Archive for the ‘Express 166’ Category

Profile: Hillary Clinton

Posted by Ken on May 11, 2012
Posted under Express 166

“We don’t have to choose between doing well and doing good.  The only choice we have to make is to do better.” She told the Global Impact Economy Forum that “our goal is to create an inclusive economic ecosystem that fosters this kind of investing” Social enterprise and public-private partnership. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also urged the government of Bangladesh not to do anything that could undermine the effectiveness of the internationally acclaimed Grameen Bank micro-lender, a pioneer in issuing small loans to the poor as a way to overcome poverty, earning its founder  Mohammed Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Read More

At the Global Impact Economy Forum (26 April 2012):

Loy Henderson Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

Edited Transcript:

SECRETARY CLINTON:  I’m delighted to welcome Sir Richard Branson.  Thank you so much for being here.  I love the fact that he is such a strong proponent for business as unusual.  And I’m excited he’s here because many, many, many years ago, I wanted to be an astronaut, and I think he may be my last chance to live out – (laughter) – that particular dream.

You’re here because you know that we have an opportunity with the convergence of the recognition on the part of government, the private sector, civil society, that we can be so much more effective working together than working at cross-purposes.  And for me, this is a great moment to look at where we stand in the world in the pursuit of economic growth and prosperity that is broadly inclusive and sustainable.

You know the statistics as well as anyone:  One out of three people in the world today living on less than $2 a day; the challenges we face from finite resources, climate change, and other environmental degradation; looking at how people themselves are being empowered from the bottom up in large measure because of the phenomenon of social media.  And it’s not only happening somewhere out there, it’s happening everywhere.

And the fact is, these trend lines, apart from the headlines that we all spend most of our time looking at, are profoundly important to foreign policy and national security of all of our countries, because governments everywhere, including most particularly our own, are grappling with what challenges like these mean for our citizens.

We believe expanding economic opportunity is fundamental to achieving our own national interest.  We want more prosperous societies.  We want to see people moving into the middle class.  We want to see that creativity and entrepreneurial spirit fostering growth.  And we have been working within the Obama Administration to bring our various institutions together to try to put forth that as a focus for us.

So the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Commerce, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, many other of our own institutions working together with international and multilateral institutions are trying to crack the code on removing the obstacles that limit growth.  But we have to be more intentional about it.  And that’s part of what this forum is meant to both represent, but far more importantly, help us achieve.

And we recognize that so called official development assistance is no longer the leading edge indicator or tool that it used to be.  In the 1960s, official development assistance represented about 70 percent of capital flows into developing nations.  Today that number is about 13 percent.  Where does the rest come from?  Well, you know it comes from the private sector, comes from increased trade revenues, it comes from the flow of remittances, and any number of other non-governmental sources.  So we’ve made it a goal of this Administration to do more to engage with and coordinate with the private sector, non-profits, philanthropists, diasporas, and anyone else who has value to add.

We know we need partnerships and innovative alliances, which is why one of the first things I did at the State Department was to set up this Office of Global Partnerships.  We needed to tear down the silos that prevented us from working creatively and smartly together.  We needed to facilitate and scale up the impact economy.  And we needed to make it clear that we were over the separation mentality that for too long has guided our efforts.

What do I mean by that?  Well, in the past, we looked at corporate revenue and corporate responsibility as separate concerns.  We looked at government activity and everything else as separate concerns.  Now we know that there’s so much out there that is happening but may not be shared broadly enough so that it both inspires and catalyzes others to do the same.  There is a market waiting to be filled in every corner of this world.

So if we can open the doors to new markets and new investments, we can tap as many as 1.4 billion new mid-market customers with growing incomes in developing countries.  Taken together, they represent more than $12 trillion in spending power.  That’s a huge potential customer base, not only for American companies, which is my primary concern, but also for others.

So when we make investments from the three stools of this strategy, official development assistance, not-for-profit philanthropic assistance, private sector investments, we are not only helping to grow and strengthen middle classes in developing nations, we are also supporting the businesses that create jobs here at home.

We know that working with the private sector can bolster both our foreign policy interests and our development efforts.  But we hope the private sector knows that working with government and civil society also offers value.  And increasingly our goals, I would argue, overlap.

Consider just a few examples:  Each year, India’s farmers produce nearly 200 million metric tons of rice and wheat, but they lose nearly one-tenth of it after harvest.  Just the portion of grain that farmers lose because they don’t have a good way to dry and store their crops would feed about 4 million additional people.

Sachpreet Chandhoke is here today.  Well, last year, she led a team of students from Kellogg School of Management to take on this challenge.  They designed and pitched the Grain Depot Fund as part of the International Impact Investing Challenge.  They proposed building village-level warehouses where local farmers can access the proper equipment to dry their crops and store them, protected from insects, humidity, and theft.   Investors in these warehouses will see returns of almost 20 percent while also helping prevent the needless loss of grain, increasing the farmers’ incomes by as much as 15 percent, and creating dozens of local jobs around the storage centers.  So with numbers like that, it’s easy to see why Sachpreet and her colleagues won the competition.

Or look at northern Haiti.  With its proximity to the U.S. market, the area has great potential to be a regional manufacturing hub.  But for decades, despite interest, there was a lack of industrial facilities, limited electric supply, inadequate ports, which all held back private investment.  Today, the north of Haiti ranks as one of Haiti’s poorest regions, and of course, Haiti is the poorest country in our hemisphere.

So last year, working with the Government of Haiti and the Inter-American Development Bank, the State Department facilitated a $500 million public-private partnership with the leading Korean garment manufacturer Sae-A.  This partnership will develop a globally competitive industrial park in northern Haiti, one of the largest in the Caribbean.  It will include an onsite power plant, a waste water treatment facility, and executive residences.  Sae-A has projected that it will create 20,000 jobs by 2016 and they will be investing more than $70 million in northern Haiti.  The region will continue to benefit from ongoing investments in housing and health clinics, a new container port, and electrification projects for the towns surrounding the industrial park.  Sae-A began moving into the first two new 100,000 square feet factory buildings this week, and we expect other tenants to follow later in the year.

At a larger level, our Overseas Private Investment Corporation offers institutional proof that impact investing works.  Throughout its 40-year history they have been making investments with positive social and environmental returns at the same time as OPIC has generated a profit for American taxpayers.  Last year, OPIC issued a call for proposals to catalyze a greater commitment to impact investing.  And so far, it has approved $285 million in financing for six new funds that will invest in projects improving job creation, healthcare, combating climate change, and the like.

These are just a few of the examples I could give you of what we are really focused on making happen.  And that’s why we are sponsoring and hosting this Global Impact Economy Forum.  You’re here because you understand creating shared value is actually in all of our interest.  We need all the potential partners, not only here, but who are not in the room, to understand that as well.   Our goal is to create an inclusive economic ecosystem that fosters this kind of investing.

So today, I’m proud to announce two exciting new partnerships.  USAID – I don’t know if Raj Shah – is Raj here?  Ah, oh good, you’re here.  USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, or DIV, invests in breakthrough development solutions that truly have the potential to change millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost.  And now, through a new Global Development Alliance between USAID and the Skoll Foundation, we are dedicating more than $40 million to focus on scaling up game-changing innovations that are cost-effective and sustainable.

This was one of Raj’s and my principal goals when we both came into our positions.  It is obviously important to provide humanitarian relief when people are starving because of bad government policies that undermine agricultural development or because of drought or other acts of nature.  But it’s better to get ahead of the curve and to invest in new, more effective agricultural production.  It’s fine to set up clinics, to take care of people when they’re sick or they’re suffering from disease, but it’s better to get ahead of it and to find interventions like bed nets that will actually prevent disease in the first place.  So we’re investing a lot of money in Development Innovation Ventures because we think it will save money, but we need private sector support and ideas as well.

Secondly, we are committed to doing development and diplomacy differently.  That’s why I commissioned the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review to take a hard look at ourselves and make sure we knew what we were doing that worked and do more of it and stop what we were doing that didn’t work.  So our second program is part of our ongoing investing with impact initiative.  It’s called Accelerating Market-Driven Partnerships, or AMP.  It’s very important in Washington you get a good acronym so people spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the initials will sound like.  AMP will bring a business eye to taking on social and environmental problems in developing markets.

We will launch it in Brazil, focused first on building sustainable cities, from providing low-cost housing, to offering skills training that builds capacity of local workers, to improving urban waste management systems.  AMP will draw on the resources of the private sector, civil society, and multilateral partners in both Brazil and the United States, including Arent Fox, Machado Associados, Grupo ABC, HP, the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank Group, and Mercy Corps.

So we’re bringing a whole-of-government approach and a broad base of partners to this, creating an innovation toolkit looking at the critical elements necessary to strengthen science and technology to support entrepreneurship and innovation.  We’ll be sending our first innovation delegation to Brazil.  We’re collaborating with Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas to advance this initiative.  If it proves successful in Brazil, we’ll obviously want to expand it and invite you to join us.

Now, I’m not the only one who will be announcing new commitments today.  Many of you are here to do the same.  This forum fundamentally is built on the idea we don’t have to choose between doing well and doing good.  The only choice we have to make is to do better – do better in government, do better in business, do better in civil society.  And one thing is clear: We cannot solve our problems or address our challenges without working together.  That goes for countries working together and all of us as well.  So I have high hopes for this forum.  I thank everybody who has been contributing to it to bring it to reality, and I look forward to working with you on the partnerships and opportunities that it helps to midwife for all of us.


Matthew Lee for Associated Press (6 May 2012):

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday urged the government of Bangladesh not to do anything that could undermine the effectiveness of the internationally acclaimed Grameen Bank micro-lender.

Clinton told a town hall audience in the Bangladeshi capital that the pioneering bank founded by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus was a “tremendous” model for the developing world and that its structure should not be tinkered with. A search for a new bank chief is now underway since the government ousted Yunus last year in a heavily criticized step.

Clinton is a personal friend of Yunus and met with him for about 45 minutes at the U.S. ambassador’s residence before the town hall. She made the case for non-interference in the bank’s operations in meetings Saturday with Bangladesh’s feuding prime minister and main opposition leader.

“We do not want to see any action taken that would in anyway undermine or interfere in the operations of the Grameen Bank or its unique organizational structure where the poor women themselves are the owners,” Clinton told the town hall. “I don’t want anything that would in any way undermine what has been a tremendous model.”

“The Grameen Bank has played an instrumental role,” she said. “I highly respect Mohammed Yunus and I highly respect the work that he has done and I am hoping to see it continue without being in any way undermined or affected by any government action because that would be unfortunate.”

Grameen was a pioneer in issuing small loans to the poor as a way to overcome poverty, earning it and Yunus the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. It has about 9 million borrowers, mostly women.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s administration ousted Yunus, 71, as managing director of Grameen Bank last year in a dispute over retirement age. Yunus argued he was exempt from regulations that set the retirement age at 60, but lost a court appeal.

Yunus has long had frosty relations with Hasina. She was reportedly angered by Yunus’ 2007 attempt to form his own political party backed by the powerful army when the country was under a state of emergency and Hasina herself was behind bars.

Last month, Bangladesh’s government said it would investigate 54 businesses linked to the Grameen Bank because they had not been authorized by the bank’s board. A Bangladesh government-appointed investigation last year found that the bank violated its charter as a microlender by creating affiliates that did not benefit the bank’s shareholders, and recommended the government integrate those affiliates with the bank.

Yunus maintains those social businesses are independent and should remain so. He has accused the government of attempting to interfere in Grameen Bank’s activities. The government has denied the allegation.

Clinton also called on Bangladeshis to unite and press their leaders to end their most recent bout of discord for the good of their impoverished country. Weeks of strikes and protests that have paralyzed the country and killed at least five people have undermined development and scared off foreign investors, she said.

The actions stem from the disappearance of an opposition leader last month. Clinton appealed to the people of Bangladesh to respect the rule of law and called for a robust government investigation of the missing politician and allegations by the opposition of a brutal crackdown on dissent.

“There needs to be total rule of law, with no impunity,” Clinton told the town hall.

Clinton said she told Hasina and the opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, that they need to overcome years of animosity, especially as the country prepares for elections set for 2014.

“I told them I wish you could figure out ways to work together, you need to work together to get an election mechanism in place,” she said.

“What you need is national unity,” she said. “The people have to demand that.”


IEA Green Light: Asia’s New Clean Energy Fund

Posted by Ken on May 11, 2012
Posted under Express 166

The newly formed Armstrong South East Asia Clean Energy Fund has US$66 million to invest in approved small-scale infrastructure projects, geared to generate up to 10 megawatt (MW) from renewable energy resources, such as solar, hydro, wind in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and other Southeast Asian emerging markets. Meanwhile, International Energy Agency (IEA) says of 11 technologies required to reduce emissions, only renewable power – particularly from wind and solar – merited a green for being on track. Read More

Armstrong readies for launch of new US$150m Clean Energy fund focused on Southeast Asia’s emerging markets

Singapore-based asset manager secures commitments towards a first closing at US$66m from leading European finance institutions GEEREF and DEG, and an Asian-based corporate

Singapore, 10 May 2012 – Armstrong Asset Management, a newly-established independent clean energy asset manager is set to launch its first fund, the Armstrong South East Asia Clean Energy Fund (“ASEACE” or the “Fund”). The new private-equity vehicle aims to provide development capital to small-scale renewable energy and resource efficiency projects in Southeast Asia. With an expected first closing at US$66 million this month, the fund will include commitments from two leading European development finance institutions: GEEREF, the Fund-of-Funds advised by European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Investment Fund (EIF), and DEG, a member of KfW Bankengruppe. In addition, the third and largest limited partner in the initial close will be a South East Asian-based corporate with significant interests in multiple industry sectors.

With a target size of up to US$150 million, the 10-year fund will invest in small-scale infrastructure projects in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and other Southeast Asian emerging markets. Typical projects sizes will generate power of up to 10 megawatt (MW) from renewable energy resources, such as solar, hydro, wind.

“ASEACE is on track to be the only operational clean energy fund dedicated to Southeast Asia. While both China and India tend to get more attention, for Armstrong, we’ve found that focusing on Southeast Asia has been a strong draw for our investors. It helps that new regulatory policies are being enacted by governments in the region which encourage the development of the renewable energy sector,” said Andrew Affleck, managing partner of Armstrong Asset Management. “In fact, Armstrong’s management team members have deep sector and cultural knowledge of Southeast Asia from their involvement in over 100 energy and infrastructure projects.”

“Our focus is on small-scale projects which provide some real advantages well-suited for Southeast Asia. It’s an investment strategy that we have employed in Europe previously and we are now adapting it for this region where opportunities are much greater,” said Mr Affleck who has 22 years of asset management and investment banking experience in the Asian region, having focused on clean energy investments for the last 7 years.

Prior to setting up Armstrong Asset Management, Andrew Affleck was CEO of Low Carbon Investors Ltd, a dedicated global clean energy fund management group with over US$300 million under management. During his four year tenure, he co-led the firm’s transformation from a US$50 million single fund cleantech venture business to a multi-fund clean energy infrastructure asset manager. The infrastructure funds have led to operational experience gained through the development and acquisition of 28 small scale (sub 10MW) solar and wind projects which in aggregate amount to 83MW.


