Purpose, Values, and Action: Corporate Responsibility in SMEs

Multinational Corporations have been at the center of the discussion surrounding corporate responsibility.  This has occurred for two main reasons:

1. Multinationals have received a significant amount of “bad press” in recent years – from oil spills, to child labor scandals, to world financial meltdowns – pressuring them to “shape up”

2. Multinationals maintain significant power and influence over the global economy, providing “quick, meaningful wins” for environmental and social activists when they decide to “do better”.

Large multinational companies have the power to make a significant, individual impact in improving the conditions of communities and promoting environmental preservation. Although Large Enterprises (with 500 employees or more) totaled only 2% of companies that exported products in 2010 in the US, they accounted for 68% of the total value of exports – making them very powerful in terms of the amount of resources and products they manage.

However, we must not ignore the achievements of America’s Small and Medium Enterprises.

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The Carbon Capture and Storage Debate: Are we “Locking Out” the low carbon energies of the future?

As explained in a previous post, Government policy can have enormous impact in shaping our technological base in the future by promoting the “locking in” or “locking out” of certain technological innovation.

Just as Governments can help incentivize the “lock in” of renewable energy technology into our energy future, their decisions can also play a large role in whether or not we can “kick the habit” for fossil fuels.

One example if this comes in the European Union’s support of Carbon Capture and Storage technology through the NER300 Programme.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Carbon Capture and Storage is a technology meant to capture the CO2 emissions from coal, oil, or gas plants combustion and store it so that it is not emitted into the atmosphere, which would further aggravate climate change.

Sounds interesting right?

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The EU Emissions Trading System and the Complexities of Incentivizing a Clean Energy Future

The European Union has been working diligently to promote the expansion of a low carbon economy. They have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, passed a relatively rigorous energy strategy for 2020, and created the largest Carbon Cap and Trade System in the World: the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

To briefly explain how the EU ETS works, industries that are part of the trading scheme are given emissions allocations – or credits (the right to emit 1 ton of CO2 into the atmosphere). They must either reduce their emissions to the amount of credits allocated to them, or buy additional credits for every ton of CO2 over the allotted number of emissions allocations given to them. These emissions credits can be purchased on the EU ETS carbon market. Industries that reduce their emissions lower than the number of credits given to them will have a surplus of credits and can sell their extra emissions credits on the carbon market.

Each year, industries must hand over to the government the amount of emissions credits equal to the quantity of CO2 emissions they emitted within that year. The submission of credits to the government creates the necessity for some industries to buy emissions allocations if they have emitted more than they were allotted, and also gives the incentive for others to sell their surplus of credits if they have more allocations than they emitted. This supply and demand for credits creates the market for carbon.

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