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This week, The New York Times published a blog post on its Green blog looking at the social cost of carbon. The post follows an effort spearheaded by 12 federal government to develop a “coherent standards for establishing the social cost of carbon” that would be used to assess the impact of government policies on everything from energy and manufacturing to transportation. The working group landed on a price of $21 per metric ton of carbon emissions, although recent research has shown that the social cost of climate change could be two to 12 times as much. The research underscores that while it’s difficult to calculate the cost of pollution, carbon emissions have a real impact at all levels of society. That’s why businesses and federal, state and local governments are taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint.
While looking at how the business community is addressing climate change, Environmental Leader reported this week that nearly 50 percent of CFOs believe sustainability is a key driver of financial performance and two-thirds are involved in driving strategies in their organizations. According to a survey conducted by Verdantix on behalf of Deloitte, in the past year, corporate executives accountable to their company’s board for sustainability issues increased from 20 percent to 36 percent. These accountable actions include tax and financial reporting and investments in technology that will help reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
Similar action is taking place within local government, where the city of Austin is taking steps to achieve its goal to become 100 percent carbon neutral by 2020. Smart Planet looked at how the Texas city has already decreased its emissions from 300,000 metric tons in 2007 when the goal was first established to 183,000 metric tons in 2011. Austin has made this progress by powering all city buildings and facilities with 100 percent renewable energy and converting its vehicles to alternative fuels or hybrid vehicles.