Sustainablog

This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.

16.4.05

Gas-powered cars still own the road: Anyone who thinks hybrids or diesel engines can quickly solve North America's addiction to oil is dreaming

Gas-powered cars still own the road
The Calgary Herald, 13 April 2005 - Anyone who thinks hybrids or diesel
engines can quickly solve North America's addiction to oil is dreaming,
according to the world's top engine experts, who contend gasoline-powered
vehicles will dominate the world's roads for at least 20 more years.
Consumers will be asked to embrace both improved diesel technology and
gasoline-electric hybrid cars over the next few years. Manufacturers are
betting they will probably gladly buy both new engines in increasing
numbers.
But, executives from Toyota, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Bosch,
Delphi and the Environmental Protection Agency were in almost complete
agreement Tuesday when asked to describe the shape of tomorrow's
automotive market during the Society of Automotive Engineers' annual world
conference.
Hydrogen power is still a long way off, and oil will continue to be king
in the year 2025 -- even if a new form of liquid fuel suddenly becomes
popular, as Toyota believes.
But consumers won't be pushed into making a choice between the competing
fuels of the future because "all of the above" will be on the market, and
the market will need all of them to keep society functioning, the experts
agreed.
"We can't pick between one and the other -- we need it all," said Gary
Smyth, director of GM's Powertrain System's Research Lab.
GM, for its part, is concentrating its near-term research efforts on
perfecting gasoline technology because it knows it can wring another 20
per cent fuel efficiency from them in the short term with existing
technology.
The Chrysler Group believes hybrids will soon make another huge leap in
capability, becoming efficient for highway driving as well as city
driving, said Mark Chenoby, vice-president of Advance Engineering for the
group.
But that doesn't mean they will dominate, he said. "We're not sure there's
going to be a winner. We think there's room for every one" of the fuel
options of the future.
Dave Hermance, a 25-year GM environmental engineer who is now a senior
executive at Toyota's Technical Centre in California, says there are
several other fuel options coming down the pike, namely "alternative
liquid fuels."
Every country with an untapped source of coal is currently looking at
producing liquefied coal fuel, Hermance said later. And there are several
ways of making ethanol fuel not yet tapped.
"Ethanol can be made from a whole lot of sources," and with oil still over
$50 US per barrel, "some of them start to be economically viable at this
point."
There is only one combination of fuel and powertrain that consumers are
not likely to be offered for sale over the next quarter century, and that
is the best one, several of the executives agreed.
A diesel-electric hybrid would probably offer the best combination of low
emissions, high torque and top fuel efficiency engineers are seeking. But
it would also be the most expensive option to reduce fuel consumption and
that makes it uneconomical.
All Rights Reserved
The Calgary Herald (Alberta)

A new way of developing drugs for neglected diseases of the poor world

Hale and healthy
Apr 14th 2005
From The Economist print edition

A new way of developing drugs for neglected diseases of the poor world
THIS week, scientists from the Institute for OneWorld Health, the first
not-for-profit pharmaceutical company in America, presented the results of
a large clinical trial at the Third World Congress on Leishmaniasis in
Palermo, Italy. Leishmaniasis is a parasitic infection transmitted by the
bite of a sand fly. The trial shows that an antibiotic called paromomycin
is effective for treating the most dangerous version of the disease,
visceral leishmaniasis, which affects 1.5m people around the world and
kills 200,000 of them every year. Those data are obviously important for
medical reasons. But they are also important as a demonstration that the
institute's novel approach to drug development is working.
About 90% of the planet's disease burden falls on the developing world.
Yet only 3% of the research and development expenditure of the
pharmaceutical industry is directed toward those ailments. The rest goes
towards treating diseases of the rich. In 2000, Victoria Hale (pictured
above), founded the institute to help tackle that discrepancy. She knew
from her work as a scientist in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology
industries, and subsequently as an official at America's Food and Drug
Administration, that numerous promising drug-development
projects—particularly for diseases of the poor—are dropped for lack of
funding. She reasoned that there was a gap in the market, between
academically inclined university departments and fully fledged
pharmaceutical firms, for an organisation that would identify such
orphans, get their owners to donate the intellectual property if they were
still in patent, raise development funding from non-commercial sources,
and arm-twist researchers to contribute their expertise to the development
process pro bono.
So far, the donation side seems to have worked. In 2002 Celera Genomics
gave the institute a promising compound for the treatment of Chagas
disease, which infects 12m people in Latin America and is an important
cause of heart failure in the region. Yale University has also licensed a
potential drug for Chagas to the institute. And the University of
California, Santa Barbara, gave it a compound intended for the treatment
of schistosomiasis, which affects 200m people, mostly in sub-Saharan
Africa. The compound the institute has pushed furthest, though, is
paromomycin. In this case no donation was needed, as the drug's patent has
expired. Indeed, it is currently used for the treatment of a variety of
parasites. But it has never been properly road-tested for leishmaniasis.