About Armstrong Asset Management

Armstrong Asset Management is an independent asset manager, based in Singapore, focused on the clean energy sector in Southeast Asia’s emerging markets. Armstrong has announced its first fund will invest in small-scale infrastructure projects and is on track to achieve first closing at US$66 million. The Armstrong South-East Asia Clean Energy fund (“ASEACE”) is set to be the only operational clean energy fund of its kind in the region. Armstrong’s multidisciplinary team consists of 7 investment professionals with deep sector knowledge and cultural experience from a collective 68 years of Southeast Asia operating experience. As a responsible investor, Armstrong believes integrating sustainable, environmentally friendly practices into day-to-day activities delivers tangible benefits, creates additional opportunities, benefits society and reduces risk. Such an ethical approach leads to follow on opportunities and improved financial returns especially when the true costs of increasingly scarce natural resources are considered.


GEEREF is an innovative Fund-of-Funds, providing global risk capital through private investment for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in developing countries and economies in transition, it aims to accelerate the transfer, development, use and enforcement of environmentally sound technologies for the world’s poorer regions, helping to bring secure, clean and affordable energy to local people. The fund was initiated by the Directorate General for Environment and Directorate General for Europe Aid Co-operation Office (AIDCO) of the European Commission. GEEREF is both a sustainable development tool and a strong support for global efforts to combat climate change. It is sponsored by the European Union, Germany and Norway and is advised by the European Investment Bank Group (European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund).

About DEG

DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft, a subsidiary of KfW, has been financing the investments of private companies in developing and emerging market countries for 50 years. As one of the largest European development finance institutions, it promotes private business structures to contribute to sustainable economic growth and improved living conditions. DEG invests in profitable projects that contribute to sustainable development in all sectors of the economy.


By Roger Harrabin for BBC News (25 April 2012):

Leading energy ministers have been told the world is on track for a long-term temperature increase of 6C unless they change their priorities.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on current trends, emissions would double from 2009 to 2050.

The deputy director of the IEA, Richard Jones, urged ministers: “Please take our warning seriously.”

He was speaking at the Clean Energy Ministerial, a forum for 23 major nations.

Mr Jones said the world could still possibly hold CO2 under 32Gt – the level equated with a 2C temperature rise – but only if nations co-operated urgently on clean technology.

The report Tracking Clean Energy Progress, says: “The current trend of increasing emissions is unbroken with no stabilisation of GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations in sight.” It projects that if this continues, “energy use will almost double in 2050, compared with 2009, and total GHG emissions will rise even more. Long-term temperature rise is likely to be at least 6C.”

Mr Jones presented a traffic light scorecard. Of 11 technologies to reduce emissions, only renewable power – particularly from wind and solar – merited a green for being on track.

Fuel economy, electric vehicles and industry were given an amber.

Most of the chart is red, including biofuels for transport; building efficiency; nuclear power; carbon capture and storage in industry and power generation; and cleaner conventional coal.

Sex appeal

Mr Jones said countries were still ignoring easy gains in energy efficiency. It is less “sexy” than some other policies, he admitted – but it is especially good at creating local jobs.

Coal is another concern for the IEA. Energy-hungry emerging economies are still building old-style power plants with an efficiency of just 35% whilst modern plants running at very high temperatures like those built in Japan are 50% efficient or more.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) – in which CO2 emissions are captured and pumped into underground rocks – is described as “woefully off pace”.

In 2008, Roger Harrabin visited the Isogo 1 plant in Yokohama, Japan, one of the most advanced coal-fired power stations in the world

Under their scenario for stabilising global temperature rise at 2C, the IEA envisages CCS providing 19% of global emissions cuts.

Mr Jones said that 65 CCS plants are on the drawing board, but not one is operating at scale. Only four small projects carry out sufficient monitoring to demonstrate permanent storage of CO2, he said.

“CCS remains trapped in its infancy. Many fear it will remain stillborn,” he explained. This would be grave, he said, as so many countries will rely on coal-fired power stations for the next 40-50 years until they wear out.

Mr Jones said the main reason for the CCS failure is lack of government will. But one government source told BBC News it was difficult for politicians to provide the billions needed to kickstart CCS when the investment did not actually provide energy – unlike renewables.

Mr Jones said countries needed to be bold with their investments and policies, even during a recession to reap the benefit of plentiful clean power in later years.

‘False economy’

This was not just about preventing the potential of dangerous climate change, he said. Investment in clean energy would bring energy security, reduce dependency on oil and save money that would be needed to adapt to climate change.

“Five trillion dollars of investment is needed in a decade. In the long term it will lead to net savings. Delay is false economy,” he said.

He said one bright spot had been the emergence of wind and solar photovoltaics. In both technologies, he said, costs are plummeting as firms scale up production prompted by government policy.

Globally, more than $1 trillion had been invested in clean energy, and in Europe investment in renewables now outstrips that for fossil fuels.

The IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, published in 2007, gave estimates for warming of between 1.8C and 4C under different scenarios during the 21st Century.

The IEA projections are based on work done with the modelling group developing scenarios for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. The 2C target is designed to offer a 80% likelihood on best estimates of staying within the 2C threshold.


Nuclear Shutdown in Japan: Carbon Trading in South Korea

Posted by Ken on May 11, 2012
Posted under Express 166

South Korea’s plans for a national cap-and-trade system to cut greenhouse gases underlines the emergence of a nascent Asian-Pacific carbon trading emissions hub with the potential to be a tipping point in the global fight against climate change. It comes at the same time as Japan shut down the last of its nuclear power plants following the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster in March 2011 and commits plans to implement a new feed-in tariff for solar photovoltaic (PV) generation in July 2012. Read More

By Sangim Han for Bloomberg  (3 May 2012):

South Korea approved a cap-and-trade system to cut greenhouse gases as President Lee Myung Bak seeks support for new restrictions on factories and power plants in the fastest-growing emitter among industrialized democracies.

The National Assembly passed a bill to establish cap-and- trade, a market-based program that requires companies exceeding their emission quotas to buy permits from those that discharge less, with the backing of ruling and opposition parties, according to the assembly’s webcast of yesterday’s session. The bill, which calls for emissions trading to start in 2015, was passed in a 148-0 vote, with 3 abstentions.

“This is a truly significant moment, not only in terms of Korea’s national efforts to tackle climate change, but also because it underlines the emergence of a nascent Asian-Pacific carbon trading emissions hub with the potential to be a tipping point in the global fight against climate change,” said Terry Townshend, the Beijing-based director of policy for the Global Legislators Organization, a group known as Globe whose members include Bryony Worthington of the U.K. House of Lords.

Carbon markets in Korea, Australia and China may be linked with Europe’s emissions-trading system as early as 2020, according to Globe. Before that can happen, Korea’s president will have to sell the plan to domestic manufacturers who claim it will hurt their competitiveness in global markets. Lee pledged at the United Nations climate summit in 2009 to cut greenhouse by 30 percent from forecast levels by 2020.

‘Early Adopter’

At least year’s meeting of about 200 nations in Durban, South Africa, countries including the U.S. and China said they will wait until 2015 to sign a global accord on emission reductions that would take effect as late as 2020. Australia voted last year to start a cap-and-trade system in 2015. New Zealand started emissions trading in 2009, and the European Union started the world’s biggest emissions market in 2005.

“Korea becomes an early adopter in Asia,” Kang Hee Chan, a senior researcher at the Korea Environment Institute, said by phone.

Foosung Co. and Huchems Fine Chemical Corp., companies that sell carbon credits, rose after South Korea’s emissions bill was passed. Foosung climbed as much as 5.3 percent on the Korea Exchange, its biggest intra-day gain since April 26, and closed 0.6 percent higher at 6,300 won today. Huchems rose 0.9 percent to 22,700 won, the highest close since March 20. The benchmark Kospi index fell 0

Selling in Europe

Companies that emit 125,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide a year will be subject to Korea’s cap-and-trade system, along with factories, buildings and livestock farms that produce at least 25,000 tons of the gas annually, according to the bill. The government is scheduled to announce rules governing compliance within six months.

