic biology, Amyris has created a way to produce artemisinin cheaply and relatively quickly. Amyris takes no profit for the sale of this product in the developing world.
But that was just the beginning.Click to continue reading »
There is a lot of confusion over company carbon trading largely because this market runs mostly on a voluntary basis. It’s only in Europe that large companies in specific sectors are mandated by law to buy carbon offset credits if they exceed legal pollution limits. Yet the notion is growing among business leaders around the globe that going green is not an unbearable plight but rather a win-win situation. Voluntary sustainability inducing efforts are beginning to be a hot trend in the corporate sector. Now two top finance names, Merrill Lynch and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) are getting in on the act.Click to continue reading »
Biofuels have been both lauded for their eco-potential and criticized for their eco-inefficiency. Proponents of biofuels point to the possibilities of sequestering carbon through crop growth and energy independence from foreign petrol sources. Major criticisms against biofuels point to the high petroleum inputs required for production, the use of crops for fuel instead of feeding the global poor, and increased deforestation. Biofuel production has been blamed in the media for this year’s tortilla riots in Mexico, increasing pork prices in China, and the loss of tropical forests in Bali. To what extent is this true? Is it possible to produce biofuels sustainably? These are the questions that Ralph Simms (of the International Energy Agency) asked in a recent post on RenewableEnergyWorld.com His remarks are based on the recently created Sustainable Biofuels Consensus, the outcome of a collaboration of biofuel experts that convened in late March 2008 to assess the state of the field.Click to continue reading »
Taco Bell recently announced their plans to install new “Grill-To-Order” cooking machines in all of their locations. The company is making this step to not only reduce water and energy usage, but also improve cost efficiency. Each installation is estimated to save $5,900 a year in electricity cost per store. System-wide Taco Bell expects to save more than $17 million a year.
Taco Bell has released figures that their new system will save around 300 million gallons of water per year (the equivalent of supplying every household in Atlanta with water for a day) and roughly 200 million kWh of electricity (enough energy to power every household in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC and Dallas for one day). The new equipment will also save more than 1.2 million therms of gas each year.
The following was recently posted on Steve Puma’s new blog, ThePumaBlog, where he writes about technology, sustainability and the future:
When I first saw this video, I thought it was coming to me through one of the sustainability blogs that I am subscribed to. Turns out, it came through that constant stream of absurd and funny videos, BoingBoing.net, which just goes to show you just how absurd it really is…Check out this Wall Street Journal Online report of Mazda destroying over 4,000 brand-spanking-new cars, after the transport ship that they were on spent several weeks at a 60-degree list.
Perhaps there is a better way?
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Charter members of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Supply Chain Leadership Council are leading the way forward when it comes to fostering greenhouse gas emissions accounting and disclosure practices, emissions reduction targets and the formulation of climate change strategy across their multinational supply chain networks.
Back in January the CDP Supply Chain Council’s 12 founding members – leading manufacturers of global brand name products such as Cadbury Schweppes, Proctor & Gamble and Dell – launched Phase 1 of their program and began working to design and distribute a greenhouse gas emissions and climate change survey to their suppliers (see post).
Spanning 22 economic sectors including chemicals, computer components, food and beverage, and containers and packaging, the results were released today. Among the findings, suppliers are expecting extreme weather conditions to adversely affect their operations and hinder productivity. Ninety-six percent of the 144 suppliers that responded see greenhouse gas emissions regulation as a potential risk – taxes and emissions caps being the measures most commonly reported. That said, just 26% have established greenhouse gas reduction targets.
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UK scientists have developed new technology which they claim can reduce their country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 4%. The method they devised converts waste carbon dioxide into cyclic carbonates, a chemical compound, which is in high demand by paint manufacturers and biodegradable packaging producers.
Sustainability is a journey, not a destination
3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective.
Recently, I talked to Brian T. Mullis, a former tour operator who co-founded Sustainable Travel International with Peter Krahenbuhl. Learn more about what Brian has to say about being an entrepreneur and the non-profit’s choice to be a 501(c)(3) organization.
Earlier this week, Hilary Clinton stood in front of a crowd of steel workers in a small town in Indiana and spoke of the mettle of the country. “So this is not just about steel,” she exhorted, alluding to the famous poem inscribed on a wall in the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles to the south, Chilean presidential candidate, Sebasti√°n Pi√±era was equally inciting famous passages of his own.
Often known to quote former British PM Margaret Thatcher and Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Pi√±era has lately been proponing his Nuevo Trato, or New Deal, which is likened to FDR’s infamous namesake nearly a century ago. It is comprised of sweeping social, political, and economic changes for a country that is still constructing its identity in the decades after the Pinochet dictatorship. From both sides of the political spectrum, it is difficult to consider Pi√±era anything short of a visionary. A child who grew from rags to riches, he is now a billionaire business impresario, and a veteran of the country’s increasingly growing elite class. He was the first to bring credit cards to the country in the late 70′s and if you ask most Chilenos about Pi√±era, they will likely tell you he is a majority stakeholder in the largest airline in country. Others might tell you he is one of the owners of Colo-Colo, Chile’s most successful football team of late. What you might not as easily hear is he is also one of the largest protectors of Chilean wildlife.
Generation Investment Management has closed $638Million in initial funding for its Climate Solutions Fund. The company is chaired by former vice president Al Gore and serves to be a leader in investing in sustainable enterprises with a slant toward solving various environmental problems.
According to the Financial Times:
The fund will be focused on equity investments in small companies in four sectors: renewable energy; energy efficiency technologies; energy from biofuels and biomass; and the carbon trading markets.
Although a chorus of cynics can be heard claiming this is Gore’s way of capitalizing on hysteria, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that investing in clean energy, efficiency, and solutions to problems is a good idea with a sizable long-term payoff. If Al Gore makes a lot of money of this type of investment, my glass is raised to him. I might even throw a few bucks in myself.
They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well in the case of P2P Rescue, they’ve done just that, making Tsunami Birdhouses. Come again? Yes, first begun when multiple countries suffered from the effects of the December 2004 tsunami, they are selling birdhouses made from materials scavenged from the wreckage of that tsunami in Sri Lanka. Though the tsunami is long gone, people’s troubles are not, as ethnic conflicts with the Tamil population continue to cause unnecessary loss of life.
What’s in a name? As they put it so well,
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“P2P” is a well-known acronym in technology circles standing for “peer-to-peer” networking, or digital communication between two or more roughly equal computers or networks. P2P (People-to-People) Rescue was created to provide support to people in need with an emphasis on a similar notion of equality coupled with innovation.