A new website for Commonwealth businesswomen was launched in New York last month, providing a collaborative forum for women entrepreneurs across the association’s 53 member countries. The Commonwealth Businesswomen Network is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Business Council, the International Federation of Business & Professional Women and the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs. It was launched during the Commonwealth’s 2014 meeting of the National Women’s Machineries, which brought together gender ministers, senior officials, partner organisations and civil society in the wings of the 58th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The website is the digital face of the Commonwealth Business Women initiative, launched in 2011 prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia. The 2014 National Women’s Machineries Meeting, which focused on ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment and the Post-2015 Development Agenda’, provided the opportunity for stakeholders to discuss some of the key women’s economic empowerment initiatives and challenges that lie ahead.
The keynote speech, given by Margo Thomas, International Finance Corporation and World Bank Group, presented the findings of the World Bank’s latest report Gender at Work. Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, spoke on the importance of maintaining a stand-alone gender goal for the post-2015 development framework. At the meeting, participants had the opportunity to discuss the importance of increasing women in leadership positions in the public and private sector and the promotion of women’s participation in accessing opportunities presented by global and national value chains. The Commonwealth has produced handbooks on women's land rights in Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Sense and Sustainability is a podcast devoted to exploring the diversity of perspectives on issues of sustainable development.
The Fukushima incident in 2011 triggered some of the biggest changes in German’s energy politics in the last thirty years. The acceleration is supported by the introduction of the compact energy transition law which targets 2022 as the date that the final nuclear power plant in the country will be shuttered.
So far, many targets have been met: Renewable energy has become an important power source, energy is used more efficiently and economic output has increased without increases in energy use. In contrast, in 2012, more than ten European countries, amongst them Ireland, Portugal and Croatia, generated a higher ratio of their power from renewables than Germany.
At the second Sustainability Panel on February 25th 2016, organized by GreenBuzz Berlin, representatives from RWE, Naturstrom, Bu?ro F, Ecofys Germany and Climate-KIC, discussed effective measures to facilitate the Energiewende and the outlook of Germany’s energy transition. Cross-sectoral collaborations are also becoming more significant as reductions in power demand can ease the management challenges of a grid reliant on renewables.
The Energiewende is on its way, yet it will not continue without strong collaborations of the type listed here.
After a comparatively successful climate conference in Paris, there has been much optimism in a low-carbon future. While there may be compelling environmental, social, and political reasons for a transition to solar, macroeconomic conditions in the current energy landscape suggest that fossil fuels are far from irrelevant in the near future. Perhaps the time is not right for a transition to solar, but it does beg the question of whether conventional fossil fuels are correctly priced. Last year, due to partisan gridlock in Congress, President Obama and the EPA took executive action, issuing the Clean Power Plan, which mandates state specific carbon emission targets. Evidently, the energy landscape is very complex and a transition to a renewable energy mix is not as simple as creating more solar panels.
When economists discuss climate change policies such as carbon taxes, cap-and-trade systems, and carbon intensity standards, effectiveness is a key question.
Since a 2008 article, there has been a discussion in the environmental economics community about the “Green Paradox”: the phenomenon of emissions increasing, at least temporarily, in response to climate change policy that is targeted at fossil fuel use.
This could be quite problematic if emissions released sooner result in greater-than-otherwise damages or damages for which we are simply unprepared. The classic model of resource extraction that led to Hotelling’s results also leads to the Green Paradox. When we play with some of the assumptions of that model to make them match the real world more closely, we find that the Green Paradox becomes less likely.
The classic model, additionally, does not take into account the possibility of carbon leakage between countries or regions. So, our models predict that climate change policies might lead suppliers to move up their extraction of fossil fuels. There was a subtle irony to an event on electronic consumption and waste taking place at The New School’s location on 5th Avenue. On Friday, March 11, students and community members gathered in a small auditorium for one of The New School’s thousands of events. The discussion opened with Prasad Boradkar, professor of industrial design at Arizona State University.
Boradkar examined the notion of “conspicuous waste,” the flipped side of conspicuous consumption, which is manifested in all industries–from cars to washing machines to electronics. Throughout the discussion were questions of ‘responsibility.’ Who is responsible for ensuring that developing nations don’t shoulder the burden of getting rid of our waste?
Despite the harmful effects, co-author of the installation Shaun Fynn was quick to say that, while consumers may think they are throwing away their devices, in truth, “nothing goes to waste.” Much of the electronics are recycled and refurbished to some extent, the materials melted down and sold back to the mineral markets, but the difference is that this process may not be as efficient or sustainable as it could be.
Outside in the lobby hung larger-than-life photographs of brown-skinned workers, processing heaps of rejected plastic and metal. While the disposal of e-waste can certainly improve and enhanced corporate sustainability is needed, the root of the issue is the fact that we are often ignore the side effects of our consumption.
