There's proof that business is ganging up to take action on climate issues, according to Andrew Winston in the Harvard Business Review. Winston offers some convincing evidence.
From the Editor
Forty percent of all electric cars sold in the U .S. are rolling on California highways. In the last four years, more than 100,000 plug-in cars have been sold in the state, according to the Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative. Now, California is about to raise that market share: the goal is one million EV’s on the state’s roads by 2023. That’s the point of several bills signed recently by Governor Jerry Brown, to make EV’s more affordable for low-income residents and to install charging stations in apartment buildings in low-income neighborhood.
The Clorox Co. is putting its commitment to sustainability into a higher gear, according to a NASDAQ analyst blog, with its new Preferred Ingredient Calculator, an expansion of the company's Ingredients Inside initiative that brings transparency to its product ingredients.
$4 billion. That’s how much investment the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. public pension plan, is pulling out of hedge funds over the next year. The second largest U.S. public pension plan, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, is reviewing its hedge fund investment of $700 million, which earned 0.13% last year, the lowest of all its asset classes. Public pensions moved into hedge funds with the idea that larger gains would avoid the need for bigger contributions from their employee-members and prevent the reduction of retirees’ benefits.
Syracuse, New York is American’s snowiest large city, with an annual snowfall of 115 inches. In fact, 10 of the top 14 cities with the highest annual average snowfall are in upstate New York. Despite all the cold weather, Solarize Syracuse, a coalition of planners, activists, and environmentalists, is working to move Syracuse along the road to adopting solar power, despite its Number One snowy ranking. According to energy experts, there’s enough sunlight in Syracuse to run today’s advanced solar technology, despite the heavy snowfall.
You may not think of chemical businesses and sustainability in the same sentence—but get used to it. A new report finds that 69% of 958 chemical companies surveyed have a sustainability policy in place or are currently developing one. It also finds that 67% describe their company’s top business priority as either promoting or marketing sustainable products or taking an active lead on sustainability issues.
A number of companies—GE, Dow, DuPont, Pirelli—have begun to report sales of their environmentally oriented products and services. Kimberly Clark identifies 22 percent of its net sales in 2012 from “environmentally innovative products,” an increase from 13 percent the year before. That’s the most compelling news in a blog for GreenBiz by Daniel C.
Sustainable packaging will grow to 32% of the total global market by the end of this year, according to a study by Pike Research. “Green” packaging is produced from sustainable, renewable, and recyclable raw materials, including paper, plastic, metal and glass. It is lightweight and/or biodegradable, and produces less toxic emissions once it is discarded. And it is valuable: that nearly one-third of the overall packaging market is a $170 billion industry.
22% of the world’s electricity is now produced by renewable power, says the International Energy Agency in a just released report. That percentage is supported by $250 billion in investment in clean tech generation systems made in 2013.
Do you know the differences between the reporting frameworks of the several agencies that measure sustainability? Can you define the methodologies of the Global Reporting Initiative versus those of CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project), the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, the International Integrated Reporting Council, or the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board?
Another prominent corporate member has left The American Legislative Exchange Council, a lobbying group known for its opposition to renewable energy, according to Bloomberg BNA. ALEC has drafted model legislation to roll back renewable fuel standards in 29 states that have been credited with being one of the largest drivers of renewable energy generation in the U.S.
The debate in the renewable energy sector re. cost vs. benefits has taken an unforeseen turn. As part of the U.K.’s national discussion about its membership in the E.U., Business for Britain claims that EU rules mandating the use of renewable energy may have cost Britain up to $156.5 billion dollars. It’s a fact that European businesses now pay twice as much for electricity than companies in the U.S., according to Bloomberg. While both the U.K.
Funding for energy efficiency projects is on a steep upwards trend, according to The Guardian. Consider these examples: A California start-up, Renewable Funding, has received a $300 million line of credit to retrofit homes. Connecticut’s Clean Energy and Finance Authority is working with private investors to secure $30 million in commercial efficiency upgrades.
A cross-sector summit co-hosted by Target and Walmart to improve performance in the personal care and beauty industry has been announced as fall’s first sustainability conference. From issues like animal testing to potentially harmful ingredients, from environmental practices to social impacts, from Revlon to The Body Shop, personal care products have been a focus of much debate among NGOs and consumer groups.
There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about the need for subsidies of renewable energy. While it makes sense to support a new business sector while it ramps up from scratch, the U.K. and Germany offer cautionary examples of how too-rich incentives applied too quickly can distort energy markets. Both countries have seen their electricity rates increase rapidly, and have pulled back on subsidies to introduce renewable energy in a less market distorting way.
Corporate America should show greater social responsibility, says President Obama in an interview in The Economist. Mr. Obama was responding to a comment about pushback from business on regulatory issues, from the Affordable Care Act to the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill and now, to the administration’s proposal to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fueled power plants. Mr.
$150 billion. That’s the latest estimate of the cost to the U.S. economy of not taking action to reduce carbon pollution, according to a report by the White House Council of Economic Advisors. The sobering study was released as public hearings on the EPA’s proposal to impose curbs on coal-fired power plants are being held around the country. The Council’s analysis supports the Administration’s argument that the long-term expense of not cutting carbon emissions will be higher than the short-term cost of adopting the proposed regulation. The bottom line?
The percentage of women in the U.S. at work or who want to work is declining, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers. As part of the problem, the Council’s report notes the U.S. is the only developed country that does not offer paid maternity leave as federal policy. The result? Europe now leads the U.S. in female labor force participation. As in so many areas, lack of a federal family friendly policy has led some states to act. California, the first state to offer paid parental leave in 2004, has seen new mothers more likely to return to work.
We’ve been hearing two related messages a lot lately. One, that tech innovation is resulting in fewer but more educated people doing more work, locking less educated workers out of the job market, and two, that this development is feeding growing income inequality. A new Brookings Institution study outlines a possible solution to these issues.