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green@work : Magazine : Newlines : Jan/Feb 2003

Newslines
Actions and initiatives worth noting

2003
Facility Reporting Project Launched

In an effort to enhance public disclosure of environmental and social performance, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) and the Tellus Institute have launched the Facility Reporting Project (FRP).

The FRP is a multi-stakeholder initiative to develop a generally accepted framework for facility-level and site-specific environmental and social sustainability reporting. The framework will be compatible to the greatest extent possible with the corporate-level voluntary sustainability reporting guidelines developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a global effort at standardizing corporate-wide reporting. The FRP is independent of, but will be carried out in formal consultation with, the GRI.

Initial funding for the initiative will be provided by the Chicago, IL-based Joyce Foundation, a major funder of environmental initiatives affecting the Great Lakes region.

A generally accepted facility-level reporting standard is needed, its sponsors say, because facility-level reporting, where it exists, is fragmented and highly variable. Poor comparability and accessibility of facility-level environmental and social information makes it difficult for concerned groups to assess how manufacturing plants, distribution centers and other business and institutional facilities affect their communities and the local environment. Businesses and institutions seeking to benchmark and improve their environmental and social performance are likewise handicapped.

According to both groups, standardized facility-level sustainability reporting will:

* provide a far stronger basis for assessment and decision-making on the part of the public, government, investors and the facilities themselves, allowing sustainability performance to be tracked over time for individual facilities, sectors or geographic areas.
* give facilities choosing to report an accepted reporting model, reducing the costs of devising reporting frameworks from scratch and increasing credibility with the public, especially the activist public.

* empower community organizations in interactions with individual facilities.
w enable government and facility managers to identify successes worthy of replication far more easily.

The framework will be the product of a 12 to 15 member expert panel drawn from environmental, civil society and labor organizations, business and academics, and will be informed by a broad stakeholder consultation process. Project documents and additional information are available on the FRP Web site (www.facil ityreporting.org).

Greening The Office Supply Chain

Office Depot, Inc., a leading global seller of office products, has formed a business relationship with GreenOrder, an environmental consulting firm, to provide value-added services to Office Depot’s Business Services Group (BSG) customers. BSG customers will be offered Sustainability Audits, to be performed by GreenOrder, to assess the customer’s procurement practices and to identify opportunities to purchase environmentally preferable paper and other products.

“We are eager to increase our sales of post-consumer recycled content papers and other environmentally friendly products, and enabling our customers to discover how easily and cost-effectively they can switch to these products,” commented Robert Keller, president of Office Depot’s BSG. “For our customers that have mandates to utilize environmentally friendly products, including governmental units and government contractors, this new
service should be particularly valuable.”


NAFTA And The Environment

In anticipation of the 10th anniversary of the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on December 17, 1992, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) released a report in early December detailing some of the effects of NAFTA on the environment. Produced with financial support from the Ford Foundation, Free Trade and the Environment: The Picture Becomes Clearer summarizes the key findings of research presented at the first North American Symposium on Assessing the Linkages between Trade and Environment. It points to a relationship that is anything but simple.

“Contrary to some expectations, free trade has brought about advances in technology and management practices that have made positive environmental changes,” said Victor Shantora, acting executive director of the CEC. “On the other hand, in some circumstances, free trade since NAFTA has also been linked to environmental deterioration.”

Among the findings presented in the report are:

* Some border communities have suffered more air pollution. Local infrastructure improvements haven’t kept pace with expanded road freight transport, leading to an increase in air pollution concentrations at U.S.-Canada and Mexico-U.S. border crossing points.

* There is little evidence of a “race to the bottom.” Differences in environmental regulations have not been a significant factor in determining where business investments are located.

* The petroleum, base metals and transportation equipment sectors have all witnessed a marginal boost in the emissions of pollutants. By contrast, NAFTA-related contraction in Canada’s base-metals industry coincides with a reduction in toxic releases from that sector.

“While there is much more to know, it is clear that trade liberalization accompanied by robust environmental policies can help achieve sustainable development—just as freer trade without adequate environmental safeguards can trigger degradation,” noted Shantora. “The key lesson is that policy matters.”

