New WWF report says plant-based diets could help conserve and restore nature

October 12, 2020 by  
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On Friday, October 9, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a report detailing how the world can meet the nutritional needs of everybody without destroying our planet. The report, which mainly focuses on plant-based diets , explores the possibility of feeding the entire world while conserving nature and restoring the lost beauty of Earth. Titled The Restorative Power of Planet-Based Diets , the report explores the power of reducing meat and dairy intake in favor of plants. It also takes a specific focus on certain geographical reasons and offers custom solutions based on each country. Although the report has been prepared with a global focus, special attention is given to the U.S. , as it is one of the most-polluting countries due to lifestyle and food choices. The report tries to explore some ways that the U.S. can change its food intake to do its part in preserving the planet. Related: The best sources for plant-based protein “The U.S. food system is one of the most important levers we have for solving climate and biodiversity crises, and what we eat and how much we consume matters. Even simple changes to our diets, like eating in line with National Dietary Guidelines, would take us a long way toward positive outcomes for both human health and the environment,” said Melissa D. Ho, senior vice president of freshwater and food for WWF. “If you can combine these efforts with others — a shift to regenerative and resilient agricultural systems, a less wasteful supply chain, and policies that incentivize producing food with human nutrition and planetary-health at the forefront — we will see positive impacts for people and the planet at a global scale.” WWF has also released an online tool to help users estimate the impact their dietary changes could have globally. According to Brent Loken, global food lead scientist at WWF, the current world population is becoming a burden on our limited resources. But Loken believes it is possible to feed the entire world without jeopardizing our ecosystems. “Taking a look at our food system today and seeing hunger, inequity, and environmental devastation, you might think it’s simply impossible to feed 8-10 billion people without destroying the planet,” Loken explained. “But that’s not the case; in fact, the opposite is true. Not only can we feed the entire population of Earth, we can do it in a way that improves human health globally and allows nature to recover from the damage we’ve caused.” + WWF Image via Rita E.

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New WWF report says plant-based diets could help conserve and restore nature

To achieve net-zero, let’s agree on one definition of success

September 28, 2020 by  
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To achieve net-zero, let’s agree on one definition of success Peter Boyd Mon, 09/28/2020 – 01:30 Reaching the 2015 Paris Agreement goals requires bold action from all sectors and levels of our society. But any chief sustainability officer will fall short of their responsibility if they simply cite net-zero as a strategic goal. High ambition on its own may sound good. But without describing the emissions their organization is responsible for and the end-state they consider successful, an ambitious claim may be disingenuous. At the other extreme, a cautious, crystal-clear set of climate goals is too incremental in this time of emergency. So how to combine the necessary level of ambition with appropriate clarity to inspire potent action? We suggest leaders spell out an organizational definition of net-zero to enable the Paris Agreement’s aim of net-zero global emissions by mid-century. How should a software company or a city mayor think about its duty to reduce emissions and remove them from the atmosphere? The concept of “net-zero carbon emissions” may feel clear enough at a global scale: Carbon output at a level in balance with natural and engineered means of absorption. However, at the scale of countries, cities, institutions and companies, defining net-zero emissions is tricky. Why focus on the responsibilities of organizations and communities? After all, it is the world that needs to achieve net-zero emissions. If we are to maximize the probability of a just transition to a sustainable society, all actors should explain what they mean by net-zero before they describe their intended timeline and actions for achieving it. In that sense, no single organization’s emissions matter much. But if entities think their emissions do not matter, we are all in trouble. To reach and then surpass net-zero emissions globally, most entities need to be on a reduction and removal path that pulls down the trajectory of global emissions. It is a bit like voting: A single vote almost never sways an election; but the duty and mass activity of voting are vital to the health of a democracy. In this sense, each of our emissions is, in fact, important.  If climate actions were as easy to count as votes, this would be easy. Here we argue for a consistent definition of “net-zero” that enables organizations, companies, cities and countries to set transparent targets and track their progress. If we are to maximize the probability of a just transition to a sustainable society, all actors should explain what they mean by net-zero before they describe their intended timeline and actions for achieving it. In that spirit, we suggest four measurable criteria that, when applied together, elevate an undertaking of net-zero (lower case indicating general use of the term) to be worthy of capitalizing to “Net-Zero.” In this refreshed, robust definition, a strategy for “Net-Zero” greenhouse gas emissions can earn its capital letters if it is: Fully-scoped , Science-based , Paris Agreement-compliant and Cumulative. Each descriptive term imparts an important dimension of clarity, while reinforcing the ambition. Net-Zero can be a powerful goal at the sub-global level if entities embrace a concept that is: Fully-scoped: The goal articulates the entity’s scope of responsibility. This should include all greenhouse gas emissions from Scope 1 (owned and controlled sources); Scope 2 (indirect and purchased sources); and Scope 3 ( value chain emissions — both upstream and downstream) that the entity has the ability to influence. Science-based: It incorporates an absolute target for the entity’s own emissions reductions — assuming bold, appropriate responsibility for emissions reductions consistent with the Paris Agreement and at least proportional to its contribution to climate change. Paris Agreement-compliant: The entity specifies if and to what extent carbon credits and external investments in carbon reduction and removal factor into its strategy. Any offsetting investments should be linked to the global carbon budget as defined in the Paris Agreement. Cumulative: The target acknowledges the entity’s historical emissions of greenhouse gases, not just their current level. By analogy, if a customer ate at their favorite restaurant for years without paying, then started paying as they went, the establishment would reasonably expect the customer to settle their old tab at some point. Cumulative responsibility puts rational boundaries around a historical debt. Our hope is that ambitious, clear targets help entities not only achieve “Net-Zero” emissions but progress beyond that marker to a restorative role in society — ideally well before 2050. Together, it is possible to achieve “Net-Zero” emissions across the globe. To do that, it is crucial to rally around one definition of success. This definition should include bold and clear concepts of scope; assume proportional responsibility of definite, ambitious reductions trajectories; include only Paris Agreement-compliant carbon credits or investments; and assume historic responsibility When clearly defined, “Net-Zero” will be an increasingly powerful conceptual tool to focus the world’s response on the climate crisis. For our full paper, visit this link . To share your views and inform future work, please complete our survey and feel free to share with others: bit.ly/DefineNetZero . Pull Quote If we are to maximize the probability of a just transition to a sustainable society, all actors should explain what they mean by net-zero before they describe their intended timeline and actions for achieving it. Contributors Casey R. Pickett Topics Corporate Strategy Net-Zero Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Seven ways to inform better decisions with TCFD reporting

