Sustainability Blog - The Grid
InsideClimateNews.org — The grand old building in downtown Berlin has seen some of the worst of German history: aerial bombing in World War II, a close-up view of the Berlin Wall, service as communist East Germany's highest court. But on May 24 an ornate conference room in the Ministry of Economics and Technology served as the setting for the delivery of a report card on a new and more hopeful chapter in Germany history: the country's ambitious effort to run its economy on non-polluting energy.
Germany has gone farther than any other large industrial economy in decarbonizing its power sector. Already it derives more than 20 percent of its electricity from clean sources, and it's aiming to reach 80 percent by 2050. But the sheer scale of its Energiewende, or "energy transition," has caused skeptics here and abroad to question whether those goals are really attainable.
Bloomberg BNA — Barclays and MSCI Inc. launched a family of fixed-income indices June 11 based primarily on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, which could spur growth in sustainable investing by bond investors, the organizations said.
The set of ESG indices is the first of its kind for bonds, Barclays and MSCI said in a statement.
A 98-percent drop in the value of official UN-backed carbon credits is pushing sellers of emission offsets into the voluntary market, where prices are as much as 30 times higher.
The trend is a signal that many companies not required by law to cut their pollution are doing so anyway to bolster their corporate sustainability credentials.
InsideClimateNews.org — In 2008, Virginia resident Ruth McElroy Amundsen took her first stab at using shareholder activism to spur action on climate change—she introduced a resolution that challenged Dominion Resources Inc., Virginia's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, to get more of its electricity from renewables.
Since then the 51-year-old NASA engineer and mother of two has helped spark a growing movement to pressure Dominion to respond to global warming concerns. Last month, the informal network of 20 activists achieved its biggest success yet: Shareholders representing nearly a quarter of Dominion's shares voted "yes" on a proposal to require the utility to report to investors on the financial risks that climate change poses to its business.
U.S. soybean farmers are planting a record crop that’s poised to double domestic reserves and expand a global surplus after last year’s drought drove prices to an all-time high.
Stockpiles at the end of August 2014 will have gained 116 percent to 7.29 million metric tons in 12 months, according to the average of 30 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. U.S. production will jump 12 percent to 91.74 million tons, adding almost enough extra supply to feed India for a year. The U.S. government updates its estimates tomorrow. Jefferies Bache LLC expects November futures traded in Chicago to plunge 26 percent to $9.88 a bushel by Oct. 1, when harvesting peaks.
Bipartisan agreement is so rare in Washington these days that no common ground, however plain, should escape notice: It turns out that both Republicans and Democrats believe that food aid for international emergencies should feed people.
The splits -- which cross partisan boundaries and in the last decade has pit lawmakers against presidents who share their party -- arise over the question of who should the United States buy the food from? Should the U.S. pay its farmers and ship their food overseas, the traditional plan, or should it ship money overseas and pay poorer farmers abroad, as every other major food-producing nation does?
InsideClimateNews.org — California is replacing oil with cleaner-burning fuels in cars and trucks, thanks to a landmark low-carbon fuel rule, according to a recent report. But the rule's fate is uncertain amid legal chaos and a shortfall in the production of clean biofuels.
The report, conducted by researchers at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, said California drivers saved more than two billion gallons of gasoline in the two years since the launch of the rule—about as much gas as the state uses in two months. The carbon emissions reduction is equal to taking half a million vehicles off the road.
Bloomberg BNA — Divesting university endowment holdings from fossil fuel companies may be technically and financially difficult, and schools considering doing so in response to student campaigns may want to consider alternatives, investment professionals say.
Colleges and universities that have started divesting from fossil fuel companies say despite the difficulties, it is possible and that doing so is consistent with their schools' values even if the action does not directly affect large electric, oil, and gas companies.
“Is Environmentalism Dead?” This question sent existential despair rippling through the environmental community about nine years ago, when two eco-provocateurs wrote a really, really long essay answering the question. It was really long.
Nearly a decade later few people, if anyone, asks that question. The more apt question today: Is environmentalism annoying?
A U.S. effort that will tailor climate-change relief for farmers by region may help build support for efforts to cut carbon emissions tied to global warming, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
Vilsack will introduce U.S. Department of Agriculture programs today to combat the effects of climate volatility. As a Corn Belt drought, the worst since the 1930s, is replaced by the wettest Iowa spring on record, farmers need resources and research to make better choices on planting and dealing with threats from the weather, he said in previewing a speech today at the National Press Club in Washington.