A second North American Symposium on Assessing the Environmental Effects of Trade will be held in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme on March 25 to 26, 2003 in Mexico City. The CEC was established by Canada, Mexico and the United States to build cooperation among the three partners in implementing NAFTA’s environmental accord, the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. The findings presented in Free Trade and the Environment: The Picture Becomes Clearer are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CEC or the governments of Canada, Mexico or the United States. The report is available on-line at www.cec.org.


Kyoto Emissions Trading Kicks Off

The first trade of greenhouse gas emissions allowances under the compliance regime of the Kyoto Protocol was recently executed by the Slovak Republic and a major Japanese trading house. The trade of assigned amount units (AAUs) is the first to use the International Emissions Trading mechanism defined by the Kyoto Protocol. The buyer can use the allowances to comply with greenhouse gas emission reduction obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. The seller will use the proceeds to finance domestic emission reduction projects.

The Ministry of Environment of Slovakia, which is the authorized body of the Slovak government for climate change issues, has guaranteed to transfer AAUs out of its 2008 to 2012 greenhouse gas budget to the Japanese buyer. The total transaction size is 200,000 AAUs. Countries that are party to the Kyoto Protocol receive a five-year allocation of AAUs, each AAU reflecting the right to emit one metric ton of CO2 equivalent. The AAUs will be transferred from the Slovak national registry to the buyer through Menert s.r.o., a Slovak engineering company. New York-based Evolution Markets LLC acted as broker for the transaction.

The proceeds from the sale of AAUs will enable the Slovak Republic to finance domestic emission reduction projects, which in return will lower the Slovak Republic’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol may enter into force in the spring of 2003 if the Russian Federation ratifies the treaty. According to a recent report by Deutsche Bank, the global market for greenhouse gas emissions trading is expected to reach $60 billion in annual volume once the Kyoto compliance market is fully active.

Tour Operators Launch Performance Indicators

A new report by the Tour Operators Initiative (TOI), a global network of tour operators supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in liaison with UNESCO and the World Tourism Organization, will help to promote environmentally friendly and socially responsible tourism. The indicators, in the form of recommendations, represent one of the first “sectoral supplements” to the already established Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

More than 30 organizations, from civil society groups to trade unions, local tourism boards, suppliers and tour operating companies, collaborated on the Tour Operators’ Sector Supplement. By reporting on actions they have taken on the ground, tour operators hope to help prevent the negative effects of tourism on local peoples, as well as encourage responsible use of natural resources and prevent pollution and waste at travel destinations around the world.

“Virtually all dimensions of the tour operating business have environmental, economic and social impacts,” said Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel, UNEP assistant executive director. “What gets measured—and reported—gets managed,” she said. “Through improved disclosure, tour operators can help transform an industry that is often the largest employer in some countries into a more sustainable enterprise.”

Performance indicators are divided into categories that reflect the life cycle of the “holiday product”—from the planning stage to the development and delivery. They ask tour operators to describe joint actions taken with suppliers to support improvements in environmental and social performance, in addition to ways in which they raise consumer awareness of sustainable holiday-making, recruitment of local residents for management positions, and positive cooperation with concerned organizations and groups at the destination.

The tour operators’ sector reporting supplement and a list of project participants are available on-line at www.toini tiative.org. Information about UNEP’s work on tourism can be found at www.uneptie.org/pc/tourism/.


Tennessee Forestland Protected

The state of Tennessee and International Paper (IP) have announced a formal partnership to protect and manage special areas on more than 220,000 acres of IP’s forestland in Tennessee. The partnership, also known as the Tennessee Unique Areas Cooperative Management Program, will jointly identify, conserve and manage ecologically unique areas and populations of rare species.

Under the three-year agreement, IP and the state will voluntarily cooperate to identify special management areas, manage rare species and habitats, restore and maintain habitats, conduct biological inventories and jointly develop management plans for special areas on company-owned forestlands. During the term of the voluntary agreement, IP will continue to actively manage its forestlands in accordance with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® program. Tennessee’s Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Natural Heritage will oversee the agreement for the state.



