Demand-Side Energy Efficiency in the Final Clean Power Plan

Read the full post at the Climate Law Blog.

Yesterday, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the final version of the Clean Power Plan—the nation’s first ever federal regulatory standards to address carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. As noted by the President in a press conference on Monday afternoon, this is “the single most important step that America has ever taken in the fight against climate change.”

The final rule establishes interim and final CO2 emission performance rates for fossil fuel-fired power plants that will reduce CO2 emissions from these plants by 32% under 2005 levels by 2030. Although this final target is more ambitious than the proposed rule (which called for a 30% reduction by 2030), the rule also gives states and utilities additional time to submit plans and start making emissions reductions: initial state plans are due in September 2016, with an option to extend the deadline to 2018, and the compliance period for mandatory emissions reductions begins in 2022. During the compliance period, the performance rates will be gradually phased in to provide for a “glide path” of reductions to 2030.

One significant change in the final rule is that EPA is no longer including demand-side energy efficiency as one of the “building blocks” used to determine the CO2 emissions performance rates for existing power plants. The performance rates are now based on the emissions reductions that can be achieved through the deployment of three supply-side measures: (1) heat rate improvements in existing coal plants, (2) increased reliance on combined cycle gas units, and (3) expanded use of renewables as a substitute for fossil fuel-based generation.

Fortunately, energy efficiency can still be used as a compliance measure, and EPA expects that energy efficiency will play a major role in meeting the state targets because it is a “cost-effective and widely-available carbon reduction tool.” EPA will also provide matching funds for early investments in demand-side energy efficiency measures through the newly introduced Clean Energy Incentive Program.

3 strategies to shape more efficient water systems

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

The crippling drought in the American West is making headlines daily and the stories are raising a collective awareness of the unfolding crisis — as The New Yorker did recently when it chronicled the plight of the Colorado.

If there’s a silver lining to the Western water crisis, it’s that governors, state legislators and federal policymakers are finally taking action to ensure a reliable water supply.

These are welcome actions — except top-down government mandates, while sometimes necessary, won’t result in the durable change we need to move from scarcity to sustainability.

Top-down mandates only work as long as there is political will to enforce them. In order to crack open the ossified structure that has dictated unsustainable water policy for more than a century, we need to build ground-level support for flexible solutions that benefit everyone — including cities, agriculture and, of course, the environment.

Here are three areas ripe for investment:

 

5 steps to build the business case for sustainable procurement

Read the full post in GreenBiz.

Pressures and demands around sustainability and transparency are growing, and the supply chain is perhaps the largest risk, and also the biggest — albeit unwieldy — lever of opportunity for becoming a more sustainable business. The question is, how do you get it going? Launching or accelerating a sustainable supply chain/responsible purchasing initiative with a large company’s procurement team is a challenge for even the most visionary and passionate.

Fortunately, many companies already are forging a path towards this transformation, as well as a growing number of surveys, studies and supporting research. This five-step guide summarizes the key tips: quantifying the business case; competitive elements; internal signals; stakeholder demands; and internal momentum building.

This guide is intended to inspire and provoke your thinking, so you can make the most convincing case possible for your boss, your team and your company to launch on the sustainable procurement journey.

5 core competencies of sustainability leadership

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

What competencies should a company’s leadership demonstrate to ensure its future success? When I say “future success,” I really mean “future existence,” which certainly can be a mark of success for any company.

Anyone in the GreenBiz choir understands that companies today must adopt forward-thinking approaches to secure access to resources and maintain their social license to operate. Company leaders, regardless whether they adorn a sustainability title, must demonstrate comfort managing systemic change and navigating complex, interdependent business networks.

How To Transform Plastic “Waste” into a Bottle Brick

Read the full post at Shareable.

Bottle Bricks are a simple and accessible technology that can transform everyday plastic materials into a useful building material – plastic bottles stuffed full of trash until they are as compact as bricks. Bottle Bricks are known widely as “EcoBricks” or “EcoLadrillos” in Spanish and have also been called “Portable Landfill Devices.” Bottle Bricks have been used to build houses, school buildings, and other structures for well over a decade in Latin America and they are now increasingly being used around the world as a viable way to clean up the environment; prevent plastic pollution; and create a much needed building material.

40% of adults worldwide have never heard of climate change

Read the full post at 2Degrees.

According to analysis of global climate change awareness and risk perception published in Nature Climate Change, around 40% of adults worldwide have never heard of climate change.

The percentage of people unaware of the global phenomenon rises to more than 65% in developing countries such as Egypt, Bangladesh, and India, whereas only 10% of the public is unaware in North America, Europe, and Japan.

Study: Glaciers melting at unprecedented rates

Read the full story at Science Daily.

The World Glacier Monitoring Service has compiled worldwide data on glacier changes for more than 120 years. Together with its National Correspondents in more than 30 countries, the international service just published a new comprehensive analysis of global glacier changes. In this study, observations of the first decade of the 21st century (2001-2010) were compared to all available earlier data from in-situ, air-borne, and satellite-borne observations as well as to reconstructions from pictorial and written sources.