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


Carbon Cap and Trade overview charts

Thanks to Peter W for these charts (sorry for all the duplicates)


There were two excellent presentations on cap and trade in general (Cottrell and Bushinsky) which I think people will find educational, especially the Bushinsky one. There is also one (Norton) for Scott, Hector, Devin and Frieda, identifying a series of influencing targets for the Western States scheme specifically.  

Many Fortune 1000 Companies Not Prepared for Climate Risks

Many Fortune 1000 Companies Not Prepared for Climate Risks

NEW YORK, Sept. 20, 2007 -- A survey of 101 board-level executives by the Marsh Center for Risk Insights found that, although almost all companies have taken some steps to prepare for catastrophic risks, half of respondents are not taking steps to address how climate change will affect their operations.

The survey asked executives to rank the likelihood of eight risks, including natural disasters, international terrorist attacks, dramatically rising oil prices, global climate change, pandemics, a housing market collapse, emergence of human health and environmental risks associated with nanotechnology and massive water shortages.

Of these disasters, 58 percent of executives said they expect and have prepared for natural disasters, 55 percent are anticipating steep rises in the price of oil, and 38 percent say they've started preparations in the case of terrorist attacks.

However, only 12 percent of respondents felt that climate change was "very likely" to occur, and 50 percent indicated that they did not consider it a looming threat. The only disasters that executives were less concerned about were threats posed by nanotechnology, a global pandemic of disease, and widespread water shortages or pollution.

Despite the belief that such disasters are unlikely, 40 percent of executives surveyed said if they were to occur, even the least-likely disasters would be catastrophic to their businesses. And although 41 percent said a severe water shortage would cause a complete or partial shutdown of their business, only 17 percent have taken any steps to prepare for water shortages.

The reasons behind this lack of preparation, the survey's authors say, is that most executives believe that the risk may not be pertinent to their company, would be too large to manage or too costly to mitigate. However, 14 percent said that there was insufficient reward for mitigating the risk, and another 13 percent responded that "no one is telling us we must act."

The authors do note signs of encouragement from the survey, though. Only only 10 percent of respondents said that taking action would slow down the company, only 5 percent say someone else would manage the risk on their behalf, and just 4 percent felt that these disasters could never happen to "me or my organization."


Top 10 Tips For Greening The Supply Chain

Top 10 Tips For Greening The Supply Chain
Sep 19 2007

ariba_logo.jpgWith companies eager to adapt to a new era of customer needs, regulations and competitive realities, green sourcing has become tantamount to ensuring that goods and services maintain high environmental standards while maximizing revenue potential, according to Ariba, which has released a list of ten tips designed to help global organizations jump start their efforts and deliver results.

The real green sourcing test will be when companies face decisions that pit good environmentalism against pure financial self-interest, Supply Chain Digest reports. The jury is still out, for example, as to whether consumers will really pay more for products touted as environmentally friendly – or at least, how much more they will be willing to spend.The question becomes even dicier, SC Digest writes, in a business-to-business relationship. If a supplier offers a more environmentally-friendly product that costs more than the standard product, what framework will companies use to make that call?
Want an example of how the B2B world is different than B2C when it comes to green? The Wall Street Journal last week
reported that some GE Ecomagination customers are telling Jeffrey Immelt to get off the bandwagon and "Just shut up and sell us stuff."The bottom line is that it's absolutely critical for companies to fully understand this "green premium."
Here are Ariba's top 10 tips for greening the supply chain:
1. Know where you stand: Understanding your organization's spend, supply chain and consumption patterns is the first step because you can't affect what you can't see. A simple assessment of your organization's "green" status of a more detailed carbon footprint study will provide you with the information you need to determine how well your supply chain is positioned for the changes on the horizon.

2. Have a plan: Once you know where you stand, create a set of goals and, even more important, metrics that can be used to track progress against these goals.

3. Have a single point of accountability: Many organizations have appointed "chief sustainability officers" to oversee their green efforts. The appropriateness of this specific position will depend on your organization and industry, but the key is to have a single point of accountability empowered to effect change.

4. Market your progress internally and externally: Half the battle is getting the word out and bringing people on board. Be sure to communicate to all levels why green efforts are being undertaken, what will be measured and how the company is going to get there.

5. Incorporate "green" into your existing sourcing and procurement processes: Sourcing and procurement have always been about more than just price. Be sure to include green criteria in your requests for proposals (RFPs) and create clear metrics for measuring them as part of supplier performance management.

6. Communicate your goals and standards to your supplier community: By setting clear expectations of your supply base during the sourcing process and proactively monitoring compliance/progress, you can quickly improve your sustainability performance. Outline what suppliers will be expected to provide and how they will be measured to ensure that they are delivering and putting in place the processes and procedures to drive compliance.

