Q4 2020: Amazon, AT&T, McDonald’s and Starbucks lead the way as clean energy procurement matures

January 14, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Q4 2020: Amazon, AT&T, McDonald’s and Starbucks lead the way as clean energy procurement matures Sarah Golden Thu, 01/14/2021 – 04:11 After a strange year, corporate renewable procurement deals ended on a high note, with corporations inking some of the biggest, most complex transactions to date. The result was a blockbuster fourth quarter, with more than 7.3 gigawatts of contracts inked — more than any other single quarter since the start of the GreenBiz deal tracker .  The list includes familiar names: Amazon; Google; Starbuck; AT&T; McDonald’s among them. These corporations continued to innovate, inking bigger, more complicated and more holistic energy deals. The roster also included some fresh faces, including Crown and Kimberly-Clark.  Amazon inks largest renewable energy deal to date Web giant Amazon inked what it calls the largest corporate procurement deal to date: 3.4 GW spread over 26 projects across eight countries and four continents. Prior to this announcement, the largest comparable deal was Google’s 1.6 GW deal in September 2019. At the time, I called that jaw-dropping . Amazon just raised the bar substantially.  Among the dozens of projects within the deal is Europe’s largest offshore wind corporate power purchase agreement (PPA), according to the developer, Orsted. The offshore wind project is planned to be 900 megawatts, 250 MW of which Amazon will procure. Last quarter, Orsted inked what it called the largest corporate PPA from a single project: 920 MW of offshore wind in Taiwan. Amazon says it has overtaken Google as the largest corporate user of renewables, and the renewable procurement projects are in service of its climate pledge to reach net-zero carbon by 2040.  This deal also highlights how corporate climate trailblazers are bundling deals to make more of a splash. While the capacity procured here is huge, the average size per project is 130 MW — impressive, but not enough to get headlines on its own. The same could be said of Google’s announcement in 2019, which comprised 18 deals, meaning each averages at about 90 MW per project.     AT&T, Honda are lead offtakers in largest single U.S. solar development Corporations Honda, AT&T, McDonald’s, Google and Home Depot partnered with three Texas municipalities (Bryan, Denton and Garland) to be the offtakers in a massive 1.3 GW solar development. Developer Invenergy says, when complete, it will be the largest solar development in the United States.  AT&T is slated to take 500 MW, bringing the telecommunications company’s total procurements to more than 1.5 GW of capacity. Honda is the second largest offtaker, earmarking 200 MW, followed by McDonald’s with 160 MW.  The deal is an example of an aggregation project, where offtakers jointly shoulder the negotiations, risk and paperwork to streamline the offtake process. The model was spearheaded by Bloomberg, Cox, Gap Inc., Salesforce, Workday and developer BayWa r.e. at the start of 2019. At the time, the structure was unprecedented and inspired webcasts and case studies as others wondered if it could open up procurement opportunities to more types of companies. (The project came online last quarter .) While this new deal doesn’t include any companies new to the renewable procurement game, it reflects how the aggregation model can scale; this solar development is 10 times the size of the BayWa r.e. project.  Starbucks takes a holistic approach to procurements Starbucks announced its sustainability goals for 2030, which the company says puts it in line with becoming a ” resource positive company. ” The initiatives include components to address its carbon, water and waste.  Its fourth-quarter clean power announcement included four new investments in renewable energy, each using a different procurement strategy:  A supply chain virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) — a first for the company — in a move to reduce its Scope 3 emissions  Investments in 23 community solar projects in New York state to supply solar to its stores and the community  A VPPA and a virtual storage agreement (VSA) to provide energy to stories in California  An investment in a wind project in Washington state to power stores and the company’s roasting plant Starbucks does not provide a total procurement figure for the four investments. But the move reflects a trend noted in the Q3 2020 tracker : Corporations are beginning to think about renewable energy within their larger sustainability initiatives.  Notable mentions McDonald’s inked a deal for two wind farms and a portfolio of solar projects with a collective capacity of 1.13 GW . This massive deal is almost three times the size of the fast-food giant’s debut procurements in Q4 2019 , and it is in service of its broader climate and sustainability goals.  Two steel manufacturers made this quarter’s tracker: Evraz North America and Nucor Corporation. The procurement reflects the move for heavy industry to decarbonize on the eve of the Biden administration, which indicated decarbonizing steel as a climate priority.  Microsoft inked a tiny but important deal: its first peace renewable energy credit ( P-REC ), a clean energy deal with co-benefits that support the local community. The deal will directly finance the installation of streetlights in a recently electrified neighborhood in the Congo — and clears the way for more deals to consider energy access in their procurements. The move is in line with a trend identified in Q3 2020 , where companies are embedding social and environmental benefits into the renewable energy procurement process. The P-REC was executed with Energy Peace Partners, a VERGE Clean Energy Equity Showcase honoree . Home improvement giants made a strong showing this quarter, with Home Depot inking two deals (one an aggregation deal for 50 MW, the other a solar plus energy storage PPA for 75 MW) and Lowe’s inking a 250 MW solar deal. My hot take: The two are battling it out for the perception of climate leadership, and I am 100 percent here for this rivalry.  Topics Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreements Corporate Procurement Collective Insight Clean Energy Deal Tracker Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of GreenBiz Group Close Authorship

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Q4 2020: Amazon, AT&T, McDonald’s and Starbucks lead the way as clean energy procurement matures

What’s in store for the future of commuting?

