Wednesday, August 20, 2008

UN to Help Pacific Island States Fight Climate Change

NEW YORK, New York, August 19, 2008
Environmental News Service (ENS)

Coconut palms on the island of Niue in the South Pacific
(Photo by Ekrem Inozu)
(ENS) - The United Nations and Samoa plan to establish an Inter-Agency Climate Change Centre to help coordinate support to Pacific Island countries to combat the impact of global warming in their region.

Given the direct impact of climate change on vulnerable countries in the region, the new agency will focus its support on the mitigation, adaptation and reduction of the risk of disaster facing the Islands, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said today in a message to the Pacific Islands Forum Summit meeting, held in Alofi, Niue.

The main theme of this year's summit is climate change, as the effect of global warming is a threat to food security and safety of island communities.

Coconut palms on the island of Niue in the South Pacific (Photo by Ekrem Inozu) Many Pacific Island countries are already experiencing sea level rise as a consequence of climate change.
Several UN agencies already collaborate with the Pacific Islands Forum, assisting on issues from farming and fisheries to urbanization.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Coastal Dead Zones Are Growing

Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008 By UNMESH KHER
From Time, Coastal Dead Zones Are Growing

Over the past two or three decades, scientists have noticed with growing alarm that vast stretches of coastal waters are turning into dead zones — patches of seabed so depleted of oxygen that few creatures, if any, can survive there. In 2004, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) took stock of the phenomenon — which is caused in large part by agricultural runoff — and pronounced it one of the biggest environmental problems of the 21st century. Two years later it noted that the number of identified dead zones, some of which cover thousands of square miles, had climbed from 150 to 200.
Dead zones are created when excess nitrogen and other pollutants in ocean water promote large blooms of algae and phytoplankton on the surface. The nitrogen gets there in a couple of ways: through river water filled with fertilizer from farm runoff and from air polluted with tailpipe and smokestack emissions. When the algae die and sink to the ocean floor, bacteria there break them down, while consuming pretty much all of the available oxygen in the water. The bacteria also proliferate wildly, taking over the ecosystem and exacerbating the oxygen depletion.

The best way to prevent this from happening would be to reduce the amount of nitrogen introduced into the ocean. The technology already exists to do that. If, for example, farmers in the upper part of the U.S. were given a financial incentive to plant crops like winter wheat, rather than leaving their fields fallow after the fall harvest, says marine ecologist Robert Howarth of Cornell University, much of the nitrogenous fertilizer that would normally get washed into waterways by spring thaws could instead be absorbed into winter grain crops. Measures of this sort, if uniformly implemented, could all but eliminate the Gulf of Mexico's famously ballooning dead zone.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Emerging Careers: Sustainability Consulting

Triple Pundit
August 13, 2008 By Frank Marquardt

Energy costs and climate change are two key drivers of many companies looking for green solutions. It’s not surprising then that specialized (as opposed to general management) consulting firms have also put together practices. IBM, for example, consults on greening data centers. CH2M Hill and Arup have practices looking at greening building, reducing the energy use and carbon footprints of their clients.

In some cases, these firms offer sustainability as a component of risk management. Where it’s far more exciting and innovative, of course, is when it looks at a wholesale transformation of business strategy. Over the last 20 months A.T. Kearney, for example, has created a sustainability practice but also integrated sustainability thinking into all its other practices. Kearney has also created a far-reaching internal program to go carbon neutral by 2010—an ambitious goal, considering how much consultants travel, and one that might have a correspondingly positive affect on work/life balance in an industry where work/life balance is notoriously out of whack (despite the good efforts of many firms to improve it).


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sustainability Reaching New Level of Acceptance

Sustainable Land Development Today

February 2008 Vol.4 Issue 2 By Greg Yoko

The land development community has not been – for the most part – an early adopter of sustainability. There are a number of reasons for this. The most plausible concern is that developers, already exposed to significant financial risks on a project, are hesitant to take on new innovations and concepts that they perceive could increase their risk further.

