Voluntary GHG Program in Brazil

| Wednesday May 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

brazil-flag.jpgThe World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) yesterday announced the implementation of a GHG program in Brazil. The ‘Brazil GHG Protocol Program’ enables companies to monitor and better manage GHG emissions on a voluntary basis. It is a commendable commitment to improving environmental standards in the cooperate world; however this progressive focus towards environmental accountability should be viewed in tandem with the economic motivations of corporations.
At present, Brazil has one of the highest GHG emission rates in the world, but no official obligation to reduce these rates. The `Brazil Greenhouse Gas Protocol Program` promotes a voluntary commitment to international best practices in GHG abatement strategies.
The Protocol was created by the WBCSD and the World Research Institute for governments and businesses alike. In Brazil, the Environment Ministry, the Brazilian Council for Sustainable Development and Fundacao Getùlio Vargas partnered the aforementioned institutions to realize the formulation of the Brazil GHG Protocol Program. The WBCSD reported that there are twelve founding members of the Brazil GHG Protocol Program, including: Anglo American, Banco Do Brasil, Bradesco, CNEC, Copel, Natura, Nova Petroquímica, O Boticário, Petrobras, Sadia, Votorantim, and Wal-Mart Brasil.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

The Urban Alliance for Sustainability: A United Front for Change

| Wednesday May 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

integrate and Inspire the Sustainability MovementThe main mission of the Urban Alliance for Sustainability is inherent in its very name.

“Our goal is to integrate and inspire the sustainability movement” added Melissa Plotkin, volunteer coordinator of the Urban Alliance for Sustainability (UAS).

Melissa and I met on a sunny Tuesday morning last week over a jolt of coffee to discuss the growing organization, it’s mission, the challenges UAS faces, and their work building community and helping unite the oft-times far-flung sustainability movement in the Bay Area.  

In practical terms the goal of UAS is to connect individuals, businesses, and non-profit groups as a means of sharing resources, fostering collaboration, and reducing overlapping efforts. A kind of “efficiency of purpose”.

Instead of a single-issue advocacy group, the UAS is an umbrella organization designed to educate and enable a more “united front” amongst businesses, individuals, and advocacy groups interested creating a sustainable society.

That’s a pretty tall order and Melissa attests to the difficulty at times in explaining the UAS mission to folks accustomed to one-cause sound bites  -the elevator speech doesn’t always come quite as easily.

Nonetheless, Melissa had it well in hand with “integrate and inspire”.

The job of UAS is to bring to bear the resources of the entire environmental and sustainability movement… from educating people interested in lightening their eco-footprint, to promoting greener building design or encouraging greater innovation and use of renewable energy. Whatever it may be, there are unseen and mutually beneficial relationships that UAS can bring to light and help cultivate.”

But how? 

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

IdleAire: Reducing Trucker’s Environmental Impact

| Wednesday May 14th, 2008 | 20 Comments

bbbf.jpgIf you’ve ever been on a road trip, you’ve probably seen this sight at a rest stop: one, or many big rig trucks, just…idling. Not going anywhere. What is this, like a computer on “sleep,” ready to go? No. The answer may surprise you. At least in the US, truck drivers are required to rest 10 hours for every 11 driven. A reasonable thing, but this often necessitates them sleeping in their cabins. And that requires power for the heating or cooling, and other comforts of “home” on the road. Power that comes from a running truck.
But that has consequences. On the environment, on the driver, and on the vehicle. Multiply that by the number of truckers on the road at any given time, and the potential impact is enormous. And it doesn’t have to be that way. IdleAire has created a device that alleviates the need for idling, while retaining all that truckers are accustomed to having while at rest. And it doesn’t require retrofitting the vehicle, beyond a $10 window adapter, a price point apparently unique for the industry.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Rational Regulation: Oxymoron?

| Wednesday May 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

descartes.jpg
Following up on the theme developed in their recently released book, “Retaking Rationality: How Cost-Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environment and Our Health,” authors Richard L. Revesz – dean of New York University’s School of Law – and Michael A. Livermore will launch an Institute for the Study of Regulation at NYU’s law school this summer.
Cost-benefit analyses, the primary means used for decision support and decision making in government regulatory processes, have been overwhelmingly dominated by anti-regulatory rhetoric and vested interests for too long. Environmentalists, rather than fighting to restore balance and more rigorous rationality to the process left the field and concentrated their efforts on trying to persuade lawmakers to remove cost-benefit analysis from the procedural regulatory toolkit, according to Revesz.
That’s not going to happen, he contends. With a new administration coming into office next year, environmentalists need to embrace cost-benefit analysis and use it to better argue and support their positions.
Revesz describes the motivation and aim of the Institute in a May 8 guest essay on the Grist Mill.
“This time, instead of fighting — futilely — to end cost-benefit analysis, environmentalists should fight to mend it. For the past three years, my co-author Michael Livermore and I have studied how cost-benefit analysis has been used, and abused, in environmental law.
“These abuses are not inherent in cost-benefit analysis, but have arisen because the debate over how cost-benefit analysis has been dominated by industry trade associations and antiregulatory scholars. The only way to transform cost-benefit analysis into a more neutral tool is to take up the debate, to show where cost-benefit analysis has been twisted to justify and antiregulatory agenda.”

