Archive of Hunter Lovins’ Resources

L. Hunter Lovins

What follows is an archive of ALL L. Hunter Lovins’ articles, blogs, video, slides, and press from presentations around the world, listed in chronological order.

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Lovins calls for industry, politics to embrace sustainability

By Eilis Donohue on November 16, 2016 in NEWS – Vassar College

Environmentalism and industry do not often go hand in hand in political discussions. President and Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions and Professor of Sustainable Manage­ment at Bard College Hunter Lovins, who gave a lecture on campus on Nov. 14, proposes that sus­tainability and business can, and should, work in concert to create a financially and environ­mentally secure future for the world.

Lovins focused on the interaction of politics, economy and the environmental movement, with an emphasis on the way the election of Donald Trump will shape policy, industry and sustainability in the coming years. The lecture had been planned since before election night, so Lovins had anticipated working topical politics into her talk. Her overlapping interests and ex­pertise as an environmental business consultant lent her a clarity about the election, and she offered some wry observations. “Now perhaps this was meant to be. In 1920 H.L. Mencken said, ‘As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the soul of the people. On some great and glo­rious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright moron.’”

She acknowledged that the mistakes of the Democratic Party discouraged voter turnout, prompting the election to play out as it did. After all, she said, “We ran the two least-liked candidates in anybody’s recollection…The Dem­ocratic Party allowed itself to be portrayed as the party of the elite, of the bankers, of the neo­liberals. The Democrats once stood for ordinary people. [Trump’s election] is being celebrated of a victory of the little guy over the elite.”

However, she expressed that the only path forward is acceptance of what happened and deliberate, progressive action moving forward. “I think we are called upon now, as Buckminster Fuller said, to be the architects of the future, not its victims,” she urged. Looking out at the au­dience, she encouraged everyone to move past the feelings of despair and anger that may have arisen in the past week and instead embrace the vast potential of the future. “See this as an op­portunity for transformation,” she advised. “The system that we have built doesn’t represent us, and it doesn’t enable our own personal empow­erment,” she explained. “We need disruption [to change]. This may be one of those climactic events that change everything.”

As the world works right now, she explained, the world serves the economy, which serves fi­nance. However, the proper balance should be that finance serves the economy, which in turns serves life. This was the foundation of the argu­ment for what she terms “natural capitalism,” or “regenerative capitalism,” incorporating princi­ples of sustainability, such as balance, adaptabil­ity, community engagement and holistic wealth of the system, into business designs and deci­sions.

Part of making industry sustainable is shifting ideologies to a more holistic and all-inclusive concept of wealth, one not limited to money, but including consideration of the needs and resources of the world. Pointing to a somber graphic, she gave examples of the backward­ness of capitalist consumerism, saying, “What [Americans] spend on makeup would pay for reproductive health care around the world. Bot­tled water could provide clean drinking water three times over for the whole world.”

Many businesses shy away from sustainabil­ity because they do not believe it is profitable, and are wary of regulations that would stunt their financial growth. On the contrary, Lovins asserted that companies that do measure their carbon footprint and take measures to reduce it see positive returns on that investment. “Sus­tainability is the touchstone of innovation,” she remarked. “This is business. And in the environ­ment in which we now find ourselves, I think this is the way to go forward, to work on the is­sues that we care about.”

Additionally, companies who want to attract a young workforce would do well to make sus­tainability a component of their operations, she suggested. “Almost all young people want to be involved in something bigger than themselves, want to be working for a green company,” she said. Fiona Harbert ’18, who attended the lec­ture, wrote in an email, “I feel like I’ve learned to antagonize big businesses, but Lovins demon­strated how much change those companies can catalyze, because they create standards.” She continued, “Although I don’t think that these huge companies can necessarily exist as they are in a perfectly sustainable future because of the immense growth that they are constantly seeking, it is interesting to think about them as a means towards wider change.”

One of the most contentious issues of the 2016 election cycle, and one of Trump’s most robust platforms, was the creation and main­tenance of jobs in this country. While Trump promises a restoration of old industry and man­ufacturing jobs, Lovins argued that the future of employment and a healthy economy lies in sustainability. “You want jobs? It turns out the green economy is the fastest-growing sector of the economy,” she noted. Chair of Earth Science and Geography and Associate Professor of Ge­ography Mary Ann Cunningham agreed that the way forward does not lie in the businesses of the past, saying, “It’s not like industry as we know it is saving us; it’s telling us it’s saving us and we’re believing it. Industry tells us a lot of things we believe.”

Lovins stressed that the current fossil-fu­el-based economy can not last much longer, and that businesses would do well to explore a prof­itable future outside of the coal and gas indus­tries. “You might want to start thinking about divesting. Because once this goes down, it will go down very fast.”

Many people are concerned about the em­ployment of vast swathes of Americans in the coming years, and thus are wary of moving away from the established system. Lovins, and others of her mindset, believe that the future may lie in renewable energy instead. “[W]e tell ourselves that more manufacturing jobs and going back to steel production in steel towns is going to save jobs, and that’s not true. And everybody knows it. I think [in] Appalachia, they know they’re not going to go back to a lot of well-paying union coal mine jobs. That’s not going to happen. No matter how much they dislike Hillary, Trump’s not going to be able to give it to them,” Cunning­ham insisted. “So we all need to work together and find something else, because they have very legitimate concerns about employment and their futures.”

14 November 2016 | New York, NY | Sustainability Leadership Forum

L. Hunter Lovins, “Sustainability Leadership”

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14 November 2016 | Poughkeepsie, NY | Vassar College

L. Hunter Lovins, “A Finer Future Is Possible”

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28 October 2016 |Denver, CO |NAEM Women's Leadership Breakfast

L. Hunter Lovins “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way”

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25 October 2016 | Denver, CO | Cultivating an Economy in Service to Life

L. Hunter Lovins “A Finer Future”

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Colorado Carbon Fund Re-Launch Event

On October 19, we celebrated our new management of the Colorado Carbon Fund (CCF) and its return, back to Colorado! The CCF, founded in 2008 by the Colorado Energy Office, was the first state-based program in the country designed to help individuals, businesses and communities offset greenhouse gas emissions and support innovative, local climate and community benefit solutions. We are thrilled to take over management of this iconic program and look forward to expanding its impact with community and climate benefit programs here in Colorado

13 October 2016 | Tuebingen, Germany | Humanistic Management Conference

L. Hunter Lovins “The Narrative That Ate The Planet”

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Hunter Lovins & Bill Becker Communicating Climate Issues

L. Hunter Lovins & Bill Becker
This interview and discussion with the participants of the 2016 Climate Knowledge Brokers workshop at NREL in Golden, Colorado explores the intricacies in connecting effectively with lawmakers and decision makers on climate issues.

12 October 2016 | Tuebingen, Germany | Humanistic Management Conference

L. Hunter Lovins “Our Responsibility: A Finer Future”

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7 October 2016 | Oberlin, OH | After Fossil Fuels - The Next Economy Conference

L. Hunter Lovins, “A Finer Future”

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6 October 2016 | Dubuque, IA | Growing Sustainable Communities

L. Hunter Lovins, “A Finer Future”

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16 September 2016 | New York, NY | ISSP Leaders in Sustainability

L. Hunter Lovins “A Finer Future”

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14 September 2016 |Denver, CO | EcoDistricts Summit 2016

L. Hunter Lovins: “People and Planet and Neighborhoods”

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13 September 2016 | Seattle, WA | Built Green Conference

L. Hunter Lovins “Integrated Business Case for Green Building”

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Putting a Price on Carbon

Experts in sustainable finance and climate policy, including Hunter Lovins,  joined together at The Alliance Center to discuss what could be a pivotal climate change mitigation strategy: putting a price on carbon. With Bill Becker, Mark Reynolds, and Congresswoman Diana DeGette as moderator.

Regenerative Agriculture: Balbo Jr, Lovins and Potočnik - CE100 Annual Summit 2016

Revitalizing Agriculture Approach pioneer Leontino Balbo Jr, author and expert on Natural Capitalism Hunter Lovins and former European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik discuss a new approach to agriculture. Find out more about the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and CE100 network at

The Future of Oil & Gas - With Hunter Lovins and Dave Peterson

“A Public Affairs” on KGNU on Thursday, August 5, 2016. Hunter Lovins of Natural Capitalism Solutions and Dave Peterson, who has served on the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, discuss the future of oil and gas, including fracking, especially for Colorado.

Listen to the entire show here!

22 June 2016 | London, England | Circular Economy 100 Annual Summit

L. Hunter Lovins: “The Circular Economy of Soil”

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Regenerative Agriculture: The other 50% of the climate solution

The Paris Agreement focuses on emissions, but this is only 50% of the solution. Atmospheric carbon drawdown is the other half of the solution. Hunter Lovins of acknowledges that the French 4 p 1000 Initiative is a good initiative and that companies are a key engine of delivery for regenerative solutions.

A Better Story

L. Hunter Lovins
June 2016

“You walk into the future by laying the runway out in front of people. You clear the impediment littering the ground, smooth the surface, and enable people to see the route. If you want to change a paradigm, you have to tell a better story”

The Problems

The global economy rests on a knife-edge, based on the unsustainable assumptions and business practices of Cheater Capitalism. The current paradigm, subsidizing incumbent technologies and corporate profits and bailing out too-big- to-fail banks and companies, while socializing losses and privatizing commons, is impoverishing citizens, communities, and countries, driving societies and ecosystems into successive collapses. Palliative “fixes” can delay collapse—but only for a time.

Change WILL happen because ecosystems and economies are already collapsing, and because a finer future is being entrepreneured. Both are important. We’re in a horse race with catastrophe, but the good news is that we’re in the race. A healthy economy—what John Fullerton calls a Regenerative Economy—is emerging. The science fiction writer William Gibson said that the future is already here; it’s just not widely distributed. The key principle is that this new economy is embedded within, and depends on, a healthy ecosystem. Because the one we have now is not.

Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, building on the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, warned that climate change and other assaults are tipping coral reefs, the Amazon, the acidifying oceans and other ecosystems into collapse. The Planetary Boundaries report set scientifically agreed safe boundaries for human impacts, showing how humankind has already exceeded four of these, and is fast approaching others. Dr. Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics shows that, despite the excesses by which our current economy extracts and quickly throws away resources, we are failing to meet minimum requirements to ensure well-being and dignity for all of the world’s people.

Developing nations struggle to lift from poverty the half of the world’s population that lives on less than $2.50 a day. Millions of drought-driven refugees across the north of Africa join people threatened by too much or too little glacial melt water and monsoon floods from the Himalaya to Columbia. It is clear that climate change will hit the most vulnerable hardest. Yet, these poorest three billion emit only seven percent of emissions. The richest seven percent [about half a billion people] spew out 50 percent. Issues of inequality are not only immoral, but threaten economic stability. Dr’s Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have shown that health and social problems are worse in more unequal countries. Their book, The Spirit Level, shows that people in more equal societies live longer, have better mental health, and have better chances for a good education regardless of background. Community life is stronger where the income gap is narrower, children do better at school and they are less likely to become teenage parents. When inequality is reduced, people trust each other more, there is less violence, and rates of imprisonment are lower.



Roughly Right vs Really Wrong

Huffington Post
L. Hunter Lovins
June 2016

capitalHunter Lovins explains that when it comes to valuing nature, it’s better to be roughly right than really wrong.

This article has been submitted as part of the Natural Capital Coalition’s series of blogs on natural capital by Hunter Lovins, President, Natural Capitalism Solutions, Professor of Sustainable Management, Bard MBA and Time Magazine Millennium “Hero of the Planet”.

“NATURAL CAPITAL!” the famous author snarled at me, “It’s NATURE! It’s PEOPLE! not capital. You can’t call them capital; they’re… they’re…spiritual,” he spat at me. “You can’t put a price tag on them. It’s immoral.”

“Financial markets put prices on them every day,” I answered. “Actuarial tables assign a value to human life. Captains of industry see both people and nature as capital.” I quoted Pavan Sukhdev, chair of the landmark report from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), who pointed out that if you cannot prove that nature has a higher worth, corporate beancounters will enter it into business equations as having a value of zero. “That”, I said, “is why so much of what we value is being liquidated. No price on nature can ever capture its full worth, but it’s better to be roughly right than really wrong.”

The author went away mad, and we’ve yet to have the conversation saying that I agree with him that the wild places of the world should be accorded intrinsic worth, that the loss of cultures and languages driven by the Mac-homoginization of the world is tragic. How many times have I quoted Theodore Geisel to audiences: “I am the Lorax, I stand for the trees.” Then, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”



18 May 2016 | Boulder, CO | 8th Annual ARCS Research Conference

L. Hunter Lovins: “What Sustainability Needs to Know”

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9 May 2016 | Los Angeles, CA |Campbell Hall General Assembly

L. Hunter Lovins: “What Can You Do”

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24 April 2016 | Dallas, TX | Earth Day TX

L. Hunter Lovins: “Economics for the Anthropocene”

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Colorado Mountain College Sustainability Conference

Hunter Lovins was the Keynote for the 2016 Colorado Mountain College Sustainability Conference in Steamboat Springs, CO. This was a wonderful event where NCS helped CMC launch the “Sustainability Action Plan Recommendations Report

21 April 2016 | Steamboat Springs, CO | CMC Sustainability Conference

L. Hunter Lovins: “Education in the Anthropocene”

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Sustainable Manufacturing Forum at Pratt & Whitney | April 19, 2016

Hunter Lovins shares how sustainability has a strong business case and smart companies are embracing the challenges of Climate Change and resource constraints in their operations and strategy.

19 April 2016 | Hartford, Connecticut |Sustainable Manufacturing Forum

L. Hunter Lovins: “Flying into the Future”

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Sustainable Manufacturing Forum | Pratt & Whitney | 19 April 2016

Hunter Lovins shares how sustainability has a strong business case and smart companies are embracing the challenges of Climate Change and resource constraints in their operations and strategy.

12 April 2016 | Long Island, NY | LIU Sustainability Dinner

L. Hunter Lovins: “Economy for the Anthropocene”

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11 April 2016 | Annandale-on-Hudson, NY | Bard Environmental & Urban Studies Colloquium

L. Hunter Lovins: “Economy for the Anthropocene:

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Leading for Wellbeing

Natural Capitalism Solutions, with the Humanistic Management Network, have created “Leading for Wellbeing”. Learn all about this project in the video below!

Support this project here!

Leading for Well Being from Kindea Labs on Vimeo.

8 April 2016 | Monterrey, Mexico | Humanistic Management Network Conference

L. Hunter Lovins: “Triumph of the Green Giants”

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Leading at the Local Level

Hunter Lovins, President of Natural Capitalism Solutions, Pat Burt, Mayor of Palo Alto, CA, and John Bernhardt, Outreach & Communications Director for the Clean Coalition, presented in a webinar on:

– Effective strategies municipalities are implementing to go carbon neutral and meet their community’s broader sustainability goals
– New, innovative models being used by cities to support the development of local renewable energy
– Palo Alto: A case study in bringing solar to city-owned properties

Leading for Well-being

Huffington Post
L. Hunter Lovins
February 2016


In a world beset with woes, people hunger for a sense of who they are, where they belong and what they believe in.

Sixty million refugees are on the move, climate chaos is upon us, and the global economy teeters. Demagogues call for the worst in us, and find fertile ground in a political alienation that allows a flight to easy answers and loss of liberty in pursuit of stability.

Our economic narrative extols competition, perfect markets and unfettered growth in a world in which the rugged individual is seen as the only legitimate economic actor. The result is huge inequality in which 62 individuals have as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion. Too big to fail crushes local self-determination.

Humanity has exceeded the planetary boundaries, yet we fail to deliver the basic standard of living needed to ensure human dignity for all people. As many of 30% of young people fear that they don’t have a future, and teen suicide is at record numbers.

Millions of people reportedly hate their jobs. The annual Gallup Healthways survey of worker satisfaction warns that more people are more unhappy than at any time measured, driving a disengagement at work that is costing the U.S. $400 billion in lost productivity annually.

To compensate, as Dana Meadows put it, we seek to meet non-material needs with material things.

And we grow lonelier.


More Charging Stations Give Electric Cars More Range

Shelley Schlender
January 2016

Neil Belmore and his son Matt are on a road trip from Toronto to Palo Alto, California – 4300 kilometers – driving without stopping for gas. They’re powering up their all-electric Tesla Model S at charging stations along the way.

Not too long ago, electric car owners couldn’t plan a road trip like that. The lack of charging stations outside of major cities kept them fairly close to home. That, and the high price tag of electric cars, meant these alternative vehicles were only a tiny slice of the auto market.

Dawn of the electric age?

But at least one of those obstacles is being overcome. It’s getting easier to find charging stations all across the country, and around the world.  Many Internet maps can now display the expanding network.

There are several stations in the parking lot of a luxury Colorado shopping center. The parking lot attendant calls the sleek oval electric charging stands a bargain.

“We give you one hour free to charge your Tesla,” he explained.

In Kansas, after driving down a country road surrounded by sunflowers and growing crops, Tesla drivers can power up for free at a Holiday Inn. That’s where the Belmores have stopped to plug in their shiny black Tesla. Neil says he and his son are sharing the driving.

“He’s a very fast Tesla driver, I have to say.  He makes me nervous.”  Matt laughed.


6 January 2016 | Boulder, CO | Voice of America Radio Show Interview

“From Coast to Coast, It’s Getting Easier to Go Electric in the U.S.”

Hunter Lovins takes you on a drive in her Nissan Leaf with Shelly Schlender on Voice of America and chats about the current trends and future of electric vehicles

13 January 2016 | NCS Webinar | Creating Value from your School's Sustainability & Climate Commitment

L. Hunter Lovins and Peter Krahenbuhl: “Creating Value from your School’s Sustainability & Climate Commitment”

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5 January 2016 | Denver, CO | The Road Beyond Paris

The first event of the year hosted by the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado was a sold-out event! In case you missed out, check out the full length video here! It was a great evening with one incredible panel: Hunter Lovins, Governor Bill Ritter, Senator Tim Wirth, and Bill Becker!

