The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

John Liu's films bring ecological education to China

If you live in any major city these days, you're probably used to regular prods to "Save the Earth" from just about any direction the penny flips: Change your light bulbs! Reuse grocery bags! Cut your carbon! If you're not already turned off by the borderline sanctimony of the green police, you should know that profligate energy and resource mass consumption is a systemic problem that individual consumer behavior basically can't change.

John D. Liu, an environmental filmmaker in Beijing, brings light to what individuals can do about collective behavior. Consumers act "without understanding how the basic ecosystems function," Liu said. That knowledge is fundamental if economies are to value them appropriately -- and ultimately fix problems, he said.

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Working with nature

Here's an axiom at the core of financial markets that's worth stating explicitly once in a while: Lenders need information to know if borrowers are trustworthy. That's why investors and governments have developed elaborate practices detailing the information companies must or should publicly disclose about how they operate.

These disclosure guidelines aren't written in stone. They're written on paper, and every so often trends in big business recommend that it be updated. The impetus this time: More and more businesses, organizations and investors are adjusting their long-term goals and operations for a world expecting 2 billion more middle-class consumers, scarcer resources and a changing climate. The practice of adjusting these corporate goals and operations travels under the name “sustainability.”

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Presidential Showdown Evokes Last Call for Climate Debate

Thousands Make Plea to Include Climate Change in Debates

InsideClimateNews.org -- Aside from Mitt Romney's recent jab at Barack Obama's concern over global warming—and the president's tit-for-tat response —climate change has been largely under the radar in the campaign.

But several groups, backed by hundreds of thousands of petitions, are trying to change that, at least for one night.

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World LNG Estimated October 2012 Landed Prices

Asian demand for natural gas has risen so sharply in recent years that Alaska wants to build a $50 billion pipeline and export terminal to move its stranded supply offshore. Exxon Mobil Corp., BP Plc and ConocoPhillips will deliver plans for such a project to Alaska Governor Sean Parnell by the end of this month.

Alaska has the only operating liquid natural gas (LNG) export plant in the United States. It’s an aging facility, capable of processing less than 10 percent of the volume of a new 3 billion cubic-feet-a-day terminal. The state’s hunger for revenues from its conventional gas is part of a larger unsolved question that the U.S. will have to tackle in the next few years: What will the nation do with its newfound abundance of natural gas, mostly from unconventional sources?

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Energy is “the big kahuna,” for McDonald’s Corp., the world’s biggest restaurant chain, according to Bob Langert, its vice president of sustainability. With the fast-food restaurant’s global annual energy bill estimated at $2 billion, it’s looking at everything from simple fixes, such as using more energy-efficient LED light bulbs, to complex, systemic changes -- working with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the WWF and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to rethink livestock-raising practices and its global food supply chain. Here’s an excerpt from Langert’s interview in Bloomberg’s Clean Energy & Carbon Brief:

Q: How has sustainability evolved over the years at McDonald’s?
A: This trend of the global consumer really wanting to know where their food comes from is something that wasn’t the case 10-20 years ago. Sustainability is everybody’s business now -- that’s the main message. My team works with our leadership and all the other functional department heads. If we’re going to be sustainable, it comes from all the other departments and all the other leaders making it a part of what they do.

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American Pain at the Gas Pump is Self-Inflicted

Global Pain at the Pump

American drivers feel less “pain at the pump” than all but a handful of other nations – most of which are major oil producers that heavily subsidize fuel prices. That’s the conclusion of Bloomberg.com’s quarterly gasoline price ranking, and one that’s at odds with the experience of many Americans.

If filling the tank in the U.S. is as relatively painless as the ranking shows, why do many Americans say it hurts so much?

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United Parcel Service Inc. said investing in 2,500-plus greener vehicles and smarter logistics helped its drivers cut fuel and carbon emissions, as they delivered around 15.8 million packages each business day last year.

The world’s biggest package-delivery company said it supports the development of jet-engine biofuels while it aims to reduce emissions from its airline by 20 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

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Rakesh Kapoor, the chief executive of British consumer-products maker Reckitt Benckiser, recalls taking a train from his home in India's Uttar Pradesh state to a boarding school 250 kilometers (155 miles) away in New Delhi. Kapoor, then just 13, would look out as the plodding train approached the city, and see scores of people using the ground abutting the tracks as a toilet.

"I have not taken that train for 20 years but I would not be surprised if that scene still exists," he said in a Sept. 3 interview in London.

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Oil Pipeline Spills Go Undetected by Much-Touted Sensors

InsideClimateNews.org -- For years, TransCanada, the Canadian company that wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline, has assured the project's opponents that the line will be equipped with sensors that can quickly detect oil spills.

In recent newspaper ads in Nebraska, for instance, TransCanada promised that the pipeline will be "monitored through a state-of-the-art oil control center 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 21,000 sensors along the pipeline route relay information via satellite to the control center every five seconds."

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Fake Memo Directs Sustainable Companies to Tell All

Pegasus Horse Flying Across a Rainbow in the Sky

Sustainability is still in its Wild West phase, as companies struggle to identify what information they should freely divulge about their environmental and social performance and corporate governance ("ESG"). A cottage industry of sustainability consultants has sprouted up to help companies identify the transparency measures that will make them more trusted, respectable and successful in the long term.

Below is an imaginary memo from a made-up consultancy that was recently obtained by Bloomberg.com Sustainability News:

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor
eroston@bloomberg.net

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor
trandall6@bloomberg.net

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