Posts Tagged ‘US’
Environmental Research Digest – June 2013
US Geothermal Energy Association published a report that explores beneficial externalities associated with using geothermal power instead of fossil fuels by comparing emissions levels of different fuel sources. The “Air Emissions Comparison and Externality Analysis” is in fact an update of a 2005 paper published in the Electricity Journal and expands upon the methodology by incorporating more atmospheric pollutants into the calculation.
- Geothermal energy produces little to no greenhouse gas emissions, which provides annual health and environmental benefits to the US valued at $278 million.
- About $117 million of those external benefits produced by avoiding fossil fuel emissions occur in California and Nevada, where the majority of geothermal energy plants exist.
- The benefit of producing power using geothermal sources — as opposed to fossil fuels — is worth 3.5 cents for coal, and 1 cent for natural gas per kWh.
- Geothermal energy provides additional benefits beyond avoided emissions, including less land degradation than other power sources, greater fuel diversity and improved national security by using a domestic energy source.
- Geothermal power plants can use recycled wastewater to reduce environmental impacts on water resources and treatment costs.
- The clean energy source has the lowest lifecycle emissions of any generating technology, according to the analysis. For example, dry steam and flash geothermal energy plants emit about 5 percent of the carbon dioxide, 1 percent of the sulfur dioxide and less than 1 percent of the nitrous oxide produced by a coal-fired plant of equal size.
US Geothermal Energy Association
Governance Research Digest – April 2013
KPMG launched The Green Tax Index providing insight into how countries are using taxes to influence corporate sustainability. It aims to encourage companies to explore the opportunities of green tax incentives, and to reduce exposure to green tax penalties.
- The US ranks No. 1 among 21 countries most actively using the tax code to influence sustainable corporate activity, reflecting the country’s federal tax incentives for energy efficiency, renewable energy and green buildings.
- Japan, the UK, France, South Korea and China are also among the leading countries using tax as a tool to drive corporate sustainability, according to the index.
- Key policy areas explored in the index include energy efficiency, water efficiency, carbon emissions, green innovations and green building.
- Japan, for example, ranks No. 1 in promoting tax incentives for green vehicle production, while the US tops the rankings for its renewable energy tax incentives. The result: more electric and alternative fuel cars coming out of Japan and strong growth in the US renewable sector.
- The KPMG index identified more than 200 individual tax incentives and penalties of relevance to corporate sustainability. At least 30 of these have been introduced since January 2011.
- Japan is ranked second overall but, in contrast to the US, scores higher on green tax penalties than it does on incentives.
- The UK ranks third and has a green tax approach balanced between penalties and incentives. The UK scores most highly in the area of carbon and climate change.
- France occupies fourth place in the overall ranking with a green tax policy more heavily weighted toward penalties than incentives.
- South Korea ranks fifth, and like the US, has a green tax system weighted toward incentives rather than penalties. South Korea leads the ranking for “green innovation” which suggests that South Korea is especially active in using its tax code to encourage green research and development.
Social Research Digest – February 2013
This report details the opportunities available for new bio-based energy sources, transport fuels, or chemicals. The focus of the report is on the UK and is launched to coincide with the opening of the UK’s largest showcase of industrial biotechnology in London.
- Potential breakthroughs in industrial biotech in the UK could witness is to become a £12bn industry by 2012, however, a lack of investment and active opposition to genetically modified (GM) must be addressed if the sector is to reach its full potential.
- By 2015 the global market for technologies across industry, agriculture, forestry, healthcare, and manufacturing could be anywhere between £150bn and £360bn.
- Given the UK’s strong record in science and innovation and Europe’s leading position in development of biotechnology and feedstocks, its share could encompass £4bn to £12bn of this.
- The UK needs to establish a framework to support industrial biotech that is beyond focusing on biofuels.
- Unlike the UK, the US spends nearly 10 times more on biotech research and development
- A problem facing biotech firms that aim to produce fuel and food is the polemic associated with such technologies such as the activists arguing energy crops crowd out agricultural production and can cross-pollinate with food crops.
- The report sets out a template for corporations working in the sector to build trust, tips on delivering and promoting environmental benefits.
- The Industrial biotech industry is a young industry and a part of overcoming barriers is to ensure it meets highest possible sustainability standards.