Trials and tribulations
Visceral leishmaniasis occurs predominantly in Bangladesh, Brazil, India,
Nepal and Sudan. Its symptoms include fever, weight loss, enlargement of
the spleen and liver, and anaemia. Several drugs to treat it are
available, but their usefulness is limited either because the parasites
have evolved resistance to them, or because they are too expensive.
In the mid-1990s, the World Health Organisation (WHO) started testing an
injectable form of paromomycin as a treatment for visceral leishmaniasis.
Its researchers completed small-scale trials which demonstrated that the
drug was safe for use against the disease and seemed to cure the
infection. But development stalled at that point because the WHO was
unable to find a sponsor for a large-scale trial that would have compared
paromomycin with existing treatments.
In 2001, Dr Hale approached the WHO about taking over the trials. The WHO
agreed, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stumped up the money, and
the institute teamed up with four health-care centres in the Indian state
of Bihar in order to test the drug against amphotericin B, an established
but expensive treatment.
The trial showed that the two drugs worked more or less equally well. In
both cases, 99% of patients responded within four weeks—and though
slightly fewer of those on paromomycin remained uninfected after six
months, all those relapses proved treatable by other drugs. Given that a
course of amphotericin B costs $120, while the institute reckons a course
of paromomycin will come in at around $10, this seems a reasonable
trade-off. The institute, supported by a further donation from the Gates
foundation, plans to submit an application for regulatory approval to the
Indian health ministry by the end of the year. If that is granted, the
manufacturing will be done by Gland Pharma, a drug company based in
Hyderabad.
Having shown its approach can work, the institute's next target is
diarrhoea, which kills 2m people a year, most of them children, by
dehydrating them. In this case, the Lehman Brothers Foundation is
providing the money.
Diarrhoea is a symptom, rather than a disease. Indeed, it has eight common
causes in the tropics (four bacteria, three viruses and a protozoan).
Instead of scattering its efforts among these causes, the institute's
researchers are sifting through orphan compounds that might attack
dehydration directly, by stopping the secretion of water into the gut.
Such a drug would augment oral rehydration therapy—a combination of salt
and sugars mixed into water that is the standard regimen used in the
developing world. Diarrhoea is hardly the most glamorous condition it is
possible to work on. But if Dr Hale and her institute can find a treatment
for it among other people's discards, they will truly have turned base
metal into gold.

Nuclear power is the problem, not a solution: nuclear power produces only three times fewer greenhouse gases than modern natural-gas power station

Nuclear power is the problem, not a solution
The Australian, 13 April 2005 - There is a huge propaganda push by the
nuclear industry to justify nuclear power as a panacea for the reduction
of global-warming gases.
In fact Leslie Kemeny on these pages two weeks ago (HES, March 30)
suggested that courses on nuclear science and engineering be included in
tertiary level institutions in Australia.
I agree. But I would suggest that all the relevant facts be taught to
students. Mandatory courses in medical schools should embrace the short
and long-term biological, genetic and medical dangers associated with the
nuclear fuel cycle. Business students should examine the true costs
associated with the production of nuclear power. Engineering students
should become familiar with the profound problems associated with the
storage of long-lived radioactive waste, the human fallibilities that have
created the most serious nuclear accidents in history and the ongoing
history of near-misses and near-meltdowns in the industry.
At present there are 442 nuclear reactors in operation around the world.
If, as the nuclear industry suggests, nuclear power were to replace fossil
fuels on a large scale, it would be necessary to build 2000 large,
1000-megawatt reactors. Considering that no new nuclear plant has been
ordered in the US since 1978, this proposal is less than practical.
Furthermore, even if we decided today to replace all fossil-fuel-generated
electricity with nuclear power, there would only be enough economically
viable uranium to fuel the reactors for three to four years.
The true economies of the nuclear industry are never fully accounted for.
The cost of uranium enrichment is subsidised by the US government. The
true cost of the industry's liability in the case of an accident in the US
is estimated to be $US560billion ($726billion), but the industry pays only
$US9.1billion -- 98per cent of the insurance liability is covered by the
US federal government. The cost of decommissioning all the existing US
nuclear reactors is estimated to be $US33billion. These costs -- plus the
enormous expense involved in the storage of radioactive waste for a
quarter of a million years -- are not now included in the economic
assessments of nuclear electricity.
It is said that nuclear power is emission-free. The truth is very
different.
In the US, where much of the world's uranium is enriched, including
Australia's, the enrichment facility at Paducah, Kentucky, requires the
electrical output of two 1000-megawatt coal-fired plants, which emit large
quantities of carbon dioxide, the gas responsible for 50per cent of global
warming.
Also, this enrichment facility and another at Portsmouth, Ohio, release
from leaky pipes 93per cent of the chlorofluorocarbon gas emitted yearly
in the US. The production and release of CFC gas is now banned
internationally by the Montreal Protocol because it is the main culprit
responsible for stratospheric ozone depletion. But CFC is also a global
warmer, 10,000 to 20,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
In fact, the nuclear fuel cycle utilises large quantities of fossil fuel
at all of its stages -- the mining and milling of uranium, the
construction of the nuclear reactor and cooling towers, robotic
decommissioning of the intensely radioactive reactor at the end of its 20
to 40-year operating lifetime, and transportation and long-term storage of
massive quantities of radioactive waste.
In summary, nuclear power produces, according to a 2004 study by Jan
Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith, only three times fewer
greenhouse gases than modern natural-gas power stations.
Contrary to the nuclear industry's propaganda, nuclear power is therefore
not green and it is certainly not clean. Nuclear reactors consistently
release millions of curies of radioactive isotopes into the air and water
each year. These releases are unregulated because the nuclear industry
considers these particular radioactive elements to be biologically
inconsequential. This is not so.
These unregulated isotopes include the noble gases krypton, xenon and
argon, which are fat-soluble and if inhaled by persons living near a
nuclear reactor, are absorbed through the lungs, migrating to the fatty
tissues of the body, including the abdominal fat pad and upper thighs,
near the reproductive organs. These radioactive elements, which emit
high-energy gamma radiation, can mutate the genes in the eggs and sperm
and cause genetic disease.
Tritium, another biologically significant gas, is also routinely emitted
from nuclear reactors. Tritium is composed of three atoms of hydrogen,
which combine with oxygen, forming radioactive water, which is absorbed
through the skin, lungs and digestive system. It is incorporated into the
DNA molecule, where it is mutagenic.
The dire subject of massive quantities of radioactive waste accruing at
the 442 nuclear reactors across the world is also rarely, if ever,
addressed by the nuclear industry. Each typical 1000-megawatt nuclear
reactor manufactures 33tonnes of thermally hot, intensely radioactive
waste per year.
Already more than 80,000 tonnes of highly radioactive waste sits in
cooling pools next to the 103 US nuclear power plants, awaiting
transportation to a storage facility yet to be found. This dangerous
material will be an attractive target for terrorist sabotage as it travels
through 39 states on roads and railway lines for the next 25 years.
But the long-term storage of radioactive waste continues to pose a
problem. The US Congress in 1987 chose Yucca Mountain in Nevada, 150km
northwest of Las Vegas, as a repository for America's high-level waste.
But Yucca Mountain has subsequently been found to be unsuitable for the
long-term storage of high-level waste because it is a volcanic mountain
made of permeable pumice stone and it is transected by 32 earthquake
faults. Last week a congressional committee discovered fabricated data
about water infiltration and cask corrosion in Yucca Mountain that had
been produced by personnel in the US Geological Survey. These startling
revelations, according to most experts, have almost disqualified Yucca
Mountain as a waste repository, meaning that the US now has nowhere to
deposit its expanding nuclear waste inventory.
To make matters worse, a study released last week by the National Academy
of Sciences shows that the cooling pools at nuclear reactors, which store
10 to 30 times more radioactive material than that contained in the
reactor core, are subject to catastrophic attacks by terrorists, which
could unleash an inferno and release massive quantities of deadly
radiation -- significantly worse than the radiation released by Chernobyl,
according to some scientists.
This vulnerable high-level nuclear waste contained in the cooling pools at
103 nuclear power plants in the US includes hundreds of radioactive
elements that have different biological impacts in the human body, the
most important being cancer and genetic diseases.
The incubation time for cancer is five to 50 years following exposure to
radiation. It is important to note that children, old people and
immuno-compromised individuals are many times more sensitive to the
malignant effects of radiation than other people.
I will describe four of the most dangerous elements made in nuclear power
plants.
Iodine 131, which was released at the nuclear accidents at Sellafield in
Britain, Chernobyl in Ukraine and Three Mile Island in the US, is
radioactive for only six weeks and it bio-concentrates in leafy vegetables
and milk. When it enters the human body via the gut and the lung, it
migrates to the thyroid gland in the neck, where it can later induce
thyroid cancer. In Belarus more than 2000 children have had their thyroids
removed for thyroid cancer, a situation never before recorded in pediatric
literature.
Strontium 90 lasts for 600 years. As a calcium analogue, it concentrates
in cow and goat milk. It accumulates in the human breast during lactation,
and in bone, where it can later induce breast cancer, bone cancer and
leukemia.
Cesium 137, which also lasts for 600 years, concentrates in the food
chain, particularly meat. On entering the human body, it locates in
muscle, where it can induce a malignant muscle cancer called a sarcoma.
Plutonium 239, one of the most dangerous elements known to humans, is so
toxic that one-millionth of a gram is carcinogenic. More than 200kg is
made annually in each 1000-megawatt nuclear power plant. Plutonium is
handled like iron in the body, and is therefore stored in the liver, where
it causes liver cancer, and in the bone, where it can induce bone cancer
and blood malignancies. On inhalation it causes lung cancer. It also
crosses the placenta, where, like the drug thalidomide, it can cause
severe congenital deformities. Plutonium has a predisposition for the
testicle, where it can cause testicular cancer and induce genetic diseases
in future generations. Plutonium lasts for 500,000 years, living on to
induce cancer and genetic diseases in future generations of plants,
animals and humans.
Plutonium is also the fuel for nuclear weapons -- only 5kg is necessary to
make a bomb and each reactor makes more than 200kg per year. Therefore any
country with a nuclear power plant can theoretically manufacture 40 bombs
a year.
Because nuclear power leaves a toxic legacy to all future generations,
because it produces global warming gases, because it is far more expensive
than any other form of electricity generation, and because it can trigger
proliferation of nuclear weapons, these topics need urgently to be
introduced into the tertiary educational system of Australia, which is
host to 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the world's richest uranium.
Helen Caldicott is an anti-nuclear campaigner and founder and president of
the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, which warns of the danger of
nuclear energy.

