The desire for renewable energy world-wide is on the rise according to a pair of recently released studies commissioned by wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas.  Eighty-five percent of global respondents want more renewable energy in the market, says the Global Consumer Wind Energy Study.  And 49% of those surveyed would be willing to pay more for renewable energy.  The survey also illuminated that 45% believe climate change is one of the big three challenges facing the globe.

The survey polled 24,000 respondents in 20 countries and also found that 62% would buy products from companies who use wind energy.  Almost three quarters of consumers indicated they would feel more positive if companies used wind as its primary source of energy.

The second study examines what companies do voluntarily for renewable energy production.  Bloomberg New Energy Finance writes the Corporate Renewable Energy Index, which found that global investments in renewable energy capacity are overtaking those of fossil fuels; $237 billion compared to $223 billion.  Furthermore, companies are increasingly committing to renewable energy.  They purchased 40% of renewable energy last year.

The trend of businesses planning for climate change is not news to readers of our blog.  However, it is encouraging to see companies actually making investments in renewable energy.  It only makes sense as it lowers their risk.  So these studies point to both consumers and corporations demanding more renewable energy.  Isn’t it time governments join the trend too?  The scale goes from smaller to larger effects when consumers, businesses, and governments work together to lower global carbon emissions.  We are looking forward to a clean energy future powered by renewable energy sources.

Published in carbonfree blog

ANN ARBOR, Mich., BETHESDA, Md. & BARRIE, Ontario, Canada (September 18, 2012) - Carbonfund.org Foundation and NSF International are pleased to announce the renewal of LEI Electronics’ Eco Alkalines™ batteries into the CarbonFree® Product Certification Program. In addition to completing a carbon footprint, the batteries continue to meet and exceed some of the most important international standards such as PAS 2050 (carbon label standard) and ISO 14044 (life cycle assessment standard).

LEI’s Eco Alkalines™ batteries are entering their third year under the CarbonFree® Product Certification Program offered through NSF International’s Sustainability Division. CarbonFree® certified products are available in multiple countries and LEI reports increasing sales as the product continues to gain acceptance from consumers seeking a cleaner way to meet their battery needs. For example, retailers such as Best Buy, Costco, Grainger, Walmart, Amazon, The Home Depot and many others are recognizing the value of these batteries and offering them to their eco-conscious customers. Commercial customers also report using LEI’s Eco Alkalines™ batteries to assist in meeting their green goals.

LEI Electronics Eco Alkalines™ batteries may also contribute to earning LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits. LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operation and maintenance solutions. LEED is based on a credit system and points are allocated based on the potential environmental impacts and human benefits of each credit. Under the current LEED credit system, Eco Alkalines™ batteries may contribute to earning one prerequisite and one point under the LEED category of Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) rating system.

Lionel Lalonde, Partner and Vice President of Sales at Eco Alkalines™, credits their steadily increasing sales to the growing consumer demand for sustainable products and the competitive market edge and product confidence associated with the CarbonFree® Product Certification Program. "Certification sets us apart from our competitors," says Lalonde. "We are currently the world's only disposable alkaline battery with this certification. We have found that certification has helped to increase our market share and create customer and brand loyalty among consumers who are seeking to purchase and use eco-friendly products."

CarbonFree® certification also lends credibility to Eco Alkalines™, a relatively newer brand, in a marketplace of well-known battery products. "Although many products claim to be ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly,’ these terms are often used loosely or without a clear description of what that means. We wanted third-party verification from two trusted and recognizable organizations – Carbonfund.org and NSF International - so that consumers would understand and have faith in our green claims," added Lalonde.

Eric Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org Foundation, agrees, “Eco Alkalines™ batteries are an important solution to climate change, providing consumers a simple and affordable way to meet their daily needs while limiting their impact on our environment and supporting innovative carbon-reducing projects globally. Eco Alkalines™ is continuing its commitment to environmental protection and proof positive that what is good for the planet is also good business.”