“Foosung is among a handful of companies at home that are already selling carbon credits in Europe,” Song Dong Heon, an analyst at Hyundai Securities Co., said by telephone today. “Stocks in the sector are strong on expectations that the companies will benefit from the legislation.”

South Korea is a “natural” partner for cooperating with Europe’s emissions-trading system, known as an ETS, according to EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard. “Welcome, South Korea, world’s 12th-largest economy, to the growing ETS family,” she said via her Twitter account.

Even so, emission markets overseen by the EU and United Nations weren’t lifted by yesterday’s announcement. Carbon permits in the EU dropped as much as 1.8 percent today, extending yesterday’s decline of 4.6 percent on London’s ICE Futures Europe Exchange. EU allowances are down 60 percent from a year ago as Europe struggles with a debt crisis that has exacerbated an oversupply of permits.


So-called offset credits under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism also fell. They dropped as much at 4.7 percent today on ICE, extending yesterday’s decline of 1.5 percent.

South Korea is the world’s eighth-largest carbon emitter, based on 2009 figures from the International Energy Agency. The country’s greenhouse-gas emissions jumped to about 640 million metric tons in 2011 from 350 million tons in 1990, making it the fastest-growing emissions source among 34 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a Feb. 9 report.

“The bill is needed to cope with global climate change, and domestically, to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas efficiently,” Kim Jae Kyung, a member of the ruling New Frontier Party, said in the assembly’s plenary session before yesterday’s vote.

Unsettled Business

The Federation of Korean Industries and the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the nation’s top two business lobbies, asked the government to delay introducing the plan, saying it will increase costs and make industry less competitive against countries that don’t impose charges on emissions.

Kim Tae Yoon, head of the strategic industries team at the federation, which has about 500 members including steelmaker Posco (005490) and Samsung Electronics Co., said companies remain opposed to any implementation of carbon trading that’s done faster than rival countries.

“Our position remains the same,” Kim said by phone today. “We are worried about the impact on our competitiveness and are committed to finding a compromise in consultation with the government.”

Companies may face an additional 5.6 trillion won ($5 billion) of costs if a carbon market is implemented, according to data from state-owned Korea Energy Management Corp., which handles emissions reductions and promoting renewable energy.

Free Permits

“It might be challenging for Korea to cut carbon emissions as requested by the government,” Kang said. “Its major industries, by nature, are emitting lots of the gas.” Korea largely depends on heavy industries such as steelmaking and petrochemicals, he said.

The Korean government may give companies more than 95 percent of their permits for free for three to six years, according to the bill. Companies would get 100 percent of their permits for free depending on their contribution to the country’s trade, according to an e-mailed statement from the Knowledge Economy Ministry.

The government has yet to announce any rules governing compliance, such as how many Certified Emission Reductions under the UN program would be allowed in the program.

The government needs to see a lot of studies about the bill’s impact on people, Yim Jong Yong, minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, told lawmakers in Seoul before the vote.

South Korea would emit 742 million tons in 2020 without a program to cut emissions, Andrea Du Rietz, a London-based analyst at New Energy Finance, said in the note on Feb. 9.

“The approved South Korean ETS could provide price support for CERs in the long run and contribute to the longevity of the global carbon market,” Du Rietz said in an e-mail yesterday. “Any links with the UN offset market are highly uncertain, but we currently assume that approximately 20 percent of abatement needed out to 2020 could be met by about 130 million CERs over the six years.”


Solar Server Magazine (9 May 2012):

Utility shuts down Japan’s last nuclear power plant

Mizuho Fukushima, the leader of Japan’s opposition Social Democratic Party, has called for a “renewable energy society” and a “nuclear-free future”

On May 7th, 2012, Hokkaido Electric Power Company Inc. (Sapporo, Japan) shut down the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant in Hokkaido (Japan). With the exception of the Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power plant, this was the last nuclear power plant in operation in Japan.

The Japanese government and utilities have been under heavy public pressure to shut down these plants following the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster in March 2011. The nation will implement a new feed-in tariff for solar photovoltaic (PV) generation in July 2012.

“The myth that ‘nuclear is safe’ has been shattered, and the majority of the public is now against the use of nuclear energy,” stated Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the nation’s opposition Social Democratic Party.

“The Social Democratic Party demands a renewable energy society, which will be based on solar, wind, hydro, geothermal power and fuel cells, in the near future; we will also use all of our available energy to achieve a nuclear free society.”

Many reactors temporarily shut down

Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors have a total capacity of 46.1 GW. Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that as these plants have been shut down, there has been a corresponding increase in fossil fuel generation.

While the four reactors at the Fukushima 1 plant are technically operational, they were declared taken “out of use” in April 2012. Many of the other reactors are declared temporarily shut down for safety reviews following the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.

The meltdowns and releases of radiation from the Fukushima Disaster make it the second-worst civilian nuclear incident in the history of the industry. It is the only incident to share an International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) rating of 7 with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Japan may re-start Ohi Nuclear Plant

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and other government officials have declared units three and four at the Ohi Nuclear Plant in Western Japan to be safe, and Reuters has speculated that these will be the first units to be re-started.

However, both media outlets and Social Democratic Leader Fukushima have stated that the re-start of these units may not be politically possible at this time.


Fired Up To Ignite Capital Markets for Social Good

Posted by Ken on May 11, 2012
Posted under Express 166

Impact Forum is bringing the individuals and experts from all around the globe to Singapore 25/26 June to discuss impact investing and social entrepreneurship – ideas that are at the forefront of social change. It’s dedicated to the evolution of sustainable development in Asia. And have you ever wondered how we can re-think our global approach to the plastics that engulf our lives? On 21 June a social innovation future-focused forum, entitled ‘Plasticity Rio ’12′ will be taking place alongside the UN Rio +20 Earth Summit. Read more

News about Impact Forum:

Welcome to Impact Forum, 2012, which will be held in Singapore on the 25th and 26th of June 2012.  The theme of this year’s event is “Igniting Capital Markets for Social Good™”.

Impact Forum 2012, June 25th and 26th: Igniting Capital Markets for Social Good

“The Impact Forum will shine a light on the exciting growth of social enterprises and impact investment in Asia, and increase understanding of how innovative trading platforms can provide capital for social enterprises to substantially scale up their activities.”

- Bart W. Édes

Director for Poverty Reduction, Gender and Social Development

Asian Development Bank


Impact Investment Exchange Asia (IIX) and Investment Shujog (Shujog) will be hosting the first Impact Forum in Singapore, on June 25-26, 2012.  This Forum will be a historic gathering of some of the world’s foremost experts speaking on the role capital markets play in shaping sustainable growth across Asia Pacific.



  • Exclusive invitation-only forum showcasing Asia-Pacific’s most up and coming innovators and innovations in the Social Enterprise and Impact Investment space
  • Global gathering highlighting the latest trends and momentum for Impact Investment
  • Platform connecting global Impact Investors, Ecosystem Partners with promising Social Enterprises
  • Showcasing innovations, inspirations, community and progress that are creating a shift in how capital markets create social good



Executives & C-Level Executives from the public, private, social enterprise, impact investing space are expected to attend.



Date          : 25-26th June 2012, Monday and Tuesday

Time         : 09:00 – 18:00

Venue      :  Shaw Foundation Alumni House, National University of Singapore

Audience:  Up to 300+ attendees



Impact Forum’s highlight will be the simultaneous conversations happening over the course of two days to turn talk into action.  Some of the industry’s foremost experts and next wave of innovators will be tackling Asia’s most persistent social and environmental issues:

  • “Philanthropy to Impact Investing”The Transition from Traditional Giving to Mission-Driven Investments
  • “Measuring Success”How to Know When A Real Impact is Made
  • “The State of Social Enterprises in Asia”The Distinctive Make-up of Social Enterprises in Asia


We cordially invite you to see history in the making, where groundbreaking studies are unveiled and valuable discussions by leading thought leaders are sparked.  This event will also coincide with the launch of the world’s first social stock exchange by IIX.

