Ceres Sustainability Podcast
An ongoing conversation with investors, corporations, policy makers and public interest groups about how they are adapting business strategies and financial markets to address the risks and opportunities of climate change and other sustainability issues.









May 2010
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Ready for REDD+: Connecting Forests to Carbon Emissions Markets

Paying people to not cut down forests? Sounds like an odd business model, but it is one that is gaining ground as governments, companies and advocates try to address reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Right now, eighteen percent of global carbon dioxide emissions come from cutting, burning and degrading the world’s forests, especially in the tropics – making protection of our forests a crucial part of our strategies to mitigate climate change. Just last month, the Voluntary Carbon Standard approved its first methodology to quantify the benefits of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation – known as REDD in the carbon market world.

In this episode, we are joined by Dorjee Sun, CEO of Carbon Conservation, a forest carbon financing and management company, to talk about the work his company is doing to protect forests and help get these carbon reduction markets out of the woods. 

[Music: Delicate Steve, "The Ballad of Speck and Pebble" from Wondervisions (Smallboypants, 2009); Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Details of the War" from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, 2005)]

Direct download: Ready_for_REDD_091610.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:28pm EDT

In the aftermath of the financial collapse, big investors are returning to some market fundamentals -- abandoning flimsy derivatives for tried and true physical assets. One of the concrete investments investors are eyeing is infrastructure. Specifically, renewable energy infrastructure.

The renewable energy market is poised to explode in the coming years, and is already booming in countries like China, Brazil and Germany. And investors are eager to tap into it. Although a price on carbon -- which would give renewables the punctuated equilibrium needed to free up investment dollars and scale up new energy sources in the U.S. -- is currently on the back burner, the renewable energy market hasn't stalled out. It's not even slowing down.

In this episode, Bill Green, Managing Director of Macquarie Capital's renewable infrastructure investing team, explains the world of renewable energy infrastructure and makes the business case for why scaling up the physical infrastructure for renewable energy is a good bet for investors even in the absence of an immediate price on carbon.

[Music: Mr. Lif, "Ol' Crew" from Superrappin Vol. 2 Instrumental (Groove Attack, 2004); Guns and Roses, "Rocket Queen" from Appetite for Destruction (Geffen, 1987)]

Direct download: Bill_Green_080510.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:39pm EDT

In Hot Water: The Trouble with the Virtual Water Trade and the Role of Corporations, Investors and Governments in Solving the World Water Crisis.

Water is essential for life, but it's also essential for our economy. We all use water for drinking, bathing, watering crops and gardens, and so on. But a surprising amount of water use is bound up in the products we purchase and consume from corporations. Chemical manufacturing, energy production, mineral extraction and commercial farming all require massive amounts of water to run viable businesses, and they often take water locally to make products that get sold internationally.

But countries and companies have few contingency plans for what happens if this virtual trade in water runs dry -- which could happen sooner rather than later according to a recent World Bank report that predicts the demand of water will outstrip supply by 40% in the next 20 years.

This episode, we are joined by Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, to talk about the virtual global water trade, how it affects local communities as well as multinational corporations and what companies, investors and governments need to do to avert the global water crisis.

[Music: Madlib, "Slim's Return" from Shades of Blue (Blue Note, 2003); Animal Collective, "Brother Sport" from Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino Recording, 2009), Photo: Flickr user pdkliment]

Direct download: Maude_Barlow_062910.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

Re-Energizing America: How Passing Climate and Energy Legislation Can Keep the U.S. Competitive in the Global Race for Energy

Almost a year after the U.S. House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act and after months of planning and preparation, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) released the American Power Act. This is a significant step forward, but as time keeps ticking oil is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico at an alarming rate and other countries like Germany, China and Brazil are grabbing attention for their advances in renewable energy markets like offshore wind farms and solar power. The risks to our environment and economy are already in place. So just what is taking the United States so long to pass comprehensive climate and energy policy? And what are the possible ramifications - both environmental and economical - facing us if we fail to act?

In this episode, we speak with Kevin Parker, Global Head of Deutsche Asset Management, about the need for a strong regulatory environment that will spur energy investment here in the U.S. instead of sending investment dollars outside our borders.

[Music: LCD Soundsystem, "Someone Great" from The Sound of Silver [Capitol, 2007]; DJ Shadow, "You Can't Go Home Again," from You Can't Go Home Again/Disavowed/Treach Beat (MCA, 2002)]


Direct download: Kevin_Parker_Deutsche_052410.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:48am EDT

Investing in Sustainability: Integrating Corporate Sustainability Performance into Institutional Investment Strategies

As the possibility of living in a carbon constrained world becomes more and more a reality, many companies are rethinking their business models and integrating sustainability factors into their business models to address the environmental and social risks they face. But companies are not the only ones that need to put sustainability at the top of their agenda. Investors are growing increasingly aware of the risks that climate change, water scarcity, workplace conditions and other sustainability issues present to companies’ bottom lines. Some of these investors, like the California State Teachers' Retirement System – the largest U.S. teacher’s retirement fund and second largest U.S. public pension fund – are not only telling companies to minimize these environmental and social risks in their business plans, but are actually taking proactive steps to ensure that their own investment practices embrace sustainability from the top down. in this episode we’re joined by Jack Ehnes Chief Executive Officer of CalSTRS to talk about the role investors play in creating sustainable companies – and how the recently released Ceres Roadmap for sustainability can be used by investors to help evaluate a company’s sustainability performance and move us closer to a more sustainable economy.

[Music: Galatic, "Tighten Your Wig," from Crazyhorse Mongoose (Volcano, 1998); Sunset Rubdown, "You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)," from Dragonslayer (Jagjaguwar, 2009)]

Direct download: Investing_042110.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:08pm EDT

Energy prices are rising, water supplies are dwindling and the population keeps growing. It's clear that the global context for business is changing -- and the race to sustainability is more important than ever before. To help companies tackle these sustainability concerns, Ceres has released the 21st Century Corporation: The Ceres Roadmap to Sustainability. The Roadmap analyzes the drivers, risks and opportunities involved in making the shift to sustainability, and details strategies and results from companies who are taking on these challenges.

In this episode, we are joined by Anne Stausboll, CEO of the California Public Employees Retirement System, Howard Rifkin, Deputy Treasurer of Connecticut, Hannah Jones, VP Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike, and Ceres’ own Andrea Moffat, to talk about how both companies and investors can use the roadmap to help move us towards a more sustainable economy.

Learn more and download the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability at www.ceres.org/ceresroadmap.

Direct download: The_Ceres_Roadmap_031810.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:09pm EDT

Facts and Fancy: The Economics of Climate Change

While Congressional action on climate and energy legislation may be in a holding pattern, debates about the costs and benefits of climate change legislation haven't stopped. In fact, these disagreements have driven a wedge between political leaders, economists and the general public, adding confusion and doubt when it comes to the merits of passing climate and energy legislation in the U.S. Will climate policy cost thousands of dollars and endanger thousands of jobs? Or will it bolster the U.S. economy, create clean American jobs and keep our country competitive as we usher in the clean energy economy? There have been plenty of studies on the matter, but attempts to distort the facts have led to confusion over the realities of the economics of climate change. So, why should we be skeptical of the doom and gloom models that climate naysayers are propagating? In this episode, we speak with John M. Reilly, Associate Director for Research at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, about the facts and fancy of climate change economics. [Music: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, "The Creole Love Call" from The Inflated Tear (Wea UK, 1967); Puff Daddy, "It's All About the Benjamins" from No Way Out (Bad Boy, 2005)]

Direct download: Facts_and_Fancy_0210.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:00am EDT