Today we talk with Hunter Lovins, founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions, about the Presidential Climate Action Project. The Sea Change ViewPoint comes from Charlie Cray of the Center for Corporate Policy.
For many people, the election of Barack Obama as the US President stoked hope for big change. The transition to the Obama Administration brings promise of shifts to government regulations and policies to promote sustainability. Long before the election, though, a group of influential sustainability leaders gathered to brainstorm recommendations to the incoming President on tackling climate change. The Presidential Climate Action Project was born,Read the show transcript
[amazon-product align=”right”]0547085974[/amazon-product]The 18th century British author Jonathan Swift wrote that under the enclosure movement in Britain, “sheep eat men”. That’s because large landowners threw thousands of tenant farmers off their land to make way for raising sheep on an industrialized scale, in order to feed the textile mills of the new industrial age. Something of the same could be said of our current system of producing food. It was supposed to solve the problem of hunger in the world. The so-called “green revolution”, with its massive use of herbicides and pesticides, did usher in the era of cheap, abundant food. But Paul Roberts says that era is coming to an end. In his book, [amazon-product text=”The End Of Food” type=”text”]0547085974[/amazon-product], Roberts says the technologies meant to end hunger don’t fit the conditions in the very countries they were supposed to feed. Small farmers are squeezed off the land, their families go hungry, and suicide sweeps their ranks. Rich countries are vulnerable, too. In a globalized food system, plant diseases could wipe out major food crops like wheat, fish stocks are crashing, and antibiotic resistance threatens both our meat animals–and ourselves. Roberts says the global industrialized food system is overextended, under threat of disruptions and unsustainable.
CWR News Analysis — The 24th Anniversary of Bhopal:
Last month, Fortune magazine’s Sustainability Columnist Marc Gunther blogged and wrote an article on the “cozy” relationships between NGOs and corporations. For the Corporate Watchdog Radio ViewPoint, we caught up with Marc from his home office in Bethesda for his take on this issue.
[amazon-product align=”right”]1900322412[/amazon-product]While some view the negative impacts of economics and environment as separate, Herve Kempf sees financial inequality and environmental destruction as inextricably linked. The author of [amazon-product text=”How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth” type=”text”]1900322412[/amazon-product], Kempf explains how the wealthy of the world are living unsustainable lifestyles, and everyone else is trashing the earth too trying to keep up with the rich Joneses. The solution? Move away from materialism and growth.
Bloomberg Columnist Jonathan Weil, the first journalist to expose Enron’s cooked books in 2001, recently criticized President-Elect Barack Obama’s appointments to the Transition Economic Advisory Board, pointing out that almost half hail from companies that fried their financial statements or fueled the market meltdown — or both. CWR Co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon chat with Weil about his critique.
We reported last week that Barack Obama will regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act if elected. Not so for John McCain. Today writer and scientist Joseph Romm wrote on his blog Climate Progess, that a McCain-Palin administration would use a voluntary or incentive-based approach, one that “has never worked in any country to restrain emissions growth.” Today, we talk to Joe Romm about how Barack Obama and John McCain differ on their approaches to the climate crisis and alternative energy. Romm is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he maintains its blog, Climate Progress. It was named one of the top 15 green websites by Time Magazine. Romm is also the author of the 2006 book Hell and High Water: Global Warming–the Solution and the Politics–and What We Should Do. He was Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy during the Clinton Administration.
It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. Yogi Berra said that. He also said, the future ain’t what it used to be. For Glen Hiemstra, the future holds the key to current planning. The founder of the website futurist.com, Hiemstra consults for businesses and governments on how to take the long view on trends. In his book, Turning the Future into Revenue, he argues that the planning horizon should stretch out for several decades in order to meet the sustainability challenges we face right now.