For further information, please contact the following:

Gyneth Tan Marketing and Communications Director Telephone+65 6221 7051 or Beng-Ai Yap


Sangeeta Haindl for Social Enterprise (1 May 2012):

Social Innovation Forum – ‘Plasticity Rio ’12′

Have you ever wondered how we can re-think our global approach to the plastics that engulf our lives? Well, on 21 June 2012, a social innovation future-focused forum on plastics, entitled ‘Plasticity Rio ’12′ will be taking place alongside the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20 Earth Summit.

It will concentrate on the opportunities that will make a difference in the way that plastic is designed, used and reused. The forum is supported by leading innovators from Google, Clinton Foundation, Business for the Environment (B4E), Hub Culture, Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), Taiwan’s Plastic Industry Development Centre (PIDC), MBA Polymners and VISY.

Doug Woodring, founder of Plasticity and the Ocean Recovery Alliance says, “Plastic is one of the materials that links almost all our companies and industries to the ocean and our environment. By focusing on the newest technologies and innovations in design, packaging, materials, recovery, recycling and re-use, we will be able to showcase where leaders are going in this space and how greatimprovements can be made in reduced environmental impact.”

Plasticity Rio ’12 is a global social innovation collaboration which includes Ocean Recovery Alliance (Hong Kong), Republic of Everyone (Australia), Applied Brilliance (America) and Metodo (Brazil).

To help engage global communities to think about the future of plastic prior to the event in June, the forum has recently launched an international social innovation initiative called ‘Capturing Gold’, which focuses on the opportunities that can come from PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles.

‘Capturing Gold’ seeks to find new ideas for collecting large volumes of PET plastic bottles and the most creative and valuable ways to use them. Matt Perry, Founding Partner of Republic of Everyone says, “Capturing Gold will seek out the smartest, brightest thinking on the future of sustainable use and re-use of plastic. We are looking for ideas that range from the simple and obvious – ‘Why isn’t every company doing this already?’ – to the wildly insane – ‘you must be kidding, right?’ types of ideas.”

‘Capturing Gold’ will draw on Tinkby, an online collaboration platform designed to help large groups of people think together. The system invites users to generate ideas, build on the ideas of others and vote for the concepts most likely to have a social innovation impact in the real world. The winning ideas will be judged by an international jury and announced at the Plasticity Rio ’12 forum. A ‘Capturing Gold’ workshop is also scheduled, which will be broadcast and shared via YouTube and other social media platforms. Sharing the workshop means leaders, thinkers and ‘doers’ within their communities can take advantage of the opportunities that result from this collaborative process.

Plasticity Rio ’12 will bring together 300 leading plastics decision-makers to show the world what social innovations, technologies and solutions we can expect in the future of plastics, a commodity that is so part of our lives that we are not even aware where our relationship with plastic begins and ends.

Sangeeta Haindl is a staff writer for Justmeans on Social Enterprise. When I am not writing for Justmeans, I wear my other hat as a PR professional. Over the years I have worked with high-profile organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry. I now run my own UK consultancy, Serendipity PR & Media; I am a firm believer in the power of serendipity…


Three Powerful Projects for the Planet

Posted by Ken on May 11, 2012
Posted under Express 166

A solar powered ship, a green airport and a people powered outdoor gym: MS Tûranor entered Monaco’s Hercule Harbor on 4 May to become the first ship to travel around the world using only solar power. Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok plans to become the greenest airport in the world and is committed to reduce its carbon intensity by 25%. The UK city of Hull is playing host to the first outdoor gym converting people power into useable power. Read More

Hong Kong Standard (9 May 2012):

Chek Lap Kok will become the greenest airport in the world.

That was the bold pledge of the Airport Authority and its 40 business partners yesterday.

It came as the authority said it has achieved a 10 percent reduction in carbon intensity.

The authority rolled out a three-year environmental plan last year to make Hong Kong International Airport a leader in environmental performance by reducing carbon intensity by 25 percent in 2015 from the 2008 emission level.

The 10 percent reduction was achieved through more than 300 green initiatives, including installing LEDs, more environmentally friendly chiller systems, and the introduction of more energy-efficient vehicles.

“Today’s pledge to become the world’s greenest airport marks a big step forward, putting HKIA at the forefront worldwide, by providing a delightful airport experience and delivering exemplary environmental performance,” said authority chairman Marvin Cheung Kin-tung.

It will replace 100,000 lighting applications with LEDs by the end of 2014.

All new transfer saloon cars in the airport restricted area will be electric by the middle of next year, and the whole fleet by 2017.

The authority will invest HK$40 million to install more charging stations in several phases.

The use of auxiliary power units when aircraft are parked will be banned in 2014.



World’s First Circumnavigation By Solar Powered Ship A Success

By Keith Barry in Autopia (4 May 2012):

The MS Tûranor entered Monaco’s Hercule Harbor on 4 May 2012, becoming the first ship to travel around the world using only solar power.

It’s the same harbor where the Tûranor set out from more than 19 months and 37,286 miles ago. Since then, the ship has made port in six continents, fended off pirates and broke four Guinness world records, including longest journey by solar powered boat and first circumnavigation by solar powered boat.

For the team behind the Tûranor, the work has just started. They’ve spent more than a year and a half preaching the solar gospel at stops around the world, and their passion for the power of the sun hasn’t dimmed one bit.

“The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is much more than a ship,” said Immo Stroeher, the German entrepreneur whose investment made the trip possible. “It has become an ambassador of solar energy. The arrival in Monaco is only the start! We now have to take advantage of the fame of PlanetSolar in order to promote the use of solar energy.”

It’s a pretty remarkable achievement. The 115 foot long, Swiss-flagged catamaran was only a dream and some plans as of three years ago, and although it took quite awhile to complete its voyage, it did so without any major problems. The crew occasionally found themselves awaiting the sun when the ship’s batteries ran out of energy, but no major components ever failed.

If you happen to be in Monaco this weekend, you’ll be able to enjoy the celebrations surrounding the ship’s return. There’s a concert and laser light show powered entirely by the Tûranor‘s batteries, and Prince Albert II will be on board on Saturday. On Monday, it’s sailing to Marseille for a European solar power conference.

After that, the ship’s long-term future is a bit cloudy. The team behind the Tûranor is either going to sell or lease the vessel, but for an as-yet unknown purpose.

“We are considering renting out the boat for scientific or commercial uses or even selling it,” Stroeher said. “We are open for ideas and in talks with interested parties – from the use as a ‘green’ luxury yacht to scientific usages and the utilization as the world’s largest mobile solar power battery, everything is possible.”



First outdoor gym converting workouts into electricity opens in Hull, with potential for 500 more across UK

By Will Nichols in Business Green (2 May 2012):

“Exercise is bunk,” Henry Ford famously opined. “If you are healthy you don’t need it. If you are sick you shouldn’t take it.”

Well, for those who hate spending hours in the gym, there’s now a compelling environmental reason for working on those love handles – generating electricity.

The city of Hull is playing host to the first outdoor gym converting people power into useable power, installed by The Great Outdoor Gym Company (TGO).

Electricity generated on the cross trainer and exercise bikes at the new Green Heart gym currently powers LED lighting for the site. But Georgie Delaney, creative director of TGO, told BusinessGreen the company is working with the National Housing Federation to identify a site where a gym could be hooked up to local buildings or feed electricity into the grid.

Each piece of equipment can produce between 50W and 400W of electricity, although the figure is likely to be closer to 100W for those users who are not Olympic rowers.

Delaney said the company was aiming to build up the number of electricity-generating gyms to meet a target of installing 100 new sites annually for the next five years. Considering each one serves a community of around 5,000 people, Delaney estimates there is potential to tap the renewable energy of around 2.5 million people, while helping them get fit.