States Act To Reduce Emissions

Many states are taking actions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Despite the controversy associated with climate change policy on the national level, state action on climate change has been intensifying since the late 1990s. States have taken a variety of approaches to climate change, including the promotion of renewable energy, air pollution controls, energy development, and solutions in the agriculture, forestry, transportation and waste management sectors.

The Pew Center report, Greenhouse & Statehouse: The Evolving State Government Role in Climate Change, authored by Barry Rabe of the University of Michigan, features case studies of nine states—Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin—that have taken action to mitigate climate change. The report tracks trends in state climate change action and draws conclusions about the potential of state action and its implications for national policy.

The case studies illustrate that state actions on climate change play a unique role in overall climate change governance. The United States comprises diverse regions, and individual state policies can be tailored to each state’s strengths. State policies have the potential to spread among states, as is occurring already with several of the programs featured in the report. Successful state actions can become prototypes for federal programs.

Despite finding advantages to climate change action at the state level, the report points out that states also face limitations. States have little (or no) funding available for climate change initiatives and face constitutional limits on engagement in international relations. In addition, some states have shown scarce interest in climate change action; in fact, some have taken formal steps to limit it. Finally, a fragmented, state-by-state approach to climate policy will inherently be less efficient than a national policy.

The report is part of the Solutions series, which is aimed at providing individuals and organizations with tools to evaluate and reduce their contributions to climate change. A complete copy is available on the Pew Center’s Web site at
www.pewclimate.org/projects/states_greenhouse.cfm.


Three Latin American Companies Awarded

A Brazilian manufacturer of a native fabric from the Amazon, a chain of Mexican coffee shops specializing in organic coffee, and a producer of solar coffee dryers in Costa Rica have all been recognized in the 2002 New Ventures business competition. The winning companies, whose business plans call for investments ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million, are:

* AmazonLife S.A.,
a Brazilian pioneer in manufacturing and commercializing a leather-like rubberized fabric for the fashion industry. The company uses a unique raw material extracted from the Amazon and works with local indigenous and rubber tapper families.

* Café La Selva,
an upscale chain of Mexican coffee shops that operates through a unique alliance among small investors and the indigenous communities of Chiapas to offer certified organic coffee.

* Solar Trade Corp.,
a company in Costa Rica that has the exclusive right to manufacture and sell industrial solar biomass coffee dryers designed by its non-profit affiliate. The innovative patent-pending technology delivers significant cost savings in energy while delivering improved coffee quality and environmental benefits.

Winners were announced at the end of the Third Annual New Ventures Investor Forum (www.new-ventures.org), Latin America’s premiere marketplace for investors and corporations who understand that investing in sustainable enterprises makes good business sense. Since 2000, the New Ventures Investor Forums have facilitated the transfer of $4.4 million to sustainable entrepreneurs in Latin America; an additional $2 million is currently under negotiation.


Oregonians Put Renewable Energy On Fast Track

Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power, Oregon’s two largest electric utilities, have announced that customer sign-ups in that state for renewable power products have more than tripled from January to October 2002 after they began offering customers 99 percent pollution-free electricity supplied by Green Mountain Energy Co.

Prior to Oregon’s new energy restructuring law that went into effect in 2002, about 8,200 PGE and Pacific Power customers in the state were enrolled in a renewable energy program. With additional options available, thousands of Oregonians have jumped at the opportunity to support renewable power. Currently 28,518 residential customers and 653 small businesses (29,171 total customers) are enrolled in new renewable energy purchase options offered by Pacific Power and PGE.

“The customer participation numbers achieved in the Oregon utility programs are among the best in the nation,” said Blair Swezey, principal policy advisor at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which tracks the growth of the “green” power industry on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Both utilities will soon begin new efforts to inform customers about the different energy options that are available to them. PGE is sending out mailings to every residential and small business customer, with additional information on its Web site. Pacific Power is conducting a new educational campaign with customized enrollment forms.

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