Monday, September 25, 2006

Business regulation or innovation?

A quick note taken from the New Yorker - the sentiments from PG&E (with regards to California's recent greenhouse gas bill) echo what I've been hearing in Europe - that utilities & big emitters are eager to do better, but need some long-term regulatory assurances:

Peter Darbee, the head of the state’s largest utility, P.G. & E., whose support was crucial to the bill’s passage, said he welcomed the strictness of the regulations as a spur to innovation. “The incentives really aren’t there for the creation of new technologies and investments to reduce carbon dioxide unless mandatory caps are put in place,” he told the Times.

GHG caps are not the crippling regulations they're often made out to be - and they have the power to actually help drive development. Stay going.

A Convenient Solution

In response to the common and valid criticism of An Inconvenient Truth – that it drops a lot of solid, scary facts on you, and then leaves you with only flimsy, seemingly insufficient actions to take – the Stratleade alumni have sparked up a dialogue on what some effective ‘next steps’ could be.

The movie is causing some real change – this article from Saturday’s SF Chronicle shows how congress is showing signs of moving past the counter-productive partisanism and towards policies that foster solutions. But Truth is not explicit in how we can identify what the best steps are, and how we can address greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and climate change in ways that provide jobs, improves America’s reputation, promotes peace, etc.

This needs to be done in a way that moves towards a sustainable society so that the solutions of today do not become tomorrow’s problems. The common example we use is CFCs – refrigerants that replaced toxic chemicals, but were later discovered to destroy the ozone layer. Now in an ad hoc attempt to solve that problem many are moving to HCFCs, which have serious greenhouse gas implications. Given a whole system, sustainability perspective, we know that HFCFs violate Sustainability Principle 2, just as CFCs did – and we need a smarter approach (in this case, Electrolux is taking such an approach, and driving innovation & competitiveness as a result).

With the climate change issue so hot, we run the risk of similar solutions. Nuclear being the most obvious – it is a ‘low carbon’ solution, but not a sustainable solution (it takes very little uranium / plutonium to result in a systematic increase in concentration in the biosphere – thus violating Sustainability Principle 1).

So, the Stratleade crew has thrown the idea of a sequel out there – A Convenient Solution* – that could lay out some possibilities for serious action, based on backcasting from principles for sustainability. We know we have the capabilities, and while “convenient” may be misleading, we can eliminate our sustainability principle 1 violations (and 2 through 4) with a mix of intelligent design for buildings & cities, smart policy moves, ending perverse subsidies, bio-fuels from sustainable agriculture, etc, etc.

Coming to a theater near you…anyone interested? Stay going.

*we're not the first to use the phrase...The Oil Drum uses similar language on the topic, as I'm sure others have...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

damn GOOD magazine

I stumbled upon this launch party for GOOD magazine the other day and sent it to some friends in New York, because it seemed like a cool idea, and clearly had the makings of a great party:

We're going to keep reminding you until we're blue in the face: please don't forget our New York Launch party. It's on Thursday, the 21st, at Emergency Arts at 551 w 21st St (entrance on 11th Ave between 21st and 22nd). Including DJ sets by Grandmaster Flash and Prefuse 73. All subscribers are invited, so please RSVP. Remember, you must subscribe before you can RSVP. Subscribing gets you six issues of GOOD, free drinks at the party, plus all $20 goes to one of our 12 partner organizations. Time is running out, so RSVP fast. Tell your friends. We're looking forward to seeing you all there.

Apparently they had a strong turnout with Gore in the mix (his son is on the staff), and from this video footage from Gawker it looks like a great time (Gawker has been pretty brutal & critical – but they seem to be coming around).

Anyway, in a strange twist of fate, turns out the founder is a childhood friend, Ben Goldshirsh. The WSJ profiled him in July, telling his story – he’s done some pretty amazing stuff, which doesn’t surprise me as all I’ve heard about him through-the-grapevine over the years have been super-solid reports about his various successes.

Anyway, main point – subscribe to GOOD!

It’s only $20 and all of it goes to a charity you choose (out of a list of options they provide). From what I’ve seen it looks like they’ve got awesome content and a great, pragmatic, inspiring perspective – and a really cool, innovative business model. Get involved. Stay going.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Carbon Market News Flash…

A few more exciting recent headlines from PointCarbon – the main clearinghouse for information on the carbon markets – that I wanted to share:

  • Goldman Sachs takes 10.1% stake in Climate Exchange
  • Schwarzenegger’s climate strategist goes national, beginning a multi-state consultation process aimed at inducing federal regulation of greenhouse gases
  • The US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that putting a price on emissions – through cap & trade – reduces them more cost-effectively than merely funding research and development (R&D) of new technologies
  • The global carbon market could see $100 billion being invested each year
    in the Kyoto Protocol's CDM & JI, according to the secretariat of the UNFCCC
  • The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), a voluntary carbon trading programme in the US, will allow members to use greenhouse gas emissions reductions achieved through the Kyoto Protocol’s CDM (clean development mechanism), as well as energy efficiency projects, towards compliance with their targets

When you put the pieces together, it paints a nice picture of the US moving towards a federal cap & trade system that could include credits from CDM projects, which represent a huge market. This all gives me great hope for making real progress on eliminating greenhouse gas emissions – and finding some exciting work in NYC, which is again the top-contender for a move after our project here in Sweden finishes up in December. Stay going.