“We would like to have [electricity] generating components in all our gyms, but it’s going to take a little bit of time to get to that point,” she said. “Hopefully, we can start next year.”

TGO is also looking for corporate sponsors and “has had some interest from an energy company”, Delaney added.

However, for the moment the company is concentrating on making a success of the Hull gym.

“The response has been really good,” Delaney said. “We deliberately put it into a site that is not in any way protected, and people have really understood what we’re trying to do.”


Will London Host the Greenest Olympic Games Ever?

Posted by Ken on May 11, 2012
Posted under Express 166

Barely two months remain before throngs of athletes and spectators crowd into London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. A new progress report issued in late April suggests the London planning committee is poised to meet or to surpass most sustainability goals both for the Games and for post-Games operations at the Olympics site. Even so, the event’s estimated footprint will be approximately 326,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, Read More

London’s race for a greener Olympics

By Heather Clancy (4 May 2012):

Barely two months remain before throngs of athletes and spectators crowd into London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Along with the traditional, frantic last-minute preparations, the host city is also hustling to deliver on its pledge to make these Summer Games the greenest ever.

Whether or not the British capital lives up to its pledge won’t be truly known until after the Olympics conclude. But a new progress report issued in late April suggests the London planning committee is poised to meet or to surpass most sustainability goals both for the Games and for post-Games operations at the Olympics site.

According to that report, the event’s estimated footprint will be approximately 326,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, providing planners can pull off all their planned reduction activities.

One area where the committee was forced to backpedal, however, was its plans for having at least 20 percent of the energy used to power the Games to come from renewable sources.  It was forced to settle for 10 percent, instead, after a wind turbine project was scratched.

“The actual Games footprint will be determined from the quantitative measurement of Games-time activities,” the committees wrote in their latest sustainability progress report, “Delivering Change.”

“There will always be debate on what counts as avoidance and reduction given the lack of a firm baseline at the start, but the data, coupled with narrative on the measures taken to minimize the projected footprint, will be a vital legacy setting a benchmark for future events.”

The greening of the London 2012 games will provide a benchmark for future events. But it’s the plans for the Olympic site after the Games that are generating the most excitement.

The report by the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Development Authority (ODA) suggests the site will easily deliver on its goals for carbon management, water consumption, recycling and green building aesthetics after the crowds disperse.

Estimates suggest the post-Olympics park will create 58 percent fewer carbon emissions than comparable sites. The original goal was 50 percent.

Water consumption, meanwhile, will be cut by 60 percent — better than the 40 percent reduction goal — and approximately 98 percent of the waste created at the site can reportedly be reused or recycled.

All these data points should provide positive publicity for the close to a dozen multinational companies scrambling to associate themselves with the green games – including Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW), General Electric (NYSE: GE), McDonalds (NYSE: MCD) and United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS).

These companies and other long-term sponsors have put up close to $1 billion towards funding everything from alternative-fuel fleet deployments and sustainable commuter transportation, to new recycling and waste management infrastructure, to the Olympic stadium itself.

UPS, for example, is adding 10 dual-fuel methane diesel vehicles, five electric vehicles, bicycles and even a barge to manage the logistics of moving around the estimated 13 million items it must handle during the six-week Games.

“To continue UPS’s Games legacy, UPS will continue to use the bicycles after the Games throughout the London area,” said Peter Harris, UPS’s director of sustainability, in response to questions emailed by “The use of the barge for some of our Olympic deliveries is an effort to encourage London to think about the Thames as a viable supply chain delivery route, to showcase this under-used resource as a viable option beyond the Games.”

Dow Chemical, meanwhile, is providing the decorative wrap for the Olympic Stadium. According to George Hamilton, Dow’s vice-president of Olympic operations, “Dow made a strategic business decision to partner with the Olympics because it creates a global stage to showcase the many ways we apply scientific solutions to make life more sustainable, safer and higher performing.”

“The Olympic infrastructure contracts offer Dow major business opportunities,” he added, “and every dollar invested in the Olympics is not only investing in the Olympics spirit, but in our business.”

And General Electric has more than 100 Olympics-related projects under way in London. Those projects include the installation of 120 electric vehicle charging stations, as well as an LED lighting makeover for the city’s famed Tower Bridge — estimated to deliver savings of 40 percent to 45 percent, compared to the original fixtures. Three GE Jenbacher CHP gas engines will also provide power, heating and cooling across the site. The engines, which reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 15 percent, will remain in place after the games.

It seems every Olympic Games has its controversies — and that’s true as well for some of the top sponsors in London.

Just this week, a British doctors group criticized the choice of McDonald’s as the sole restaurant sponsor within the Olympic park. The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges is taking issue with the health message a McDonald’s sponsorship might send, particularly in a country where about one-quarter of the population is reportedly obese.

The London Olympic Committees’ affiliation with Dow has also taken fire. Critics take issue with Dow’s links to infamous 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal, India; an accident that killed thousands of people.. Dow didn’t own the plant at the time, but that hasn’t stopped some critics from suggesting the company should be dropped as a worldwide partner.

The committee, however, has reiterated its support of both sponsors; characterizing their involvement as business arrangements.

“Sponsors provide a huge amount of the funding required to stage the games,” a London 2012 spokesman said in a press statement. “Without our partners such as McDonald’s, the games simply wouldn’t happen.”

As the Olympic Games takes up the mantle of sustainability, their sponsorship choices are likely to be even more closely scrutinized and criticized in the future – especially if London 2012 doesn’t deliver as planned.

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in coverage of transformative technology and in translating tech-speak into business benefits. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times.


Race to the Front on the Sustainable Business Track

Posted by Ken on May 11, 2012
Posted under Express 166

Puma has been named the world’s most sustainable large company in a new ranking that leaves global giants Apple, Google, and Walmart languishing near the bottom of the list of 50 companies compiled by research firm EIRIS. Meanwhile, the 2012 Sustainability Leaders Survey asked respondents to name up to three specific companies that they consider to be leaders in integrating sustainability into their business strategy. Unilever, Interface and GE came up trumps. Who else was in the running? Read More

Puma leaves Apple behind in sprint to top of sustainability rankings

By BusinessGreen (2 May 2012):

Puma has been named the world’s most sustainable large company in a new ranking that leaves global giants Apple, Google, and Walmart languishing near the bottom of the list.

The German sports-goods manufacturer leads a list of 50 companies compiled by research firm EIRIS ahead of the Rio+20 conference in June. EIRIS based the rankings of the world’s 50 largest companies on its weighted Sustainability Ratings, which cover a broad range of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria.

Puma’s pioneering environmental profit and loss statement helped it score an A, along with the rest of the top 10, which included UK transport companies FirstGroup and the GoAhead Group, pharmaceutical industry leaders GSK, Roche and Novartis, and National Australia Bank, owner of Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks in the UK.

EIRIS said all these companies had shown major improvements in reducing their environmental impacts by implementing strong reporting rules and company-wide green policies that are increasingly popular with investors.

It added that UK companies’ sustainability performance came out well in comparison to the rest of the world. A fifth of UK firms scored an A grade, ahead of the 12 per cent of firms on mainland Europe scored, and 10 times better than the US, where just two per cent of companies rated highest. The performance was even weaker in Asia, where only one per cent of the businesses assessed achieved an A.

At the bottom of the rankings, the failure of oil major Exxon-Mobil, the world’s largest company, to tackle biodiversity, climate change, and water management impacts, along with the location of its activities, saw it clock up an E – the lowest possible rating.

It was joined by other large oil companies, including Chevron and ConocoPhillips, although BP provided a notable exception for the sector, outperforming most of its peers in securing a B rating.

Interestingly, Apple and Google, two of the world’s most celebrated technology companies were only ranked one grade above Exxon with a D grade. This was primarily due to lack of action to address human rights and supply chain labour issues, although Apple was last month also accused by Greenpeace of using coal-derived electricity to power its datacentres.

