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Circuit Training

U.N. launches global partnership to combat unhealthy e-waste habits Faced with an annual global gadget toss approaching 40 million tons, the United Nations has launched a partnership to battle the world's heaps of e-waste and the environmental and health problems caused by impromptu e-recycling. Solving the E-Waste Problem, or StEP -- which counts governments, universities, and 16 companies including Dell and Hewlett-Packard among its members -- will aim to create a global electronics recycling standard and encourage companies to make longer-lasting products. With 80 percent of e-waste ending up in developing countries and often recycled by untrained, unprotected citizens, exposure …

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Heeeeere Techy, Techy, Techy

Vermont angling to become the green version of Silicon Valley Vermont, which has long tussled with Maine to avoid the tag of "whitest state in the nation," is going in search of some color -- green, that is. Lending depth to its nickname, the Green Mountain State is luring eco-engineers to its verdant flanks and helping established green companies expand. Noting that the state boasts "clean air, no billboards," Gov. Jim Douglas (R) says he hopes green-tech will be to Vermont what high-tech is to Silicon Valley: "We wanted to find a niche, an economic sector in which Vermont can …

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Teller All Your Crazy Dreams

Bank of America announces $20 billion green initiative In perhaps the largest initiative of its kind evah, Bank of America has announced a $20 billion investment in being all green and stuff over the next decade. The largest U.S. retail bank will use most of the moola to finance green-focused commercial clients, while also offering lower mortgage rates on energy-efficient homes, starting a credit-card program that directs bling to greenhouse-gas reduction projects, and donating to green nonprofits (ooh, over here!). The bank already offers rebates to hybrid-driving employees and is building energy-efficient offices in New York City and Charlotte, N.C. …

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Bank of America makes a $20 billion green pledge

Not long ago, I became a Bank of America customer, with mixed emotions. You know, the faceless corporation, the rumors of unethical practices, the exhaustion of trying to figure out where their (and my) money truly goes. Ultimately, I gave in to inertia and convenience. So I'm happy to hear that BOA is launching a 10-year, $20 billion green initiative to support sustainable business and fight climate change. If it's greenwashing, at least it's $20 billion worth of greenwashing. Here are the details, according to the press release: $18 billion in lending, advice, and market creation for commercial clients, with …

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Group Hug

Leading tech competitors bury the hatchet to improve energy efficiency Hold onto your geek hat: 11 leading tech companies have partnered to reduce the energy used by servers and data centers. The Green Grid -- made up of foes including Intel, IBM, Microsoft, AMD, Sun Microsystems, and Hewlett-Packard -- thinks data-center efficiency "is the most significant issue facing technology providers and their customers today," and plans to whip up new energy standards and technologies. A study released this month by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab estimates that servers ate 1.2 percent of U.S. energy in 2005, and their power use …

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An interview with IKEA sustainability director Thomas Bergmark

Green by design. Photo: IKEA Last week, IKEA U.S. announced a "bag the plastic bag" initiative: the retailer will charge a nickel for plastic bags to discourage their use, donating all revenue to the nonprofit conservation group American Forests. The store will also let shoppers walk away with one of its iconic reusable blue bags for 59 cents. Pleasant enough news, but it struck me as somewhat cosmetic. Hadn't I heard that IKEA's commitment to sustainability went much further than this? A little poking around on the IKEA website uncovered a set of practices that puts every big U.S. retailer …

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Did your pick win?

With over 20,000 people participating, the votes have been cast for the 2007 Global Warming Globie Awards. And the winners are: Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels (Best Performance by a State or Local Official) US-CAP (Best Performance in the Corporate World) An Inconvenient Truth (Best Film, Documentary, or Website Focusing on Global Warming) ExxonMobil (Worst Performance by a Corporation or Corporate Official) Senator James Inhofe (Most Egregious Contribution to Public Ignorance and Denial) Check out the site for more details and honorable mentions.

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Plights of the Roundtable

International business group joins chorus begging for emissions regulations Yet another group of businesses has come out in support of international greenhouse-gas regulation. The Global Roundtable on Climate Change, which includes nearly 100 large companies, issued a statement Tuesday espousing an increasingly common belief: "If we delay too long in beginning the changeover to increasingly de-carbonized energy systems, the eventual costs will only rise and the impact of climate change will only become more severe." The pact urges world leaders to set "scientifically informed" binding limits on emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012, and put a price on carbon dioxide …

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Premature Surrenderation

Fighting the new defeatism on climate change In Beltway media circles, among pundits who nod at one another with furrowed brows on cable TV, a new consensus is congealing: global warming is real, but there's not much we can do about it, since efforts to substantially reduce emissions would destroy the world economy. These bed-wetters are waving the white flag in a country that once decided to send a guy to the moon just because it looked difficult. Two reports out recently counter the new defeatism, describing a road to slashed emissions and a growing economy. But will anyone listen? …

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Environmentalism’s confusing accounting

The L.A. Times published an interesting if somewhat odd piece in last week's magazine about efforts to coax the business community into loving the environment by assigning a dollar value to our natural resources, or "ecosystem services." So, for example, we learn that dung beetles provide $380 million of waste management services to the U.S. cattle industry. One mile of coastal wetland provides $2.4 million of storm protection. A nice fern is worth $4, or you can get 3 for $9.99. I made up the last one. The odd part of the article is that it wraps together these efforts …