Environment Forum

The future of carbon reporting

Liz Logan and Kangos
– Liz Logan is a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Sustainability and Climate Change practice and leads the company’s efforts as adviser to the Carbon Disclosure Project. Doug Kangos is a PwC partner who focuses on assisting companies respond to demands of greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability reporting. Any views expressed here are their own. –

Carbon reporting by U.S.-based companies today has broad similarities to financial reporting before the enactment of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. Just as market forces and regulation evolved then, so too now are we seeing a similar trend.

We expect that within this decade, more companies will regard carbon as significant and will develop and implement increasingly sophisticated and accurate programs to track, manage and report emissions data. And to the extent that carbon emissions are monetized through, for example, a cap-and-trade system, they will become subject to conventional accounting and reporting, with their demands for high levels of accuracy, reliability and timeliness.

Reporting demands can come from many sources. Procter & Gamble, for example, recently joined Wal-Mart Stores and others in initiating a sustainability scorecard program for its suppliers. While the substance of these programs varies with the nature of each business, the trend is undeniable and serves as a springboard for other manufacturers and retailers to follow.

Based on these early programs, companies should prepare themselves for more data requests in the near term from major customers.

Special report: Ten years of oil spills

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The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and subsequent oil leak this summer captured urgent intellectual efforts of leading scientists around the world.

Though it was the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, it was not the first oil spill nor will it be the last.

To date, scientific studies and published reports on the topic number in the hundreds of thousands. After two months of sorting these reports, Thomson Reuters’ Science Watch is releasing their findings in an extensive Special Topic report with the  most influential research on oil spills, from remediation (including dispersants) to bioindicators.  Citation data from January 2000 to June 2010 was approached from various angles, and trends and anomalies emerge handily.

The Green Gauge: Shale developers hit speed bumps

A pedestrian walks near a no drilling sign in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania, September 5, 2010. In the rush to develop America's biggest new source of domestic energy, one community is fighting to protect its rural way of life from the environmental strains that accompany shale gas drilling.  REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Development of shale gas has attracted myriad fans and enemies in recent months: those who cheer a source of natural gas on the home turf of the U.S. and environmentalists who warn the process to release the gas underground risks contaminating drinking water.

This month, Chesapeake Energy, Denbury Resources and Southwest Energy Co. each made headlines for environmental mishaps, and share the top spot in this issue of The Green Gauge, a breakdown of companies that made headlines Sept. 6 to Sept 19 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.

Selections of 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.

Jay Leno’s garage: a lot of EVs

The fact that comedian Jay Leno has a serious collection of cars in his 17,000 square-foot-garage in southern California may not surprise fans, but his soft spot for electric and hybrid vehicles most likely will turn a few heads.

In this exclusive interview with GigaOM‘s Green Overdrive crew, the host of “The Tonight Show” opens the door to his solar-powered home for dozens and dozens of cars for an animated tour of his collection, including three cherished vintage electric models from the 1900s.

‘Friendly’ push for Facebook to dump coal

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, delivers a keynote address at the company's annual conference in San Francisco, California July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Kimberly White

With half a million signatures backing it up, Greenpeace fired off a letter to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg today calling for the world’s largest social network to cut ties to coal-fired power at its new data center in Oregon.

“Other cloud-based companies face similar choices and challenges as you do in building data centers, yet many are making smarter and cleaner investments,” executive director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, writes. He points to Google and its a recent agreement to buy wind power from NextEra Energy for the next 20 years to power its data centers.

The letter adds to what’s turning into a miserable week for Zuckerberg, who is also fighting a civil lawsuit by a man who claims to own a huge chunk of the social network site and is seeking to uncover “unnecessary details” about Zuckerberg’s private life.

Could wind push energy bill to fruition?

A state-of-the-art wind turbine at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) spins on a sunny day near Boulder, Colorado July 21, 2010.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking

–Andris (Andy) E. Cukurs is chief executive officer of North American operations of India-based Suzlon Energy Ltd., the world’s third-largest wind turbine manufacturer. Any views expressed here are his own.–

The climate bill may have stalled and, with it, a renewable electricity standard that would promote wind and other renewable-energy sources. But at the same time, wind energy continues to make strong strides.

Just look at the commitment of large corporations, like  Google, purchasing 20 years of wind-generated electricity in Iowa, ostensibly to operate its huge data centers. Or SC Johnson & Son, installing turbines at its Wisconsin headquarters and putting up a windmill at its largest European manufacturing plant – in addition to nearly half its Ziploc plant in Michigan powered with wind.

Hemp car sparks a buzz

Undated promotional photo shows the Motive Kestrel electric vehicle. REUTERS/Handout

The blogosphere is abuzz about an electric car made of hemp developed by a team of Canadian companies who plan its debut at the EV trade show in Vancouver next month.

The compact four-passenger car, with its body made of hemp bio-composite, will have a top speed of 55 miles per hour and a range of 25 to 100 miles before needing to be recharged, depending on the battery, CBC News reported.

Calgary-based developer Motive Industries Inc. said hemp achieves the same mechanical properties as glass composite without the weight, an important goal when designing the body of a battery-powered vehicle.

The Green Gauge: CF Industries told to clean up

Christopher Greenwald

– Christopher Greenwald is 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. –

It never looks good when the EPA raps you on the knuckles for failing to take care of your surroundings. Such was the case last week for CF Industries, a fertilizer-maker now facing a price tag of more than $12 million to improve conditions at a facility in Florida.

Here are the highlights of companies in the news from August 8 to 23. Selections of companies were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.

Scottish scientists brew up whisky biofuel

Professor Martin Tangey, Director of Edinburgh Napier University Biofuel Research Centre, holds a glass of whisky during a media viewing in Edinburgh, Scotland August 17, 2010. The University, which has filed a patent for a new super butanol biofuel made from whiskey by-products, 'pot ale' - a liquid taken from the copper stills, and 'draff' which is the spent grain, claims the bio-fuel gives 30 percent more output power than ethanol. REUTERS/David Moir

Scientists in Scotland have unveiled a new biofuel made from whisky byproducts that they say can power ordinary cars more efficiently than ethanol.

A research team from Edinburgh’s Napier University spent two years creating the biofuel butanol that can be used in gas tanks either as a stand-alone fuel or blended with petrol or diesel, they announced Tuesday. It is derived from distillation byproducts pot ale (liquid from copper stills) and draff (the spent grains).

Is this the answer for critics of corn-based, energy-intensive ethanol?

“While some energy companies are growing crops specifically to generate biofuel, we are investigating excess materials such as whisky by-products to develop them,” Professor Martin Tangey, director of Napier’s Biofuel Research Center told the Financial Times.

In Gaza, it’s not easy being green

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– This story by Theodore May originally appeared in Global Post. –

In the small central Gaza town of Deir el Belah, one family has made a cottage industry out of green innovation.

“There was a period in Gaza when there was no gas or you had to wait for hours in line to get gas. So we made the oven according to our needs,” said Maher Youssef Abou Tawahina, who, along with his father, runs a hardware shop in town.

Abou Tawahina is referring to a solar-powered oven that he and his family invented two years ago. The oven, which sits in the family’s backyard, takes five minutes to heat up using electricity. Then, its glass ceiling uses the sun to continue the heating process. The oven is not quite hot enough for baking bread, he said, but it’s perfect for roasting chicken.

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