Richard Branson has lent his name and directed his profits to the search for carbon-light business models. Virgin Airlines is developing biofuels. The Carbon War Room works with industry to identify market opportunities that can make money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the UN Rio+20 Sustainability Summit, he signed on his support to a Greenpeace call banning Arctic oil drilling. I caught up with him at the world green summit, one of dozens of side events that have sprouted up around the UN's Rio+20 Summit.
Q: No one seems happy with the negotiated document
coming out of Rio. What's the role of companies going
A: The role of companies is all the more important for the world because so little has come out of governments. Governments could have made some big announcements this week that wouldn’t have cost their countries any money -- that could have made their companies money. They could have got rid of the subsidy on fossil fuels, which would have helped start a complete clean industry and given it the massive boost it needed and save their countries money. They chose not to do that. They could have agreed to protect the open seas and police the open seas instead of letting them carry on getting decimated by fishing and so on. So companies have really got to step in and do the best they can without the proper ground rules set by governments.
It’s impossible to come to Rio de Janeiro without seeing the city’s slums, known as favelas.
They’re collections of ramshackle buildings clinging precariously to the steep hillsides in the city. They overlook shiny new skyscrapers, luxury hotels and Rio's pristine beaches, where beautiful people with chiseled bodies bob in the waves.Read more »
Twenty years ago, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the world’s governments negotiated a treaty — it’s known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — in which they promised to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” Some 192 countries, including the U.S. and China, signed on.
Since then, the UN, politicians and climate campaigners all have labored to get the world’s major economies to curb the use of fossil fuels. They haven’t had much success. President Obama failed in his first year of office to move national climate legislation through Congress. Australia did recently enact a national greenhouse gas law, and several U.S. states, including California and parts of the Northeast, have cap-and-trade programs. China, Vietnam, Costa Rica, and at least a dozen other emerging nations are implementing emissions trading.Read more »
Here’s an overlooked metric among the hundreds available for evaluating how sustainable a company is: The ability to scale change far beyond its own organization.
The model sustainable company generally looks like this. It has a phenomenal track record of stock growth and a full bucket of cash. It militantly roots out inefficiency from its operations and supply chain and invents new products that take into account social change and resource availability. It increases the transparency of its operations and invites outside scrutiny to make sure it’s in compliance with the highest legal and social standards.Read more »
By Ari Natter
The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to continue using foam cups and other polystyrene products, the latest salvo in a congressional food fight over the sustainability of the Capitol’s restaurants, eateries, and cafeterias.Read more »
Kiva Microfunds, which raises about $1.5 million a week to fund small projects in poor countries, wants to help farmers turn piles of manure into fuel and fertilizer.
The main technology is called a biodigester, which is a treatment system that uses bacteria to break down livestock waste. "It's like a bouncy castle of excrement," said Michelle Kreger, Kiva's senior director of strategic initiatives, in a phone interview. "You have to mix up the sludge. Kids running around on it usually takes care of it."Read more »
Bloomberg's Erik Schatzker reports on a once in a lifetime sight, the transit of Venus, as the planet moves between the earth and the sun. The rare event is next scheduled for 2117 and has happened only 8 times since the invention of the telescope. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "Inside Track." (Source: Bloomberg)
Running Time: 00:40Read more »
Unless you think you’ll live to see the year 2117, today is your last chance to witness one of astronomy’s great marvels: the transit of Venus. It’s a rare event, when the solar system’s second planet makes a rare passage directly between the Earth and the sun.
The transit can’t compete with the celestial fireworks of aurora borealis or a full solar eclipse. However, the transit has few parallels as a symbol for how far humans have come in our understanding of the Solar System and how collaboration stretching several generations can solve big problems.Read more »
Bain & Company, the global consulting firm where Governor Mitt Romney started his career and returned in the 1990s, yesterday announced it has effectively reduced its global carbon dioxide emissions to zero. A Bain press release cites Steven Tallman, a partner and head of global operations: “This accomplishment is a major step in our commitment to sustainability.” The announcement, unremarkable were it not for the company’s profile in U.S. presidential election coverage, contrasts with Bain’s most famous alumnus’s political statements about climate change and policy stances on government support for emerging renewable energy technologies.
Search for “climate change” on www.mittromney.com and you’ll mostly find material quoting President Barack Obama’s statements on the need for climate policy. Nowhere that we found is Romney’s position on the two fundamentals of the U.S. energy-and-climate debate: (a) the reality of manmade climate change, and (b) what, if anything, to do about it. Romney said last fall: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.” Never mind that the phrase "trillions and trillions of dollars" is an inapt characterization of reasonable studies of the costs and benefits of climate policy. As the Yale climate change economist William Nordhaus recently wrote about the current cost of inaction on climate change, "the loss from waiting is $4.1 trillion. Wars have been started over smaller sums."Read more »