11 February 2010

How green is your oil? Your biodiesel? And other company, industry, government and science news

Top Stories

From Oil to Gold, Top Companies Shunning 'Dirty' Resources.reliability high.
"Big name brands including Whole Foods, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walmart, and Tiffany and Co., are turning their backs on so-called "dirty" resources gleaned at the expense of the environment. Whole Foods and Bed, Bath and Beyond have begun working to phase out from its operations transportation fuel from the Canadian tar sands. Meanwhile, Cartier, Sears and more than 60 other retailers have committed to buying gold from environmentally responsible sources." More on specific companies' actions and advocacy group reports. From GreenBiz.

L'Oréal, Weyerhaeuser Among Best Performers in Disclosing Global Forest Footprint.reliability high.
"Neste Oil, Danisco, L'Oréal, J. Sainsbury, IOI Group, Marks and Spencer, Mondi, Weyerhaeuser, Drax Group and Reed Elsevier are among the best performers in the Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD) project’s report on procurement policies for forest risk commodities including palm oil, soy, timber, beef, leather and biofuels that are linked to deforestation. . . . FFD is planning a second disclosure request for June 2010 and a U.S. launch is planned for later this year to raise the awareness of a forest footprint among more investors and companies." From Environmental Leader. PDF of report here. ["Revealingly, some companies who are communicating 'environmentally friendly' policy and messages in their consumer marketing mix, did not disclose their impact on forests," Tracey Campbell, Director of FFD, said in a statement.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

One Block Off the Grid: Bulk solar, tell your friends.reliability medium.
Startup "One Block Off the Grid seeks to make it cheaper and simpler for homeowners to buy solar electric panels by acting as an agent to solar installers. It is able to lower the cost of solar about 15 percent by aggregating hundreds of interested customers to get a group discount" "At the company Web site, consumers can evaluate how good their location is for solar and get an estimate of the cost, taking into account state and federal subsidies. Once a sizable number of people show interest, One Block Off the Grid will take bids from solar installers. At that point, homeowners can get bids for the work. One Block Off the Grid charges a fee to installers once a job is completed." From CNET News Green Tech blog. Related NYT post here. 1BOG site. ["In confusion there is profit."]

K.K.R. Continues Greening Its Portfolio.reliability medium.
"Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, the private equity giant, has expanded an initiative it started with the Environmental Defense Fund to green up the operations of its portfolio companies. . . . Eight more companies joined the effort last year, and on Monday, Kohlberg Kravis announced the addition of four more companies to the Green Portfolio program, which covers 20 percent of its private equity portfolio. 'The business case for environmental management has never been stronger,' Henry Kravis, a co-founder of the company, said in a statement. 'The Green Portfolio program highlights that environmental performance and business performance can go hand-in-hand.'" More on the portfolio and its management. See New York Times Green Inc. blog.

If biofuels go, should we mourn them?.reliability high.
"yesterday Morrisons, the largest supplier of biofuels in the UK, ­announced it is withdrawing one of its most popular blends from its forecourts. From 1 April, it says it will no longer be selling B30, a blend of 30% rapeseed and recycled vegetable oil and 70% ordinary mineral diesel. The move follows last Nov­ember's pre-budget report announcing the "20p per litre duty differential" subsidy for biofuels was to be axed, although the subsidy for "used cooking oil biofuels" would remain for two years. . . . This is undoubtly a big blow for the fledgling biofuel industry. However, the true environmental credentials of these blends is ­debatable." See The Guardian.

BIXI: Bike Sharing Across Three Continents.reliability medium.
Melbourne and Minneapolis have "concluded negotiations with the Montreal based non-profit that manages Bixi earlier this month. Bikes are scheduled to be rolling in Melbourne in May and in Minneapolis by June. . . .The systems is based on a network of solar powered bike rental nodes that can be easily installed and moved depending on usage. The nodes also update bike availability info in realtime allowing users to check bike availability online from home, iPhones, or other mobile devices." From Worldchanging blog.

Government and Regulation

San Francisco Adopts Nation’s Largest Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program.reliability high.
"Mayor Gavin Newsom today signed the final legislation required to establish San Francisco’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The program is the nation’s largest PACE program to date, making $150 million in bonding capacity available to private property owners to finance water conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements through a voluntary special property tax. . . .  Oakland-based Renewable Funding, the nation’s leading provider of PACE financing services, will administer the program and provide capital to fund the projects. San Francisco-based Stone & Youngberg and Backstrom McCarley Berry & Co. are serving as bond underwriters. 'San Francisco is once again leading the way by establishing the largest PACE program in the nation to date,' said Cisco DeVries, president of Renewable Funding." From Your Story.

Science and Economics

Big cities and global farming now driving deforestation, study finds.reliability high.
In the past it was subsistence farmers who put the greatest pressure on tropical forests, but a new report says the growth of cities and industrial agriculture account for most of the loss of such forests today. "'The main drivers of tropical deforestation have shifted from small-scale landholders to domestic and international markets that are distant from the forests,' said lead author Ruth DeFries, a professor at the Earth Institute's Center for Environmental Research and Conservation. 'One line of thinking was that concentrating people in cities would leave a lot more room for nature. But those people in cities and the rest of the world need to be fed. That creates a demand for industrial-scale clearing.'" "Almost 60% of remaining forests occur in areas where net agricultural trade, percent of products exported, and urban growth are all relatively low. But as demand for products grows, these areas are likely to see increased pressure, the study says." From The Guardian. Abstract of report available here. [Your supply chain includes deforestation.]

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