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Greening away poverty
If green is the new black, eco-populism is the new environmentalism

Vanessa Carr, San Francisco Bay Guardian
If the flow of venture capital is any indication, the new green economy is not just coming, it’s about to boom. There’s good reason to be excited about capitalists pouring money into saving the planet. But is it really the panacea that true believers say it is?

The idea behind “social uplift environmentalism” is that the new green economy is strong enough to lift people out of poverty. The argument: millions of “green-collar jobs” – defined as living-wage, career-track jobs that contribute directly to improving or enhancing environmental quality – will be created as the need for green energy, transportation, and manufacturing infrastructure grows.

If green is the new black, eco-populism is the new environmentalism.

But the pesky realists out there question whether the private sector will work quickly or efficiently enough to solve crises as massive as global warming.
(30 April 2008)

PG&E chief’s green crusade

Todd Woody, Green Wombat, Fortune
The head of one of the nation’s largest utilities seemed to be channeling Al Gore on Tuesday when he met with a half-dozen environmental business writers, including Green Wombat, in the PG&E (PCG) boardroom in downtown San Francisco. While a lot of top executives talk green these days, for Darbee green has become the business model, one that represents the future of the utility industry in a carbon-constrained age.

… In a wide-ranging conversation, Darbee, 54, sketched sketched a future where being a successful utility is less about building big centralized power plants that sit idle until demand spikes and more about data management – tapping diverse sources of energy – from solar, wind and waves to electric cars – and balancing supply and demand through a smart grid that monitors everything from your home appliances to where you plugged in your car.

… For Darbee one of the keys to reducing utility carbon emissions is not so much green technology as green policy that replicates the California approach of decoupling utility profits from sales. “If you’re a utility CEO you’ve got to deliver earnings per share and you’ve got to grow them,” he says. “But if selling less energy is contradictory to that you’re not going to get a lot of performance on energy efficiency out of utilities.”

“This is a war,” Darbee adds, “In fact, some people describe [global warming] as the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced – therefore what we ought to do is look at what are the most cost-effective solutions.”
(1 May 2008)

Greenwashing: Who’s Winning the Green Race Online?
The Nielsen Company
Sustainability buzz matures in 2007 and discussion converges around key issues, such as reducing energy consumption, sustainable development and sustainable agriculture.

Key Takeaways

  • Sustainability buzz is rising and maturing

  • Increased awareness for issues within sustainability and
    deepening sense of personal responsibility

  • Blogger skepticism is the cost of entry to play the green

  • The bigger the company, the greater the scrutiny
  • Consistency is fundamental
  • Bloggers are a new form of investigative reporter who doggedly
    pursue the facts

  • Credibility is earned, not bought
  • Pursing a green(er) strategy is advisable; buying the way to green
    is cause for skepticism

  • Authenticity and transparency emerge as the cornerstones
    of successful green marketing.

(1 April 2008)
Professor Goose at The Oil Drum posted about this Nielsen survey, which found that The Oil Drum is the #4 Sustainability Site on the Web.

Forget Nuclear

Amory B. Lovins, Imran Sheikh, and Alex Markevich, Rocky Mountain Institute
Nuclear power, we’re told, is a vibrant industry that’s dramatically reviving because it’s proven, necessary, competitive, reliable, safe, secure, widely used, increasingly popular, and carbon-free-a perfect replacement for carbon-spewing coal power. New nuclear plants thus sound vital for climate protection, energy security, and powering a growing economy.

There’s a catch, though: the private capitalmarket isn’t investing in new nuclear plants, and without financing, capitalist utilities aren’t buying. The few purchases, nearly all in Asia, are all made by central planners with a draw on the public purse. In the United States, even government subsidies approaching or exceeding new nuclear power’s total cost have failed to entice Wall Street.

This non-technical summary article compares the cost, climate protection potential, reliability, financial risk, market success, deployment speed, and energy contribution of new nuclear power with those of its low- or no-carbon competitors. It explains why soaring taxpayer subsidies aren’t attracting investors. Capitalists instead favor climate-protecting competitors with less cost, construction time, and financial risk. The nuclear industry claims it has no serious rivals, let alone those competitors-which, however, already outproduce nuclear power worldwide and are growing enormously faster.

Most remarkably, comparing all options’ ability to protect the earth’s climate and enhance energy security reveals why nuclear power could never deliver these promised benefits even if it could find free-market buyers-while its carbon-free rivals, which won $71 billion of private investment in 2007 alone, do offer highly effective climate and security solutions, sooner, with greater confidence.
(28 April 2008)
Contributor gildone writes:
This article is from the Spring 2008 issue of the “RMI Solutions” newsletter. The full newsletter can be read here: