Climate 2.0: What Is Expected of Business Now?

Business at large has only recently awakened to climate change—really just within the last 10 years. It started slowly, following the 1997 adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, and then it picked up speed after the development of industry-accepted greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring and reporting standards such as 2001’s GHG Protocol and 2003’s Carbon Disclosure ProjectContinue reading “Climate 2.0: What Is Expected of Business Now?”

Taking Ethics to the Cloud

Just a decade ago, it would have been hard for all but the most tech-savvy to imagine the extent of cloud computing today. A complex system of data centers worldwide that store, process, and deliver information on demand over the internet, the cloud provides users with resources, applications, and information that they previously would haveContinue reading “Taking Ethics to the Cloud”

When Policy Fails on Climate, What Can Business Do? BSR’s 2012 Climate Initiatives

As 2011 draws to a close, we have registered a record year for weather disasters following the largest-ever jump in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the carbon intensity of the world’s fastest-growing economies is only rising. Following the inconclusive end of the UN climate talks in Durban, there is also little reason left to believeContinue reading “When Policy Fails on Climate, What Can Business Do? BSR’s 2012 Climate Initiatives”

The Best Features of the New Scope 3 Emissions Standard

Earlier this month, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol launched its Value Chain (Scope 3) Standard, establishing a common way for companies to define and measure their total greenhouse gas impacts, risks, and opportunities — including those that are beyond the company’s direct operating control but that may represent the most significant impacts on the price andContinue reading “The Best Features of the New Scope 3 Emissions Standard”

4 Ways Companies Should Adapt to Climate Change

Consider the following three developments: In the Arctic, the Northwest Passage is growing in size every year, creating new competition for faster shipping and resource exploration, and new engineering and safety challenges. In California, the number of seniors dying from heat-related issues is set to rise sharply in coming decades, creating new challenges for health-careContinue reading “4 Ways Companies Should Adapt to Climate Change”

Why Solar Should Care About Sustainability

Solar power is a poster child of sustainability, at least from the standpoint of energy users. It provides a clean alternative to GHG-emitting fossil fuels and runs indefinitely on free energy from the sun. What more, then, is there to the sustainability of solar energy? Plenty, and the industry’s largest gathering, Intersolar, which I attendedContinue reading “Why Solar Should Care About Sustainability”

Helping Business Adapt to Climate Change

As climate change sets in, its impacts — increasing severity of storms and weather disasters, receding snow and rivers, advancing deserts, and more frequent landslides and floods — will test companies’ ability to effectively deliver high-quality products and services. In response, BSR is launching a series of briefs to illustrate how these changes will affectContinue reading “Helping Business Adapt to Climate Change”

A Sneak Peek at the New Rules for Supply Chain Footprinting

The art and science of carbon footprinting is about to take a step forward: The long-awaited launch of guidance for managing network and product lifecycle impacts is just around the corner. If that’s news to you — and you have anything to do with managing a business with a significant supply chain — here’s yourContinue reading “A Sneak Peek at the New Rules for Supply Chain Footprinting”

Moment Has Arrived for Business in Climate Negotiations

Though hopes for Cancun are modest, we are in a phase of climate progress. Recently, all major emitting countries updated their emissions-reductions commitments through the Copenhagen Accord, and rich nations have pledged US$30 billion for long-term finance. China is coming around, finally acknowledging that it is the number one emitter of greenhouse gasses, and sayingContinue reading “Moment Has Arrived for Business in Climate Negotiations”

BSR at Cancun: What We’re Watching at the Climate Talks

The sixteenth annual UN climate treaty negotiations are underway in Cancun, Mexico, where my colleague Joyce Wong and I are looking for insights on how business can take the lead ahead of slow-moving governments.  We’re also investigating topics like how companies can best adapt to climate change and motivate people for more climate sustainable consumption.Continue reading “BSR at Cancun: What We’re Watching at the Climate Talks”

Why Russia is the Land of Opportunity for Climate Action

Managers who want to lead on climate and energy should be looking carefully at Russia, where President Dmitry Medvedev has decreed a 40 percent reduction in energy intensity over the next decade. The potential for scale is immense: Russia is one of the most inefficient countries in the world, the third-highest emitter of greenhouse gasesContinue reading “Why Russia is the Land of Opportunity for Climate Action”

Making Customers Behave: Download from the Behavior, Energy, & Climate Change Conference

