What do BP, Rolls-Royce, Barclays, Burberry Group, Unilever, Carnival Cruiselines and Royal Dutch Shell all have in common? They are part of the FTSE 100 Index marking them as the 100 companies with the highest market capitalization on the London Stock Exchange.
This means that they all may be subject to new rules from the UK government requiring annual CO2 disclosures as part of their financial reporting requirements. The era of evnironmental finance is here and the implications are big.
Reporting CO2 emissions is not a new thing for many companies. Some are doing it on a voluntary basis as part of other environmental reporting requirements to state or federal regulators.
But the nature of CO2 reporting to financial markets squarely puts emissions in the public domain where c-level executives, board members, investors and the general public all have front-row seats to identifying the largest emitters.
You can bet that financial teams will be calling the CSR and environmental compliance departments within their organizations to get a crash coarse on the difference between a carbon credit and a carbon offset. The implications of this are broad and it is only a matter of time that other governments follow suit.
Posted by Jason Morris on June 20, 2012 at 3:44 PM
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It's understandable that some people have treated the midterm election results as an all or nothing proposition for stakeholders in clean technology. After coming so close on a couple of occassions to a national energy policy, it is disappointing that the policitcal winds have shifted from any meaningful high-level compromise on climate change initiatives and renewable energy at the federal level.
But just as it was a mistake to assume that cleantech-friendly majorities in the House and Senate, plus President Obama would lead to an automatic overhaul of policy, it would be folly to assume that a divided Congress will kill any federal support for the market.
Case in point? There were three major examples from federal agencies this past week that show there are other ways for the President Obama-led federal government to stimulate the Green economy and battle climate change. They are:
The United States Patent & Trademark Office announced an extension of the Fast Track program for Green patents. Skyline Solar, one of Schwartz's clients, has been a direct beneficiary of this policy as the company looks to guarantee the integrity of its intellectual property to company and market stakeholders. This is an important program for companies looking for new rounds of investment or just starting out in a hyper-competitive cleantech market.
The second announcement came from the EPA regarding further guidance on its "Tailoring Rule" for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) at state and local levels. This guidance stems from the historic EPA ruling that climate change is a threat to human health and therefore can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. This rule, albeit with some challenges to overcome, provides a one-two punch along with California AB 32, in helping the federal government and states exert their authority over carbon and other GHG emissions.
The final example comes from the DOE which, according to a story this weekend in the San Jose Mercury News by Dana Hull, continues to pump millions of dollars into the Cleantech industry. Schwartz client Soladigm, a manufacturer of electrochromatic windows for improving energy efficiency in buildings, was the recipient of more than $3 million.
All of these examples point to a power struggle in the years ahead between Federal agencies and the branch of Government that controls budgetary purse strings (i.e. the House). It will be interesting to see how things develop, but rest assured the new Congressional make up is not a all or nothing proposition and "Drill, Baby Drill," will not be not be the new energy policy in Washington.
Posted by Jason Morris on November 11, 2010 at 2:01 PM
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The full, 821-page Climate Bill, aka the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, is available here.
Kerry's synopsis, focusing on green collar jobs, national security and the broader economy is here.
We'll have some thoughts on the bill as a whole, including the public relations, public affairs and funding implications for Cleantech Companies soon.
My apologies to the Senior Senator from Massachusetts as the title and focus are better than I expected in terms of targeting economic and national security audiences. That said, I think that legislative communications teams could do a better job of branding bills in advance of their release with more context for the media.
Posted by Jason Morris on May 12, 2010 at 1:51 PM
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The Hill has a Climate Bill summary document this morning that was circulated among staffers which gives a bit more detail on exact provisions in the final bill. While it is light on details and specifics, it does outline some key initiatives that will no doubt have the Cleantech media, public relations and public affairs waorlds buzzing all day.
-The legislation will establish a clean technology R&D fund. At a time when appropriations-based funding is becoming tougher for projects, this could provide a new cleantech funding avenue for emerging growth companies and their venture capital backers.
-Sets GHG reduction goals: The goals are not as aggressive as California or Europe, but would still represent the first federal line in the sand. Here are the targets:
- 95.25% of 2005 emission levels by 2013
- 83% by 2020
- 58% by 2030
- 17% by 2050
-Regulates the emissions of not only Carbon Dioxide, but Methane, Sulfur Hexafluoride, Nitrous Oxide, Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons and Nitrogen Trifluoride. Carbon Dioxide may get the headlines but there are other worse emissions (on an impact basis, maybe not volume).
-The bill does not set a carbon tax, but directs EPA to set emission limits for certain activities. Allows for emission offsets, including things like renewable energy credits, offset projects (the most common of which is plant a tree), etc. My guess would be that penalties would ensue for companies who can't satisfy the equation of "emissions - offsets < limit set by EPA," but the panalties are not spelled out in the summary document. In any event offset providers, like EcoSecurities, may stand to benefit from this legislation.
Posted by Jason Morris on at 12:42 PM
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With the highly anticipated Senate Climate Bill due to be released tomorrow, it makes me wonder about the impact of "Bill Branding" on how it will be received by the media, predisposed bill opposition and the voting public. My problem is with the word "Climate" which I think will turn off those inclined to oppose any climate legislation and those for whom climate change and the environment are not passionate issues.
I strongly support meaningful climate legislation and think it is critical on a number of fronts (environmental, economic, geopolitical, national security), but the majority of Americans may not consider it a high priority and others are staunch opponents of anything that could be construed as energy regulation or renewable energy subsidies. And make no mistake, these two audiences are critical. The key to impactful climate legislation is coalition building and---in order to get atypical supporters on board---you need to message to them correctly.
What might have worked better? There are two good alternatives I can think of without much thought at all:
-The Domestic Energy & Green Jobs Bill -- the economy and unemployment are still top of mind with most Americans and frankly, it is very easy for everyday citizens and Climate Bill opponents to ask, "Why isn't the economy the top focus?" when you mention Climate Legislation. Schwartz clients are living proof that policy support for the emerging and burgeoning Cleantech Sector leads to job growth. Heck, Schwartz is living proof of it given our Cleantech PR & Government Relations Practice grew dramtically during the "Great Recession."
-The National Energy Security Bill -- this label would directly target conservative audiences who tend to favor any and all national security measures, while opposing anything that may curb energy exploration and/or expand energy regulation. By equating climate change and non-domestic energy resources with national security threats and clearly articulating how it impacts our ability to keep our citizens safe, you can begin to recruit people to the climate cause with a different motivation.
I am not suggesting that a new name alone would have new supporters lining up behind the climate bill, but in an age of short attention spans driven by media sound bites and 140-character Tweets, there is a lot to be gained from more thoughtful name selection. So while the clock ticks down to the unveiling (reportedly 1:30 EDT tomorrow) the National Energy Security & Green Jobs Bill, we no doubt will see a lot of depositioning of climate legislation as a "nice to have" by some and energy regulation by others.
Don't be fooled. Anything supporting domestic, renewable sources of energy and encouraging resource efficiency has major economic, geopolitical and national security implications. Now if only it said that in the name of the bill.
Posted by Jason Morris on May 11, 2010 at 2:05 PM
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Between Apple iPad and the State of the Union, yesterday was a really interesting day in the world of technology, green and PR. Some quick thoughts on what transpired:
State of the Union, Green Policy & the SEC: I was pleasantly surprised at once again, how aggressively the President tied energy and cleantech to the economy and positioned cleantech as critical to the US' position as a world leader in technology, manufacturing and jobs. Its clear that President Obama sees energy policy as core to solving the economic woes of the country and that an energy bill is back on the table. More and more people are understanding that energy is intertwined with the economy, national security, human health and the environment, and so it is good to see it be a central theme of the SOTU.
While the focus on energy is not new, what has changed in recent months is any legislation as it relates to greenhouse gas emissions. Recent EPA rulings and yesterday's news that the SEC now wants disclosure on climate change risks to investors, sends a clear message that the administration will cap and regulate GHGs through agency rulings and not Congress. Is this the first step in GHGs being a financial reporting requirement?
Apple iPad: Has anyone found a person who likes the name "iPad?" iSlate, iTablet, iBook? So many options, so little branding sense. However, since just about everything Apple introduces turns to gold, I am sure it won't keep people from adopting it. So while it goes gold, is it green? Good post by Earth2Tech on this topic.
And speaking of the media, some are calling the iPad a savior for the print media universe, as it becomes a platform to keep people reading their daily newspapers, magazines and books. I'll keep my eye out to see if come April, I see people on BART using the iPad as a Kindle replacement and a mechanism for reading the newspaper.
Posted by Jason Morris on January 28, 2010 at 11:18 AM
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It's been awhile since we posted on Renewablog and with good reason. After a very busy 2009 in which we saw the federal government's attitude toward renewables and cleantech change overnight, the blog team went on a short hiatus to focus on 2010 client planning.
