Friday, November 14, 2008
Coca Cola is on the green path!
By Greenbiz.com Staff
Days after releasing its environmental performance data in its 2007/2008 Sustainability Report, Coca-Cola unveiled new targets for reducing water use and greenhouse gas emissions. The company plans to improve water efficiency 20 percent by 2012, relative to a 2004 baseline. It intends to grow its business, but not the system-wide carbon emissions related to its manufacturing, as well as reduce the absolute emissions from its manufacturing facilities located in developed countries 5 percent by 2015.
That's the equivalent of more than 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. In a business-as-usual scenario. Coca-Cola predicts its manufacturing-related emissions would top 7 million metric tons by 2015.
Since the company expects to grow its business, its absolute water consumption will inevitably increase. Its water efficiency goal is expected to avoid some 50 billion liters of water through 2012. To help it achieve this, Coca-Cola extended its partnership with World Wildlife Fund. Begun in 2007 with $20 million in funding through 2010, the partnership will now run through 2012 with an additional $3.75 million in funding.
The two organizations collaborated to create a water efficiency tool kit for bottling plants distributed to operators throughout the company as part of the company's overarching goal of becoming water neutral. Coca-Cola said it's also working with WWF to foster sustainable agriculture to help its supply chain ease water impacts, beginning with sugarcane crops.
The company will identify two additional commodities to target in 2009. The two groups also will team to conserve freshwater resources in regions that include Mekong, Danube and waterways in the Southeastern U.S.
The company is not without its critics...To read more visit ClimateBiz.com
By Alternative Channel's contributor Cody Larocque
The internet has lead to a massive rise in e-commerce, and with it a boom in the green market place. Just think, in the space of a few years the amount of green producers all over the globe has increased exponentially. With the internet we can now connect all of them to the rest of the world instead of keeping them isolated within there local areas or countries for that matter.
Green e-commerce can reduce green house gas emissions by limiting the amount of vehicles on the road. Imagine if you will, instead of thousands of trucks and cars stalking the roads in search for or transporting these goods and services we could load them onto railway cars thus limiting the amount of trucks on the road. Then distribute them through a use of a local area distributor and collective shipping; similar to the way that the postal service delivers mail or packages. Hopefully one day we may even ship using alternatives fuels in these trucks and trains.
Though there have been great strides shipping greener, there are some ways that you can do to reduce the waste of both energy and resources. Firstly, the simplest and most obvious is to order from a company or producer that lives in the same geographic region as you, if you live on the east coast order from there, rather than the west coast. Secondly buying in bulk while not glamorous can certainly reduce both your shipping costs and the use or packaging the companies may also have deals on shipping in bulk as well.
Thirdly try to choose ground shipping over air or rush delivery, because they amount of fuel which planes use as we all know is astronomical. One last tip that most of us would never think to ask about is in the comments space for shipping, ask for used packaging, the old boxes and packing material that's just lying around can serve your needs just as well as the new stuff.
There is a great assortment of online companies and stores out there, ranging all the way from baby and mother to lawn and garden, I encourage you next time your on the net, instead of crashing on Facebook, head over and search up some online green stores.
Photo by: Chris Breeze, Courtesy of Flickr.com
British Columbia has an identity crisis
By David Suzuki and Faisal Moola
If you live in or have visited British Columbia recently, you'll have noticed a campaign to sell the province as "The Best Place on Earth". The government has spent tens of millions of dollars branding the province, and the tag-line for its PR campaign appears to be everywhere: on television and radio, on billboards, bus shelters, licence plates, and just about everywhere else you look. And as we enter the home stretch to the 2010 Olympics hosted by B.C., the campaign is reaching a fevered pitch.
Those of us who live among the towering mountains, old-growth forests, and pristine lakes and rivers feel we deserve these bragging rights on occasion (especially in mid-February, when folks in Vancouver can go jogging on the beach while people in the rest of the nation are freezing their butts off). And ecologists tell us that B.C. is blessed with an exceptional diversity of wildlife and wilderness, on par with some of the greatest places on the planet, such as the Serengeti and the Great Barrier Reef.
