Sustainability Blog - The Grid
Here’s the crux of the sustainability dilemma: What researchers and nonprofits deem “important” to the long-term health of companies doesn’t coincide with information that investors consider “material." That’s how one investment professional described the current “epic battle” to our company, SustainAbility, in an interview for the latest edition of our "Rate the Raters" research, The Investor View.
There’s a wide gap between what investors say is important and what they do with their money. For example, more than 1,000 investors, managing more than $30 trillion in assets, have signed on to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment. Yet a recent study by US SIF reports that just 11 percent of all investments under professional management in the U.S. qualify as “sustainable.” The number is growing, but 89 percent of U.S. investors are making decisions based mainly on more narrow, traditional considerations.
Generosity, philanthropy, community and love all affect flavor. This is why our mother’s roast beef tastes better. It's why we we wait on absurd lines during free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s. It's why we can stomach bad food at good weddings.*
And this is why, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy -- which left scores without heat, hot water and electricity -- I like to think we’re rightly being drawn toward restaurants that don’t simply serve good food (of which there’s a surfeit), but rather toward restaurants that are linchpins of our society, that give back to those who are down on their luck.
InsideClimateNews.org -- For years, the controversy over natural gas drilling has focused on the water and air quality problems linked to hydraulic fracturing, the process where chemicals are blasted deep underground to release tightly bound natural gas deposits.
But a new study reports that a set of chemicals called non-methane hydrocarbons, or NMHCs, is found in the air near drilling sites even when fracking isn't in progress.
InsideClimateNews.org (Sankt Peter im Schwarzwald, Germany) — The Abbey of St. Peter in the Black Forest has had its ups and downs since its founding in 1090. It burned to the ground in 1238. It was rebuilt, only to be destroyed by fire in 1437, establishing a pattern that would be repeated for several centuries. In 1727, after it went up in flames yet again, citizens of this close-knit mountain village decided to try something different. They built a new church from blocks of fireproof sandstone, creating an imposing structure that still dominates their postcard-perfect village.
Today, the Abbey is known as one of Germany's most exquisite Baroque buildings. What isn't widely known is that it's also a vivid example of Germany's recent Energiewende and how the energy revolution was built from the bottom up.
InsideClimateNews.org (Hamburg, Germany) -- It was late morning when I stepped out of my hotel lobby and into the jostle of Kirchenallee Street in Hamburg's city center. I checked my watch, jotted down the time in my notebook and set out for the nearest subway station (U-Bahn in German).
The sidewalks were packed with people enjoying the glorious spring weather on May Day, a public holiday similar to Labor Day in the United States. When I arrived at a stairway beneath a large "U," I checked the time. The walk from my hotel to Hauptbahnhof Süd station had taken one minute and 30 seconds. Seven minutes later I was on a subway car speeding smoothly south.
More than 100 members of the nascent Arab Youth Climate Movement have descended on Doha to bring a message to the latest round of United Nations climate talks: ``Arabs are more than oil.''
The Doha talks mark the first time the Middle East has hosted the climate negotiations, and the Qatari organisers paid for more than 100 young Arabs to fly to Doha from countries including Egypt, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Oman to attend the discussions. Today, group members and supporters will take part in what's being billed as the first-ever environmental march within the Gulf Cooperation Council region. Thousands are expected to show up.
The short-term financial orientation of the investment community is one of the greatest barriers we face to creating a sustainable society.
The corporate community has made significant progress since 2000 in planning for the long term. Focus on environmental and social issues and corporate governance should give investors confidence and contribute to “external” benefits -- a stable society -- in the long run.
The most adaptive, agile companies and organizations are figuring out how to leverage what they do best to take advantage of global, seismic shifts in media, technology and society. Today’s newest and brightest example is a distributed philanthropic movement called GivingTuesday.
I’ve seen the underlying trend firsthand as an advisor to General Electric Co.’s Innovation Accelerator, an initiative led by GE’s Chief Marketing Officer Beth Comstock in which GE convenes partners in academia, venture capital, business entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, branding and social media. They're discussing megatrends, such as Big Data, the future of MRI imaging, or how to build out ecoimagination into to new sustainability partnerships across sectors. Obama Administration officials describe a similar transition, manifested in their recent decision to preserve the social media arm from the 2012 campaign, as well as the recent national “listening tour” with potential partners and collaborators led by White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park.
Despite that, Canada's ruling Conservative Party government has been leading a slow and systematic unraveling of environmental and climate research budgets, according to local scientists—including shuttering one of the world's top Arctic research stations for monitoring global warming. Hundreds of researchers have lost their jobs, and those that remain are forbidden from talking to media without a government minder.
Inslee, a congressman since 1999, was pushing for policies to spur investment in solar panels, wind turbines and electric car batteries long before it was mainstream.