I just returned from the sold-out Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference, a three-day event examining ways to understand decision making on climate and energy. Here are a few ideas I took away: There’s opportunity in teaching climate awareness. Gallup’s Anita Pugliese and George Mason University’s (GMU) Ed Maibach and Connie Roser-Renouf all pointed toContinue reading “Making Customers Behave: Download from the Behavior, Energy, & Climate Change Conference”

Understanding the Benefits of CSR

This week, I spoke on the panel “ROI and the Triple Bottom Line: Can Companies Do Well by Doing Good?,” the first webinar in a series by Social Media Today. I shared thoughts on how to understand the benefits of CSR, and here’s what I covered. First, the basics: What is CSR? CSR is theContinue reading “Understanding the Benefits of CSR”

The Latest CDP Results Reveal the Rise of Scope 3 Reporting

Last month’s release of the Global 500 Report, Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) annual summary of climate reporting by the world’s 500 largest companies, gives the most insight to date on corporations’ reporting about climate change and their supply chains. What does it tell us? First, the number of companies reporting on their supply chains continuesContinue reading “The Latest CDP Results Reveal the Rise of Scope 3 Reporting”

FTC’s New Anti-Greenwashing, Good-for-Business Green Guides

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has released its long-awaited draft guidance on environmental marketing. The so-called “Green Guides” tell companies how to prevent misleading customers—and avoid FTC actions against them. Why now? The FTC says consumers are confused about environmental claims such as “sustainable” or “offset,” which lack consistent rules for usage. In response,Continue reading “FTC’s New Anti-Greenwashing, Good-for-Business Green Guides”

3 Surefire Steps to Bring Climate Transparency to Your Supply Chain

With the release of guidance on supply chain reporting by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol just around the corner, companies will soon have more clarity on how to manage “Scope 3” emissions.  At the same time, companies such as HP and others in BSR’s Energy Efficiency Partnership are working with a growing number of suppliers onContinue reading “3 Surefire Steps to Bring Climate Transparency to Your Supply Chain”

BSR Kicks Off New Energy Management Collaboration…and Just in Time

I’ve just returned from China where I attended the launch of BSR’s Energy Efficiency Partnership (EEP), a working group of 11 member companies working with 80 of their suppliers on energy management. Participants discussed the many reasons why this is an important—and urgent—issue for their companies. Starbucks’ Director of Ethical Sourcing Kelly Goodejohn explained inContinue reading “BSR Kicks Off New Energy Management Collaboration…and Just in Time”

How Businesses Can Plan for the Unpredictability of Climate Change

With managers across industries under pressure to develop sophisticated views about how climate change will impact their companies, it might seem natural to look to the insurance industry for guidance on how to act and communicate about risks and opportunities. After all, with climate change threatening to increase the severity of humanitarian crises, economic disruptions,Continue reading “How Businesses Can Plan for the Unpredictability of Climate Change”

Five Lessons from Walmart’s Supply Chain Work in China

Late in 2008, following Walmart Vice Chairman (now CEO) Mike Duke’s announcement that the company would improve the energy efficiency of its top 200 China-based suppliers by 20 percent by 2012, Walmart enlisted BSR to help launch its first supply chain energy-efficiency efforts in China. From our post in Walmart’s Shenzhen global procurement headquarters, weContinue reading “Five Lessons from Walmart’s Supply Chain Work in China”

Simple Tools for Effective Climate Reporting

With the fiscal year drawing to a close for many companies, it’s writing season for corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports. As usual, reports provide a medium for communicating to investors who want to see companies creating value, customers who want to know which companies and products are leaders versus laggards, and watchdogs looking for inconsistencies.Continue reading “Simple Tools for Effective Climate Reporting”

Going for the Cold: What the Vancouver Games Can Teach Us About Adaptation to Global Warming

When the winter Olympics kicked off virtually snowless last week, the record heat was due not only to El Niño, said Tim Gayda, vice president of the Vancouver Organizing Committee, but to “something else that nobody understands at this point.” Though his hesitation to mention climate change raised eyebrows, pointing fingers at the cause doesn’tContinue reading “Going for the Cold: What the Vancouver Games Can Teach Us About Adaptation to Global Warming”

10 Climate Trends That Will Shape Business in 2010

As 2010 begins, there are looming questions about climate change action: Will the political agreement made in Copenhagen in 2009 be developed by the next “COP” meeting to include detailed targets and rules? Will those targets and rules be binding? What will happen with the U.S. Senate’s vote on cap-and-trade? Will U.S. public opinion aboutContinue reading “10 Climate Trends That Will Shape Business in 2010”