EIRIS said there was evidence companies were trying to be good global citizens, but said investors would have to use their influence to accelerate the progress made so far.

“Big differences in corporate sustainability performance exist at the global and regional level. Tighter sustainability legislation in Europe and more public awareness contributes to this difference,” added Mark Robertson, report author and head of communications at EIRIS.

“Given these differences it is vital that investors use their influence as shareholders to drive improvements in sustainability performance.”


By Eric Whan (4 May 2012):

In business, sometimes simplicity is praised and sometimes it is scorned. It can be hard to predict which reaction will win out.

Each year, the results of The Sustainability Leaders — a GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey of sustainability experts across corporate, government, NGO, academic, research, and service organizations in 75-plus countries remind us that simplicity is a more complex phenomenon than it might appear.

The 2012 Sustainability Leaders Survey was released this month. The poll asked respondents in February to name up to three specific companies that they consider to be leaders in integrating sustainability into their business strategy. Unilever, which launched its Sustainable Living Plan in late 2010, was mentioned most frequently for the second year in a row, while Interface was the next most frequently mentioned, followed by GE, Patagonia, and Walmart. While nine out of the top 13 corporate sustainability leaders were also among the top 13 in 2011′s Sustainability Leaders Survey, Unilever and Patagonia are the only top companies that have seen their “market share” increase among the expert community in each of the past two years.

A number of criticisms are routinely leveled at the poll. Some dismiss it as a popularity contest. Some confuse it with empirical rankings or listings that score corporations on a multitude of performance criteria such as the Corporate Knights Global 100 or the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (and there are many others). Some call The Leaders Survey simply too simple because it is based on a single metric. And some have trouble reconciling results with what other sustainability rankings show. Indeed, Ceres announced plans for the Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings last year that would develop a standardized method of measuring and ranking sustainability performance to un-muddy the waters.

However, these other empirical corporate sustainability ratings are not immune to criticisms themselves. Some are exclusive and require payment for participation. Others are criticized for a lack of methodological transparency. Trust in these rankings can be an issue. Indeed, SustainAbility’s Rate the Raters study found that trust in NGOs was higher than in the ratings systems.

Some of our clients get excited when they see the results of The Sustainability Leaders Survey. But others may be worried. In this year’s survey, GE was one of a number of companies that saw a decline in the proportion of mentions, from 12 percent in 2011 to 7 percent this year. Walmart, the top-rated company in 2010, saw its proportion fall from 11 percent to 7 percent, while mentions of Marks & Spencer declined marginally from 8 percent to 5 percent. What do these falls mean, though — are these companies standing still or headed backward on sustainability? Most would say not.

But the very nature of The Sustainability Leaders Survey is competitive. Our expert respondents have to pick one or just a few companies who they think are top performers above others. That means those that have been most active within the past year tend to rise above those that have been least active, or those that have maintained course with their existing strategies, no matter how strong those may be. It is tough to stay on top.

So, much of the criticism the poll attracts is valid. It begs the question of what its true value is. Carpet manufacturer Interface valued the measure not just because their company led the rankings for several years, but because it is a simple, pure measure with a demonstrated high standard. It is easy to communicate to stakeholders. And it delivers an effective factoid for employee engagement. Employees like it when their company’s hard work is recognized.

If we can take it as read that perceptions are important, especially those of a large group of skeptical sustainability practitioners around the world like those that make up our panel, the Sustainability Leaders Survey findings also have the benefit of capturing the effectiveness of communications and stakeholder engagement. For a company to appear in the ranking at all, our panelists need to know what the company is doing. It needs to have told a compelling story and have captured imaginations with its vision.

But gaps can open between actual sustainability performance and the recognition companies get for it. The Sustainability Leaders Survey can help find them.

Which brings us to another notable characteristic of the survey results — they differ markedly by region. Among experts in North America, Walmart is most frequently named as a leader, slightly more frequently than Interface. Among those in Europe, Unilever is top-of-mind as a leader by some distance. Elsewhere, Natura and Unilever are cited nearly equally frequently. Local presence makes a difference in companies’ ability to occupy share of mind.

What, then, does it take to crack the top-ten most frequently named leadership companies in the poll? In a recent webinar on the 2012 Leaders results hosted by GlobeScan and Sustainability, guests from two of our leading companies shared what they think are the answers. Karen Hamilton, Unilever’s VP for Sustainability spoke of how the Sustainable Living Plan required the company to stretch itself internally. “It woke us up as a company,” she said. And it appears to have captured imaginations. “People responded to our plan.” Karen thinks that speaking to people as citizens rather than consumers makes a big difference.

Realism helps as well. Karen noted that Unilever does not (yet) know exactly how to achieve all of its goals. In part to address that, we helped Unilever to engage more than 2,000 key opinion formers in a 24-hour constructive dialogue on solutions on April 26th. Stakeholder engagement on this scale can only help Unilever retain its place at the pinnacle of the Leaders ranking.

Also during the webinar, Rick Ridgeway, VP of Environmental Initiatives for Patagonia talked about transparency. We “openly ask hard questions” and we are “critical of ourselves,” he noted. The company “questions the concept of the growth economy because it is not turning around key indicators.”

We also asked our survey panelists why they chose the company they did. One of our panelists commented that Unilever deserved singling out because of the way its Sustainable Living Plan integrates sustainability with business strategy. Patagonia was named by another for its effort to challenge business models. When you add up our expert panelists’ answers, what rise to the top are integrated values, ambition, long term commitment, transparency and demonstrated results. Thus, it seems that views on what constitutes sustainability leadership within our leading companies are aligned with the opinions of our survey panelists who do the evaluating — surely a recipe for success.

Getting the prerequisites for leadership right, let alone winning recognition for it, is no simple task. But for The Sustainability Leaders Survey and the companies it rewards, sometimes simplicity is a good thing.


What’s in the Wind? Local Warming from Turbines

Posted by Ken on May 11, 2012
Posted under Express 166

Wind farms can affect weather in their immediate locality, raising night-time temperatures on the ground, researchers have shown. The study area, in west-central Texas, saw a major turbine building programme in the middle of the last decade, with the number soaring from 111 in 2003 to 2325 just six years later. But is this a longer lasting problem or a very localised, shortlived one? It’s been compared to the practice used by fruit growers who fly helicopters over their orchards to combat early morning frosts. Read More

By Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News (29 April 2012):

Wind turbines can affect local weather, the study confirms – but not further afield

Wind farms can affect weather in their immediate locality, raising night-time temperatures on the ground, researchers working in Texas have shown.

They used satellite data to show that land around newly constructed wind farms warmed more than next-door areas.

The result – published in the journal Nature Climate Change – confirms an earlier, smaller study from 2010.

The scientists believe the effect is caused by turbines bringing relatively warm air down to ground level.

They suggest that turbines in other places might not produce the same value of ground temperature change.

The study area, in west-central Texas, saw a major turbine building programme in the middle of the last decade, with the number soaring from 111 in 2003 to 2325 just six years later.

Researchers used data from the Modis instruments on Nasa’s Aqua and Terra satellites to measure ground temperatures across the study region and between the beginning and end of the construction boom, defined as as the difference between the average for 2003-5 and that for 2009-11.

The entire region saw a rise, but it was more pronounced around wind farms.

The researchers looked for other factors that could have affected the results, such as changes in vegetation, but found these were too small to produce the observed change.

Limited reach

The change was not identical across all of the wind farms. Having averaged the data, the researchers say the scale of the effect they saw is equivalent to a warming of about 0.72C per decade.

Recognising that this could wrongly be interpreted as suggesting the local temperature will continue to rise, lead researcher Liming Zhou cautioned: “The estimated warming trend only applies to the study region and to the study period, and thus should not be extrapolated linearly into other regions or over longer periods.

Could the local weather changes affect farming?

“For a given wind farm, the warming effect would likely reach a limit rather than continue to increase if no new wind turbines are added.”

