Electric Power Group Tackles Climate Change
The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES)
released the consensus recommendations of the first stage of CERES’ Electric
Power Dialogue among power companies, investors and environmental
groups that have been meeting over the last year. The Electric Power/Investor
Dialogue Recommendations were developed and agreed to by eight electric
power companies—including some largely reliant on coal—with
approximately $55 billion in annual revenues, nine investment funds
representing over $190 billion in assets, two investment advisory
firms and five major public interest and environmental groups.
Three dialogue participants—Connecticut State treasurer Denise
Nappier, Douglas Cogan of the Investor Responsibility Research Center,
and Mark Brownstein of PSEG—testified on the financial and
business risks of climate change before the Senate EPW subcommittee’s
hearing on the proposed “Clear Skies” initiative for
the electric power industry.
Recommendations begin with a consensus statement asserting that
climate change is a serious “environmental and financial” threat.
The statement continues, “Many electric companies in the United
States emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases, and believe
it is in their shareholders’ and the public’s interest
for them to act now to reduce those emissions. But they confront
the problem that financial and electricity markets do not reward,
and in some cases punish, proactive efforts that anticipate environmental
issues such as climate change.”
The report makes four over-arching recommendations:
- Senior management and directors of electric companies and investors
should actively engage in the climate change issue.
- Investors and electric companies should quantify and analyze
climate change financial risk.
- Government should enact a national mandatory market-based
climate change program to limit greenhouse gas emissions
to create certainty
for both electric utilities and investors.
- Government must help transform the market for clean energy
The recommendations are predicated on a major consensus finding
of the group: “Greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide
emissions, will be regulated in the U.S. The issue is not whether
the U.S. government will regulate these emissions, but when and how.” Electric
power companies participating in the dialogue said compliance would
be cheaper for industry in the long-term if carbon emissions are
To download the recommendations and listen to the news conference
about its release, visit: http://ceres.org/news
More Fuel Cell Vehicles Hit the Road
DaimlerChrysler will collaborate with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) and UPS with the goal of creating the first fuel cell
delivery vehicle demonstration program in North America. The demonstration
program will be based in Ann Arbor, MI, at the EPA National Vehicle
and Fuel Emissions Laboratory. The DaimlerChrysler fuel cell vehicles
will be used in normal UPS delivery operation on an established delivery
route, and they will be fueled at a hydrogen refueling station built
by the EPA.
An F-Cell, a Mercedes-Benz A-Class powered by a Ballard fuel cell,
will be delivered in 2003 for use as an express-delivery vehicle
by UPS. In 2004, a fuel cell Dodge Sprinter will be delivered as
the first medium-duty fuel cell commercial delivery vehicle to be
put in service in North America.
This program will enable DaimlerChrysler to continue evaluating fuel
cell vehicle attributes, such as fuel economy, cold-weather operation
and driving performance. It also will allow the EPA, DaimlerChrysler
and UPS to gain considerable operational experience with a fuel cell
fleet vehicle and hydrogen refueling station. DaimlerChrysler’s
efforts to put fuel cell vehicles into real-world use, in addition
to this agreement, include 60 F-Cell vehicles and 30 Citaro fuel
cell buses that the company will have on public roads worldwide by
Social Responsibility Drives Purchase Decisions
The Natural Marketing Institute’s (NMI) second annual survey
of the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) marketplace
reveals consumers have a strong and growing interest in various environmental,
social, personal development and values-based issues. In fact, nearly
one-third of U.S. consumers, or 68 million adults, are concerned
about various environmental and social issues and are conscientious
of those issues when making purchase decisions—showing seven
percent growth versus 2002.
Overall, consumers indicate high interest levels in protecting the
environment (91 percent), socially responsible business practices
(83 percent), and preference for purchasing products made in a sustainable
manner (59 percent). What is most interesting and relevant for manufacturers
and marketers is that many consumers incorporate those related attitudes
into their purchase decisions across many different products. As
proof of the growing LOHAS marketplace, consumers show strong interest
in a variety of specific products including: energy efficient appliances
(96 percent); renewable power (74 percent); organic food (53 percent);
hybrid vehicles (56 percent); and many additional products and services
that were included in this study.
The research results, based on responses from over 2,000 U.S. adults
conducted in April 2003, have been published in a series of nine
research reports entitled, Understanding the LOHAS Consumer Report.