7. Stay up-to-date with global regulations: Environmental regulations such as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive in the European Union will increasingly affect how your supply chain functions regardless of your location. You need a method for keeping up with changes in this rapidly evolving area to avoid costly mistakes in your supply chain.

8. Keep up with new materials, technologies and processes: Significant work is being done to develop new approaches that can cost-effectively address the challenges and opportunities that green initiatives present. Stay up-to-date in your industry, participate in trade groups and do whatever it takes to maintain your competitive advantage and not be left behind.

9. Do the "easy stuff" first: You don't need to overhaul your supply chain to see gains from sustainability efforts. Instead, identify "quick wins" such as simple improvements in energy efficiency that can both deliver bottom-line results and kick-start your green initiative.

10. Get everyone involved: As with any broad initiative, it is nearly impossible for just one functional area to have an impact on the entire organization through its efforts alone. To be effective, get Engineering, Design, Sales, Finance, Operations and everyone else involved.

NY Subpoenas Energy Companies Over Climate Risk Disclosures

NY Subpoenas Energy Companies Over Climate Risk Disclosures
Sep 18 2007

new_york_ag.jpgNew York's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is using a securities law, the Martin Act, to investigate the plans of five energy companies building coal-fired power plants. The investigation centers on whether or not the plants pose undisclosed financial risks that their investors should know about, The New York Times reports.

The companies are AES Corporation, Dominion, Dynegy, Peabody Energy and Xcel Energy.

In letters accompanying subpoenas, the AG's office asked whether investors received adequate information about the potential financial liabilities of carbon dioxide emissions and the connection to climate change.

"Selective disclosure of favorable information or omission of unfavorable information concerning climate change is misleading," the letters stated.
In recent years, shareholder groups have been filing resolutions seeking similar disclosures. "This ratchets up the pressure on companies to provide more information as the risks become more and more material," The Times reports Dan Bakal, the director of electric power programs for Ceres, as saying.

Vic Svec, a Peabody spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement that the New York state attorney general's office "has chosen purported legal and regulatory claims to send a political message,'' Bloomberg reports. Svec added that the company has "clear disclosures regarding climate change.''

Forty-three climate-related shareholder resolutions were filed with U.S. companies this year, of which 15 led to positive actions by businesses such as ConocoPhillips, Wells Fargo and Hartford Insurance.

Tully’s Wants To Be Greener Than Starbucks: To pay for its new programs and to offset the rising cost of milk and coffee, Tully’s is raising its prices 3.5 percent

Tully's Wants To Be Greener Than Starbucks
Sep 19 2007

tullys_logo.jpgSeattle-based coffee company Tully's is implementing a handful of environmentally friendly business practices in hopes of pulling customers away from Starbucks, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reports. The company will increase prices to help offset the costs involved.

Tully's said its stores will use 100 percent certified Fair Trade and organic espresso for drinks, fully compostable paper cups for hot beverages and low E fluorescent lighting. Tully's also will begin a recycling collection program, which includes coffee grounds, in its stores.

The company, which is in five states, will roll out the programs in about one-third of the stores and transition the rest during the next six months.

To pay for its new programs and to offset the rising cost of milk and coffee, Tully's is raising its prices 3.5 percent, or just less than 11 cents per drink. In July, Starbucks raised its drink prices by an average of 9 cents.

A.T. Kearney To Offer ‘Carbon-Neutral Consulting’: “The travel inherent in the consulting industry gives it a disproportionately large carbon footprint compared with many other professional services organizations”

A.T. Kearney To Offer 'Carbon-Neutral Consulting'
Sep 19 2007

at_kearney_sustainability.jpgConsulting firm A.T. Kearney plans to go carbon-neutral within two years. The company said carbon-neutrality will apply to all aspects of its global operations; both internal and client-facing activities; and is one part of a larger sustainability effort being launched across the firm's offices in 33 countries.

The company is developing a series of "alternative delivery mechanisms" the firm's consultants can use for providing consulting services in a more "sustainable and environmentally friendly way." Efforts will focus on reducing the frequency of business travel and using collaborative technology to maintain the firm's collaborative working style in a more sustainable fashion.

"The travel inherent in the consulting industry gives it a disproportionately large carbon footprint compared with many other professional services organizations," said Paul Laudicina, managing officer and chairman of A.T. Kearney. "As our clients increasingly make sustainability commitments to their stakeholders, we are dedicated to doing all we can to help them maintain those commitments when utilizing consulting services."