At night, air above ground level tends to be warmer than the ground. Dr Zhou and his colleagues believe the turbine blades are simply stirring up the air, mixing warm and cold, and bringing some of the warmth down to ground level.

“The result in the paper looks pretty solid to me,” commented Prof Steven Sherwood from the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

“Daytime temperatures do not appear to be affected. This makes sense, (and) this same strategy is commonly used by fruit growers who fly helicopters over their orchards to combat early morning frosts.”

The 2010 study, also from the US, used data from a single location and computer modelling to show that wind turbines could produce local warming.

Dr Zhou, from the State University of New York in Albany, US, now plans to look across bigger scales and to decipher the mechanisms better.

“This article is a first step in exploring the potential of using satellite data to quantify the possible impacts of big wind farms on weather and climate,” he told BBC News.

“We are now expanding this approach to other wind farms, and building models to understand the physical processes and mechanisms driving the interactions of wind turbines and the atmospheric boundary layer near the surface.”


Corporate Sustainability Driven by the Bottom Line

Posted by Ken on May 11, 2012
Posted under Express 166

The sustainability activities of leading companies are increasingly driven by financial considerations and other core business objectives, according to a recent survey of corporate sustainability leaders by Ernst & Young and GreenBiz Group. It shows that being green and being economic are not mutually exclusive. Now it seems as if businesses are now coming around to that view as well. Read More

Erica Gies, Independent environment reporter, founder of (27 April 2012):

The sustainability activities of leading companies are increasingly driven by financial considerations and other core business objectives, according to a recent survey of corporate sustainability leaders by Ernst & Young and GreenBiz Group. Environmentalists have long posited that being green and being economic are not mutually exclusive. Now it seems as if businesses are now coming around to that view as well.

The report, Six growing trends in corporate sustainability, discusses this and several other developments in sustainability.

In keeping with sustainability’s new focus on the bottom line, chief financial officers are playing increasing roles in their companies’ sustainability efforts.

65 percent of CFOs are now directly involved in company sustainability efforts

80 percent of respondents see revenue opportunities in sustainability

74 percent said cost reductions are the primary drivers of their sustainability programs

66 percent have seen an increase in inquiries about sustainability in the past 12 months from investors and shareholders

Business leaders are growing more aware of the potential scarcity of the natural resources their companies require.

Seventy-six percent of survey respondents said they anticipate that core business objectives will be affected by such shortages — including water — over the next three to five years.

Sustainability reporting is growing, but the tools are still developing.

About one in four survey respondents use packaged software to track sustainability efforts, but most still use spreadsheets, emails, and phone calls.

Employees are a key audience for sustainability programs and reporting.

Respondents said that, after their customers, employees are the primary driver of their sustainability efforts and audience for their sustainability report. That is because many top employees want to work for a company they can feel good about.

Despite regulatory uncertainty, especially in the United States, most companies report their greenhouse gas emissions, and more companies are recognizing the importance of measuring and their managing water usage.

76 percent publicly report their greenhouse gas emissions

An additional 16 percent plan to do so within five years

62 percent publicly report their water usage

More than 50 percent have a water-reduction goal

Rankings and ratings matter to company executives.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said surveys and rankings are their primary means of communicating sustainability performance and initiatives to investors. For this purpose, they value the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the Carbon Disclosure Project most highly.

Conducted in late 2011, the survey collected responses from 272 sustainability executives in 24 industry sectors who employed by companies with annual revenue greater than $1 billion. Approximately 85 percent of them are based in the United States. The respondents are from companies that are just beginning to engage in sustainability as well as those that have been engaged for years.

The report concludes:

These trends suggest that sustainability efforts are now well integrated into the corporate fabric of a growing number of large and mid-sized companies. But the effectiveness of such efforts may be limited by internal systems that don’t allow companies to effectively measure, track, and optimize their sustainability impacts or to understand and manage the risks of insufficient action. To do so will require new levels of engagement by the C-suite and more sophisticated methods of sustainability reporting and assurance.


Mega-cities Pose Climate Test as Consumption Grows

Posted by Ken on May 11, 2012
Posted under Express 166

The mega-cities of Asia will be the toughest test for climate-change policy as a rising middle class begins to consume goods at rates only previously seen in the west. A new report released by the United Nations Development Program in mega-city Jakarta has a tough message: Asian cities “can’t afford to grow first and clean up later”. Read More

Michael Bachelard in The Age (10 May 2012):

What are the challenges mega-cities in Asia, such as Jakarta, face implementing climate change policy?

The mega-cities of Asia will be the toughest test for climate-change policy as a rising middle class begins to consume goods at rates only previously seen in the west.

A new report released by the United Nations Development Program in mega-city Jakarta today has a tough message: Asian cities “can’t afford to grow first and clean up later”.

Regional director Ajay Chhibber told Fairfax that these countries have a moral obligation to grow fast economically because, without it, 900 million people living in absolute poverty in the region will not be able to afford decent lives.

“Asian growth is reducing global inequality … but we have to give people choices which allow them to live healthy, long life without necessarily aping the consumption patterns of the western world,” Mr Chhibber said.

The challenge was to make sure these countries could grow and reduce emissions at the same time.

While consumption is growing fast in the Asia-Pacific, the report, One Planet to Share, said that 10 per cent of people still suffer from “chronic underconsumption” with minimum dietary intake, and a quarter have no electricity.

Even so, they already use 80 per cent of the world’s coal for industrial production.

And people are moving to cities at a fast rate. By 2026, more than half of Asia-Pacific’s population will live in a city. Cities occupy just 2 per cent of the land in Asia but contribute more than two-thirds of greenhouse gases, particularly from transport and electricity.

Jakarta has 130 shopping malls, more than any other city on the planet. Its lack of a reliable public transport system means car and motorbike ownership is rising by 20 to 30 per cent a year, all using heavily subsidised petrol, which produces congestion and air pollution and costs the Indonesian government more than it spends on health and education combined.

More than half of the country’s economic growth is fuelled by consumer spending, which also drives greenhouse gas emissions.

Growing richer increases people’s appetite for meat and dairy, the desire for power to run air-conditioners, and their preference for private vehicles. It also produces more rubbish from packaging, which in Asian countries is often still burned or thrown in waterways.

The world’s rich emit more than 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, compared to 0.28 tonnes for the poorest people, the report found.

Despite the growth of wealth in Indonesia, the potential for more growth is enormous. Still only 11 per cent of people live in cities, and in rural areas only 3.4 per cent own a car.

“We’re not saying consume less, that Asia shouldn’t have a middle class,” Mr Chhibber said.

“But it’s how you plan your cities in terms of transport development, greener buildings, the shift to gas [for electricity] against other forms of fuel [such as coal], and much greater options on transportation.”

The report says half the world’s mega-cities are in Asia, and all of them are in low-lying coastal zones. This means they are not only the engines of future climate change, but also its most likely victims.

“Within Asia we are already seeing if not the full impact of climate change, but of climate variability,” Mr Chibber said.

Poor people in cities have limited ability to adapt to a changing climate, and city administrators “have little understanding of climate change”, and few “appreciate its full implications”.

At the national level, however, Mr Chhibber says, there is room for optimism.

“Until five years ago, many Asian countries were of the view that climate change was a problem for the developed world. There’s a growing realisation at least among many of the Asian leaders that this is not good enough.”

Reports from meetings in Europe this week suggest that realisation has hit home among negotiators too. China, India and Indonesia have all made commitments to reduce how much carbon dioxide they produce per unit of economic development, and are likely to make more at future negotiations.

“Ten years ago, all anyone said was all we want in Asia is growth, growth, growth,” Mr Chhibber said.

“Now … the mental road blocks that people have are beginning to drop. With every flood, every shock, people are beginning to see that Asia is vulnerable … and so we have to make these changes themselves.

“That big mindset change that gives us great hope.”