Sustainability Reads: December 9- December 15

“How Bike Lanes Increase Small Business Revenue” posted an excerpt from Elly Blue’s book Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy this week, which outlined the stories of three US cities’ efforts to make better bike lanes. It also recognizes the fact that often small business owners are the ones to strongly oppose the addition of bike lanes to cities’ roads, yet they are exactly the ones that would benefit the most from them, and therefore should not oppose such actions. One of her explanations for this is the fact that “more people come there and everyone, walking, biking, or driving, has a little more freedom to look up and see what storefronts have to offer instead of focusing on staying alive” when traffic on city streets is slowed down.

“US supreme court to rule on EPA’s powers to enforce air pollution limits”
After a DC court struck down a ruling to regulate cross-state air pollution in 2012, the Supreme Court will review whether or not the EPA has the authority to do so. Regulation was the result of governors of the eight northeastern states that were affected by the air pollution signing petitions for tighter controls. The polluting states in the mid-west challenged the regulation in 2012, yet the EPA has reported that this pollution blowing into the northeast region is responsible for thousands of premature deaths and cases of childhood asthma each year. The cross-state air pollution rule facing supreme court review set new limits on nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide for 28 states. It would also force coal-fired power plants to install new pollution controls or shut down. This significant ruling is one of the Obama Administration’s efforts to impose tougher air pollution regulations.

“Harvard Study Blows Apart Obama’s Case for Natural Gas”
Harvard’s study ” Anthropogenic Emissions of Methane in the United States” found that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel extraction and processing (including oil and natural gas), contrary to pro-fracking thought, are “likely a factor of two or greater than cited in existing studies”. When looking specifically at methane, fossil fuel extraction and processing is 4.9 +/- 2.6 times larger than the global methane inventory. We now know that the methane from natural gas extraction (by hydraulic fracturing) is leaking at a rate that is putting natural gas in the same category as coal, in terms of extraction GHG emissions. This study comes out at a crucial time, when California’s Governor Jerry Brown is looking at fracking options and President Obama decides whether or not to allow fracking on public lands. By Daniel Kessler at the Huffington Post Green.

The Microsoft carbon fee: theory and practice
Internal carbon pricing is emerging as a next step for many CSR leaders. Microsoft opened up about their model which includes three primary components: setting an organizational carbon reduction policy, price on carbon, and carbon fee fund investment strategy.  These components are intertwined: price on carbon determined by the total cost of the carbon fee fund investment strategy which is set by the policy. The 5 steps:

1) Calculate your carbon impact

2) Establish a carbon reduction policy and develop an investment strategy

3) Determine your internal carbon price

4) Gain approval and establish governance and feedback loops

5) Administer the fee, communicate results, and evolve to increase impact


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