15.4.05

Invitation to e-Conference on CSR in Asia and the Pacific

----- Forwarded by Jean-Francois Barsoum/Markham/IBM on 14/04/2005 11:30
-----

"csrwbi@worldbank.org" <>
13/04/2005 17:16
Please respond to
"csrwbi@worldbank.org" <>

To
Jean-Francois Barsoum/Markham/IBM@IBMCA
cc

Subject
Invitation to e-Conference on CSR in Asia and the Pacific

Dear program alumni

We would like to inform you of a forthcoming E-discussion that we are
organizing together with two UN agencies, beginning next Monday, April 18,
which we hope you will find of interest.

The discussion focuses on Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia and the
Pacific, and will be moderated by external experts from the region. The
active participants will be those from the private sector working in Asia
and the Pacific, as well as practitioners from government and civil
society working on CSR issues. The findings will be presented at the Asia
Pacific Business Forum to take place in Bangkok, May 13-15, 2005.

However, we would also like to offer the chance to follow the discussion
to a broader audience, as we believe it could be a valuable opportunity to
learn more on the roles that CSR can play in the region, and with
consequences for CSR's success and impact globally. Therefore please
find below an invitation to register to access and follow the discussion.
We would prefer that those nor from Asia or the Pacific, or actively
engaged in the region, limit their contribution to an observer role.

Best regards

Corporate Governance and CSR Program Team
World Bank Institute

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the
Pacific, the International Trade Center of UNCTAD/WTO, and World Bank
Institute Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility program
cordially invite you to join an

E-discussion on Corporate Social Responsibility
in Asia and the Pacific
18 April - 1 May, 2005
click here to register
http://info.worldbank.org/etools/devforum/APBF/reg.htm
(Registration is free of charge)

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is rapidly gaining ground as a
better way of doing business. How can CSR contribute to sustainable and
proper growth? What are the implications of introduction of social
standards in local and global supply chains? How can SMEs in developing
Asia and the Pacific stay competitive and balance the often conflicting
demands of lower prices and increased social responsibility? What can be
expected of larger companies in terms of developing and supporting
suppliers, labour and communities in the economies where they operate?

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
(UNESCAP) is organizing the 2nd Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF) on
13-15 May 2005 in Bangkok, Thailand. The APBF provides a platform for
dialogue among governments, business and civil society on social and
economic policy issues and their implications for the region's economies.
This year's forum focuses on how the public and private sectors can work
together to ensure sustainable economic and social development by
improving the climate for doing business, as well as through corporate
social responsibility (CSR).

To prepare for the discussions on CSR at the APBF, UNESCAP and the World
Bank Institute (WBI) in collaboration with the International Trade Center
of UNCTAD/WTO (ITC) invite you to participate in a 2-week E-discussion on
CSR in Asia and the Pacific. The objective of the E-discussion is to
engage a wide range of stakeholders from various professional and
geographical backgrounds and solicit their expertise and opinions on CSR
in Asia, in order to identify key opportunities, constraints and
priorities for action.

Week 1 of the e-discussion (18 - 24 April) will focus on the role and
issues of CSR in the Asian and Pacific context, and Week 2 (25 April - 1
May) will focus on implementation of CSR in Asia and the Pacific.

The ideas and views presented during the E-discussion will act as input
for the different breakout sessions on CSR during the Asia-Pacific
Business Forum. They will also be collected in a final summary which will
be made available on the UNESCAP website.

For more detailed information please visit the e-discussion website via
http://www.worldbank.org/wbi/corpgov/apbf where you can register, access
the agenda, review background information on the Asia-Pacific Business
Forum, suggested background readings and the short bios of the moderators.

You may also consult the website of the APBF at:
http://www.unescap.org/apbf

This e-discussion is hosted by DevForum:
http://www.worldbank.org/devforum/ A service provided by the Multimedia
Center of the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN). We hope that
your will enjoy what promises to be an informative and constructive
discussion.

If you have any further questions with regard to this e-discussion, please
feel free to contact Ms. Sarah McCue of WBI at smccue@worldbank.org or Ms.
Marit Nilses of UNESCAP at nilsesm@un.org

With many regards,

Ravi Ratnayake,
Director, Trade and Investment Division
UNESCAP

Natalie Domeisen
Senior Public Information Officer
Office of the Executive Director
International Trade Centre

Djordjija Petkoski,
Lead Specialist, Private Sector Development
WBI

---
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Stricter Auto Fuel Use Would Slow Oil Demand / US House Panel Rejects Boost in Car Mileage Rule