We are seeing extraordinary shifts across virtually every technology arena even though, in areas of large-fixed infrastructure (buildings, energy systems, etc.), it can sometimes be hard to see the change. With the breadth and pace of change in the energy market, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it is hard even for those pushing innovation to keep up with that pace of change. Innovation is certainly a strong thematic in government energy policy discussions around the world. Building on this, four major ‘names’ (Arjun Majumdar (Stanford, first head of ARPA-E), John Deutch (MIT), George Shultz (former Secretary of State), and Norm Augustine (former Lockheed Martin CEO) have called for a major private-sector push for energy innovation. Each Energy Innovation Entity would be supported by roughly 10 companies, each committing about $10 million a year for 10 years — a “10-10-10” mechanism. Embedded within the discussion, however, is an example of just how hard it can be for innovators to keep up with the pace of change. A battery that costs less than $100 per kilowatt-hour with a lifetime of more than 1,000 cycles would be a game changer for offering affordable and reliable renewable electricity across the world. The Chevy Bolt, being built today, has batteries that General Motors is buying at $145 per kilowatt-hour capacity.
With the rapid advances in battery density and rapidly lowering costs, the GM graphic above is likely pessimistic about what we will actually see in the market place. That doesn’t take away from the author’s argument about the need for more investment in energy research however. On Thursday, 25 February 2016, GreenBuzz Berlin organized a panel discussion on ‘Germany’s Energy Transition’ under their Sustainability Panel event series. As a response to multiple demands, including the Fukishima nuclear reactor disaster of 2011, and a desire and need to be more environmentally friendly, Germany has made impressive strides in its energy transition. Across Germany, individuals, house hold owners, small businesses are increasingly installing solar systems in order to generate their own electricity and reduce their reliance on the national electricity grid. This model holds particular relevance for other countries of different geographic size, population or GDP, as a lack of energy generation continues to be a significant challenge for the entire African continent. The increased uptake and usage of various renewable energy solutions has, overall, resulted in the price of such solutions decreasing. Increased uptake of such solutions will also inspire further innovations in the field which will likely result in added benefits for the user. Although great progress has been made in Germany and beyond, an opportunity still exists for further innovation at all stages of the energy value chain, to take place.
Though many organisations can still find a way to innovate, operate and supply products or services to a market in economies despite an instable political environment, the establishment of a stable policy and regulatory environment is likely to generate more support for the transition to a more energy efficient economy.
While the government is not immune to policy criticisms, policy makers and regulators in Germany are actively encouraging citizens to generate their energy needs through renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels (although these still do represent a large component of Germany’s overall energy mix).
It is evident that both Germany and the rest of the world have a long way to go to fully transition to a more energy efficient economy. Leading financial firm JP Morgan has issued a new Environmental and Social Policy Framework document.
This 23 page document has 16 uses of the words “climate change.” And, reflecting this, the document lays out explicitly that how a firm once one of leading financiers of coal projects will accelerate its move beyond coal. With this, JP Morgan has joined Morgan Stanley and Citigroup in creating ‘no go’ zones for coal as part of a shift toward climate aware financing.
To be clear, these financiers haven’t renounced coal entirely — but have created significant restrictions and guidance as to what is and isn’t acceptable coal-related investing (see pages 8-9). JPMorgan Chase believes that balancing environmental and human rights issues with financial priorities is fundamental to sound risk management and a core part of corporate responsibility. Moving the financial markets and financial firms toward climate-sensible policies is critical to fostering a climate-friendly and prosperous future. This document is an interesting read, from the high-level objectives to the wording to enable their desired flexibility for financing that might conflict, in some manner, with those objectives.
As a global provider of financial advisory and lending services for clients in various sectors and geographies around the world, we recognize that our business decisions have the potential to impact surrounding communities and the environment. Protecting the natural systems which all life depends on while lifting people out of poverty and advancing economic development are among the greatest challenges confronting humanity.
Obviously the leaders of global finance are not going to solve climate change on their own – especially without explicit financial incentive to do so. As domestic and non-domestic buildings become more energy efficient, the significance of achieving energy savings in practice increases. In office buildings, energy consumption is very difficult to predict with accuracy, partly due to the occupants’ behaviour and the ways in which they use controls. There are multiple factors in indoor environments that can be centrally or individually controlled. Studies show that discrete changes in the indoor environment, for example, discrete transitions in facade configurations are preferred by the occupants.  This is associated to more silent operations of building controls in working environments where tasks requiring high levels of concentration are performed.
It is often this manual override of building controls that is in disagreement with energy modelling assumptions and to some extent is responsible for the discrepancy between estimated and actual energy use. Psychological perspectives of occupants’ attitude towards building controls can be very significant, although perhaps often underestimated in building design.
Physical conditions are not necessarily the most significant factors affecting how building occupants use controls.