My home province is Canada's richest region biologically – home to 76 per cent of our nation's bird species, 70 per cent of its freshwater fish, 60 per cent of its evergreen trees, and thousands of other animals and plants. More than 3,800 species are found here, and many of these, such as mountain goat and mountain caribou, live mostly – or only – in the province and nowhere else on the planet. For others, such as the trumpeter swan and sandhill crane, B.C. is a critical wintering ground or stopover in winged migrations that extend over thousands of kilometres.
Most remarkably, unlike most places in North America, B.C. still has all of the large and charismatic megafauna that were present at the time of European settlement, including grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars. Indeed, British Columbia is now the last safe haven for most of the large animals left on the continent. For example, grizzlies still roam, feed, and breed throughout much of the province, whereas in California, this majestic bruin is now only found as an image on the state's flag, having long been eliminated from the wild.
B.C. has a rich legacy to protect, yet the experts tell us that we are squandering our unique biological inheritance. Earlier this year, scientists revealed that more than four dozen species have disappeared from the province, and the casualty list is growing. A further 1,600 species (43 per cent of all the plants and animals thought to exist in the province) are also in decline and are perhaps facing a similar fate unless action is taken.
These statistics are not just an abstract tally. To the contrary, many residents and visitors to the province have personally experienced these plants and animals in nature – perhaps seen a grizzly bear while on a camping trip, or hooked a salmon on one of our pristine rivers, or been dazzled by a pod of orcas while kayaking. You don't even have to go far from populated areas: the remaining patches of Canada's most endangered forest ecosystem, the Garry oak savannah, can be found in downtown Victoria!
Given the biodiversity crisis that is unfolding in my home province, I'm shocked that the government can claim we're the "best place on earth". We lag behind virtually every other place in North America in providing legal protection for our wildlife. B.C. stands out in Canada for not having an endangered species law, while smaller provinces such as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have gone to great lengths to legally protect endangered species and their habitat. Even developing countries, such as Mexico, Costa Rica, and "the glorious nation" of Kazakhstan (to quote Borat) have a leg up on us, with endangered species laws on the books.
I'm proud of my province, and like most residents and visitors to British Columbia, I want to make sure that the natural heritage that we're blessed with is protected for my children and grandchildren to enjoy. However, in light of the government's ad campaign, I think the province needs an identity check. The government needs to reconcile its efforts to brand this province on the basis of its natural wonders with our true identity as one of the "last places on earth" without an endangered species law to protect the very things that make my home great.
Take David Suzuki's Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org
The coal hard truth at play in Ontario
The battle over new nuclear and green energy is heating up. One of those battlegrounds is a tiny village, home to North America's largest coal-fired hydro station.
By WorkCabin.ca Staff
What the nuclear heck is going on in Ontario? A lot of people are asking that very question. One minute, Bruce Power, a private company which already operates an existing nuclear power plant in the province, announces the first steps in what could lead to a new nuclear power plant being built 90 minutes south of Toronto. The next minute, the provincial government issues a release distances itself from the plan.
So what's really going on? Well, it likely has everything to do with how Ontario plans to replace one of North America's most infamous coal-fired generating stations. Ontario's Liberals have promised to close all coal-fired generating stations in the province by 2014. That includes the Nanticoke Generating Station, long a target of environmentalists fighting dirty emissions. Trouble is, Ontario's government hasn't announced what it will replace the Nanticoke station with. That's key because the Nanticoke hydro plant produces enough electricity to power millions of homes. It's also the starting point for a major power transmission corridor that feeds that electricity to major urban areas. The province simply can't abandon that power transmission corridor and build a new plant and comparable hydro line network elsewhere -- at least, not anywhere near the vast new development-restricted Greenbelt area of southern Ontario.
The future of electricity generation in Ontario is very much under the microscope. The Ontario Energy Board is holding hearings on the province's proposed 20-year hydro plan. The outcome will determine whether Ontario will emphasize nuclear, renewables or a combination of both. The Pembina Institute and a coalition of environmental groups are calling on the province to not replace aging nuclear facilities or build new nuclear plants such as the one proposed in Nanticoke. Instead, they want an emphasis on green energy. The groups point to a recent survey which showed two thirds of Ontarians prefer to see aging nuclear stations replaced with renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, rather than new nuclear reactors. Ontario has said that renewable energy sources will help replace coal-fired generation in Ontario, but a specific plan for Nanticoke has not been made.