“By maintaining its CarbonFree® certification through NSF International, LEI’s Eco Alkalines™ batteries continue to lead the disposable battery industry to a more sustainable future and provide businesses and consumers with a certified carbon neutral battery that will help them achieve their green building and sustainability goals,” said Tom Bruursema, General Manager of NSF Sustainability.

Manufactured with 0 percent mercury, lead, and cadmium, Eco Alkalines™ batteries set the standard for responsible disposable alkaline batteries. Eco Alkalines™ brand batteries have ZERO of these heavy metals while all other batteries carry at least one or more of these toxic elements. Eco Alkalines™ batteries use recycled materials where possible and contain 98 percent plus recyclable content. While they are considered landfill safe, recycling is still advised where available. Eco Alkalines™ also have a patented leak resistant seal, ensuring they will not leak into devices.

Visit Eco Alkalines™ at the annual Greenbuild Conference November 14-15 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Calif. Or learn more by visiting: www.leiproducts.com/eco-alkalines.

To learn more about the CarbonFree® Certification contact Dennis Gillan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 734-476-2543, or visit Carbonfund.org and NSF International’s website.

About LEI: LEI was established as Logitech Electronics Inc. in 1988. LEI quickly grew to a flourishing import, wholesale, and distribution business with offices in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Shenzhen to support the growing North American business. In addition to the domestic business LEI provided private label products for KOSS Corporation, Sanyo Canada and in excess of 500 private label products for the former RadioShack Canada. Today LEI is an ISO 9001:2008 registered company. They specialize in brand development, global sourcing, web fulfillment, and distribution with an emphasis on eco-friendly products.

AboutCarbonfund.org Foundation: Carbonfund.org is a leading nonprofit climate solutions organization, making it easy and affordable for individuals, businesses and organizations to reduce their climate impact and hasten our transition to a low-carbon economy. Carbonfund.org supports innovative renewable energy, energy efficiency and forestry projects globally that reduce carbon emissions and help people. Carbonfund.org has worked with over 2,000 corporate and nonprofit partners. More at www.carbonfund.org.

About NSF International: NSF International is an independent organization that writes standards, tests and certifies products for the construction, food, water and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment.

NSF Sustainability draws upon this expertise in standards development, product assurance and certification, advisory services and quality management systems to help companies green their products, operations, systems and supply chains. Product assessments include testing and certification for sustainable products such as green chemicals and building products. Through its National Center for Sustainability Standards, NSF also develops sustainability standards for products such as carpet, flooring, and other commercial building materials.

Additional NSF services include Education and Training, safety audits for the food and water industries, nutritional/dietary supplement certification, organic certification provided by QAI (Quality Assurance International) and management systems registrations delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations (NSF-ISR). NSF-ISR services include ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems registration, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Chain of Custody (COC) certifications.

 

Published in carbonfree blog
Friday, 14 September 2012 16:43

Businesses Begin to Plan for Climate Change

A survey released this week showed increasing oversight by top executives in their climate change strategies.  Ninety-two percent of respondents indicated their company's board or high-level executive had oversight over climate strategies, which is an increase of six percentage points from the 2011 survey.

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) received responses from 338 of the S&P 500 firms indicating progress in carbon emissions reduction goals as well as disclosing these results.  CDP offers a system for cities and companies to measure and share their environmental action.

Companies such as Microsoft Corp, United Parcel Service, Hess Corp, Pepco Holdings, and Sempra Energy Utilities are not waiting to address the risks from climate change to their overall business goals.  Man-made or not, these companies won’t wait around to figure out who caused climate change.  They’re taking steps now to lessen their financial risk.

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents identified physical risk from climate change, with 37 percent considering the risks "a real and present danger" – an increase of 10 percent from two years ago.  Eighty-three percent of companies reported that climate change had been factored into corporate risk management strategies, which was only at 75 percent in 2011.

These results directly contrast with a distinct hesitation in the regulation of greenhouse gases by U.S. lawmakers.  Congress’ opinions on climate change run the gamut from ambivalence to skepticism to even outright disbelief.  Fortunately businesses that are beholden to their shareholders see the value in planning for climate change since it will certainly impact their bottom lines.

