Global environmental challenges
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.
Not surprisingly, I found nothing mind-blowing.
Our intentions are good, but we move – as always – incrementally. Catastrophic climate change still doesn’t fit our spreadsheets. Pension funds still rely on voluntary principles of risk avoidance.
But hats off to Paul Abberley, CEO of Aviva Investors out of London, England, for the best idea of the conference. Abberley wants to translate, directly, the good intentions of pension contributors into the fiduciary duty of investment managers.
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.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced this week $60 million in funding for scientists to develop “revolutionary research” to lower the cost of solar power systems.
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.
Before California regulators announced they unanimously approved regulations for a cap and trade market on Thursday, the chair of the California Air Resources Board made much ado about the impact it would have on the development of clean technology in the state.
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.
What venture capitalists really think and what they say aren’t always the same thing.
A professor at the University of Delaware has patented a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology for parked electric vehicles to return power to the grid and teamed up with NRG Energy to commercialize it.
Professor Willett Kempton, who has been testing V2G technology that lessens the load on natural gas plants, told the New York Times utilities would not be interested in buying electricity from individual cars but from groups of perhaps 100 vehicles.