Ceres Sustainability Podcast (general)
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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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

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

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

Climate change is forcing companies, investors, and consumers to change their behaviors and attitudes about a host of issues, ranging from production to consumption to pollution. As the negative effects of climate change heat up, fears about water scarcity are beginning to flow. Dwindling water supplies are causing governments, businesses and investors to rethink the way we value what was once an abundant resource.

This week we are joined by the Jason Morrison from the Pacific Institute and Brooke Barton from Ceres. The two groups recently released a new report, Water Scarcity and Climate Change: Growing Risks for Businesses & Investors that discusses the links between climate change and water supply, how it affects companies and investors, and ways to prepare for a world of increasing water scarcity.
Direct download: WaterRiskCast032009.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:40am EDT

As Congress gears up to debate some of the furthest reaching environmental legislation it’s faced since the creation of the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, proponents and opponents are lining up to make their case for why we should or shouldn’t aggressively address climate change. And support for strong action on climate is coming from unlikely places like the boardrooms of major U.S. consumer companies that are part of BICEP, a business coalition advocating for strong climate and energy policy.

The Ceres podcast caught up with representatives of the BICEP coalition at an event in Washington DC. Listen to this interview with Sarah Severn, Director of Horizons Corporate Responsibility, Nike.
Direct download: SarahSevernforiTunes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:47am EDT

As Congress gears up to debate some of the furthest reaching environmental legislation it’s faced since the creation of the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, proponents and opponents are lining up to make their case for why we should or shouldn’t aggressively address climate change. And support for strong action on climate is coming from unlikely places like the boardrooms of major U.S. consumer companies that are part of BICEP, a business coalition advocating for strong climate and energy policy.

The Ceres podcast caught up with representatives of the BICEP coalition at an event in Washington DC. Listen to this interview with Jim Hanna, Environmental Affairs Manager at Starbucks Coffee Company.

[Music: Rattatat, "Wildcat" from Classics (XI Recordings, 2006) and Bonobo, "Transmission 94" from Days to Come (Ninja Tune, 2006)]
Direct download: JimHannaforiTunes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:42am EDT

As Congress gears up to debate some of the furthest reaching environmental legislation it’s faced since the creation of the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, proponents and opponents are lining up to make their case for why we should or shouldn’t aggressively address climate change. And support for strong action on climate is coming from unlikely places like the boardrooms of major U.S. consumer companies that are part of BICEP, a business coalition advocating for strong climate and energy policy.

The Ceres podcast caught up with representatives of the BICEP coalition at an event in Washington DC. Listen to the interview with David Douglas, Senior Vice President of Cloud Computing and Chief Sustainability Officer, Sun Microsystems.

[Music: Rattatat, "Wildcat" from Classics (XI Recordings, 2006) and Bonobo, "Transmission 94" from Days to Come (Ninja Tune, 2006)]
Direct download: DaveDouglasforiTunes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:38am EDT

As the U.S. and the world get serious about solving the energy crisis, new forms of renewable energy are being developed that could be key to eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels and ushering in a green economy. A new technology called concentrated solar power is emerging as a potentially-viable source of renewable energy and could transform the American Southwest into one of the most lucrative solar power markets around. But concentrated solar is not perfect yet.

To shed some light on the advantages and shortcomings of this new technology, we caught up with Reese Tisdale, Research Director for Renewable Power Generation at Emerging Energy Research.

Direct download: From_Concentrate__The_Next_Generation_of_Solar_Energy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:16am EDT

Chances are your pants have probably been more places than you have. From cotton grown in India, zippers manufactured in China and apparel factories in Guatemala, the apparel industry relies on a complex and sophisticated series of relations to get their clothes to a store near you - the global supply chain. But global supply chains carry serious environmental and labor challenges that apparel and other industries must attend to if they truly want to be sustainable.

Michael Kobori, Vice President of Global Supply Chains at Levi Strauss & Co. spoke with the Ceres Podcast about how the company is incorporating these issues into its sourcing decisions in order to create a more sustainable supply chain for its products.

[Music: Jack Rose, "Linden Ave Stomp" from Two Originals of Jack Rose (VHF, 2004)]

Direct download: LevisSupplyChain.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:48am EDT

Water is essential for life. We rely on it for nearly everything from simple daily uses like drinking, cleaning and cooking to large-scale commercial needs like agriculture, high-tech manufacturing and energy production. But, according to a recent report by UNESCO, if current trends continue the quantity of water available to everyone could drop by as much as 30 percent over the next 15 years. Figuring out how to balance the needs of communities, corporations and ecosystems may well be the most important sustainability challenge of the 21st Century.

This week, we talk with Jeff Connelly, VP of General Electric’s Global Supply Chain and Water and Process Technologies Division, about the technological solutions being implemented in order to conserve and recycle the earth’s most valuable resource.

