BSR Monitor Climate News - May
Business for Social Responsibility recaps the month's top news on business and climate change. Compiled from BSR News Monitor
Commitments and Goals
Kodak Reaches Seven of Eight Environmental Goals, Including Emissions Reduction
In its 2003 Partner of the Year Awards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored 39 companies in 14 categories, giving Eastman Kodak Company its highest award for “excellence and voluntary leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through strategic energy management.” According to GreenBiz.com, Kodak’s performance included a 32% reduction in energy use over a four-year period. The Associated Press reports that Kodak has met seven out of eight self-imposed environmental goals designed to limit its use of natural resources and hazardous discharges. The only goal not reached was decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by 20%; Kodak has cut those emissions by 13%. Kodak created a new set of five-year benchmarks, which includes a new goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 20%. Some say the company should do more: the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition -- a Texas-based nonprofit -- intends to introduce a “nontoxic policy” proposal at Kodak’s annual shareholder meeting. The resolution will ask the company to reduce the use of chemicals that could cause health problems and monitor what types of chemicals are used at each Kodak facility.
GreenBiz, April 22, 2003, and The Associated Press, April 21, 2003.
Measuring and Reporting
Stonyfield Farm Becomes First For-Profit Firm to Join New Hampshire Climate Registry
Yogurt producer Stonyfield Farm has become the first for-profit corporation to register its greenhouse gas emissions with the state of New Hampshire’s voluntary registry, launched in 1999. If future regulations mandate GHG reductions, companies that register with New Hampshire will get credit for the work they have already done. According to GreenBiz, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has awarded Stonyfield its 2003 Energy Leadership Award for the company’s energy efficiency and conservation efforts. Over the past eight years, Stonyfield has saved over $4 million and the equivalent of 24 million kilowatt hours of electricity, while preventing over 7,500 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. In 1996, Stonyfield was the first U.S. manufacturer to commit to offsetting 100% of CO2 emissions from its energy use.
GreenBiz, April 25, 2003.
Guide by World Resource Institute Offers Seven Steps to Reduce GHG Emissions
The World Resources Institute has released a guide on how office building owners and occupants can manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to The Green Business Letter, the WRI guide reveals that office buildings account for 21.8% of energy expenditures in commercial buildings, at a cost of about $17.8 billion annually. The WRI suggests seven steps for managing GHG emissions: securing employee and senior management support for carbon dioxide reduction initiatives; planning a GHG inventory to determine when and how emissions will be measured; gathering data on emissions-creating activity; calculating emissions generated; establishing an emissions reduction target; reducing emissions; and publicly reporting GHG impact changes. IBM Corp., cited as a case study, saved an estimated $17.8 million worldwide in a single year alone by encouraging employees to turn off equipment and lights when not needed.
Green Business Letter, April 2003, p. 1.
Canada Reports Lower Carbon Emissions in 2001
Environment Canada, the government’s environmental ministry, has released figures showing carbon dioxide emissions in Canada fell 1.3% in 2001 to 720 million tons. According to The Globe and Mail, this was the first time in more than a decade that carbon emissions have fallen during a period of economic growth. The ministry attributed the decline to a warm winter, reductions in air traffic, and large declines in energy use by some manufacturing industries -- particularly chemicals, steel and pulp and paper. Emissions rose from automobiles and coal-fired power plants. Environment Canada cautioned that the country still has a lot of work to do to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, which Canada ratified in December 2002. Under that agreement, Canada must show “demonstrable progress” in cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2005 and bring emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. Emissions are currently 18.5% above 1990 levels.
The Globe and Mail, April 23, 2003.
Japanese Automakers, Often Considered Greener, Now Offer More SUVs in United States
At the New York International Auto Show, new offerings from Japanese automakers leaned toward bigger and heavier trucks, despite Japanese automakers’ reputations for being more environmentally friendly. Aside from the new edition of Toyota Motor Corp.’s hybrid Prius, The New York Times reports Japanese manufacturers are planning to introduce and sell more sport utility vehicle (SUVs) to compete with American automakers. “In addition to addressing environmental concerns, we have to balance what customers want, and many of them want SUVs,” said Donald Esmond, group vice president and general manager of Toyota’s U.S. division. But John DeCicco of Environmental Defense argues that Toyota is “getting all this great green press over the Prius, but their product strategy has moved into trucks big time.” The popularity of SUVs has pushed the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the United States to its lowest point in two decades. With manufacturers increasingly focused on SUVs, environmentalists are asking government regulators to mandate increased efficiency. “Japanese automakers have better fuel economy [than U.S. automakers], but it’s unclear if they’re going to increase the fuel economy of their overall fleets without the government stepping in,” said David Friedman of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The New York Times, April 19, 2003.
California Modifies Zero Emission Vehicles Rule to Encourage Hybrids and Fuel Cells
Responding to a lawsuit by DaimlerChrysler AG and General Motors Corp. arguing that California’s zero emission regulation is superceded by federal fuel economy standards, the California Air Resources Board has altered regulations that forced automakers to produce zero emissions vehicles. The new rules take effect in 2005 and require 8% of vehicle sales to come from low polluting vehicles. According to The New York Times, this is much more relaxed than the previous mandate that 2% of vehicles sold in California have zero emissions. The board also now encourages fuel-cell vehicles over battery-powered vehicles that are largely considered to have been a commercial failure. “Our greatest benefit here is to try and identify technologies that can be commercial successes,” said Alan Lloyd, chairman of the Air Resources Board. While DaimlerChrysler and General Motors say the new rules will ease tensions between them and regulators, the automakers say it is too early to comment on whether they will go forward with their lawsuit.
