A guide to the state of green business

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

The Greenbiz 2012 State of Green Business Report was released last week, with some positive and not-so-positive news.

The report opens with thought that conventional wisdom says that sustainable business is in the dumps.

It cites the popular notions that global markets are down for goods and services, that companies and venture capitalists are tight-fisted in making clean and green investments, and that regulators have all but turned the henhouse over to the foxes.

But, conclude the report authors, conventional wisdom is wrong.

Surprisingly, perhaps miraculously, they note 'environmental sustainability efforts continue to grow, relatively unabated, inside mainstream companies.'

'As we've found throughout the global recession and recovery, companies continue to make, meet, and even exceed ambitious environmental goals related to their use of materials and resources, the emissions of their operations (as well as their suppliers'), the efficiency of their offices and factories, the ingredients of their products, and what happens to those products at the end of their useful lives.'

Beyond that, companies continue to innovate, buoyed by ongoing waves of new technologies and emerging business models that emphasize experience and access over ownership and consumption.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that despite the fact that companies are making 'full-speed-ahead efforts', some environmental indicators are heading off course.

One theme echoed throughout the report is the growing role that companies are playing in the sustainability realm, through investment in renewable energy, efficiency programs, and improved farming practices.

A number of reports highlights, both positive and negative changes, including the fact that carbon intensity for US industries is leveling out, and the fact that in 2010 emission intensities increased 4%.

The report chide U.S. industry for the fact that the US economy wastes approximately 85% of the energy produced, with few signs of any significant coming change.

Automobile emissions rose in 2011, while the US administration created aggressive fuel standards that don't take full effect until 2025.

Renewable energy continues to rise, both installed capacity and dollar investments in the industry.

Many companies now report on environmental and social indicates, ensuring that sustainability metrics are counted and become part of the corporate fabric.Many in government and the private sector recognize the important role that firms will play in a low carbon economy.

According to the UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres, for any true binding climate agreements to become successful, companies are going to be required to play a strong supportive role in change by 'lobbying their governments for an accord', and pressure must come 'from the bottom up', and include consumers, firms, and the broader communities.

The report details the current state of green business in a number of dimentions, including Carbon Intensity, Carbon Reporting, Cleantech Investments, Clean-Energy Patents, Clean Energy Innovation, Energy Efficiency, Environmental Financial Impacts, E-waste, and fleet management.

The Clean Technology Continuum: Financing Innovation from Early-Stage Through to Commercialization

Clean technology represents a diverse range of products designed to greatly reduce or eliminate negative ecological impacts and promote the responsible use of natural resources. How are innovative clean technology companies getting their products from the test bench to the marketplace? At GLOBE 2012 - taking place in Vancouver, March 14-16, 2012 - international experts will explore the financial angle to the clean technology development continuum, from early stage through to commercialization, and will explore some of the biggest emerging opportunities in the clean technology sector.

Confirmed Participants:

Sheeraz Haji, CEO, Cleantech Group, USA (Moderator)

Assaf Barnea, CEO, Kinrot Ventures, Israel

Sally Gutierrez, Director of Environmental Technology Innovation Cluster, US Environmental Protection Agency, USA

Vicky Sharpe, President & CEO, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), Canada

Get more information here

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