Developers have not been the only sectors of the industry hesitant to jump on the sustainability bandwagon at the early phase. The all-important financial, investing, and insurance stakeholders have also been waiting for a level of comfort before immersing into the sustainability arena. It is clear that many financial firms and developers alike are now seeing opportunities where they once saw risk.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Los Angeles First With Private Sector Green Building Law

LOS ANGELES, California, April 23, 2008 (ENS) - In an effort to combat climate change in Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Tuesday signed the Private Sector Green Building Plan into law, setting the city on course to cut carbon emissions by an estimated 80,000 tons by 2012.

Developed by the Mayor's Office in partnership with City Council, the ordinance will create a series of requirements and incentives for developers to meet the US Green Building Council's LEED energy and design standards, the country's strictest environmental building standards.

LEED silver, gold and platinum certifications are awarded based on the level of environmental sustainability met by a developer.

"Our City is growing fast and growing up, and we're holding the private sector accountable to their commitment to be friends to our environment," said Mayor Villaraigosa.

"Already the City of Los Angeles has the largest, most aggressive municipal green building plan of any large city in America. Now it's time for green building to go private," he said.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sustainable Travel Int'l Eco-Certification

"The Sustainable Tourism Eco-Certification Program™ (STEP) is the world's first comprehensive, global sustainable tourism eco-certification program offered by a non-profit organization. It's designed to be user-friendly, educational in nature, practical as a measurement and management tool, and applicable to tourism businesses of all sizes, including newcomers to sustainability, those wanting to improve their existing approach, and businesses that have long-standing sustainability programs. For more information, please review the web pages detailed above or download a STEP brochure."

The Business of EcoTourism

The Business of EcoTourism
By Martha Honey

Ecotourism is like the elephant, not only is it large, it also appears to be very different, depending on which part is being examined. A blindfolded person, touching the trunk, the tail, the tusk, or the belly, is likely to conjure up very different versions.

For many indigenous and poor rural communities, development NGOs, and international financial institutions, ecotourism is a poverty-alleviation strategy, -a cleaner, greener alternative to logging, plantation agriculture, mining, oil drilling, and other extractive industries. For the world's protected-area managers, ecotourism is a tool for saving rhinos and rainforests. And for a growing number of countries on all continents, ecotourism is an important-in some cases, the most important-source of foreign exchange.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bay Area Green Business Program

" The Bay Area Green Business Program verifies that businesses meet higher standards of environmental performance. We offer motivated businesses and agencies an easy-to-use framework for improving environmental performance. Over 1,000 businesses and public agencies have been certified since 1997."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Study on viability of Green Buildings

Does Green Pay Off?

by Norm Miller, Ph.D., Jay Spivey and Andy Florance
University of San Diego’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate

"To calculate the true impact of green building, my co-authors Jay Spivey and Andy Florance of the CoStar Group and I recently completed the first nationwide, systematic study that looks at the benefits of investments in energy savings and environmental design. We compared all U.S.-based Energy Star office buildings as one measure of “green” building and LEED-certified office buildings as another measure of “green” with a large sample of non-Energy Star and non-LEED rated buildings. Our analysis is significant since, to date, most studies on the benefits of green investment have been case studies, which are seldom the prototypical mean. Our study far surpassed the one-off case study by beginning with a database of 2.4 million properties before paring it down to a comparable set for the office market."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Policy Innovations, SRI Quantitative Parameters

SRI investors utilize various methods of influencing corporate practice, including social screening of investments, which can ultimately reward positive social impact with greater access to financing.

This paper proposes a method for incorporating social impact factors as a quantitative parameter in investment analysis and a means of facilitating such analysis in practice. These proposals have the potential to integrate social impact factors into quantitative portfolio management techniques that have traditionally been based only on risk and return.

Business Green, UN Report about SRI

Incorporating environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors into investment decisions does not jeopardise returns and may even lead to financial benefits, according to a major new study from the UN and investment consultancy Mercer.

Launched today, the Demystifying Responsible Investment Performance report assessed 20 academic studies and 10 broker research reports and found that most concluded that considering ESG factors in investment decisions had a neutral or positive impact on returns.

Pristine Peninsula in North East Brazil

The Marau Peninsula is a remote finger of land buttressed by South America's largest bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Located in the state of Bahia, south of Salvador, the Peninsula is becoming a hot destination for Brazilians and Europeans - both as tourists and as prospective homeowners. This blog describes the opportunities and challenges of development in the region and in North East Brazil.