Climate & Energy

Introducing Auden Schendler: Part I

On those quotes in Businessweek’s ‘Little Green Lies’

This post is by guest blogger Auden Schendler, executive director for Community and Environmental Responsibility at the Aspen Skiing Company. Named a "Climate Crusader" in Time magazine's 2006 special issue on climate change, Auden once worked for Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute. You can read his full bio here. Auden has unique insights into the difficulties of corporate sustainability in the absence of government leadership and a price for carbon. ----- Recently, Businessweek covered Aspen Skiing Company's work on emissions reduction as part of an article titled "Little Green Lies." The article has received considerable coverage in the blogosphere because it addresses the gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to business claims on the environment. Joe asked me if I'd like to clarify that story, and I jumped at the opportunity. My main point, which probably didn't get across in the article, is that even at a remarkably progressive company like Aspen Skiing Company -- which has strong support from ownership, management, and staff -- cutting CO2 emissions is very difficult. Imagine how hard it must be in most standard businesses that don't have this level of buy-in. This statement may seem obvious, but it cuts against conventional wisdom. Most entities involved in emissions reduction have a stake in saying it's profitable, relatively easy, and sometimes fun. The NGO community makes its living on this perspective. The government needs its own programs to look good. And corporations have a stake in their perceived success as well.

Industry's plan for us

The many ways big money seeks to avoid reducing fossil fuel use

The following is a guest essay from Peter Montague, executive director of the Environmental Research Foundation. —– It now seems clear that the coal and oil industries are not going to allow the United States …

Revenue-neutral emission reduction for cities

What if there were more Berkeleys?

Imagine if more cities started doing this — neutralizing the upfront costs of solar. It would stimulate competition and innovation in the solar industry (more than there already are). Pretty soon there would be large …

In the end …

… it will be transparency — political and financial — that kills the coal industry.

Here to stay

Why I don’t agree with James Kunstler about peak oil and the ‘end of suburbia’

The remarkably low fueling cost of the best current hybrids (like the Toyota Prius) and future plug-in hybrids are major reasons I don't worry as much about peak oil as some do. James Kunstler, for instance, argues in his 2005 book The Long Emergency (see Rolling Stone excerpt here) that after oil production peaks, suburbia "will become untenable" and "we will have to say farewell to easy motoring." In Rolling Stone, Kunstler writes, "Suburbia will come to be regarded as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world." (No -- that distinction probably belongs to China's torrid love-affair with coal power.) But suppose Kunstler is right about peak oil. Suppose oil hits $160 a barrel and gasoline goes to $5 dollars a gallon in, say, 2015. That price would still be lower than many Europeans pay today. You could just go out and buy the best hybrid and cut your fuel bill in half, back to current levels. Hardly the end of suburbia.

Umbra on solar holiday lights

Dear Umbra, As the holiday season approaches, I’m trying to figure out how to spread good cheer in home decorations while being sensitive to the environment. Years ago, my husband and I purchased strings of …

New partnership hopes to jumpstart global carbon market

A whole slew of countries and states have signed on to a new International Carbon Action Partnership, with a goal of sharing knowledge about and standardizing best practices for what they hope will become a …

The other black gold

U.S. investors make a killing off of Chinese coal

China’s vast coal industry: Where would we be without it? Cheap Chinese coal keeps consumer-goods prices low, allowing us to consume like mad even as crude-oil prices skyrocket. It’s also returning handsome profits to U.S. …

Learning to shave

We need a grid as smart as our bombs

So much talk about new energy supplies ignores the wisdom we supposedly learned in the '70s about "negawatts" being the most efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly source of power around. It's good to see that we might finally make some progress in this direction, learning to shave demand peaks and save a bundle (and open the way for integrating more renewables into the grid):

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