Environment and Climate Change News

House Passes Bill to All-But-Eliminate Shareholder Resolutions

(3BL Media/Justmeans — As the Trump administration continues along its circus parade route, unleashing one spectacular display of self-destructive grandiosity after another, Republicans in Congress are using the distraction to try and sneak through some very damaging legislation, gift-wrapped offerings, in the form of additional game-rigging, to their wealthy patrons.

If you’ve heard about this at all, you’ve probably heard about the festering attempt in the Senate to ram through an “anything-but-Obamacare” health bill, without any hearing whatsoever. But there is another bill, aimed at eviscerating Dodd-Frank.

Dodd-Frank was a response to the the shameful feeding frenzy that led to the 2008 financial crisis in which thousands lost their homes. That bill did not pass however, until it was sufficiently weakened by Republicans to the point where it would not avoid another crisis.  The crisis came about after the repeal of Glass-Steagall which worked effectively for decades after the 1929 crash. (Oh, how quickly we forget!)

We're talking about just one particularly egregious aspect of this bill just passed by the House of Representatives, called the Financial Choice Act, that rides alongside calls to scrap the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or  revoking the authority for the FDIC to take over a failing firm. This particular element appears intended to specifically target attempts by shareholders to rein in the behavior of companies regarding issues that said shareholders consider important.

At issue are shareholder resolutions, which were established by SEC rules, that allow shareholders to weigh in on issues of concern, which often hold management accountable on ethical issues. While not legally binding, the resolutions do carry weight since the same majority that passed the resolution could choose to vote out any board members that chose to ignore it.

India Working Towards A Future Powered By Renewables

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – India is committed to protecting the climate, irrespective of the Paris agreement. That’s what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last month, at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), just as President Trump pulled America out of the pact. Modi stated, “It is not a question of which way I go.

LG and Energy Star Want Americans To Ditch Older, Less Efficient Refrigerators

Older refrigerators are not environmentally friendly. They may contain ozone-depleting refrigerants and foam blowing agents. There are an estimated 200 million household refrigerators and over 20 million of them are secondary ones located in a basement or garage. Those secondary refrigerators are usually older and less energy efficient. 

Business Is In a Position To Lead On Climate Action

When it comes to the environment, the Trump presidency is a string of bad news. Recently, President Trump announced that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate agreement. “So, we’re getting out,” he proclaimed.

Floating Tidal Power in Scotland Could Challenge Offshore Wind

(3Bl Media) — There was some exciting news in the world of renewable energy made off the coast of Scotland last week. While solar and wind power have been making tremendous inroads around the world, a new player is emerging that could have advantages over both. We’re talking about floating tidal generation. A company called Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd., commissioned the SR2000 tidal turbine last December, connecting to the Orkney power grid. Last week, during a grid-connected test, the 2MW turbine produced 18,000 kWh over a 24-hour period. The 500-tonne SR2000 is an integrated turbine-generator. It looks like a ship that rides low in the water, consisting of a floating hull, with two turbines on the lower half of the body that sit just below the surface of the water. Each turbine has a 52-foot diameter rotor. The turbines are designed to stow up against the hull for transportation, and in “survivability mode” during storms and periods of rough seas. Most of the internal components are situated in the hull for ease of maintenance.

According to the company’s website, the technology has been optimized for “fast tidal current regions, such as those of Scotland, Northern France and Canada,” although modifications can be made to suit local conditions elsewhere. 

According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) an onshore wind turbine produces 16,400 kWh per day. Offshore turbines are larger and can produce as much as 36,300 kWh per day. So, while this fledgling first effort is not quite up to the level of the largest offshore wind turbines, it’s already in the same ballpark.

Green Group Seeks Government Support to Boost Low-Carbon Economy in the UK

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Swings in government policy in the UK in recent years have affected environmental businesses and raised concerns among potential investors. Green groups now worry that the new UK government could scrap the Climate Change Act, leaving the country without firm targets on curbing GHG emissions.

GM Commits To Creating a Sustainable Rubber Supply Chain

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Natural rubber is a part of our everyday lives because tires are part of our lives, whether we drive a car or take public transportation. Tire manufacturing represents 75 percent of the natural rubber market. 