What Happened at COP15

As BSR predicted, COP15 came down to hard bargaining between the United States and China, and the event materialized as much less of an end to climate policy than as a beginning. This turned out to be an understatement: no binding commitment was reached, and it is increasingly clear that an effective agreement will takeContinue reading “What Happened at COP15”

Here’s a Plan B

Our global climate agenda may need a Plan B, but if we are to choose the right one, some popular misconceptions need to be clarified. Fossil fuels are not cheap. Utility bills and per-gallon prices are just the tip of the iceberg of our energy costs. Governments pay hundreds of billions of dollars every yearContinue reading “Here’s a Plan B”

Corporate Climate Leadership at Copenhagen

On my third day at COP15, I presented at the International Emissions Trading Association panel, “Corporate Climate Leadership,” where I said that companies should consider three leadership activities: 1. Reach out to your key suppliers and ask them to improve their carbon efficiency. This will most likely mean focusing on energy, which drives two-thirds orContinue reading “Corporate Climate Leadership at Copenhagen”

Information, Please! The Knowledge Crux at Copenhagen

I spent half of my first day at COP15 in line, mostly outside, in the cold. But I was one of the lucky ones to eventually emerge inside the Bella convention center. Others waited for six hours or more only to be turned away at the door (if they even made it that far). IContinue reading “Information, Please! The Knowledge Crux at Copenhagen”

Postcards from the climate negotiations in Copenhagen

I chose Thunderbird for my MBA largely because I knew that it was ahead of the game on two megatrends: globalization and sustainability. As a student, I found that the school delivered, preparing me for a career to take on these issues and the broad, difficult managerial decision making needed for research and innovation inContinue reading “Postcards from the climate negotiations in Copenhagen”

Mountains: The Bellwethers of Climate Change

Today is International Mountain Day. And in flat Denmark, the role of mountains is getting more attention as part of the international climate negotiations. Some prominent mountain-oriented activities at COP 15 include: Bhutan’s campaign to raise awareness about the increasing frequency of glacial lake outburst floods, the alpine equivalent of tsunamis that occur when naturalContinue reading “Mountains: The Bellwethers of Climate Change”

Real Climate Leadership and The Rules of Policy Engagement

As negotiators gather in Copenhagen next month to discuss a global climate policy framework, there has never been a better time for companies to influence policy instruments that could dramatically affect the future of climate change. Business’ management of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is already improving. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (PDF), more thanContinue reading “Real Climate Leadership and The Rules of Policy Engagement”

A Green Supply Chain Starts in China

As companies work to reduce their carbon footprint, the easiest steps to take are often the closest to home. Yet for companies with global operations or supply chains, the biggest practical wins are likely to be found in improving energy efficiency of owned and supplier facilities overseas, where they have the ability to multiply impactsContinue reading “A Green Supply Chain Starts in China”

Dispatch from Hong Kong: Will We Ever See Big-Picture Climate Accounting?

This week in Hong Kong, ASrIA held a press conference that covered two arenas of business climate action that, disappointingly, have yet to mix. The first was Carbon Disclosure Project’s 2009 Asia report, which announced that the number of companies reporting on emissions has doubled from the previous year, up to 127. This study, muchContinue reading “Dispatch from Hong Kong: Will We Ever See Big-Picture Climate Accounting?”

Three Ways Climate Action Offers a Business Advantage

Building on BSR’s article last month on why climate change matters for every company, managers should be aware of some important, and very specific, opportunities for creating business value while promoting climate stability. First, the good news: It’s not mechanically hard to manage greenhouse gases (GHG), the key ingredient to climate change. There’s a sayingContinue reading “Three Ways Climate Action Offers a Business Advantage”

Why Climate Change Will Matter to Every Company

BSR has recently fielded inquiries from a range of member companies asking how climate change is relevant to their business. The timing of these questions is obvious: With prospective climate change legislation and policy discussions in the United States and elsewhere, intensive international negotiations culminating later this year, and ongoing stakeholder interest, companies are scramblingContinue reading “Why Climate Change Will Matter to Every Company”

A Business Guide to Managing U.S.-China Climate Relations

Earlier this year, we noted several factors that are key to staying on the critical path to an effective climate treaty: The U.S. must enact serious climate legislation, both China and the U.S. would have to ratchet up their respective commitments, and the U.S. Senate needs to ratify the international treaty produced by negotiations inContinue reading “A Business Guide to Managing U.S.-China Climate Relations”

