Groovy Green is this week’s host for the Carnival of the Green. It’s been especially well designed this time with nice little thumbnails of pages. Among the highlights – Starbucks Challenge updates, the potential of switchgrass, and an evangelical christian look at climate change.
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line & Sustainable Business News
Thunderbird’s annual Global Citizenship Challenge for MBA students is kicking off this month with a February 15th deadline for team submissions. What is it?
The Global Citizenship Challenge is the largest global case competition in the world focusing on corporate citizenship, sustainability and international development. The competition brings together over 100 teams from more than 15 countries. The Global Citizenship Challenge advances our obligation as MBA students to harness the power of industry to create world prosperity through ethically, socially and environmentally sound business practices. The Challenge serves as an idea incubator for fostering constructive change in our global community via values-centered management leadership.
If you’re interested in participating, get your team together and register here.
Here’s an interesting piece of innovation: Tokyo Electric Power Company managed to turn a piece of waste into a valuable and useful commodity. Fly ash from their coal burning power plants is being recycled into a type of pavement that is able to retain a cooler temperature than conventional asphalt. The result is that using the pavement will also reduce the “heat island effect” in cities – the tendency for cities to have a higher ambient temperature than the weather would ordinarily dictate – resulting, potentially, in much lower utility costs. Japan for Sustainability has more.
There has been much writen in various journalistic outlets about Sweden’s plan to be “oil free” by 2020, a mere 14 years. [BBC][The Age][MSNBC] And they don’t plan on building any nuclear plants either. Remarkably, according to the press, this plan springs forth from a consortium of leaders from industry, governemnt and civil society alike.
To put things into perspective, have a look at the lively discussion over on Treehugger. The reactions to this claim range from praise to cynical disbelief to ambivelence, with a number of apparant Swedes mentioning that the Swedish domestic press has had little to say about this supposedly grand scheme. Regardless of just how realistic any plan is, it’s remarkable that it’s gotten as much press as it has, and the fact that it makes news at all proves the desire that many, many people have to ween the world off oil altogether.
It goes without saying that Sweden has a longstanding reputation for leadership on environmental matters. Keep your eye on the news to see if this plan actually takes off.
It’s hard to say if wave energy will ever live up to its potential – the energy in the ocean is practically limitless, while harnessing it is very cumbersome to say the least. Nonetheless, three companies have been lined up to build the world’s first full scale wave energy facility, known as the “wave hub”, 10 miles off the coast of Cornwall, England. (See press release here).
The three firms take three different technological approaches to the task of harnessing the ocean’s energy, and together will narrow down a design and plan for the actual project which hopes to achieve funding in the near future.
The Bush budget cuts about $50 Million in funding for drilling R&D this year (see CNN). Not so surprisingly, the oil industry is raising a stink about it despite the fact that, even the White House agrees, “Industry has the incentives and resources to do such R&D on its own”.
To me, this is proof of the ironies that the oil industry lives by. Despite purporting to promote free market economics at every turn, and despite (in the case of Exxon) openly mocking alternative energy because of its temporary reliance on government subsidies, the oil industry is crying for subsidies themselves – despite being richer than they’ve ever been.
Forgive the editorial rant, but I’m optimistic that some actual funding of alternative energy will happen as a result of recent changes in White House policy. I’m not sure exactly how much that will amount to, but anything’s a start.
Everyone knows that compact florescent bulbs and LEDs are far more efficient than the standard lightbulb. This interesting BBC piece suggests that incandescent bulbs are so inefficient that if they were introduced today “it is highly unlikely they would be allowed onto the market.” It goes so far as to (only partly in jest) suggest that the old style bulbs be banned. With lighting using up 5-10% of the world’s energy, and plenty of subsidies available, it’s not such a crazy idea!
No…the title is not about “green tags” or stock picks. It’s about figuring out how the majority of US citizens who simply “don’t buy it”…”it” being the risk posed by climate change to personal health, to all of earth’s living systems, and to our children’s future…will sit up and pay attention to the management of climate risk.
