Jan. 9, 2015

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Natura certification marks big milestone for B Corp program

Natura, the Brazilian cosmetics company with nearly $3 billion in sales and 7,000 employees, has become the first publicly traded and billion-dollar company to become a certified B Corp. The news marks a major milestone for the B Labs-run program, which has certified nearly 2,000 companies worldwide – including Corporate Knights. Most of those companies are small, privately owned ventures. Natura ranked 23rd on CK’s 2014 Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies ranking and was the top-ranked Household and Personal Products company. The fact it has now joined the B Corp pack represents a massive breakthrough that could lure other big-name, publicly traded companies to the standard. Members of the B Corp community commit to high standards of environmental and social stewardship and transparency, and are subjected to random, periodic audits. Prior to Natura, companies such as Kickstarter and Ben and Jerry’s were among some of the better-known B Corp members.


Paulson Institute dissects China’s energy policies, future

Henry Paulson could be described as a mainstream Republican, so when the former U.S. treasury secretary and Goldman Sachs chief executive argued in a commentary last summer in favour of a U.S. carbon tax, it created a stir in conservative circles. Now the Paulson Institute, an independent think tank he founded at the University of Chicago in 2011, has released a new paper that focuses attention on China’s own carbon dilemma. Institute fellow Damien Ma argues that Chinese policy in recent years has directly responded to the urgency of the country’s energy and environment woes. The challenge, he writes, is the reality that economic growth – and therefore growth in energy demand – will continue for decades to come. How China expects to solve that conundrum makes this paper an interesting read. Meanwhile, China’s highest court this week announced it would lower how much it costs environmental groups to sue Chinese companies caught polluting air, land and water.


Sustainable jobs to get boost in 2015, says recruiter

Executive recruiter Ellen Weinreb has a commentary in the Guardian that predicts significant shifts in the sustainable job market as more companies wake up to the importance of corporate social responsibility. “Demonstrating earnestness in sustainability will be essential in 2015,” Weinreb writes. “It has already been established that consumers prefer to do business with responsible organizations. A new driver – the need to attract competitive employees – has also added pressure for companies to broadly integrate sustainability into their operations.” Weinreb adds that more chief sustainability officers are expected to report directly to the C-suite while companies are likely to embrace the use of more contract or part-time sustainability professionals.


Deutsche Bank bullish on solar stocks, despite low oil prices

There’s a strange psychology in the marketplace when it comes to energy stocks. When oil prices are low, shares of renewable energy companies tend to suffer – despite the fact that solar and wind farms are a direct replacement for coal and natural gas, not oil. But Deutsche Bank, while it recognizes this impact of low oil prices, is quite optimistic about how solar stocks will perform in 2015. Particularly, it’s bullish on SunEdison, Solar City, SunPower and Vivant Solar, with expectations that within the next 12 months shares in these companies will jump by 80 to 100 per cent. Indeed, Bloomberg New Energy Finance is reporting that clean energy investment rose for the first time in three years in 2014. “The impact of cheaper crude will be felt much more in road transport than in electricity generation,” said BNEF advisory board chair Michael Liebreich.


Oil’s slippery slope: Is the petro armour weakening?

Corporate Knights editor-in-chief Tyler Hamilton writes about the latest events that have destabilized the fossil-fuel sector, and more importantly, the once untouchable oil industry. Citing McKinsey sustainability guru Jeremy Oppenheim, Hamilton argues that the future of the fossil fuel industry will be marked by increased infighting as oil, natural gas and coal companies jockey to be the least impacted by increasingly strict carbon policies and regulations. “A sure sign of disruption in a sector is when its key players begin to turn on each other, like the survivors of a remote mountain plane crash trying to figure out who gets eaten first,” Hamilton writes. “Coal, as the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, is that flabby dude who ends up roasting in the campfire.” But all that will do is delay the inevitable, he adds, pointing out that the oil industry’s belief that humanity will dither on serious climate action is a big gamble that could sting investors.

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