The road after Paris climate accord involves lots of local, hard work

Mountain Town Newsparis
Allen Best
January 2016

An agreement was struck at the Paris climate talks that may in the future be seen as a turning point in the effort to stall the worst of climate change impacts. But it wasn’t easy, as former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth illustrated in a story he told Tuesday in Denver.

Wirth has been engaged in climate change issues since 1974, when he was first elected to Congress, and then later, in 1997, was the chief U.S. negotiator at Kyoto.

Paris succeeded largely because of two reasons, he said. One was the decision to reach agreement with a bottoms-up approach, instead of the top-down approach used before, with the developed countries telling the developing countries what must happen.

Also crucial to success in Paris was the agreement struck between the U.S. and China and announced by President Barack Obama in November 2014. The United States and Chinese have “very real, very important” differences that cannot be understated, said Wirth. But in the vital issue of climate change, committed Chinese and American representatives put together the deal that showed commitment by the world’s two largest polluters.




Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management

Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management

Huffington Post
L. Hunter Lovins
December 2015

We’ve all felt it. Anxiety before an exam; the realization that we are about to be hurt, the sick feeling when kids with Kalashnikovs kill hundreds in the streets of Paris. Once, as the crew boss on a fire crew, I was assigned to protect a house against a fast moving brush fire. Deployed at the road’s edge, we got hoses ready, truck pump primed. Then the flames came at us, bigger and faster than we’d thought. Our only option was to hold our position, stay behind our fog spray and fight it.

As it roared at us, one young man yelled, “RUN!”

“If you run, we die,” I stared him down. “Fight it, we live.”

We did, and saved the house. The flames roared around our fog pattern. We lived to chase them all afternoon before finally declaring the fire out.

These days I hear a fear that reminds me of my young firefighter. Kids ask me if they’re going to have a future. They fear that climate change and other environmental harm will cut short their lives. Perhaps because of this, young people suffer record rates of affective anxiety disorder (fear of the future,) some say as high as 25%. Suicide, after years of falling rates, is at its highest level in 50 years, triple US homicides. Teen suicide is now the second largest cause of death for youths aged 15 -24.


23 November 2015 | Denver, CO | Encyclical to Action

If you missed out, you can watch the full length video of our Encyclical to Action event here! Thank you to everyone who came out and participated in this wonderful event. We look forward to continuing these dialogues and workshops in 2016

23 November 2015 | Denver, CO | Encyclical to Action

Hear what our amazing panel had to say in these one-on-one interviews!

23 November 2015 | Denver, CO | Encyclical to Action

This was our first in a series of dialogues aimed at taking Pope Francis’ Encyclical to Action. It was a wonderful evening with an amazing panel of speakers. We all went home motivated to craft the strategy necessary for change!

5 November 2015 | United Kingdom | Disruptive Innovation Festival

Hunter Lovins was part of the Disruptive Innovation Festival, hosted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Watch her webcast on Regenerative Economics and the Circular Economy here!

28 October 2015 | Boulder, CO |Regenerative Economics

Hunter Lovins kicked off the “Future of Humanity” series at Chautauqua Community House with this talk on Regenerative Economics. It was a great evening!

Video by Michael Kosacoff, Highland City Club

28 October 2015 | Boulder, CO | The Future of Humanity

L. Hunter Lovins: “Regenerative Economics”

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16 October 2015 | Baden Baden, Germany | International Economic Forum

L. Hunter Lovins: “Collapse or Sustainable Wellbeing”

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13 October 2015 | Sardinia, Italy | Humanistic Tourism Conference

L. Hunter Lovins: “Humanistic Tourism Experience Sardinia”

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8 October 2015 | Tuebingen, Germany | Global Ethic Institute

L. Hunter Lovins: “Prudence”

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Climate leaders should work with oil companies to put a price on carbon


Photo from Nick Moore/Alamy

The Guardian
L. Hunter Lovins
September 2015


As Pope Francis visits the US, and the UN Summit on Sustainable Development and Climate Week kick off in New York City this week, government leaders, businesses, activists and global citizens will be discussing new ideas to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Here’s one: take up the European oil industry on their surprising, and so far largely ignored, offer to pay for the carbon their products create.

In June, six large European oil companies – BP, Shell, Statoil, Total, BG and Eni –called for an international price on carbon. Citing a desire to reduce business uncertainty, the companies asked world governments, and December’s UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, for country-by-country carbon prices and a framework to link them into a global system.

Whatever the motives of the oil companies, when such big polluters are willing to put a price on their emissions – a practice that could cost them significantly more to do business – it’s a big deal.

The fact that some oil companies are taking this stance could prevent companies opposing a price on carbon from claiming to represent the entire industry.


29 September 2015 | Swansea, Wales |Lean and Green Consortium

L. Hunter Lovins: “A Finer Future Is Possible”

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24 September 2015 | Guayaquil, Ecuador | Green Latin America Awards

L. Hunter Lovins: “Ecuadorian Sustainability”

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The Triumph of Solar in the Energy Race

Photo from Unsplash

L Hunter Lovins
August 2015


We stand on the cusp of the biggest transformation of our lives.

Humanity is in a horse race against catastrophe. The bad news is all around us from loss of species to global warming, social fragmentation, and growing inequality. The good news is that we’re in the race.

And we might just be winning. The speed with which renewable energy, especially solar, is growing means we can solve the climate crisis, create jobs, reinvigorate manufacturing and buy the time needed to do the more fundamental work of implementing the Regenerative Economy – an economy in service to life.


In the last year, the chronology of change has been inspiring. In June 2014, Citi Group released its “Energy Darwinism” report, warning of the “alarming fall in the price of solar.” Alarming to whom? Citi stated that this was now the Era of Renewables, predicting that within 10 years solar, even without subsidies, would be the cheapest way to generate electricity.


Countries That Lead the Switch to Clean Energy Will Reap the Financial Rewards


An antique gas station pump is converted to provide a solar powered charging point in California.
Photograph: Joseph DeSantis/Getty Images

The Guardian
L Hunter Lovins
April 29, 2015

At this year’s Paris climate summit we need to change the tired narrative that developing nations need to follow the dirty coal route to financial prosperity. The numbers increasingly come out in favour of first movers to renewables.

Silicon Valley start-ups are proud of their fast-paced culture and being first movers in creating new product categories and markets.

UN climate change summits are the opposite: they sit and discuss the risks of being first movers by transforming our energy systems to reduce emissions and protect our planet, but only the proverbial second mouse gets the cheese. Silicon Valley treasures those who take risks, fail fast and iterate – at this year’s Paris climate change summit we need to adopt more of this approach.

The stance developing nations often take at international climate negotiations is that the rich got rich burning coal and oil, so why should poorer countries sacrifice their economic development for the good of future generations? Better to get rich via fossil fuels now even if we roast later, the logic seems to go, despite UN envoy on climate change Mary Robinson recently making the case for developing countries skipping straight to renewable power.

Meanwhile, coal companies have successfully persuaded some developing countries’ governments to buy into the notion that fossil fuels are essential to tackle energy poverty and US Republicans have long argued the US doesn’t need to tackle its polluters until developing countries cut their own emissions.



Hunter's Corner: Traveling The Globe To Create a Movement That Matters

Hunter in China with New Economy movers and shakers

Hunter in China with New Economy movers and shakers

Spring 2015

Where did winter go? My friends in the Northeast are pleased to see it move off, but for me it’s been a blur.

My main priority has been to push forward the creation of a narrative for an economy in service to life—one that works for 100% of humanity, as Bucky Fuller put it.

This is something I cannot do alone, so I have been pulling together a coalition of leaders from across the globe. After pitching the idea at the Club of Rome, I was asked to serve on their Executive Committee and help make it one of their three core-action pillars.

We made progress in February when the DeTao Academy in China invited core members of the coalition to Shanghai, chaired by Dr Robert Costanza, who is the one who got me into all this in the first place. In this meeting on the Future New Economy my colleagues, John Fullerton of Capital Institute, on whose advisory Board I serve, and Dr Robert Eccles, now overseeing the creation of the new Sustainability Accounting Standards Board here in the US, discussed transforming finance, accounting and all aspects of our economy. Today John is releasing the full version of his seminal Regenerative Capitalism paper: livestream at 4:30pm EDT. Follow the #RegenerativeCapitalism hashtag on twitter for real-time updates.

In two weeks I’ll join John and some of the biggest brains I know on an island off Stockholm to try to set out a strategy for how we go about getting to this new economy.

We can do it. Never thought I’d say this, but we’re winning. Whether it’s the news on China’s coal imports in the first three months of 2015 being 42% below a year ago, or talks with utilities trying to figure how to move rapidly toward renewable solutions, I’m more encouraged than I’ve been in years. This is the message I’ll give for my dear friend Anne Butterfield’s “Soiree” this Saturday in Boulder. Join me for a great evening of conversation.

It’s also what I said in March at Maui’s conference on the Future Utility Customer, as I urged the state to commit to 100% renewable energy.And again last week at my dear friend Bob King’s SPEER Summit on energy efficiency in Texas, when I warned that the thinking of the last century is changing fast: Eon and RWE the two biggest, previously fossil-based utilities in Europe, watched profits fall last year respectively 60% and 91% as Germany shifts rapidly to renewable energy. Both Eon and RWE are now divesting of their fossil assets. Citi Group’s Energy Darwinism report warns of the “alarming fall in the price of solar.” Alarming to whom? And Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance wrote last week that Fossil fuel just lost the race against renewables, saying: “…there is going to be a substantial buildout of renewable energy that is likely to be an order of magnitude larger than the buildout of coal and gas.” Congratulate yourselves, all of you have  worked so long to bring about this transformation.  It’s happening.

The next couple months will be spent on an airplane. You can follow me on twitter @hlovins as I jet to Stockholm for my economy work and to London to work with the Guardian, for whom I am now writing: see my latest two “Life after divestment: how to spend the money saved from fossil fuel investments,” and “The climate denier’s guide to getting rich from fossil fuel divestment.”

Then back to NY to teach at Bard—finishing my class in political economy and overseeing student capstone projects, several of which will truly make a difference. Any of you who ever thought about taking an MBA in sustainable management with me, we’re forming up our class for next fall. Contact Katie Van Sant: if you want to come play.

After a quick run to Morocco to keynote a conference for the King of Morocco on Doing Well and Doing Good, I’ll return to Colorado to keynote a summit on divesting from ownership of fossil fuels, and why, if you’ve just divested you should be moving your money from harm to healing (I have…have you?) I’m working on this with the new investment advisory service, Principium to build a set of portfolios that are genuinely fossil fuel free, focused on the best new economy companies as well as the blue-chips, like Unilever, that have embedded sustainability into the core of their operations.

So welcome to spring. That said, last week, on a five campus tour, crossing the Berkshires to keynote the “Strengthening Ties for Collective Impact: Campus Sustainability in the Northeast Region” conference at U Mass, it snowed on us. And tonight there’s 5 inches predicted for the ranch.

Not whining—we need the moisture. This was the hottest 3-month start of any year on record and will likely be the hottest year ever.  As always, there’s more work to be done! And as always I cannot do it without you. Thanks for making it possible.

The Veil of Energy Poverty

Unreasonable Institute
L. Hunter Lovins
January, 2015



It’s flattering to be asked to be a poster child for a major international campaign.

The language was veiled but the implication clear: Would I help a big company undertake a campaign to end energy poverty? The client? Peabody Coal, the largest private-sector coal company in the world. I told the caller that I wanted nothing to do with his client or his campaign. The logic didn’t work.

Yes, energy poverty is real, and no, coal is not an answer to it.

I’ve been in the Central Highlands of Afghanistan. When night falls in December, the temperature drops by 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit—it’s real dark, and real cold. I’ve spent nights with families who cook with wood, the women, especially, dying young from smoke.

Yes, energy poverty is real, and no, coal is not an answer to it. Tweet This Quote

But sorry, coal won’t help them. Yes, the Afghans could have burned coal in their homes, but when used domestically, coal is nasty. And Peabody has no interest in selling their product door-to-door. They dig big holes in the ground for one reason: to flow megatons of coal to powerplants—releasing gigatons of carbon into the air. From an environmental and health standpoint, mines are dangerous and polluting. In North CarolinaTennessee and hundreds of other sites coal ash spills laced with heavy metals that cause cancer and neurological damage are polluting rivers, killing fish, and damaging communities. Big, coal-fired power plants are no longer an economical way to bring high quality life and energy services to poor people anywhere on the planet. Nothing about it makes sense.

Central-station power plants aren’t cheap. In states from Montana to Texas, utility regulators have denied permission for new ones because they cost more than wind. In places like India, where Enron flogged off power plants that no one in the US wanted, saddling the government with massive debt before going broke themselves. Someone has to pay for power from a plant before it’s a viable business. But poor people are poor. They can’t afford electricity that is priced high enough to pay off the capital cost of the plant. So they don’t. The plant either gets cancelled half way through, or only sells power to the urban elites. Either way, it’s no answer to energy poverty.


Coal-fired power plants are no longer an economical way to bring high quality life and energy services to poor people on the planet Tweet This Quote


The Climate Denier's Guide to Getting Rich From Fossil Fuel Divestment

The Guardian
L. Hunter Lovins
14 April, 2015


Anti-carbon tax protesters known as The Convoy of No Confidence listen to speeches in front of Parliament House in Canberra, Australia.
Photograph: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

Don’t believe in climate change? Okay, let’s pretend it’s a hoax. From a purely financial perspective it doesn’t matter.

If it is a hoax, you’ll make a lot of money. If it’s the real and worsening catastropheclimate scientists believe it to be, you’ll still make a lot of money. Now let me present some facts to you on the financial case for getting out of fossil fuels (I am fine if you just view it as some bar talk).

There’s a strong and growing business case for climate protection. The 2014 report “Climate Action and Profitability” by the Carbon Disclosure Project showed how companies that integrate sustainability into their business strategies are outperforming companies who fail to show such leadership. Companies that are managing their carbon emissions and are planning for climate change enjoy 18% higher returns on their investment than companies that aren’t, and 67% higher than companies which refuse to disclose their emissions.

Something tells me, though, you are sentimental about your personal ownership in fossil fuels, right? If improving your company’s returns on investment does not interest you, how about the prospect of stranded assets? That’s investments that quickly turn out to be worth much less than expected.

In early 2012 Seeking Alpha, an energy industries financial advisory service with more than three million registered clients cautioned against panicking and selling coal stocks, concluding that even though Peabody Coal’s stock value had fallen 45%, it was nicely undervalued, and after all, such companies had always grown: “Currently, Peabody Energy’s share price is at just over $36 (£25), but I think it has the potential to hit the $45 barrier before the end of 2012 because its Australian interests are likely to be snapped up by China and Indian Steel companies”, the advisors wrote. Seems like a strong argument for staying invested in coal, doesn’t it?


Life after divestment: how to spend the money saved from fossil fuel investments

The Guardian
L. Hunter Lovins
13 April, 2015


As more US colleges divest from fossil fuel companies, a new question arises: what to do with all that cash?

It began in 2012 with Unity College in Maine. Then Stanford joined in, followed by Syracuse. Now, more than 20 US colleges have divested from fossil fuel companies. A month ago, Swarthmore students stepped up pressure for their administration to divest by occupying a campus building, a move mirrored by students at University of Mary WashingtonHarvard and Yale.

Why? As the divestment advocate Go Fossil Fuel Free puts it: “If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage.”

But once an institution has divested, the question arises: what to do with the money? When the RockefellersThe Gates Foundation, Warren Buffett and George Soros all sold Exxon, you know they didn’t just put the proceeds under the mattress.

Whether they ultimately divest or not, colleges have a great option: they can invest in themselves. Last year, Swarthmore’s board of managers rejected divestment, for example, but committed millions of dollars to enhancing energy efficiency at the college.



Challenging the Old Narrative that Possessions Equal Prosperity

The Guardian
by Hunter Lovins
10 October 2014


The changing face of prosperity – what do possessions really do for us?
Photograph: Radius Images/Alamy

A shift to the sharing economy, millennials shunning private car and home ownership, a saturation of consumerism – is a new economic narrative emerging?


Prosperity. Every segment of society seeks it, but ask what it means or how to get it and the answers are not always clear.

Do possessions equal prosperity? The mavens of Madison Avenue tell us: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” So we measure self-worth by what we buy, going deeper in debt to project the perception of plenitude.

New Yorker cartoon portrays a woman in an elegant boutique asking whether they have something to, “Fill that dark empty space in my soul.” As Dana Meadows observed, we seek to meet non-material needs with things. It’ll never work. Worse, we’ve allowed the ad industry to induce the impression that in the absence of whatever they’re selling, we’re inadequate.

To play this game, you need money. The siren song is work harder, and you too, can join the moneyed class. It’s seductive: we all know someone who did win: the entrepreneur who struck it rich, hard-working immigrants who scrimped to put the kids through college, clawing their way to the middle class.

But Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the 21st Century shows the system is rigged. Working harder won’t ensure prosperity. Without transformation of the financial system, the neoliberal ideology that has imposed austerity around the planet is punishing everyone who is not an owner of capital.


10 April 2015 | Poughkeepsie, NY | Sustainable Hudson Valley Conference

L. Hunter Lovins: “Water and Life”

(download slides)

9 April 2015 | Amherst, MA | University of Massachusetts

L. Hunter Lovins: “Your Future in the Anthropocene”

(download slides)

7 April 2015 | Poughkeepsie, NY | Marist College

L. Hunter Lovins: “Jobs in the Regenerative Economy”

(download slides)

25 March 2015 | Maui, HI | Maui Energy Conference Reports with Hunter Lovins

ThinkTech Hawaii (YouTube)
25 March 2015

A Skype report from the Maui Energy Conference from Hunter Lovins and “Hawaii: State of Clean Energy” co-hosts Sharon Moriwaki and Ray Starling of the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum.

11 February 2015 | Swarthmore, PA | Swarthmore College Sustainability Charrette

L. Hunter Lovins: “For a Finer Future”

(download slides)

College Community Meets to Define Vision for Socially Just, Sustainable Campus


14 January 2015 | Boulder, CO | Highland City Club

L. Hunter Lovins: “Economy for the Anthropocene”

(download slides)

Related YouTube Video: Transforming the Global Economy

Hunter's Homework Assignments

ISSP Conference | Wisdom Panelimages
Denver, CO
13 November 2014

During the ISSP Conference Wisdom Panel last Thursday, November 13th, if your pen wasn’t flying fast enough you might have missed some of the books, videos, ideas and leaders Hunter thinks worth checking out. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.



