Extinction The Facts explores the global extinction crisis and its consequences

April 5, 2021 by  
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When Sir David Attenborough talks, we listen. That’s why we just couldn’t miss the March 31 premiere of “Extinction – The Facts” presented by PBS . Lifelong broadcaster and natural historian David Attenborough talks viewers through the consequences of the global extinction crisis along with some of the world’s leading scientists and wildlife experts. The report not only reveals how serious the situation has become but also what it means for humans. For a more timely spin, the documentary goes into how global extinction can put us at greater risk for pandemic diseases like COVID-19. Most importantly, the documentary gives solutions as to what we can do to change the current course. Biodiversity loss Biodiversity refers to the variety of life found on Earth, including plants, animals and micro-organisms. Each of these species and organisms form unique communities and habitats, working together in various ecosystems to maintain balance. Related: The connection between coronavirus and wildlife exploitation The United Nations brought 500 international scientists together in 2019 to investigate the current state of our natural world, only to find that the planet was losing biodiversity at a rate never seen before in the history of humanity. The results were unexpected and unprecedented; there were at least 1 million plant, animal and insect species threatened with extinction at a rate 100 times faster than their natural evolutionary rate. The numbers are nearly split, between about 500,000 insects and 500,000 plants and animals, with populations growing smaller by the day. “Extinction is a natural process,” explained professor Kathy Willis, a plant scientist at the University of Oxford. “Things come, they grow, their populations get huge and then they decline. But it’s the rate of extinction; that’s the problem.” When scientists look at previous groups in fossil records, extinction happens over millions of years. Today, we’re looking at tens of years. Since 1970, vertebrate animals — such as birds and reptiles — have declined by a total of 60%, while large animals have disappeared from three-quarters of their historic ranges. Professor Elizabeth Hadly, a biologist at Stanford University, said one of the most concerning aspects of this decline is that it’s happening simultaneously around the world. “In the Amazon, in Africa, in the Arctic ; it’s happening not at one place and not with one group of organisms, but with all biodiversity, everywhere on the planet.” James Mwenda, a conservationist at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, is the caretaker for the world’s last two living northern white rhinos, a species that once numbered in the thousands throughout Central Africa. “Many people think of extinction being this imaginary tale told by conservationists, but I have lived it. I know what it is,” he said in the documentary. As a caretaker, Mwenda watched the northern white rhino population go from seven in 1990 to just two today, a mother and daughter named Najin and Fatu. A subspecies of the white rhinoceros, the northern white rhino was pushed to the critically endangered list due to hunting and habitat loss. “They’re here because we betrayed them,” he said sorrowfully. “And I think they feel it, this threatening tide of extinction that is pushing on them.” Losing entire portions of the planet’s individual species is tragic enough in itself, but the crisis encompasses much more than that. All of biodiversity is interlocked on a global scale, and the planet needs all parts of it to function properly. Humans are not outside of those ecological systems by any means. For example, a loss in insect species can put pollination at risk, which in turn puts food production at risk, affecting both humans and animals alike. Human influence The documentary also examines the ways that humans are driving biodiversity loss. Things like overfishing, deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade are the biggest contributors, but there are also less obvious threats like consumer-driven demand for products like clothes, which can cause pollution in their production. The illegal wildlife trade has become a multibillion dollar global industry over the last 20 years. Increased income in certain countries like China and Vietnam, where endangered animal parts may be seen as a status symbol or used for medicinal purposes, is one of the largest drivers. Pangolins, for instance, represent the most trafficked animals in the world, and the demand for their scales is directly responsible for their declining numbers. The scale of global overfishing has dramatically increased as well. In some parts of the world, limits on ocean catch aren’t regulated. Scientists have seen declines in larger predator fish as their food supply dwindles due to overfishing, so the impact on marine ecosystems is widespread. The link to pandemics The connection between the natural world and pandemic diseases is closer than most people might expect. History is full of them, from Ebola to SARS, and, of course, COVID-19 . Even worse, if biodiversity continues on its current path, we will see more (and possibly worse) epidemics in the future. After every pandemic, scientists look back to try and figure out where it came from and what could have caused it. According to Dr. Peter Daszak of Ecohealth Alliance, they’ve found that humans are directly or indirectly behind every one of them. In a press release for the special, Attenborough said that while hope is not lost, the time to act is now. When he visited the mountain gorillas of Rwanda 40 years ago, they were on the brink of extinction with just 250 individuals left. Thanks to decades worth of conservation from the local government and communities, however, there are now more than 1,000. “Over the course of my life, I’ve encountered some of the world’s most remarkable species of animals,” he said. “Only now do I realize just how lucky I’ve been. Many of these wonders seem set to disappear from our planet forever. We are facing a crisis and one that has consequences for us all, but it’s not too late. I truly believe that together we can create a better future, if we make the right decisions at this critical moment.” + PBS Images via PBS