REN21 Global Status Report Shows More Renewables for the Money

 

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - REN21, the Paris-based, multi-stakeholder, global renewable energy policy network, just released their Renewables 2017 Global Status Report (GSR), the world’s most comprehensive annual overview of the state of renewable energy. Over 800 individuals contributed to the report. Highlights include the fact that a record-setting 161 GW of new capacity was added, a 9% increase from last year. Although that’s an impressive achievement, it actually represents a 23% decrease in financial investment from the year before. Christine Lins, Executive Secretary for REN21, told Justmeans that “the key message for 2016 was that investors could get more for their money.” While it’s good news that costs have come down enough to enable this, if we are to meet the targets set in Paris, especially in light of President Trump’s withdrawal of support for the agreement, we need to see investments increasing rather than decreasing.

Still, the decreasing costs will be the prime driver for continued investment. Recent deals in Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico, Peru and the United Arab Emirates saw renewable electricity being delivered at USD 0.05 per kilowatt-hour or less, well below equivalent costs for fossil fuel and nuclear generation in each of these countries.

When asked about the Trump withdrawal, Lins said, “What we’ve seen so far is that President Trump’s announcement has created a lot of united voices around the globe, of countries announcing that they are going to stick to the Paris agreement. Right now, renewables are cost-competitive in many situations with fossil fuels. With him as a businessman, it’s quite surprising to see him taking that step.”

As others have pointed out, it will take three and a half years to fully withdraw from the agreement, and by that time, we could be looking at another administration. Lins also pointed out that within the US, numerous state and companies were reaffirming their commitments to the goals agreed upon in the Paris accord. It was concerns over what Trump might do that hastened the ratification of the accord last year.

Trump's Disastrous Climate Move Will Isolate US From the Rest of the World

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Now that Donald Trump has, once again, done the unthinkable—this time withdrawing the US from the historic international climate accord signed in Paris in 2015—everyone wants to know, what will this mean? Responses range anywhere from “very little’ to ‘this is it, we’re done.”

Most likely, the answer will fall somewhere in between, and probably, or at least hopefully, closer to the “very little” end. Not that the climate crisis is anything but dire. Indeed, it might already be too late to stave off at least some of the horrendous consequences involving millions of lives that have been foretold, such as coastal cities being inundated around the world. Any step that isn’t moving quickly away from emitting greenhouse gases, or indeed, any delay in doing so, will undermine any and all attempts to escape those relentlessly-approaching horrors.

While it’s difficult to find anything good in this decision that Bill McKibben aptly, if bluntly, called “stupid and reckless,” there might be a few consolations. While the move will certainly bring the world closer to the brink of climate disaster, it will also likely bring the Trump regime closer to its end as well. That’s because not only will this withdrawal from the Paris accord isolate the US from the rest of theworld (there’s already talk in Europe of changing the G7 to a new G6, designed to “push out the populists”), but here in the US, it will also isolate Trump and his dwindling number of followers, as he moves to a more and more extreme position of nationalistic isolation. Recent polls show that 69% of Americans from every state supported remaining in the Paris accord.

For all of its jingoistic talk, this action, to the extent that it actually amounts to anything substantive, will likely harm the US, including Trump voters as much as anyone.

Let’s take a look at how Trump framed the announcement in the hope that this could shed some light on his thinking. First, he started out by mentioning the casino attack in Manila by a lone gunman, calling it an act of terrorism, keeping up his steady drumbeat of fear, and highlighting his obsession of this issue to the exclusion of all others. This, despite the fact that Philippine authorities have ruled out terrorism as a motive behind the crime.

Next, he switched to the economy, making it clear that his motive for withdrawing would be an economic one. What followed was a series of misrepresentations about economic growth and jobs. He boasted that the economy, which was not doing that badly, at least according to traditional indicators like GDP growth, was “starting to come back and very, very rapidly.”  In fact, the Commerce Department reported GDP growth in the first quarter of 1.2%, significantly less that the 1.55% average during the Obama years. and the “more than a million private sector jobs,” he claimed was actually 697,000.

From there, he went on to declare that, “as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.”

VW Aims to Cut Environmental Impact of Production in Half by 2025

When you are a company that has been embroiled in a scandal that involved cheating on diesel engine emissions tests, you need to set your environmental targets high. And that is precisely what Volkswagen has done.

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