  • Winning the Story Wars: Jonah Sachs
  • Creating Climate Wealth: Jigar Shah
  • The Spirit Level: Kate Pickett & Richard Wilkinson
  • Limits to Growth: Donella H. Meadows



23 October 2014 | New York, NY | AIGA Gain Conference

L. Hunter Lovins: “Design For a New Economy”

(download slides)

Video courtesy of AIGA

16 October 2014 | Green Economy Coalition | Video

Talking Green Economy with L. Hunter Lovins

As part of our ‘Talking Green Economy’ series, the Green Economy Coalition sits down with Hunter Lovins, President of Natural Capitalism Solutions and general eco-superstar to find out how she would tell the story of transition.

12 October 2014 | Canberra, Australia | Australia National University

L. Hunter Lovins: “Economy for the Anthropocene”

(download slides)

Related YouTube video


September 2014 | Boulder, CO | University of Colorado

L. Hunter Lovins: “Why We Marched”

(download slides)

Related YouTube video: Why We Are Winning: Hunter Lovins

22 September 2014 | New York, NY | Impact Hub

(download slides)
Screen shot 2015-08-21 at 12.53.20 PM

Wild Horses, Hunter Lovins, and the Way to a Better World

The Ecologisthunter-lovins
Sophie Marlin-Yron
10 September 2014

Hunter Lovins is on a mission, writes Sophie Morlin-Yron: to put the transformational technologies we already have to work for the benefit of people and business – and to re-create the economy so it’s no longer a machine for polluting the planet and devouring natural resources, but a mechanism for building and sustaining natural and human capital.


“What do you want your future to be? We have all the technologies to solve all the problems facing us. We can build a better world for us, for all of life on the planet.”

American author, economist, lawyer and environmentalist Hunter Lovins lives on a ranch in Colorado, north of Denver.

Here, she keeps horses which she buys at so-called“killer sales” – where people sell unwanted horses that would otherwise face slaughter. These are then rehabilitated at her ranch and eventually rehomed.

She speaks fondly of life on the ranch, the local community and rural activities such as riding, attending pie baking contests and celebrating the annual upcoming Hay Day.

But truth be told, Lovins spends most of her time on the road, traveling on her one-woman mission to make the world a better place. And her day-to-day reality is far from mowing hay and ‘angling horses’, she complains: “I live on a god damn airplane!”

Lovins has been in sustainability since 1972. She has won numerous awards, such as the European Sustainability Pioneer award and the Right Livelihood Award.

President and Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions – a non-profit which educates decision makers on the benefits of green business and a regenerative economy. She is also a professor of Sustainable Business and has worked with the UN, governments and businesses in over 30 countries.

It was through working on a project called Green Afghanistan that she ended up with a membership at the prestigious Frontline Club in Paddington, London. And it is here, at Frontline, that I manage to get a piece of her time before she sets off for Heathrow, and her next airplane journey. Read more »

28 August 2014 | Hannover, Germany | Wuppertal Institute | Decoupling Human Wellbeing from Resource Consumption

L. Hunter Lovins: ” Decoupling: Key to Creating an Economy in Service to Life”

(download slides)

Why George Monbiot is Wrong: Grazing Livestock Can Save the World

cow in a field

Can grazing cows save the world?
Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

The Guardian
L. Hunter Lovins
19 August 2014

L Hunter Lovins: George Monbiot’s recent criticism of Allan Savory’s theory that grazing livestock can reverse climate change ignores evidence that it’s already experiencing success inn his recent interview with Allan Savory, the high profile biologist and farmer who argues that properly managing grazing animals can counter climate chaos, George Monbiot reasonably asks for proof. Where I believe he strays into the unreasonable, is in asserting that there is none.

Savory’s argument, which counters popular conceptions, is that more livestock rather than fewer can help save the planet through a concept he calls “holistic management.” In brief, he contends that grazing livestock can reverse desertification and restore carbon to the soil, enhancing its biodiversity and countering climate change. Monbiot claims that this approach doesn’t work and in fact does more harm than good. But his assertions skip over the science and on the ground evidence that say otherwise.

Richard Teague, a range scientist from Texas A&M University, presented in favour of Savory’s theory at the recent Putting Grasslands to Work conference in London. Teague’s research is finding significant soil carbon sequestration from holistic range management practices.


1 August 2014 | London, UK | Savory Institute Conference

L. Hunter Lovins: “Investment for an Economy in Service to Life”

(download slides)

Related video on YouTube:
Hunter Lovins – Holistic Management rebuilds community, economy and ecology


Coal Does Not Have a Future

Suzette Bonas
18 July 2014

Hunter Lovins: climate change is not about polar bears, it’s about business
PHOTO: Garfield Robinson

Newsweek’s Green Business Icon talks of business opportunities in climate change.

JAMAICA’S private sector was yesterday warned not to allow coal-fired plants into the country’s energy mix as they are financially and environmentally unsustainable.

Addressing the Climate Change Learning Conference for the Private Sector at the Pegasus Hotel, president of Natural Capitalism Solutions L Hunter Lovins said of all the fossil fuels, coal, which is being proposed for the trans-shipment port on Goat Islands, as well as for the mothballed bauxite plants in Manchester and St Elizabeth, emits the most carbon — the primary culprit in climate change — and carries a heavy price tag in terms of construction.

“Coal as a future? No!” she said.

“Coal does not have a future. It should absolutely not be thought out for Jamaica. Why on earth would you accept any technology that you do not have here in Jamaica?”

“This is an incredibly energy-rich country,” she continued, highlighting Jamaica’s abundance of sun, wind and water. “The notion that you are beggaring your economy to buy imported oil [and] kill the climate to worsen the storms that are impacting your people is crazy.”


— Suzette Bonas

5 June 2014 | New York | WOBI on Innovation

 Hunter Lovins
The Edge Economy, disrupting what doesn’t work to create an economy in service to life.
WOBI on Innovation, 2014

(download slides)

Economy on the Edge: Seeking a World That Works for the 100%

Photo of Hunter S. Thompson

The Guardian Hunter S Thompson said of the edge ‘the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.’ Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

The Guardian
6 June 2014

The global economy is on the edge with 85 people having as much wealth as 3.5bn of the world’s poorest. We need a new story of an economy that doesn’t trash the planet

Humanity is learning the hard way. We are exceeding the planetary boundaries that define the edge of our planet’s capacity to support us. At the same time, we remain below the edge of what people need to live within a just, safe, and prosperous operating space, what Kate Raworth has called doughnut economics.

The global economy stands on the precipice, with 85 individuals having as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion of the world’s poorest. This leaves most of us living on a precarious edge of one form or another, as the “tower economy” accretes to itself ever-greater wealth. Read more »

5 June 2014 | New York, NY | WOBI on Innovation

L. Hunter Lovins: ” The Business Case for Sustainability”

(download slides)

Youtube Video: Hunter Lovins-The Edge Economy-WOBI on Innovation, NY


14 April 2014 | Austin, TX | SPEER Conference

L. Hunter Lovins: “Triumph of the Sun: The Threat of Solar”

(download slides)


10 April 2014 | Albany, NY | State University of New York

“Jobs in the Anthropocene” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

3 April 2014 | Oakland, CA | California College of the Arts

“Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

26 Mar 2014 | Maui, HI | Electric Utilities Conference

MAR14_HI_Slide1_HLovinsHunter’s Keynote “Future of Electric Utilities”
(download slides)

Ililani Media, Henry Curtis Interview of Hunter Lovins
Part 1 / Part 2
Maui County Conference Explores the Future of Energy
“The eyes of the nation ore on Hawai’i as a living laboratory”
April 8, 2014
Chris Mentzel – Contributing Writer


Sustainability is Better Business - And We Can Prove It

The Guardian
17 January 2014

by L. Hunter Lovins

"Every global indicator of the health of our planet has continued to trend in the wrong direction" - Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia. Photograph: Getty Images

“Every global indicator of the health of our planet has continued to trend in the wrong direction” – Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia. Photograph: Getty Images

It’s become weirdly fashionable to criticise companies cutting their impact on the environment and implementing more sustainable practices as insufficient.

A recent piece by Charles Eisenstein claimed: “Let’s be honest: real sustainability may not make business sense.”

That’s just wrong. More than 50 studies (PDF) from the likes of those wild-eyed environmentalists at Goldman Sachs show that the companies that are the leaders in environment, social and good governance policies are financially outperforming their less sustainable peers. Sustainability is better business –and we can prove it.

Richard Smith in “Green Capitalism: The God That Failed”, gets it even more wrong. He asserts: “The results are in: no amount of ‘green capitalism’ will be able to ensure the profound changes we must urgently make to prevent the collapse of civilisation from the catastrophic impacts of global warming.” He calls for “abolition of capitalist private property in the means of production and the institution of collective bottom-up democratic control over the economy and society.” Read more »

Development: Time to Leave GDP Behind

15 January 2014
[download .pdf]

By Robert Costanza, Ida Kubiszewski, Enrico Giovannini, Hunter Lovins, Jacqueline McGlade, Kate E. Pickett, Kristín Vala Ragnarsdóttir, Debra Roberts, Roberto De Vogli& Richard Wilkinson

illustration by Pete Ellis/

illustration by Pete Ellis/

Gross domestic product is a misleading measure of national success. Countries should act now to embrace new metrics, urge Robert Costanza and colleagues.
GDP measures mainly market transactions. It ignores social costs, environmental impacts and income inequality. If a business used GDP-style accounting, it would aim to maximize gross revenue — even at the expense of profitability, efficiency, sustainability or flexibility. That is hardly smart or sustainable (think Enron). Yet since the end of the Second World War, promoting GDP growth has remained the primary national policy goal in almost every country1.

Meanwhile, researchers have become much better at measuring what actually does make life worthwhile. The environmental and social effects of GDP growth can be estimated, as can the effects of income inequality2. The psychology of human well-being can now be surveyed comprehensively and quantitatively3, 4. A plethora of experiments has produced alternative measures of progress (see Supplementary Information). Read more »

14 Jan 2014 | Avon, CO | Walking Mountains Science Center

(download slides)

Press before the event in the Vail Daily

AVON — The 12th annual High Country Speaker Series, a partnership between the Eagle Valley Library District and Walking Mountains Science Center, begins Tuesday evening with a renowned global voice in sustainable environmental practices, Hunter Lovins. This winter’s theme is “Sustainability: Adapting today to preserve tomorrow.” A worldwide recognized leader in helping companies and communities profit from more sustainable practices, Lovins is the ideal person to kick off the series. She will speak Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon.

How Do We Honor Mandela’s Legacy? Investments That Heal

11 December 2013
By Hunter Lovins, Donna Morton, & Cat Jaffee

The Boabab tree has become a symbol of Nelson Mandela’s legacy
(Photo: Cat Jaffee).

We are facing one of those rare moments in time when a true “giant of history” transitions from living to legacy.

As the memorial services for Nelson Mandela linger in our memories, the task of ensuring that his legacy endures is now our responsibility. We have spent days pouring over news release headlines, announcements, photos, and speeches of Mandela’s life. We have devoured magazine profiles full of quotes, labels, and taglines to find the words that will consummate his legacy. And now while we mourn, revere, and thank, we are left with huge questions – what is the legacy we will choose to remember this man by? And what do we do now? Read more »

30 October 2013 | Colorado Springs, CO | The Conference on Social, Responsible, Impact Investing (SRI)

OCT13_CO_SRI_HLovinsHunter’s Keynote “How Investors Can Save the World”

(download slides)

conference web site (here)

15 Oct 2013 | Tinley Park, IL | Illinois Green Business Summit

Hunter Lovins Keynote: “The Business Case for Sustainability”
(download slides)

Hunter Lovins, Toby Russell, and Nick Sterling Workshop on Employee Engagement: “Making it Stick, Making it Personal”
(download slides)

Photo from the per-conference planning dinner for the Higher Education Panel:

Photos from Hunter Lovins’ Keynote:


The Knife's Edge of Cheater Capitalism

CapitalPeak-KnifeEdgeby L. Hunter Lovins
17 October 2013
Commissioned by the United Nations

The Problems

The global economy rests on a knife-edge. It is based on unsustainable assumptions and business practices that are driving societies and ecosystems into successive collapses. There are many palliative “fixes” that can prop the system up – but only for a time.

What is needed is a new development paradigm, one based on recognizing that the economy depends wholly on preserving healthy ecosystems. The current paradigm, based on what Randy Hayes calls Cheater Capitalism,[i] in which individuals are told to make their own way in a dog-eat-dog “free” market, while incumbent technologies and corporate profits are subsidized, losses are socialized, the commons are privatized and the too-big-to-fail are bailed out. Yet we believe the shared story that in capitalism the smartest win, everyone has equal opportunity to get rich, techno-geniuses like Bill Gates have the money, so they will save the world. The unspoken option is to stand with out hands out.[ii]

We need a new strategy of change. Read more »

The Future We Really Want

Solutions Journal July/August 2013

by Robert Costanza, Jacqueline McGlade, Steve de Bonvoisin, Petra Fagerholm, Joshua Farley, Enrico Giovannini, Ida Kubiszewski, Frances Moore Lappé, Hunter Lovins, Kate Pickett, Greg Norris, Thomas Prugh, Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir, Debra Roberts, Richard Wilkinson

The King of Bhutan recently convened an International Expert Working Group to set forth a New Development Paradigm designed to lift society to a new level of sustainable well-being. Pictured here are children in Thimpu, Bhutan. Photo Credit: Ida Kubiszewski/Solutions

The King of Bhutan recently convened an International Expert Working Group to set forth a New Development Paradigm designed to lift society to a new level of sustainable well-being. Pictured here are children in Thimpu, Bhutan.
Photo Credit: Ida Kubiszewski/Solutions

Conscious that unsustainable patterns of production and consumption can impede sustainable development, and recognizing the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and wellbeing of all peoples.
—UnitedNations General Assembly,Resolution 65/309, 2011

In June 2012, the latest in a series of United Nations conferences on sustainable development was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this one called “The Future We Want.” As the most recent opportunity to present an equitable solution to climate change and other environmental problems, the declaration that arose from Rio left many cold. It did not go far enough in proposing alternatives that adequately recognized growing global challenges.

In response to the Rio meeting, the UN and emerging groups of academics, policy makers, business people, and others have begun to working on a broader, more wide-ranging vision for what a sustainable and desirable future could be. One such group was convened by the King of Bhutan, and met in January, 2013 in the country’s capital, Thimpu, with the goal of envisioning a future based on happiness, well-being, and an understanding of mankind’s interdependent relationship with nature. One subset of this group produced the following document to outline some of the features and policies of this new paradigm. The document is written somewhat in the style of the Rio declaration—a list of points under various headings—to highlight the differences with that document. Read more »

The Discipline of Staring Death (& Failure) in the Face

23 September 2013

Been thinking of late about dying. Nope, not personally, least I surely hope not. When folks ask,“How’s life?” my glib answer is, “Believe it beats the alternatives.” Which, of course is a testable hypothesis we’ll all get to try. Death is an integral part of life. And entrepreneuring.

One of my favorite entrepreneurs once told me that running a start-up means that you are always about to go out of business. His company sits at the intersection of public policy, activism, science and the best shot at success that VC money can buy. Three times in the company’s life distant politicians made a decision. Decide one way and his company’s gone. He’s still there, and with a bit more luck will shortly be making a big difference in the battle to stem climate change, as well as being very wealthy indeed.

My thoughts turn this way in part because I’m at Harmony Hill, a spectacularly beautiful retreat on the Hood Canal in Western Washington catering primarily to people dying of cancer. The bricks in the main walk up to the great hall are inscribed in memory of those who didn’t make it. A grape arbor hangs with copper strips engraved with names of the dead. Ghosts swirl round like the sea fog that wreathes the Olympic Range each evening.

They’ve little to say to me. We’re celebrating and strategizing on life and new beginnings: on “changing business for good” at a faculty retreat for Bainbridge Graduate School (BGI). The entrepreneurial business school, was founded by Libba and Gifford Pinchot, a pair ofentrepreneurs who used the profits from a successful start-up to transform business education, placing sustainability at the heart of every class, and pioneering the way for now hundreds of business schools who claim to be doing the same. Read more »

"Saving Our Economic Ass" by Bruce Boyers of Organic Connections

sep-oct-2013Published in Organic Connections
September-October 2013

When capitalism hit the fan in 2008, it left a lot of us thinking that there must be a better way—one that takes into account not only financial success but human values that benefit and safeguard our communities and the environment. What you may not know is that this better way is already here.

Author, economist, professor and attorney Hunter Lovins has been practicing and advocating a more harmonious version of capitalism for decades. “I think I helped invent the field,” Lovins told Organic Connections when asked how she got into sustainable economics. “The word sustainability entered the English language the year I graduated college. I had planted a tree two years before for the first Earth Day and had been working on these issues, starting in the fifties with fair housing, and the sixties with civil rights and the environmental movement. I worked with Dave Brower [first executive director of the Sierra Club and founder of Earth Island Institute] in 1968. So this is not something that I’ve just come to.”

Lovins’ seminal work, Natural Capitalism, was published all the way back in 1999. Her movement under the same name, along with her foundation, Natural Capital Solutions, has been garnering major attention and interest from both business and government sectors ever since. Over 13 years, 14 books, dozens of major television and film appearances, and countless speaking engagements later, Lovins still travels the world consulting heads of state, the United Nations and major corporate CEOs, as well as speaking and teaching at universities. At the time we interviewed her, she had just visited ten cities in the previous five days, and was shortly to be going right back out again from her home ranch in Colorado.

Coming to Fruition

“What we’ve sought to do is to put forth the argument that there is a business case for behaving more sustainably,” Lovins said. “Just over a decade later these principles are coming to be accepted, and that business case has only become stronger. There are now 47 separate studies from groups such as Goldman Sachs showing that the companies that are the leaders in environmental, social and good governance policy have the fastest growing stock values and are well protected from value erosion even in a down economy.*

“This clearly indicates that behaving as if you care about the earth and its people is simply better business. If this were just coming from the likes of me or the Sierra Club, you could say, ‘Well, it’s just those enviros again.’ But it’s not—it’s all of the big management consulting houses as well as Harvard Business School and the MIT Sloan report. Sustainability is better business.”

The Cornerstones of Sustainable Management

Lovins’ proposed cornerstones of sustainable business management are somewhat simple, yet vastly profound in their implications. Read more »

"The Good News of Natural Capitalism Solutions" by Genny LaMorgan of

Listen in to this interview by clicking here.

Genny LaMorgan interviews Hunter as part of the Lean Into Green TeleSummit.

10 July 2013 | Boulder, CO | Unreasonable Day For Play

Unreasonable Institute’s Climax Event

“Unreasonable Day for Play” at Shine

Hunter’s talk: “Entrepreneuring a New Global Economy”

(download slides)

Watch the video introducing the Unreasonable Institute’s Entrepreneurs the Unreasonable Climax July 2013. Check out the flying penguins the very end! Hunter is honored to serve as a mentor to the Unreasonable Institute.


And here’s live footage from the climax:

4 July 2013 | Leipzig, Germany | WorldSkills BIBB

Hunter Lovins’ keynote for the WorldSkills 2013 Conference
sponsored by Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB)
Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB)

(download slides)

Transforming the Global Economic Paradigm ASAP

Rachel’s Network “Green Leaves
Spring Newsletter 2013
Advisor Spotlight 

We all  know well the challenges facing us. From reversing ecological and economic collapses to meeting the development needs of seven billion (and growing) residents of our planet, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

But what can one person—or one organization—do?

A lot.

Join me on an adventure to transform the global economic paradigm. Read more »

3 June 2013 | San Diego, CA | Sustainable Brands

Hunter Lovins, Jeff Mendelsohn, Thomas Day, Liz Maw, Gwen Migita, and Megan Rast presented on “Beyond  Employee Engagement”

(download slides) “The Business Case for Employee Engagement” by Hunter Lovins

(link to audio podcast of second day on SB site)

(link to slides as posted on SB site)

How can companies implement true employee-level sustainability integration and unleash the powerful benefits to society, the environment, and business performance? How can the HR channel be utilized to develop objective and subjective sustainability goals by department, in the context of a well-articulated brand sustainability platform? What does it take to effectively drill down objective and subjective performance criteria and goals to the level of every employee?

Toward A New Development Paradigm

For: Solutions

By:  ASAP coordinating group: Robert Costanza, Jacqueline McGlade, Steve de Bonvoisin, Petra Fagerholm, Joshua Farley, Enrico Giovannini, Ida Kubiszewski, Frances Moore Lappé, Hunter Lovins, Kate Pickett, Greg Norris, Thomas Prugh, Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir, Debra Roberts, and Richard Wilkinson

31 May 2013

 “Conscious that unsustainable patterns of production and consumption can impede sustainable development, and recognizing the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and well-being of all peoples.”

~ United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 65/309, 2011

To meet the growing challenges facing humanity, many individuals, communities and societies are actively  exploring different ways of looking at the world. Some have sought to describe a society in which happiness is the primary goal. Others have developed policies for a global economy based on a more thorough understanding of how safeguarding resources underpins the creation of material wealth. Others anticipate catastrophic events and surprises as portents of the future. Whilst different in substance, all these approaches have the common goal of lifting society to a new level of sustainable well-being. The King of Bhutan recently convened an International Expert Working Group to synthesize and integrate many of these ideas in order to set forth a New Development Paradigm.

Read more »

"Powerful Interview" by Adam Hammes
(by Adam Hammes)
29 MAY 2013

Adam Hammes [ I] caught Hunter Lovins on the phone recently for a quick (and poignant) interview about influence.  She was frank and insightful — pulling no punches.  It’s worth a listen! Hunter Lovins has been a leading author (14 books!) and promoter of sustainable development for over 30 years.  She is president of Natural Capitalism Solutions, a 501(c)3 non-profit and the Chief Insurgent of the Madrone Project. She teaches sustainable business management at Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Seattle, Washington.  She has taught at several universities, consulted for citizens’ groups, governments and corporations. She co-founded the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) which she led for 20 years.  Named a “green business icon” by Newsweek, a millennium “Hero of the Planet” by Time Magazine, she has also received the Right Livelihood Award, and the Leadership in Business Award.  Her two most recent books are The Way Out and Creating a Lean and Green Business System.

The Future of Education
AUDIO:  Hunter Lovins_Madrone Project.mp3 
Click for more on Hunter discussing the Madrone Project:

  • “If she were going to do Presidio Graduate School’s MBA in Sustainable Management over again, would she do it the same?” No.
  • It needs to be (1) short, (2) curated, and (3) video-based.  A series of networked micro-courses.
  • This online model annoys, scares, and disgusts professors and traditional educational institutions.
  • Tuition is growing twice as fast as inflation.  And student debt is larger than credit card and car loan debt – combined.
  • Now in negotiations with a large education publishing house for a series that would be the equivalent of the sustainability portion of a “green” MBA.
  • Students come to class having done as homework what was traditionally class.  Class becomes an in-depth discussion and application of knowledge.
  • The AACSB recently announced that all MBA programs will need a sustainability component to retain or earn accreditation.
  • Many universities are really defensive about this mental model of education.
  • Hunter spoke at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois where the head of the MBA program was aware of the AACSC requirement and loved the idea saying, “We don’t have the sustainability experience on staff.  Either we have to hire a bunch of faculty… or we just go with this.”
  • Hunter gave the keynote at AASHE and got reamed by educators saying, “But what about the 2 A.M. bull sessions in the dorm?”
We Have Enough Science
AUDIO: Hunter Lovins_Enough Science.mp3
Click for more on Hunter discussing the task of our generation
  • “We have all of the technologies that we need to solve all of the problems facing the planet.  What we need is:
    1. political will
    2. organized citizens demanding these types of solutions, and
    3. implementation of what we already know how to do.”
  • Germany will be using 100% renewable energy by 2050 — mostly from solar.  Not because they get more sunshine than California.  Because they have good policy.  And it has slowed their rise of utility rates.
  • Click here to read the report titled Sustainability Pays that summarizes dozens of studies on how sustainability is better for business.
  • We don’t have to argue about whether climate change is real.  Assume it’s a hoax.  Even if you are a profit-maximizing capitalist, if you understand the business case, you should do the exact same thing you would do if you were scared to death about climate change.

The science is bar talk.  We can argue over drinks about whether the earth is getting hotter or cooler, and at what rate.  But meanwhile, with our day jobs, let’s get on with solving the problems.

No One Changes Their Mind Because of a Fact
AUDIO: Hunter Lovins_Stories.mp3
Click for more on Hunter discussing what influences people

  • “Unlike some people, I believe the 40% (that don’t believe in climate change) care just as deeply as we do.  And it is our job to get better at talking to them.”
  • The #1 mistake environmentalists still make today is — talking to people from where WE are at, instead of where THEY are at.
  • First of all, ascertain what it is that the person to whom you are speaking cares most about.
  • Then, frame your argument in terms that meet their concerns.
  • A lot of right-wing conservatives care deeply about wild lands, the ability to go hunting and fishing… clean air for their children, a livable planet, a healthy economy.
  • Environmentalists come off frequently as moralistic — “You’re doing something wrong, and it’s hurting what I care about.”
  • A more effective route — “What is it that you care about?  How can we work together to ensure that what you care about will be here for your grandchildren?”

Everything is your fault, if you’re any damn good.~ Ernest Hemingway

How much faster can we see change if 1,000,000 people understood this?

  • “It may not take 1 Million.  It may take only 1… saying it at the right time and in the right way.”
  • Reaching out to people with whom we might disagree politically, in a caring way… is much more effective than how many numbers we have or precisely what the message is.

Most people don’t change their life because of a fact — a number, data, science.  They change it because of something they care about.  And our job is to help others understand that what they care about is threatened.

  • Fixing these problems will also strengthen the economy, will strengthen local businesses, put money in our pockets, make us more resilient.
  • Stories change people…

Hunter Teaches the Virtues of Green Business Development by Douglas Brown

Denver Post
“Hunter Teaches the Virtues of Green Business Development”
(by Douglas Brown)
16 May 2013

Profile on Hunter Lovins

(Photo: Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

Climate-change activist L. Hunter Lovins teaches at several universities, runs a few nonprofits, writes books and gives talks around the world. She was named a “green business icon” by Newsweek, and a millennium “Hero of the Planet” by Time magazine. The Longmont resident is, simply put, an international leader in the field of sustainable development and climate change, with a particular emphasis on business and how capitalism can thrive in a green economy. When she talks about the topics — and she probably spends most of her days immersed in conversation about things like hydraulic fracturing, solar energy, carbon credits and drought — facts and figures roll off her tongue, and a certain passion captivates her. Listening to her, you think: Here is a person I want on my side.

The forester, social scientist and lawyer has been fixated on sustainable development for decades. In 1982 she co-founded with her then-husband, Amory Lovins, the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Snowmass nonprofit that wrestles with sustainability issues. Now, among many other things, she leadsNatural Capitalism Solutions, a nonprofit that helps businesses turn green.

Lovins, 63, who grew up in the mountains east of Los Angeles in a family of social activists, first moved to Colorado when she was 15 to go to high school. She never looked back, and she rarely removes her black cowboy hat, at least in public.

Given Lovins’ high profile, you might expect an office with a certain kind of green grandeur — something contemporary, with concrete floors and exposed metal and beetle-kill wood. But it’s just a small, turn-of-the-last-century farmhouse with creaky floors and sagging bookshelves and a draft in downtown Hygiene, which is little more than a rural intersection with a store and a cafe in unincorporated Boulder County.

The beat-up (and charming) farm house, the miniature town with its market selling homemade tamales and local lamb — these are Lovins’ kind of places. She lives on a nearby ranch, where she keeps a lot of horses and routinely adopts dogs. But she spends a good bit of her time in this atmospheric slip of a town.

Douglas Brown: I read your book, “Climate Capitalism.” It was full of hope, but it was infused with doom, too.  Are we doomed? Read more »

Honoring Happiness: What Bhutan, a Cowboy Hat, & the Economy Have in Common By Ann Teresa Rich

Triple Pundit
“Honoring Happiness: What Bhutan, a Cowboy Hat, & the Economy Have in Common”
(By Ann Teresa Rich)
7 May 2013

From the moment she took the stage, smiling in a black cowboy hat and turquoise scarf, I knew I was in for a great talk. In October 2012, I had the pleasure of attending a Hunter Lovins lecture at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She is a charismatic sustainability leader.

Lovins, the president and cofounder of Natural Capitalism Solutions, was named a Time Magazine “Hero of the Planet” in 2000, and is author and co-author of numerous books, including the groundbreaking work, Natural Capitalism, and most recently, Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate ChangeLovins’ delivery was insightful and I left with a richer understanding of social and environmental responsibility in business. I was surprised, however, by two unexpected lessons that stayed with me after the applause ended.

First, Lovins put the power of change into our hands. No one in the audience was exempt from responsibility. She engaged the audience and demonstrated the influence a single person can have. This individual power was distilled down to the daily choices we each make and how these choices make a difference in our communities and the world. To become conscious of your choices you needed to become conscious of your statement.

What does happiness have to do with sustainability?

The second theme grew more slowly into a complete concept. It was the kind of idea that you find yourself mulling over late at night. Lovins proposed happiness as a determinant of wealth both alongside, and in place of, monetary wealth. I smiled and wondered, “What does happiness have to do with sustainability?” Read more »

9 May 2013 | Chicago, IL | ISSP Sustainability Hall of Fame

International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) Annual Conference
Hunter Lovins inducted into their  Hall of Fame


  • 3BL Media “Sustainability Leaders to Gather In Chicago May 8-10 for ISSP Conference 2013” (Press Release) 26 April 2013

Read more »

2 May 2013 | Chicago, IL | Chicago Family Business Council

Chicago Family Business Council and DePaul University’s “The Sweet Spark of Success”
“Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way” by L. Hunter Lovins
(download slides)
Chicago Family Business Council celebrated Abt Electronics and their impressive 77 years of successful business. Michael Abt was in attendance to accept the Chicago Family Business Council’s Leadership Award, on behalf of Abt Electronics and tell their story, and what has helped them become such a remarkable family business. While on the track of success, earlier in the day we learned about the important role sustainability plays in having a successful business. Hunter Lovins joined the CFBC and spoke on her book, The Way Out: Kick-starting Capitalism to Save Our Economic Ass. This event was complimentary to CFBC members and the DePaul Community.

28 April 2013 | Berkeley, CA | California Student Sustainability Coalition

California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC) Convergence at UC Berkeley

“Lead. Follow, Or Get Out of the Way” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

22 April 2013 | Elon, NC | Elon University

Earth Day at Elon University

“The Way Out: Kickstarting Capitalism to Save our Economic Ass” by Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

Swing for the Fences

How many times are you offered the chance to really swing for the fences? To be a part of something that could shape the future?

Most days are the usual sort: e-mails to be answered, classes to be prepared, reporters to be spoken with, articles to be drafted, corporate consultations to be walked through, interns to be folded into our ongoing projects….

It’s good work.

If we’re lucky, it adds up to genuine change: a company commits to adopt more sustainable practices, students choose lives of being change agents, someone reads something I’ve written and says, “That’s how I want to spend my life.”

Then I read a piece like Joe Romm’s Climate Progress post: “The Dangerous Myth That Climate Change is Reversible” and I wonder if what I’m doing is anywhere near enough.

So when an opportunity to try for a really big difference flies at me, I swing.

Hunter Lovins, Unreasonable at Sea

People can be excused for thinking I live a glamorous life: 2013 began by setting sail (literally) with the Unreasonable Institute – on the Semester at Sea ship. Blue water over the bow, 25 kick-ass entrepreneurs to be mentored, 600 undergraduates to talk with over meals, and guest lecture to, and Bishop Desmond Tutu for company.

I loved it, but left the ship in Hawaii – it’s somewhere off Africa now – to scramble back to the Central Coast of California to give a speech for Pacific Gas and Electric. And was delighted to see that THEIR first slide was titled: The Business Case for Sustainability. Read more »

18 Mar 2013: San Juan, Costa Rica

“The Business Case for Sustainability” by L. Hunter Lovins

Hunter speaking from the Global Leadership Meeting on Environmental Sustainability in the Post-2015 agenda in San Jose Costa Rica, March 18, 2013


no slides used

13 Mar 2013 | Berkeley, CA | UCB Lab for Manufacturing & Sustainability

“Engineering for Sustainability” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

This is Hunter’s guest lecture for Dr. Dave Dornfield’s Lab for Manufacturing & Sustainability.

12 Mar 2013 | Berkeley, CA | UCB Product Design Class

“Natural Capitalism – Climate Capitalism” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

This is Hunter’s guest lecture for Dr. Alice Agogino’s Product design classes during her Regent’s Lectureship.

8 Mar 2013 | Berkeley, CA | UCB i4Energy

University of California at Berkeley – i4energy lunch series
“Sustainable Economic Development” by L. Hunter Lovins

Hunter was a Regents Lecturer 4-15 March 2013 and this was her second public talk.

(download slides)


6 March 2013 | Berkeley, CA | UC Berkeley Regents Lecture

University of California at Berkeley Regents Lecture
“Happiness, Economics, and Sustainability” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

Fostering Competition Through Municipalization

Boulder Daily Camera
3 March 2013

Boulder can create a cleaner, more affordable, and more reliable power system. The analysis of Boulder’s energy options, released last Thursday, found that the formation of a city owned and operated utility would slash greenhouse gas emissions while matching Xcel’s energy rates. Importantly, by giving Boulder control over its electrical system, municipalization allows the city to drive a decentralized, clean energy transformation.

With a municipal utility, Boulder could easily implement a Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN) Program — a feed-in tariff with streamlined interconnection procedures. CLEAN Programs accelerate investment in renewable energy technologies by encouraging broad participation in the energy sector and incentivizing innovation, competition, and entrepreneurship — a contrast to Xcel’s current monopoly. Local businesses, residents, and organizations can be energy producers, not just consumers, by building renewable energy projects on rooftops and parking lots. Read more »

28 Feb 2013 | Ogden, UT | 4th Annual Intermountain Sustainability Summit

4th Annual Intermountain Sustainability Summit

Weber State University in Ogden, UT

“The Business Case for Sustainability” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)


12 Feb 2013: Boulder, CO

At the Epicenter, a unique, interactive conversation with a powerhouse panel of leading women “ecopreneurs” including Hunter Lovins, Kim Coupounas and Brook Eddy, hosted by Seleyn DeYarus of Best Organics. February 12th, Boulder, Colorado


Hunter did not use slides, this was a panel discussion.

It Sure is a Hell of a Move of Courage by Samten Wangchuk

Kuensel, the newspaper of Bhutan
5 February 2013

This is an interview done while Hunter was in Bhutan 29 January-3 February 2013.  Much of the work that was done while she was there is still under embargo–stay tuned!

Kuensel: Did we make any headway?

Hunter Lovins: Definitively. It’s mind bogglingly amazing that you could pull this diversity of disciplines, of points of views, of stature and come to the kind of consensus and coherence that will be reflected through this process.

You have people from almost every part of the globe in various fields and very diverse mental models about what the problem is and what the answers are.

There are people here who believe the problem is within each individual, the answer is building within each individual the capacity to find happiness. There are people here, like me, who believe the problem is the system – economic, political, business – and the answers lie in policy, in transforming how business is done, in laws, in economic measures.

You bring those two divergent points of views together and you’re bound to have sparks flying. Read more »

2 February, 2013 | Thimphu, Bhutan | New Development Paradigm in Focus

Bhutan TV interviews International Environmental Working Group members David Suzuki, Frances Moore Lappe and Hunter Lovins.

Hunter’s segment is 12 min 46 sec into this video.

26 Jan 2013 | Seattle, WA | TEDxBGI

“What’s Your Story?” by L. Hunter Lovins
(download slides)

Hunter Lovins talks about the power of story to bring about a sense of purpose in the business world.


0-Dark Thirty

Dawn of the great day. I woke before the alarm, packed my gear and got gone downstairs to catch the bus to Ensenada to board the boat.

With some anxiety. I’d asked the clueless ol’ gal sitting on the Semester at Sea desk in the lobby of the Hilton about the details of the bus to meet the boat in Mexico next morning, to be told that the bus was going Wednesday AM. Not tomorrow.

But my hotel reso was for one night.

Gawd, did we get it wrong? I checked with the inveterate Nancy, my Exec, who assured me that Taylor, Chief of Staff for Unreasonable at Sea, had assured her that the bus went Tuesday. But she’d check.

Course Taylor was nowhere to be found – no doubt managing the thousand and one last minute details or getting this show organized. Several hours later when Nancy’d corralled Taylor word came back: the bus goes tomorrow.

But when at 5:45 in the cold dark of a San Diego alley, with no bus, no fellow passengers , no nothing, the anxiety gnawed. I sat. Big trucks crawled by. As did the minutes.

Lights rounded the corner. A bus. Gonzalez Transit. OK, that’s a start. Read more »

7-15 January 2013 | Unreasonable at Sea (San Diego, CA - Hilo, HI)

Hunter sailed from San Diego, CA – Hilo, HI on the first leg of the Unreasonable Semester at Sea.

Click here to watch on, or if you cannot view the videos enbedded below you can click here to watch on Vimeo.

Full Video


The Adventure Begins

The coast of Mexico stretches away south. From my hotel room in San Diego I can see where I will journey tomorrow to join the Semester at Sea ship to sail to Hawaii. As a mentor for the new program, Unreasonable at Sea, I’ll be working with 25 young entrepreneurs who have joined this inaugural program to bring social entrepreneuring to the world.

The lines from Tennyson’s Ulysses come to me:

Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

Not quite. I’ll only be on the boat to Hawaii. I’m due on the central coast of California to give a speech for Pacific Gas and Electric on the 17th. We’ll dock in Hilo on the 15th, I’ll spend the day with the Governor, various dignitaries and our Unreasonable entrepreneurs, then hop a night flight to LA, thence to San Luis Obispo, grab some sleep and go back to work.

Read more »

The Incontrovertible Business Case for Clean Energy

Huffington Post
9 January 2013

Imagine this: You live in beautiful house with the best of everything. However, when you turn on your faucets, only one-fifth of the water you pay for comes out. The rest leaks from bad plumbing onto your basement floor.

That describes America’s situation with energy. Only 13% of the energy we burn results in useful work. The rest is wasted by inefficiencies in buildings, power plants, infrastructure, transportation systems and equipment. Much of it ends up as pollution.

Just as a responsible householder would fix his plumbing, a responsible nation would fix the leaks in its energy economy. Responsible businesses are figuring this out and are saving money with green energy, including greater efforts to get more work out of every energy dollar, cutting their greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

I discussed this recently with Hunter Lovins, one of the world’s leading experts on the business case for sustainable energy. Hunter, who Newsweek has called “the green business icon,” co-authored Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security in 1982; Natural Capitalism: The Next Industrial Revolution in 2010; and Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change with Boyd Cohen in 2011, now available in paperback as The Way Out: Kick-Starting Capitalism to Save Our Economic Ass.

In her latest book, Hunter writes:

Believe in climate change. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter. But you’d better understand this: the best route to rebuilding our economy, our cities, and our job markets, as well as assuring national security, is doing precisely what you would do if you were scared to death about climate change. Whether you’re the head of a household or the CEO of a multinational corporation, embracing efficiency, innovation, renewables, carbon markets, and new technologies is the smartest decision you can make. It’s the most profitable, too. And, oh yes — you’ll help save the planet.

This post was a two-part interview in Huffington Post.

Bill Becker: In his first news conference after the election, President Obama said he’d like a national conversation on combating global climate change. However, he suggested — and I’ll paraphrase him here — that the conversation needs to address the job and economic benefits of climate action, because that’s foremost on the minds of the American people. You’ve worked with companies around the world on the business case for reducing their carbon emissions. What kind of reception have you found?

Hunter Lovins: A warm one. Smart companies recognize that the best way to cut their carbon emissions is to cut their use of energy through implementing cost-effective energy efficiency, because this cuts their costs. Read more »

"Don't Delay, We Need You" by Ilana Lipsett & Zach Sharpe & SI Readers

Sustainable Industries
(Hunter Lovins answers Reader Questions)
8 January 2013

Late last year, Sustainable Industries’ Ilana Lipsett & Zach Sharpe interviewed Hunter Lovins, and invited you to participate in the conversation. Lovins responds to your questions below, addressing the US military and its energy efficiency advances, divesting from polluting companies, who is winning the solar race, and where to find daily inspiration to continue this work.

Reader Question: I’ve studied and followed sustainability for years now and am fully on board. It strikes me though that so much of the ideas almost seem common sense, and certainly logical. Why is there such resistance to the idea? Does it require a belief and understanding of our interconnected nature?

As a follow-on, I (and I know thousands of others too), want to work in the sustainability field. I am ready to give up a lucrative and specialized set of knowledge to work in this arena. However, it strikes me that really anyone can do this type of work. From a career perspective, am I looking at this all wrong, is it silly to give up a specialized skill set and get into this field (even if just to see if I like it)? –Anonymous

Hunter Lovins: Yes, much of sustainability is common sense, though as has often been remarked, that is an uncommon commodity.

Why the resistance? Margaret Mead once said that the only person who likes change is a wet baby. And I’d argue that the baby squalls all through the process. Humans delight in change and fear it, all at once.

Change that is painted as a sacrifice, as much of the environmental movement has portrayed the shifts necessary, is particularly unpalatable. The corporate interests, who, as Bill McKibben has pointed out in his excellent Rolling Stone interview, Exxon and the other fossil fuel companies have a business model that rests entirely on roasting the planet. It is very much in their interest to portray any changes that dampen their sales as extremely distasteful, even un-American. Read more »

Don't Buy This Jacket: Lessons in Successful Values Marketing

Sustainable Brands
(by LH Lovins & Colette Crouse, 2012 NCS Intern)
18 December 2012

Ask any member of the Outdoor Industry Association’s Sustainability Working Group or Sustainable Apparel Coalition and they will tell you consumers are not the ones driving sustainability. Companies such as prAna, Patagonia and GoLite were weaving environmental good into the fibers of their operations long before ‘green’ became a buzzword. For them, using — or abusing — sustainability purely as a marketing strategy deflates the concept’s complexity, dilutes company values, and ultimately disserves their customer.

For Beth Jensen, head of the SWG, sustainability is not a marketing device but rather “the license to do business.” Director of Sustainability at prAna, Nicole Bassett, concurs: “Marketing becomes a laundry list — it’s organic, it’s fair trade, it’s made of recycled materials. … And we’ve completely destroyed the true essence of what we’re trying to get across in sustainability.” Read more »

"Good Will Hunter" by Illana Lipsett & Zach Sharpe

Sustainable Industries
(by Illana Lipsett & Zach Sharpe)
11 Dec 2012

As Natural Capitalism Solutions celebrates its tenth anniversary, Hunter Lovins reflects on what has changed in the sustainability world over the past decade, how companies have woken up to the profitability of sustainability, why things are going to get worse before they get better, and how small businesses and cities may hold the key to climate protection. Ilana Lipsett and Zach Sharpe of Sustainable Industries spoke with Lovins, and invite you to continue the conversation. Lovins answered reader questions through the Sustainable Industries web site and is happy to do so here as well.

Sustainable Industries: In your opinion, what is the most pressing sustainability challenge we are facing right now?

Hunter Lovins: Bill McKibben is right: It’s climate. We solve this one or we lose life as we know it on this planet. Three of the earth’s ecosystems are tipping into collapse: coral reefs, oceans, and the Amazon. If we continue business as usual, by the end of the century there will be no coral reefs because of warming water. The oceans are acidifying, and the Amazon is warming and drying. We could lose the earth’s lungs.

There are many challenges facing us. All of the worse ones tend to be tied to climate change. And it’s frustrating because as my recent book, The Way Out: Kick-starting Capitalism to Save Our Economic Ass, has shown, we have all the solutions. Implementing them would make us a great deal of money. … And at the end of the day, if climate change is a hoax we’ll just make a lot of money.

SI: How have you seen behaviors toward sustainability change in the last 10 years? Read more »

16 Nov 2012 | Denver, CO | AIA's Challenge 2030

Challenge 2030 AIA

“It’s Global Warming, Stupid” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

12 November 2012 | Miami, FL | Continuity Forum

ABC Foundation’s Continuity Forum

“Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

8 November 2012 | New York, NY | Bard College Admissions Event

Bard College MBA in Sustainable Business Management — admissions event

“It’s Global Warming, Stupid” by L. Hunter L ovins

(download slides)

2 Nov 2012 | San Francisco, CA | California College of the Arts

California College of the Arts

Hunter Lovins Public Talk

(download slides)


25 October 2012 | Golden, CO | 5th Annual Colorado Sustainability Conference

5th Annual Colorado Sustainability Conference

(download slides)

18 October 2012 | Star, NC | Future of North Carolina's Water

The Future of North Carolina’s Water Conference

“Water and Life” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

16 October 2012 | Tacoma, WA | Housing Washington

Housing Washington Conference

“Sustainability in Community” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

14 October 2012 | Los Angeles, CA | AASHE

AASHE 2012 Conference

(Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education)

“The Future of Higher Education” Keynote by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

“Communicating Sustainability” Workshop by L. Hunter Lovins & Toby Russell

(download slides)

Welcome to Sustainable Management with Bard

bardTriple Pundit
10 October 2012

Remember the feeling of excitement on your first day of class? Imagine the first day of creating a whole new MBA program.

I was honored last month to give the inaugural lecture to a class of 19 candidates for a Masters in Sustainable Business, the new MBA created by Bard College. Unlike most MBA programs, the fundamentals of doing business in sustainable ways are woven throughout the entire curriculum. More, we will be using the city of New York as a living laboratory – yep, that’s a class that all students are enrolled in – exploring how one of the world’s great cities is implementing more sustainable practices, what the best businesses are doing in sustainable finance, manufacturing, retail and services.

As part of this, all students will be blogging here, describing the cool new companies they are finding, the best practices of making it happen and the cool things that they are learning in their classes.

hunter-lovinsWant to come along for the ride? Sit back and enjoy. Every week now, the students and faculty will be bringing you the best of Bard MBA.

3-4 October 2012 | Aimes, Des Moines and Iowa City, IA | ISU, Iowa Environmental Council, U of I

3-city Tour

Iowa State University

“Technology Globalization and Culture” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

Iowa Environmental Council

“Finding Iowa’s Way” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

University of Iowa

“Finding Iowa’s Way” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

Vote your Dollars
27 September 2012

Why Give a Damn: New corporate leadership and sustainability practices are reshaping the business landscape. Learn how you can help shape the future you want to live in by voting with your dollars.

Fall settles softly over the St. Vrain Valley, as gold tinges the cottonwoods and snow softens the Rocky Mountain front. Warm days, cool evenings – perfect for sitting on my deck as the horses graze and reflecting on times past.

It’s been a year and a bit since my friend Ray Anderson died, and this evening I’m missing him. Ray was one of the first traditional industrialists to recognize that everything that his company did was contributing to the destruction of life as we know it on earth. And, he vowed, his company, Interface, would be the first company of the next industrial revolution.

His next observation was that he hadn’t a clue how to do that. So he called Paul Hawken, who, along with Amory Lovins, would become my co-author of the book Natural Capitalism – tho in 1994 it remained a gleam in our eyes – and asked for help. Paul called a bunch of us and we became Ray’s “Dream Team”. Together we guided Interface to become the poster child of sustainable business, and Ray became a friend.  Read more »

Business + University: Tomorrow’s Jobs Require Sustainability

Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability’s Thought Leader Series
27 September 2012

Note: Hunter Lovins is a past Wrigley Lecture Series speaker at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and was a keynote speaker at the inaugural conference of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education held at ASU in 2006.

Business is probably the only institution on the planet that is nimble and well-managed enough to respond to the global sustainability crises facing humanity. Such challenges as the impacts of climate change, soaring resource prices, poverty, and loss of biodiversity are threats, but are also opportunities. The businesses that successfully respond will be big winners in the marketplace.

Business sustainability leaders already outperform their less sustainable peers. Over 40 studies from all the major management consulting houses, as well as from academic journals such as Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Review, show that the companies that are sustainability leaders have higher and faster growing stock value, better financial results, lower risks, and more engaged workforces than other companies. Read more »

25 Sep 2012 | Denver, CO | Algae Biomass Summit

Algae Biomass Summit

“Inventing the Future” by L. Hunter Lovins

(download slides)

The High Rate of Return on Giving

Sustainable Industries
18 September 2012

Extreme weather, midwestern droughts, record commodity prices and global economic instability are only a few of the sustainability challenges facing business. As governments prove unable to respond, society looks to companies to take greater responsibility in implementing solutions. Havas Media Lab’s Global Report, which surveys 50,000 customers across 14 countries, found that nearly 85% of consumers worldwide expect companies to become actively involved in solving these issues (an increase of 15% from 2010). Only 28% of respondents felt that companies today are working as hard as they should to solve the big social and environmental challenges people care about. Trust in corporations is at an all-time low. Edelman’s Global Trust Barometer 2012 found that CEOs, as sources of information, are trusted only by 24% of the population.

In the last century, companies felt that the responsible way to contribute, and perhaps buy consumer goodwill was to create a corporate foundation and give money to community charities, libraries, art museums and symphonies. There’s nothing wrong with such giving, but it’s not going to save the world. Read more »

Entrepreneur: The Newest Superhero
6 September 2012 

Why Give a Damn: In a world in trouble, entrepreneurs are our best hope of implementing solutions to the crises facing us and bringing prosperity to our communities.

On a planet beset with recession, erosion of all major ecosystems, the climate crisis, and political instability, it is clear that governments are incapable of implementing needed solutions, large companies are committed to preserving their incumbency, and citizens too unorganized to respond effectively.

Governments are high-centered, wheels spinning pathetically in thin air. The recent UN meeting, Rio+20, was supposed to be a world summit of global leaders. Mr. Obama didn’t even bother to attend. Many government delegations “bracketed” language agreed to 20 years ago at the first Rio Earth Summit – meaning that they no longer agree to abide by even those weak commitments. Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, a periodic report from scientists around the world, made clear that many of the earth’s ecosystems are tipping into collapse i. The International Energy Agency and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (traditional boosters of unlimited growth) both recently warned that the world has locked in a 2°C rise in global temperatures. If world leaders fail to implement climate protection by 2017 it will become impossible to prevent locking in a 6°C increase – a driver of climate change that is likely not survivable by life as we know it. Extreme droughts in 2012, likely to be the hottest year ever in recorded history, wiped out the Midwestern American corn crop – leading to a doubling in the cost of that food staple, exacerbating the 60 year drought that now threatens famine for 18 million people across the North of Africa.
Read more »

28 August 2012 | Santa Monica, CA | Women in Green Forum

Women in Green Forum
Hunter Lovins awarded with Care2Impact Award & Keynote talk


  • Triple Pundit “3rd Annual Women in Green Forum Returns to Santa Monica to Unite International Environmental Leaders for Two Days” (by Nick Aster) 26 July 2012

Read more »

Employee Engagement - Make It Personal, Make It Stick: Creating a Culture of Sustainability

Sustainable Brands
July 2012

Nothing conveys brand like an engaged employee. Nothing conveys a sustainable brand like employees whose day jobs involve implementing their company’s commitment to greater responsibility. Integrating your sustainability program with a strategy to inspire your workforce can drive your innovation. Purpose-driven businesses generate excitement, loyalty, creativity, productivity and profits. This month we explore some outstanding stories, creative strategies and tools for engaging your team in building the integrity of your market-leading sustainable brand. Read more »

When Students Become The Masters: The Importance of Embedding Sustainability in Secondary Education Curriculums

green_erasersSustainable Industries & Triple Pundit
15 July 2012 & 20 July 2012

The diverse crises that the planet faces will only be solved when companies and communities implement authentic and innovative sustainability practices. It is therefore encouraging that there are an increasing number of colleges and universities now including sustainability as part of their campus management programs and curriculum.

Are these programs effective enough to create the next generation of thought leaders our world needs? The answer is, “No. Not yet.”

A good start is underway, however. Pressure from companies, students, and ranking organizations is forcing colleges and universities to embrace sustainability.

The business community is demanding candidates with sustainability training. Accenture found that over 93 percent of CEO’s see sustainability as crucial to business success, with 88 percent stating it needs to be fully embedded into their strategy and operations. Read more »

A World That Works For All

The Solutions Journal
June 2012

The global economy rests on a knife’s edge. The financial crash of 2008 caused 50 trillion dollars and 80 million jobs to evaporate.1 And the wreck is not over. This article describes the major challenges facing the economy and proposes solutions.

The Challenges

The International Labor Organization sets forth the following grim statistics:2

  • Studies of 69 of 118 countries with available data show an increase in the percentage of people reporting worsening living standards in 2010 compared to 2006.
  • People in half of 99 countries surveyed say they have little confidence in their national governments.
  • In 2010, more than 50 percent of people in developed countries lacked decent jobs (in Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain, it is more than 70 percent).
  • The share of profit in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased in 83 percent of countries studied between 2000 and 2009, but productive investment stagnated globally during the same period.
  • Growth in corporate profits increased dividend payouts (from 29 percent of profits in 2000 to 36 percent in 2009) and financial investment (from 81.2 percent of GDP in 1995 to 132.2 percent in 2007). Bankers regained their bonuses, but workers face falling wages.
  • Food price volatility doubled from 2006 through 2010 compared to the prior five years. Financial investors benefit from this; food producers do not. Remember, it was a food riot that touched off the Arab Spring in Tunisia.

Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz observed, “Unless we have a better understanding of the causes of the crisis, we can’t implement an effective recovery strategy. And, so far, we have neither.” His diagnosis: ideological driven release of the financial sector from the regulations that had prevented collapse since the 1930s, bubble-fueled consumption, and growing inequality. His prescription: promote energy conservation, reduce inequality, reform the global financial system to drive productive investment instead of a buildup of cash, and strong government expenditures to aid restructuring.3

Read more »

18 April 2012 | Laguna Nigel, CA | Fortune Brainstorm Green

Triple Pundit
21 April 2012

At the April 2012 Fortune Brainstorm Green conference, Nick Aster spoke briefly with Hunter and they reflected on the nature of the conference and how the business case for sustainability is finally hitting home.


22 May 2012 | New York, NY | Women in Conservation Changing the World: Hunter Lovins Honored as 2012 Rachel Carson Award Recipient

Written by Colette Crouse, 2012 NCS Intern

The National Audubon Society recently recognized our very own Hunter Lovins as an influential environmental pioneer. Hunter was chosen as one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious Rachel Carson Award, which honors visionary women whose dedication, talent and energy have advanced environmental educational locally and globally. The Award ceremony, which was emceed by NBC News environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson, took place May 22, 2012 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Allison Rockefeller, the Founding Chair of the Rachel Carson Award Council, stressed its value as “one of the most coveted awards for American women in the environmental and conservation movement.” She emphasized the social significance and longevity of the Award, noting, “Women have played an enormous role in environmental and conservation leadership and this award recognizes and celebrates their work, and influences a younger generation of girls and women to do the same.”

The Award is named after Rachel Carson, author of the seminal Silent Spring and a forerunner of the modern environmental movement. This year’s Award was particularly special, as 2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the book’s publication. Established in 2004, the Rachel Carson Award has raised more than $1,000,000 to back Audubon’s Women in Conservation Program as well as the organization’s campaign to protect the Long Island Sound.

In addition to Hunter, the Reverend Canon Sally Bingham and Janette Sadik-Khan were also recognized: Bingham for her leadership of the Interfaith Power & Light campaign, a popular religious response to global warming; and Sadik-Khan for her spearheading of a major overhaul of public transportation in New York City to make it safer, flexible, and more sustainable. Past recipients of the Award include actress and environmental activist Sigourney Weaver; founder and executive director of Sustainable South Bronx, Majora Carter; and producer of “An Inconvenient Truth,” Laurie David.

So why Hunter? Read more »

Reframing the Global Economy, Starting in Bhutan

Fast Company
May 2012

It’s always an honor to be invited to join a head of state to tackle global problems. But it’s rare that anything comes of it.

Hunter Lovins with His Excellency, Jigmi Thinley, the Bhutanese Prime Minister

Hunter Lovins with His Excellency, Jigmi Thinley, the Bhutanese Prime Minister

Last February I was surprised to receive an invitation from the Royal Government of Bhutan to join His Excellency, Jigmi Thinley, the Bhutanese Prime Minister and more than 600 leaders from civil society, business, governments, academic institutions and global experts for a High Level Meeting at the United Nations on Happiness and Well Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm.

Many of you have heard my rants against the bloated UN bureaucracy, but for some reason this invitation caught my attention.

And rightly so.

April 2, as I arrived in New York, it was clear that the Bhutanese are competent, far more than typical UN functionaries. They excel at hospitality and I believe they’re serious about making the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) amount to something. From being presented with a strikingly beautiful little pin of a Bhutanese flower for my jacket to the Prime Minister’s kickass opening and closing speeches, the Bhutanese did it right. And assembled a stellar cast to help them. This was a meeting I’m proud to have been a part of.

My old friend Robert Costanza and his very competent team were a key part. Reading the preparatory papers, I’d a hunch that they had the fingerprints of some genuine experts, and they do. The Bhutanese had brought Bob, the Prince of Wales (via video); Vandana Shiva; Mathis Wackernagel; and Joseph Stiglitz, as well as Gifford Pinchot, founder of Bainbridge Graduate Institute, where I’m honored to be faculty; a really impressive gathering of world religious leaders; and others. Read more »

"Run Up to SB'12" by Mike Hower

Sustainable Brands
(by Mike Hower)
8 May 2012

In our first piece from the “Run up to SB’12” series, Hunter Lovins answers our questions around the economic implications of climate change, how organizations can use sustainability as an innovation platform, and how the business community can collaborate to create positive change.

Mike Hower: What do you think is the most pressing environmental threat facing our planet today? (and what do you foresee the implications being if these threats are not addressed?)

Hunter Lovins: Climate change. The OECD released a report this spring saying that if government leaders don’t take immediate action it will become impossible to prevent a global temperature increase of 6%. That’s not survivable.[i] If the OECD is saying this, it truly is a dire situation. Despite the fact that 80% of Americans believe climate change is real, and dire, and that it is urgent for us to take action to build an economy based on clean energy, the U.S. remains the only country that is denying climate change. We can’t even get a decent energy policy passed through Congress.

MH: What kind of revolutionary action needs to be taken to avoid global climate change devastation? Read more »

Making Sustainability Relevant to Everyone

Sustainable Industries
25 March 2012
(by LH Lovins & Steve Wilton)

Hands up everyone who wants to spread the green message….

But how?

Sustainability is knocking at the door of every business, but why do so many small and mid-size American business owners deadbolt their minds to more sustainable practices?

Has it ever crossed your mind that they’re just naïve or stubborn or even ignorant?

Or is it we green advocates who are at fault?

Clinging to use of technical language alien to the conversation on mainstream America, many green business gurus are not reaching a general population. In these polarized times, how we communicate may even be driving our cause farther to the fringe.

As OgilvyEarth likes to put it, we need to “Shift sustainability from polar bears to people.”

Read more »

Engage Your Employees, Educate Your Frontline, Increase Your Profits

Sustainable Industries
14 February 2012

Claudia Capitini, the aptly named Sustainability Maven at Eco-Products, had a problem.

She knew, as smart companies do, that sustainability is the path to greater prosperity and profitability. Twenty six separate studies from such consultancies as those wild eyed-environmentalists at Goldman Sachs show that the companies that are the leaders in environment social and good governance policies, bolster stock prices, achieve higher profitability,and secure an enduring competitive advantage.

With a large sales staff that had no formal training in sustainability, Claudia needed to enhance their understanding of the environmental attributes of the company’s products so that they could sell them effectively. She observed,

“With a brand centered around sustainability, and a complex offering such as ours, we needed to tell our story with precision, but we realized our sustainability story was being lost in translation to the customer.”

Claudia and her team identified the knowledge, skills and attitudes her sales staff needed to communicate sustainability to customers. Realizing that a “Sustainability 101” approach wouldn’t suffice, the team built a series of interactive e-learning modules that distinguish the life-cycle characteristics of the company’s diverse product offering. The flexibility of the e-learning platform enabled the company to create updated online learning modules as new content becomes available. Read more »

14 October 2011 | Denver, CO | Denver Green Streets

Robbie Knight, Managing Editor of Denver Green Streets interviews L. Hunter Lovins, President and Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions.

Denver Green Streets interviews L. Hunter Lovins, President & Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions from Denver Green Streets on Vimeo.

Integrity. Here’s hoping I can live up to that.

The plane settles into its cruise altitude and I to writing – three hours to Chicago, swap planes, then eight to the Netherlands. Long night.

I’m bound east to consult for Royal Dutch Shell. No idea what they want from me, but I’ll be most interested to chat with them about their world-view. And to give em a piece of my mind. I would anyway, but now it’s a debt. As is this blog.

Once one of the world’s most progressive companies, the Shell I knew prospered under the able leadership of such Managing Directors as Bobby Reid and Sir Mark Moody Stuart, the last Managing Director for whom I consulted. Under these leaders, Shell was on an arc away from being an oil company to being a diversified energy provider, launching solar, wind, hydrogen, biofuels and efficiency divisions. It didn’t matter, for example, to Sir Mark that Shell did not have the proven reserves to long remain an oil company (and he was well aware that the world as we know it could not long survive Shell’s continuing to extract and enable us to burn fossil fuels.) If you are migrating away from oil, it’s a race to the future in which the first movers have the advantage. Under this vision Shell became the world’s largest company and the darling of the socially responsible investment crowd.

Read more »

25 August 2011 | Sonoma, CA | Infineon Raceway

Infineon Raceway’s Accelerating Sustainable Performance Summit

(download slides)

click on images for full size


  • San Rafael PatchHuffman Hopes to See Electric Vehicles In The Winner’s Circle

    (by Derek Wilson) 28 August 2011

  • Triple Pundit “Hunter Lovins on Green Vehicles: Sustainability is High Performance” (by Steve Puma) 2 September 2011
  • GreenBiz “Hunter Lovins Revs Up Sustainability Summit at Infineon Raceway” (by Leslie Guevarra) 25 August 2011

Read more »

17 May 2011 | Seattle, WA | Climate Capitalism at Seattle Town Hall

Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen Talk Climate Capitalism at Seattle Town Hall

30 April 2011 | Longmont, CO | The Designers Accord Sustainability in 7 Series

The Designers Accord Sustainability in 7 video series delivered a daily dose of design inspiration by today’s leading sustainability experts. Join in the conversation as they share 7 things every designer should consider when integrating sustainability into design practice. Hunter Lovins’ video from her Ranch in Longmont, CO:


Thoughtful (and thought-provoking) videos from 17 of 2011s most respected sustainability experts. Learned that “by design” starts with value thinking from William McDonough, the realities of sustainable business from Hunter Lovins and Lisa Gansky, that diversity creates resilience from Nathan Shedroff and that each of us should look to nature for design solutions from Janine Benyus. Each of our 17 presenters gave us a unique view on directions in sustainable design and what it means for makers, thinkers, consumers and producers today.


In case you missed any of the Sustainability in 7 videos, we’ve created an easy index of all our experts below! Bookmark and share the Sustainability in 7 homepage. All the videos will live at for your easy reference.


Fiona Bennie on Future Scenarios
Janine Benyus on Biomimicry
Allan Chochinov on the Seven Presumptions of Design
Dawn Danby on Life-Cycle Thinking
Andrew Dent on Materials
Gil Friend on Sustainable Business
Lisa Gansky on Sharing
Chris Hacker on the Design Process
Wendy Jedlička’s Seven Handy Tips to Help You Change the World
Hunter Lovins Makes the Business Case for Sustainability
William McDonough on Cradle to Cradle Design
Dara O’Rourke on Seven Design Principles for Sustainable Design
John Peterson on Pro Bono Design
Nathan Shedroff Explains Systems Thinking
John Thackara on Energy
Alissa Walker on Walking the Walk
Adam Werbach on Cultural Sustainability


"Point of View" by Martin C. Pederson

(by Martin C. Pederson)

27 April 2011 

For our 30th anniversary issue, I interviewed three pioneers in the green building movement: Bill McDonough, USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi, and Hunter Lovins. It turns out all three of them share a common approach to environmentalism. They engage with business, rather than confront it. I’d call it second (or maybe third) wave activism. And no one has been at it longer than Lovins, who in 1982 co-founded (with Amory Lovins, her ex-husband) the Rocky Mountain Institute. Today Lovins serves as executive director of Natural Capitalist Solutions, a non-profit dedicated to helping businesses, governments and civic organizations embrace sustainability. She is co-author (with Boyd Cohen) of a new book,Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change. The following is an edited transcript from her insightful conversation.

Martin C. Pedersen: You say the “three-Ls” used by the environmental movement—legislation, litigation, and lobbying—aren’t working. What does work, you argue, is engaging with business. But we’re nowhere near a tipping point for industry and climate change action. In fact the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is dead set against any kind of carbon legislation— Read more »

Sucking it up ...

Dunno how much longer I can do this…. Nashville’s in my taillights, but at this rate it’s not clear that I’ll make Colorado.

Our little Embraer jet’s slamming through the sorts of clouds that eat airplanes. Somewhere over Oklahoma. Can only imagine the violence below.

This is the sort of day that makes one wonder if it’s worth it – this life of going down the road.

I’m tired. It’s been a grueling run. Then the plane was two hours late into Nashville cause storms wracked Chicago. Where I was two days ago. After New York and DC in the two days prior. I’ll be back in Chicago early next week. With Colorado and Seattle in Between. Book launches all.

Great people make it bearable. Ah, the myth of Southern hospitality never left Nashville. Add to that some really exciting work on sustainability: on city design, including spongy landscaping to absorb the increasingly violent storms and flooding – Nashville flooded badly a year or so back and now takes water management seriously. On creating sustainability programs at conservative religious schools. On smart transit planning – the Mayor rides the bus to work several days a week. On LEED certification of buildings – they kept pointing out LEED Platinum, Gold, Silver buildings. On local food production – we dined two nights ago at Tayst, an experience that rivals the finest in New York, San Francisco, London…anywhere. The chef, who sources 90% of the food locally, also volunteers to bring healthy nutrition to local public schools. Nashville also specializes mixed use, mixed race developments bringing neighborliness to once blighted sections of town – waiting for a table in the always popular Burger Up at 9:30 the night after my speech at Lipscomb University, a most scholarly African American gentleman joining his wife already inside regaled our group of students, professionals, and city officials about the history of the neighborhood.

Read more »

Seizing the Smart Energy Opportunity
18 April 2011

[GreenBiz Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of excerpts from “Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change,” by L. Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen, just published by Hill and Wang.The first excerpt can be found here.]

Investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy will generate jobs and help build strong companies, communities, and countries. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley concluded, “All states of the union stand to gain in terms of net employment from the implementation of a portfolio of clean energy policies at the federal level.”

The new green energy economy will generate new manufacturing businesses, jobs retrofitting existing buildings, opportunities to build and manage the new decentralized energy system, the ability to revitalize farm income from biofuels, wind farms, etc. Traditional economists who claim that acting to protect the climate is costly should be challenged to show why unleashing the new energy economy will not trigger, as former President Clinton asserts, the greatest economic boom since World War II. Read more »

The Book is Launched

It’s a thrill to launch a book, and standing room only at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco is not a bad way to do it. That’s the honor that a lively audience gave me Tuesday. With my dear friend Joel Makower, editor of GreenBiz, presiding, Climate Capitalism made its formal debut to sustainability thought leaders like Gil Friend, public servants like Jay Eickenhorst, former Presidio students (and enduring friends), my Madrone colleagues and the bright membership of the Club. Joel introduced me to describe the book’s thesis: Believe in climate change or don’t – it really doesn’t matter if you think the climate crisis is real or not, because acting in ways to solve it is just better business. So let’s stop arguing over the science and get on with making money – oh, and you’ll solve global warming while you’re at it. Panelists Bruce Klafter of Applied Materials, profiled in the book, and David Chen of Equilibrium Capital, backed my claims, describing how their companies are profiting handsomely even in a down economy from rolling out the new energy economy.

To Joel’s probing questions of if all this is true, why isn’t it busting out everywhere, they answered, “It is!” I pointed out that a recent Harris Interactive survey of the Fortune 1,000 found that although corporate executives have a pervasive belief is that no one is implementing sustainability, 88% of the companies answering said that they’re doing it – they just believe they’re an anomaly.

Joel is such a skillful moderator, and from his decisive three raps to open the hour recorded for NPR broadcast til the closing gavel, time sped by. Questions were engaged, the knowledgeable and articulate panel laid out a wealth of content and the Commonwealth Club sold out of books.

Read more »

Principles of Climate Capitalism
11 April 2011

[GreenBiz Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of excerpts from “Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change,” by L. Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen, just published by Hill and Wang.]

The CEOs of the companies implementing greater sustainability in their business practices may not recognize it, but they are following the principles set forth a decade ago in this book’s predecessor, Natural Capitalism. These principles have proved to be some of the best guides a company can use as it embraces sustainability in its own operations. They also represent a roadmap to a sustainable economy.

The first principle, buying time by using all resources as efficiently as possible, is cost-effective today and is the best way to address many of the worst problems facing humankind while delivering premium returns on investments. There are many smart companies implementing this principle, from measuring and managing their carbon footprints with the Carbon Disclosure Project, to Mi Rancho Tortilla’s saving $175,000 a year by implementing efficiency measures because it knows it has to do so to meet Walmart’s Sustainability Scorecard. It and the other small businesses participating in Natural Capitalism Solutions’ “Solutions at the Speed of Business” program are enjoying returns on investment ranging from 100 percent to more than 600 percent. Read more »

"Can Climate Capitalism Save the World?" by Joel Makower

(by Joel Makower)
11 April 2011

For roughly three decades, L. Hunter Lovins has been a clear and provocative voice on business and sustainability — first at the Rocky Mountain Institute, which she co-founded in 1982 with Amory Lovins, and later through her own organization, Natural Capitalism Solutions.

Along the way, she has been a prolific writer, speaker, educator and a globally recognized consultant on sustainability to companies, governments and others.

On the occasion of the publication of her latest book, “Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change,” coauthored with Boyd Cohen, I recently sat down with Hunter to discuss her book (the first of several excerpts can be found here) and her vision of what’s possible.

Joel Makower: It’s been 11 years since “Natural Capitalism” came out. Why was it time to write another book? Read more »

It arrived.

The first ever copy of Climate Capitalism arrived today. Margo Boteilho, our accountant, came in with the mail. I was giving an interview on my new book Climate Capitalism with Robert Colangelo of Greensense. It was my second interview of the day: this morning my co-author, Dr Boyd Cohen, and I did an hour long webinar for Net Impact on the book, and I was focused on remembering what I’d said two hours before and what this new audience hadn’t yet heard – one of the tricky bits of doing multiple interviews in the same day.

Margo slipped into my office and ceremoniously laid a large brown envelope on my desk.

It didn’t occur to me to open it til she peeked back in after I’d hung up, and pointed at it, grinning. I shrugged – big brown envelopes arrive each day: books people are sharing with me, new reports….

“Open it,” she nudged.
[youtube] Hmmm, started to feel a bit like a party. Well, OK, the pressing crush of e-mails could wait, I guess….

Then my eyes saw the Hill and Wang logo. Whoa, that’s my publisher….

And there it was. The first ever copy of Climate Capitalism.

OK, this one I’m not going to sell.

Instead I danced about the office like the dern squirrel in Ice Age with his nut.

Read more »

It snowed in Berkeley last night

It snowed in Berkeley last night. Thought I saw some on a car going past. Then there it was, lining the verges of Interstate 80.

OK, it’s still winter for a few more days…

My tired mind didn’t register at first. The evening I’d been going to spend snuggled into the cozy little home in the Marin Headlands where I’m camped this week had disappeared into work. Walking to the kitchen down the hall from our new Madrone Project office in the David Brower Center in Berkeley, I spotted John Knox, Executive Director of Earth Island Institute down in the lobby. John’s an old friend, from the days when Dave was still alive and running Earth Island. So I sauntered down to say howdy and found myself in the midst of an about to happen event honoring Aileen Mioko Smith, and raising money for Green Action, her gallant grassroots group in Japan that has been fighting the nuclear plants there, warning of just the sort of disaster that now threatens her island.

On finding me standing in their lobby, the various activists asked if I would speak at the event, describing how Japan, and the U.S. could craft a future free of nuclear power that still heads off the climate crisis.

Wow. Sure. That is part of the magic of the Brower Center – a LEED Platinum building full of organizations working for a future for all living things. Such events happen here most every day.

Read more »

I-80 West

It’s a long way from Des Moines to Colorado. We rose early – time-zone scrambled circadian rhythms being useful for something – and headed west.

The morning started grimly though, as logging on to check the status of the crippled nuke in Japan brought the breaking news of the explosion.
Dammit, why have humans persisted in such stupidity? Nuclear is an exceedingly expensive way to boil water, and as this week’s nasty news has shown, remains vulnerable to the caprice of nature. My tweet querying this brought a reply of “Greed.” My friend April wrote, “Some expect the radiation to reach the Western U.S. Coast in 3 days from when it exploded. …Exploding nuke plants, oil spills… Onsite solar and wind are explosion- and spill-free. They’re healthier for humans, our earth, workers and our economy. This is why you should support renewable energy. Your kids would.” Martina added, “The shortsighted focus on immediate profits supporting the so called growth combined with a faulty sense of security in the face of unpredictable and a lack of understanding/acceptance of possible consequences.” Michael summed it up, “There is no justification for the construction of new nuclear facilities of any kind. Radiation, the gift that keeps on giving.” Good time to remember the stalwart folks at Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Even when most of the rest of us forgot that the industry continues to lobby congress for more of your and my tax dollars to support a technology that can no longer even compete with solar. What? Check out last July’s article in the New York Times, “Nuclear Energy Loses Cost Advantage.”

At least e-mail posts to the Balaton list-serve (the global network of sustainability experts founded years ago by Dana and Dennis Meadows, and now one of the best collection of experts anywhere) brought news that our Japanese colleagues are all accounted for. My heart goes out to those cold and alone, who’ve lost it all. Note to self: time on returning home to make yet another donation.

With nothing we could do about it, Steve Wilton, Robbie Noiles and I headed west. Swapping stories and strategies for our work training companies, communities and citizens to profiting from sustainability, we ate down the states. There’s something soothing in hours of companionable silence and farmland rolling by, til Rob exclaimed, “Whoa look at that!”

The sky was chevroned by thousands, hundreds of thousands of birds. They littered pastures, graying the Nebraska cornfields and crowding the ponds.

Cranes. Sandhill cranes. We’d blundered into the spring migration of these creatures who since prehistoric times have gathered here, half a million of em, the State website explained on my i-Pad.

We had to stop and marvel at the sound and sight of this ancient ritual, a sky alive with the chattering, gabbing, whirring of these and millions of geese, ducks, and other feathered fellow migrants.

Just as the birds gather there to fatten themselves for their onward travels, we stopped into Ole’s Big Game Bar in Paxton, Nebraska. A bit of graffiti in the restroom whimpered that the author was hiding out in there cause it was the only place that didn’t have stuffed animal heads staring at her.

Read more »

Dispatch from Iowa

Today’s frontline is Iowa. Natural Capitalism has been working with various communities here to enhance the profitability of their small businesses through a for-profit venture that some folk in California has asked us to help create a year or so ago. It’s done OK, that little business, running half a dozen “sustainability learning circles,” with small business leaders in California, Colorado and Iowa. On paper, it stands to make a great deal of money.

But last fall I began to question whether this was the best model. Nothing wrong with the circles but I became concerned that the model wouldn’t scale. Our people can’t be in every little community across the country, let alone around the world. That’s the reason we created the S@SB tool in the first place: take the knowledge that’s in the heads of the NCS staff who work with the Walmart’s of the world, and make it affordably available to mainstreet. A labor of love by NCS and the Scottish-based, digital learning company, Cogbooks, S@SB works. The companies that are using it are cutting their use of energy, their waste, engaging their employees, and perhaps most important, driving their profitability. Why most important? Because this is what will get mainstreet to drive the implementation of sustainability. For too long, sustainability has been sold as a moral imperative, as an environmentalist agenda.  Now, I’ve nothing against morality, but if we want this to sweep the world, it’s got to appeal across the political spectrum, and be something that people of all points of view want to do because it meets their own needs, not the pleasure of some activist.


Read more »

Dispatches from the Frontlines of Sustainability

American Resource Center in Helsinki, Hunter Lovins & Gregory Miller Present

A block from Paddington Station in London is the Frontline Club, a haven for journalists and NGO activists who work on the front lines around the world. In its chic restaurant hang photos from wars its founders covered. And the original of the solitary man facing down a tank in Tiananmen Square.

I belong, having worked on front lines, times past, in places like Afghanistan, and stay there whenever in London, curling into the club room upstairs, with its rickety chairs, delicious whisky and the best mutton pie anywhere.

Wars proliferate and the club was packed the other night for a presentation on the revolutions raging in the Middle East. But these days my frontlines are the global battlegrounds for whether there’s a future – the boardrooms and city halls where companies and communities are implementing more sustainable practices. I was in London keynoting a conference on corporate sustainability. And en route in service to the U.S. Ambassador to Finland, a dear friend and energy activist from Boulder. We delighted last night in his new WindStream installation whirring furiously away on the parapet of the US embassy overlooking the Baltic, as we discussed his work to green U.S. embassies around the globe.

Because these are the real frontlines today. Winging west now to begin a spring’s worth of speeches, consulting, teaching, and burning carbon to save the climate, I grin at the lovely evenings spent in London with my friend, Dr. Jim Thompson munching mutton pie at the club. We’ve built the Solutions@theSpeedofBusiness tool to enable mainstreet businesses to cut their carbon emissions profitably. And another evening downstairs with Jim and another friend, Tom Rivett Carnac of the Carbon Disclosure Project, as he revealed how much opportunity exists: the average sized companies who report to CDP can capture $30 to 40 million in savings profitably! Or meeting with the Mayor of Lahti, advising his staff on how to make this old Finnish industrial town a green city. Or lecturing with my partner Gregory Miller at the Ministry of Education on how our Madrone Project can bring affordable digital sustainability education to scale globally.

Read more »

"Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change" by Victoria Stephens and Dena Zocher

Planet-Profit Report
(by Victoria Stephens & Dena Zocher)
6 March 2011

Hunter Lovins, the president and founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions, works with businesses, communities and governments to help them adopt sustainability principles and practices to deliver better value to their stakeholders. Lovins will give a keynote presentation at the 2011 Sustainable Opportunities Summit in Denver, April 11-12. Her new book,Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change, will be released in April.

Here are a few excerpts from a conversation with Lovins that will continue at the Summit.

Green Convene Strategies: Do you see organizations engaging with Natural Capitalism Solutions more because of market pressures or because it’s the “right thing” to do? 

Hunter Lovins: It depends on the company. If you had told me five years ago that Wal-Mart would be the entity on the planet doing the most to drive sustainability, I would have bet eating my hat against it. But here we are. Wal-Mart sustainability scorecard is driving thousands of companies in its supply chain to come to organizations like Natural Capitalism and ask “What do we have to do to be considered a sustainable company?”  Read more »

"Convincing Even the Skeptics to Go Green" by Jim Witkin

New York Times
(by Jim Witkin)

2 February 2011 

Centuries of burning fossil fuels to power our modern lifestyles is warming our planet and changing our climate. Or not. So goes the debate. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, making your business more environmentally friendly is just good business, according to L. Hunter Lovins, president of Natural Capitalism Solutions and co-author of “Climate Capitalism” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), which is set for release in April.

“You don’t have to believe in the problem to believe in the solution,” said Ms. Lovins, who advises businesses, governments and civil organizations on the merits of sustainability — that is, adopting practices to use less energy, produce less waste and reduce their environmental footprints.

Natural Capitalism Solutions recently began a series of workshops and online tools aimed at small businesses to help them carry out green business practices. Ms. Lovins promises to return their money if the program doesn’t pay for itself in cost savings in the first year. A condensed version of a conversation with Ms. Lovins follows.

Jim Witkin: What do you say to the business owner who tells you the bottom line is a higher priority right now than going green?

Hunter Lovins: The bottom line should be the highest priority for small businesses — or you go out of business. But if you are not eliminating waste and implementing energy-efficiency measures; if you are not engaging your employees in the sustainability efforts that will motivate, excite, and inspire them; if you are not capturing the brand equity of operating as a responsible business; then you are just not doing good business.

JW: Does that convince them? Read more »

2 October 2010 | San Francisco, CA | West Coast Green & Madrone League Announcement

West Coast Green 2010

(no slides used)


  • TreeHugger Michelle Kaufmann video interview with Hunter Lovins
  • Just Means‘ Kevin Long video interview with Hunter Lovins
  • Triple Pundit “Madrone League: Open Source Sustainability Education” (by Erica Frye) 4 October 2010
  • Triple Pundit “A Look at Women’s Leadership in Sustainability” (by Erica Frye) 14 October 2010

Tree Hugger Video

Just Means Video (click here)

Read more »

The Future of Industry

By L. Hunter Lovins, Emily A. Evans, Bonnie Nixon and Catherine Greener

This paper was adapted an expanded for a global audience from a paper written for the UNIDO International Conference on Green Industry in Asia, September 2009.

[download the .pdf of the full 200+ page report]

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The World Needs Sustainable Production……….. 6

Why Business-as-Usual is Changing: The Drivers of Change……. 7
Rethinking Industry to Achieve Sustainability: Solutions and Opportunities……. 9
How to Change Industry: Radically Sustainable Manufacturing and Tools for Change……. 11
Rethinking Development: Lifting People Out of Poverty……. 12

Chapter 2. Business As Usual Is Changing……….. 14

The Drivers of Change: Challenges Facing Industry……. 14
Economic Collapse—How Environmental Unsustainability Drove Financial Collapse… 15
Loss of Ecosystems and Services Provided by Ecosystems… 17
Climate Change… 22
Growing Food and Water Scarcity… 33
Oil Supply Constraints… 41
Shifting Demographics… 44
Globalization and Localization… 48
Growth and Impact… 50
Sustainability Imperative… 52
Sustainability: the Foundation of Prosperity and Development……. 56

Chapter 3. Rethinking Industry to Achieve Sustainability……….. 59

Natural Capitalism……. 59
Natural Capitalism Principle One: Buy Time By Using Resources More Productively… 61
Eco-Efficiency……….. 62
Whole Systems Design for Efficiency……….. 67
Efficiency Throughout the Supply Chain……….. 69
Efficiency for Smaller Companies……….. 71
Efficiency in Buildings……….. 74
Manufacturing efficiency……….. 77
Natural Capitalism Principle Two: Redesign Everything… 79
Biomimicry……….. 81
Cleaner Production……….. 91
Cradle to Cradle……….. 93
Natural Capitalism Principle Three: Restore Human and Natural Capital by Managing All Institutions for Sustainability… 111
Green New Deal……….. 113
Zero Waste Eco Towns……….. 114
Achieving Sustainability Through the Principles of Natural Capitalism……. 118

Chapter 4. Integrating the Three Principles……….. 121

Truly Transforming Industry……. 121
Radically Sustainable Manufacturing… 121
Understanding the system……….. 122
Implementing Radically Sustainable Manufacturing: Industrial Ecology… 123
Kalundborg, 30 years of Industrial Ecology… 125
Tools for Change……. 128
Tools for Private Industries… 129
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)……….. 129
Design for Environment……….. 133
Biomimicry……….. 135
Scenario Planning……….. 137
Sustainable Operating Systems……….. 138
Wheel of Change……….. 139
The Sustainability Advantage……….. 140
Solutions at the Speed of Business……….. 142
Managing a Company with the Sustainability Helix……….. 143
The Helix as a Management Tool……….. 147
Sustainability Helix Activity Threads……….. 148
Existing efforts to introduce sustainability, transparency and accountability into the supply chain……….. 154
Global Reporting Initiative……….. 161
Value Chain Ecosystems… 161
Government’s Role… 162
Innovative Government Mechanisms to Implement Sustainability……….. 163
Overcoming Barriers of Change……….. 164
Eliminate Perverse Subsidies……….. 167
Tax Shifting……….. 170
Creative Ways to Provide Capital……….. 170
Tools for Community Action… 172
LASER—Local Action for Sustainable Economic Renewal……….. 172
Transforming the Production Model……. 173

Chapter 5. Rethinking Development……….. 175

Redefining Aid……. 175
Lessons in Development……. 189
The Best Choice for Developing Countries: Investing in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy… 193
Working with Developed Countries……. 203
Eco-tourism… 203
Organic Food Markets… 204
Fair Trade Markets… 206
Changing Consumer Behavior… 210
Achieving Genuine Sustainable Development… 211

Chapter 6. The Role of The Economy……….. 214

Redesigning the Gross Domestic Product……. 214

Appendix: The Business Case……….. 219

Acknowledgements……….. 221

Author Biographies……….. 222

References……….. 226

[download the .pdf of the full 200+ page report]


Case Study: Railbelt Electricity Efficiency Landscape (REEL) in Alaska Roadmap

REELRadical Energy Efficiency in Your Community
The REEL in Alaska Roadmap demonstrates how Alaskans in the Railbelt region of Anchorage, Juneau, and Homer can meet their electricity needs in 2025, using as little as 50% of the electricity used in the year 2000.Accomplishing this goal will lead to increases of $947,992,100 in economic output, $290,927,800 in wages, $53,499,850 in business income, and 9,350 new jobs.For more information on how Natural Capitalism Solutions can help your community set and achieve similar goals, contact contact us.

Click here to download the complete report.

Click here to download the executive summary.

Case Study: Fairbanks First Fuel

Fairbanks Case StudyEconomic Development Through Energy Efficiency
Increasing the efficiency with which Fairbanks meets its electricity needs will create jobs, increase business incomes, and provide overall economic development for the community.

Directed toward efficiency, each investment of $25,000,000 could eliminate the need for as much as 24MW of generating capacity.

For more information on how Natural Capitalism Solutions can help your community set and achieve similar goals contact us.

Click here to download the complete report.

Click here to download the executive summary.

Click here to download the report without appendices.

Creating a Game Plan for the Transition to a Sustainable U.S. Economy

Solutions Journal
(by:  Hunter Lovins, Jeffrey HollenderGar AlperovitzChristina AsquithBill BeckerRobert CostanzaElliot HoffmanEllen KahlerDavid LevineDavid Rapaport)
June 2010

The United States—indeed, the global community—is at a crossroads. We have a choice between two futures.

Marc Feder/ Solutions

Marc Feder/ Solutions

The first is business as usual. In an effort to continue economic growth in the conventional sense (growing Gross Domestic Product with little concern for distribution of wealth), we exacerbate all of the problems that GDP growth is increasingly causing. We fail to recognize that such growth in the developed countries is not improving human well-being. We fail to recognize that distributing our wealth more fairly would actually improve overall well-being. We do not address the growing climate and other environmental problems and continue to damage the ecological life-support systems on which we all depend, particularly the poor. We fail to anticipate and deal with the constraints inherent in our dependence on finite resources such as fossil fuels. It is a future that is not sustainable and also not desirable to the vast majority of humans.

The second future is much brighter: Extreme poverty is eradicated. Our energy economy in the United States and worldwide shifts to clean, renewable resources. Ecological design becomes business as usual, and humankind finally accepts its role as an integral participant in and steward of the environmental systems upon which true prosperity depends.

In short, we have a choice to become victims of the future or its architects. Read more »

Re-Imagining the Economy of the Gulf States by Alexia Parks

Huffington Post
(by Alexia Parks)
15 June 2010

What were the Gulf States like before the introduction of oil refineries? Before offshore drilling? Not all of the Gulf of Mexico is destined to become a dead zone. Not all shorelines along the Gulf states — along with the air, itself — will be off limits to life and tourism. Life will move forward. However, what is different here is that this catastrophic environmental disaster marks a watershed in human history.

Why? There is not much slack left in the human timeline. We have a small window of opportunity in which to imagine a world without oil and then create it.

Read more »

27 May 2010 | Raleigh, NC | NCSU Center for Innovation Management Studies Spring Meeting

North Carolina State University Center for Innovation Management Studies (NCSU-CIMS) Spring 2010 Meeting

(download slides)  “The Business Cae for Sustainability” by L. Hunter Lovins (Keynote speech)


A student interview with Hunter Lovins North Carolina State’s College of Innovation Management Studies (CIMS). Recorded at The Angus Barn in Raleigh, NC this 2010 Spring Conference highlights the many challenges and opportunities for sustainable, profitable, business solutions to an increasingly larger economic and environmental dilemma.

Case Study: Coal Plants in Transition

Coal PlantsTransition from Coal to Clean Energy Makes Good Business Sense

Utilities and other large-scale energy providers with significant percentages of coal in their generation portfolios can profitably transition toward more flexible and less capital intensive efficiency and renewables technologies using a business approach outlined in a new economic study completed by Natural Capitalism Solutions. This report provides an economic case study in energy financing.

For more information on how Natural Capitalism Solutions can analyze alternatives to your local coal plant contact us.

Click here to download the 4 March 2010 Press Release.

Click here to download the Executive Summary

Click here to download the Complete Report.