These comprehensive reports analyze dynamic consumer attitudes, behaviors,
product usage, lifestyles and demographics, among other topics. For
The Electronics Waste Debate
Electronics makers are feeling the pressure to cut a deal for a national
take-back program, given that 26 states have introduced no less than
52 bills that would force the issue of recycling one way or another,
according to State Recycling Laws Update from Raymond Communications,
Inc. Both California and Massachusetts lawmakers are moving on manufacturer “takeback” (or
The stakes are high, because if states try to implement a patchwork
of individual “take-back” laws, “it could be disastrous,” says
publisher Michele Raymond, who has been tracking recycling policy
for 15 years. “Many of these bills have not been thought through
very well. There is a presumption that there are only a few computer ‘manufacturers’ out
there, and that there will magically be U.S. markets for all of the
Consumers are now up to their ears in piles of E-junk collecting
in their garages and basements. Without a coherent national plan,
they will be stuck paying for needlessly complex recycling systems,
with very little environmental benefit.
If a state wants to require reporting and take-back of electronics
items, they will have to locate all of the manufacturers,” she
notes. One often-ignored fact is that a large percentage of computers
sold are “boxes,” assembled by local computer firms.
Moreover, the majority of electronics items and parts are made in
Asia, so finding and forcing some of these companies to report and
take back or pay fees could be nearly impossible.
Most of the bills focus on keeping cathode ray tubes (CRTs) out of
landfills. In fact, four states (California, Massachusetts, Maine
and Minnesota) have now banned CRTs from landfills. While no one
wants the leaded glass in incinerators or landfills, recyclers say
that within a few years, there may not be any U.S. markets for recycled
CRT glass. There are only four U.S. manufacturers, and they are having
a difficult time competing with cheap Chinese imports.
The big issue is not toxicity or whether retailers can take back
old units—but how to deal with the really old stuff in people’s
garages. There are hundreds of millions of old computers, TVs, printers
out there in storage. That’s going to take cooperation of government
and industry to cope with. No one has a clear handle on the volume
or toxicity—and no one wants to foot the bill.”
Raymond is critical of industry on one point: computers need to be
designed for upgradability, not obsolescence. “Long life would
mean less waste. In this economy, small businesses cannot afford
to replace their computers every two years.”
Raymond Communications publishes SRLU and Recycling Laws International.
The in-depth report, Electronics Recycling: What to Expect from Global
Mandates, will be updated in August. For information, visit www.raymond.com.
Consolidated Audit of Corporate Accountability
The Future 500, a global not-for-profit network of leadership companies,
will release a new version of the popular software tool used by major
companies to help them comply with increasing demands for corporate
accountability. The “Corporate Accountability Gap Audit” tool
consolidates 12 leading standards into a single software-driven survey,
calibrated to detect gaps in a company’s overall corporate
accountability and sustainability practices. The audit returns performance
scores for each standard, benchmarks against prevailing stakeholder
expectations, analyzes the results, and provides a short list of
actions to enhance corporate performance and reporting and reduce
risk and liabilities.
For more details or information on how to apply the tool, contact
Nikole Wilson at: email@example.com or 415-364-3803; or visit
Lost Revenues from Forests
Undervaluing the economic worth of forests causes governments around
the world to lose some $5 billion a year in taxes and royalties,
according to a report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
This amount is equal to more than three times the level of official
development assistance for financing sustainable forest management.
Inadequate tax collection decreases government revenues, poses as
a disguised subsidy to producers and reinforces wasteful logging.
The problem is typically an indication of improper accounting of
forest resources and poor forest valuation. With prices that do not
reflect the real value of the products and malfunctioning market
mechanisms, illegal economic activities flourish and forest cover
continues to decline. According to the Secretary-General’s
report, which was prepared in collaboration with the World Bank,
annual losses from illegal logging exceed $10 billion. The estimated
net loss of forests in the 1990s as a whole was 94 million hectares—an
area larger than Venezuela.
