Sustainability Blog - The Grid
Bloomberg BNA -- The Global Reporting Initiative, the organization that develops the most widely used sustainability reporting framework in the world, released an updated version of the guidelines May 22.
The guidelines, called the G4 guidelines, provide guidance for organizations to voluntarily report on their environmental, social, and governance performance.
The newest version encourages organizations to report only on information that is material to their business. Under the guidelines, organizations are directed to state why a certain disclosure, such as greenhouse gas emissions, is material to the organization. The previous version identified which issues were relevant and material to most organizations.
InsideClimateNews.org -- U.S. oil production is suddenly growing so fast that some analysts are questioning how much the country really needs the Canadian tar sands oil that would move through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
This month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said it expects domestic crude oil production to surge 20 percent by the end of 2014 from its level at the start of this year. That means an additional 1.4 million barrels of U.S.-produced oil will be available each day--about twice as much as the Keystone would bring in from Canada.
James Hansen, the former NASA climate scientist who first brought climate change to the attention of Congress in the 1980s, stepped down as head of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies last month. That hasn’t stopped him traveling the globe to lobby for climate protection measures, while remaining an adjunct professor for Earth and Environmental Studies at Columbia University.
I caught up with Hansen in London last week. He was in Europe to lobby politicians to classify fuels from oil sands as more polluting than conventional fossil fuels. A Congressional Research Service study published in March estimates that Canadian oil sands are 14 percent to 20 percent (pdf) more carbon intensive than conventional crude.
"Bear with me,” Al Gore said to a rapt crowd of about 200 last Monday night at the fourth annual U.S.-India Energy Partnership Summit in Washington. He was asking the audience’s indulgence as he offered a scientific analogy to describe his investment philosophy.
Traditional investors focus on a narrow part of the spectrum of value that any company, or economy, produces, he said. Mainstream accounting in that way is like visible light. It’s all that eyes can see but makes up just 2 percent of the complete electromagnetic spectrum, the band of radiation that extends from high-powered gamma and x-rays to microwave and radio frequencies.
Flying cars, meals in pill form, robot overlords — many attempts to predict the future turn out predictably wrong. Not so with a National Science Foundation study in 1982 that foresaw, with a prescience that feels like time travel, the rise of networked computing and its ensuing challenges to society.
The report is summarized in this fun-to-read June 14, 1982, New York Times article: “Study Says Technology Could Transform Society” (hat tip to my Bloomberg Businessweek colleague Elizabeth Dwoskin). The piece explores how one-way and two-way electronic communication could revolutionize how people work and play, how buildings and cities are designed and how children learn (or don’t).
Bloomberg BNA -- Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, and San Diego are among the cities most likely to face water scarcity as climate change increases drought potential, a study released May 15 found.
Along with the potentially 40 million Americans affected in these cities, several “breadbasket region” states such as Nebraska, Illinois, and Minnesota also made the list of vulnerable areas.
More than 11 percent of investments under U.S. professional management were selected for companies’ financial performance and their social and environmental responsibility in 2012. That’s $3.74 trillion of the $33.3 trillion in investments scanned for environmental, social and governance criteria (known as ESG), according to a November report by the U.S. SIF Foundation.
Individuals and institutions are increasingly on the lookout for investment strategies that help them achieve environmental and social goals.
“Energiewende” may not be a household word in the United States today, but U.S. citizens and policymakers are likely to hear more about it. It’s the name of Germany's ambitious energy transformation, which aims to move the country to at least 80 percent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050.
Germany already gets nearly 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, up from just under 7 percent thirteen years ago. That is no small feat. Germany is a manufacturing powerhouse: It's the world's fifth largest economy and third largest exporter.
Germany's commitment to renewables has helped create jobs and drive economic opportunities. Since 2004, clean energy investments grew by 122 percent. Jobs in the renewable energy sector have more than doubled to around 380,000 jobs in the same timeframe.
Bloomberg BNA — Companies are starting to consider the value of natural resources in making business decisions, a practice that will become increasingly important as those resources become further constrained, corporate representatives say.
The practice, called natural capital accounting, is a way for companies to accurately assess and manage risk, maintain their social license to operate, manage or lower operating costs, and secure a competitive advantage, the representatives say.
Fossil fuels typically don’t leap to mind as carbon-cutting alternative energy sources. Yet in Sudan's North Darfur region, liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG, is helping reduce carbon emissions, plus saving lives and money.
A project started in 2007 by Practical Action, a British non-governmental group, and Carbon Clear, a company that sells emission offsets, aims to halve household emissions generated by wood- or charcoal-fired stoves. Changing to a lower-emitting fuel may also reduce the number of deaths due to smoke inhalation, which the World Health Organization estimates at 2 million people annually.