Carbon: the new black 'Do you care about the environment? We do too!' used to be the sort of advertising copy only marginal, 'tree-hugging' organisations would use. It is now in the marketing lexicon of UK-based easyJet, one of the most high-profile low-cost airline companies, part of a growing sector that have certainly contributed to massive increases in airline traffic in recent years. EasyJet has a prominent 'Environment' link on its website. It flaunts the company's Environment Code, its support for the UK's Stern Review, use of biodegradable chemicals, and other environment-friendly measures.1
Green guilt offsetting? Since the watershed moment in 2004 of HSBC announcing its intention to go 'carbon-neutral', many companies have become actively engaged in similar climate change responses. Typically, this includes a mix of energy efficiency measures, reducing consumption and waste, switching to suppliers of energy that are investing in renewables, using on-site micro-generation of power, and purchasing 'carbon offsets' for the amount of carbon still produced by their operations. In many cases the financial benefits have been clear: both DuPont and GE have taken measures that have saved them billions of dollars and substantially reduced their emissions.10
The buzz on biofuel In March, US President George Bush met with the three largest automotive manufacturers in the US to discuss reducing US gasoline consumption by 20%. The discussions centred around ethanol, with GM, Ford and Chrysler agreeing to develop cars able to run on biofuel, or at least a mix of 85% biofuel and 15% gasoline. Derived from renewable sources, domestically produced, with minimal direct GHG emissions, biofuels appear to be a promising alternative. Biofuels range from energy crops raised solely for ethanol production (soybeans, corn) to biowaste made from agricultural and animal waste, and. except for GHGs emitted during transportation and production, biofuel combustion itself does not release carbon dioxide. It can also be mixed with gasoline to up to 20%, lessening reliance on fossil fuels and decreasing carbon dioxide emissions.
Drowning in oil?In early 2007 the ramifications of the Russian government's December 21st deal with Shell over the Sakhalin II oil project were becoming clear. Shell had lost half of its 55% share of the $20 billion project, as a result of a suspension of the project due to environmental breaches. The government-owned oil company Gazprom had taken a majority stake.
Work-life blending With the global search for talent, employers have paid increasing attention to their 'work-life balance' policies to attract potential employees. Some have rejected this as an inappropriate label for what they call 'work-life blending': 'balance' implies a distinct separation between 'work' and 'life', whereas 'blending' describes the inseparable mix of the two. As The Future Laboratory's January 2007 report explained, the evolution and spread of technology, as well as changing expectations regarding one's job, made work-life blending one of the main trends impacting the world of work.26 Today, according to their report, nearly half of all workers (46.8%) have jobs that involve them working away from the office. From this, 41% of the men who spend time out of the office say that it constitutes more than ten hours (or more than a day) each week.
The rose water debate'So, this Valentine's Day, you can be a romantic, reduce your environmental impact and help make poverty history. This is about social justice and making it easier, not harder, for African people to make a decent living.' So argued the British International Development Secretary Hilary Benn in February, calling on British consumers to buy flowers from Kenya.37 Much of this production comes from the shores of Lake Naivasha, 120 km north-west of Nairobi in the scenic Rift Valley. The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) says flower farming is an important economic activity for the country. 'This is the fastest growing sector of the economy, only second to tea', said Loice Mwangi. In 2005, Kenya exported 81,000 tons of cut flowers and earned US$350 million (KES24 billion). The sector today employs between 50,000 and 70,000 people, with another one million depending on the farms through auxiliary services, according to Jane Ngige, the KFC head.
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