Stricter Auto Fuel Use Would Slow Oil Demand - EIA

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan commission's proposal to tighten fuel efficiency
standards for new US cars, trucks, mini-vans and sport utility vehicles
would cut forecast American oil demand in 2015 by 2.5 percent, the Energy
Information Administration said Wednesday.
With retail gasoline prices at a record high, environmentalists, Democrats
and even a group of former US national security officials have urged
Congress to tighten federal regulations known as the Corporate Average
Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
However, a House committee drafting a broad energy bill refused Wednesday
to ratchet up mileage standards, saying consumers prefer to drive large,
heavy vehicles for safety.
Most US automakers have fought changes in the CAFE standards.
Current CAFE standards require automakers to achieve an average fuel
economy of 27.5 miles per gallon for all passenger cars sold, and 21.0 mpg
for vans, SUVs and pick-up trucks.
The requirements have not been changed for more than a dozen years despite
a steady drop in the average US fuel economy to 20.8 mpg for 2003 model
vehicles.
The EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said it analyzed
the package of energy proposals the National Commission on Energy Policy
issued last December. The privately funded commission is a group of energy
experts, company executives and government officials from both political
parties.
The EIA said the panel's proposal to tighten mileage standards would slow
the growth in US oil demand.
Although the commission was unable to agree on a specific increase in CAFE
standards, the EIA said it based its analysis on a 36 percent increase by
2015.
Boosting CAFE standards by 6.8 miles per gallon in 2015 would trim
forecast US oil demand by 2.5 percent, or 610,000 barrels per day (bpd),
to 24.06 million bpd, the EIA said.
A further increase of 6.3 mpg by 2025 would cut forecast oil demand by 5.8
percent, the EIA said.
"The increases in measured fuel economy are smaller than the increases in
the CAFE standard because new light duty vehicles are projected to exceed
the existing CAFE standard," the EIA said.
Although the EIA assumed a 36 percent increase in CAFE standards, the
agency said that rise would be partially offset by older, existing
vehicles on the road and the fact that drivers typically do not achieve
the full fuel efficiency rating of a new vehicle.
Even with record high retail gasoline prices well above $2 per gallon,
Congress remains reluctant to impose tougher fuel standards to dampen
demand.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee overwhelmingly rejected an attempt
to require US automakers to make cars that average 33 mpg by 2014. The
panel instead is focusing on incentives to boost the domestic supply of
oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and other energy.
Gasoline accounts for nearly half of total US oil demand of some 21
million barrels per day.
The EIA report noted that stricter mileage requirements would boost the
price of new vehicles by about $1,400 in 2015, and by $1,200 in 2025, as
measured in current dollars.
Other proposals by the bipartisan commission to promote hybrid vehicles,
stricter energy efficiency standards for new buildings and appliances, and
launch a greenhouse gas trading scheme for companies would further slow
the growth in US oil demand, the EIA said.
The policy package would cost the average American household about $78
annually through 2025, the EIA said, while also addressing greenhouse
gases linked to climate change.

US House Panel Rejects Boost in Car Mileage Rule

WASHINGTON - A US House committee on Wednesday voted against requiring US
automakers to ratchet up fuel efficiency to a fleet average of 33 miles
per gallon by 2014 from the current 27.5 mpg for passenger cars.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 36 to 10 against the
proposal to raise federal mileage requirements, which was offered as an
amendment to a broad energy bill.
Democrat Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who sponsored the proposal, said
higher fuel standards were needed to reduce oil demand and make the United
States less dependent on foreign petroleum suppliers like OPEC.
"The price of oil is controlled by OPEC," said Markey. "We can't break
(the cartel) up."
US oil demand averages averages 21 million barrels a day, with imports
supplying three of every five barrels consumed.
With gasoline demand the biggest component of oil consumption at about 40
percent, many environmentalists say the only way to significantly reduce
petroleum demand is to boost vehicle fuel efficiency.
But committee Democrats from Michigan, where the auto industry is based,
said Congress can't mandate what type of automobiles Detroit should make.
"People are driving around in big cars, because they like them, because
they feel safe," said Democrat John Dingell of Michigan.
Opponents to the amendment said higher mileage requirements would force
automakers to produce dangerous, small cars to meet the stronger fuel
standard.
"You'll never get your soccer moms and soccer kids in there," said
Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan, referring to the feared subcompact
vehicles. "It's not what Americans want."
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is set to finish working on the
energy bill this week, and send it the House floor for a final vote.
Democrats plan to offer several more amendments before then to try to
modify the legislation.
One of their more contentious proposals will try to strike a provision in
the bill that protects major oil companies from lawsuits over the
water-polluting gasoline additive MTBE.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas wants the MTBE liability waiver
be part of energy legislation, even though the Senate rejected an energy
bill last year largely because of the MTBE protection.
Two other House committees on Wednesday considered other parts of the
energy bill that will be folded into much broader legislation that may be
voted on by the full House next week.
Despite Democratic objections, the House Resources Committee was set to
vote to allow oil companies to drill in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge.
Giving oil companies access to the refuge's 1.5-million acre coastal plain
and billions of barrels of crude oil is a key part of the Bush
administration's national energy plan.
Separately, the House Ways and Means Committee approved about $8 billion
in tax breaks and financial incentives to boost US energy infrastructure
and encourage the use of certain energy technologies.
The House's final energy bill would still have to reconciled with much
different energy legislation in the Senate that is still being written.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is expected to vote on
its chamber's bill next month.