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Extinction The Facts explores the global extinction crisis and its consequences

California farmers find ways to work with less water

April 5, 2021 by  
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Water scarcity due to persistent droughts in California’s Central Valley is forcing scientists and farmers to find innovative and sustainable ways of utilizing this precious resource. Through collaboration, the community has found ways of reusing water several times in a bid to fully tap into its benefits. The process of conservation and recycling starts just a few miles downstream of all major rivers and streams in the state. With the main source of water for the Central Valley being the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the community relies on a series of infrastructures to utilize the water every step of the way. Structures such as the Pine Flat Reservoir are vital to the plan of minimizing water use. Related: Is high-yield vertical farming the future of agriculture? The reservoir serves as a hydroelectric power station point, utilizing the speed of the free-falling water to turn turbines to generate electricity for the region. Given that hydroelectric power is a greener source of electricity, locals ensure that they have cut down reliance on fossil fuels. Further into the Central Valley, the same water is put to use by farmers who utilize technology to minimize water use. Famers collaborate with local institutions such as the Fresno State Center for Irrigation Technology to adopt sustainable irrigation methods. “So we have basically three essential functions,” said Charles Hillyer, director of Fresno State’s Center for Irrigation Technology. “We do field testing and technology. We do research relating to agriculture specifically for irrigation, and then we have a laboratory that tests and certifies equipment for different research experiments that are all testing different aspects of water use efficiency. One is focused on a product that may reduce consumptive use of water .” Hillyer further explained that irrigation has become mandatory to all farmers in California because of droughts . As a result, they have to adopt methods of sustainable agriculture. “So irrigation matters to everybody who eats in California ,” Hillyer said. “That’s why sustainable production practices are important because this is how we’re going to continue to feed ourselves and the rest of the world.” From training irrigation managers to finding new, sustainable methods of irrigation, Central Valley farmers will have to adapt to the reality of climate change . But Hillyer noted that the future for sustainable water use is bright. “My hope is that this institution will continue as it has done in the past to generate research and pure science research that is useful not only to agriculture but other scientists,” Hillyer said. Via ABC7 Image via Mia S

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California farmers find ways to work with less water

Easy and unexpected radish recipes

April 5, 2021 by  
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If you’ve always considered the humble radish as a garnish, an afterthought or a minor player in salads, these radish recipes may surprise you. Late winter to spring is the best time for this vegetable. Here are a few things to do with those radishes you might find in your yard, your community supported agriculture box or product section at the grocery store. But first, a few radish fun facts. Radish 101 This undervalued root vegetable was a common crop in ancient Egypt, and probably originated in the eastern Mediterranean, China and Middle Asia. Ancient Greeks prized the vegetable , making small gold radish replicas. Radishes were one of the first crops that Spaniards tried out in the New World. They took to the soil, too — probably not surprisingly, as the vegetable’s name derived from rephanos, a Greek word meaning “easily reared.” Related: Grow and eat healthy spring radishes Radish roots are pink because of a pigment called anthocyanin. Their spicy flavor comes from the volatile alkaloid isothiocyanate. Radishes are full of antioxidants, such as pyrogallol, catechin and vanillic acid. These vegetables have practically no calories — only 15 in a 3-ounce serving, but they contain 30% of your vitamin C RDA and 20% of the RDA for calcium. Just think, one 15-ounce radish smoothie, and you have enough calcium to go on for a day. Joking! Don’t worry, these recipes are going to be better than a radish smoothie. How to cook radish greens “Don’t toss those radish tops!” said Kristina Todini, a registered dietitian and author of the Fork in the Road website. Instead, Todini promotes curbing food waste by sautéing radish greens for a wilted greens side dish. This is what she calls “Root to stem cooking at its finest.” Plus, you’ll get a good dose of vitamins K, A and C. While the stems are technically edible, most people find them unpleasantly tough. So cut at the end of the stems where the softer leaves begin. Because radishes grow in the dirt , the greens will need an extra-thorough wash to get the grit off. The soft leaves will cook quickly and reduce to about one-third of their original size. Add garlic, pepper and olive oil, and radish greens will taste similar to chard or other more familiar greens. Braised radishes Star chef Grant Achatz shared his recipe for honey mustard braised radishes and mustard greens with Food and Wine . Between the horseradish, Dijon mustard and the greens themselves, this one will be a spicy hit for mustard lovers. Of course, the entire stick of butter also enhances the taste and renders that above clause about 15-calorie radishes null and void. Vegans can substitute Earth Balance or similar in this recipe. Roasted radishes Roasted radishes are extremely versatile. This recipe from Real and Vibrant tosses oven-roasted radishes with garlic, lemon juice and fresh herbs. Roasted radishes make a good side dish at lunch or dinner. In salads, they pair well with balsamic vinaigrette or lemon tahini. Slice some up and serve on homemade bread for the best radish sandwich ever. Radishes complement pasta This recipe for roasted radish lemony chickpea pasta is both gluten-free and vegan and comes from Cotter Crunch , the website of nutrition specialist Lindsay Cotter. If you’re not gluten-sensitive, you could substitute any old pasta. Olives add extra flavor, but the lemony herb sauce is probably the best part of this roasted radish recipe. The sauce combines garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, onion and spices like sage or tarragon. This is a perfect light meal for summer or springtime. Quick-pickled radish Sure, you can use cucumbers to make pickles. But a jar of pickled radishes makes a more original snack or gift . If you go for a pickled watermelon radish recipe, you’ll have the prettiest pickles ever. A Beautiful Mess gives easy instructions for making quick-pickled radishes at home. All you need is water, white vinegar, salt, sugar and a jar to put them in. Oh, and your radishes, of course. You can make these pickles overnight and they’ll last for up to a month. Make them extra fancy with some whole pink peppercorns or sprigs of dill. Snack on sweet radish chips Pinch of Yum describes its recipe for cinnamon sugar radish chips as spicy, earthy, warm, a little bitter but still sweet at the same time. Intrigued? This recipe takes less than an hour from slicing the radishes to putting the finished product in your mouth, so give it a try. You’ll need olive oil, honey, cinnamon sugar and radishes. Vegans could try subbing agave syrup or molasses for the honey. You just bathe sliced radishes in this mixture and bake them on a cookie sheet. Radishes for dessert Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more unexpected, Veggie Desserts has a recipe for vegan cinnamon ice cream topped with radishes. True, if you’re used to eating delicious ice cream with mix-ins like peanut butter cups and Oreos, this healthy dessert recipe might be a hard sell. But don’t knock it until you try it. The ice cream is made from three frozen bananas and a teaspoon of cinnamon. The topping requires five radishes, a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of maple syrup. Images via Adobe Stock

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Easy and unexpected radish recipes

Episode 262: In praise of climate lobbying, renewable aggregation deals

April 2, 2021 by  
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Episode 262: In praise of climate lobbying, renewable aggregation deals Heather Clancy Fri, 04/02/2021 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (2:00). ESG non-conforming: There’s more than one way to identify good companies How corporations can jump-start industrial electrification in the U.S . Netflix’s behind-the-scenes script for achieving net-zero Features Getting together to buy renewable energy (19:45) Last month, life sciences company MilliporeSigma teamed up with Akamai, Synopsis and Uber to commit to buying 111 megawatts from an Enel Green Power wind-plus-solar project in Texas. We get the details from Greg Rizzo, director of origination-commercial office at Enel, and Jeffrey Whitford, head of sustainability, social business innovation and life science branding at Millipore Sigma. Time for tech employees to speak up on climate lobbying (34:30) Nonprofit ClimateVoice is asking workers for Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft to sign a petition urging those companies to spend at least one-in-five of their lobbying dollars this year to support “bold, just and equitable climate policy.” Executive Director Bill Weihl discusses the campaign. *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere : “Waiting for the Moment That Never Comes,” “Knowing the Truth,” “Thinking It Over” and “Introducing the Pre-Roll” Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episode of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes or Spotify . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Topics Podcast Renewable Energy Policy & Politics Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 44:56 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 262: In praise of climate lobbying, renewable aggregation deals

The Road to Powering Amazon on 100% Renewable Energy by 2025

March 31, 2021 by  
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The Road to Powering Amazon on 100% Renewable Energy by 2025 Date/Time: April 29, 2021 (1-2PM ET / 10-11AM PT) Amazon has been investing in sustainability for many years. Back in 2014, Amazon started making major investments in renewable energy. Most recently the company committed to powering global operations on 100% renewable energy by 2025 as part of The Climate Pledge, a commitment to be net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. How will the company get there five years ahead of the initial 2030 target? How does a company like Amazon with operations worldwide navigate policies in global markets? How is the company thinking about buying renewable energy and turning on projects during a pandemic? Join us for a panel with Amazon’s team of experts and partners to uncover how you can apply these learnings to your business and sustainability strategy. Moderator: Heather Clancy, Editorial Director, GreenBiz Group Speakers: Chris Roe, Renewable Energy & Sustainable Operations Lead, Amazon Daniela Fitzpatrick, Energy Procurement Manager, Amazon Web Services Miranda Ballentine, CEO, Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) Alana Kühne, Head of CE PPAs & Merchant Products, Ørsted If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast. taylor flores Wed, 03/31/2021 – 11:12 Heather Clancy Editorial Director GreenBiz Group @GreenTechLady Chris Roe Renewable Energy & Sustainable Operations Lead Amazon Daniela Fitzpatrick Energy Procurement Manager Amazon Web Services Miranda Ballentine CEO Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) @renewablebuyers Alana Kühne Head of CE PPAs & Merchant Products Ørsted gbz_webcast_date Thu, 04/29/2021 – 10:00 – Thu, 04/29/2021 – 11:00

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The Road to Powering Amazon on 100% Renewable Energy by 2025

Deforestation contributes to disease outbreaks, study says

March 26, 2021 by  
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A recent paper published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science has established that there is a connection between deforestation and the occurrence of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases. The study indicates that deforestation has led to increased outbreaks of viruses similar to COVID-19 and also facilitates the spread of vector-borne diseases such as malaria. Of more concern is the fact that the findings also show an increase in disease spread in areas that are undergoing reforestation . The authors of the paper say that tree planting can equally increase the risk of diseases if not done correctly. The researchers explained that monocultures, like commercial forests, can kill native plants that provide protection against viruses and pests. Related: WWF releases report on avoiding the next zoonotic disease pandemic “I was surprised by how clear the pattern was,” said Serge Morand, study co-author and director of the French National Centre for Scientific Research. “We must give more consideration to the role of the forest in human health , animal health and environmental health. The message from this study is ‘don’t forget the forest.’” The researchers used data from the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Food and Agricultural Organization, among others, to determine correlations among diseases, populations and forest cover. They found that from 1990 to 2016, there were nearly 4,000 outbreaks of 116 zoonotic diseases that crossed the species barrier to infect humans as well as 1,996 outbreaks of 69 vector-borne diseases. Previous studies have shown a strong relationship between the risk of diseases and proximity to ecosystems that have been destroyed by human activity. In particular, increased instances of malaria have been reported in Brazil, close to the Amazon rainforest , due to increased deforestation. Morand is concerned with the continued deterioration of the Amazon. Since president Jair Bolsonaro took over, logging and forest fires have been the order of the day. “Everyone in the field of planetary health is worried about what is happening to biodiversity , climate and public health in Brazil,” Morand said. “The stress there is growing. The Amazon is near a tipping point due to climate change, which is not good at all for the world ecosystem. If we reach the tipping point, the outcomes will be very bad in terms of drought, fires and for sure in terms of disease.” + Frontiers in Veterinary Science Via The Guardian Image via Martin Wegmann

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Deforestation contributes to disease outbreaks, study says