September 28, 2020 by  
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Seven ways to inform better decisions with TCFD reporting Steven Bullock Mon, 09/28/2020 – 00:00 This article is sponsored by Trucost, part of S&P Global . The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) is helping to bring transparency to climate risk throughout capital markets, with the aim of making markets more efficient and economies more stable and resilient.  Many stakeholders are involved in the initiative, across corporations and financial institutions. Each can apply TCFD reporting intelligence to inform better decisions in different ways. Image of seven stakeholders; Source: Trucost, part of S&P Global. 1. Finance director: Developing a business case to increase capital expenditure on carbon-mitigation projects  A global manufacturing company wanted to undertake a carbon pricing risk assessment to understand the current and potential future financial implications of carbon regulation and related price increases on operating margins. The finance director felt the results could strengthen the business case for investment in low-carbon innovation at operational sites around the world. He used the carbon pricing risk assessment in Figure 1 to illustrate the differences the company might see in its operating margins under different climate change scenarios and highlight where investment in carbon-mitigation projects would matter most.  2. Purchasing manager: Minimizing supply chain disruption by identifying suppliers vulnerable to physical risks A global energy company wanted to undertake a physical risk assessment to understand the firm’s potential exposure to climate hazards, such as heatwaves, wildfires, droughts and sea-level rise that could lead to supply chain disruptions and increased operating costs for the business. The purchasing manager felt the results could help identify raw material suppliers that may be affected by these hazards and provide an opportunity to speak with them about steps they are taking to address these risks. As shown in Figure 2, a physical risk assessment can pinpoint vulnerable sites that could cause problems down the road.  3. Sustainability manager: Setting science-based targets for company greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions  A global beverage company wanted to quantify its carbon footprint for its own operations and global supply chain. The sustainability manager saw this as an excellent starting point to set science-based targets for a reduction in emissions, with the targets reflecting the Paris Agreement and carbon reduction plans for countries in which the company did business. As shown in Figure 3, targets could help the company understand the reduction in emissions needed to move to a low-carbon economy and enhance innovation. 4. Investor relations manager: Publishing a TCFD-aligned report  A large consumer goods company wanted to assess the firm’s climate-related risks and opportunities in accordance with the recommendations of the TCFD. Using four core elements — governance, strategy, risk management and metrics and targets — the TCFD assessment helps quantify the financial impacts of climate-related risks and opportunities. The investor relations team wanted to report these findings alongside traditional financial metrics to publicize that the company was taking steps to manage climate-related issues. To illustrate what could be done, the team pointed to the TCFD report shown in Figure 4 completed by S&P Global for its own operations.   5. Portfolio manager: Screening a portfolio for carbon earnings at risk using scenario analysis An asset management firm wanted to test its investment strategy by assessing the current ability of companies to absorb future carbon prices so its analysts could estimate potential earnings at risk. Integral to this analysis is the calculation of the Unpriced Carbon Cost (UCC), the difference between what a company pays for carbon today and what it may pay at a given future date based on its sector, operations and carbon price scenario. A portfolio manager wanted to use the findings, such as those shown in Figure 5, to report these estimates of financial risk to stakeholders and engage with portfolio constituents on their preparedness for policy changes and strategies for adaptation.  6. Chief investment officer (CIO): Using TCFD-aligned reporting as a way to engage asset managers on climate issues A large pension plan wanted to undertake a climate change alignment assessment of its global equity and bond portfolios to understand how in sync it was with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and where there could be potential future carbon risk exposure. The CIO wanted to publish the results and use the findings, such as those shown in Figure 6, to engage with the firm’s asset managers to determine how they were integrating climate risk into investment decisions. 7. Risk officer: Assessing exposure to climate-linked credit risk  A large commercial bank wanted to estimate the impact of a carbon tax on the credit risk of companies in their loan book. The Risk Officer felt this would add an important dimension to the assessment of creditworthiness. Figure 7 highlights the changes that might be seen in quantitatively derived credit scores for the materials sector under a fast-transition scenario. This shows a rapid increase in carbon tax, with companies reacting in various ways. Some invest in greener technology to meet the reduction targets in 2050 (green bars), while others do not invest and pay a high carbon tax or experience lost revenue resulting from bans on the use of certain materials (red bars). There are many more examples of how TCFD reporting is helping organizations inform better decision-making and capture new opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy.   Please visit spglobal.com/marketintelligence/tcfd or watch our on-demand webinar to learn more.   Topics Finance & Investing Risk & Resilience Sponsored Trucost, S&P Global Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article On Taking action to keep the world green; Source: Trucost, part of S&P Global.

