Environment Forum

from Entrepreneurial:

Innovation is how we make our living: Is China buying?

A wind turbine is seen near a gate of the ancient city of Wushu in Diaobingshan, Liaoning province January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Sheng Li

-- Tom Lyon is the director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, and Peter Adriaens is a professor of entrepreneurship at the Zell Lurie Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies, both at the University of Michigan. The views expressed are their own. --

President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union speech, called for America to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” But who is the competition, exactly? Who is presenting “our generation’s Sputnik moment”? Who are we racing against to put a million electric vehicles on the road? The president’s answer: China.

Encouraging American innovation is a major piece of the president’s strategy to win the future. And a global leadership position in innovation is ours to lose.

During another era of innovation, the dot-com boom of the 1990s, the U.S. was perhaps the best market in the world for the launch of the Internet. Now, China is arguably the best market today for deployment of clean technology. China is adding energy production capacity, cars on the road, and new cities faster than any other country in the world. Plus, it has the financial and political power to direct the market to move away from cheaper, legacy technologies.

So how can U.S. researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs profit from the market in China while preserving innovation leadership? That’s a question we first explored during the University of Michigan’s Clean Tech Symposium this past December. In our view, the overwhelming message of the symposium was that the U.S. and China are well matched in bringing together the supply and demand for cleantech innovation.

The Green Gauge: Kimberly-Clark, NCR face pollution charges

A freight train on the Wisconsin Central Railroad lines crosses the Fox River on the south edge of Vernon Marsh Wildlife Area in a view from the town of Mukwonago, Wisconsin June 10, 2008.    REUTERS/Allen Fredrickson

Leading this week’s Green Gauge, a breakdown of companies in the news for behavior affecting the environment, are Kimberly-Clark and NCR who are being sued along with seven others for PCB pollution dating back more than 50 years.

Selections of headlines about publicly-traded companies 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.

bot25 Kimberly-Clark Corp. and NCR Corp.

The long-lasting risks of environmental pollution were revealed recently, as the U.S. Department of Justice filed a major law suit against Kimberly-Clark, NCR, and nine other companies to pay for continued clean-up and environmental restoration work relating to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) pollution in Wisconsin’s Fox River and Green Bay from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s.  Although $300 million has already been paid for clean-up efforts at the site, the Department of Justice claims that $550 million of additional clean-up and $400 million of natural resource restoration work is still required.  The lawsuit claims that the companies originally responsible for the pollution have resisted taking full financial responsibility for the  clean-up costs as well as the efforts necessary to repair the long-term damage to natural resources that resulted from the pollution.

from The Great Debate:

Smart grid skepticism derails Baltimore plan

Maryland Public Service Commission highlighted the political resistance smart-metering advocates must overcome when it shot down proposals for compulsory smart metering submitted by Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE).

Smart grids are essential for the Obama administration's and power industry's plan to meet rising electricity demand while integrating more renewable generation into the grid.

Creating flexibility on the demand side to match increased intermittency in supply is the only way to maintain reliability without having to build enormous amounts of expensive back-up gas-fired generating capacity and disfigure the landscape by installing thousands of miles of transmission lines.

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