[caption id="attachment_6797" align="alignleft" width="275" caption="Bearded seal - the federal government has nominated two species of seals as threatened"][/caption] The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) proposed ringed seals in the Arctic Basin and North Atlantic and bearded seals in the Pacific Ocean be protected under the Endangered Species Act. There would be four subspecies of ringed seals and two of bearded seals listed. Both seals depend on ice, or ice floes, as a hunting platform for fish, as well as a place to give birth to their pups. Yet these floes are melting and are expected to continue to melt. "It's a clear indication that climate change is happening and it's affecting habitat," said NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service's Julie Speegle. Bearded seals eat small prey found along the ocean floor, like squid and clams, so relocating from sea ice to land would endanger their ability to maintain an adequate food supply. Ringed seals are the primary prey for polar bears and dig hiding holes in the ice to escape. The Endangered Species Act had been signed into law in 1973 to shelter species in danger of extinction as a "consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation." NOAA climate models were used to predict future diminishing ice loss conditions. The government agency has a year to finalize its decision on designating the seals as a threatened species, which would require government agencies to take steps to increase the sea mammals' population and ensure that federal and commercial businesses, like gas, oil and shipping, don't further affect their habitat.
Tuesday, 07 December 2010 13:13

Supreme Court to Review Utility Emissions Case

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Can states sue electric companies for failing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? The Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case. The high-profile case, American Electric Power v. Connecticut, established in 2004 that coal-burning utilities were liable for lawsuits because of public nuisance for their contribution to global warming. The review by the Supreme Court is seen as a win for the utilities in question—American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Southern Company, Xcel Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority—as it gives them the opportunity to try reversing the lower court's decision. The power companies assert that this is not a judicial issue but a legislative one that should be handled under the EPA's Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases, essentially that the Clean Air Act trumps common law decisions. However, as explained by UCLA law professor Jonathan Zasloff:
The EPA’s regulation only applies to mobile sources, not stationary sources like power plants.  Thus—and here is the kicker—until the EPA actually starts regulating all sources of carbon dioxide, the Court said that it can’t really determine whether or not displacement has occurred. This holding is potentially significant, because it can put polluters in a real bind.  Their normal strategy is to tie up new regulations in the courts for several years—maybe until they can get a more friendly administration.  But now, the Second Circuit has told them that the only way to get rid of the public nuisance lawsuit is to let those regulations go into effect.  The judges have told the power companies to choose their poison.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the appeal in March 2011.
Monday, 06 December 2010 17:26

All’s Quiet on the COP16 Front

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Noticeably absent from this year’s UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) in Cancun, Mexico, is a sense of urgency and belief that much will get accomplished. While the usual actors of delegates, media and NGOs from around the world are here, there are fewer of all three roaming the conference centers. I hear no talk of a grand coalition compromise of the largest emitters–with or without the US on board–and the island and developing countries seem lacking in their exhortations to the rest of the world. Mostly, it is very quiet here. (Part of me wonders if our call a couple weeks ago for the US to stay home was heeded but without, as of yet, the second part of our call—that the rest of the world should stand up and cut a deal.) We knew attendance would be lower and, after the US elections and failure of Congress to pass energy and climate legislation this year, that the US role would be limited, decreasing the prospects of a grand agreement. But I have to wonder, where is the basic framework from Copenhagen? Last year, the agreement sitting on the table had the US reducing emissions by 17% by 2020, the EU another 25% and China reducing its carbon intensity by 45%. Canada was in, as were dozens of other countries, with real reductions or changes. That deal was there to be had when a hundred heads of state bombarded the place. Today, the Copenhagen (remember when it was renamed ‘Hopenhagen’?) agreement is nowhere to be seen and there is no talk of any leaders dropping in. A huge change. The overriding message from the last year is that governments simply will not provide the leadership we need to solve climate change. And it’s not just the US. The EU, Japan, China, India, Australia, Brazil and a hundred others have what they need to create a global pact to reduce emissions. China, India, Brazil and Indonesia, along with most of the hundred or developing countries stand to gain investment, jobs, development and technology transfer through a global cap and trade deal; the EU, Japan, Canada, Australia and many others gain efficiency, increase their competitiveness, reduce their reliance on imported energy, improve national security, clean the air and reduce health costs–all at much lower cost than going it alone. The deal is there. Is it complicated? Sure. So what? If they won’t lead, we must! Fair or not, the ball is back in our court to solve climate change, to get wind to cost less than coal and make efficient technologies a better deal than inefficient technologies. When you go carbon neutral with Carbonfund.org that is exactly what you are supporting. Over the next week at COP and months ahead, Carbonfund.org will be laying out the business and individual case for how to solve climate change, with or without government leadership. We are determined to make 2011 a monumental year in this fight. Stay tuned.
Friday, 03 December 2010 10:46