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Risky geoengineering research deemed safe, blocked by US

March 25, 2019 by  
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New study conducted by Harvard, MIT and Princeton claims that releasing sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to cool the climate could be safe, only if gas injections are limited to only cooling temperatures by half of what is needed to stop global warming. About two weeks later, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia blocked a United Nations proposal to commission further research on the emerging technology— called geoengineering — a move that both supporters and opponents of the technology see as blatant protection of the fossil fuel industry at the potential peril of the world. What is geoengineering? Geoengineering is a term used for a collection of technologies to artificially alter the earth’s climate. Other climate engineering technologies include ocean fertilization , carbon dioxide removal , marine cloud brightening , cirrus cloud thinning  and ground-based albedo modification. These strategies are incredibly controversial both because of the unprecedented and unknown risks at a global scale, but also for ethical reasons of how humans should intervene in the earth’s climate. The concept of injecting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere mimics the gases naturally released by volcanoes. The gases block the sun’s rays and cool the earth’s climate. Millions of tons of cooling aerosols would need to be released to limit temperatures to the recommended 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Related: Man-made climate change now at the level scientists call ‘five-sigma’ What are the risks? Most geoengineering technologies have not been deployed in large scale experiments and therefore the risks can only be predicted with computer modeling. Previous studies concluded that injecting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere might alter rain and storm patterns and decrease water availability. There are also concerns that geoengineering would disproportionately impact certain regions, such as increasing cyclones in Asia and drought in Africa. What does the new study reveal? The Harvard-led study used computer simulation to reach a radical new conclusion: that blocking only half of the temperature increase would not have the risks typically associated with sulfur dioxide injection. In fact, their university-funded study – revealed that only 0.4 percent of the earth might experience worsened climate impacts. Alan Robock, a geophysics professor at Rutgers University,  warned The Guardian that Harvard’s study only looked at a few of the potential consequences. Robock’s own study lists 27 reasons against geoengineering, including its annual price tag of billions of dollars, the disruption of stratospheric chemistry, ice formation and increased UV exposure, as well as ethical questions of whether people have the right to see blue sky. US and Saudi Arabia block proposal to continue research In a controversial move at the United Nations, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Brazil rejected a Swiss proposal to commission further research on geoengineering. The proposal called for the assemblage of an expert committee to oversee geoengineering research and governance. Given the technology’s potential benefits and global-scale risks, most countries agreed the U.N. should oversee research as well as establish rules for future deployment. “I think governance is an incredibly vital component of geoengineering,” Shuchi Talati of the Union of Concerned Scientists told E&E News . “Even if you’re opposed to geoengineering, you need a governance mechanism to be able to enforce that.” The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are two of the world’s largest oil producing countries. They rejected the proposal over language stating that geoengineering should not be explored as an alternative to mitigation – in other words, they opposed the idea that reducing carbon emissions should still be the priority. The U.S. also leads the way in geoengineering research and resisted any oversight on its ability to independently implement its discoveries instead of curbing its carbon emissions . Currently, no international law explicitly prohibits countries from deploying large-scale sulfur dioxide injections, despite profound global-scale impacts. Controversy, ethics and impasse Many environmentalists argue geoengineering does not address the causes of global warming – carbon emissions – and that once the injected gases dissipate, they will have to be re-injected every year. Many also argue that even investment in research sends a message that countries may not need to keep to their Paris Agreement commitments of curtailing emissions since a back-up fix may be approved. Current predictions show that even if countries keep their ambition commitments, the earth will reach a disastrous 3 degrees warmer. “It seems to me inconsistent to say, on the one hand, that global warming is the biggest problem that humanity faces, and then go on to say, on the other hand, but we shouldn’t even do research on [solar radiation management] because it may pose risks,” Daniel Bodansky, an expert in international climate agreements from Arizona State University  told E&E News . “Either climate change is the biggest problem we face or it’s not. And if it is, then it’s all hands on deck.” Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Risky geoengineering research deemed safe, blocked by US

