September 14 News: Low-Carbon Businesses Deliver Double the Profits of Their Rivals, Report Finds

A round-up of top climate and energy stories. Please post links to more stories below.

The global companies with climate-smart strategies deliver double the returns of their rivals. But will this wisdom sink in fully before global warming really starts to rage?

Why low carbon means high profit

The global companies with the sharpest focus on climate change have rewarded their investors with double the average return of the world’s corporate titans. That’s the startling message from the Carbon Disclosure Project, which released its annual Global 500 report on Wednesday.

On behalf of over 550 investment companies, managing $71 trillion of assets between them, the CDP challenged the 500 biggest companies in the world by market capitalisation to reveal detailed information about their carbon footprints and the action they are taking to tackle and adapt to global warming: 404 (81%) responded.

The CDP then compared the total financial returns between January 2005 and May 2011 of the companies identified as “carbon performance leaders” against the average of all 500. The former generated a return of 86%, the latter 43%.

Jonathan Grant, at PwC, which produced the CDP report, told me: “There is very definitely a strong correlation between good carbon performance and good financial performance. But we are not saying that one definitely caused the other.”

Grant suggests that high quality management will perform well on both financial returns and carbon strategy. But he adds: “Many companies point to the financial benefits of carbon strategy in both energy and resource efficiency.” Good carbon performance was defined as transparent reporting of carbon, setting and meeting carbon reduction targets and intelligent responses to both the risks and opportunities presented by changing climate.

Grant noted a distinctly better performance by European companies, such as Phillips Electronics, BMW and Tesco, compared with companies in the rest of the world. Apple, Amazon, Bank of China and Rosneft, for example, failed to respond at all to the CDP. He puts this contrast down to low carbon policies being more advanced and more high profile in Europe.

Another way to look at how business and climate change are interacting is to track the size of the global environmental market, i.e. green goods and services. A report from HSBC (subscribers only), released on Monday, does just that. In 2010, global green revenues grew 7% over 2009 to an all-time record of $567bn and are now about five times greater than in 2004. As a comparison, $567bn is between the GDP of Switzerland and Indonesia.

HSBC define green revenues in three broad categories with the largest being low-carbon energy, followed by water, waste and pollution control and then energy efficiency. While the US, Canada, Japan and big European nations dominate the green market, Brazil entered the top 10 for the first time this year at number nine, one ahead of the UK. China, which entered the top 10 in 2009, is at eight in 2010.

Drilling Regulator Blasts Oil Industry, Asks for Funds

The nation’s top oil and gas drilling regulator on Tuesday criticized the industry for making repeated claims that the federal government is “slow-walking” on getting companies back to work in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill last year.

“I continue to be disappointed to see politically motivated, erroneous reports and commentaries, sponsored by various industry associations and groups, criticizing the [government] for allegedly ‘slow-walking’ permits and plans,” Michael Bromwich, the Interior Department’s point man on oil and gas drilling, said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “That is a phrase we see repeated over and over again, and it is simply not true.”

Bromwich reinforced a plea he has made to Congress numerous times since the April 2010 BP spill: Interior’s new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement needs more money to do its job and function at a level that will help the industry.

Mayor: Tests show link between fresh tar balls on Alabama beaches, BP spill

A coastal mayor says tests show tar balls washed onto Alabama’s beaches by a recent tropical storm are from last year’s BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said Tuesday the connection was found in preliminary tests performed by Auburn University. Kennon says additional tests will be conducted to determine more details.

Tropical Storm Lee dumped tar balls on the coast. BP says additional cleanup workers were added at the request of area leaders, and teams also are working longer hours.

Don’t get mean on green energy innovation, Bill Gates warns Congress

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is urging senior lawmakers to buck the current zeal for budget cutting and boost federal investment in clean-energy research and development.

Gates — joined by a number of private-sector titans — took to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to argue that a far more muscular role is needed to expand innovation.

Their group, called the American Energy Innovation Council, wants to boost what it argues have been anemic federal investments in a sector vital to U.S. economic competitiveness, security and other goals.

“This group are all big believers in innovation, and we are all big believers in the importance of energy innovation,” Gates said at a briefing for reporters Tuesday.

7 Responses to September 14 News: Low-Carbon Businesses Deliver Double the Profits of Their Rivals, Report Finds

  1. dick smith says:

    I know you’ve criticized Gates from time to time, but the mainstream media response to him is usually somewhere between obsequius flattery and fawning sycophancy. He certainly got this one right.

  2. Sasparilla says:

    Apparently the Democrats didn’t do well in two special House elections last night with the Republican candidates grabbing voters outside of their normal polling range than they would normally in both locations.

    Barring an unexpected economic jobs recovery by the election next year (not going to happen according to most economists), its now a distinct possibility that the Kochified Republican party could sweep all three branches in 2012.

    In the Senate the Dems have either 2 or 3 times (forget which) as many seats up for re-election in 2012 as the Republicans.

    I can remember thinking things couldn’t get worse from a climate change perspective back when the GOP had all 3 branches with Bush a decade ago, I’m making a note to myself for future reference – it can always get worse.

    Hopefully the Dems can at least keep the Senate if nothing else – just to keep direct attacks on green energy in legislation from getting passed to the president – but the number of Democratic Senate seats up for grabs and these elections are not good signs.

  3. Will Koroluk says:

    Here’s a Nature piece outline plans to shut down the Canadian ozone monitoring network, to the chagrin of Canadian and international scientists. Budget cuts are the culprit, of course. The federal government up here has little regard for scientific research when it involves climate.

  4. Colorado Bob says:

    UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, Penn State, is a recipient of a $100,000 Heinz Award for being a leader in climate and polar ice studies.

    The Heinz Awards, now in their 17th year, honor visionaries who have made extraordinary contributions to the environment, a life-long area of commitment for the late U.S. Senator John Heinz. Alley and nine others nationwide are recognized for their significant efforts benefitting the environment.

    Alley’s discovery that the last Ice Age came to an abrupt end over a period of only three years broke open the field of abrupt climate change. This debunked the myth that climate change is a slow process and suggests that some climate changes in response to human-induced activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, may arrive more rapidly than expected.

  5. Paul magnus says:

    Climate Chaos
    It’s all happening too fast…. What’s it going to be like in 5-10yrs time? Hansen’s storms have arrived….

    Pakistan Flooding Hits Karachi
    Twenty-nine people died, seven of them in Karachi, within 24 hours, owing to rain-related causes in the latest cloudbursts.

  6. Paul magnus says:

    Katia Hands UK Hefty Clean-up Bill
    The UK is assessing the high cost of damage in the aftermath of the former Hurricane Katia, which raked the British Archipelago early this week.