[Music: Iag Bari, "Doina" from Fanfare Ciocarlia (Piranha, 2001) and The Standells, "Dirty Water" from The Live Ones! (Sundazed Music, 2001)]
Direct download: GeneralElectricWatercast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:14am EDT

Corporate disclosure of risks and liabilities is something that helps investors make informed decisions about where they put their money. A handful of institutional investors, including CalPERS, CalSTRS, the NY State Comptroller and the Florida State Board of Administration, among others, filed a petition with Ceres and the Environmental Defense Fund last September (2007) requesting that the Securities and Exchange Commission require companies to disclose risks to their businesses from climate change. The general idea is that once a risk is analyzed and disclosed, that risk will eventually get managed. The SEC petition was recently updated this June (2008).

This podcast is a "recast" of the New York City Bar Associations Environmental Law Committee Environmental Law Interview with Ceres staffer Anne Kelly, Director of Ceres Corporate Governance Program, on the original SEC petition.

[Music: Amon Tobin, "Searchers" from Out From Out Where (Ninja Tune, 2002) and Ry Cooder, "Green Dog" from My Name is Buddy (Nonesuch, 2007)]
Direct download: 072208AnneKelly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

It seems everyone is going green these days, from green investing to green marketing to green consumerism. There is no doubt that we must transition to a cleaner, greener economy if we want to avoid the worst effects of climate change. But as alternative energies and clean technologies become more popular and prevalent in society, we need a new workforce to build, maintain and support this new economy. Where will this new workforce come from? And how do we ensure that we have the labor and skills needed to support a new energy future powered by clean technologies?

Ceres recently caught up with Van Jones, President of Green for All and director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, to discuss how new technology and energy solutions to the climate crisis can also help solve urban poverty, unemployment, and inequality in our workforce.

[Music: Thievery Corporation, "Liberation Front" from The Richest Man in Babylon (Universal Music Division Barclay, 2002) and Michael Franti and Spearhead, "Yes, I Will" from Everyone Deserves Music (Reincarnate Music, 2003)]
Direct download: VanJones062308.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:25pm EDT

A growing movement of investors are pressing companies to provide more information about "off-balance" sheet issues, such as the impacts of climate change to the corporate bottom-line. Instead of just screening portfolios, or divesting stock, more and more investors in the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) community are exercising their proxy power by filing and voting on shareholder resolutions that seek to improve corporate governance and sustainability practices while ensuring profits.

Lance Lindblom is President of the Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) and a leader in the SRI movement. Lindblom talks to Ceres about how NCF leverages their $500 million foundation endowment to improve corporate accountability.

[Music: Calexico, "Fake Fur" from The Black Light (Quarterstick, 1998) and Brian Eno, "The Big Ship" from Another Green World (E.G. Records, 1975)]
Direct download: LanceLindblomMay2008.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:26pm EDT

On February 14, 2008, investors representing over $22 trillion joined Ceres and the United Nations Foundation at the UN Headquarters in New York City to discuss the physical and financial risks of climate change and the opportunities and solutions to mitigate that risk.

Presenters included Harvard University's John Holdren, Khosla Ventures' Vinod Khosla, Ceres president Mindy Lubber, United Nations Foundation president Timothy Wirth.

[Video editing and music composition by Synthesis Media (www.synthesismedia.ca)]
Direct download: InvestorSummitVideohigh.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 4:01am EDT

In the world of investments, clean technology is seen as a boutique business - but that is starting to change. This year alone, $150 billion of new capital went into new energy sectors like solar, biofuel and wind. Mainstream investment firms, like State Street Corporation with over $2 trillion in assets under management, are bringing cleantech out of the shadows.

This week we're joined by Bill Page, VP of Environmental, Social and Governance Investments at State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), to talk about the emerging cleantech market and SSGA's Global Environment Opportunity Strategy (GEOS).

[Music: Nortec Collective "Funky Tamazula" from Tijuana Sessions No. 3 (Nacional Records, 2006) and Lighting Bolt "The Faire Folk" from Ride the Skies (Load Records, 2001)]
Direct download: BillPage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:04am EDT

To mitigate the worst effects of global climate change, we need to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. One of the cheapest ways to reduce emissions is to reduce our demand for energy by promoting better efficiency in our industrial processes, our homes and our appliances. But can businesses and investors make money by reducing demand?

Diana Farrell, Director of the McKinsey Global Institute, made the case for investing in energy efficiency at the recent UN/Ceres Investor Summit on Climate Risk.

[Music: Vieux Farka Toure "Tabara" from Vieux Farka Toure (Modiba 2006) Radiohead "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" from In Rainbows (Self-release, 2007)]
Direct download: DianaFarrellonEnergyEfficiency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:06am EDT