21 April 2010

Carbon offset pitfalls, transboundary environmental lawsuits, heavy metal sushi, and other company, industry and government news

Top Stories

Buying carbon offsets may ease eco-guilt but not global warming.reliability high.
"An investigation by The Christian Science Monitor and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has found that individuals and businesses who are feeding a $700 million global market in offsets are often buying vague promises instead of the reductions in greenhouse gases they expect. They are buying into projects that are never completed, or paying for ones that would have been done anyhow, the investigation found. Their purchases are feeding middlemen and promoters seeking profits from green schemes that range from selling protection for existing trees to the promise of planting new ones that never thrive. In some cases, the offsets have consequences that their purchasers never foresaw, such as erecting windmills that force poor people off their farms." More on problems of offsetting with voluntary carbon credits. In-depth feature article. In The Christian Science Monitor. [Sobering reading. Accompanied by other articles.]

Report Signals Rebound in Energy Efficiency Spending.reliability high.
"Investment in energy efficiency may be rebounding in 2010, according to the fourth annual Energy Efficiency Indicator released on Monday by Johnson Controls and the International Facility Management Association. The EEI report surveyed more than 1,400 executives and managers in North America who are responsible for making investments and managing energy in commercial buildings. Despite limited capital, 60 percent said they were planning operating expenditures in efficiency programs over the next year, up from 55 percent in 2009." Other highlights. See Greentech Media. [Cost savings is still really the only thing driving efficiency spending. Only "Fourteen percent of respondents said they had a publicly stated greenhouse gas reduction goal." And "Forty percent of those surveyed don't know or have not yet prioritized their strategies for reducing their organization's greenhouse gas emissions."]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Zipcar Snaps Up UK Car Sharing Network Streetcar.reliability high.
"Zipcar has bought London-based car sharing firm Streetcar in its latest bid to expand across Europe, the companies announced this morning. The acquisition, valued at about $50 mln, expands the size of Zipcar's UK fleet more than four-fold, to 1,770 vehicles." See earth2tech.

Tuvalu v. ExxonMobil?reliability high.
"The coming tide of transnational climate lawsuits. ... In international law, there's an established principle called transboundary harm, which means that if a Canadian factory belches toxic chemicals into a river, fouling a reservoir in Vermont, sooner or later the people at the Canadian factory will be hearing from some American lawyers. For the first time, Micronesia applied this tenet to climate change—arguing that its survival is jeopardized by any large power plant that doesn't curb its carbon footprint. ... Pawa compares this nascent field to the epic court battles over tobacco and asbestos. 'It's a process of learning by doing,' said Pawa. 'Just by bringing these cases over and over again, the judiciary [and] the public get used to the idea of liability.'" See story in Mother Jones.

Hilton Worldwide Unveils LightStay Sustainability Measurement System.reliability high.
Hilton's proprietary system developed to calculate and analyze environmental impact is called LightStay. "Reductions in water and energy use also translated into dollars saved for hotel owners, with estimated savings of more than $29 million in utility costs in 2009. ... LightStay helped Hilton Worldwide properties using the system reduce energy use by 5 percent, carbon output by 6 percent, waste output by 10 percent and water use by 2.4 percent in 2009 versus 2008. These results have been independently audited and are adjusted for any differences in occupancy levels and major weather events year over year." From Green Lodging News.

Tuna sushi in US busts recommended levels for mercury: study.reliability high.
"One hundred sushi samples were collected from 54 restaurants and 15 supermarkets in New York, New Jersey and Colorado, comprising "akami" (lean red tuna) as well as "toro" (fatty tuna). ... Calculated on the basis of a 60-kilo (132-pound) adult woman consuming a single order, samples of Bigeye tuna toro  were found to have average mercury levels of 0.351 microgrammes per kilo, while Bigeye tuna akami had 0.344 microgrammes. ... 'The mean mercury concentrations of all samples exceed the concentration permitted by Japan and the maximum daily consumption considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency,' said the paper." See item in Space Daily from AP.

Will the Electric Car Put Money in Your Pocket?reliability medium.
"Fueling our cars with electricity instead of gasoline – this one change – could avert a lot of economic pain, according to the 'Economic Impact of the Electrification Roadmap' report by the Electrification Council. The council, which includes NRG Energy, CISCO, PG&E, Nissan Motor, Fedex and other major companies, wants to see us drive electric cars by 2040 for 75 percent of the miles we travel. In pursing this target, we could reduce our federal debt by $336 million, increase cumulative household income $4.6 trillion, improve our trade balance by $127 billion and add 1.9 million jobs by 2030, says the report." See Clean Techies blog. Access report here.

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