Deforestation contributes to disease outbreaks, study says

March 26, 2021 by  
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A recent paper published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science has established that there is a connection between deforestation and the occurrence of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases. The study indicates that deforestation has led to increased outbreaks of viruses similar to COVID-19 and also facilitates the spread of vector-borne diseases such as malaria. Of more concern is the fact that the findings also show an increase in disease spread in areas that are undergoing reforestation . The authors of the paper say that tree planting can equally increase the risk of diseases if not done correctly. The researchers explained that monocultures, like commercial forests, can kill native plants that provide protection against viruses and pests. Related: WWF releases report on avoiding the next zoonotic disease pandemic “I was surprised by how clear the pattern was,” said Serge Morand, study co-author and director of the French National Centre for Scientific Research. “We must give more consideration to the role of the forest in human health , animal health and environmental health. The message from this study is ‘don’t forget the forest.’” The researchers used data from the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Food and Agricultural Organization, among others, to determine correlations among diseases, populations and forest cover. They found that from 1990 to 2016, there were nearly 4,000 outbreaks of 116 zoonotic diseases that crossed the species barrier to infect humans as well as 1,996 outbreaks of 69 vector-borne diseases. Previous studies have shown a strong relationship between the risk of diseases and proximity to ecosystems that have been destroyed by human activity. In particular, increased instances of malaria have been reported in Brazil, close to the Amazon rainforest , due to increased deforestation. Morand is concerned with the continued deterioration of the Amazon. Since president Jair Bolsonaro took over, logging and forest fires have been the order of the day. “Everyone in the field of planetary health is worried about what is happening to biodiversity , climate and public health in Brazil,” Morand said. “The stress there is growing. The Amazon is near a tipping point due to climate change, which is not good at all for the world ecosystem. If we reach the tipping point, the outcomes will be very bad in terms of drought, fires and for sure in terms of disease.” + Frontiers in Veterinary Science Via The Guardian Image via Martin Wegmann

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Deforestation contributes to disease outbreaks, study says

