Top Stories

October 24, 2014


EU leaders agree to cut greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030

European leaders have struck a broad climate change pact, obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030. But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global UN climate summit in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions about the realisation of the aims. In addition, two 27% targets were agreed – for renewable energy market share and increase in energy efficiency improvement. While the former would be binding to the EU as a whole, the latter would be optional, although it could be raised to 30% by a review in 2020. The Brussels summit was dominated by arguments over energy savings and climate policy, with countries from Poland to Portugal pleading special circumstances and threatening to veto any breakthrough unless their demands were met. Tony Robson, CEO of leading insulation firm Knauf Insulation, said that the 27% figure for energy efficiency improvement was “no better than business as usual”. A 27% target “sends a strong signal to the energy efficiency industry to ‘leave Europe and make your investments elsewhere’”, he wrote. (The Guardian)


Report: More women joining new generation of Chief Sustainability Officers

A new report published by Weinreg Group Sustainability Recruiting documents major shifts in the ranks of America’s Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs). Since the publication of the last report in 2011, 15 companies added CSO positions to their executive teams. Women now make up 42% of CSOs, a 53% share leap in three years. Ever since the appointment of the first CSO in 2008, the US ranks have grown to a total of 36 today. The new and incoming generation of CSOs will be for the first time faced with sustainability as a business imperative. According to the Weinreb Group, the CSOs responsibilities have expanded from internal programme management to strategy development and marketplace outreach. Today, CSOs – once focused on internal operational improvements – are key drivers of product innovation, value creation and competitive advantage. (CSR Wire)

Renewable Energy

3M, Cisco Systems, Kimberly-Clark offer employees home solar financing

Leading corporations 3M, Cisco Systems, and Kimberly-Clark Corporation have partnered with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)  and the National Geographic Society to offer their employees so-called “instant” solar financing on their home solar systems. The idea is to take advantage of bulk-order group purchasing power to reduce costs, and to vet one standout solar company to manage the financing. Originally developed by WWF, the new solar financing deal provides employees with a flat rate that is about 35 percent lower than the current US average and about 50 percent lower than average electricity rates. The solar financing angle is based on a power purchase agreement, which means that the property owner pays nothing up front, with the installation paid off through the monthly electricity bill. For companies seeking to attract and keep sustainability-minded employees, offering a discount on energy deals is a significant perk with virtually zero costs. (Triple Pundit)


Marks & Spencer launches UK’s largest rooftop solar project

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced it is fitting the UK’s largest single-roof solar system on its East Midlands distribution centre in Castle Donington, to be completed in early 2015. The 24,000-panel structure will lower M&S’s carbon footprint by 48,000 tonnes over the next 20 years, generating enough energy to make the automated distribution centre almost self-sufficient in daylight. The project will take the British retailer one step closer to fulfilling its commitment to ensure 50% of the electricity used in its building operations comes from small scale renewable sources by 2020. That pledge forms part of M&S’s ‘Plan A’ commitment, through which it aims to become the world’s most sustainable major retailer. The announcement comes the day after a report by Solarcentury and commercial estate agent JLL found that commercial rooftop solar installations can reduce building running costs, help meet government targets for building performance and increase the value of a property by providing additional income streams. (Edie)

Responsible Investment

Green bond market predicted to grow to $100bn in 2015

The green bond market continued to experience strong growth in the third quarter of 2014 and is expected to reach £62 billion in 2015, projects the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), an international, investor-focused nonprofit. The green bond market encompasses various different areas from renewable energy to solutions to environmental degradation. According to CBI’s Green Bonds Underwriters League Table, green bonds issued in 2014 amount to £19.9bn, the biggest year yet. Crédit Agricole and Bank of America Marrill Lynch (BAML) top the table, with both banks involved in over £87 million of deals during the third quarter of 2014. Climate Bonds Initiative CEO Sean Kidney said, “The league table shows that Crédit Agricole and BAML were the main drivers of the growth of the ‘labelled’ markets in the last quarter that saw 28 green bonds issued. We predict $100 billion of issuance in 2015 and green bonds to go mainstream in 2016.”(Blue & Green Tomorrow)


Image Source: “Belchatow-elektrownia” by  Pibwl /CC BY-SA 3.0