Business & Technology

View from Copenhagen: The Zero Sum Game

The deal being discussed in Denmark right now, in the name of climate change, is actually a framework for truth in advertising on a global economic scale. Think FASB on steroids. For example, we spend about three bucks for a gallon of gasoline in the US. In fact, we spend about ten, because of the cost of defending oil around the globe (recall that even Alan Greenspan was among the many government officials who have concluded that the trillion dollar Iraq war was entirely about oil); healthcare costs directly attributable to diseases from petroleum pollution; tax breaks; and other direct …

A new world order: Automakers and Copenhagen

As world leaders meet in Copenhagen to seek consensus on ways to reduce carbon emissions, the world’s automakers are on the doorstep of a revolutionary change in how the vehicles we all depend on are designed and powered. From batteries, to plug-in hybrids, to next generation biofuels, clean diesels and hydrogen powered autos, to dramatic improvements in old combustion technology, automakers are doing more than any other industry to bring the change needed to avoid a potential climate crisis — and they do so willingly. More so now than ever, automakers realize that reducing the automobile’s dependence on fossil fuels is a necessity for …

Buffalo or bison: What's in a name?

Hillary Rosner’s recent OnEarth story about a quarantined bison herd that needs a good home has stirred up quite a debate on the Facebook page of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Interestingly, the debate has nothing to do with relocating the wild bison to Ted Turner’s private Montana ranch, which is the tension at the heart of Hillary’s story. Instead, it’s about what we should call these majestic animals. Are they bison, buffalo or both? I’m a word nerd, so I decided to look into it. From a scientific standpoint, the question is an easy one. Their scientific name is …

Cor-rec-ting the record...

The economics of renewable energy certificates

Tom Stoddard, cofounder of carbon offset firm NativeEnergy, sent along the following response to a recent blog post by Auden Schendler: Auden: In your post entitled “Why Buying Cheap Energy Certificates Worsens Climate Change,” you take the position people shouldn’t buy what are now relatively inexpensive renewable energy certificates (RECs) because $2 per megawatt hour doesn’t drive new investments. NativeEnergy thanks you for reopening a subject that is confusing to many, and which continues to generate numerous questions. Pricing for renewable energy credits (RECs) is an important issue for those who want to see REC purchases drive construction of new …

'Hagen Days

Grist correspondent heads to Copenhagen, looks forward to pickled herring

Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue, inspired by the Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson.Photo: julienponsI’m off to Copenhagen today, to spend 16 days sampling various pickled fish, shopping at the Christmas market, and, if there’s time, checking out some environment conference thing I’ve been hearing about. Seriously, I’ll be reporting on the climate talks, with a focus on business and industry players who’ll be trying to hamstring progress. I’ll be looking for the bad guys, so to speak, trying to find out who lobbies the negotiators, and for what. Do European corporations have resident climate-deniers? Who’s representing industry from the Global South? …

Small, sustainable and profitable

You don’t have to be big to go green

Greening Your Small Business is a new book out this month by Jennifer Kaplan, a partner in Greenhance, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm working with large and small businesses to gain better insight into their impact on the environment. She also teaches at Marymount University’s business school in Arlington, Va. Courtesy Jennifer KaplanI talked to Kaplan about her new book and why she wrote it. Below are highlights from our discussion. Q. Why did you see a need for this book? Kaplan: I was teaching market research at Marymount, and one student was working with a business who needed help …

E15 or Fight!

EPA punts on raising ethanol ‘blend wall’

I have been following the Great Ethanol Blend Wall fight for some time. In a nutshell, ethanol companies have been struggling mightily during the recession. In response, industry group Growth Energy petitioned the EPA to allow gasoline to contain up to 15 percent ethanol rather than the current 10 percent. This demand also had the strong support of the big farm groups as well as of USDA Chief Tom Vilsack himself. The auto industry, the marine industry, and just about anyone who sells a gasoline engine opposes the idea on the basis that at higher blends the corrosive effect of …

Mark your carbon calender

December 19 — the day after COP15

Tens of thousands of modern-day crusaders, charlatans, Nobel laureates, CEOs, quick-buck artists, earnest politicians, and assorted movie extras of every conceivable socio-political-ethnic-economic background will descend on Copenhagen for the next three weeks to participate in an orgy of carbon-bashing and flag-waving. The goal will be to agree on a blueprint — not quite the precise Earth owner’s manual that some had hoped for, but at least a quick-start guide — for reducing greenhouse gas emissions fast enough so that the world avoids the most expensive and unpredictable consequences of climate change. As the Danes clean up the mess when the …

REC-ing the Planet

Why buying cheap energy certificates worsens climate change

Oh…my….God. I just received an email from a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) vendor called Carbon Solutions Group (www.carbonsolutionsgroup.com) that took my already high (but controlled) blood pressure to new heights. RECs represent clean energy and can be purchased by entities wanting to claim to be powered by renewable energy. The gist of the Carbon Solutions e-mail (posted at the bottom of this blog) is that there is a misconception about their cost. RECs, the e-mail argues, are portrayed as way too expensive. Further, the U.S. Green Building Council is providing a misleadingly high number for the cost of powering your …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

×