Why investors are putting biodiversity on the balance sheet

March 4, 2021 by  
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Why investors are putting biodiversity on the balance sheet C.J. Clouse Thu, 03/04/2021 – 02:11 Reprinted from GreenFin Weekly, a free weekly newsletter. Subscribe here . Last summer, the investment arm of northern Europe’s largest financial services group dropped Brazilian meat giant JBS from its portfolio. Nordea Asset Management, which manages roughly $280 billion, gave several reasons for the decision, including JBS’s links to farms involved in Amazon deforestation.  “The exclusion of JBS is quite dramatic for us because it is from all of our funds, not just the ones labelled ESG,” Eric Pedersen, Nordea’s head of responsible investments, told The Guardian .  Until very recently, investor demands regarding environmental impact largely have focused on the climate crisis and greenhouse gas emissions. Now, investors are beginning to wake up to the threat of habitat destruction and biodiversity loss and we’re beginning to see examples of action by means of both carrots — such as sustainability-linked loans tied to biodiversity-related metrics — and sticks such as the one which Nordea whacked JBS with.  Recent research by Leaders Arena ESG Advisory Services finds that institutional investors managing more than $7 trillion in equity assets consider biodiversity issues to some extent, including Allianz Global Investors, BNP Paribas Asset Management and California Public Employees’ Retirement System, better known as CalPERS. Both S&P Global Ratings and Bloomberg rank biodiversity among the top ESG themes for 2021, the latter naming Fidelity International and AXA Investment Managers as examples of firms that have made it a priority.  Investors are waking up to the threat of habitat destruction and biodiversity loss, and we’re beginning to see examples of action by means of both carrots and sticks. That said, huge as it sounds, that $7 trillion represents only a fraction of the more than $100 trillion in global assets under management . Most investors and companies still don’t put a price tag on natural capital, or the cost of losing it, and biodiversity becoming a top “theme” only means people have begun talking about it. Still, progress in this area could move faster than we’ve typically seen in ESG-land, for a few reasons:  The coronavirus pandemic “has focused investors on the vulnerability and resilience of the financial system,” according to a new report from the CFA Institute , an association of investment professionals, which found 85 percent of its members consider ESG factors when making investment decisions. The fact that the pandemic has illustrated in such a brutal way what can happen when we jackboot into nature’s territory could make habitat destruction and biodiversity loss especially relevant for investors going forward.  A decade of pressure on companies to report on and reduce their contribution to climate change has created something of a blueprint for investors to demand the same in terms of the separate but interconnected biodiversity crisis. Last summer, a coalition that includes the UN Environment Finance Initiative and World Wide Fund for Nature announced the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures , which takes a page from the 2015 Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures , and aims to deliver a framework to guide financial reporting on biodiversity and natural capital by the end of 2022. Abundant research revealing just the urgency and existential nature of the biodiversity crisis has heightened awareness. In its Global Risks Report for 2021 , the World Economic Forum ranks biodiversity loss as the world’s No. 5 risk by likelihood and No. 4 risk by impact. It estimates that $44 trillion of economic value generation, or more than half of global GDP, is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services. The most dependent industries: construction, agriculture and food and beverage.  New metrics, such as the ones proposed this week by the UN Statistical Commission that go beyond GDP to include natural capital. Dubbed the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting — Ecosystems Accounting (SEEA – EA), this method of measurement would fundamentally change economic and policy planning in countries that adopt it. Given that we have less than a decade to address the double whammy of climate change and biodiversity loss, and given that the technology to monitor and track, for example, deforestation or overfishing already exist, the slow pace of progress can be maddening. Nordea’s divestment, along with pressure from other institutions, such as Norwegian pension fund KPL, led to a pledge from JBS to use blockchain to monitor its entire supply chain by 2025, including the problematic “indirect suppliers” that have been linked to illegal deforestation. Still, these particular investors weren’t satisfied.  “JBS’s 2025 target for tracing cattle is too far away, we need immediate action,” Jeanett Bergan, head of responsible investments at KLP, told The Guardian. “It is a positive step, but we have to see the detailed evidence in practice.” Here are a few other recent examples of the financial industry walking the walk in the name of biodiversity.  Paris-based Ossiam just launched a global equity ETF that invests in food companies making efforts to minimize habitat and biodiversity destruction. The Ossiam Food for Biodiversity ETF is listed on Deutsche Börse Xetra and is available to trade in euros or U.S. dollars.  Bank of Ayudhya, Mizuho Bank and MUFG Bank last month syndicated a $400 sustainability-linked syndicated loan for Thai Union, one of the world’s largest seafood companies, which was two times oversubscribed. The interest rate on the five-year loan is tied to three performance metrics, one of which is a new commitment from the company to reach 100 percent transparency in its international tuna supply chain by 2025, through electronic monitoring and human observers. The company will pay a lower interest rate as long as it continues to make progress toward its goals, measured annually against a 2020 baseline. Thai Union, known for household tuna brands such as Chicken of the Sea and John West, has partnered with The Nature Conservancy on the monitoring effort.  Finnish forestry company UPM last year secured a $905 million revolving credit facility  with an interest rate tied to its ability to meet long-term climate and biodiversity targets. To receive a lower rate the company must show a net-positive impact on biodiversity in its forests in Finland and a 65 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from fuels and purchased electricity between 2015 and 2030. BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, last month pledged to stop financing companies that produce or buy beef or soybeans cultivated on land in the Amazon cleared or converted after 2008. Britain’s Prince Charles in January said he had established the Natural Capital Investment Alliance under his Sustainable Markets Initiative. The alliance — with founding partners HSBC Pollination Climate Asset Management, Lombard Odier and Mirova — aims to accelerate natural capital as an investment theme and mobilize $10 billion across asset classes by 2022. The one undeniable fact in all of this is the plant’s finite resources. For theirs and everyone else’s sake, let’s hope companies make the move more like an über-fast cheetah, of which roughly 7,000 are left, and less like a pygmy three-toed sloth, of which there are fewer than 100.  Pull Quote Investors are waking up to the threat of habitat destruction and biodiversity loss, and we’re beginning to see examples of action by means of both carrots and sticks. Topics Finance & Investing Biodiversity ESG GreenFin Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage, via Shutterstock

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Why investors are putting biodiversity on the balance sheet