For this to happen, we conservationists, environmentalists, green designers…let them call us whatever they like… need to escape our own denial about the Seriously Bad News all around us. The reality is that only a minority of the US population would, under present circumstance, allow their attitudes and behaviors to be influenced by the climate models, formal risk analysis, or pictures of melting glaciers. The reasons are several and powerful. Consider: A substantial percent of US citizens are illiterate. A great many of us think that the historic photos of humans walking on the moon were Hollywood-staged (a strong clue about the power of superstition and ignorance of technology). Perhaps a quarter of us believe that dinosaurs crowded into a literal Noah’s Ark. Many more of us think that a free market somehow magically synchronizes with nature’s demands (MBAs are taught this in Harvard Business School. If you paid a half million for your degree you might be defensive about someone saying everything you learned is wrong). Privately funded Think Tanks attack grade school curricula that encourage recycling and anything else “green”. And capping it off, broadcast media skip the reporting of facts and plausible alternatives in favor of single-minded political opinion. It’s good for the ratings. And, of course, those who would be most influenced by “science” apparently hold little political power at the Federal level.
The “Private Path to Prosperity” is an essay competion sponsored by the Financial Times and the International Finance Corporation. THere’s a top prize of $30,000 to be awared to the essay that best “adds to the discussion” regarding private enterprise’s role in development. The deadline for submission is June 30, 2006. For more info, check out the page on the IFC’s website.
Management guru CK Prahalad keynoted the CEO Forum in Dehli yesterday and made special note that the key to sustainable development lies in “increased energy efficiency through innovation”. (see WBCSD article). He also spoke out against a “trade-off between growth and being environment-friendly” and the
perverse incentives that encourage excess. Subsidising energy prices, not energy efficiency, is against both growth and sustainability.
With the president himself admiting that US is “addicted to oil” (albeit foreign oil only) I think we’re getting fantastically close to a larger scale “tipping point” wherein the nation’s (I’m being US -specific here) consciousness finally starts to tip on a larger scale towards more sustainable behavior. In the case of the president, I think he sees the move as pertaining more to national military and economic security than anything else, which is certainly true, and fine with me. If that’s the way “getting off oil” starts, then so be it. As renewables and efficiency start to prove themselves, and as people are reminded that better health and a better environment are the additional bonuses, then I think real, exciting, and positive change is around the corner. I just wish he’d say “oil” generically, and not just “foreign oil”.. but this is a huge start!
Amazingly, the Financial Times reports that Austria is producing an astonishing 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. (Article requires subscription to read). Biomass accounts for 11.2 percent of the total energy supply, and 21 percent of heat production. That’s pretty impressive. It’s also great to see such things reported in the FT, arguably the world’s premier business publication.
The country has the advantage of being heavily forested and is also subsidising biomass by covering as much as 50% ot the investment cost. Still, it’s a thriving industry that promises to both strengthen the Austrian economy and provoke further, more cost effective innovation.
Thanks a bunch to everyone who came down to the Commonwealth Club last night for the panel on ‘green blogging’! It was a fantastic success, and I hope a sign of more collaborative events to come! Extra Special thanks go out to Kyaenn Sayer from Treehugger, Siel from GreenLAGirl, Jamais Cascio from Worldchanging, Gil Friend, our venerable moderator, and Eric Corey Freed – the chief instagator of the panel.
For those who missed it, there will be a podcast available on the Commonwealth Club website, and (subject to requests) a broadcast on KQED.
I am sure many of you thought there was NO such thing as a SUSTAINABLE company, but we were wrong!
Unveiled during the World Economic Forum last week in Davos, the Global 100 is a project collaboration between Corporate Knights Inc., a Canadian Magazine for Responsible Business, and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors Inc. , a research and advisory firm specializing in analyzing companies’ performance on environmental, social, and strategic governance issues, with a particular focus on their impact on competitiveness, profitability, and share price performance.
Not surprisingly, approx. 75% of the companies come from Europe, with the greatest number from Great Britain. There are only 17 companies from the United States.
I advise you to check out both the Global 100 list as well as the methodology.
ED Note – a similar post on Treehugger has drummed up quite a bit of controversy. Have a look at the comments there.