When it comes to renewable energy, wind is taking the lead–at least at this stage of technological development. But what’s the best model for developing it? Should we follow the centralized utility model with big wind farms set up in a few places — offshore Massachusetts or the state of Texas — and then send the juice over wires to power homes and businesses far away? That’s the dominant model in the US. Or should we follow the community-owned wind power model, where the people using the power have a financial stake in it, too? Maybe a healthy mix of both would be best. Today, CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks with Dan Juhl of Juhl Wind Development, which is helping communities around the country develop locally owned wind power cooperatives. The company has developed about 140 megawatts — or several hundred million dollars worth — of community-based wind projects. Francesca met him at the Sustainable Energy Summit at the University of Massachusetts in June. And Rheannon speaks with journalist Elizabeth Kolbert. Her recent New Yorker article, “The Island in the Wind,” profiles the Danish island of Samso, known internationally as the “renewable energy island” because residents get most of their power from windmills they cooperatively own.
Each generation reinvents the world inherited from the previous generation. A new generation is inheriting a wounded planet and a dysfunctional economy. Youthful energy seeks to heal our world and revitalize our economy using new strategies and adapting existing tools. Today, we focus on new generations in sustainability. First, we hear from Tim Cohen-Mitchell of the Young Entrepreneurs Society in Orange, Massachusetts, from a presentation he made at the recent Pioneer Valley Sustainable Investing Summit that Corporate Watchdog Radio helped organize. Then, CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks with Jeremy Daw about the BioTour, an initiative brainstormed by an enterprising group of 20-somethings at Burning Man, an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The BioTour is about to embark on a journey across the US in a biofuel bus to raise awareness on sustainability.
Francesca and Bill ain’t exactly spring chickens, but we’ve got a lot of youthful energy, so we’re joining this trend in linking social networking with corporate sustainability by launching CWR pages on Facebook and MySpace this week. Thanks to our new intern, Tom Hartmann-Boyce, an international affairs student at Skidmore, for getting those pages up and running. Check out our website for links to these pages, and join us there as “friends.”
Utilities and coal companies are pushing to open over a hundred new coal-fired power plants in the US. But activists, investors, communities, consumers, and scientists are pointing to financial, regulatory, environmental, and social risks that far outweigh the potential benefits of coal. And they are pulling back the veil from the myth of clean coal, exposing that king coal is a naked emperor. Carbon capture and storage, the key to coal’s “clean” claims, has years of technical and economic hurdles to cross. Leslie Lowe, director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibilty’s Energy & Environment Program, speaks with us today about the risks of committing to a future of new coal plants.
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Yochi Zakai of Co-op America points out that clean coal is dirtier than it’s cracked up to be. He comments on the recent Georgia court ruling against a new coal plant proposed by Dynegy, and Co-op America’s ongoing activism aimed at that company and others in the industry.
The ExxonMobil annual shareholder meeting this year carried high expectations from shareholder activists. Members of the Rockefeller family, descending from the founder of the Standard Oil monopoly that splintered into Exxon and Mobil, attended the meeting to support four different shareholder resolutions on corporate governance and climate change. Of these four, the resolution supported by most Rockefellers asked the company to split the CEO and Board Chair positions. Today’s CWR guest, Bob Monks, has filed this resolution at ExxonMobil since the early 2000s. His struggle to hold ExxonMobil accountable exemplifies the broader struggle to hold corporations accountable described in his new book, Corpocracy. Monks is co-founder of Institutional Shareholder Services, The Corporate Library, Lens Governance Advisors, and a former Labor Department official in the Reagan Administration.
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Longtime shareholder activist Steve Viederman presented this statement at the ExxonMobil Annual Meeting in May 2008 to introduce resolution 19 asking Exxon to adopt a renewable energy policy. He filed the resolution along with other individuals, families, foundations and religious orders, joined by 20 institutional investors worth over $740 billion in combined assets, including Exxon Mobil stock valued at more than $8.6 billion.
Today CWR takes you to a conference at the intersection between climate change and transportation held last week at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. There, climate scientists, engineers, government officials and activists gathered for a “Climate Change Think Tank” to brainstorm solutions to the problem of transport accounting for some 30 percent of carbon emissions. CWR co-hosts Francesca Rheannon and Bill Baue spoke with Representative John Olver, chair of the House Appropriations Sub-committee on Transportation; Paul Brubaker, head of the US Department of Transportation Research and Innovation Technology Administration; Michael Replogle of Environmental Defense Fund; and Jeff Brown of RideBuzz.org, a regional ride-sharing initiative.