Waxman-Markey and the Business Case for Strong Climate Policy

In light of the disappointing outcomes at the recent G8 negotiations on climate, many now see the U.S. Senate’s forthcoming deliberations over America’s first-ever cap-and-trade law (the American Clean Energy and Security Act, or Waxman-Markey), as the next big step on the road to Copenhagen. Strong, networked national policies such as the U.S. bill areContinue reading “Waxman-Markey and the Business Case for Strong Climate Policy”

The Nexus of Climate Change and Human Rights

Though climate change and human rights are important corporate responsibility issues on their own terms, they are increasingly interrelated.  As our global climate destabilizes, there will be an increase in water stress, food scarcity, the prevalence and intensity of diseases, and the loss of homelands and jobs around the world. In turn, climate change isContinue reading “The Nexus of Climate Change and Human Rights”

Whose Carbon Is It? The ABCs of Counting Emissions in Your Supply Chain

Many companies have started scrambling to understand their indirect emissions — specifically, emissions in their supply chain — and for good reason. According to a report by McKinsey that examined consumer goods makers, high-tech players, and other manufacturers, 40 to 60 percent of their total carbon footprint resides upstream in their supply chain. Knowing aboutContinue reading “Whose Carbon Is It? The ABCs of Counting Emissions in Your Supply Chain”

What New Climate Change Policies Will Mean for Your Business

To read about policy developments taking place this year, see “Looking for Signs Along the Road to Copenhagen.” Listen to advice from Ryan on positioning your business at “Reading the Tea Leaves of Evolving Climate Change Policy.”] As global leaders prepare to negotiate an updated version of the Kyoto Treaty at the U.N. Climate ChangeContinue reading “What New Climate Change Policies Will Mean for Your Business”

Field Notes: Helping Guide GHG Protocol’s “Scope 3”

As BSR goes to press with “Looking for Signs Along the Road to Copenhagen,” the debate about whose emissions are whose and what constitutes progress is heating up. It is going to get hotter, because it looks more likely that the WTO will enforce prospective border measures on carbon. Hopefully, the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol’sContinue reading “Field Notes: Helping Guide GHG Protocol’s “Scope 3””

Looking for Signs Along the Road to Copenhagen

The path to a new international climate change treaty is filled with potential twists and turns that will impact how businesses operate in a carbon-constrained economy. United Nations climate negotiations are planned in Bonn later this month, a U.S. House of Representatives climate bill is expected by May, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greenhouse GasContinue reading “Looking for Signs Along the Road to Copenhagen”

Climate Change Lessons from the Slopes

A recent study presented at last month’s American Geophysical Union conference holds chilling news for the $2 billion U.S. ski industry: Climate change might end skiing in Aspen and Park City by 2100. It stands to reason that if the snow pack dries up, the ski industry could, too. But the study from Mark WilliamsContinue reading “Climate Change Lessons from the Slopes”

Five Reasons You Should Consider Generating Your Own Green Energy

Over the past six months, oil prices have plunged more than 50 percent, renewable energy company asset values have taken an even bigger dive, and financial institutions have collapsed completely, leading to a worldwide credit crunch. Is this really the best time for your company to be thinking about generating renewable energy onsite? Before answering,Continue reading “Five Reasons You Should Consider Generating Your Own Green Energy”

Creating Systemic Change: Lessons from Responsible Labor

Just one decade ago, the public was appalled to learn that children were producing Nike’s soccer balls in Pakistan, and the company was swiftly targeted by numerous high-profile, antagonistic NGO campaigns. Since then, more companies have come under fire by NGOs publicizing alleged corporate social and environmental abuses. Yet Nike — along with a handfulContinue reading “Creating Systemic Change: Lessons from Responsible Labor”

A-B-C-Design: Engaging the Whole Company in Developing Sustainable Products

Given the sheer number of items we purchase, use and throw away every year, it’s no surprise that consumer products are the ultimate drivers of carbon emissions. In that context, product design is critical for addressing climate change. As the concentration point for a large set of decisions about human and material resource flows, productContinue reading “A-B-C-Design: Engaging the Whole Company in Developing Sustainable Products”

The Difference Between Product and Supply Chain Footprinting

As more companies gain carbon management experience, they are expanding work from their scope of direct operations to a broader sphere of influence. Expansion is happening through two main efforts — product footprinting and supply chain footprinting, both of which are based on broadening from the organization to the inter-organizational value chain system. Each hasContinue reading “The Difference Between Product and Supply Chain Footprinting”