Sustainability Blog - The Grid
“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.
It's not every day you meet Republicans (or really, anyone) who advocate for a U.S. carbon tax. Then again, not everyone is a determined advocate of so-called Pigovian taxes, the phrase economists use for levies on activities we probably shouldn’t be doing anyway.
For the Pigovian-inclined, a tax on carbon pollution is much more attractive as policy than a tax on things we want more of — like payroll earnings or corporate income. A carbon tax would be "revenue neutral" if the new government income was used to eliminate taxes elsewhere, as opposed to adding the income to the general treasury or using it to fund clean-energy science.
InsideClimateNews.org — A key piece of data related to the biggest tar sands oil spill in U.S. history has disappeared from the Environmental Protection Agency's website, adding to confusion about the size of the spill and possibly reducing the fine that the company responsible for the accident would be required to pay.
The July 2010 accident on an Enbridge Inc. pipeline dumped thousands of barrels of Canadian dilbit into the Kalamazoo River and surrounding wetlands. But almost three years and two federal investigations later, one of the most important questions about the spill remains unanswered: Exactly how much oil spilled from the pipeline?
InsideClimateNews.org — It has been more than a month now, and Amber Bartlett has had enough of hotels and apartments and trailer homes. Of crowded rooms whose thin walls amplify the bickering of her four children. Of piles of toys and clothes overflowing from drawers and suitcases. Of not knowing, day to day, where her life is headed.
She wants to be back in her five-bedroom, three-bathroom home at16 Starlite Road North in Mayflower, Ark.
Just how great are today’s great investors? We might not know, not yet, because they’ve become great in a great time for investing.
Pimco co-founder Bill Gross recently published a reflective essay on the role of decades-long economic trends in the success of super-investors. In his career, he wrote, he might not have seen enough true variability to know if the epoch made him or if he made the epoch.
InsideClimateNews.org -- For the first time in human history, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are expected to pass 400 parts per million across much of the Northern Hemisphere in May, according to scientists who study data from the Mauna Loa Observatory, the world's longest-running CO2 monitoring station.
While crossing the 400 ppm mark isn't a "tipping point" that signals climate catastrophe, scientists told InsideClimate News, it is an important symbolic milestone that underscores government inaction on global warming.
Bloomberg BNA -- Almost all of the top 500 publicly traded U.S. companies annually disclose information on their sustainability performance, but very few combine sustainability and financial performance data, according to a report released April 29 by the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCI) and the Sustainable Investments Institute (SI2).
All but one of the Standard & Poor's 500 companies made at least one sustainability-related disclosure in 2012, according to Integrated Financial and Sustainability Reporting in the United States.
Vaclav Smil has a lot to say and is never shy about saying it. He’s written more than 30 books about energy, ecology, food and agriculture, China, the U.S. and more. He's in the process of publishing three more within 12 months: Harvesting the Biosphere (MIT Press; December 2012), Should We Eat Meat? (Wiley; June) and Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing (MIT Press; October).
He fielded this Dumb Question by phone from the University of Manitoba, where he’s Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Environment and Geography.