Individual building controls often appear challenging to operate, with occupants being more likely to use simpler controls versus more complicated ones. Training and actively involving building occupants in the operation of building controls and the achievement of energy reduction targets can have a very significant influence on energy use. In the building of the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency Office, a green-team made sure energy use reduction is actively pursued. Another interesting example comes from the DPR Construction’s Phoenix Regional Office, where they realised the importance of the plug loads consumed after working hours. This achieved a 37% reduction in energy use due to plug loads and people loved hitting the button!
Public reporting requirements that require firms to disclose information about their production functions are used in a recent study of hydraulic fracturing operations in North Dakota to examine whether firms change their production design over time to more closely approximate an optimal production design.
Hydraulic fracturing is a new technology that involves cracking oil-bearing shale rocks with high pressure water and then “propping” the cracks with sand to allow the oil to flow out of the wellbore.
Using the information that firms report to regulators, an oil-production function is developed for wells, based on water, sand, and well-length inputs. Comparing the expected profits with the actual design to the expected profits in these two cases over time offers a measure of how much firms learn about the best way to use hydraulic fracturing. Firms capture more profits over time.  From 2005 to 2011 firms increased captured profits from 21% of possible to 67% of possible. Firms capture this profit by learning to use the technology more efficiently.  Over time firms choose fracking designs that are closer to the observed optimal fracking design. Firms become more profitable without getting more productive.  Well productivity (the amount of oil produced by a well with a set level of inputs) did grow slightly in the earliest years but there was no change in productivity from 2008-2011.
Firms fail to choose the design the data available at drilling suggests is optimal.  While designs get closer to the optimal design over time, firms tend to choose fracking designs that are known to be suboptimal at the time the choice is made.
The results of this study indicate that firms do learn how to use hydraulic fracturing technology better by experimenting over time. It is difficult for finance ministers to raise revenue by taxing a firm’s mobile capital assets because the costs of relocating that capital in response to tax pressure have been reduced by globalization. Carbon taxes are a way to raise revenue without chasing firms abroad because carbon assets are not mobile or evenly distributed geographically.
The authors of a new study hypothesize that taxing carbon allows an importing government to raise revenue to finance public infrastructure investment without increasing taxes on individuals or businesses, thereby decreasing domestic output.
The authors construct a multi-period, multi-country general equilibrium model to test these hypotheses. The model assumes that importing countries resemble the OECD countries (like the United States) while exporting countries resemble the developing world.
Implementation of the carbon tax slows resource extraction and decreases total volume extracted.
Taxing carbon intensive fossil fuels allows finance ministers to generate revenue to finance investment in public infrastructure without taxing mobile capital. Never before has the opportunity to go green in the energy sector been as appealing and accessible as in the Caribbean. Suffering from a crippling and ongoing trade deficit and from some of the highest poverty rates in the Americas, Haiti is a country desperate for a vision for sustained economic growth. These challenges are compounded by the sluggish recovery efforts seen in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.
As a result, roughly three quarters of Haitians lack access to modern and reliable electricity services. Unfortunately, utility provider Electricite d’Haiti (EDH) has only limited financial and human capacity to expand electricity services and already struggles to provide reliable electricity to its existing customer base. Haitian President Jean-Claude Martelly has made distributed renewable energy a major priority. In the southern town of Les Anglais, the nonprofit EarthSpark has created a mini-grid—using smart meter technology and powered by a diesel-solar system hybrid—to supply more than 400 previously unserved customers. Unfortunately, solar alone cannot break the chokehold that fossil fuels have on Haiti’s energy system. What will really turn heads is that this path would lead to a more reliable and affordable energy system compared to continued reliance on fossil fuels. Moreover, fuel prices alone do not capture the true costs of fossil fuel-based electricity generation. In Haiti, as in much of the Caribbean, the first hurdle for sustainability is also the highest. Exploiting readily available opportunities to integrate renewables into Haiti’s energy mix is critical to encouraging this investment.
Success stories like EarthSpark, HUM, and the Ban m limye, Ban m lavi program demonstrate that clear signaling from the government on promoting renewables, as well as the participation of foreign technical and financial support bodies, can catalyze results on the ground.
This article originally appeared on Worldwatch Institute Blog. Image credit Wikimedia Commons.
However, in order to show our commitment we are presently developing a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Plan with the goal of achieving Level 2 accreditation.

Members reaffirmed their support for this and endorsed the Commonwealth’s ongoing work with UN Women in strengthening the Commonwealth’s accountability mechanisms for monitoring progress on gender goals. With the aim of building a secure, environmentally sound and economically prosperous future, Germany has renewed its focus on converting its energy supply away from conventional energy – including accelerating plans to close all nuclear power plants – towards renewable energy sources. Although very different in many respects, the energy sector in all of these countries shares one attribute: ownership of the energy industry has shifted from large corporations to smaller companies, and even individual citizens.