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

Green Fatigue Already?

| Tuesday May 13th, 2008 | 2 Comments

fatigue.jpg As a proponent of changing individual lifestyles to reduce environmental waste, I encourage sustainable living to more than just my close circle of friends and family. Lately, almost every social gathering I go to, be it a night in Hollywood or a family get together, my involvement in sustainability comes to be a topic of discussion. As part of this discussion, more often than not, people express their utter exhaustion with “green.”
Green is everywhere now, from billboards to TV shows. People are just bombarded with green this and green that, with each message telling them what to do or what not to do.
As Adam Werbach eloquently explained in his recent piece in AdvertisingAge.

“The marketing industry has leapt on green…Consumers are resisting the proliferation of ‘green’ communications and products being pushed at them from all directions. The recent Cone/Boston College survey showed that more than half of American consumers are “overwhelmed” by the tsunami of environment-related messaging. Less than half trust companies to tell them the truth about sustainable practices and products. Even fewer consumers believe companies are accurately communicating their environmental impact.”

People don’t like to be told what to do. Even more so, consumers are dissatisfied when a promised eco-friendly product or service is in actuality no better for the environment. Moreover, there is still a large sentiment that “going green” is a sacrifice and takes a lot of work and money to accomplish.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Update on Clearing the Air about Liquid Natural Gas

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

I can admit when I have made a “significant error.” Liquid natural gas (LNG) and gas to liquid (GTL) are different. According to the Center of Liquified Natural Gas, “LNG is natural gas in liquid form.” GTL converts gas to a liquid form using a chemical reaction known as the Fischer-Tropsch process.
Just to clarify so no one can make faulty assumptions on my position concerning using natural gas as transportation fuel, I will spell it out in plain language. I am opposed to the use of natural gas, in any form, as a transportation fuel for one main reason: it is a fossil fuel. As a fossil fuel, natural gas is not renewable. One day it will run out. As an advertisement for an oil company proclaims, “The future is in renewable energy.”

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

“Pedaling Proves Profitable” – JSOnline

| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 3 Comments

bike-to-work.jpgThe headline above is from Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in celebration of Bike to Work Week, which started today. The gist of the article is what I like best – it’s not just a celebration of biking and all it’s benefits – it’s a celebration of companies (including Northwestern Mutual Life) who have made strides to offer locker rooms, showers, financial incentives and more to encourage employees to bike to work on a regular basis.
The general consensus is that cycling to work makes for happier, healthier employees for a very low price. Ride on!
(image from belfast.co.uk)

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

ClimatePULSE: Municipalities and Carbon Markets (Part 1)

| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgIt is widely understood that urban planning, green design, transportation and other infrastructure decisions that municipalities have to make can have significant climate change impacts. Through actions such as promoting compact urban design and altering waste management practices, municipalities can reduce their carbon footprints immensely.
In support of such actions, numerous programs and initiatives aimed at formalizing municipal climate change commitments have been developed. Perhaps the most notable is the US Conference of Mayors Climate Change Protection Agreement, which has now been signed by over 830 mayors from across the United States. Internationally, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability has run the Cities for Climate Protection program since 1993, and it now boasts over 800 members from Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, Latin America, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the United States.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Green Coast

| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Real estate development, like every other part of the U.S. economy, is starting to change, to adapt to a new, emergent order we call “sustainable.” A good example is Green Coast Enterprises, a start-up development company whose mission is, appropriately, about adaptation. Green Coast was founded by a former MIT student of mine, Will Bradshaw, and his lawyer colleague Reuben Teague (Disclosure: I’m on Green Coast’s Advisory Board). Together, they’ve got an interesting mix of skills — planning law, design and construction — and interests — social justice, climate change, community development, entrepreneurship.
g-coast.jpg
What Will and Reuben are doing is essentially refashioning real estate and community development as something new, what they call “community resilience,” a species of sustainability linking social, environmental and economic issues in one business model grounded in one development vision — resilient communities whose people, buildings and economies can adapt to and withstand natural disasters and social challenges of all sorts in the Post-Katrina, Climate Change Age.
And what better place to rebuild a city by reimagining an industry than New Orleans, a place where nature, class, race and commerce have always mingled in innovative, if idiosyncratic, ways, a few feet below sea level.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Brazilians, Indians Ranked the Greenest Consumers

| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

nat-geo.jpgBased on the recently released National Geographic Greendex report, citizens of Brazil and India rank the highest for having the greenest consumptive practices, with China coming in close behind. According to National Geographic, the report is an attempt to develop an international research approach that goes beyond attitudes and concerns to actual behavior in order to track and measure “consumer progress towards environmentally sustainable consumption.”
In cooperation with research and survey company, Globescan, the Greendex ranked respondents in 14 countries over four sub-indices, which break down to transportation, housing, food, and goods consumption. Brazil and India both ranked the highest with a tie score of 60.0 whereas France, Canada, and the United States rounded out the bottom with respective scores of 48.7, 48.5, and 44.9.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Clearing the Air on Liquid Natural Gas