Fight Climate Change with Purchasing Power

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In a market economy, what we buy has the power to effect change far beyond the cash register. Join the Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) and Carbonfund.org on December 10th, from 11:00am – 12:15pm Pacific Time (2:00 – 3:15pm, Eastern Time) for a webinar about addressing climate change in purchasing decisions. If a brand of coffee becomes popular, for example, it won't sit on shelves long and stores will order more because they can rely on this brand. The coffee company will have to produce more beans to meet the demand from the stores, necessitating a bigger harvest of crops and a larger manufacturing facility to handle all this coffee. If this brew is, say, a Sumatran blend, then more shipping will be needed to bring over the beans. These steps have an impact on the carbon footprint of the end product. Tune into the webinar to learn how your business or organization’s purchasing practices can help meet your climate or environmental protection goals. RPN Director Alicia Culver will also highlight key product categories that can substantially reduce energy and GHG emissions while also saving money. Dare Wenzler, director of business development at Carbonfund.org, will describe the CarbonFree® Certified label, how it was developed, and how it can be referred to when purchasing products for government agencies and businesses. Click here to sign up for the webinar.
Thursday, 02 December 2010 14:59

5 Free Green Apps for Your Phone

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1. CauseWorld (iPhone and Android): This app works like a digital loyalty card. “Check in” with your phone when you walk into stores and businesses and instead of collecting hole punches in a card, you rack up karma points that can be used to donate to your favorite cause. For one karma point, Carbonfund.org will offset two pounds of CO2. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="CauseWorld app"][/caption] 2. Green Gas Saver (iPhone): You may have heard taking it easy on turns and acceleration will improve your car's fuel efficiency, but it's hard to always remember that behind the wheel. This app allows you to snap your iPhone or iPod Touch into a dashboard mount and receive a fuel efficiency score at the end of your trip. Green Gas Saver is also popular tool for the terrified parents of new teenage drivers. 3. Find Green (iPhone and Android): Formerly known as 3rdWhale, Find Green helps you do just that. The GPS-powered app pinpoints your location and directs you to nearby green and sustainable businesses. With over 60,000 listings, you can flip through everything from retail to food to leisure and then decide if you want a location that’s in driving, biking or walking distance. 4. GoodGuide (iPhone): For conscientious consumers puzzling over two seemingly identical dish soaps, the GoodGuice app allows you to scan the barcode on over 50,000 products to instantly receive detailed ratings for the health, environment and social responsibility record for food, toys, personal care and household products. You can also use the app to pull up ranked lists for products, like the 10 best air fresheners. 5. Energy Savings Calculator (Android): If you’re trying to decide whether it’d be worth it to buy new appliances now or wait until they really fall apart, you can use the Energy Savings Calculator app as a tie-breaker. Punch in a few fields (energy used in watts, hours used a day, etc.) for your old appliance and the new one, and the app calculates a savings summary report with week, month and yearly savings as well as return on investment time for money spent on new appliances.
As the world's most successful annual workplace giving campaign, the CFC helps charities solving some of the world's toughest problems—including climate change. You too can support Carbonfund.org's programs and projects to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. Choose CFC#62681. Learn more about Carbonfund.org's innovative programs and projects by clicking here. These projects are reducing emissions today while helping the nation transition to a clean energy future, create jobs, and benefit from a better environment for all. Carbonfund.org is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, based in Silver Spring, Maryland, and 2010 marks the second year that we have been a part of this important campaign. If you care about climate and the environment but aren’t a federal employee, you can make a tax-deductible donation anytime directly at our website: www.carbonfund.org. 2010 is also the second year that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton serves as Honorary Chair of the CFC. "In my prior work as First Lady and Senator, and now as Secretary of State, I have traveled the world and seen firsthand the incredible determination and dedication charitable organizations invest on our behalf to combat the challenges people face," she said. Secretary Clinton made these video remarks. If you have trouble viewing the video, please click here.
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 14:24

Five CarbonFree®, Climate-Friendly Stocking Stuffers

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Here are some gift suggestions from our rigorous CarbonFree® Product Certification Program for products that have reduced their carbon footprint and have earned the CarbonFree® product label. For the coffee lover: Perk up their morning with a new brew and a new way of consuming coffee. Grounds for Change Coffee gracefully straddles the line between producing a quality product and engaging in socially, financially and environmentally responsible business practices. For the electronics lover: The latest gadget may already be sitting under the tree. Why not stuff their stocking this year with CarbonFree® Certified batteries. Eco Alkalines are certified carbon neutral and they're made without Cadmium, Lead, or Mercury. For the chef: Honey is a great ingredient for everything from apricot glazed chicken to baklava. The gourmand in your life will truly appreciate this pantry staple from Royal Hawaiian Honey. For the teenager: They’re too cool for a hand-knit Christmas sweater, so might as well get them a hoody they’ll actually wear. Anvil Knitwear, Inc., a socially and environmentally responsible manufacturer of sportswear and accessories, is a leader in the sustainable apparel industry with its AnvilOrganic®, AnvilRecycled™ and AnvilSustainable™ brands. For the cell phone enthusiast: When it comes to technology, some people revel in having the newest product on the market. It seems like everyone has a smartphone these days, but the Motorola CITRUS™ is the first in its class when it comes to “green tech,” with the phone’s housing made from 25% post-consumer recycled plastic, the packaging made from 80% post-consumer recycled paper, and Motorola balancing the carbon dioxide required to manufacture, distribute and operate the phone in support of third-party validated renewable energy and reforestation projects.
You can shop at home (or at your computer) and give a gift that also helps the climate. Check out Carbonfund.org’s 2010 Holiday Gifts for individuals and businesses. You'll find fun and practical gifts as well as stocking stuffers that support important climate projects. Plus, get a FREE Carbonfund.org grocery tote bag for gift purchases of $30 or more. Or, do more shopping and get two free totes for $50 or more. Click here to start shopping!