January 6, 2015

India cracks down on untreated human waste

The Indian government has installed over 500,000 new toilets over the past three months as part of its plan to eliminate open defecation across the country by 2019. The initiative, launched in October, aims to change the habits of the roughly 620 million Indians that still go to the bathroom outdoors. Yet, many citizens that have recently gained access to latrines are not using them. A study by the Delhi-based Research Institute for Compassionate Economics revealed a common misconception that latrines are less healthy than the outdoors. The Modi administration announced last week that it will begin sanitary inspections across the country to ensure compliance with the open defecation initiative. Healthcare advocates are torn as to whether forcing residents to change their habits is the most effective way to go, but everyone is in agreement that the initiative is long overdue.

 

Who’s to blame for climate change?

The fossil-fuel industry blames consumers. Consumers point their fingers at fossil-fuel suppliers. Everyone gripes at government. Figuring out who to blame for climate change is little more than a thought experiment, writes Corporate Knights’ assistant editor Ashley Renders, mostly because its causes and effects are so diffuse and rarely clear-cut. Still, figuring out where responsibility lies is critical to finding effective solutions to the problem, because we can’t win the battle unless we have a common enemy. Her conclusion: by the time we figure out who is to blame, it may be too late.

 

Could carbon pricing lead to a north-south clean energy corridor?

With talk of nation-wide carbon pricing heating up and provinces, such as Ontario and Quebec, pushing province-driven solutions, it’s worth considering the medium to long-term implications of such a scenario. A price on carbon could act as the catalyst for a massive export opportunity that would dramatically reduce North America’s greenhouse gas footprint, significantly improve air quality and create thousands of jobs. Scott Vaughan, current CEO of the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development, writes in iPolitics (subscription) that a North American carbon market would incentivize both countries to work toward displacing U.S. coal with clean Canadian electricity.

Corporate Knights has written extensively about the potential for a north-south clean energy corridor. Our most recent coverage looks at preliminary research conducted by energy consultancy London Economics International (LEI), which found that clean power generated in Canada – mostly from new wind and hydropower projects – could generate $14 billion in annual export revenues by 2030.

 

California Governor emphasizes green shift during inauguration for an unprecedented fourth term

In the aftermath of an easy re-election victory in November, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown laid out an aggressive environmental agenda that accelerates California’s shift toward clean energy. His inauguration speech focused on continued fiscal prudence and the establishment of a “rainy day fund,” which is appropriate for a state that is famous for its fiscal boom and bust cycles. He also announced a new goal for California to generate 50 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in the next fifteen years. This moved California’s clean energy transition time table up by ten years. California currently generates roughly one third of its electricity from renewables, including large hydropower dams. “We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being,” Brown said during his inauguration speech. “So far, we have been able to do that.”

 

California cap-and-trade plan grows to cover fuel retailers

Despite fierce pushback by the oil industry, California’s cap-and-trade program expanded this week to cover companies that sell fuel to drivers. Fuel retailers will be required to either provide lower-carbon fuels or buy permits for the pollution generated by the fuel that they sell. Gas prices rose slightly in California in the days following implementation of the new rule, according to the Sacramento Bee. Oil industry lobbyists have been fighting a high-profile battle for the past year over the rule change, arguing that it amounts to a hidden gas tax that could hike gas prices by as much as 75 cents per gallon.

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