The G8 tackles Global Warming

| Wednesday July 6th, 2005 | 0 Comments

global-warming.gifThe G8, which stands for the “Group of Eight,” will meet this week in Gleneagles, Scotland. Together, these eight industrialized nations comprise 60% of the world’s GDP. At the top of their agenda for this meeting is global climate change. The Economist reports that 24 of the world’s biggest companies petitioned the G8 to develop a worldwide system of greenhouse gas emissions limits, with tradable permits for businesses. These permits would limit the amount of CO2 each company could emit.
The only such mandatory system currently in place was started this year by the EU. Under this system, companies are given a certain allowance for carbon dioxide emissions. By improving their emissions standards, companies who fall under their designated emissions allowance can sell their excess “carbon permits” to companies who have exceeded their limits. Currently, the U.S. has a similar program called the Chicago Climate Exchange, but membership is optional and not government enforced.
Presently the US opposes mandatory emissions standards. US support for such measures is seen as vital, largely because America is the world’s largest polluter. With China poised to overtake the US as the greatest greenhouse gas producer by 2025 and India right behind (see SF Chronicle), a unified accord could serve as a vital precedent for such rapidly developing nations. US backing of such policies in slowing the heating of the planet appears to be vital.

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Better Burned Abroad: Exporting Oil Proves Economically and Ecologically Advantageous for Venezuela

| Tuesday July 5th, 2005 | 0 Comments

Stack.jpgWith oil prices surging 4% Friday to get back near $60 a barrel, Venezuelan oil earns ten times more on the international market than it does domestically. Such lopsided price ratios have inspired PDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company, to boost fuel exports by 100,000 barrels per month. PVSA aims to do this not by increasing their overall production levels, but rather through renewable energy projects within Venezuela, whereby the nation’s lowered oil consumption will allow for a higher volume of exports.
This is an interesting case, as it involves the insatiable appetite of the global market for oil creating an economic climate within Venezuela in which it is advantageous to become less petrol dependant. In becoming less petroleum dependant, Venezuela has a greater amount of oil remaining to export, as well as cleaner air inside its borders. At present, Venezuela is the fourth leading exporter of crude oil worldwide.

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Happiest Fireworks on Earth

| Tuesday July 5th, 2005 | 0 Comments

fireworks.jpgHope everyone enjoyed the long weekend! Fireworks are an integral part of Independence Day celebrations in the US, plus both Victoria Day and Canada Day celebrations north of the 49th parallel. For the Walt Disney Company, fireworks are an almost-daily occurrence, so it’s not surprising that we might see pyrotechnical innovations from them.
Just over a year ago, Disney announced the development of compressed air technology to launch fireworks. This solution is both quieter and more environmentally-friendly than the smoke-producing black powder traditionally used. In an admirable departure from the company’s license-like-mad strategy, Disney planned to donate the patents for the air launch technology to a non-profit organization in an attempt to encourage other fireworks producers to follow suit. (See press release here.)

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Mercedes Mimics Nature

| Friday July 1st, 2005 | 1 Comment

Boxfish.jpgDaimler Benz has taken German automotive engineering to the next level of emissions efficiency by engaging in a process called biomimicry, “the conscious copying of mechanisms from natural organisms and ecologies.” In this instance, Mercedes looked for naturally occurring examples of safety, comfort and aerodynamic efficiency.
The specie best embodying these qualities for Mercedes’ purposes turned out to be the boxfish. Contrary to what you might expect of its cube-shaped body, this tropical fish represents an aerodynamic ideal. The end result of this engineering mimicry: A diesel car averaging 70 miles to the gallon. If you want to take it to the next level, diesel engines can be easily converted to run on biofuel, which is any fuel derived from biomass (recently living organisms or their metabolic byproducts).

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Middlebury College Receives Climate Champion Award

| Friday July 1st, 2005 | 1 Comment

ClimateChampion.jpgAt Vermont’s Middlebury College, there are courses and projects that address solutions to global warming. There are annual campus greenhouse gas emissions inventories, and there’s a working group appointed to reducing said emissions. Rather than stop at its own campus, the college collaborates with organizations in the region (including other businesses, communities, and other colleges) to “develop cost-effective solutions to fight climate change and promote environmental protection.”
If this sounds impressive, you’re not the only one who thinks so; Clean Air — Cool Climate, a non-profit dedicated to finding and implementing solutions to global warming in the Northeast US, just recognized Middlebury’s efforts with the 2005 Climate Champion Award. (Read the press release, via the Education for Sustainability Western Network news.)

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Evergreen Solar Added to Russell 2000 & 3000

| Thursday June 30th, 2005 | 0 Comments

evergreensolar.gifEvergreen Solar (ESLR) has just been added to both the Russel 2000 and Russel 3000 indexes. The listing is a great sign of the viability and future of the solar industry, as well as a sign of alternative energy’s increasing role in our economy.

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San Francisco to Ban Sweatshop Purchases?

| Wednesday June 29th, 2005 | 0 Comments

ChildLabor.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Tom Ammiano announced yesterday a proposed ordinance that would prevent the city from buying products created using child labor or slave labor. Applying to domestic or foreign-made goods, and only to clothing the first year, the measure would also ban the purchase of products made in ways that violate local or international labor laws.
Though San Francisco would by no means be a first mover in this regard–several other states, cities, counties and school districts have passed similar measures–not everyone sees the ban as a good move. If passed (it is expected to), how will the ordinance be enforced? Is the apparel industry being treated fairly? Surprise: they don’t think so. Read more at SFGate.com.