The secret to moving past electric vehicle pilots

February 10, 2021 by  
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The secret to moving past electric vehicle pilots Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 02/10/2021 – 01:30 The U.S. federal fleet — with its 645,000 vehicles — is going all-electric. At least, that’s the plan from a Biden administration executive order issued last month. The goal highlights how 2021 is the year that companies and government organizations will try to transition from piloting a couple of electric vehicles in their fleets to building much more comprehensive, scaled-up and potentially 100 percent electric vehicle strategies. But as fleet electrification moves past the early pilot phase, major challenges remain. What hurdles should companies and organizations be on the lookout for? RMI analyst Chris Nelder and his team just released a comprehensive (and free) report on fleet electrification and its challenges. Here are five of the biggest red flags you should watch out for: 1. The utility and fleet gap: Utility grid planning tends be a long process. The RMI report found it could take 18 to 24 months for a utility to review and approve an organization’s EV resource grid plan. If the utility is required to provide megawatts of new grid capacity for an organization’s EV plan, then discussions should start three years in advance, says RMI. This long lead time is particularly frustrating for the largest and most aggressive fleets who want to move quickly and electrify large portions of their fleets. At VERGE 20 , fleet managers from Amazon and FedEx Express confirmed that the utility lag time is one of their biggest bottlenecks for fleet electrification.  So what’s the solution? Companies should engage utilities as soon as possible in the planning process. The most progressive utilities also have started to develop fleet outreach strategies to make sure utilities are involved with the earliest stages of EV fleet planning. It’s essential to begin implementing processes for appropriate cost allocation and capital planning on an organization-wide basis immediately. Southern California Edison’s Jill Anderson, senior vice president of customer service, says that SCE “encourages customers to come talk to us when they’re thinking about fleet electrification.”  For example, SCE has been working closely with the city of Porterville, California, to help with a project to electrify 60 buses, both transit and school buses. We’re “working together to figure out the best locations [for charging] and do it in the most cost-effective and fastest way.” 2. New business and budgeting processes: The way fleet managers fund, procure and operate electric fleets and the accompanying charging infrastructure can be very different from how organizations historically have been buying and fueling diesel-powered vehicles. For many organizations, funding for the vehicles and the chargers come out of two budgets, and many organizations never have had a line item for chargers before. RMI says: “It’s essential to begin implementing processes for appropriate cost allocation and capital planning on an organization-wide basis immediately. A cross-functional team of staff from fleets, operations, facilities, finance and purchasing departments with executive leadership support should collaborate to understand the [total cost of ownership] TCO of fleet electrification accurately.” 3. Moving beyond Level 2 charging: The most confusing aspect of fleet electrification is deploying charging infrastructure. Many fleets that have a couple of EVs are using inexpensive Level 2 chargers or even shared public charging stations.  But as more organizations transition larger portions of their fleets to EVs, they’ll likely need some type of fast chargers, depending on the use case of the vehicles and the number of vehicles that need charging. Fast chargers are more expensive than Level 2 chargers but can add significant charging in just 20 to 30 minutes, compared to the eight-plus hours it can take to fully charge an EV with a Level 2 charger. A small number of fast chargers for a fleet also can act as a way to help fleets have more confidence in an EV transition.  4. Lack of data: Many fleets are finding they can’t fully determine the full TCO for their EVs in comparison to their diesel-powered fleets because of a lack of data around charging and EV maintenance costs. Fleets need to deploy telematics and charging software systems early in the process to make sure they’re making decisions that make economic sense. 5. Incremental vs. planned charging deployments: RMI noted that in early pilot phases of electric fleets, it’s common for an organization to buy a couple of EVs and the accompanying Level 2 chargers. However, as fleets move beyond the pilot phase, organizations need to comprehensively plan out large EV charger procurement and deployments. Why can’t fleets opt for piecemeal buying and deploying? Because it ends up being much more expensive. If a fleet manager ends up opting for 100 percent EVs but deploys them in an ad-hoc way, they can end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more in both upfront costs and costs over the life of the systems. The RMI report is a good read. I encourage anyone interested to download and read the entire 69-page piece.  Pull Quote It’s essential to begin implementing processes for appropriate cost allocation and capital planning on an organization-wide basis immediately. Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets Electric Vehicles EV Charging Featured Column Driving Change 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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The potential for carbon-capture tech is captivating