Forum for the Future
CSR Research Digest – February 2013
UL’s 2012 annual global study examines manufacturer and consumer perceptions about how products are made, sold, bought and consumed. For the study, researchers interviewed 1,201 consumers and 1,202 manufacturers in China, Germany, India and the US about topics related to safety, performance, innovation and sustainability.
- More than 80 percent of manufacturers say sustainability is essential to the success of their business.
- Eight-one percent of manufacturers agree sustainability products affect their ability to compete in the marketplace, and 89 percent say the same thing about operational sustainability.
- This represents an increase from 2011, when 76 percent and 85 percent said sustainable products and operations were important, respectively.
- But the overall percentage of manufacturers that say environmentally friendly products can be profitable has declined by 5 percent compared with 2011.
- Sixty percent still agree that the environment can be profitable.
- Two-thirds (67 percent) of manufacturers say they “strongly agree” the environment is becoming more important to consumers, while 53 percent say consumers are demanding more eco-friendly products that cost the same as their traditional counterparts.
- And while consumers say being environmentally friendly is important, it’s not the top purchase driver.
- Quality and safety are the top issues consumers consider when making a purchase; nine percent cite environmental friendliness as the main reason they buy a product.
- However, consumers also say manufacturers don’t put sufficient emphasis on being environmentally friendly.
Social Research Digest – December 2012
A report by the advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi sheds some light in the untapped opportunities of sustainability marketing for the Latino community. The report aims to spark dialogue within companies and inspire them to develop effective strategies and communications to engage Latinos in their corporate sustainability efforts.
- Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic in the nation, yet few companies are reaching out to this group in their sustainability initiatives.
- “The vast majority” of US companies – even those who are spending serious dollars to connect with Latinos – are not messaging to this audience about environmental sustainability.
- A series of myths exist in the sustainability community as to why this “sleeping giant” should not be targeted.
- The first myth is that Latinos are not environmentalists.
- In reality, “deep-rooted cultural connections and health reasons” give rise to an innate support of environmental conservation and stewardship among Latinos.
- Other myths include thinking that Latinos don’t want to buy green – but, in fact, that demographic tends to be more loyal to brands that contribute positively to their communities and the environment.
- However, despite these misconceptions, there are a number of companies that have successfully targeted the Latino community with sustainability initiatives.
- NBCUniversal’s Green is Universal campaign is a good example, which, for one week each year, invites viewers to learn about green issues by integrating such themes into its programming, runs across most of the company’s channels including Spanish-language Telemundo and mun2, the bilingual cable network that targets young Latinos.
- General Mills’ Qué Rica Vida campaign, which promotes healthy eating and living to Latinos by embracing culinary affinities and providing recipes, health tips and deals on General Mills products, is another good example of a well-targeted and successful campaign.
Saatchi & Saatchi
Governance Research Digest – November 2012
A new report was released tracking growth and reflecting trends within the sustainable, responsible, impact (SRI) investment industry in the U.S. It measures ESG integration (environmental, social, governance) in investment analysis and portfolio selection, the filing of shareholder resolutions on ESG issues, and community impact investing.
- As of year-end 2011, the overall total of professionally managed SRI assets in the U.S. was $3.74 trillion, up by 22% from 2009.
- The total is 486% greater than in 1995, the first year that US SIF began measuring the size and scope of the SRI industry—in sharp contrast to the 376% growth of professionally managed conventional assets over the same time period.
- The gain in market share is attributed to increasing client demand for ESG investing strategies and growth of community development bank assets, as consumers switch from large banks, are credited with much of the impetus for growth.
- The report highlights progresses made on a variety of fronts in recent years, including the fact that now over 50 percent of S&P 500 companies have agreed to disclosure and board oversight of corporate political spending.
- It’s also noted that environmental and social proxy ballot issues are garnering more shareowner votes and more money managers are filing shareowner resolutions.
- Alternative investment vehicles, such as private equity and venture capital funds, responsible property funds, and hedge funds have experienced as much as 250% asset growth just since 2010.
- Sudan topped the list of avoidance policies, with nearly $1 trillion invested in U.S.-domiciled accounts that eschew investments in companies doing business there.
Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment