More on Nike and Coal

Steve Novick

If you read my piece the on coal the other day, you saw that I suggested that we call on American companies like Nike to reduce their use of coal in China and the other nations where they do their manufacturing. Looking at Nike's corporate responsibility reports, I see that they recognize the importance of reducing carbon emissions; acknowledge that their manufacturing operations are responsible for a narrow majority of their emissions; and acknowledge that renewable energy makes up just a fraction of their energy use.

So Nike is being fairly transparent on this issue (for which they should be commended), and kind of inviting our comments. I should also note that, under pressure from Greenpeace, Apple recently announced that it is taking steps to ensure that its American data centers are served by renewable energy. The idea of getting big corporations to buy renewable isn't far-fetched.

So let's take Nike up on their implicit invitation to discuss this issue. What percentage of the energy used in its Asian factories come from coal? Do they know if the coal plants meet American mercury and sulfur standards? Can they switch their existing factories to renewables? Can they ensure that any new plants have access to renewable power sources? Can they set a target that by X date, the percentage of their power from coal in their Asian operations will be no larger than the American average of percentage of power from coal (currently about 33%)? ((I think that last metric is important - it would mean that Nike, in doing its manufacturing in Asia, isn't using any more coal than if it did so here. I also recognize that it would be hard, because Asia, or at least China, doesn't have as much natural gas as we do here. But if Apple can go 100% renewable for its data centers, I bet Nike can go 67% coal-free in its Asian manufacturing facilities.)

I also see that Nike and other apparel companies (including Columbia Sportswear) have adopted a "sustainability index" for products, that they call the "Higgs Index," but they have not made the components of the index public. Let's let them know that we hope that carbon emissions should be a dominant factor in that index.

I don't know what's going to happen with the coal export issue. But I do know that Oregon's most famous company uses a lot of energy in China. And it's inviting scrutiny of its energy use. Let's let them know that we're watching, and that we'll be proud -- and we suspect Wieden and Kennedy can make it work for them - if they can reduce the consumption of coal to Asia.

Here's the Nike link.

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    I like the idea. Let’s watch Nike.

    Given the fracking revolution, China does have estimated large natural gas reserves (see here). As I understand it, accessing the gas will require sophisticated fracking technology which they do not yet have. Thus one big variable for the future demand for coal in China will be how fast and to what extent China can develop this new natural gas potential as a cheaper, cleaner alternative.

    Let’s also begin to send Portland high school students to study abroad in China as “Global Climate Change Ambassadors.” See my blog post Send 100 Portland high school students to China as “Global Climate Change Ambassadors.”

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      Perhou have missed the conversation about the increased cimate change power of fracked gas because of mentane emissions. Not a solution.

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    Working on Nike to reduce its carbon footprint - good idea. Preventing coal exports - crucial.

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    I thought this conversation all started when Novick said it would violate his moral code to try and stop coal exports moving through Oregon. That didn't seem to sit to well with the opponents of the exports.

    So now we are trying to shift the focus on Nike in China... uh well that's nice I guess and it certainly gets the debate a long ways from any issues that may face the Portland City Council.

    IMHO Apple and Facebook claims that they are going to use 100% renewable energy for their data storage centers in Prineville seems to be primarily public relations and not borne out by the facts as I believe each has long term contracts with PPL (correct me if I'm wrong) which is a utility itself and the parent corp are very heavily invested in coal.

    Now PGE gets about 15% of their power from Boardman coal plant (which Novick calls a small part of their power)- this is the largest single point air polluter in the state and one of the filthiest out dated coal plants in the US. The regulation is incomplete and reckless at the state level as you may recall within the past few years the state regulators claimed that they had not enforced federal mercury emmisson standards for years because they didn't know what they were. Oh gosh I guess those were Democratic administrations- oh well accidents happen who can keep track of all those things anyway?

    So why to talk about Nike's bad habits? Well to start with they are enscounced in Beaverton- well bordering Beaverton since heaven forbid they should have to pay taxes. Which is of course not Portland where Novick is now running for office.

    Let's face it Portland has a coal problem with about 15% of it's energy coming from one filthy coal plant. Why isn't he talking about Portland's coal problem- one set of problems that might actually fall somewhere under his desired jurisdiction?

    It's a heck of a lot easier to bitch about Nike I am sure and it's good politics to shift the issue el pronto.

    I think he is really grasping the nuances of our Democratic shuck and jive on energy- pretty soon he'll be ready to be Governor, count on that I tell you.

    People in Portland may not get it but I tell you Obama, Wyden, Merkley are all loosing ground in rural Oregon right now over these huge wind energy projects and the Obama administration approved another one out of Bend they other day- they are going to protect our wildlife while they are giving permits to kill Golden Eagles.

    I don't know about the Bend one but the big ones coming in here E-On and Iberdrola both have coal and nuclear plants world wide and in many parts of the world are called "climate criminals."

    Which ones did you work for Steve?

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    First we allowed our jobs to be exported to China. Now we are asked to allow export to China of the energy to support those jobs, a process that will pollute our land and our bodies on the way, and will increase the disastrous destabilization of our climate as end result. Hell no!

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