Published in carbonfree blog
Friday, 07 September 2012 13:30

What is an Ecological Footprint?

We’ve already examined and defined a carbon footprint, but have you ever heard of an ecological footprint?  An ecological footprint compares human demands on nature with the Earth's ability to regenerate resources and provide services.

Ecological footprints are ever changing because of advances in technology and a three-year lag for the UN to collect and publish statistics.  However, it is a standardized measure that begins by assessing the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to supply the resources a human population uses.  This is then contrasted with the planet’s ability to absorb associated waste and ecological capacity to regenerate.  Think of it like how much of the Earth (or how many planet Earths) it would take to support humanity given an average lifestyle.  In 2007, humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.5 planet Earths.  This means humans are currently using ecological services 1.5 times quicker than Earth can renew them.

William Rees was the first academic to publish about an ecological footprint in 1992.  He supervised the PhD dissertation of Mathis Wackernagel who outlined the concept and offered a calculation method.  Rees penned the term ecological footprint in a more accessible manner than the original name of “appropriated carrying capacity” after a computer technician described Rees’ new computer as having a small footprint on the desk.  Wackernagel and Rees published the book Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth in early 1996.

The implications are dire according to Rees who wrote in 2010, “…the average world citizen has an eco-footprint of about 2.7 global average hectares while there are only 2.1 global hectare of bioproductive land and water per capita on earth. This means that humanity has already overshot global biocapacity by 30% and now lives unsustainabily by depleting stocks of ‘natural capital’.”

We’re definitely overspending the planet’s resources.  Just take a look at man-made global warming and climate change.   We need to continue on the path to seeking a sustainable lifestyle, and do it on a global scale.  All of us working together can reduce the amount of the earth’s resources that we consume.  Start with yourself and get creative with how many ways you can save energy and recycle.  What’s great about beginning with energy efficiency is that it can save you money too.  Then there are cost effective ways to offset the rest such as by contributing to Carbonfund.org’s development of renewable energy technologies and carbon emissions reduction projects.  The important thing is to get started right away.

Published in carbonfree blog

In what is easily the best environmental action in a generation, this week, the Obama Administration announced new CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards for cars and light trucks (think minivans and sport utility vehicles).  By 2025, these vehicles will be required to average 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates CAFE standards and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency measures vehicle fuel efficiency.  An agreement in support of acceptable standards was made between the government, automakers and their unions, and environmental organizations.

The stage for these historic fuel economy standards was set by an energy law enacted in 2007 under President George W. Bush.  Additionally, the 2009 federal bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler were tied to better fuel efficiency. 

Fuel-efficient cars and trucks were the U.S. auto industry’s saving grace.  It makes good sense on multiple levels to continue these efforts.  For one, 570,000 new jobs can be created by 2030.  Not to mention saving consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reducing U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.  This also translates to strengthening national security by lessening the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

What about fighting man-made global warming?  The new standards will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks in half by 2025.  This reduces emissions by 6 billion metric tons, which is more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010.  We thank President Obama for his leadership on combating climate change, pollution prevention and national security.

Starting in 2017, the standards will be phased in over the course of eight years.  New fuel-saving technology is projected to increase the cost of new car or light truck by $3,000 on average.  This means consumers will pay a little more when they buy the vehicle, about $50 more a month over a five-year loan, but they’ll more than make up for it at the pump with expected gas savings per vehicle between $7,000 - $8,000.  And that is good for the environment and our wallets.

Undeniably, the vehicle fuel-efficiency standards represent an unbeatable combination of protecting the environment and strengthening the economy.  They’re also the nation's single largest effort to combat climate-altering greenhouse gases, but we can’t stop building our carbon-reduction portfolios now.  Wonderful news like this should push us to continuing to find more ways to reduce our carbon footprint, as individuals and a nation.  Now let’s go invest in some renewable energy projects!

