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

Rio's Earth Summit Bigger Than Liechtenstein

Earth Summit Brazil Rio+20

The Rio+20 Summit is the biggest-ever conference organized by the United Nations, said Pragati Pascale, the lead spokeswoman for the meeting in Rio de Janeiro. The UN issued 45,381 passes for the Riocentro conference center. That includes 10,822 passes for national delegations; 9,856 passes for NGOs and the Major Groups (What's a Major Group?); and 4,075 for media. Security personnel took up another 4,000. Thousands more observers attended conference and the "Dialog Days" held in the run up to the arrival of the world leaders.

By comparison, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit had about 17,000 participants.

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Branson Wages War on CO2 Amid Government Sluggishness

Richard Branson

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 forward?
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.

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Sustainability Sprouts Through Slum on Brazilian Hillside

Santa Marta favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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.

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Nations Stalled on Climate Action Could 'Suck It up'

Capturing Carbon Dioxide from the Air

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.

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Is Apple the Model of a Sustainable Company?

Is Apple the Model of a Sustainable Company?

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.

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Styrofoam Battle Takes to the Hill

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.

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Kiva Brings Light to the Poor

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."

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Venus Crosses the Face of the Sun

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: 00:40

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Venus Gets in Our Way for the Last Time

Venus Crosses the Face of the Sun

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.

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Sustainability Indicator: 81% Domestic Energy

81%

Today's sustainability indicator, 81 percent, is the proportion of U.S. energy demand met from domestic sources last year, making it the most self-sufficient the county has been for almost 2 decades. Oil accounts for almost all imported U.S. energy.

This month's indicators:

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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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