For the energy transition to be an ecological and economic success story, the power supply must remain safe and affordable. On the other hand, it implies great opportunities for start-ups, citizens and companies that could not have played a role in the energy market before. One is VKU, a representation of Germany’s municipal economy that connects different energy providers in Germany.
Indeed, there are several European initiatives trying to facilitate cross-border cooperation. For example new market players such as ICE-Gateway work with cities to optimize outdoor lightning and improve energy efficiency for the whole community.
With only 25-30% of German energy provided by renewables today there is still a long way to go before the goals are met. There is certainly reason to be optimistic:  Alternative energy sources have been more efficient and affordable in recent years. In fact, the US Energy Information Administration has noted that the three fossil fuel sources (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) have, for the past century, made up at least 80% of total U.S.
Because coal has the highest carbon content of all fossil fuels, this phenomenon has been undoubtedly positive for curbing carbon emissions. The conventional metric for a generator’s cost of producing power is the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), a measurement of a system’s lifetime costs over the system’s expected power output. This plan is flexible in that each state has the autonomy to formulate its own plan of achieving mandated levels.
Legitimate economic and political pressures make an overnight transition to a renewable energy mix neither feasible nor desirable.
Many policies work by increasing the price of fossil fuels to reflect the cost that society bears as a result of climate change. A paper published in the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy this year summarizes the current research on the Green Paradox.
If a climate policy [equivalent to a tax that rises with the interest rate] is announced in advance, fossil fuel suppliers will shift their extraction forward in time.
But, if we consider the possibility that extracting more and more oil, for example, may become increasingly expensive, then suppliers will be less likely to shift production forward in time in response to a climate change policy. When emissions can move spatially, things get complicated, to say the least, and whether suppliers extract more fuel now could depend on factors such as the price elasticity of fuel demand (how much demand for fuel changes when its price changes) and the difference in carbon prices between countries. And the Green Paradox could be difficult to capture, even if it was occurring, due to factors such as spatial carbon leakage. One important contribution of the idea is that it emphasizes the supply side of fossil fuel markets. After making a joke about the dedication of an audience willing to talk about electronic waste (or “e-waste”) on a Friday night, he projected a photo of Apple’s flagship store on 5th Avenue, its glass spiral staircase ascending towards the light in an almost cosmic fashion.
Who is responsible for directing our ‘obsolete’ electronics towards recycling facilities, rather than trash heaps? Technology products become waste when deemed unusable by the consumers, but their actual lifespan extends far beyond this timeline.
Singh characterized the e-waste supply chain as a “delicate ecosystem,” involving many participants. One photo showed a pile of old desktop monitors stacked against a wall, their shapes wedged together like an M.C. With an ever-growing global population, mitigating waste in the first place is crucial in improving social and environmental sustainability. Whether solar PV or wind pricing, the ability to squeeze out efficiency in systems or battery capacity per pound, the pace of change in systems commercially available is often hard to comprehend. The announcement of the “billionaires’ club” Breakthrough Energy Initiative provided one of the major side elements of the COP21 in Paris. It is heavily focused on developing tomorrow’s options without mentioning today’s and it is not clear how combining corporations would sit with the existing firm’s corporate governance.
The authors use, as their major example of where large-scale private business investment is required, battery technology. Guests from many sectors participated, including: Andreas Brabeck, Head of Politics for Grid and Distribution at RWE, Florian Simon, Key Account Manager at Naturstrom, Fabian Zuber, former Managing Director at Bundnis Burgerenergie and Senior Consultant in New Energy Markets at Bu?ro F, Dr. Although challenges still exist, many important lessons can be taken from the German case study and applied to other countries, both developed and developing. Typically, excess energy that the user generates can be sold to the national supplier by being fed back into the local or national electricity grid for an agreed price. Many countries have also struggled to reliably transmit power to rural and remote locations at an affordable price. The more users that switch to renewable energy solutions, the cheaper the costs will become. Innovation could lead to improvements in many different areas including generation efficiency, life span of systems, energy storage and system protection against surges (from lots of wind or sunshine) as well as in energy payment techniques and systems. Start-ups in particular, are playing an increasingly important role in the German business environment and economy.
Different solutions, products, distribution channels, funding and payment mechanisms will have to be invented or adapted to meet the needs of local markets.
A stable environment can help attract new investment, organisations (including start-ups) and innovation while it can also generate ‘trust’ for the government.
Different incentives, whether direct from the government or through renewable energy companies and operators, have been developed and provided to speed up the transition.
One exception has been the creation of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Procurement Programme (REIPPP) implemented by the South African government. Great progress has been made, more is expected, and innovation in the sector will continue with pace.
Most notably, ‘green field’ coal mining is now to be treated like projects using child labor and those that endanger world heritage sites. We recognize that the policies and practices we adopt today will shape not only our lives but also those of future generations. However, this report is just more evidence that makes it clear that even Wall Street is taking the threat of climate change seriously. One of my previous articles focused on the behaviour of occupants in domestic buildings—that is, their dwellings.
Especially in open plan offices, controlling thermal comfort, lighting levels and air quality is quite challenging.  It is typically achieved through the use of a variety of controls operated on a building level, or individually by the occupants. Temperature and humidity, lighting and air quality are factors determining occupants’ thermal, visual and general comfort.  These factors are controlled on a building level and often change throughout the year and the day through relevant sensors. In open plan offices, the high number of occupants makes this more complicated and it is often challenging to combine people’s different attitudes towards thermal comfort, fresh air requirements and lighting levels or visual comfort. In some cases, thermal comfort is difficult to achieve in large open plan spaces, with hot or cold spots. In some cases, occupants who are unhappy with their environment decide to override building controls and manually change controls on their environment to make it more pleasant; nevertheless, this can have a significant impact on a building’s energy performance, whether positive or negative.
It has been found that people are happy when they have control and they are more satisfied by their environment after performing a successful control action; more surprisingly satisfaction comes even before the actual, measurable conditions change, due to the feeling of having control over our own conditions.
There are five main driving forces, namely physical environmental, contextual, psychological, physiological and social. For example, manually operated shading devices might be used less than mechanically controlled ones, when occupants are unsure of the right ways to use them. Training occupants on how to operate building controls can alter the way they are actually used in practice and improve comfort, while reducing energy consumption. For example, in office buildings, significant amounts of energy can be spent due to appliances and lights being left on after occupants leave the building, only because none is responsible for turning everything off. They had after hours work station inspections and rewarded people who left their offices in an unplugged state when leaving at the end of the working day. They installed something called the ‘vampire switch’ which was connected to 95% of the non-critical plug loads of the space. Writers at S&S are producing short summaries of discussion papers from HEEP and the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements (HPCA), streamlined for policymakers. Doing so would reduce the amount of money “left on the table” due to poor implementation of new technology and would increase profits.
However, they learn slowly and do not fully utilize information from other firms’ experience. The firm must either learn how to use new technology more efficiently through experimentation or try to maximize production with their current understanding of the technology. Firms must identify the best combination of sand and water to maximize the production of hydraulically fractured oil wells. The production function also considers well location to account for heterogeneity in the geological formation. For example, in 2005 the average well used 100 pounds less than the optimal amount of sand.
However, these suboptimal choices tend to have more certain expected profits than the optimal designs. A tax on carbon imports cannot be avoided by relocation as easily as a tax on mobile capital. Taxing this capital causes firms to relocate to countries with low tax rates, which reduces government revenue and local employment. Increasing investment in infrastructure is welfare-enhancing as long as the financing for the investment is generated in a way that does not decrease output. The model includes two groups of countries: those that import carbon intensive resources and those that export carbon intensive resources. Compared to the scenarios in which importing countries use only taxes on consumption, capital, or payroll to finance infrastructure investment, using only the optimal carbon tax increases the present value of consumption by $21 trillion USD. Comparing the welfare under the non-carbon tax regime to the carbon tax regime shows that carbon taxes increase welfare by 2.3% relative to the next best option. The model allows for exporting countries to react strategically to the implementation of a carbon tax by importing countries. By implementing a tax on the carbon intensive resource, the importing countries increase the price paid by consumers and decrease the price received by producers. This allows countries to invest in welfare enhancing public infrastructure without causing capital flight and negatively impacting growth by driving firms overseas. This four-part blog series documents the paradigm shift currently under way in the region, where the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica present moving case studies on the momentum that is building to realize the Caribbean’s untapped sustainable energy potential. Currently, Haiti sources 85 percent of its electricity needs, and spends 4 percent of its GDP annually, on dirty and expensive imported fossil fuels. Although five years have passed since the magnitude 7.0 tremor struck Haiti, scars of its devastation remain. Those that do have access are charged rates significantly higher than global averages, further dampening the country’s potential for economic growth. It is unlikely that underserved and rural areas will be connected to Haiti’s existing and fossil fuel-powered grid anytime soon. In January 2012, Martelly declared the ambitious target of electrifying 200,000 rural households over two years through the Ban m limye, Ban m lavi (“Give me light, give me life”) program, based primarily on distributed solar energy. In the capital Port-au-Prince, the newly constructed L’Hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM) is illustrating the degree to which self-generation from affordable, renewable electricity sources can have broad positive impacts. Only by harnessing its full endowment of renewable energy resources can Haiti achieve the energy independence essential for a bright future. By pursuing opportunities to develop renewable energy generation capacity, Haiti can decrease energy prices for residential consumers to at least a third of current levels while incurring savings in excess of $5.8 billion through 2030 in fossil fuel import costs. Between higher standards for fuel efficiency in oil-importing states and a robust American natural gas market, demand for petroleum is well below typical levels.
With an isolated electricity grid, Haiti incurs additional costs from the expensive shipping of fossil fuels.
Upfront investment costs are significantly higher for new renewable generation capacity than for conventional generation sources.
Rates of electricity losses from the grid—due to widespread electricity theft as well as to antiquated generation, transmission, and distribution equipment—are the highest in the Caribbean, at over 60 percent.
Distributed generation in rural and underserved areas from wind, solar, and run-of-the-river hydropower can help reduce stress on the grid while promoting economic productivity by releasing those communities from the bottleneck of energy access.
Communicating these stories is critical to conveying the tremendous potential of renewable energy resources in Haiti.
They also asserted the need to ensure entrepreneurship is reflected in eradicating poverty indicators.
The transition will be supported by the renewable energy law (EEG), which supports renewables through economic instruments and the grid expansion acceleration act (NABEG) supporting decentralized grids. As opposed to building and running a coal or nuclear plant, which can only be realized by huge and wealthy firms, renewables can be produced on rooftops by nearly everyone.
Notably, municipal utilities drive the energy transition on the ground in form of transregional cooperation such as KommunalPartner, regional cooperation such as SUN, cooperation between municipalities and its utilities or transregional energy providers. The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) put in place Regional Security Coordination Initiatives (RSCIs) to improve coordination among transmission system operators jointly manage grids across countries. Another example is prosumergy which supplies electricity from solar panels with a focus on apartment buildings.
Reaching these goals will require efforts by consumers, governments (at all scales), private companies and entrepreneurs.
Solar energy, especially, has been seen as the major competitive contender to fossil fuels.
According to some economists, the plan may not be as efficient as a federal cap and trade policy, but the advantage is its ability to bypass legislative gridlock. However, we still ought to question whether the rate at which we are approaching a sustainable energy mix is sufficiently responsible and consistent with environmental concerns. The worst case scenario is usually thought of as an expensive policy that has zero effect on the global stock of gases, such as a tax that induces businesses to displace all the emissions they are “getting rid of” to other, untaxed regions. As famously theorized by economist Harold Hotelling in 1931, owners of nonrenewable resources will extract them when it is profitable to do so, compared to making other investments. The authors walk through the theoretical models on the topic as well as the tiny bit of empirical evidence about whether the Green Paradox has occurred so far.
This will also occur if a surprise climate policy is implemented and it is equivalent to a tax that rises faster than the rate of interest. When we plug in the fact that oil, natural gas, and coal all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, we can have less hope: suppliers might substitute to using “dirtier” fuels before the cleaner ones.
But with several types of fossil fuels out there emitting different amounts of carbon per unit of energy produced, the Green Paradox might be plausible. Many carbon policies are targeted at the demand side—taxing, putting a cap on, or otherwise regulating emissions from the use of fossil fuels.
Inside, photos depicting piles of ‘obsolete’ electronics, being picked and sorted by the urban poor in the outskirts of Delhi, India.

The panel was moderated by Rama Chorpash, director of the MFA Industrial Design at Parsons School Of Design. He spoke of the idea of object obsolescence–technological, planned, or simply psychological. The problem is growing especially exponentially in India and China, where in the last seven years, e-waste has grown eight-fold. That fee goes from the place of purchase to the state budget, and helps fund efforts directed towards responsible disposal of electronics. Singh argued that trying to force individuals and families out of the informal labor market of “waste picking” for the sake of their health would have serious economic effects. If designers and consumers both can lengthen their time horizons past the “use” phase of a product, the environment and its inhabitants will benefit. And getting from there to $100 will be a challenge that we do not appear to be on the road to solving. But it is a good reminder that there are reasons to be optimistic about our ability to combat climate change. Commenting on this, Ulrike Hinz, a founding member of GreenBuzz Berlin and organiser of the panel discussion, says “Collaboration is key to a successful energy transition. The use of decentralised systems – from basic models that can power a few lights and a charger to high tech models able to generate power for entire households and energy intensive devices like fridges and TVs – are a realistic and viable alternative option. A dramatic reduction in costs (at all levels from manufacturing to installation to maintenance) has already occurred in recent years and this is set to continue. The greater the cost reduction, the more likely it is that other countries (in particular developing ones) and their citizens will have the opportunity to benefit from all of these factors. In acknowledging the high level of entrepreneurship across many developing countries, there is the potential that these entrepreneurs could be a driving force for innovations, similar to start-ups in Germany. A major reason as to why Germany has embarked on such a large scale transition to renewable energy is due to its stable policy and regulatory environment. Through this programme, independent power providers enter into a public private partnership with the government, and are licensed to develop renewable energy that can be fed into the national grid for an agreed price. Therefore, we have designed policies that ensure environmental and human rights impacts are identified early, carefully evaluated and managed responsibly. This article involves occupants’ behaviour in non-domestic buildings: it refers to factors influencing occupants’ behaviours and their impact on buildings’ energy use. Moreover, people can be dissatisfied by the fact that their environment changes without their input; for example, cold air coming when they don’t actually need it, or shading closing down automatically, even if they feel it is unnecessary or even unpleasant. Social aspects appear to have a significant effect on the use of controls; for example, people report that they hesitate to use controls influencing their co-workers for fear of causing discomfort.