U.S. Consumers Show Interest In Plug-In Hybrid Technology

U.S. Consumers Show Interest In Plug-In Hybrid Technology
Sep 19 2007

plug_in_hybrid.jpgTwenty-seven percent of U.S. vehicle owners say they are likely (13%), very likely (8%) or extremely likely (6%) to include plug-in hybrid engine technology in their next vehicle, according to research by Harris Interactive. When presented with a suggested market price of $3,200, consideration for the technology drops to a net sixteen percent. Males (27%) and females (27%) are equally likely to include the technology in their next vehicle, while entry SUV owners (45%) show the highest levels of interest in plug-in hybrid technology compared to other vehicle segment owners.

In general, more than one in five (23%) of adult vehicle owners say they are at least familiar with plug-in hybrid engine technology, and that includes nine percent who say they are very or extremely familiar. Males (30%) are more likely to be familiar with the technology than females (16%).

"While these numbers are optimistic for such a new technology, there's certainly room for building awareness," says Stephen Lovett, Director of Automotive & Transportation Research at Harris Interactive. "Consumers' increasing concerns over rising fuel costs, as our study also shows, is a real factor driving interest in more fuel efficient, economic vehicles."

Among vehicle owners who say they are at least likely to include plug-in hybrid technology in their next vehicle, 84 percent say they would prefer plugging in versus filling up at the gas station each week. Less than half (45%) say they expect to have to charge the vehicle once a day. Three in 10 expect to charge the vehicle two to three times per week, and another 15 percent expect a weekly charge. In terms of charging time, there are varying expectations. Three in 10 of those considering plug-in technology in their next vehicle expect a two to four hour charge, another 30 percent expect a five to seven hour charge, and 20 percent expect an eight to 10 hour charge. Those considering plug-in hybrid technology, on average, expect to get adequate mileage out of one charge.

Richard's recommended readings on climate change

Thanks to Peter W (for forwarding on) and Richard L-H (for his book suggestions)

Of all the books and material I've read on climate change in the last 18 months, these are the books I recommend.

Heat                                George Monbiot                        Good introduction and positive
Six Degrees                        Mark Lynas                                Raw science and pulls no punches
With Speed and Violence        Fred Pearce                                Reaches further in the science, especially around feedback loops

Of concern is the news article today reporting that climate change is now inevitable.


Car companies avoid huge climate change payout: A lawsuit filed by California's attorney general seeking to hold six car manufacturers responsible for the local impacts of climate change has been rejected by a federal judge.

Car companies avoid huge climate change payout
  • 16:59 18 September 2007
  • news service
  • Catherine Brahic

A lawsuit filed by California's attorney general seeking to hold six car manufacturers responsible for the local impacts of climate change has been rejected by a federal judge.

A Supreme Court ruling that the US government's Environment Protection Agency (EPA) should set greenhouse-gas emissions standards proved crucial to the federal judge's decision.

The suit was filed by California's attorney general in September 2006 and targeted General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and US subsidiaries of Honda, Toyota, and Nissan.

It claimed cars made by the six companies generate more than 30% of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions in California, and should therefore be held accountable for millions of dollars that the state has spent on dealing with the impacts of car emissions (see California faces uphill battle on car emissions).

Guidance necessary

Had the car makers lost the suit, any funds awarded were to have gone towards addressing problems related to climate change, such as increased ozone pollution, rising sea levels, and an increased threat of wildfires.

But federal judge Martin Jenkins declared the issue of global warming and emissions standards should be decided in the political rather than legal arena.

In his ruling, which approves the car manufacturers' move to dismiss the case, Jenkins writes that in order for his court to "[inject] itself into the global warming thicket" it would need the "political branches of government" to first make a decision regarding what level of emissions is admissible.

"The court is left without guidance in determining what is an unreasonable contribution to the sum of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere," the judge writes.

'No emissions remedy'

Jenkin's ruling in part stems from the US Supreme Court decision, in April 2007, that the US Environment Protection Agency had the duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. A spokesperson for the EPA told New Scientist that setting emissions standards "is still in deliberation" and that "it could be quite some time" before a decision is reached."

Read the full text of Jenkins' ruling (pdf).

The case in April saw 11 states, led by Massachusetts, accusing the EPA of unlawfully refusing to regulate emissions of greenhouse gasses. The Supreme Court found in favour of the states, declaring that setting emissions standards for engines was the EPA's responsibility.

Based on this ruling, Jenkins concluded that without further guidance from the US government, he could not determine whether the car makers' emissions were unlawful.

"We understand why a district federal judge may not want to jump into a global warming thicket with both feet," says Ken Alex, California's supervising deputy attorney general. "Right now, because the political branches – the federal government, Congress, and the executive branch – have not acted, the state of California is left without a remedy."

Theodore Boutrous, lead lawyer for the auto makers, called Jenkins' ruling "absolutely correct" adding: "We have said all along that global warming presents exceedingly complex policy issues that must be addressed at the national and international levels by Congress and the president, not the federal courts."

Climate Change – Want to know more about global warming: the science, impacts and political debate? Visit our continually updated special report.