Human rights and trade–the relationship dates back millennia. Despite this long history, however, we still have very little understanding of how to use trade to promote human rights. This according to today’s guest, Susan Ariel Aaronson, author of Trade Imbalance: The Struggle to Weigh Human Rights in Trade Policymaking, out from Cambridge University Press in late 2007. Aaronson, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University, illustrates her research findings using current examples such as how trade sanctions against Burma have complicated relief efforts in the wake of Cyclone Nargis or how the earthquake in China may prove more effective in improving human rights there than boycotting the Beijing Olympics. Aaronson also discusses opportunities–and limitations–on using the World Trade Organization, or WTO, to promote human rights through trade.
CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks with Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board Chair Jerry Hill about its recent precedent-setting implementation of a fee on carbon emissions by companies in 9 counties in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. This development represents the first time that business carbon emissions have been officially regulated in the US, leapfrogging over federal and state regulations.
CWR co-host Bill Baue speaks Michael Conroy, author of Branded! How the “Certification Revolution” is Transforming Global Corporations. Conroy discusses how activist campaigning for improved corporate social and environmental practices has gotten companies to respond. The two sides moved from antagonism to tense collaboration in the creation of certification schemes that solved activist concerns while preserving–and often boosting–companies’ profitability. Conroy brings a hands-on view to the story as a program officer at the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, where he helped fund the activists NGOs as well as the resulting certification processes. He also serves as chair of TransFair, the Fair Trade certifying body in the US, as well as serving on the board of Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies lumber and paper practices.
Michael Ash of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, provides this week’s commentary on the Toxic 100 list of the top corporate polluters that PERI produces.
CWR co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon speak with Gary Hirshberg, CEO of organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm, and author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World. Hirshberg believes that business is a necessary force for creating a sustainable economy and society, as outlined in his book. Yet he admits that business is a primary cause of our current unsustainable economy, a seeming contradiction that he explains in our conversation.
Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, provides commentary on a recent Ceres report examining how mainstream mutual funds vote on shareholder resolutions that urge companies to address climate change. A 2004 SEC rule requires mutual funds to disclose their proxy voting records each year. The report finds that mainstream mutual fund opposition to climate resolutions is thawing–but ironically, support for climate resolutions is also decreasing. Filling this gap is abstentions, which have doubled from 2004 to 2007. For the sake of disclosure, CWR co-host Bill Baue co-authored the report.
CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks with Hampshire College Professor Michael Klare about his new book, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy. Klare defines the term “resource nationalism,” whereby access to energy increasingly drives global politics. For example, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline runs from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, through Georgia, thereby circumventing Russia. In the interview conducted last week, Klare predicted possible conflict over energy access between Russia and Georgia, ensnaring the US. As this episode of CWR was in production, Georgian officials announced they are “very close” to war with Russia. Klare ends the interview suggesting renewable energies as a solution for diverting energy access from conflict to peace.