Published in carbonfree blog
Friday, 24 August 2012 14:39

U.S. Carbon Emissions Lowest in 20 Years

Just when we were about to succumb to the gloomy picture that is global climate change, a ray of hope breaks through the clouds.  A technical report released this month by the U.S. Energy Information Agency calculated that energy related U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, which account for about 98 percent of total CO2 emissions, for the first four months of 2012 decreased to around 1992 levels.  

The dramatic decrease is attributed to a switch from dirtier burning coal to cleaner natural gas.  Almost everyone in the energy and environmental industries believes the shift could have major long-term implications for U.S. energy policy.

Scientists didn’t predict the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. falling to its lowest level in 20 years in part because the decrease is not attributed to legislation limiting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.  The switch to natural gas was driven by the market. 

The state of the economy, increasing efforts for energy efficiency and a growing utilization of renewable energy are certainly aspects that contribute to lowering U.S. carbon emissions.  However, at the moment, the lion’s share is due to the current low price of natural gas.  There has been an upsurge in shale gas drilling in the northeast, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, which has made natural gas more affordable than coal per unit of energy generated.  Gas production is on the increase because of the modernization of the process of hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, where highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals are inserted to fracture shale rock which releases natural gas.

While natural gas is a cleaner-burning energy source than coal, it is not emission-free.  There is still some carbon dioxide emitted and drilling can have environmental impacts such as contamination of ground water, air quality risks, migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, and surface contamination from spills and flowback.

There are also concerns that the rise in use of natural gas could stall renewable energy efforts.  The ultimate goal should still be a mix of increasing energy efficiency and clean energy with the balance kept to a minimum of natural gas.

So the upshot is that the U.S. energy picture is far from perfect, but the news concerning a drastic decline in U.S. carbon dioxide levels is welcome and positive because it reminds us that there is still time to turn around the fate of the planet’s climate.

Published in carbonfree blog

Last month it was revealed that a diverse group of stakeholders with political ties that cover the entire spectrum from left to right have been holding secret meetings about climate change with the support of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Washington D.C.

Climate change is an unavoidably, politically charged issue.  These meetings are an attempt to discover ways to approach global warming in a politically viable manner.  The July 2012 meeting was the fifth of such meetings, which are held secretly and speakers not revealed in order to facilitate true brainstorming, an open discussion where all sides could offer solutions without fear of reprisal. 

The agenda for the most recent meeting, which was leaked online, was titled, “Price Carbon Campaign / Lame Duck Initiative: A Carbon Pollution Tax in Fiscal and Tax Reform”.  However, participants claim putting a price on carbon emissions was not the only item of discussion, and neither was focus limited to the short-term.

Proponents of a carbon tax put it forward as a less complex method to begin pricing carbon emissions than cap-and-trade.  Legislation for cap-and-trade collapsed in 2010 in the nation’s capital and preceded these meetings.

At the moment tax increases, carbon or otherwise, are unlikely to get off the ground, but the long-term view is that taxing CO2 could win support over taxing income.  Furthermore, there is potential to use a carbon tax to tackle both global warming and the deficit.

So the question as to whether we can deal with climate change in a politically viable manner is still unanswered, but the future is looking brighter with the news that open discussions are occurring among bipartisan groups.

Published in carbonfree blog

More than a couple of our past blog posts have covered how increasingly extreme weather is the product of climate change.  However, have you stopped to ask yourself what that really means?  How will climate change affect us and future generations?  What things that we currently enjoy will be unavailable to our children?

A recent article covers some things that global warming is likely to ruin for our kids; things such as coffee, chocolate, strawberries.  And the list isn’t limited to agricultural food items.  Say goodbye to blazing fast Wi-Fi.  Also your favorite vacation spot or even your home may be underwater in a few, short decades time.  The country you live in may disappear.  The article has some shocking images of Greenland melting away.

So what’s it going to take to help preserve the Earth as we know it?  Global carbon emissions need to be reduced 80% by 2050.  The U.S. has already pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by approximately 17%.  Eventually legislation will be enacted increasing the goal to a 30% reduction in 2025 and a 42% reduction in 2030, with the ultimate goal of reducing emissions 83% by 2050.

Do your part in reducing carbon emissions and getting us closer to meeting the goals outlined above.  Start by switching your Internet browser to www.envirosearch.org.  Your regular, daily Internet search activities will begin contributing to renewable energy, reforestation, and energy efficiency projects.  Then go to www.carbonfund.org for ideas on how to reduce your carbon footprint and offset carbon emissions.  By working together, and each doing our part, we can change the fate of the planet.

Published in carbonfree blog

A recently published study out of the University of Michigan examined Generation X’s views on climate change and found them to be largely unconcerned with the issue.

The Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY) releases a quarterly research report and has followed the same 4,000 people for 25 years.  Originally, in 1987, 5,900 students were selected from a national sample of 7th and 10th graders in 50 U.S. public school systems.

Generation X now comprises 32-52 year olds who are the most well-educated and scientifically savvy generation in U.S. history.  However, the LSAY shows dwindling interest in climate change as it is a complex and long-term issue.  The study compared responses from 2009 and 2011 and found that a scant two percent of those aged 37 to 40 follow climate change "very closely".  This was a 50 percent drop from 2009 results.  Over half said they follow climate change "not closely."  More than 40 percent say they have only a "moderate concern" about global warming.

The most disturbing part of the report points to a disregard for future generations.  Most do not see climate change as an immediate problem that requires their attention to address.  A large percentage, 66 percent, said they aren’t sure that global warming is happening.  About 10 percent even outright deny global warming is actually happening.

Why is Generation X disengaged, disinterested, or even openly disbelieving regarding climate change?  The answer is as multifaceted as global warming itself.  Disinterest in climate change is surely due in part to a massive and unprecedented disinformation campaign by oil and gas interests and conservative media outlets spanning more than a decade, even as the overwhelming scientific record points squarely to climate change.  Some experts theorize issue fatigue may be the cause when a problem is long-standing.  Others point to the complexity in understanding the underlying causes and potential solutions for climate change as a barrier to engagement with the issue.  Still another potential answer is the distraction by other timely public policy issues.  For example, interest in the economy experienced an upsurge following the Great Recession that began in 2008 to the detriment of environmental issues.

Whatever the reason, there is something every person in all generations can do to help save our planet.  One easy and fast way to protect the environment is to switch your Internet browser to www.envirosearch.org.  You'll be contributing to renewable energy, reforestation, and energy efficiency projects through you regular, daily Internet search activities.  Another simple step is to use an emissions calculator to determine your personal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.  Then reduce your carbon footprint, plant a tree, or offset your carbon emissions.

Download and read the entire study here http://lsay.org/GenX-4.pdf.

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The Earth is 70% covered by oceans, and stores about 90% of the planet’s heat.  This means that ocean warming translates into global warming.  Climate change deniers contend that global warming is not caused by greenhouse gas emissions, but rather by natural processes and variations.  However, a study released this week proves with 99% certainty that no more than 10% of the observed increase in ocean temperatures over the past 50 years could be accounted for by natural variation.

The Human-Induced Global Ocean Warming on Multidecadal Timescales study is the most comprehensive study ever performed on rising ocean temperatures, and authored by a team of American, Indian, Japanese, and Australian scientists.  According to the study, the planet’s oceans are warming at a rate of 0.20°F per decade, which affects global weather patterns leading to increasing weather extremes such as more heat waves, storms, and intense storms.  Furthermore, ocean warming affects the ocean ecology itself.  A few of the effects we’ve already begun to see are plankton reduction, melting sea ice, and coral die-off. 

The study unequivocally points to global warming as man-made.  Of course, this has been known, shown and settled for nearly twenty years by the IPCC and climate scientists around the world.  But the shift to ocean warming is significant due to its proportion of the Earth and its surface as well as because the vast majority of the people on Earth live very close to rising oceans.

Four or five years ago we shifted from the question of ‘is it happening’ to ‘what to do about it’.  Political and business interests have worked hard to shift this debate back again, but the real focus must remain on the numerous solutions to climate change and the dwindling timeline we have to reduce our global emissions 50-80% by mid century.

Download the full study at this link: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n7/full/nclimate1553.html

 

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