It also served as good time to reflect on what worked in 2009 from a green public relations, government relations and search-engine marketing perspective, and what else needs to be done in 2010 by cleantech stakeholders. I think most would agree that 2009 ended much stronger than some would have anticipated entering the year.
Even with an underwhleming Copenhagen and the lack of a climate bill, 2010 holds a lot of promise. European and Asian companies continue to look at the US as TNBT in green adoption, even without a climate bill. The EPA's naming of carbon as a public danger and the willingness of the agency to enforce reporting rules has many saying it is only a matter of "when" and not "if" carbon emisssion reductions (CERs) become mandatory. Obama continued to accept and promote new ideas, like "Cash for Caulkers."
But even with some positive signs, there are some things that keep cleantech marketers and public affairs pros up at night, the biggest of which is the midterm elections. It is now unlikely that a climate bill will get passed in 2010. The big question will then be what will Congress look like when it takes up the bill in 2011? If the Democrats have significantly smaller majorities in the House and Senate, will a bill be so watered down that it will have little meaning?
The silver lining is that there are a lot of ways to skin the climate cat, including further EPA regulation or very aggressive, big economy states, like California and New York passing laws that become de facto national standards for cap and trade. The hope is that the federal government takes the renewable-powered torch and runs with it in 2011, but it is comorting to know that if it doesn't, there are ways to move climate measures forward.
So this is the backdrop as we approach the first two renewable energy shows of the seaon: Retech 2010 in Washington DC and Renewable Energy World in Austin. Both are interesting events that tackle very broad themes and market segments, including solar, wind, biofuels, waste to energy, waste heat to energy, geothermal and a number of others. Retech is a bit more policy focused, whereas REW will help shine light on Austin's rapidly growing cleantech credentials.
We'll do our best to take the temperature of both events and report back what we learn.
Posted by Jason Morris on January 19, 2010 at 10:19 AM
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President Obama "filled in the cracks" on the long-rumored Cash for Caulkers program yesterday as part of a new jobs plan. The latest details have consumers eligible for a $12,000 tax credit if they take steps to weatherize their homes. The goal would be to put contractors back to work and also stimulate the buying of home products aimed at energy efficiency, which would be good news for Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart and others sellers of home improvement materials.
We first heard of the Cash for Caulkers program leading up to the GreenBeat Conference on Smart Grid technologies. John Doerr, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, had suggested the idea to policymakers some time ago.
This caps the third consecutive day of positive news around renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change, as Obama looks to bolster US credibility on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The news coincides with the Cop15 in Copenhagen.
Speaking of energy efficiency, the New York Times reports on a new study that says that focusing on efficiency could reduce energy consumption by 30 percent by 2030, thereby reducing the need for the US to build new power plants. The article reminded me of the fact that renewable energy continues to get the lion's share of media attention, even as people look for cost-effective, pragmatic and near-term ways to cut energy usage in a down economic environment.
That is not to say that renewables get too much attention as they are a critically important part of energy independence and the US economy. But rather that companies with legitimate energy efficiency products need to do a better job marketing the size of the problem they solve and the potential ROI for customers--and the economy at large.
Posted by Jason Morris on December 9, 2009 at 2:27 PM
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We've had Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Could today be Green Monday? Based on the positive news we have seen today for the Cleantech industry, maybe it should be.
While the world had its eyes firmly planted on Copenhagen and the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the US government said, "Bring your gaze back to this side of the Atlantic" with a couple of significant announcements.
First, the EPA has declared that carbon dioxide is a public danger giving it the right to further regulate and curb emissions without the consent of Congress. This is a huge step forward in the Obama administration's move to cut US carbon emissions. Essentially, the White House just told the US Senate that it better tune out the energy lobby and focus on the issue at hand. It will be interesting to see if this lights a fire under the Senate to get legislation passed before the EPA enforces something more draconian than private industry would like.
Second, the Obama administration has announced that Green patent review will be fast tracked to 12 months from the current 40 in the hopes of getting new technologies funded and viable in a shorter period of time. This is bound to fuel even more R&D and investment in clean technologies.
All of this comes as the world focuses its attention on Cop15 and the world's largest and fastest-growing carbon emitters, like the US, China and India. How important is the Cop15 event to Cleantech companies?
So important that Earth2Tech's Katie Fehrenbacher and other US-based cleantech reporters and bloggers are on the ground covering and Tweeting from the conference. It should be an interesting 12 days as we learn more about the seriousness with which the world's largest economies will fight climate change.