13.4.05

Integrity in the air: It might be birth, it might be re-birth, but one thing is certain: the volume is being turned up on trust related marketing

Integrity in the air
EC Newsdesk
9 Apr 05

It might be birth, it might be re-birth, but one thing is certain: the
volume is being turned up on trust related marketing, says John Drummond

Trust: The next big thing for marketeers?

Suddenly it’s all around us. Capital One leading their marketing on
identity theft assistance. PruHealth offering discounts on health
insurance if we commit to improving our health. Persil advertising their
Art and Craft initiative, Tesco and Sainsbury using TV campaigning for
Computers for Schools and Active Kids. Might we be witnessing the birth of
something new?

For the last few months, my company, Corporate Culture, has been
monitoring what’s happening out there and identifying examples. We now
have over 250. Most of them are from the UK but many are from other
countries around the world. We’ve deliberately focused on mainstream
companies - stripping out ethical shopping. Now we’ve brought them
together and made them visible on a new website:
www.communicatingforgood.co.uk.

It might be birth, it might be re-birth, but one thing is certain - the
volume is being turned up. Companies are increasingly discovering how to
communicate with consumers on issues that will they hope earn them trust.
For that reason, we call it Trust Related Marketing. If we look at these
hundreds of examples, they tend to break down into one of three main
categories:

- Image and reputation: where companies are using direct to customer
communications to make their values visible or to manage high profile
public issues (like McDonalds and the film Super Size Me or the recent
Sudan 1 issue)

- Customer experience: where companies are using communications to show us
that their employees are people like us or to engage customers in a cause
(like the Persil campaign)

- Product life cycle: where companies are using communications to show us
the difference their product makes to people’s lives or to show us the
story of their product from source to disposal (like Waitrose advertising
on product sourcing)

One of my favourite examples is the Volvo Life on Board project. Not long
ago, all car advertising was based around product features. Today Volvo is
a leader in showing how their product is being used in the context of
people’s lives.

What is innovative is not just the content but the method of communication
– using storytelling at the heart of communications. And the campaign also
uses new and often unexpected ways of speaking directly to people.

My take is that five principles are beginning to emerge:

1. Authenticity. Communications are believable and backed by company
action. Look at the way EDF Energy’s recent announcement of a social
tariff for electricity was followed through into corporate advertising.

2. Personal benefit. It is about the product or service in the context of
“my life”. Witness Volvo, CapitalOne or PruHealth.

3. Empathy. It uses language and imagery that consumers can relate to.

4. Timing. It communicates with consumers on issues that are important to
them at the point of time when they are relevant. Marks & Spencer have
major in store posters on, for example, salt in food in their Simply Food
stores – visible as you go through checkout.

5. Belief. These communications tap into convictions that people hold in
their lives. And this is critical. The strongest bridge to be built when
we talk trust is where the company’s actions directly align with the
beliefs and priorities of customers.

Why is this happening now? There are several reasons. Marketing directors
are looking beyond loyalty based on price or convenience. They
increasingly seek emotional loyalty from consumers. They want to identify
what it is that will persuade customers to pass one store and shop in the
next one.

At the same time, heads of CSR are recognising that the key audiences are
not opinion formers but customers. And communications directors are seeing
the power of CSR stories as companies like BT show a direct link with the
positive PR they create and customer satisfaction. Whatever the reason,
trust in business is increasingly seen to have a direct impact on business
success.

There’s one big issue. The vast majority of examples are one off. They are
not sustained. They are almost an accidental hiccup in mainstream
marketing campaigns. It’s as if marketing directors are stumbling on
something they instinctively know is important but the first steps are
informal experiments. Even among the more mature examples, they do not
always seem to be born out of a genuine understanding of consumer
priorities, consumer beliefs or communications strategy.

But something interesting is happening. And it will grow. It will grow
because companies know that there is no distinction between corporate
strategy, corporate reputation and corporate responsibility. It all comes
together with the customer because the purpose of business is to create
products and services people value. If we show people the difference
products make to their lives, we simultaneously sell products, earn trust
and achieve commercial success. The fact is that marketing is the natural
home of CSR. Watch this space.

John Drummond is Chief Executive of Corporate Culture

12.4.05

ChoicePoint: Out of the Frying Pan . . .

ChoicePoint: Out of the Frying Pan . . .

April 08, 2005

By: Robert Gellman
rgellman@netacc.net

This is part one of a two-part column.
The privacy horror story business got a major boost in February courtesy
of ChoicePoint. The story began when it was revealed that an apparent
identity-theft ring fraudulently obtained access to
ChoicePoint databases and put tens of thousands of individuals at risk.
The story is remarkable for many reasons.
First, ChoicePoint handled the entire episode about as poorly as possible.
The company knew that the story was coming for months, yet it violated
nearly every basic principle of crisis public relations.
Instead of getting all the bad news out immediately, ChoicePoint let the
story dribble out over days. The company changed its response more than
once. Newspapers and national television news returned repeatedly to the
story as developments prompted by ChoicePoint fumblings justified new
coverage. The company even managed to turn a national story into a local
one, compounding the damage even further.
The company previously did a great job promoting itself. It is amazing
that it did so poorly in handling what has become a relatively ordinary
privacy crisis. Any company with potential exposure should have a privacy
crisis plan just in case. Any organization with personal data could be the
target of the next horror story.
In fact, I thought that the incident came close to where a human sacrifice
was needed to stop the bleeding. I am not talking about dropping virgins
down volcanoes. The modern equivalent occurs, for example, when a
political figure does something stupid, and the story resonates for days.
The only way to stop it is for the figure to resign. Remember how Trent
Lott’s obscure speech about Strom Thurmond ended up forcing his
resignation as Senate majority leader?
I wonder whether ChoicePoint’s board of directors ever considered firing
the CEO. The episode went on for so long and was handled so badly that the
value of the company’s stock fell sharply. The Securities and Exchange
Commission is even investigating the CEO for security sales made before
the scandal broke. However, we probably have moved beyond the human
sacrifice stage because the demands for legislation will not be satisfied
that way.
Second, ChoicePoint and other information brokers had been basking in a
post-9/11 glow of business. Books and articles discussed and marveled at
the business successes of the industry. Federal agencies have been
throwing money at the companies. ChoicePoint may have fallen into the trap
of believing its own press releases.
No one outside the privacy community took a critical look at the data
broker industry. In December, long before the new crisis hit the papers,
the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a petition with the
Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation into whether
ChoicePoint was operating in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. I
need to disclose here that EPIC asked me (among others) to comment on the
petition before it was filed, and I did so.
EPIC argues that ChoicePoint and its clients perform an end run around the
FCRA by selling personal information to law enforcement, private
investigators and businesses without substantive or procedural privacy
protections. You can learn more about the petition at www.epic.org. The
FTC hasn’t acted on the petition, but now other dogs are howling. All the
publicity brought the politicians into the story. They were “shocked” to
learn that there were so many unregulated sellers of consumer data.
Third, the story highlighted a California law requiring organizations to
notify consumers when a security breach in a computer system exposes
personal information to unauthorized disclosure. The ChoicePoint incident
triggered the law and, incidentally, triggered the initial publicity.
Because the law applies only to consumers in California, ChoicePoint
initially was willing to notify only consumers in California.
That incredibly stupid decision didn’t last long. It took about a second
for everyone to recognize that consumers in California were getting
assistance, but people in other states were not. ChoicePoint quickly
agreed to notify everyone. However, the delayed decision just kept the
story alive for another day, and that’s what created the local angle.
In the last Congress, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, introduced a federal
security breach notice law modeled on the California statute. The
legislation languished, but is now a hot item. It’s hard for politicians
to explain to their constituents why they don’t deserve the same
protections as the folks in California. I expect a federal notice law to
pass, though its terms remain to be fixed. The business community wants to
use the opportunity to weaken the California law through preemptive
federal action.
After a few days of continuing bad press, ChoicePoint also agreed to pay
for a year’s worth of credit watch services for all affected consumers.
That was the first time in the whole incident where ChoicePoint did
something new, unexpected, praiseworthy and affirmatively useful to
victims.
But by trying to look good, ChoicePoint also raised the bar for other
companies facing the same type of personal information disclosure
problems. In the future, if a company’s actions put consumers at risk for
identity theft, that company will be asked to provide the same credit
watch service or to explain why not. Further, it could well become a
mandatory item in a federal notice bill.
I am out of space but not out of issues. Next time I’ll discuss
ChoicePoint more.