02 April 2010

Carbon "fiduciary duty"; EPA moves on coal, cars; and other company and government news and comment

Top Stories

Intel Amends Charter – Sustainability Now a 'Fiduciary Duty'.reliability high.
"Responding to pressure from an environmental investment group, Intel said it would include 'corporate responsibility and sustainability performance' in the committee’s overall policy responsibility. The company’s charter now says it has a 'Fiduciary duty' to do so. ... Now the Governance and Nominating Committee will 'review(s) and report(s) to the Board on a periodic basis with regards to matters of corporate responsibility and sustainability performance, including potential long and short term trends and impacts to our business of environmental, social and governance issues, including the company’s public reporting on these topics.' Intel sought an outside legal opinion on Delaware Law, finding that directors have a fiduciary duty to address corporate responsibility and sustainability performance as specified in the committee charter." Story in Environmental Leader.

Study questions credibility of FTSE 350 sustainability and carbon data.reliability high.
"The way that FTSE 350 companies report their carbon emissions is patchy, inconsistent and lacks credibility, according to government-backed research from consultancy Smart Sustainability. The study, which was sponsored by a coalition of organisations including SAP, Defra, Barclays, BP and British American Tobacco, found that of those FTSE 350 firms that make carbon and sustainability data available, a shockingly low proportion provide any sort of assurance on their data. Despite investor and regulatory body demand for a way to verify and compare the credibility of sustainability reports, only 75 companies in the FTSE 350 publish some form of assurance alongside environmental reports. Moreover, only 62 of those use assurance checks that are carried out independently and based on a recognised assurance standard." See story at BusinessGreen. [While financial reports are universally audited, environmental reports must still be taken on trust.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

NYSE Goes Carbon Neutral Through Wind RECs.reliability high.
"The New York Stock Exchange is purchasing renewable energy credits to offset the approximately 28 million kilowatt hours it uses annually, reports the Baltimore Sun. The NYSE is buying RECs to support the installation of wind energy. Constellation NewEnergy is providing the certified offsets. As a result, the NYSE estimates it will avoid about 57 million pounds of CO2 emissions a year." See Environmental Leader story. [More about RECs in this earlier post. Do you agree that by buying these the NYSE "will avoid about 57 million pounds of CO2 emissions a year"? An interesting puzzle.]

Solar Parking Lots for Electric Bikes in Tokyo.reliability medium.
"Sanyo has just completed two solar parking lots for electric bikes in Tokyo. And a third one is on its way. ... By combining 'HIT solar panels' with 'lithium-ion battery systems', SANYO's Solar Parking Lot enables recharging the electric hybrid bicycles without any commercial power source, even at night or on a rainy day. The lithium-ion battery system also features AC power outlets that can be used to power external equipment during an emergency. In addition, the installed system incorporates a 'DC charger.' The 'DC charger' enables photovoltaic energy generated and stored in DC (direct current) to be used directly and effectively without AC (alternative current) conversion." From CleanTechnica. [This system, with its auxiliary AC output and potential to charge other DC devices, seems almost designed for village applications more than for urban Tokyo.]

How IT Helped Citi Become 'America's Greenest Bank'.reliability high.
The company upgraded 300,000 PCs and laptops, cutting emissions 3%, and consolidated data centers. "A massive virtualization drive saved the company 73 percent in server power and cooling requirements, trimming its carbon footprint by more than 300 tons of carbon dioxide. ... Citi's telepresence centers located throughout the globe helped the bank reduce its air travel emissions by nearly a third between 2008 and 2009." "All of these moves combined to propel Citi to the top of 'America's Greenest Banks,' a new list compiled for the first time by Bank Technology News  (BTN)." See GreenBiz.

Accenture Targets 40% Carbon Footprint Reduction by 2012.reliability high.
"Accenture is committed to reducing its per capita carbon footprint 40 percent by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2012 from its 2007 baseline, according to the company’s 2008-2009 Corporate Citizenship Report. In fiscal 2009, Accenture achieved its initial target of a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emitted per employee by implementing energy efficiency programs throughout its offices, reducing travel and boosting employee awareness. Measures included the increased use of interactive technologies and virtual conferences as well as using public transportation when possible." Examples of specific actions. "Accenture also increased its supply chain sustainability efforts through the launch of its Supplier Standards of Conduct. The company reports its requests for proposals (RFPs) that included environmental questionnaires rose from 90 percent to 98 percent of all RFPs issued in fiscal 2009." See story in Environmental Leader. [Deceptive Headline Alert: Not "40% Carbon Footprint Reduction" but 40% reduction in per capita carbon footprint. Total emissions might actually go up, if headcount grows rapidly. Carbon efficiency improvements don't necessarily lead to overall emissions reductions, but headline writers sometimes overpromise.]

Government and Regulation

E.P.A. to Limit Water Pollution From Mining.reliability high.
"The Environmental Protection Agency issued tough new water quality guidelines on Thursday that could curtail some of the most contentious coal mining techniques used across Appalachia. ... Ms. Jackson suggested that one practical result of the guidelines would be to make it far more difficult for so-called valley fill operations, where layers of soil and rock are removed from mountaintops and piled in nearby valleys and streams, to receive permits." Story in The New York Times.

DOT, EPA Set GHG Levels for Cars, Light Trucks.reliability high.
"Starting with 2012 model year vehicles, automakers must improve fleet-wide fuel economy and reduce fleet-wide greenhouse gas emissions by about five percent a year." "the EPA will require that by the 2016 model-year vehicles must achieve a combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile." "The rules are set to phase in over the next five to six years and should save the owner of the average 2016 model year car $3,000 in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle. Nationally, the effort is estimated to save about 1.8 billion barrels of oil and slash almost a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions." See Environmental Leader.

Electric cars get initial '0'-emission rating.reliability high.
"Electric cars will initially be given a "zero" emissions rating in new U.S. auto fuel efficiency regulations as an incentive for industry to mass produce them, the U.S. government said on Thursday. ... Under an incentive program unveiled by the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the first 200,000 vehicles produced by each manufacturer will be given a zero emissions rating. After that, the rating of the vehicle will reflect the upstream greenhouse gas emissions associated with charging the vehicles." From Reuters.

New Efficiency Standards for Water Heaters.reliability high.
"The Obama administration on Thursday released new energy efficiency standards for water heaters and other appliances that it said would save consumers $10 billion over 30 years while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. ... The biggest change increases the energy efficiency mandates for water heaters that hold 55 gallons or more of water. Although the Energy Department does not specify which technologies manufacturers must adopt, the new standards would effectively require the use of more advanced technologies like heat pump electric water heaters and condensing gas water heaters, according to energy efficiency experts." More in The New York Times Green Inc. blog.

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