Global environmental challenges
from Hallie Seegal:
There are high hopes that the natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will boost the economy and bring the United States closer to energy independence, but if the energy industry expects to break new ground and fulfill a growing demand anytime soon, they need to make friends with the people who reside near the drilling rigs.
Two new reports out last week point to the potential of how fracking, the process whereby a highly-pressured mixture of water, sand and chemicals is blasted through underground shale rock formations to release natural gas, could positively benefit our economy. One study projects that natural gas will account for nearly one-third of total U.S. energy produced by 2040, and the other one, a government commissioned report which the Obama administration is expected to partially base its shale gas policy on, shows natural gas exports providing revenue to the struggling economy under every condition considered.
The Obama administration has largely left regulation of private land up to the states, and for many landowners, the impacts of hydraulic fracturing don’t just hit close to home… they drill right into their backyards. Last month, voters in Longmont, Colo. became the latest in the country to ban fracking within town limits. The ballot initiative was passed via a bipartisan vote and the town will likely follow in the footsteps a handful of other municipalities, including the upstate New York towns of Dryden, Middlefield and Avon, that already passed bans or moratoriums and are in the midst of legal challenges to uphold them. While local ordinances may not typically make national news, the precedent set by these local governments cannot be overstated. At the most micro level, local residents came together and threw a wedge into the plans of private industry -- industry that by the way, already have allocated millions of dollars to harvest these towns’ natural resources.
Tom Rand, P.Eng., Ph.D., is Cleantech Lead Advisor at MaRS Disovery District and author of Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit. Any views expressed are his own.
Curious about new financial innovations to accelerate the global transition to a low-carbon economy, I attended the recent United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) summit in Washington, D.C. This was a gathering of big money and those who shape its flows – pension funds, insurance companies, policy wonks and political negotiators.
If the Nobel society had an award for sustainability, it would resemble the Katerva awards, a new international prize for the most promising ideas and efforts to advance the planet toward sustainability.
Minus the money.
Katerva, the new UK-based charity, today announced winners for 10 individual categories, who are now shortlisted for a single grand prize to be awarded in New York on Dec. 7.
Becky Kelley directs the Climate and Clean Energy Agenda at the Washington Environmental Council. Any opinions expressed are her own.
We could smell the sweet winds of change all the way up in Washington State last week, when California adopted final rules to implement a cap and trade program to reduce climate pollution across its economy, beginning in 2013.
The DeLorean Motor Co. announced it will launch an all-electric version of its Back to the Future gull-winged car in 2013, but aficionados are debating whether or not it will fly.
Texas-based DeLorean has partnered with Epic EV (and its sister battery company Flux Power) to bring to market the prototype DMC-12 EV, with a top speed of 125 mph driven by a 260 horsepower electric motor. Range is between 70 and 100 miles and the battery has an expected lifespan of 7 years.
Newsweek today released its third annual Green Rankings, a leading benchmark for rating the largest publicly owned companies in the United States and around the world. Again this year they divided the rankings into two surveys, the top U.S. companies and the top global companies, this year increasing the number of global companies to 500 from 100. By far it’s tech companies leading the packs, from IBM (who scored #1 and #2 on U.S. and the Global lists respectively) to Hewlett-Packard, BT Group and Infosys among others.
Newsweek’s comprehensive online package includes articles to mull including Cary Krosinsky’s report that companies and their shareholders “make out like bandits when they’re environmentally responsible” and a closer look at “Obama’s Big Green Mess” by Daniel Stone and Eleanor Clift as well as other nuggets on the state of green business in faltering economies and abandoned plans for policy reform at the governmental level.
It’s not often that a U.S. first lady’s gift makes news — years after the fact — but Michelle Obama’s 2009 present to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has sparked some comment among free trade boosters and guitar pickers. The gift in question: a Gibson Hummingbird guitar.
Gibson Guitar Corp. has been making some news of its own this week, which is why those in Washington with long memories recalled the gift to the music-loving French first lady. Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz was in town to raise awareness about a problem he has with a long-standing U.S. law aimed at curbing illegal trafficking in tropical hardwoods, among other materials. Federal agents raided two of his Tennessee factories and confiscated more than $1 million worth of rosewood, ebony and finished guitars. No charges have been filed but Gibson’s chief says he is being investigated for possible violation of the Lacey Act of 1900. Read more about that here.
from The Great Debate UK:
It is more than a year since the devastating July and August 2010 floods in Pakistan that affected about 20 million people and killed an estimated 2,000. Many believe that the disaster was partially fuelled by global warming, and that there is a real danger that Pakistan, and the Indian subcontinent in general, could become the focus of much more regular catastrophic flooding.
What venture capitalists really think and what they say aren’t always the same thing.