01 July 2010

Steady march of GHG regulation, SK Group bets on green, pollution mortality and other sustainability news

Top Stories

Blue chip firms warn against green skills crisis.reliability high.
"The research from the Business in the Community (BITC) group polled 700 business leaders and found that 70 per cent thought a shortage of sustainable business leadership skills will represent one of the most pressing challenges facing UK firms over the next five years as they attempt to develop new low carbon business models. ... As a result of the findings, BITC is today teaming up with a number of its members, including EDF Energy, Marks & Spencer and LloydsTSB, to launch a new taskforce that will work to develop a best practice guide in sustainable leadership for a wide range of employees including senior managers, middle managers, customer-facing staff and general workforce." See BusinessGreen.

Air pollution leads to premature deaths of more than 4,000 Londoners a year.reliability high.
"An estimated 4,267 Londoners are dying prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to airborne pollution, it was revealed today. ... The study of the health impact of high levels of fine particulate matter of a concentration level known as PM2.5 on mortality rates in the capital prompted calls for Johnson to introduce "urgent targeted measures" to address the city's poor air quality, which is the worst in the UK and among the worst in European cities." More about the politics of London air pollution. Story at The Guardian. [Think what the premature mortality toll is in a city like Mumbai or Beijing, with many more people, and many more unmitigated diesels and two-cycles.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

Why All Companies Should Track Sustainability Metrics.reliability medium.
"At the recent Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency sponsored by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), participants bemoaned the inconsistency of information provided in corporate sustainability reports. ... Readers of sustainability reports seem to agree that more hard data is needed for reports to be truly transparent. In a KPMG survey of readers of sustainability reports, respondents said reporting companies are most likely to omit failures, leading to questions about the credibility of their sustainability reports." More about problems with the reports. See GreenBiz blog.

SK Group reveals clean tech investment masterplan.reliability high.
"South Korea's SK Group has revealed it plans to invest 17.5 trillion won ($14.3bn) in alternative energy and new technologies by 2020, as it seeks to diversify its sprawling engineering and manufacturing business. According to a Bloomberg report, SK will spend 4.5 trillion won ($3.54bn) on new energy technologies including solar cells and biofuels, 4.2 trillion won ($3.4bn) on environmental infrastructure such as smart grids and water treatment plants, and 8.8 trillion won ($7.1bn) on other new technologies. ... SK Group, which accounts for almost 10 per cent of South Korea's total output, hopes the investment plan will create 42,000 jobs by 2020." See BusinessGreen story.

Government and Regulation

Loan Giants Threaten Energy-Efficiency Programs.reliability high.
How a new policy at Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, who make a market in home mortgages, has shut down home solar installations financed by Property Assessed Clean Energy assessments. The government loan giants have said they will not treat PACE liens like other liens, but like loans or unpaid property tax obligations that must be paid off before mortgages become eligible for resale. "“The letters have had a devastating impact on PACE programs in California, placing at risk hundreds of millions of dollars of federal stimulus funding, hundreds of millions of dollars of state, local and private funding, and impacting California’s efforts to promote green jobs and greenhouse gas emissions reductions,” Ken Alex, a senior assistant attorney general in California, wrote in a June 22 letter to the housing agency." See The New York Times. [Conflicting government policies.]

EPA Finalizes GHG Reporting Rules for Four Emissions Sources.reliability high.
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing rules that require underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial waste landfills and magnesium production facilities to report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under its national GHG reporting program." These are all big sources of methane. "the data from these emissions sources will help the agency and businesses develop policies and programs to reduce them, says EPA. These sectors will begin collecting emissions data on January 1, 2011, with the first annual reports submitted to EPA on March 31, 2012." From Environmental Leader. [Slow but inexorable march of greenhouse gas emission regulation.]

Clean Air Act Proving Effective in CO2 Regulation, Lawyers Tell Their Corporate Clients.reliability medium.
Summary of client letter from Ballard Spahr. "Although legislation would remove certain uncertainties, speed the course of regulation and reduce the likelihood of successful challenges in court, it appears increasingly clear that comprehensive regulation of greenhouse gas emissions will occur regardless of whether Congress acts or not. EPA regulatory actions, actions by states and potential liabilities will all put a price on carbon emissions and create business risks and opportunities that should play a part in corporate planning." More discussion of EPA actions. From Solveclimate blog.