The New York Times, April 25, 2003.
European Union’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Increased Slightly in 2001
A new report by the European Environmental Agency -- a European Union environmental research agency -- estimates that emissions of six greenhouse gases from the 15 EU member countries rose 1% in 2001. According to BBC News, EU emissions of carbon dioxide -- the principal greenhouse gas covered by the Kyoto Protocol -- grew 1.6% during the year. The EEA attributes the increase to a higher use of fossil fuels, transportation and heating during a colder winter. Under the Kyoto Protocol (which is not expected to enter into force until Russia ratifies the treaty) the European Union agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 8% from 1990 levels during the commitment period 2008 to 2012 The EEA said the increase in emissions was a sign that the union would not meet its Kyoto goals, adding that “10 of the 15 member states are heading towards overshooting their agreed share by a wide margin -- Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.”
BBC News, May 6, 2003.
Shareholder Activists Relieve Pressure on Ford; GM Still on Their Agenda
Shareholder activists who planned to file resolutions calling on Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. to make more fuel-efficient vehicles decided to drop the measure against Ford after Ford executives, including Chairman William Ford, Jr., agreed to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the company’s vehicles and plants. According to The Wall Street Journal, the activists will continue to pursue the resolution at GM, which is encouraging shareholders to reject it. Although Ford would not commit to specific increases in fuel efficiency, a shareholder activist said, “just the way the resolution was handled within the company was significant.” GM executives say many of their vehicles already have better fuel economy than competing models, including those from Ford. A GM spokesperson said shareholder activists behaved inappropriately in “the way they have characterized this in a GM-versus-Ford kind of way.”
The Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2003, P. A3
Report Says ExxonMobil’s Environment Policy Lags Those of Competitors
A report by U.K.-based socially responsible investment adviser Claros Consulting says ExxonMobil Corp. is the poorest performer among the world’s leading energy producers in responding to climate change and disclosing environmental risks to investors. According to Reuters, the report said ExxonMobil, unlike its rivals BP plc and Royal Dutch/Shell Oil Co., does not support carbon emissions trading and does not participate in carbon pricing -- that is factoring in the financial cost of carbon emissions when deciding whether to undertake projects. Texas-based Campaign ExxonMobil, an environmental shareholder activist group, said Exxon’s refinery is not as energy efficient as those of other industries, such as chemical and steel; the group also criticizes the company for not disclosing greenhouse risks on its financial reports as completely as BP and ConocoPhillips do. In response, an Exxon spokesperson said emissions reduction or elimination technologies are more promising than trading systems, and that Exxon does not quantify its global warming risks because it regards such activity as public relations “smoke.”
Reuters, May 13, 2003.
SC Johnson to Convert Landfill Methane Gas into Electric and Steam Power
SC Johnson & Son, Inc. -- one of the world's largest makers of consumer chemical products -- has begun installing a new system to transform waste landfill methane gas into electricity and steam to power the company’s facility in Waxdale, Wisc. According to GreenBiz.com, the process, called cogeneration, uses a turbine engine to burn methane gas from a nearby landfill to produce electricity and steam power. By burning methane instead of fossil fuels, the company expects to reduce the facility’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 47% by 2005. “The greenhouse gases we save through this process will be equivalent to keeping 3,200 cars off the road per year,” said H. Fisk Johnson, chairman of SC Johnson. SC Johnson, a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s voluntary Climate Leaders Initiative, is the first consumer products manufacturer to use the cogeneration process to power its main manufacturing site.
GreenBiz, April 28, 2003.
BMW Introduces Unique Way to Fuel Factory Operations With Recycled Landfill Gas
In what GreenBiz.com calls a unique initiative, BMW Manufacturing Corp. has started using recycled methane gas obtained from a nearby landfill in South Carolina to provide 25% of its factory’s energy needs. BMW built a 9.5-mile pipeline to transport the methane to the factory, where it powers four turbines that produce electricity and hot water. According to GreenBiz, BMW’s project is different from other landfill gas recycling initiatives because the company is using the energy away from landfill sites, and for more than a source of electricity or direct heating. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says BMW’s project avoids methane burning, and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 55,000 tons a year.
GreenBiz, May 14, 2003.
General Electric Expects Significant Profits from Newly Purchased Wind Power Business
Although its traditional gas turbine business is experiencing a slump, General Electric Co. expects its year-old wind turbine business, purchased from Enron Corp., to make more than $1 billion in revenue in 2003 and grow 20% annually. According to The Associated Press, wind power is one of the fastest growing segments of the energy industry, with wind turbine sales making up a $7 billion business globally and growing to about $20 billion in the next five to 10 years. The article notes that the market is growing because government incentives and technological advances have made wind power more cost-effective, and renewable energy such as wind and solar power are required to be part of utilities’ business in 13 U.S. states. The Sierra Club welcomes GE’s move into wind power but warns that it does not erase the environmental problems the company has been involved in. Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association, says GE’s purchase of wind power is significant: “The purchase of the wind manufacturing company by GE is really a historic move that symbolizes the maturation of the wind industry.”
The Associated Press, May 16, 2003.