(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Hillary Clinton has just rolled out her climate change plan, which would rapidly expand our use of renewables, tripling the number of installed solar panels to half a billion by the end of her first term. That’s certain an ambitious goal. In her statement she indicated her intention to rely heavily on tax credits to accomplish this. Whether or not that will be sufficient remains to be seen, but another announcement made yesterday by SolarCity, should certainly help.
The California-based company announced a new plan that would target small and medium sized businesses (SMB) as a huge untapped for solar energy systems. Focusing initially on owner-occupied businesses in California, the rollout contains a new pricing model that will allow these businesses to pay anywhere from 5-25% less for electricity than they currently pay, depending on usage and current cost, with no upfront charges. Twenty-year fixed rate financing will lock in savings, even if utility prices go up.
There are currently 28 million small and medium businesses in the US, which account for 99% of all businesses. It’s difficult to get a breakdown on what portion of energy use that amounts to, though this report from EERE suggests that this segment accounts for roughly 40% of all commercial building square footage (including government offices, but not malls). The report also highlights the substantial opportunities in energy efficiency while noting that California has been far more successful in reducing energy use than the rest of the country. This falls in line with the conventional wisdom that suggests that improving efficiency first, before installing renewables, is the more efficient path.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – For many companies around the world, corporate sustainability primarily means making a conscious effort to support local environmental protection, employee welfare and community programs. However, a few companies such as IBM are driven by a mission to make a pervasive impact across the global environmental, social and economic landscape and transform the planet.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Investments that have a social or environmental benefit have grown substantially in the last few years. A recent report from the Washington-based Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment said that socially responsible investment assets in the U.S. stood at $7 trillion in 2014, registering an increase of 76 percent over 2012. A significant portion of these investments are aimed at helping developing countries.
(3BL Media and Just Means) - Seven days, seven marathons. The Run Across Congo has created huge awareness for gender equality in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Women runners from around the U.S. gathered together along the shores of Lake Kivu to partner with and encourage female farmers.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Back in April, James Hansen described some newly discovered causes for concern about global warming impacts including the rapid disintegration of Antarctic ice sheets, and an ocean circulation pattern around the poles. Now, after further analysis, he and a team of 16 other scientists have issued a draft of a new report that ratchets up the level of concern and the need for urgent action. (It should be noted that the report has not yet been peer-reviewed.)
The report claims that the two-degree Celsius increase in temperature that has come to represent the accepted goal from emission reduction efforts, may not be good enough. It could lead to conditions that Hansen calls, “highly dangerous.”
Why? While previous studies assumed an orderly linear rate of disintegration of polar ice sheets, which directly drive sea level rise, newly recognized trends point to a more alarming picture.
According to the report, “If the ocean continues to accumulate heat and increase melting of marine-terminating ice shelves of Antarctica and Greenland, a point will be reached at which it is impossible to avoid large scale ice sheet disintegration with sea level rise of at least several meters.”