Environment Forum

Video Q + A with sustainability expert Matthew Kiernan

Did you know companies could negotiate lower interest rates by convincing their lenders it pays to be sustainable?

Implementing a sustainability strategy can mean stronger sales, stronger cash flow and reductions in costs, says Dr. Matthew Kiernan, founder and chief executive of Inflection Point Capital Management and author of Investing in a Sustainable World.

Companies must take the lead in telling their financiers how an improvement in environmental performance can bolster their bottom lines, he told the Green Employers 2010 Conference in Toronto this week.

Institutional investors are the slowest of all industrial sectors to wake up to the need for sustainability, Kiernan says.

We asked Kiernan about sustainable investment and the potential impact of the climate bill currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate. Here are his answers.

Who is responsible for cleaning up our oceans?


– David Rockefeller, Jr. is a philanthropist and CEO of Around the Americas and Chairman of Sailors for the Sea. Any views expressed here are his own. –

When the Ocean Watch set sail from Seattle last May at the launch of our Around the Americas expedition, our greatest challenge was to make Americans start thinking about health of oceans. For too long, we have been taking our rich seafood supplies and scenic seascapes for granted.

One year and 28,000 miles later, and now with the massive BP oil spill, much has changed.

MMS “cozy” with industry? Hardly

JDH 2– John Hofmeister is founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, former president of Shell Oil Company and author of Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider. Any views expressed here are his own. –

How bad, really, was the Minerals Management Service (MMS)?

The quick answer is no one will ever know.

Despite all the accusations of a “cozy” relationship with industry, the recent termination of President Obama’s appointee who served less than a year, as well as the re-organization by the Interior Department suggest that any sleaze has been swept aside by political calculations in the rush to assert that the administration is on top of things in Washington.

I must admit I was surprised to hear of this cozy relationship, since my experience with the MMS was exactly the opposite.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington spinmeisters start BP’s damage control

OIL-RIG/LEAKThe new public relations gurus hired by BP couldn't have started at a better time. The team, headed by Anne Womack-Kolton -- a former spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney and the White House -- had just started work when they had to deal with an unfortunate statement by BP chief executive Tony Hayward.

On Sunday Hayward infuriated many of those struggling to deal with the impact the massive oil spill has had on their lives and livelihood when he said he wanted his "life back" and wanted the oil spill mess to be over. So today his office issued the following email:

I made a hurtful and thoughtless comment on Sunday when I said that 'I wanted my life back.' When I read that recently, I was appalled. I apologize, especially to the families of the 11 men who lost their lives in this tragic accident. Those words don’t represent how I feel about this tragedy, and certainly don’t represent the hearts of the people of BP – many of whom live and work in the Gulf - who are doing everything they can to make things right. My first priority is doing all we can to restore the lives of the people of the Gulf region and their families – to restore their lives, not mine.

Logo designers compete to create a new oil-spill themed icon for BP

bp_Logo01Does BP’s now-familiar yellow-and-green sunflower logo need an update? Joe Daley thinks so. As the founder of a website that acts as a clearinghouse for logo designers around the world, Daley reckons the British oil giant’s corporate icon should reflect the spreading oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. So Daley’s launched an online contest to find an appropriate replacement logo.

These kinds of logo competitions are nothing new; that’s how the website works to match designers with businesses, with the businesses paying the prize to the winning design. Daley himself put up the $200 in prize money for the BP logo redesign contest — BP has nothing to do with it — to raise awareness of the spill.

BPThe idea evolved after he was chatting online with several designers about the BP oil spill, and a couple of them asked, “What spill?” “That’s when I decided to get it out in a more creative way,” Daley said by telephone from Columbus, Ohio.

Some fishing goes on despite the oil spill

Venice, Louisiana, proudly calls itself the world’s “Fishing Capital” but as the Memorial Day holiday weekend gets under way, there are times when it seems journalists outnumber anglers in this steamy bayou town. There are also lots of fishing and charter guides with no or few clients.

Venice caters to recreational anglers in pursuit of legendary game such as redfish and it is suffering as the spill spreads from the ruptured well out in the Gulf of Mexico.

I have spoken to several fishing guides over the past couple of days and they all complain about BP — held squarely responsible for the mess — the situation, and the numerous clients who keep canceling their trips.

Boom or bust in oil spill fight

The giant Gulf of Mexico oil spill is breaching some of the apparently threadbare defenses that are being used contain it.

The National Wildlife Federation took a group of journalists on Thursday on a tour of some of the affected south Louisiana wetlands. Scientists on the tour took samples of oil that have washed into wild cane fields that tower more than 10 feet above the water.


The smell of oil hung thickly in the humid air and its presence was clear at the base of the green cane and reeds, which was darkly discolored.

Walruses in Louisiana? Eyebrow-raising details of BP’s spill response plan

LIFE WALRUSLouisiana walruses? Seals swimming along the Gulf Coast?

These creatures normally live in the Arctic Ocean, not the Gulf of Mexico, but they’re listed as “sensitive biological resources” that could be affected by an oil spill in the area in a document filed by BP last June with the U.S. Minerals Management Service. More than a month after BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig blew out and sank on April 20, the British oil giant’s regional spill response plan drew some severe criticism from the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

One problem with BP’s nearly 600-page spill response plan? “It was utterly useless in the event of a spill,” Jeff Ruch, PEER’s executive director, said by telephone. His group, which acts as a kind of safe haven for government whistle-blowers, detailed what it called “outright inanities”  in BP’s filing and the government’s approval of it.

PEER noted BP’s plan referred to “sea lions, seals, sea otters (and) walruses” as wildlife that might be affected in the Gulf of Mexico, and suggested this reference was taken from a previous plan for Arctic exploratory drilling, where these animals could be affected.

Now is not the time to research oil cleanup


– Rona Fried, Ph.D., is CEO of SustainableBusiness.com, a news and networking site for green businesses: including a green jobs service and a green investing newsletter.  Any views expressed here are her own. —

Before the catastrophic BP oil drilling failure, polls showed that Americans favored oil drilling as a safe way to increase our energy independence. This was after decades of polls trending in the opposite direction.

Are Americans learning something from this?

I submit that Americans have become too trusting and complacent toward multinational corporations – will this be a wake-up call? Since the Obama Administration came into office, we’ve seen stark reminders of corporate greed and lack of appropriate regulatory oversight in just about every industry – the recent coal mining accidents, the outrageous behavior of Wall Street firms, a health care industry that raises premiums 40 percent even in the face of regulation, and now an oil industry that proves it’s completely unprepared to deal with an accident.

The Green Gauge: Statoil rapped over oil sands

Another oil company besides BP is drawing the ire of environmental groups this month. The Norwegian-based Statoil is under fire for development of the oil sands of Alberta Canada, a bi-weekly analysis of companies in the news by ASSET4 data providers shows.

Here is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines May 8 to May 21 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.

Company selections were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.