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Green green

A roundup of green financial services

Joel Makower's got a good round-up of new green financial services -- mortgages, loans, etc. The holy grail of green financing tools, far as I know, is "Connie Mae," Al Gore's proposed carbon-neutral equivalent to Fannie Mae.

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Must-read climate report from Lehman Brothers

Climate policy and its implications for business

Lehman Brothers has just released a terrific report, "The Business of Climate Change II." The theme is, "Policy is accelerating, with major implications for companies and investors"; but the piece has a lot of breadth, with cogent comments on everything from the social/damage cost of carbon, to auctioning vs. grandfathering, to the Stern Report. Here are some extended excerpts: What are the chances for a global climate agreement? The probability of some sort of international greenhouse-gas-limiting agreement in the next three to five years involving the US, China, and perhaps India, which earlier this year we put at 50%, will …

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Greenpeace releases another ranking of tech companies’ environmental records

Greenpeace has released the fifth version of its Guide to Greener Electronics, and lauds the tech industry for making "great improvements" since the first scorecard hit the scene in August 2006. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Dell took the top three spots this time around; Apple, the CEO of which was rankled by his company's dead-last ranking in April, is now solidly tied with Hewlett-Packard for second-to-last, ahead of Panasonic. The report, released yesterday, noted that HP is "in free fall" on the list; also yesterday, coincidentally, HP launched an effort to improve e-waste recycling in Africa. sources:

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Dirty hippies at it again

Another agrofuel protest hits City Hall

Candace Heckman, writing for the Seattle P-I Big Blog, put up a brief post about the protest yesterday by Duff Badgley and his rag-tag group against local biodiesel-refiner Imperium Renewables. Imperium is getting downright defensive: Imperium spokesman John Williams said this afternoon that the company is actively looking at "feedstocks" other than palm oil, and that for the next year-and-a-half, the City of Seattle would not be buying biodiesel made from palm. This blog post "makes it sound like at some point we might sell palm biodiesel to the city. We haven't, we don't and we won't." Get the violins …

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Is this an emergency?

Is global warming the moral equivalent of World War II?

From Al Gore to Lester Brown, writers concerned about preventing the worst of global warming have proposed that our "commitment will need to be of a scale comparable to what we did during World War II." But the parallels never go beyond a vague reference. PBS is about to run a series, premiering this Sunday, called "The War," so it might be a good time to think a little more deeply about the connection. There are two main questions that need to be asked: Is global warming -- or more generally, the assault on the biosphere, including the wholesale destruction …

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ADM's man at the USDA

USDA secretary resigns; industrial-corn man takes charge

Big doings at the USDA yesterday: Mike Johanns, the reliably pro-agribiz former governor of Nebraska, resigned from his post as USDA chair -- right in the middle of Farm Bill negotiations, now in the Senate. He says he's going to run for the Senate seat that Chuck Hagel is vacating. Chuck Conner, currently the USDA's no. 2 man, will be the agency's acting secretary. Conner joined the Bush administration in 2001 as the president's "special assistant" on ag issues, and joined the USDA in 2005. Before working for Bush, Conner spent four years as executive director of the Corn Refiners …

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Red Sox partner with NRDC to green Fenway Park

America's national pastime is going green in Beantown as the Red Sox step up to the plate to make going to Fenway Park a whole new ball game. Under a five-year partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation's oldest active ballpark may vend beer in corn-starch-based cups, serve local, organic food from concession stands, add solar panels, and even initiate a new tradition: a fifth-inning recycling stretch. Sounds like their bases are covered.

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A little karate

On electricity deregulation

In The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi advises that "It is good to know karate. It is good not to know karate. It is not good to know a little karate." With the price caps now coming off in the few states that partially deregulated their electricity grids, there is a rising backlash against competitive markets, with some of that backlash even coming from normally pro-market groups like The Cato Institute. This backlashers generally argue that partial deregulation has taught us that deregulation doesn't work in the electric sector. But we ought to remember Mr. Miyagi's advice, lest we draw the …

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Groups petition federal agencies to regulate air fresheners

Environmental groups petitioned the U.S. EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission yesterday to regulate air fresheners, which can aggravate asthma and often contain chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde, as well as other compounds linked to developmental problems in kids. The eco-groups want companies to list all the ingredients in air fresheners and conduct health and safety tests, including study of the respiratory effects of breathing in freshener chemicals. In response to independent testing commissioned by the environmental groups of 14 different air fresheners, Walgreens pulled three of its store-brand fresheners off the shelves of its 5,850 U.S. stores …

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Short-sighted government chronicles

Ontario has higher capacity for renewable energy projects than the government estimates

The Toronto Star has been doing some excellent work on the environment and energy issues in Ontario lately -- I pointed to some not too long ago. Many of those stories come from the Roberts-endorsed Tyler Hamilton. Yesterday, Hamilton had an excellent piece in the front of the business section. It's on the alternatives to nuclear construction that the province is ignoring; it tallies up all the missed opportunities. The conclusion is that Ontario could build ten times as much renewable energy as the government currently estimates, more than enough to displace the planned and allegedly necessary nuclear reactors. Some …