In office buildings, users are sometimes intimidated by controls they find hard to operate, especially if they are not as technologically savvy as their colleagues. For example, closing the blinds when direct sunlight penetrates a space is beneficial for occupants’ visual comfort, but also reduces energy use for cooling during warm summer days. At the end of the working day, the last person leaving the office had to turn this switch off. Experimentation may lead to increased profits, but it may also result in lower levels of production than current best practices. Because of the unique reporting requirements in North Dakota, firms can learn from other firms’ experimentation with various combinations of water and sand, as well as their own.
However, they prioritize designs that are suboptimal but have lower uncertainty regarding expected profits. Governments are still pressured to provide welfare-enhancing public infrastructure investments despite this reduction in revenue.
As a result, finance ministers who may not otherwise care about the environment may favor a carbon tax as a way to finance welfare improving public investment. To entice firms to stay, governments have reduced corporate tax rates and increased payroll taxes that fall on relatively immobile labor.
A tax levied on carbon generates revenue by distributing a portion of fossil fuel rents to the importing country without generating a race to the bottom in tax rates or inciting firms to relocate. Importing countries are able to set taxes on imported carbon resources, domestic labor, and domestic capital. However, the carbon tax reduces these profits by the largest amount (profits are 36% lower than the next best option). However, the benefits of a carbon tax, relative to a capital tax, remain even as the exporting country reacts strategically. This reduces demand, generates conservation of the resource, and results in environmental benefits. As a result, a carbon tax improves welfare in countries that import fossil fuels on a financial level in addition to an environmental level.
This not only limits the availability of capital for domestic economic investment, but also exposes the country to the volatile global oil market. The earthquake resulted in the loss of some 200,000 lives and in an estimated $628 million in infrastructure damage, across all sectors of Haitian society. As a consequence, Haiti’s power sector priorities differ greatly from those of other Caribbean nations. More often than not, this dynamic forces consumers to rely on self-generation, using inefficient and dirty diesel generating units.
Building from this declaration, a number of small companies and nonprofits have begun deploying renewables-based mini-grids throughout the country. Powered by 1,800 rooftop solar panels and supported with technical expertise and financial resources from Boston-based Partners-in-Health, the hospital covers 100% of its electricity needs during peak hours and feeds surplus energy back into the grid.
New research from the Worldwatch institute suggests that the country’s abundant hydropower, wind, biomass, and geothermal energy resources are primed for introduction into the grid. Time is of the essence, however, as Haitian demand for electricity is expected to grow 11.8 percent annually through 2030.
Operation and management costs for the country’s antiquated petroleum-charged power plants are 4.5 times more than projected costs for solar, wind, and hydro. In the long run, however, the transition to sustainable energy can result in savings in excess of $5.84 billion compared to business as usual by 2030. This makes it difficult for EDH to recover costs and discourages further investment in new power plants.
In Germany, the energy industry, which has barely changed for the past 100 years, now has to cope with changing politics, external pressure, new market players and consumers who are increasingly concerned where their electricity comes from. People think the transition is accomplished but this is not yet the case”, says Florian Simon from Naturstrom. These partnerships distribute costs and larger investments in wind and solar parks are enabled through shared risk. This is particularly relevant as system operators must deal with the increase of non-on-demand renewables in their individual grids.
For this business model, collaborating is essential as different actors (tenants, landlords, and energy providers) are involved. In fact, solar’s potential is more than 200 times larger than all other alternative resources combined. Anyone who has visited a gas station to refill a tank recently could not have missed the drastic drop in fuel prices.
Carbon pricing is controversial because identifying the universally accepted “correct” price on curbing climate change is difficult.
However, the Supreme Court has put a hold on the implementation of CPP, citing potential overstepping of EPA authority. Similarly, they will leave their resources in the ground when other investments are better deals. This causes the price that suppliers receive to fall, and suppliers will make less of a profit than they otherwise would. Even a surprise climate policy that rises at the rate of interest may lead to more emissions sooner as suppliers might not really be a surprised at all, given the importance that climate change has taken in political debate. If extraction depends on building new oil rigs, however, these decisions can be delayed for years. This is because clean fuels would be more valuable in the future when the climate policy is anticipated to begin. All this modeling is great, but, since we are getting mixed results, should we really be worried about this? As we waited for the panel discussion to begin, audience members reached for their phones; the extent to which technology has permeated our lives is astounding at times.