16 December 2009 | Copenhagen, Denmark | UNFCCC's COP-15

UNFCCC COP-15 Meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark
Hunter Lovins interviewed


  • Huffington Post “Chaos and Capitulation in Copenhagen” (by Jerry Cope) 16 December 2009

Read more »

21 October 2009 | New York, NY | National Climate Seminar at Bard College

Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s National Climate Seminar


  • Triple Pundit “Hunter Lovins Speaks On Climate Change Action and Revamping the Economy” (By Gina-Marie Cheeseman) 29 October 2009

Read more »

The Future of Industry in Asia (for UNIDO)

By L. Hunter Lovins, Emily A. Evans, Bonnie Nixon and Catherine Greener

Written for the UNIDO International Conference on Green Industry in Asia, September 2009.

[download the .pdf of the full 200+ page report]

This paper was also expanded and adopted for a global audience in July 2010 (read more here).

In November 2008, Hunter Lovins was engaged by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to write a paper on sustainable production for Asia. The paper addresses how resource-efficient and low carbon manufacturing lifts people out of poverty. Hunter and Emily Evans presented the paper at the October 2009 U.N. sponsored, International Green Industry Conference in Asia, in Manila, Philippines. Emily Evans led the project and associate Catherine Greener helped author. Several interns and other staff also provided research and editing support.

In preparation for the final presentation in Manila, Hunter and Emily travelled to the United Nations headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand in March 2009 to present the first formal draft of the paper’s outline. The audience included various departments within the United Nations, the International Labor Organization, international research and academic institutions, and various Asian ministers. The outline was very well received and the Natural Capitalism group began writing the paper in mid-spring.

Using the feedback from the conference, the principles of Natural Capitalism, and Natural Capitalism’s roadmap for sustainable production, the commissioned paper provides Asian businesses with the tools necessary to shift their operations toward more sustainable modes of production. Once these challenges are met, industry will flourish, helping communities address chronic poverty.

Table of Contents Read more »

15 October 2008 | Berkeley, CA | UC Berkeley's Capitalism Next Seminar

From Sustainable Business to Sustainable Capitalism

Hunter Lovins at the Blum Center for Developing Economies – Net Impact sponsor

19 June 2008 | San Francisco, CA | The Business Case for Sustainability

Hunter Lovins on the Business Case for Sustainability

by Amber Bieg of
June 2008

Xcel Playing dirty on coal plant plan: It wants us to bear cost now for plant that might never materialize

Boulder Daily Camera
30 April 2006
trojanhorseHey, fellow Xcel ratepayers: weary after a long winter of double-digit rate increases? Watch out! Another rate increase to finance a polluting coal plant is hidden inside Xcel’s latest “rate adjustments.” These rate “adjustments” bundle a short-term rate decrease with a long-term rate increase. The long-term increase uses a “Construction Work in Progress” mechanism to finance a large coal plant in Pueblo. Most other states forbid or restrict CWIP financing. Xcel’s recent and impressive ad-blitz is looking more and more like a cover-up of this injudicious proposal. The Greeks of old fooled the Trojans with an attractive peace offering; don’t let Xcel’s Trojan Horse strategy do the same to us.
On April 14, Xcel submitted the rate adjustments for approval before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Buried in the pages of paperwork supporting these “adjustments” is Xcel’s plan that you and I start paying (CWIP) fees for another 750 megawatt coal plant. Starting in January 2007, we’d be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars of annual CWIP fees, but the plant won’t deliver any electricity for several more years — if it’s ever built. Read more »

9-26 May 2005 | Boulder, CO | University of Colorado Maymester "Natural Capitalism For Engineers""


A Vison For Green Afghanistan

A Brief Proposal for a Comprehensive Strategy to Develop a Competitive and Sustainable Afghanistan

Afghanistan faces enormous challenges. After almost 30 years of war, much of its infrastructure is in ruins, or was never completed. In the wake of 9-11, the international community, recognizing the threat to world peace of a devastated Afghanistan, pledged billions of dollars to rebuild the country. This has created a unique, but narrow window of opportunity to rebuild the country using the growing body of best practice in sustainable technologies.[1] Every donor agency has wording in its charter pledging adherence to this approach, but few are implementing it. Natural Capitalism Solutions, an American non-profit with expertise in sustainable economic development, proposes to work with Afghan companies and officials, with the donor agencies, as well as with leading international practitioners of sustainable development to set forth a strategy that will ensure that donor money leverages the creation of viable, locally-owned private businesses, able to sustainably meet the needs of Afghans even after the International eye has moved on.

Around the world, aid money tends to create perverse versions of a welfare society, dependent on big western contractors and foreign NGO’s. When the money runs out and the westerners leave, the country struggles on in poverty. In Afghanistan, where success is not only important to the Afghans but a matter of global security, it is urgent that Afghan reconstruction create a robust infrastructure that delivers profitable and stable businesses as it rebuilds the entire economy. The Green Afghanistan strategy, proposed here, will not only describe how to implement international best practice in sustainability, but could also serve as a model for development funding around the world. Read more »

Natural Capitalism: Path to Sustainability?

Corporate Environmental Strategy
July 2001

In this article, the Lovins’2 explain what is meant by Natural Capitalism, four principles that enable business to behave responsibly towards both nature and people while increasing profits, inspiring their workforce and gaining competitive advantage. It combines radically increased resource productivity; closed-loop, zero-waste, nontoxic production; a business model that rewards both; and reinvestment in natural capital. The article describes how, even today, when nature and people are typically valued at zero, protecting and restoring nature, culture and community can be far more profitable than liquidating them.

Read more »

The Challenge of Globalization

Also in The Aspen Institute’s 50th Anniversary Symposium “Globalization and Culture”

The Impact of Globalization 
Many people watched the recent protests against globalization in Prague, Melbourne, Washington, and Seattle, and wondered what all the fuss was about. Few would dispute that globalization has become a source of dissension, but fewer can describe the issues, and fewer still know what to do about them. Once an academic topic for policy analysts, globalization is now inciting demonstrations on a scale unseen since the Vietnam War.

Part of the problem is that the world as we know it is changing rapidly, and increasingly no one is in charge. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the apparent triumph of capitalism worldwide, and the spread of communications and information technology bringing the ability to move capital around the world at stroke of a computer key, have fundamentally changed the way the world works. Increasingly such changes are affecting not only Wall Street and Main Street, but even rural villages in the developing world.

What’s the Fight About?

Advocates of globalization argue that trade must be the preeminent objective of international agreements, and that other concerns are legitimate only to the extent that they don’t inhibit the free movement of goods and financial capital. This view holds that free trade will expand economic opportunities and “lift all boats.” Opponents, they argue, are protectionists or Marxists. Read more »

Energy Surprises for the 21st Century

By L. Hunter Lovins and Amory B. Lovins

Also in Green@Work May/June 2000.

[download .pdf of full article, PART I] [download .pdf of full article, PART II]

Twenty-three years ago, claims that energy efficiency would shift United States energy use patterns, reducing overall consumption far below official forecasts, were laughed at. Today, total U.S. energy use is below the level suggested in the “soft energy path” (see figure). In all but five of the intervening years the amount of energy consumed per dollar of GDP fell—a total drop of more than 35 percent since 1973. Renewable energy sources, delayed by 90-percent cuts in research and development budgets and suppression of public information are now slowly regaining momentum. Improvements in technology, designs that integrate wholesystems, and greater competitive pressures are creating a “third wave” of energy efficiency, reversing the stagnation from 1986 to 1996.


Figure by Amory Lovins published in 1976.

This article provides an overview of some of the issues and innovations that are likely to alter the global energy sector in the early 21st century.


[download .pdf of full article, PART I]

In “Energy Surprises” (May/June 00 issue of green@work) we described some of the issues and innovations that will drive energy policy in the early 21st century. From superefficient energy use to the emergence of new forms of electric utilities, from whole system design to climate change, the energy world as we know it is undergoing dramatic change. This article will build on that information, describing how more efficient vehicles will lead to a hydrogen economy, how energy efficiency can promote development around the world, and finally how the lessons learned from this have given rise to a new form of economics called Natural Capitalism.


[download .pdf of full article, PART II]

Design Failure and Conservation

Also in Conservation Biology, Volume 16 #2, 2000.

H. L. Menchen said that for every problem there is an answer that is short, simple, and wrong.  David Orr is one of the few thinkers who seeks to understand the broad-reaching interconnections among problems, and their relationships to biological diversity, conservation issues, and the creation of a decent and healthy world. Such a vision across boundaries enables him to see root causes and to offer answers based on whole-system understanding.

He is correct that our current vulnerability–economic, ecological, food, security–is not so much a result of too little military, as it is of too little design intelligence. Our energy systems are a prime example. The attacks of 9-11 made it clear that dependence on Mideast oil and fragile domestic infrastructure threaten national energy security. Replacing Mideast oil is essential, but increasing our reliance on equally or more vulnerable domestic sources only trades one form of vulnerability for another.

This is because we have a national energy infrastructure that is brittle by design.

Concentrated energy infrastructure and supplies invite devastating attack. Two decades ago, Amory Lovins and I authored a study for the Pentagon that was later published as the book Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security (see That 500-page, 1,200-reference study found that a handful of people could shut down three-quarters of the oil and gas supplies to the eastern United States in one evening and without leaving Louisiana, cut the power to any major city, or kill millions of people by crashing an airliner into a nuclear power plant. Little has changed in nearly two decades. Read more »

Harnessing Corporate Power to Heal the Planet

By L. Hunter Lovins & Amory Lovins

Also in The World and I

[download .pdf of full article] Pioneering companies in sectors ranging from wire to plastic films and planned residential communities have already demonstrated that today’s environmental challenges hold many profit-enhancing opportunities.

The late twentieth century witnessed two great intellectual shifts: the fall of communism, with the apparent triumph of market economics; and the emergence, in a rapidly growing number of businesses, of the end of the war against the earth, and the emergence of a new form of economics we call natural capitalism.

This term implies that capitalism as practiced is an aberration; not because it is capitalist but because it is defying its own logic. It does not value, but rather liquidates, the most important form of capital:natural capital, in other words the natural resources and, more importantly, the ecosystem services upon which all life depends.

Deficient logic of this sort can’t be corrected simply by placing a monetary value on natural capital. Many key ecosystem services have no known substitutes at any price. For example, the $200 million Biosphere II project, despite a great deal of impressive science, was unable to provide breathable air for eight people. Biosphere I, our planet, performs this task daily at no charge for six billion of us. Ecosystem services give us tens of trillions of dollars’ worth of benefits each year, or more than the global economy. But none of this is reflected on anyone’s balance sheets. Read more »

Climate: Making Sense and Making Money

By L Hunter Lovins & Amory Lovins

This article served as a basis for the U.S. negotiating position at Kyoto …

[download .pdf of full article] ABSTRACT:

Arguments that protecting the earth’s climate will cost a lot rest on theoretical economic assumptions flatly contradicted by business experience. Most climate/economics models assume that almost all energy-efficiency investments cost-effective at present prices have already been made. Actually, huge opportunities to save money by saving energy exist, but are being blocked by dozens of specific obstacles at the level of the firm, locality, or society. Even if climate change were not a concern, it would be worth clearing these barriers in order to capture energy-efficiency investments with rates of return that often approach and can even exceed 100% per year. Focusing private and public policy on barrier-busting can permit businesses to buy energy savings that are large enough to protect the climate, intelligent enough to improve  living standards, and profitable enough to strengthen economic vitality, employment, and competitiveness.

Eight classes of regulatory, organizational, and informational failures, perverse incentives, distorted prices and investment patterns, and similar barriers are costing the American economy about $300 billion every year. This waste pervades even well known and well-managed companies that have been saving energy for decades. Some alert corporate leaders, however, are now starting to break through these barriers to enrich their shareholders by combining careful attention with powerful innovations in design and technology. Many examples illustrate how each of the obstacles to such energy-saving practices can be turned into a lucrative business opportunity, making climate protection a boon for enterprise, innovation, and competitive advantage.

Energy price does matter, but ability to respond to price matters even more. The last time the United States saved energy very quickly—expanding GDP 19% while shrinking energy use 6% during 1979–86—the main motivator was costly energy. Yet similar success can now be  achieved by substituting high skill and attention for high prices. In the 1990s, Seattle, with the lowest electricity prices of any major U.S. city, has been saving electricity far faster than Chicago, where rates are twice as high. The key difference: Seattle is starting to create an efficient, effective, and informed market in energy productivity.

Saving fuel typically costs less than burning fuel, and the gap is widening as efficiency costs continue to fall faster than fuel prices. Engineering economics has made climatic protection not costly but profitable. Therefore, debates about climate science, who should save energy first, and how to share the alleged pain of the savings are all misconceived and irrelevant. Just as the American economy has succeeded in displacing leaded gasoline, chlorofluorocarbons, sulfur emissions, and many toxic chemicals—all at costs far lower than initially expected—so modern technologies and market understanding can profitably displace carbon fuels too, yielding both a stable climate and a vibrant economy.


[download .pdf of full article]

Paying for Growth, Prospering from Development

By L. Hunter Lovins & Michael Kinsley

[download .pdf of full article]

Residents of many growing towns and cities are learning the hard way that growth is not the solution to their economic woes. While they enjoy the benefits of growth, they also are vexed by the problems it causes: traffic congestion, crime, long commutes, air pollution, increasing
intolerance, disrespect for traditional leadership, and increasingly cutthroat competition in local business. Rapid growth often causes higher rents, housing shortages, spiraling costs, and  demands for higher wages to meet the higher cost of living.

Communities tolerate these side effects in hopes  of capturing growth benefits. But some perceived benefits are illusory. For instance, most people believe that growth will give them an increased tax base that would relieve their tax burden and improve public services. But several
studies have discovered the contrary. Read more »

How to Not Parachute More Cats

Skydiving cats-1443701The environmental consciousness of recent years taught us many things, but one of the lessons we have yet to take to heart is that many of the challenges facing us are connected. Most of us live our lives as though this were not true. Governments and corporations, in particular, often manage their resources as if interconnections didn’t exist. A parable from Borneo illustrates why little understood connections are important.

In the early 1950s, the Dayak people in Borneo suffered from malaria. The World Health Organization had a solution: they sprayed large amounts of DDT to kill the mosquitoes that carried the malaria. The mosquitoes died, the malaria declined; so far, so good. But there were side-effects. Among the first was that the roofs of people’s houses began to fall down on their heads. It seemed that the DDT was killing a  parasitic wasp that had previously controlled thatch-eating caterpillars. Worse, the DDT- poisoned insects were eaten by geckoes, which were eaten by cats. The cats died, the rats flourished, and people were threatened by outbreaks of sylvatic plague and typhus. To cope with these problems, which it had itself created, the World Health Organization was obliged to parachute 14,000 live cats into Borneo.

The Challenges Facing Us

If we do not understand interconnections, often the cause of problems is solutions. This is especially true in the management of such global resources as ea, air, climate, and the genepool, and more localized resources as soil, food, minerals, groundwater, and energy. Read more »

Profitability Stabilizing Global Climate

Climatic Change
October 1992

A recent survey paper [1] on modern techniques for preventing anthropogenic climatic change concludes:

Global warming is not a natural result of normal, optimal economic activity. Rather, it is an artifact of the economically inefficient use of resources, especially energy. Advanced technologies for resource efficiency, and new ways to implement them, can now support present or greatly expanded worldwide economic activity while stabilizing global climate – and saving money. New resource-saving techniques- chiefly in energy, farming, and forestry – generally work better and cost less than present methods that destabilize the earth’s climate.

Thus “most of the best ways known today to abate climatic change are not costly but profitable; not hostile but vital to global equity, development, prosperity, and security; and reliant not on dirigiste regulatory intervention but on the intelligent application of market forces.”

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Reply to J. Ausubel

Climatic Change
December 1990

Jesse Ausubel’s review (Ausubel, 1982) of our recent joint analysis (Lovins et al., 1982) stimulates us to suggest, in the same friendly spirit, a few respects in which he missed the mark.

In considering how little energy could be used, and how little fossil fuel burned, if people used energy in a way that saved money, we do not feel we were being ‘extremely optimistic’, but rather soberly realistic. Perhaps Ausubel means by ‘optimistic’ something like James Branch Cabell’s remark that “The optimist proclaims we live in the best of all possible worlds; the pessimist fears this is true.” But the word implies that he thinks we are extrapolating unique, best-case results as if they could be achieved everywhere.

Someone not acquainted with the extraordinarily rapid recent progress in technologies for wringing more work from each unit of energy might easily jump to this conclusion. But the empirical cost and performance data which we document in considerable (some would say tedious) detail tell quite the opposite story. Verifying the references will confirm that we have consistently assumed less-than-best-case technologies, slowly and unevenly applied, with robust rather than arguable cost advantages.

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Energy, Economics and Climate -- An Editorial

Climatic Change

If all the climatologists in the world were laid end to end, they might never reach a conclusion about the seriousness of the COi problem. But they have been led to accept one assumption about it: that increases in the rate of burning fossil fuel are inevitable (and essential for global development). Elaborate analyses of the climatic consequences of releasing carbon from fossil fuel have been built on that assumption. But the ingenuity and skill devoted to those analyses have been disproportionate to the quality of their most basic assumption: the future rate of burning fossil fuel. That rate is usually assumed, in a cursory opening paragraph, to increase by several percent per year, continuously and indefinitely. How many is ‘several’ matters little; all values lead to the same place sometime in the next century, and it is a place where only the webfooted would want to be.

Recent development in the energy marketplace, however, should give us pause. The United States since 1979 has gotten about a hundred times as much new energy from energy savings as from all expansions of energy supply combined. Moreover, of those expansions, more new energy has come from renewable sources than from any or all of the nonrenewables. OPEC is selling a third less oil than it did on the eve of the 1973 Arab oil embargo; there is a glut of coal-mining capacity; oil companies and utilities are being severely discomfited by flat or falling demand in place of the rapid growth that had been forecast; and nuclear power is commercially dead, having achieved in thirty years, after $40 billion in direct Federal subsidies, about half the rate of energy delivery that wood has achieved in five years with no subsidies.

These startling developments are often blamed on the current recession, and indeed changes in economic activity, by sector and in total, must be carefully taken into account. But what emerges from such an accounting is that the energy sector is undergoing a profound and historic structural change – driven largely by price (along with expectation of future price, perceived insecurity of supply, and many other psychological factors).

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