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 17 Comments

Shell_logo.svg.jpgEvery month when I see the magazine Seed in my mailbox I can’t wait to sit down and read it. This month I found a DVD inside the magazine with the oil company Shell’s short movie, Clearing the Air on it. My attention peaked, and I watched the movie.
Clearing the Air is a fictional account of the development of gas to liquid (GTL) or liquid natural gas (LNG). The
California Energy Commission defines LNG as “fuels that can be produced from natural gas, coal, and biomass using a Fischer-Tropsch chemical reaction process.” However, in the movie LNG is used to refer to converting natural gas into liquid for fuel.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

PG&E Launches The Next 100 Blog

| Monday May 12th, 2008 | 0 Comments

pge_logo.jpgAs a longtime proponent of the power of blogging as a more democratic, open communications tool, I’ve always encouraged companies to get on the bandwagon. My reasoning is simple – by approaching the public with an honest voice and permitting commenting with no censorship, you ultimately get a more transparent, more useful conversation. If you haven’t read the cluetrain manifesto, check it out. Actually, I’ll just quote the entire preface right here (don’t worry, this is a great post to get your monday humming):

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter – and getting smarter faster than most companies.
These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.
Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.
But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.
While many such people already work for companies today, most companies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it.
However, employees are getting hyperlinked even as markets are. Companies need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so intranetworked employees can converse directly with internetworked markets.
Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It’s going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.

That quote is from 1999, long before blogging emerged as anything significant, and it rings fantastically true today.
Enter PG&E.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

The “We” Ad Campaign for Climate Change: Get On the Couch

| Friday May 9th, 2008 | 0 Comments

We Campaign launches new adsThe Alliance for Climate Protection was founded by Al Gore in 2006 as a “single purpose organization committed to igniting public action to help solve the climate crisis”.

Last month the Alliance launched their “We” Campaign (as in “we can solve it”), a $300 million marketing effort (spent over three years) designed to push the public’s “sense of urgency” about the climate crisis toward a “tipping point” breaking through the current logjam of partisan posturing and “cultural stereotypes”. One wonders if $300 million is enough.

To that end, the We Campaign started in earnest with two television ads promoting “Unlikely Alliances”.

To wit:

  • Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton agree on one thing...Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson sitting on a couch (with a sunny beach as a backdrop) talking of their unity through the common cause of climate stewardship.
  • Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich sitting on what appears to be the same couch (this time in front of the capital building) also doing their bit to show that climate change need not (should not, must not) be viewed through polarizing political ideology.

It’s all about the couch. 

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

The Latest in Climate Mapping from USAID, NASA and Partners

| Friday May 9th, 2008 | 0 Comments

climatemapper_snap.jpg
Interested in viewing 3-D visualizations showing how climate change projections for the 2030s and 2050s will affect selected landscapes? Well, USAID, NASA, the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology, the University of Colorado and CATHALAC (Centro del Agua del Trópico Húmedo para América Latina y el Caribe) have just the thing for you. The development partners on May 2 announced the beta release of the Climate Mapper tool for SERVIR Viz, the Regional Visualization and Monitoring System.
Climate Mapper should “enhance vulnerability assessments as development planners consider adaptation strategies for projects,” according to the group’s press release.
Modeled data is based on monthly data averaged over the decades 2031-2040 and 2051-2060. Three models output data based on the models used in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report: the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Climate System Model; the European Centre/Hamburg Model (ECHAM); and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Coupled Model.
These three models “were chosen because they represent the highest, middle, and lowest projections for changes in Africa in the Climate Moisture Index (CMI), a measure of the relative balance of precipitation and temperature and run using the A1B SRES scenario, a scenario of economic activity and carbon emissions that most closely represents the current or business-as-usual economic and carbon emissions trajectory,” according to the group’s press release.
In addition, the software renders historical temperature and precipitation for the 1961-1990 base period taken from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit database of monthly climate observations from meteorological stations interpolated 0.5¬∞ grid covering the earth’s land surface.
Initial complementary Climate Mapper data sets are available for Africa for ¬Ω-degree x ¬Ω degree grid cells, which cover approximately an area of 50 square kilometers near the equator. Future data set releases are expected to cover the entire planet.
Both the Climate Mapper and SERVIR Viz can be downloaded here.

Permalink discuss Discuss This »

Taxing Oil Companies to Fund Biofuel Investment

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday May 9th, 2008 | 3 Comments

E85.jpgThe oil companies invest paltry sums in renewable energy and biofuels, despite claims to the contrary and record high profits last year. In February the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Chevron made $18.7 billion in profits last year. According to the article 2007 was “the fourth consecutive year that the San Ramon company made record amounts of money.” Shell made $27.6 in profit, British newspaper the Guardian reported in January. ExxonMobil raked in $40.6 billion in profits,
U.S. News and World Report
reported in January.
Last month the Congress held hearings on gas prices. The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming grilled oil industry executives about high gas prices and investing in renewables and biofuels.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »