22 January 2010

Sustainability perception vs. reality, and other company, industry, supply chain, government and science news. Also Lighter Side and Art Department

Top Stories

Sustainability Perception of General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Far Exceeds Actual Records.reliability high.
"A new consumer study reveals that there is still a gap between real and perceived sustainability action by top North American brands including Kraft, General Mills, Kellogg, Groupe Danone, Nike, Gap, P&G, L'Oreal, Microsoft and Amazon.com. The study, conducted by Climate Counts and Angus Reid, includes measurements on climate change action being undertaken by more than 90 companies in North America, and perception measurements of these companies’ actions by consumers, reports Climate Counts. General Mills, Kraft and Kellogg all have perception scores of 79 or above, but actual scores of 58 or below. On the flip side, SAB Miller has a lowly perception score of 14, but an actual score of 44. Unilever has a perception score of 32 and an actual score of 79. Groupe Danone has a perception score of 33 and an actual score of 64." From Environmental Leader. Press release here. Access report here (registration required). [This is one reason HaraBara developed its Public Sustainability Persona™ comparison.]

Samsung Signs $6.6 Bln Deal to Build Wind and Solar Power in Ontario.reliability high.
"In what’s being described as the largest deal of its kind in the world, Samsung C&T and the Ontario government signed a $6.6 billion investment deal Thursday that will see the Korean industrial conglomerate build 2,500 megawatts of wind and solar power in the province, as well as establish manufacturing facilities that will build the equipment. . . . Under the terms of the agreement, officials said, Samsung must build four manufacturing plants in Ontario, promising 16,000 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years." See New York Times Green Inc. blog. [Meanwhile in Detroit . . . ]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

World's Largest Pellet Factory Planned in U.S..reliability high.
RWE Innogy of Germany and BMC Management AB of Sweden will build a €120 million, 750,000 tonne-per-year biomass pellet factory in Georgia, the largest in the world. Initial production will go to the power plants of Amer in the Netherlands, owned by RWE unit Essent, "where currently already up to 30% of the hard coal has been replaced by solid biomass, mainly wood pellets. There are plans to expand the proportion of co-firing to up to 50%." "Around 1.5 million metric tonnes of fresh wood are needed each year to produce 750,000 tonnes of pellets, the company says, and unlike Europe, the US has a huge growth surplus of wood that is not used." Norden A/S of Denmark will ship the pellets from Savannah to Europe. Georgia is a low-cost supplier of sustainably harvested wood because of the many forests formerly managed by pulp and paper companies there. From Renewable Energy World. [Foreign firms invest to extract energy resources from underdeveloped region and ship them to wealthy markets. Shell in Nigeria? Peabody Western Coal in the Navajo Nation? Aramco in the Gulf? Nope.]

Government and Regulation

France targets businesses with revised carbon tax plans.reliability high.
"The French government moved to revive its controversial plans for a carbon tax yesterday, announcing that it will extend the proposed tax to cover large-scale polluters until 2013, at which point they will be forced to purchase emission allowances at auction under phase three of the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS). French environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo said the temporary tax would address concerns that the original tax provided too many exemptions for big businesses, while still ensuring industrial firms are not double charged for the carbon they emit when the ETS is extended." "The government is now expected to present a revised version of the carbon tax bill to parliament in the next few weeks with a view to bringing the tax into force by July." From BusinessGreen. [The making of les saucisses continues.]

Rain barrels and permeable pavement are on LA agenda.reliability high.
"L.A.’s Department of Public Works unanimously approved a draft of its Low Impact Development ordinance last week. The ordinance would require newly constructed homes, larger developments and some redevelopments to capture, reuse or infiltrate 100% of the runoff generated on-site in a 3/4-inch rainstorm or to pay a storm water pollution mitigation fee that would help fund off-site, public LIDs. . . . Daniels says she hopes the ordinance will be approved in the next six months and go in to effect by year’s end. 'I don’t want to waste another rainy season,' she said." See Los Angeles Times Greenspace blog.

Solar Water Heaters Get a Boost in California.reliability medium.
"California regulators on Thursday approved a $350 million program to subsidize the installation of solar water heaters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program will allocate $250 million for the replacement of hot water heaters fueled by natural gas and $100.8 million for those powered by electricity. . . . Customers of California’s three big investor-owned utilities will receive rebates of up to $1,500, or about 30 percent of the cost of replacing a residential natural-gas hot water heater with a solar system. Owners of multi-family commercial buildings are eligible for up to $500,000 in incentives." Two-thirds of the money in the program is allocated to multi-family installations. "The California initiative could help jump-start the solar hot water market, which boomed 30 years ago when federal subsidies were offered for such systems in the wake of the oil embargoes of the 1970s. But when oil prices fell in the 1980s and the subsidies ended, many installers went out of business." See New York Times Green Inc. blog.


NASA research finds last decade was warmest on record, 2009 one of warmest years.reliability high.
"A new analysis of global surface temperatures by NASA scientists finds the past year was tied for the second warmest since 1880. In the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 was the warmest year on record." "'There's a contradiction between the results shown here and popular perceptions about climate trends,' Hansen said. 'In the last decade, global warming has not stopped.'" From EurekAlert. [But do facts matter? See next item.]

On the Lighter Side, But Still Depressing

Winner of climate change denial's premier award revealed.reliability medium.
George Monbiot details his soul-destroying search for the absolute worst in climate change claptrap, for which he has awarded the Christopher Booker prize for falsehoods about climate change based on most lies per unit of output. "The rules of the competition are simple: the award goes to whoever in my opinion — assisted by climate scientists and specialists — managed in the course of 2009 to cram [the most] misrepresentations, distortions and falsehoods into a single online article, statement, lecture, film or interview about climate change." The award goes to John Tomlinson, a columnist for the Flint Journal, for a column with 38 howlers at a rate of one for every 21 words. "And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. There won't be a 2010 Christopher Booker prize, because I can't face the thought of wading through all that rubbish again." See The Guardian, George Monbiot's blog. The winning column is here. Monbiot's analysis of it is here. [Would be laughable if it weren't so tragic.]

Art Department

Burbs from Above.reliability high.
"Christoph Gielen has a unique perspective—literally—on the sprawl that has taken over so much of the American built landscape since the 1960s. As someone who has spent a lot of time in helicopters, looking down on the eerily perfect geometries of the nation’s suburbs, the German artist knows just how artificial, and unsustainable, these communities really are." With a slideshow of some of his eerie images. From Metropolis magazine. [Of course all human settlements are "artificial". But these do look like urban planning nightmares.]

[Crossposted from HaraBara.com courtesy of HaraBara, Inc. Copyright © 2010 HaraBara, Inc.]