Collecting rainwater, especially in dry climates, is a great way to reduce one’s water bill, and in some areas get better quality drinking water. Richard Heinichen of appropriately named Dripping Springs, TX had had enough with hard-water wells and decided to start collecting and filtering rainwater in barrels. Over the years this has led to a thriving business setting up rainwater harvesting systems in his local area as well as selling how-to books and videos. (see www.rainwater.org for more)
Backed by over 28% of ExxonMobil’s largest shareholders (Over $80 billion in market value), including the CalPERS and CalSTRS public pension funds in California, and the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), a resolution that the company’s board of directors undertake a comprehensive review on how it will meet the greenhouse gas reductions targets in countries participating in the Kyoto Protocol was requested yesterday.
According to Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups that has been coordinating shareholder filings with oil and gas companies:
Today’s vote sends a loud and clear message that shareholders want and deserve more action from ExxonMobil on the climate change issue, which will have significant long-term financial ramifications for the company and its investors.
Read Full Report in CSRwire.
Just found a great article from Jeffrey Immelt (GE CEO) and Jonathan Lash (WRI) from Saturday May 21st’s Washington Post. They say our (US’s) primary objective must be to revolutionize the way we produce and consume energy and that fundamental change will require three things:
1) The brainpower to develop new technology
2) A market that makes clean technologies profitable
3) A strong dose of American will.
They argue that we currently have 2 out of 3.
Read artcle without signing up via TRUTHOUT.org
Youth for Causes is a program by the YMCA of Singapore to support young people’s plans to create community programs and other charitable ventures. The organization was made possible with a sizable ‘investment’ from the Citigroup Foundation. It’s a great example of a simple corporate venture to positivly affect the community. (via Phatgnat)
From Alan Murry on the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion section (requires login):
What harm is there in companies taking more responsibility for social and environmental problems? Plenty, if you adhere to the theories of Adam Smith, argued more than 200 years ago that the general welfare was better served by people pursuing their enlightened self-interest than by misguided attempts to serve society. The 20th century proved his point: Profit-seeking corporations, constrained and buttressed by moderate government regulation and spending, did far more to increase the welfare of the world than a proliferation of “socially responsible” governments. And the 21st century is proving it yet again: China’s embrace of Adam Smith has yielded the greatest alleviation of poverty in history.
So, is Murray missing the point? Has truly free enterprise ever existed? Certainly not in China, I’d say. And even Adam Smith suggests that “moderate” regulation is a good thing, so why not promote proactive self-regulation?
(more discussion on Next Billion)
The Treasure America project, a unique one month initiative by MBA students and others to promote sound energy policy in the United States while preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), is moving forward quickly. Meetings are being scheduled with community leaders in Kaktovik to discuss discuss economic, environmental, and social goals and strategies. For more information, visit the Treasure America website or download the latest press release [PDF Here].
Red Herring reports the US is sorely lacking in the ability to produce a viable market for renewable energy. The $50 Billion market is dominated by European and Asian concerns. Although activity in the US is growing, the country as a whole has great cultural leaps left to take before efficiency and the embrace of renewables truely reaches its full potential.
Estimates are that over 3/4 of all energy produced in China last year came from coal. Not only is China the world’s most populated country (1.25 billion people) but it is also the world’s fastest growing economy (9.5% increase in GDP for 2004). Put these two together, and that is a lot of coal being burned, with energy demands increasing in unison with the expanding economy.
Is there a cleaner solution? China has unveiled a strategy to make offshore wind farms a key part of its energy program within two or three decades. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, can the planet’s most populous nation afford the envrionmental taxation of two or three decades more of blistering growth fueled by coal?
This recent article in the Sunday Times is my favorite type: Another great, real world example of a small business reaping significant profits by taking proactive pro-environmental steps. The article credits standards programs like ISO 14001 with helping firms understand how to go about taking these steps as well as offering them a way to market themselves as “green”.
The EPA has given awards to seven student groups through an award program called “P3″, which stands for People, Prosperity and Planet (sound’s familiar!). The winners’ projects were exhibited on the National Mall last week. This type of program is a great way to get future leaders thinking about sustainabilty and better design, not to mention a showcase to the general public.
Wave power, an oft overlooked form of clean enery has had a major boost with plans for the first major wave farm underway in Portugal. The commercial project, led by OPD and a Portuguese consortium will generate enough power for 1,500 homes. The plan calls for 30 similar farms in the future. At close to $10 Million, it’s a pricey investment for the quantity of energy received – but that price will undoubtedly come down.
(Via Eyeteeth and Worldchanging)
Britain, which resides on the same latitude as Siberia, would be much colder, were it not for the Gulf Stream. This current transports an estimated 27,000 times more heat to England’s shores than all the power supplies in Britain could provide, warming the country by 5-8C. Researchers have detected the first signs of a slowdown in the Gulf Stream, evidently tied to global warming.
It is difficult to predict what the effects of this will be. Currents and weather systems take years to respond, so the jury will still be out on this one for awhile. Some models suggest Europe and specifically England will freeze, another is that the continent will cool while the rest of the world heats up due to global warming.
How does this relate to business? Better put, how doesn’t this relate to business? Imagine the consequences of a cooling Europe. Everything from agricultural to energy needs would be flipped on its head, with unimaginable fiscal consequences. Such consequences, unpredictable as they may be, must still be considered, as their effects are so overarching. Given such prospects, it seems no coincidence that carbon trading commenced this year in Europe, largely spurred by efforts to reduce global climate change.
I’m pleased to annouce that we’ve teamed up with Sustainable Business Leaders Network, a new online network for professionals interested in business and sustainability. You can see the latest job postings on our right-hand sidebar, just below the Treehugger posts.
If you’ve read Natural Capitalism, then you’re already familiar with the concept of putting a price tag on “ecosystem services” as well as on the negative externalities of business, such as pollution. Outside Magazine’s Bruce Barcott reports that maintaining wilderness intact has benefits far beyond the psychological and spiritual. For example, “studies of rivers and lakes reveal that healthy watersheds provide millions of dollars’ worth of water filtration, just one of many such natural services critical for healthy communities”.
Taking a more sophisticated economic look at wilderness, it’s apparant that a forest can sometimes be worth quite literally more if left standing than if cut and sold as lumber – recreational tourism is a part of that equation, but so are quantifiable services such as oxygen production, erosion prevention and property values. It’s also apparant that you can’t economically argue your way out of all threats (like forestry) in all cases, so it’s wise to do your math carefully before preaching.
(image from Dan Winters)
Major business leaders and UN officials will meet next week at the International Business Leaders Forum in London to talk about the private sector’s ability to impact poverty. The Financial Times has a great article on some of the ups and downs of involving business with international development.