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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October 2012
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Syndication

Supply chains are complex networks of resources, activities, technology, information, people, and organizations all involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. For many companies, improving supply chain management offers the largest opportunity for achieving increased sustainability performance – particularly in addressing issues of labor and human rights abuse. In the 1990s, the issue of human rights and supply chains became front-page news after child labor scandals in the apparel industry surfaced. As a result, customers, investors and regulators increasingly want to know that the products they purchase and underwrite are not causing undue harm to communities near and far. This three-part podcast series focuses on the ethics of supply chain management and the evolving impacts on human rights.

With the recent explosion in the market of computers, cellphones, tablets and more, human rights and corporate supply chains are once again in the limelight as the mining of minerals needed for our handheld devices have helped fuel conflict and bloodshed in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This episode looks at a recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule requiring all companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to disclose the origin of four key minerals—tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. Found in most consumer electronic devices, as well as the aerospace, automotive and heavy manufacturing sectors, these minerals contribute to ongoing political violence, illegal trafficking and devastating human rights violations in the DRC.

To gain some perspective on this new rule and how it protects human rights and impacts companies and their supply chains, we spoke with Bennett Freeman from Calvert Investments, one of the lead investors on the SEC’s conflict minerals roundtable, and Andrew O’Donovan, the president of mineral mining company Global Advanced Metals Technologies.

Direct download: Sourcing_Conflict_12.10.12.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:26pm EDT

As the physical effects of climate change increase, so do the financial risks that impact companies, investors and the communities in which they operate. Last year was marked by record-setting economic losses -- equaling USD$148 billion due to extreme weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and fires. And these events are expected to occur with more frequency as global greenhouse gas levels increase, meaning bigger economic losses in the future.

Companies and investors face significant risks from these changing weather patterns. Recent guidelines set forth by the SEC require companies to disclose risks brought on by the effects of climate change. As a result, a growing group of institutional investors and public interest groups are asking companies to disclose these risks and the steps they are taking to minimize risk from climate-related disasters.

Ceres, along with Oxfam America and Calvert Investments, released a new guide "Physical Risks from Climate Change: A guide for companies and investors on disclosure and management of climate impacts" to help improve corporate disclosure and management of financial impacts of climate change and help investors make more informed investment decisions. This week, we speak with Bennett Freeman, Senior Vice President of Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Investments about the new guide and what it means for companies and investors alike.

Download the report at www.ceres.org/reports.

[Music: "Finally Moving" by Pretty Lights on Taking Up Your Precious Time (Pretty Lights Music, 2010) and "Not Fit State" by Hot Chip from The Warning (Caroline Astralwerks-CAT, 2006)]

Direct download: Physical_Risks_Podcast_0612.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:01pm EDT

Shifting Ground: Why State Regulators Need to Adapt to America's Changing Energy Landscape

As electric utility companies face new challenges -- outdated energy infrastructure, rising fossil fuel prices, incorporating renewable energy sources -- state utility regulators have a unique and important role to play in the future of energy generation in the U.S.

State utility commissions are responsible for overseeing the practices of investor-owned utility companies, which provide the majority of our country's energy services -- everything from setting energy rates to approving utility investments and enforcing renewable portfolio standards. The decisions regulators make over the next few years will determine the future of energy utilities for years to come.

To help understand our country's emerging energy crisis and sketch out a transition plan for the next generation of electric utilities, we spoke with Ron Binz, former chairman of the Colorado Public Utility Commission and principle of Public Policy Consulting. Binz authored a new Ceres report called "Practicing Risk-Aware Electricity Regulation: What Every State Regulator Needs to Know", which looks at the role of state regulators in shaping the future of our national energy system.

Learn more and download the report here.

[Music DJ Click (ft. Estelle Goldfarb), "Hazara" from the album Delhi to Sevilla (2010, No Fridge); The Walkmen, "Victory" from the album Lisbon (2010, Fat Possum Records)]

Direct download: Binz_FINAL.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:13pm EDT

Power Play: Turning clean energy legislation into an economic windfall in the Beehive State

When eBay, the world's largest online marketplace built its first ever data center in South Jordan, Utah, it wanted to use clean energy to power much of the facility -- to both reduce its environmental impact and stabilize energy costs for company down the road. But by law, Utah didn't allow large energy consumers to buy and transmit power directly from renewable energy developers, leaving eBay with the choice of sourcing their energy needs from coal (which powers 94% of the state), or not doing business in Utah.

But eBay didn't do either of those things. Instead, the company began working with legislators, energy providers and other energy-hungry companies to create a new law that would make renewable energy available to Utah energy consumers. The attempt, Senate Bill 12, will do just that -- enabling large energy consumers such as eBay, Twitter and Oracle to enter into long-term purchase agreements with alternative energy providers, as long as no costs are passed on to other rate-payers.

The bill passed unanimously in the Utah Senate and House and will go into effect this summer. The legislation is being touted as a win-win for Utah's economy and the environment. eBay, which employs more than 1500 people in Utah alone, is already planning to build a second data center and adding nearly 2,200 jobs in the state. And other companies are taking a second look at Utah

To get a better picture of this clean energy collaboration in the Beehive State, the Ceres Podcast spoke with Dean Nelson, senior director of Global Data Center Strategy and Operations at eBay and Senator Mark Madsen, a Republican State Senator from Tooele County, Utah and lead sponsor of Senate Bill 12. 

eBay is a member of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), which is a project of Ceres. For more information, visit www.ceres.org/bicep.

[Music: Bonobo, "Animals" from Black Sands (Ninja Tune, 2010); Four Tet, "She Just Likes to Fight" from There is Love in You (Domino, 2010)]

Direct download: eBay_022812.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:00pm EDT