The green stampede is on.
As a global economy powered by cheap fossil fuel comes under intense pressure to change, corporate executives are racing to stay ahead of the tectonic shift in their world.
From Capitol Hill to California and Brussels to Beijing, multinational companies are stepping up their lobbying and tweaking their product lines in response to demands that they get more environmentally attuned. New companies -- even new industries -- are challenging the established giants to exploit a growing market for everything from green cars to green fuels.
And a host of middlemen have sprung up to make markets in new financial instruments created by the proliferation of green-oriented subsidies and mandates. All these players are jostling to shape the new government rules to give them the bulk of the benefit -- and hit someone else with the bulk of the burden. Ultimately, the cost will be passed on to consumers.
Big energy burners are experimenting with ways to use fossil fuel more efficiently -- and to roll out supplemental fuels. General Motors Corp., for instance, is developing more hybrid gasoline-and-electric cars, a technology it dismissed a few years ago. ConocoPhillips plans to start brewing small quantities of diesel fuel from animal fat. Utilities are experimenting with a technique to turn coal into electricity that would shoot the resulting greenhouse-gas emissions underground instead of up into the air....MUCH MORE