ICYMI: Greener cattle, greener taxes and adios Earth Day

In Case You Missed It

ICYMI: Greener cattle, greener taxes and adios Earth Day

ICYMI -- "In Case You Missed It" -- is a regular Friday feature recapping the news of the week.

Greetings, readers -- and happy Post-Earth Day! We are slowly recovering from another annual deluge (in case you missed ICYMI on Monday, you can dive back into the madness here), and looking ahead to what the other 364 days of the year will bring for sustainability. But first, a recap of a few notable Earth Week announcements and just one last terrible Earth Day news release...

Steps to Greener Cities

Cleaner buses make for stronger cities: The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group this week released a report highlighting the positive impacts of hybrid buses on cities in Latin America. Unsurprisingly, hybrid and electric buses are good for air quality in these cities, but they also reduce noise pollution, are more fuel-efficient, and are significantly cheaper than buying conventional diesel buses.

From "Sin City" to "Sustainable City": Speaking of cities, The Guardian has an in-depth look from Sadhbh Walshe about how Las Vegas is betting on sustainability in everything from green buildings to water conservation. We've covered many of the city's green efforts over the years, but Walshe is right to ask the big question: "can a city visible from space ever be truly green?"

Sustainability Report Digest

Walmart: As promised on Earth Day, Walmart this week released its 2013 Global Responsibility Report, and has a laundry list of achievements to hype, including a 20 percent reduction in GHG emissions, an 80 percent improvement in fleet efficiency since 2005, using renewables for 21 percent of its total energy bill, and much more.

Kohl's: While there's only one Walmart, Kohl's is certainly no slouch when it comes to sustainability, and the company's 2012 CSR Report [PDF] backs that up: Last year, Kohl's added 75 more Energy Star-certified locations, purchased more than 1.5 billion kWh of renewable energy, added solar arrays to 16 more stores, recycled 83 percent of its waste, and more.

Unilever: On Earth Day, Unilever published the second annual progress report on its Sustainable Living Plan, highlighting the fact that it has reduced emissions by one-third and cut its manufacturing waste in half between 2008 and 2010; at the same time, Unilever owned up to the fact that it's still struggling to get its customers to use its products in more sustainable ways, and that most of the emissions in its supply chain fall outside of the company's control.

Odds 'n' Sods

Putting cattle emissions out to pasture: Livestock -- and particularly cattle -- have long been targeted as big emitters, but this week brings a whole herd of news about how to reduce emissions from beef and dairy. First, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy released three new resources: its environmental footprint [PDF], a a scientific overview of 10 dairy lifecycle analyses, and FarmSmart, an online tool for farmers to quickly gauge their carbon footprint.

And if that weren't enough, the U.S. dairy industry has signed onto the "biogas roadmap", an ongoing effort to turn high-carbon farm waste into clean energy as part of a goal to cut emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

And finally, the Guardian has a look at what beef farmers can learn from the car industry: how cow-makers can achieve quick and significant emissions reductions, just as automakers have.

Taxes for the greater good: This is surprising, given the ongoing bellyaching about taxes in Washington D.C.: A new report from KPMG finds that the United States leads the world in using taxes to drive more sustainable corporate behavior.

One word: Batteries There's a great future in batteries, and San Jose State University and CalCharge are teaming up to train the first class of "Battery Masters" this fall: In an effort to speed the low-carbon economy, the school is launching a new two-year degree program to train engineers to build the next generation of batteries.

Shoring up North America's Carbon Markets: Amid the ongoing bad news about Europe's carbon markets, this week California and Quebec governments confirmed that they are set to merge their cap-and-trade systems starting January 1.

The Final Earth Day Fail: In closing, even though I'm ever so ready to turn my back on Earth Day for the year, one press release crossed my desk in the bleary early hours of Earth Day: the Advertising Specialty Institute's list of the top Earth Day freebies. That's right, a USB drive with biodegradable packaging, a 55 percent organic cotton hoodie, and a bowl made of recycled bicycle spokes are among the "best" Earth Day-themed giveaways of products that people don't want and will end up in landfills before you can say "¡Adios, Earth Day!" Sigh...

Cow photo by Dhohax on Shutterstock.com.