Environmental News Portal Launched
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Developing Countries
Efforts undertaken by developing countries to strengthen their economies, enhance energy security or protect local environments are at the same time significantly reducing the growth of their greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report released by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The report, which examines measures contributing to climate mitigation in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey, found that such efforts reduced the growth of these countries combined greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 300 million tons a year. If not for these efforts, the report concluded, emissions in the six countries could be about 19 percent higher than they are today.
Among the many efforts identified are market and energy reforms to promote economic growth; development of alternative fuels to reduce energy imports; aggressive energy efficiency programs; use of solar and other renewable energy to raise living standards in rural locations; reducing deforestation; slowing population growth; and switching from coal to natural gas to diversify energy sources and reduce air pollution.
Broader implementation of such efforts could reduce future emissions growth by an additional 300 million tons a year by 2010, the report estimates. The report, Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey, was researched and written by a team of in-country experts led by researchers at the Battelle Memorial Institute.
The key message is that climate protection can go hand-in-hand with economic growth and other overriding priorities of developing countries, said Pew Center president Eileen Claussen.
A complete copy of the report is available on the Pew Center Web site: www.pewclimate.org/projects/dev_mitiga tion.cfm.
CERES/ACCA Launch Reporting Awards
The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), in conjunction with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), is launching the U.S. Sustainability Reporting Awards program. The aim of the awards program is to: contribute to further and better reporting on sustainability performance or component environmental and social issues by corporations and other organizations across the United States; reward best practice and provide guidance to other entities that are publishing or intend to publish sustainability; and increase accountability to stakeholders.
In an age of Internet-speed transparency, hundreds of companies have invested time and energy into serious reports disclosing their social and environmental impacts and performance, notes Robert Kinloch Massie, executive director of CERES. The CERES-ACCA U.S. Sustainability Reporting Awards will accelerate the powerful trend toward disclosure by recognizing innovation and leadership in corporate reporting.
The ACCA Reporting Awards in the UK, in Ireland and in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Pakistan and Singapore, reward organizations for excellence in environmental, social and sustainability reporting, says Roger Adams, executive director-technical of ACCA. ACCA is, therefore, looking forward to launching the U.S. Awards in partnership with CERES. Together our goal is to promote public reporting activity in the area of sustainable development and to improve the quality of disclosure practices in the United States.
Any U.S.-based company, institution or organization, or the American subsidiary of a non-U.S. company, that produces environmental or sustainability reports is eligible. The first-year awards will be given for reports published in year 2002 for year 2001 performance. Companies may apply on their own behalf or be nominated by others.
A jury of eight to 10 members will include selected CERES coalition members (public interest groups and investors), other leaders on environmental and sustainability issues, experts in environmental and sustainability reporting, and representatives from a broad spectrum of backgrounds (e.g. NGO, policy, religion, investment and academia). The three reporting award categories include Sustainability Reporting, Environmental Reporting and Social Reporting. The same report cannot be entered into more than one category. Criteria used to judge reports are:
* Completenessall significant aspects of environmental, social or economicimpacts are presented.
* Transparencyclarity in defining and reporting all significant impacts.
* Credibilityhow well the quality of information allows a judgment on the entitys actions and processes compared to its stated intentions.
* Qualityusefulness of information according to stakeholders needs.
Green@work magazine is serving as the communications partner for the awards program. Deadline for submissions is January 10, 2003. Award winners will be recognized at the CERES conference in April 2003 in New York, NY. For more information, call 617-247-0700 or visit www.ceres.org or www.accaglobal.com/sustainability.
Coffee Partnership Awarded
Starbucks Coffee Co. and Conservation International (CI) have been selected by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as a recipient of the 2002 World Summit Business Awards for Sustainable Development Partnerships. The collaboration between Starbucks and CI encourages sustainable agricultural practices and the protection of biodiversity through the production of shade grown coffee and the institution of coffee purchasing guidelines.
It began in 1998 with the creation of CIs Conservation Coffee project site in Chiapas, Mexico. Results from the partnership to date include a 60 percent price premium over local prices to farmers and a 220 percent increase in the coffee growing land preserved as tropical forests. Currently, six farming cooperatives representing 700 farmers are participating in the program. In 2000, Starbucks elevated its commitment to CI by helping to begin replication of CIs Conservation Coffee program in Colombia and other coffee origin countries. The amount of shade grown coffee purchased by Starbucks has increased from 75,000 pounds in 1999 to 304,000 pounds in fiscal 2000 and 723,000 pounds in fiscal 2001. In fiscal 2002, Starbucks estimates purchasing 1.5 million pounds. Starbucks® Shade Grown Mexico coffee is part of the companys Commitment to Origins coffee offering.
UKs Largest Solar Installation
Eighty-seven thousand state-of-the-art photovoltaic cells supplied by BP Solar will be used in the construction of the new TXU-Europe building in Ipswich. The project represents the largest solar installation in the United Kingdom and is set for completion in December this year.
The photovoltaic cells, which are housed in glass panels and serve the dual purpose of replacing conventional materials while simultaneously harnessing energy from natural light to produce clean energy, will provide an output of over 200kw at peak performance. This is over 10 percent of the maximum power requirement of the building.
BP Solar says the building will represent a showcase for Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) technology. The project is significant because it proves that the technologies are available to deliver practical solar energy systems, said BP Solar business executive manager Ray Noble.
The 35 million pound sterling building project is effectively creating a new sustainable clean energy headquarters for TXU-Europe, the UKs largest domestic electricity supplier. All 1,000 of TXU-Europes staff based in five existing offices in the Ipswich area will be relocated to the new building. High performance grid-connected mono-crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels will be incorporated in the design of the buildings, replacing conventional cladding materials on roofs and facades.
The system is also expected to cut carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 140 tons annually.
Wanted: Compulsory Reporting
In a survey conducted in August 2002 by the communications consultancy ECC Group, respondents were generally pleased with the environmental data presented in sustainability reports, but improvements were demanded in other areas. In particular, 65 percent of readers were dissatisfied by the social data reported, and 64 percent felt that transparency was the key function of such reporting. A similar number wanted all companies to use the Global Reporting Initiatives guidelines for reporting.
The pressure on companies to communicate key information to readers is intense. Seventy-five percent state that they spend no more than 30 minutes on a report. Only nine percent of respondents said they read a report in full. The majority of report recipients (62 percent) read selectively, while a quarter of readers skip complete chapters. This means a high risk for companies that some of their essential messages will not get across to their stakeholders.
Almost 70 percent of readers on-line access to sustainability data, but in most cases this was seen as a supplement to a printed report, rather than as a substitute for it.
$1 Million Goes to Yosemite Falls
ChevronTexaco has furthered its commitment to Yosemite National Park by making a $1 million donation to The Yosemite Fund to help restore and enhance the approach to Yosemite Falls. The donation is for The Yosemite Funds Campaign for Yosemite Falls, a two-year, $12.5 million project to restore natural habitat and improve the visitor experience in the 56-acre area leading up to Lower Yosemite Fall. Every year, one quarter of Yosemites four million visitors use the area to view North Americas highest waterfalls. The project will remove a large parking lot and replace it with a more natural setting, protect stream banks, improve viewing areas, footbridges and trails, add educational, directional signage and disabled access.
Charting SRIs Future
A recently-published article by Steven D. Lydenberg, a principal of Domini Social Investments LLC, identifies trends that are shaping socially responsible investing (SRI) and argues that new organizations and initiatives must be created to satisfy a growing demand for SRI research, products and education. The articles proposals include the creation of new, niche-market SRI research firms and the integration of SRI and corporate social responsibility (CSR) into business school curricula and financial analyst training.
Envisioning Socially Responsible Investing: A Model for 2006, which appeared in the October 2002 issue of The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, is intended to paint a picture of the developments and initiatives that may occur over the next several years if the SRI community is to seize this historic moment, and to provoke thought and debate on the future course of socially responsible investing.
After three decades of laboring to win recognition and acceptance, socially responsible investing now stands at a crucial juncture, says Lydenberg. It has emerged from what was essentially an obscure niche financial market to become a potentially important player in a major political debate about globalization, the relationship between corporations and society, and the role of capital in creating both social and financial value.
He argues that SRI needs to capture the gains it has made to date and leverage the same to create new initiatives that are more ambitious and potentially more effective. His paper focuses on three communitiesthe corporate community, institutional investors and the wider financial community (including academic institutions)and examines the role that SRI practitioners can play in helping those communities create new models and programs to hasten meaningful change.
Lydenberg also argues that the SRI industry itself needs to develop new quality standards, undertake theoretical research on topics of communal concern, and create a network of issue-specific, niche-market research firms to analyze particularly complicated sets of social and environmental data.
The Liberty Bell Goes Renewable
Green Mountain Energy Co., a retail provider of cleaner energy, is now providing 100 percent renewable electricity service to one of Americas best-known landmarks: the Liberty Bell Pavilion at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, PA. The Liberty Bell is the only national landmark purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy. A three-year contract has been signed to purchase 100 percent renewable electricity for historic buildings in Independence National Historical Park and other federal government-operated facilities in the Philadelphia region. The federal government will purchase a total of 11 million kilowatt hours of renewable electricity from Green Mountain Energy Co. over the full term of the contract. Thats equivalent to the average usage of over 200 homes.
GRI Releases 2002 Version
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has released its 2002 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. The new version of the guidelines is the result of two years of testing and revision by hundreds of stakeholders from around the world. Representatives from business, social and environmental advocacy groups, accountancy associations, labor, government, the investment community and others participated in working groups and pilot tests to identify indicators and related content to include in the guidelines.
Improvements include significant development of social and economic indicators, requested inclusion of a cross-referenced table so readers can track content and compare reports more readily, and expanded principles that underpin sustainability reporting. The 2002 Guidelines also introduce the concept of reporting in accordance with the guidelines, which requires higher levels of transparency, coverage and structure than informal reporting, thereby lending a higher level of credibility to a report. Recognizing that one size does not fit all, GRI presents a range of reporting options to enable companies to gradually enhance the quality of their reports.
Copies of the 2002 Guidelines are available for download at www.globalreport ing.org.