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Business & Technology


WTO may slash tariffs on green goods

The United States and European Union have proposed that the 151 members of the World Trade Organization agree to slash tariffs on at least 43 "green" goods -- solar panels, wind turbines, and the like -- to boost their global use. A recent World Bank study suggested that removing such barriers to trade of clean-energy technologies could increase trade by up to 14 percent annually.


Xerox substantially reduces emissions, pledges to do more

In 2002, Xerox Corp. pledged to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions 10 percent by 2012. With four years to go, the company has in fact reduced emissions by 18 percent, and has boosted its goal to 25 percent by 2012. Xerox says it saved $18 million last year through practices like increasing manufacturing efficiency and reducing employees' job-related driving. Seems like a plan worth ... wait for it ... copying.


Apparel companies hire climatologists to predict consumer trends

In the good old days, the only constant that the fickle fashion industry could rely on was the changing of the seasons -- now, it can't even rely on that anymore. A run of unseasonably warm winters has led some apparel companies to hire staff climatologists who help predict when consumers will be in the market for cold-weather clothes. Because, darling, buying a winter-anticipating coat in August is so five years ago.


Businesses urge policy for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions

More than 150 international companies have signed on to a petition begging diplomats meeting in Bali next week to come up with policy aimed at cutting global greenhouse-gas emissions at least in half by 2050. The companies -- Shell, Coca-Cola, Dupont, British Airways, Rolls Royce, and many, many, more -- "urge world leaders to seize this opportunity" with "strong, early action on climate change." The petition also stated that a push to reduce emissions would "create significant business opportunities" and a legally binding agreement "will provide business with the certainty it needs to scale up global investment in low-carbon technologies." …


Progressive mutual funds

If you lost money in, these are for you

If you want to invest in the stock market but have better things to do than read SEC 10Qs, what to do? Invest in mutual funds. If you want to invest in top quality environmental or energy advocacy and want to maximize return while minimizing risk, what to do? The New Progressive Coalition has a new idea: nonprofit mutual funds. Check out their Energy Independence and Environment offering. Blue chip all the way.


Somebody didn't get the environment vs. economy memo

Over 150 companies worldwide sign climate petition in advance of Bali

More than 150 companies worldwide, representing some $4 trillion in market valuation, have signed the Bali Communiqué: As business leaders, it is our belief that the benefits of strong, early action on climate change outweigh the costs of not acting: • The economic and geopolitical costs of unabated climate change could be very severe and globally disruptive. All countries and economies will be affected, but it will be the poorest countries that will suffer earliest and the most • The costs of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change are manageable, …


Bitter fruit

How corporate control of produce markets squeezes workers, farmers, and consumers

As most Grist readers know by now, a few giant corporations essentially control the meat industry -- they lock up the bulk of the profits and impose harsh terms on farmers, workers, livestock, and the environment. The meat they produce evidently damages those who eat it as well. Things aren't much different in the fresh fruit and vegetable world. In Florida, the ever-excellent Eric Schlosser shows in a New York Times op-ed piece, the migrant farmworkers who harvest the bulk of the nation's winter tomatoes are about to see their already-poverty-level wages slashed this holiday season. Out west, the Delta …


News from the Googleplex

Is Google betting on a carbon tax?

Google Inc. has a new project, "Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal." Google is preparing to bet megabucks, mega-engineers, and its cutting-edge reputation on its ability to propel solar thermal power, wind turbines, and other renewable electricity up the innovation curve and under the cost of coal-fired power, Reuters reported Tuesday. "Our goal is to produce one gigawatt [1,000 megawatts] of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. We are optimistic this can be done in years, not decades," said Larry Page, Google's cofounder and president of products, according to Reuters. To which we at the Carbon Tax Center say: …


Google funds R&D to make clean energy cheaper than coal

Google has made a humongous announcement -- which goes without saying, since everything Google does is humongous -- of plans to heavily fund R&D of renewable-energy technology, focusing on wind, solar, and geothermal power. Calling the project Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (or RE<C), Google has an end goal of cleanly produced electricity that's less expensive than dirty-black-rock power -- and "within years, not decades," no less. The company has no intention of being froogle: it will allocate hundreds of millions of dollars total to the project, and tens of millions in 2008 alone. The Google motto, "Don't be evil," …


More proof that coal ain't cheap

Duke wins approval for a $3100/kW plant

From E&E News ($ub req'd): Indiana has approved a $2 billion, 630 MW integrated gasificiation/combined cycle coal plant. Two billion divided by 630 MW = $3,174/kW. If we assume that coal equity investors expect to recover their investment over 20 years, with an 11 percent return, that works out to 5.7 cents/kWh just to pay off the capital for the power plant. Add in another 3 cents or so for transmission and distribution, and a couple cents for fuel and operating costs, and this plant will work out to over 10 cents in retail prices. This in a state where …