February 4, 2021 by  
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The potential for carbon-capture tech is captivating Heather Clancy Thu, 02/04/2021 – 01:30 This week, oil giant ExxonMobil pledged $3 billion to the development of a carbon capture and storage business over the next five years — in a bid to manage its business risks associated with climate change. CEO Darren Woods noted in the company’s press release: “We are focused on proprietary projects and commercial partnerships that will have a demonstrably positive impact on our own emissions as well as those from the industrial, power generation and commercial transportation sectors, which together account for 80 percent of global CO2 emissions.”  Even Elon Musk is intrigued by the emerging market for carbon removal innovations, as his recent tweet promising $100 million for the “best carbon capture technology” well illustrates. The good news is that even without the pocket change the Tesla billionaire is promising, 2021 is shaping up as a potential tipping point for carbon removal solutions in the United States.  The biggest breakthrough came with the passage of a two-year extension to the 45Q corporate tax credit for carbon removal projects in the dying days of the Trump administration — projects now have until Dec. 31, 2025, to commence construction — along with the publication of guidance from the Internal Revenue Service about how it can be applied. The credit allows for a deduction of up to $50 per metric ton of carbon captured and sequestered, but many viewed the earlier timing window as too restrictive to really jumpstart the market.  In our view, DAC is feasible, available and affordable. “The final rule will provide long-overdue regulatory and financial certainty to incentivize private investment in economy-wide deployment of carbon capture, removal, transport, use and geologic storage across a range of key industries,” noted the Carbon Capture Coalition , an industry group convened by the Great Plains Institute that advocates the cause.  Like another industry group focused on advocating carbon removal solutions, Carbon 180 , the coalition has some suggestions for policies it would love to see the Biden administration embrace related to the nurture of carbon capture and storage approaches that go beyond planting trees.  One argument in favor of direct air capture (DAC) investments fits well with the new president’s climate-equals-job-creation mantra: A June analysis by the Rhodium Group suggests the industry has the potential to create at least 300,000 U.S. jobs. DAC technologies remove emissions from the atmosphere, then store them geologically or use the captured CO2 as a feedstock for something else, such as fuel, chemicals or construction materials.  The need for cost-effective carbon removal solutions is urgent. The International Energy Agency reports that around 30 carbon capture and storage projects have been approved since 2017 — the ones already in operation sucked up around 40 million metric tons last year. But that’s a teeny-tiny amount compared with the roughly 35 billion metric tons of carbon the industrial and agricultural worlds spit up annually. Some models figure we need carbon removal methods to draw down at least one-quarter of the current emissions in order to really address climate targets. It’s widely believed that the U.S. tax credit should make DAC more attractive to companies beyond the oil and gas companies, and power, chemical, cement and steel companies that typically have shown interest in the earlier projects. The list of examples is already growing. United Airlines in December said it would become a “multimillion-dollar” investor in 1PointFive, a joint venture between Occidental Petroleum and Rusheen Capital Management developing an industrial-sized DAC plant using technology licensed from Carbon Engineering (CE). E-commerce company Shopify was actually CE’s first corporate buyer ; it is investing in the Canadian company’s first commercial plant in Squamish, British Columbia, which should be up and running by August. Climeworks’ technology captures atmospheric carbon by drawing in air and binding the CO2 using a filter. The filter is heated to release the concentrated gas, which can be used in industrial applications, such as a source of carbonization for the food and beverage industry. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Julia Dunlop/Climeworks Close Authorship Other tech companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Stripe are talking up direct investments in carbon removal technologies. Last week, Microsoft announced an extensive portfolio of carbon removal projects as part of an update about its year-old carbon-negative strategy . In aggregate, the company reduced emissions by 6 percent in its first year. It also purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tons of carbon from 15 suppliers, across 26 projects — including bioenergy, blue carbon, forestry and agricultural soil sequestration. Its nod to DAC includes a contract for 1,400 metric tons of CO2 captured by a plant being developed by Climeworks in Iceland .  “In our view, DAC is feasible, available and affordable,” says Steve Oldham, who as CEO of CE obviously has a vested interest in seeing the market move toward the mainstream.  The plant CE is planning to build in the Permian Basin of Texas, with construction scheduled to begin by the end of 2021, will be capable of removing 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year at a price of $95 to $250 per metric ton, according to Oldham. The ultimate price will depend on the financing the project receives — it will take two to three years to build it. For context, carbon capture costs easily can run $600 per metric ton. So, that’s a significant reduction. In Oldham’s view, DAC investments are necessary to “decarbonize in parallel” with renewable energy deployment. To those who suggest carbon capture schemes perpetuate fossil fuels extraction and production, he says it’s not feasible to transition cold-turkey and that it’s imperative to finance removal alongside new generation capacity. “One plus minus-one is also zero,” he says. As corporate climate types are aware, most strategies for carbon removal will include a portfolio or projects — including nature-based solutions such as regenerative agriculture or forests or blue carbon as well as the sorts of innovations that the DAC crowd is hoping to perpetuate. Research published in mid-January in the journal Nature Communications suggests that creating a “wartime” response to climate change by investing 1.2 to 1.9 percent of GDP in DAC innovation and deployments could stimulate the removal of 2.2 to 2.3 gigatons of CO2 per year. But it’s no silver bullet: Even “massive deployments” aren’t likely to start reversing concentrations until the 2070 timeframe, according to the researchers. Really, we have no time to waste, and the companies investing directly in projects are to be commended for being in the advance guard of action. Pull Quote In our view, DAC is feasible, available and affordable. Topics Carbon Removal Direct Air Capture Featured Column Practical Magic 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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