25 June 2010

GE doubles eco bet, bogus organics, environmental corporate value risks in Asia, EV doubts and other green business information

Top Stories

Major Australia investors urge quick action on climate.reliability high.
New Prime Minister Julia "Gillard should outline her road map on climate change as soon as possible and set priorities for consensus building over the issue, said the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) that represents institutional investors with more than $500 billion under management. 'We consider that climate change presents real risks to the Australian economy, which must be addressed,' the group said in a statement." Story at Reuters. [The new PM seems to want to re-reverse former PM Rudd's U turn on climate legislation, perhaps completing an O turn, or more likely a Q turn, Z turn or W turn. Australia is probably the most coal-dependent economy in the world. And even with its abandoned climate plan it is the only major country that promised to increase emissions (see league table).]

Fake organic foods proliferate from China.reliability high.
"When that organic food comes from China, that label may not mean much. ... A Chinese grocery chain owner who spoke with Global Post estimated that 'maybe 30 percent of farms that put the organic label on their food produce the real thing.' 'I think in the future the government will improve testing,' the grocery store owner told Global Post. 'But now, hygiene officers have so much work to do with essential food safety that they don't worry about organic.'" With audio story. From Public Radio International. [You can't manage your supply chain with worthless certifications. Same goes for palm oil and many other products. Who certifies the certifiers?]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

GE to invest $10 bn in Ecomagination initiative.reliability high.
"General Electric announced Thursday plans to invest $10 bn over the next five years in Ecomagination, the green-focused research and development program it began in 2005. Since Ecomagination began, GE has invested a total of $5 bn in its research and development as of the end of 2009. The technology and products to come out of that program have generated $70 billion in revenue over the past five years, according to GE statistics released Thursday." See CNET News story. A story at Greentech Media gives examples of some of the areas GE says it will be investing in.

Analyzing Environmental Trends in Asia.reliability high.
"Gaining a better understanding of how and when environmental risks may impact company performance will help the region’s financial community accurately assess corporate value. To that end, WRI and HSBC partnered to identify and quantify environmental risks facing key sectors in South and Southeast Asia, culminating in the recent release of three reports on the power, food and beverage, and real estate sectors." See WRI site. Access the reports here. [Are you invested in the next BP?]

The campaign against palm oil--The other oil spill.reliability high.
"Palm oil is a popular, cheap commodity, which green activists are doing their best to turn into a commercial liability. Companies are finding them impossible to ignore" "Several companies have learned that they are vulnerable, politically and therefore commercially, when they do not control the distant ends of their supply chains." Article in The Economist. [Good review of the palm oil situation, and by extension supply chain issues in general. 1. Demonstrates potential power of activist groups to call attention to supply chain problems. Businesses should be proactive. 2. You probably have palm oil in your supply chain. If not, what about paper?]

Plans Shrivel for Chinese Eco-City.reliability high.
"Once billed as "the world’s first eco-city," Dongtan, a development on the eastern tip of Chongming Island, a one-hour ferry ride from Shanghai, was to become a Manhattan-sized, energy self-sufficient, carbon-neutral, mostly car-free model of sustainability. ... But Dongtan has been put on hold indefinitely and, save for the bridge-tunnel and a wind farm, close to nothing has been built." Reasons. Other eco-city plans. Story in The New York Times. [Planned "cities of the future" have a long and discouraging past. Cities, like economies, may be too complex to plan from scratch.]

Government and Regulation

California drafts green chemistry rules.reliability medium.
"California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) finally put out online its draft  for the new safer Consumer Products regulation. ... the draft regulation would prioritize toxic chemicals and products, require manufacturers to seek safer alternatives to toxic chemicals in their products, and create tough governmental responses for lack of compliance." From ICIS Green Chemicals. Access draft here. [Since California is such a big market it strongly influences corporate policies of all manufacturers. These rules are still subject to revision but they could become de facto U.S. standards.]

Science and Economics

Plug-in Vehicles Will Be Dirtier Than HEVs?reliability medium.
"On June 22nd Scientific American rolled-out a Web-only article titled "The Dirty Truth about Plug-in Hybrids, Made Interactive" that summarizes a January 2008 report from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and shows why plug-in vehicles in the U.S. will, on average, be just a little bit dirtier than gasoline HEVs." Post goes into details. Large regional differences in how dirty electricity is. See AltEnergyStocks.com. [Electric car critic John Petersen has argued in many posts that EVs don't deliver environmental benefits or do so at unreasonable costs. He does us the service of finding and analyzing these studies that raise valid issues. Will the EV wave prove to be a dead end, as the gasohol wave may do (see below)? They are certainly not a panacea. But even based on this analysis both EVs and HEVs are better than the vehicles most of us are driving today.]

As Ethanol Booms, Critics Warn of Environmental Effect.reliability high.
"Special Report" "There has been hot debate about whether carbon emissions from ethanol production and use are lower than those from oil and whether the 33 percent of the U.S. corn crop diverted to ethanol drives up the price of food. Local effects of ethanol production, however, including water pollution and consumption, have received less scrutiny. ... Investment in corn ethanol 'seems like a very expensive detour from an energy policy point of view,' said Mr. Cox, of the Environmental Working Group. 'This is really agricultural policy masquerading as energy policy.' " Feature in The New York Times.

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