Healthy market practices and responsible forest policies are the
best tools for achieving sustainable forest management,” said
Pekka Patosaari, coordinator for the Forest Forum, the key intergovernmental
body to facilitate and coordinate implementation of sustainable forest
Forests provide more than wood or non-wood products. They also contribute
to conserving biodiversity, mitigating climate change, protecting
watersheds and generating employment, as well as having recreational
and spiritual value. Market-based instruments for environmental protection,
such as payments for the capacity of forests to absorb carbon dioxide,
are only emerging. With timely and up-to-date information about the
prevalent international prices for forest products, the report suggests,
illegal activities will be reduced, bringing in more money to government
More information about the Forest Forum, including official documents,
can be found at www.un.org/esa/forests.
Kinko’s Expands Green Power
Kinko’s, Inc. and Idaho Power Company have announced that three
Kinko’s locations served by Idaho Power have switched to renewable
energy. This “green power” deal enables Kinko’s
Boise and Pocatello branches to purchase a portion of their electricity
from renewable resources.
The new agreement is expected to result in Kinko’s purchasing
more than 185,000-kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable energy each year.
The reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from this
purchase is equivalent to taking three vehicles off the road.
Kinko’s first began purchasing green power in Idaho at the
company’s Coeur d’Alene and Moscow locations in 2002.
Nationwide, Kinko’s purchases renewable energy at more than
210 branches in 13 states for an estimated 13.9 million kilowatt
hours (kWh) per year.
Dow, GM Partner on Fuel Cell Transaction
The Dow Chemical Co., the world’s largest chemical manufacturer,
and General Motors Corp., the world’s largest automobile manufacturer,
have reached initial understanding on what might be the world’s
largest fuel cell transaction to date. The intent of the agreement
is for GM to commercialize its hydrogen fuel cell technology to generate
electricity from hydrogen created as a co-product at Dow’s
operations in Freeport, TX, Dow’s largest manufacturing facility.
If tests proceed according to plan, Dow could eventually use up to
35 megawatts of power generated by 500 GM fuel cell units on an ongoing
basis. This is enough electricity to power 25,000 homes for a year
and is more than 15 times bigger than any other known fuel cell transaction.
The test is expected to begin during the fourth quarter of 2003 and
to run through 2005, with plans to commercialize starting in 2006.
Dow and GM teams are currently working to remove the final hurdles
for placing the fuel cells in Dow’s chemical manufacturing
facility. A final agreement between the two industrial giants is
expected to be signed in the next few months.
Both Dow and GM are members of the Green Power Market Development
Group, a unique partnership between the World Resources Institute
(www.wri.org) and 12 major U.S.
corporations, dedicated to building corporate markets for green power.
Wind Farms Don’t Hurt Property Values
The presence of commercial-scale wind turbines does not appear to
harm “view shed” property values, according to a study
by the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP). The REPP study systematically
analyzes property values data in order to examine the charge often
voiced by wind farm opponents that wind development will lower the
value of property within view of the turbines. Wind power has grown
at an average rate of 24.5 percent in the United States over the
past five years, and there are now utility-scale projects in 27 states
across the country.
The REPP study looked at wind development projects with a generating
capacity of 10 megawatts (MW) or more that were installed in the
United States from 1998 to 2001, and analyzed data from the projects
for which there were enough sales or other data to support statistical
analysis. The study found no evidence that property values decreased
as a result of the wind farms. In fact, the study found that “for
the great majority of projects the property values actually rose
more quickly in the view shed than they did in the comparable community.
Moreover, values increased faster in the view shed after the projects
came on-line than they did before.” The research group noted
that values may have risen because of factors other than wind.
For a copy of the study, contact REPP at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Civic Hybrid Earns AT-PZEV Status
The 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid is the first-ever hybrid vehicle to earn
certification as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicle
(AT-PZEV) from California’s Air Resources Board (CARB). The
2003 Civic Hybrid, currently sold in California, is the only hybrid
vehicle to achieve this stringent emissions level, producing about
90 percent fewer smog-forming engine emissions than required of a
typical new vehicle. The Civic Hybrid joins the natural gas-powered
Civic GX as the only two vehicles to achieve AT-PZEV status under
California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program.
To achieve the AT-PZEV emissions classification, a vehicle must be
a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) with zero evaporative
emissions and must carry a 15-year/150,000-mile warranty on emissions
In “The Two Faces of Sustainable Business,” included
in the May/June issue, we incorrectly stated that Senator Jon Corzine
and Randy Overbey were members of the board of directors for the
World Resources Institute. While both keynoted at the WRI’s
Sustainable Enterprise Summit, they do not serve on the WRI’s
board. We apologize for the error.