The biggest crisis is also the greatest opportunity

December 1, 2016 by  
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The Rainforest Alliance wants to fight climate change by taking sustainable agriculture to a global scale.

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Time really is money in this little New Zealand town

December 18, 2015 by  
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In Lyttleton, New Zealand, an unusual currency has been circulating for the past decade, and now it’s gaining attention on a global scale. In the small port town, residents contribute hours to a ‘time bank’ from which others can make withdrawals, effectively allowing community members to trade the skills they possess in exchange for services they need. In a community where time literally is money, local residents have discovered a new kind of wealth. Read the rest of Time really is money in this little New Zealand town

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World’s top climate scientists again calling for zero-GHG emissions nuclear power to replace fossil fuels

December 7, 2015 by  
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Four of the world’s top climate scientists got together to pen a recommendation for steering away from the ill effects of global warming. As the UN climate conference ticks on outside Paris, leading climate experts presented a call for practical solutions to very real problems, on a global scale. Now, this group of experts are echoing a sentiment they backed in 2013 , saying that cutting greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuel energy generation with nuclear power – utilized alongside other renewable sources of energy – is the only realistic approach to combating climate change. Read the rest of World’s top climate scientists again calling for zero-GHG emissions nuclear power to replace fossil fuels

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New IPCC chief: Let’s focus on climate change solutions rather than more research

October 13, 2015 by  
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The realm of science is not wholly unlike the realm of journalism. Many feel that a tenet of the trade is to observe and report without getting involved. However, the new leader of the world’s foremost climate science agency disagrees. Hoesung Lee, the newly appointed head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), thinks it’s time to shift the focus from investigating the effects of climate change to finding solutions. In the weeks leading up to the Paris climate talks, can this new perspective help shape the discussion on a global scale? Read the rest of New IPCC chief: Let’s focus on climate change solutions rather than more research

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This interactive infographic lets you visualize global carbon emissions

July 10, 2015 by  
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If we are going to really start tackling climate change on a global scale, we are going to need to be able to identify the major culprits of carbon emissions. To help make the job easier, the World Resources Institute created the CAIT Climate Data Explorer, which lets you conceptualize the world’s emissions in one handy, interactive infographic. Head over to the tool  to play around and get the full emissions picture. + CAIT Climate Data Explorer via Treehugger   Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: carbon emissions , Climate Change , climate change infographic , data visualization , emissions , emissions infographic , global warming , infographic , visualizing climate change , visualizing emissions

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This interactive infographic lets you visualize global carbon emissions

How She Leads: Gap’s Kindley Walsh Lawlor

August 22, 2011 by  
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The clothing retailer’s vice president of social and environmental responsibility talks about the goals in Gap’s just-released CSR report and why the apparel industry can make a significant impact on a global scale.

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