Oil Companies and Greenwashing

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday May 5th, 2008 | 2 Comments

company-oil.gifThe world’s major oil companies make big claims about the environment these days. From having sound environmental policies in place to investing in alternative fuel, the companies that provide the ‚ÄòTexas tea’ want us to believe they no longer wreak havoc on the environment.
The advertisement for the British oil company BP says its initials now stand for Beyond Petroleum instead of British Petroleum. “In response to increasing demand for energy with a lower-carbon footprint, we have made a major commitment to develop low-carbon sources of energy,”
BP’s website
states.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

podium[Your News Here]

States Commit to Combating Climate Change at Yale Conference of Governors

| Monday May 5th, 2008 | 3 Comments

emissions-chart2v2.gif
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.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Authors at Google Series: Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn Discuss “Earth: The Sequel”

| Friday May 2nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

Just a quick followup to my last post. I found this video on YouTube of the Authors at Google series moderated by the Director of Climate and Energy Initiatives at Google.org. The nearly hour-long video is a more substantive discussion of the book Earth: The Sequel.

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

The Best Renewable Energy Source: The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Innovation – Part 1: Amyris

| Friday May 2nd, 2008 | 1 Comment

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 »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

IFC, Merrill Lynch Target Voluntary Carbon Trading Sector

| Friday May 2nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

carboncons.jpgThere 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 »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Sustainable Biofuels: Oxymoron or Reality?

Shannon Arvizu | Friday May 2nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

bio.jpg 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 »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Social Media meets Social Responsibility

| Friday May 2nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

At a recent Web 2.0 Expo discussion, someone commented, “As there is an explosion of clean tech, there’s also an explosion of social media.”
Since that comment, it got me thinking about how social media can be a vehicle to move social change forward in the enterprise or non-profit. After all, it’s the biggest viral marketing machine that we got, especially if your organization’s resources are super limited.
This story involves an organization called Epic Change founded by Stacey Monk, who hopes to make her organization “big”:

Give us 3-4 years & imagine Kiva (except bigger loans to grassroots leaders of community improvement efforts rather than individual entrepreneurs) mixed with the RED campaign, (except our product designs will be designed to share the stories of children like Gideon and Glory).

EpicChange, like most non-profit organizations, needs to encourage more people to get involved. She used Twitter pretty well, even though some say it is an over-hyped social networking tool.
Why am I writing this? I agree with Dennis Howlett–this is an innovative approach to social change promotion, and it’s something social entrepreneurs could use to their advantage.
Read on and share your stories with us in the comments box.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Taco Bell Taking a Step into Sustainability

| Thursday May 1st, 2008 | 3 Comments

taco-bell.pngTaco 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.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Is there a better way?

Steve Puma | Thursday May 1st, 2008 | 1 Comment

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?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

CDP, Supply Chains, Emissions and Climate Change

| Thursday May 1st, 2008 | 0 Comments

hokusaisgreatwave.jpg
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.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

What is Responsible Business, Really? Perspectives from Stonyfield Farms and Clif Bar Founders

| Thursday May 1st, 2008 | 0 Comments

Erickson_Gary2.jpgTuesday night, sustainability leaders from all over the Bay Area made their way to the Berkeley facility of Clif Bar and Company to hear Gary Erickson, Kit Crawford (the husband and wife co-owners of the pioneering Clif Bar and Company) and Gary Hirshberg (President and CE-Yo of the tremendously successful and equally pioneering organic dairy producer Stonyfield Farms). The event, organized by the Good Business Network aimed to reveal the stories behind entrepreneurs who built wildly successful companies, from both financial and non-financial perspectives.
The stories they shared were inspirational, of course, many of which I’d heard before or read in their books, Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World, published this year by Hirshberg, and Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business: The Story of Clif Bar & Co. I left convinced, however, that Clif Bar and Company and Hirshberg fundamentally disagree on the role of social responsibility in a company. The event by no means turned into a bloody fist fight (in which case my money would have been on on Kit), but left at least a few of us with an unsettled feeling that even some of the most respected people behind values-driven companies aren’t really working together.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

UK Scientists Develop Technology To Cut UK’s GHGs By 4%

| Thursday May 1st, 2008 | 0 Comments

co2.jpg
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.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

3P SoundBite – May 1, Brian T. Mullis of Sustainable Travel International

| Thursday May 1st, 2008 | 0 Comments

stilogo.gif

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.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Sebastián Piñera: Chilean Businessman, Politician, and Environmental Philanthropist

| Thursday May 1st, 2008 | 0 Comments

pinera.jpgEarlier 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, Sebastián Piñera 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.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Al Gore’s Climate Solutions Fund Closes $638 Million

| Wednesday April 30th, 2008 | 13 Comments

gore.jpgGeneration 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.

Permalink discuss Discuss This »