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Turn $37m into $500m: Invest in Women

| Tuesday June 28th, 2005 | 0 Comments

Woman.jpgOver the past three years, the US Small Business Administration has spent $37 million to fund Women’s Business Centers, resulting in $500 million of associated economic activity. Many of the centers’ clients are women of color, or women with low household incomes; though many of the women who come to the centers for entrepreneurship training and business consulting services have little education, 60% of them are now managing businesses.
These facts come from studies conducted by the Center for Women’s Leadership at Babson College; learn more at their website or check out the article at bizjournals.com.

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Gas Tax in Canada to Fund Sustainable Infrastructure

| Tuesday June 28th, 2005 | 1 Comment

TorontoTransit.gifThe Canadian cities of Toronto and Ontario, both in the province of Ontario, will receive federal gas tax monies to fund environmentally sustainable projects such as public transit. This is the first time that federal funds, to be doled out over the next five years, will be used for such municipal projects.
The actual amounts for public transit flowing to each city are based on ridership, which is a good thing for Toronto; over half of Ontario’s transit trips occur there. (Via the Globe and Mail, thanks to .)
UPDATE: Oops, I meant the city of Ottawa; as Anonymous pointed out, there is no City of Ontario.

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Google Founders Investing in Nanosolar

| Monday June 27th, 2005 | 2 Comments

nanosolar.jpgGoogle founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are investing in a new enterprise called Nanosolar, which specializes in thin-film photovoltaics. They’re not as efficient as regular crystaline cells, but they are less expensive and with deep pocketed investors are bound to get better. Alternative energy may be trendy, but Sergey and Larry are not known for unwise investments. (more on CNet)

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Collecting Methane from Wastewater Fattens Bottom Line

| Friday June 24th, 2005 | 1 Comment

NewBelgium.jpgWhy pay to dump nutrient-rich wastewater when you can use it to boost the bottom line? By converting the methane in their wastewater to energy, the New Belgium Brewery in Colorado produces up to 60% of the electricity it needs to brew such beers as the popular Fat Tire Ale.
Not only does this technique reduce energy costs, the brewery avoids the steep water treatment fees that would otherwise be assessed by the city of Fort Collins. Shall we drink to that? Via the The Register Guard.

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High Fliers Have Offset Options

| Friday June 24th, 2005 | 0 Comments

Aircraft.jpgThe UK airline industry expects that the number of air flights will increase enough in the next 25 years that greenhouse gas emissions will double… and that’s accounting for aircraft that will emit half of what they do today. This is rather significant, given that high elevation emissions may contribute up to three times as much to global warming as ground level emissions.
Want to fly without greenhouse guilt? Many individuals (and their employers) support this idea, and savvy entrepreneurs are happy to help. For a fee, groups such as Future Forests and AtmosFair will plant trees to offset your carbon emissions. (Via the TimesOnline)

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VC’s Investing Millions into “Clean Tech” Start-Ups

| Friday June 24th, 2005 | 0 Comments

CleanTech.jpgAccording to Silicon Valley venture capital companies, the “Clean Tech” revolution is upon us. Clean Tech refers to companies opertaing in solar energy, water purification systems and alternative automotive fuels. Investor interest in clean-energy tech firms has jumped in the past year to over $520 million, fueled in part by escalating global demand for electricity and the rising price of oil.
“The reason we’re allocating dollars to this sector is we think we can deliver attractive returns,” said Ira Ehrenpreis, a venture capitalist at Technology Partners in Palo Alto, CA who also serves as co-chairman of the advisory board of the Cleantech Venture Network.
Read full story in the New York Times

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Buying Green Draws Lender Incentives

| Thursday June 23rd, 2005 | 0 Comments

EnergyHome.jpgFannie Mae has launched an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) program, which enables borrowers to qualify for larger loans than they would for non energy efficient homes. While this program promotes the design, construction and purchase of energy efficient dwellings, the incentive for Fannie Mae to offer such incentives is motivated by a pure bottom line rationale. The reasoning is simple: Borrowers buying energy efficient homes “can afford to spend more on their housing expenses because they will likely spend less on their energy costs.” Energy futures are as uncertain at present as they have been at any time in recent memory, so it will come as no surprise if such programs continue to proliferate. Just as increasing premium costs reflect insurance companies’ recognition of “global weirding” (a term coined by Hunter and Amory Lovins) energy efficient mortgage incentives signify the understanding of potentially highly volatile energy futures on the part of a multi billion dollar industry. Read more on Fannie Mae’s website.

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Play-Pump Addresses Rural Africa Water Needs

| Thursday June 23rd, 2005 | 0 Comments

playpump.jpgIn some rural parts of South Africa, water gathering is a time-consuming and costly chore. Wells are not common due to the high cost of digging and the relatively high amount of effort it takes to get a small amount of water out.
A new invention has made things a lot easier: The pump is attached to a children’s “roundabout” (merry-go-round) and crowds of happy kids do all the pumping while an elevated tank fills with water. This method pulls a great deal more water out of the ground for the local people.
The pump is paid for by advertising that is placed on the sides of the elevated water tank. Although forcing ads on people may be somewhat controversial, two of the four sides are reserved for health messages. See the official website for more details. (Also – London Times) Thanks DK!

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