Daily Archives: April 23, 2013

Natural Capital at Risk: The Top 100 Externalities of Business – Trucost – TEEB


Trucost has undertaken this study on behalf of the TEEB for Business
Coalition.1 Findings of this report build on TEEB’s The Economics of
Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Business and Enterprise2 and the World
Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Guide to Corporate
Ecosystem Valuation3 by  stimating in monetary terms the financial risk from unpriced natural capital inputs to production, across business sectors at a  regional level. By using an environmentally extended input-output model (EEIO) (see Appendix 2), it also estimates, at a high level, how these may flow through global supply chains to producers of consumer goods. It
demonstrates that some business activities do not generate sufficient profit
to cover their natural resource use and pollution costs. However, businesses and investors can take account of natural capital costs in decision making to manage risk and gain competitive advantage.

Natural capital assets fall into two categories: those which are non-renewable and traded, such as fossil fuel and mineral “commodities”; and those which provide finite renewable goods and services for which no price typically exists, such as clean air, groundwater and biodiversity. During the past decade commodity prices erased a century-long decline in real terms4, and risks are growing from over-exploitation of increasingly scarce, unpriced natural capital. Depletion of ecosystem goods and services, such as damages from climate change or land conversion, generates economic, social and environmental externalities. Growing business demand for natural capital, and falling supply due to environmental degradation and events such as drought,
are contributing to natural resource constraints, including water scarcity.

Government policies to address the challenge include environmental
regulations and market-based instruments which may internalize natural
capital costs and lower the profitability of polluting activities. In the absence of regulation, these costs usually remain externalized unless an event such as drought causes rapid internalization along supply-chains through commodity price volatility (although the costs arising from a drought will not necessarily be in proportion to the externality from any irrigation).

Companies in manysectors are exposed to natural capital risks through their supply chains, especially where margins and pricing power are low. For example, Trucost’s analysis found that the profits of apparel retailers were impacted by up to 50% through cotton price volatility in recent years.5 Economy-wide, these risks are sufficiently large that the World Economic Forum cites ‘water supply crises’ and ‘failure of climate change adaptation’ along with several other environmental impacts among the most material risks facing the global economy.6

(read more). See also:

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Cyprus International Institute (CII) (Harvard School of Public Health) http://Cyprus-Institute.us
Food-Matters http://Food-Matters.TV

BBC News – Space debris collisions expected to rise

22 April 2013 Last updated at 11:10 ET


By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News
Fortunately, there have been very few collisions in orbit so far

Related Stories

Unless space debris is actively tackled, some satellite orbits will become extremely hazardous over the next 200 years, a new study suggests.

The research found that catastrophic collisions would likely occur every five to nine years at the altitudes used principally to observe the Earth.

And the scientists who did the work say their results are optimistic – the real outcome would probably be far worse.

To date, there have been just a handful of major collisions in the space age.

The study was conducted for the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee.

This is the global forum through which world governments discuss the issue of “space junk” – abandoned rocket stages, defunct satellites and their exploded fragments.

The space agencies of Europe, the US, Italy, the UK, Japan and India all contributed to the latest research, each one using their own experts and methodology to model the future space environment. ….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

BBC News – E. coli bacteria ‘can produce diesel biofuel’

22 April 2013 Last updated at 15:34 ET
By Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC World Service

The oil that the bacteria produced had a near-identical composition and chemical properties to conventional diesel

Related Stories

A strain of bacteria has been created that can produce fuel, scientists say.

Researchers genetically modified E. coli bacteria to convert sugar into an oil that is almost identical to conventional diesel.

If the process could be scaled up, this synthetic fuel could be a viable alternative to the fossil fuel, the team said.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Professor John Love, a synthetic biologist from the University of Exeter, said: “Rather than making a replacement fuel like some biofuels, we have made a substitute fossil fuel.

“The idea is that car manufacturers, consumers and fuel retailers wouldn’t even notice the difference – it would just become another part of the fuel production chain.”

Fuel factories

There is a push to increase the use of biofuels around the world.

In the European Union, a 10% target for the use of these crop-based fuels in the transport sector has been set for 2020.
….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Food-Matters http://Food-Matters.TV