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.

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August 2011
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Syndication

The future of global energy production is shaping up to be one of the most important and complicated issues of our time. From limited traditional fuel sources like oil and coal to newer, cleaner energy like wind, solar and bio-mass, nothing is off the table when it comes to meeting the growing global demand for energy. And while the energy market is increasingly global, the debate over the sustainability of our energy use is rooted in regional geographies, statewide politics and local communities – those affected by discreet projects and those that will be most affected by climate impacts.

To shed some light on just how complex and nuanced these energy issues are, we focus on the state of Montana – which shares the largest coal deposits in the U.S. (along with Wyoming), is at the top of ranks in terms of wind generating capacity and is home to one of the largest shale oil deposits in the country.

In the third and final episode of our Montana Energy Series, speak with Tom Darin, Western Regional Representative for the American Wind Energy Association – AWEA. Despite Montana's wind generating potential, project developers are wary of building large wind farms where there isn't enough infrastructure and power lines to properly distribute and export clean energy. Darin is working with everyone from policymakers to local farmers to help create a viable wind market that would bring jobs and investments to Montana's economy.

[Music: Phillip Aaberg, "Keep Walkin" from Blue West (Sweet Grass, 2005); Broadcast, "Tender Buttons" from Tender Buttons (Warp Records, 2005)]

Direct download: Tom_Darrin_102611.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:54am EDT

Montana's Energy Future (Part Two): Differing Perspectives on the Energy Economy of the Rocky Mountain West

The future of global energy production is shaping up to be one of the most important and complicated issues of our time. From limited traditional fuel sources like oil and coal to newer, cleaner energy like wind, solar and bio-mass, nothing is off the table when it comes to meeting the growing global demand for energy. And while the energy market is increasingly global, the debate over the sustainability of our energy use is rooted in regional geographies, statewide politics and local communities – those affected by discreet projects and those that will be most affected by climate impacts.

To shed some light on just how complex and nuanced these energy issues are, we focus on the state of Montana – which shares the largest coal deposits in the U.S. (along with Wyoming), ranks fifth among states for potential wind energy production and is home to one of the largest domestic oil shale deposits.

In the second episode of this three part series, we speak with Gloria Flora, former U.S. Forest Supervisor and founder and Director of Sustainable Obtainable Solutions, an organization dedicated to the sustainability of public lands. Gloria recently co-authored a report on how Montana can become energy self-reliant through renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation and is championing something known as 'biochar' as a possible carbon-negative energy source.

To learn more about Gloria Flora's work, visit the US Biochar Initiative homepage at www.biochar-us.org. And stay tuned in the next few weeks to hear the final installment in this series, a conversation with regional wind expert Tom Darin on the Montana wind market.

[Music: Phillip Aaberg, "Keep Walkin" from Blue West (Sweet Grass, 2005); Vampire Weekend, "White Skies" from Contra (XL, 2010)]

Direct download: Flora_091311.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:22pm EDT

Montana's Energy Future (Part 1): Differing Perspectives on the Energy Economy of the Rocky Mountain West

The future of global energy production is shaping up to be one of the most important and complicated issues of our time. From limited traditional fuel sources like oil and coal to newer, cleaner forms energy like wind, solar and bio-mass, nothing is off the table when it comes to meeting the growing global demand for energy. And while the energy market is increasingly global, the debate over the sustainability of our energy use is rooted in regional geographies, statewide politics and local communities – those affected by discreet projects and those that will be most affected by climate impacts. To shed some light on just how complex and nuanced these energy issues are, we focus on the state of Montana – which shares the largest coal deposits in the U.S. (along with Wyoming), ranks 5th amongst states for potential wind energy production and is home to one of the largest domestic oil shale deposits.
 
In this three part series, we talk with the Governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer, former US Forest Service Supervisor and environmental activist Gloria Flora and Western Representative for the American Wind Energy Association Tom Darin, about the future of low carbon and high carbon energy developments in Montana.
 
For the first episode, we talk with Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Now in his second term as Governor, Schweitzer, is keen to kick America’s dependency on foreign countries for our fuel supplies. His keynote speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention highlighted the risks and costs to the American public of relying on foreign countries lead predominantly by dictators to meet U.S. energy demands. According to Schweitzer, Montana’s resources offer a homegrown  solution out of this geopolitical trap.

[Music: Phillip Aaberg, "Keep Walkin" from Blue West (Sweet Grass, 2005); Neil Young, "Vampire Blues" from On the Beach (Reprise, 1974)]

Direct download: Schweitzer_082211.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:52am EDT

Growing water scarcity in many parts of the United States is a hidden financial risk not only for companies who rely on massive amounts of water to operate their business, but also for investors who buy the water and electric utility bonds that finance much of the country's vast water and power infrastructure. Las Vegas, which gets 90% of its water from nearby Lake Mead, could lose their entire drinking supply overnight due to receding lake levels and increased drought – affecting the communities and industries that rely on that water for everything from drinking to generating enough power to light up the strip. Similar scenarios across the country are forcing companies, municipalities and investors to re-evaluate current and future risks to our water supply, including the high costs associated with finding new and better ways to get water to the places that need it.

This episode, we are joined by Ceres’ own Sharlene Leurig, senior manager of Ceres’ insurance program and author of the report The Ripple Effect: Water Risk in the Municipal Bond Market. The report evaluates and ranks water scarcity risks for public water and power utilities in some of the country's most water-stressed regions, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas and Atlanta. Listen in as Sharlene explains the findings of the report and the hidden risks that water scarcity poses to investors, companies and municipalities.

[Music: Gramatik, "Afternoon Soul" from Water 4 Soul EP (Cold Busted, 2009); I am David Sparkle, "Dance of Death" from This is the New (KittyWu Records, 2007)]

Direct download: Boiling_Point_020111.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:23pm EDT

Reducing carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of climate change and help usher in a clean energy economy has been a contentious issue for companies and governments alike. Despite the failure of Congress to regulate carbon emissions nation-wide, the state of California is earning credibility as an economic and governance innovator by forging ahead with its own carbon-cutting legislation.

In 2006, California passed Assembly Bill 32 – The Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. After a failed attempt by the oil and gas industry to delay implementation of AB32 through a ballot initiative in the last election, the state is starting to employ carbon reduction strategies this year.

In this episode, we’re joined by Kevin Kennedy, executive officer of California’s Air Resources Board’s climate division and main architect of the bill’s cap-and-trade rules. Kennedy describes the process and progress on climate policy in California and what it might mean for carbon management in the rest of the country.

[Music: Debashish Bhattacharya, "Amrit Andand" from Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide-Guitar Odyssey (Riverboat, 2008); Beach House, "Zebra" from Teen Dream (Sub Pop, 2010)]

Direct download: California_Dreaming_012511.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:16pm EDT