The final piece of good news was from the solar market which apparently has seen demand start to grow for the first time this year. Many are expecting the US to be 2010's big solar market as PPAs continue to gain traction and renewable portfolio standards, feed-in-tariffs and other policy measures start to have a bigger impact on demand. The EPA declaration could also drive adoption as industrial and utility audiences expand their renewable energy portfolios and accumulate credits ahead of any federal carbon policy.
No matter which way you slice it, today has been a very good day for Cleantech stakeholders.
Posted by Jason Morris on December 7, 2009 at 4:16 PM
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It's not every day one is lucky enough to see the President of the United States speak. Add in the topic (energy), timing (eve of Senate hearings on the Climate Bill) and location (MIT) and you have a seriously major event.
The crowd began lining up three hours before the scheduled start time to clear security and nab seats in the intimate (at least for a Presidential speech) Kresge Auditoium at MIT.
Once the crowd entered the warm venue (it was pretty chilly outside), the auditorium turned into a big schmoozefest (with no food or drinks, they were prohibited along with laptops from coming inside). As usual for Presidential events, things started a bit late. In this case, it was because President Obama was receiving a briefing from professors and students on new clean technolgies being developed at MIT, including wind.
President Obama entered to a rousing ovation. After a few jokes, he launched into a speech that was classic Obama--soaring language meant to inspire. One of my favorite passages:
"I'm excited being here and seeing these extraordinary young people...because it taps into something essential about America -- it's the legacy of daring men and women who put their talents and their efforts into the pursuit of discovery. And it's the legacy of a nation that supported those intrepid few willing to take risks on an idea that might fail -- but might also change the world."
But the President wasn't at MIT just to inspire. Obama used his speech as a call to action for America to innovate more rapidly and solve the energy problem, framing it as an economic imperative:
"Countries on every corner of this Earth now recognize that energy supplies are growing scarcer, energy demands are growing larger, and rising energy use imperils the planet we will leave to future generations. And that's why the world is now engaged in a peaceful competition to determine the technologies that will power the 21st century. From China to India, from Japan to Germany, nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to producing and use energy. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation."
And Obama was clearly conscious of the hurdles within the US political system that still need to be cleared, in some eyes taking the fight directly to the opposition:
"I think it's important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we'll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we're engaged in. There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy -- when it's the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs. There are going to be those who cynically claim -- make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary."
The President brought it home with more words of inspiration--"This is the nation that will lead the clean energy economy of tomorrow, so long as all of us remember what we have achieved in the past and we use that to inspire us to achieve even more in the future," and then he was done.
I was pretty sure he wouldn't work a rope line (he was already late to a Governor Deval Patrick fundraiser), but he dove in. Sensing a chance for a shake, I rushed up and extended my hand. Sure enough, I got my first Presidential shake.
A fantastic finish to a great day...but more importantly, the cleantech community received indisputable scientific evidence that President Obama is a huge supporter of innovation's role in solving the energy problem.
Tags: cleantech pr
, Climate bill
Posted by Mike Farber on October 24, 2009 at 7:13 AM
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On the heels of the spectacular A123 IPO, President Barack Obama's "major" energy policy speech tomorrow at MIT keeps the cleantech spotlight on New England. It's a great validator for what I (and many others) believe about New England's role in the cleantech economy--we've got some some of world's biggest brains and it is through scientific innovation at places likes MIT that we'll solve the energy problem.
By simple virtue of its timing the speech is a big deal. As The New York Times reports, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (aka the Climate Bill) is finally ready for take-off:
"Obama's speech in Cambridge, Mass., comes the same day that U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson plans to release the agency's economic and environmental analysis of the climate bill (S. 1733 (pdf)) from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). With the EPA analysis in hand, Boxer is set to begin a three-day series of hearings in her Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday, Oct. 27, with testimony from Kerry, Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff."
Two of tomorrow's most interested spectators represent one of the other big assets New England brings to the cleantech economy: the strength and leadership of our Congressional delegation. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is heading the energy push from the House and Sen. Kerry is the lead sponsor of the Senate legislation.
For the cleantech economy to truly take off, there needs to be cooperation between the private sector, government and academia. Tomorrow's event represents one of the highest-profile examples yet of how the three constituencies intertwine...and it's happening here in New England.
, Climate bill
Posted by Mike Farber on October 22, 2009 at 3:08 PM
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