Enter Bruce Power and its proposed nuclear reactor for an 800-acre site. The company has begun an environmental assessment – a federally required step – before a licence to build a nuclear plant can be issued. If successful, a nuclear plant could be generating electricity by 2018. The Nanticoke area, a tiny village next to a large industrial park on the shore of Lake Erie, and its two main counties have been growing nervous ever since the Liberals pledged to close the existing hydro generating station. They're worried about the potential to lose hundreds of jobs, taxes and spinoffs if the coal-fired station in their isolated rural area is closed in 2014 and nothing replaces it. Two municipal councils, and Federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley are backing Bruce Power's bid to build a nuclear station in Nanticoke.
The provincial government quickly countered Bruce Power's recent announcement saying it "has not encouraged or solicited a proposal to build a nuclear generating station in the Haldimand-Norfolk region." The province said Bruce Power's "course of action is speculative."
Bruce Power, also eyeing potential nuclear power startups in Alberta and Saskatchewan, says it will also study building what it calls a 'clean energy hub' involving wind, solar and hydrogen energy in Nanticoke.
Could this be the eventual solution for what the province has in store to replace the coal-fired Nanticoke Generating Station site?
Here is the shocking reality in Ontario: Unless enough new hydro generation – whatever the energy source is -- comes on stream in the near future, hydro demand will surpass supply once the province's coal-fired hydro plants are shut down in 2014. If that happens, Ontario may be forced to do what it has in the past to meet demand: buy power from the United States produced by, you guessed it, coal-fired hydro plants.
So, will Ontario eventually endorse Bruce Power's bid for a new nuclear power plant on the shore of Lake Erie, less than 90 minutes from the major urban areas of Niagara and Toronto? Possibly. The government hasn't exactly said no -- if you read between the lines.
One thing is for certain: Ontario needs a significant power generation strategy for Nanticoke, purely because of the vast hydro transmission corridor. And Bruce Power thinks it has the power and now the plan to address it – even if the Ontario government isn't quite ready to acknowledge it.
is Canada's green outpost for green jobs
PHOTO SOURCE: Nanticoke Generating Station, Ontario Power Generation
Green or Greenwash?
By Alternative Channel's contributor Jackson Kern
A guide to help you understand greenwashing.
Any guide to help you paint your lifestyle a slightly deeper shade of green would be incomplete without reference to the dangerous phenomenon of "greenwashing". This guide can be helpful to you in understanding the term, identifying instances of it, and, of course, shunning those who would practice it.
Even more deplorable than enterprises which rapaciously and unapologetically downgrade our physical environment are those which seek to give their organizations a green lining by employing disingenuous public relations. As cited by the SourceWatch online encyclopedia, greenwash is the "unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government, a politician or even a non-government organization to create a pro-environmental image".
So, how can one identify suspicions of greenwash? Here is a brief roundup of strategies that can be used so that you don't fall prey.
A strong first step is to investigate the green policy changes, and to check them for externalities and hidden trade-offs. When an entity engages in "green" marketing, some aspect of its production and distribution processes is modified in a way which is intended to reduce waste. But what are the indirect effects of that change? It is the net result that is the indicator of a policy's true green color. To give an (unresolved) example, there is a push for elimination of paper usage in favor of increased reliance on electronic communication media. But remember that these electronic media have great energy needs.
A second effective practice is to follow the money trail. This means in both directions. Investigate which political parties and causes companies are contributing to. And on the incoming finances, question who a firm's investors are. Remember that there are always vested interests.
Check for policy consistency in time and space. Many corporations now operate across wide swathes of geography, and their marketing messages are often tailored to local audiences. This can be an effective test of their genuineness.
Be wary of vagueness and ambiguity in green advertising. If it is unfathomable to you, that is probably because it doesn't hold water. Such ambiguous advertising is particularly prone to have hidden external effects.
A final approach is to look into the company or entity's past. Be on the lookout for those skeletons in the closet. In so doing, one can also effectively test a company's receptiveness to public inquiry, another indicator of their openness and honesty.
These steps can help you to identify those firms which are embracing the sustainability endeavor, and to separate them from the posers in the pack.
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