(3BL Media/Justmeans) – President Obama is intervening on behalf of the bumblebee: the White House has announced the first National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - A lot of people who don’t like change say that renewables are only economical because of government subsidies. First of all, even as prices continue to fall, there are already a number of places where renewables are cost-competitive without any subsidies. Second, what most people do not realize is the extent to which conventional fossil fuels are subsidized. A recent report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sheds light on this.
They key findings of the study, as summarized on their website are as follows:
“First, post-tax energy subsidies are dramatically higher than previously estimated, and projected to remain high despite the sharp decline in international energy prices. Second, the vast majority of energy subsidies reflect domestic externalities, so countries should move ahead with energy subsidy reform unilaterally in their own interests. Third, the potential fiscal, environmental and welfare impacts of energy subsidy reform are substantial. Using the fiscal dividend to lower distortionary taxes or increase productive public spending could further improve welfare and economic growth.”
The numbers disclosed in this report are so monumental, you might want to make sure you are sitting down before reading them. The expected global subsidy for the year 2015 is $5.3 trillion dollars. That’s equivalent to 6.5% of the global gross domestic product (GDP) and over 29% of the projected US GDP for the same year. According to The Guardian, that works out to $10 million per minute. That’s just the subsidies. By the time all that all is converted into motor fuels, consumers spend an additional $5.5 trillion. All told, that means, we spend roughly 13.2% of the global GDP to be able to fill up our cars with fuel. That’s more than half of what an average of 83 countries tracked by USDA, spend on food. That number also edges out the total government health spending, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which came in at 6.0% (in 2013, the latest year for which figures were available).
(3BL/Just Means) UPS recently announced its agreement to purchase renewable natural gas (RNG) for its delivery vehicle fleet from Clean Energy Fuels Corp. UPS has a goal of driving one billion miles using its alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet by the end of 2017. That’s a commitment that will make it the largest user of RNG in the shipping industry.
(3BL Media/Just Means) - As citizens become more acutely aware of water issues, so does their willingness to save water and reduce their environmental impact.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - When a good thing is done for the wrong reason, it’s still a good thing. When the government of China, no doubt wary of unrest they’d been seeing around the world, vowed to bring their vast country out of poverty through modernization, they seized upon the energy source that was cheap and domestically abundant: coal. They then developed and implemented a massive plan involving the construction of hundreds of coal-fired power plants that would be needed to energize their economic explosion. China now has approximately 620 coal-fired plants, about 27% of the world’s total.
Unfortunately, this happened at roughly the same time that the rest of the world was coming to grips with the fact that emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels, particularly coal, were wreaking havoc on the delicate blend of gases in the upper atmosphere that serve to regulate the Earth’s temperature. Responding to expressions of consternation from the global community, the Chinese vowed to get off of coal as soon as they could, which was received with plenty of hand-wringing as to whether that would be soon enough.
A lot has changed since then, including the recent agreement signed with President Obama, in which China promised to hit peak carbon emissions by 2030 and begin declining after that. But another factor has been quietly, though not invisibly lurking in the background: pollution. Air pollution is bad enough in some Chinese cities that many citizens have taken to wearing masks to protect them from fine particles.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Technology companies have immense power either to push forward a renewable energy revolution, or to tie down the digital economy to traditional, polluting sources of power. The stakes in greening the Internet are high. If the Internet were a nation, its electricity demand would currently rank sixth.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – A 2013 Nielson Global Survey on CSR showed that fifty percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for products and services of companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. The survey, which polled over 29,000 respondents in 58 countries, revealed that the percentage of such consumers increased among both men and women and across all age groups.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – A 2011 study by Forbes identified workforce diversity and inclusion as a key driver of internal innovation and business growth. A gender diversity report by McKinsey suggested that the companies where women are most strongly represented at board or top management levels are also the companies that perform best.
Guest blog by Jerry Hayes, Monsanto Honey Bee Health Lead