While connectivity can be an asset in the developing world, little work has been done towards mitigating the harmful effects of chemicals and materials that often end up being shipped to the backyards of the world’s poorest. From the photos, it is clear that the existence of these waste-pickers is also infiltrated by machinery and technology, albeit in a very different way from the consumers.
Not least of which is that innovation is moving so fast that even innovators can sometimes fail to keep up.
An awareness of available alternative solutions and knowledge of the benefits of such solutions is also essential. To facilitate innovations, innovators and start-ups should not be restricted and held back by bureaucracies. Panel discussions like these enable progress, findings, learnings as well as challenges to be shared.
Such policies not only promote positive environmental stewardship, but also highlight business opportunities to support investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable water management, sustainable forestry and sustainable supply chains. On the other hand, there are cases where leading personalities might operate building controls much more than their peers. In fact, individuals who receive training on the use of controls are much happier with their environment and also more able to use these controls to improve their conditions. If the only result of experimentation is the latter, the firm will earn lower profits in the long run than if they did not experiment. This is consistent with firms both experimenting and maximizing production when learning to use new technology. Unlike capital or labor, carbon intensive resources (fossil fuels) are found unevenly around the world. This is an indication of a transfer of the rents from the exporting to the importing country under the carbon tax. All of these benefits occur despite the initial impetus for the carbon tax – raising revenue for infrastructure improvements. Despite not being motivated by environmental protection, a carbon tax slows production, reduces consumption, and benefits the environment. Recovery efforts have been insufficient, leaving the country reliant on aging, damaged, and often unreliable energy infrastructure. This limitation could yet become an opportunity, however, as “distributed” renewable energy generation from independent power producers is emerging as a viable option for serving these communities.
More importantly, HUM provides primary and secondary care services to an estimated 185,000 people, building vital human capacity lost in the fallout of the 2010 earthquake. By developing these resources, in addition to solar, Haiti can realistically meet 52 percent of its projected energy demand through 2030. Combined, these factors mean that, despite the slump in global oil market costs, total generation costs for petroleum-based power plants in Haiti are projected to increase nearly 6 percent annually through 2030. Yet more must be done to encourage stakeholders and investors in the energy sector to take the leap. Finally, Dena recently introduced the Digital Energy World Platform with the aim to bring various stakeholders together, to develop cross-sectoral solutions and to recommend actions in the digital sector. While this price drop may be good for budget-constrained consumers, it makes it more difficult for alternative energy expansion to gain momentum. That means that the rate of extraction and the price of the resource is determined by the prevailing interest rate. If suppliers expect a policy to start sometime in the future, they may shift some of their extraction to before the policy goes into force to make up for the drop in profits they are anticipating. While the exhibition is rooted in data surrounding e-waste, the visceral imagery of the photography allows for greater recognition of the scope of the problem than one might ascertain from statistics, alone. Incentives such as tax breaks and a stable policy environment would certainly help enable entrepreneurs to drive further developing of the renewable sector.
Although focused on the German case study many such findings, learning and lessons can be applied to other countries and continents.
Attention to environmental and social (E&S) issues helps us to better manage risk, attract and retain critical talent, develop expertise and provide clients with suggested solutions to pressing sustainability issues in their businesses. Thus, experimentation offers the opportunity for higher profits, but with greater uncertainty about profits. However, the research highlights that even in an industry with well-financed, technically-sophisticated leaders, firms are reluctant to experiment and do not trust data generated by their peers.
This geographic advantage means exporters of fossil fuels are able to charge a higher price because they have less competition. The success and momentum behind such projects highlights the abundant potential for distributed electricity generation from renewables in Haiti. Already, these costs are hindering EDH’s ability to invest in expanded coverage for the roughly two thirds of Haitians who lack access to modern and reliable electricity services. While technological improvements, increasing economies of scale, and the availability of a 30% investment tax credit have reduced the price of solar, it is evident that unsubsidized solar would not be competitive with conventional fossil fuels in the near future.
However, other policy instruments, such as cap-and-trade, use a market-based approach and do not rely on carbon pricing. Policy makers could employ the same economically efficient tools to keep fuels in the ground as they do to restraining emissions, such as taxes, cap-and-trade systems, and subsidies. Previous research has suggested that firms will do some experimentation and spend the rest of the time maximizing production based on their current understanding. Yet legislation proposing a cap-and-trade system was voted down multiple times in the Senate in 2003, 2005, and 2008. This can mean that the same amount of greenhouse gases that would have been emitted without the policy is just emitted sooner. Of course, we don’t just use fossil fuels for energy generation, the main source of greenhouse gas emissions. Consumers derive welfare from the wages they receive from firms, improvement in public infrastructure, and dividend payments they receive as owners of the firms. In the near term, more greenhouse gas is emitted today than would have otherwise been emitted. Governments use taxes to provide public infrastructure and choose tax rates to maximize consumer welfare. Still, supply-side policies are usually not even on the policy table, and perhaps they’re worth considering.

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