January 12, 2021 by  
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What’s in store for the future of commuting? Marian Jones Tue, 01/12/2021 – 01:00 Despite being in a global pandemic, essential low-wage workers, healthcare providers, knowledge workers and many others have continued to work. However, since the start of lockdowns in March 2020, some 42 percent of the U.S. workforce has been from working home full-time . The continued progression of COVID-19 has required many businesses to postpone their back-to-the-office dates to protect their workers and assuage their health concerns. Of the 42 percent of the workforce able to work remotely, some 73 percent would prefer not to go back due to fears over the disease’s spread. From Twitter to Amazon, major urban businesses have rolled out a variety of different commuting policies as they contemplate going “back to the office.” Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Shopify have shifted to permanent work from home arrangements for some, and Google will be working remotely until at least summer 2021. Environmental researchers have warned that the unprecedented low-carbon levels due to stay-at-home orders could be followed by a surge in car usage as white-collar workers in densely populated urban areas attempt to evade public transportation. Climate scientists expect private vehicle usage to surpass pre-pandemic levels. In May 2020, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) issued an outright ban on public transportation , telling employees they had to take private cars to work. It was an appalling proposal, based on the false impression that public transit spreads coronavirus, and overturned just three weeks later. NYSE is still providing employees with reduced prices on parking , but the stock exchange hasn’t conducted any studies or investigations of what increased car usage might have on Lower Manhattan . Assuming the COVID vaccine eventually becomes widely available this spring or at least distributed at a pace more in line with global standards, employers and employees could have more freedom to set the terms of their return. Elsewhere, Bloomberg Media offers large reimbursements for commuting into work — up to $75 per day, or up to $1,500 in a given month. It’s a perk likely meant to encourage the use of private cars. Policies that favor driving to work over mass transit show a disregard for congestion, air quality and cities’ overall livability. If every New Yorker consistently used private cars to commute to work, the city would be unlivable. An expanding number of businesses, seeing no harm to their profitability from remote work, have arranged to switch to permanent work from home. Lilac Nachum, a professor of international business at Baruch College, told me in an interview that it’s the knowledge and innovation-based industries that actually have the least to gain from working from home permanently. While many components of these jobs are the most straightforward to do online and could remain remote, a significant amount of creativity and innovation is lost without face-to-face interaction. As Nachum notes, “what we’ve seen is that the knowledge economy has given a huge boom to the growth of cities. This interaction of people creates the necessary conditions for innovation, exchange of ideas, and creativity. So for those kinds of industries, I think that it is extremely important to get back to work.” Considering that even the knowledge-based industries that on the face of it work remotely need to bring people together, few industries can do well working entirely remotely. “I think we’re left with a small number of jobs that can effectively be implemented remotely, which means companies basically have to prepare, should prepare for returning to the office. Fortunately, the vaccine is just around the corner,” Nachum said. Indeed, the knowledge industry has long been aware of the benefits of sustained in-person collaboration. Pre-pandemic, tech companies, including Google and Facebook, developed plans to create onsite housing at their campuses. Merging offices and housing has been hailed by some as the ultimate perk, a new type of “factory town,” and a green solution to urban transportation problems by alleviating the burden of commuting. However, these new company towns have led to new issues and exacerbated inequality. Under the current status quo, large tech companies have a habit of taking over their immediate areas by driving housing up, spurring gentrification, driving out long-time residents, and increasing homelessness rates. This was the case in Seattle when Amazon moved its headquarters to the city with many of their workers living in close proximity and local businesses reliant on their more affluent workers’ patronage. Regardless of whether or not such company towns benefit the environment by cutting back on commutes, although fraught with other political problems, the issue is relatively moot since creating a company town is not an option for the vast majority of firms. By fall, most workers could be returning to traditional offices . Assuming the COVID vaccine eventually becomes widely available this spring or at least distributed at a pace more in line with global standards , employers and employees could have more freedom to set the terms of their return. This year, public transit utilization in New York City has dipped as low as 80 percent . Many of us are less than enthusiastic about resuming our old commutes by bus and subway. Even though mass transit creates far fewer emissions per individual per kilometer than cars, people think subways and buses are major carriers for the disease even though there is no evidence to support this. Cars cause congestion, increase commute times for all and lead to urban sprawl. Companies concerned with climate change could increase the appeal of transportation alternatives by developing new initiatives to discourage private vehicle use. Under this scenario, our badly under-used public transit might begin to come back from our fiscal deficit. Public, mass forms of high-density transportation are the future our climate relies on. Now more than ever, we need free, comfortable, and easily accessible public transit to help us recover from both this health crisis and the climate crisis. Pull Quote Assuming the COVID vaccine eventually becomes widely available this spring or at least distributed at a pace more in line with global standards, employers and employees could have more freedom to set the terms of their return. Topics Transportation & Mobility Social Justice Employee Engagement 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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20 C-suite sustainability champions for 2021

January 11, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

20 C-suite sustainability champions for 2021 Elsa Wenzel Mon, 01/11/2021 – 02:15 The big stories of 2020 were not just about a pandemic, a reckoning on racial justice, an economic calamity and the ever-imminent rise of climate change impacts. If a crisis is the ultimate test of leadership, last year provided ample narratives about leaders stepping up. These 20 C-suite executives have steered their companies forward through much disruption, providing inspiration for the possibilities of advancing sustainability, social responsibility and circular business models — sometimes all at once. Often working from home themselves, they empathized with employees and other stakeholders, some refusing to issue layoffs. They sparked uncomfortable conversations about diversity and discrimination, some pledging many millions of dollars to address lingering inequities internally and in society at large. Many celebrated with their CSOs on meeting ambitious corporate targets for 2020, while setting audacious new goals for 2025, 2030 and 2050. Each of these individuals is playing the long game and is in a strong position to move their companies and industries into what could be a more hopeful period of reconciliation, recovery and repair. Many “firsts” are on the list, especially in terms of the number of women cracking the glass ceiling in their roles. Many leaders in this cohort happen to have climbed the ranks at one company for decades. Most support science-based targets and sit on multiple boards, collaborations and advocacy groups to further industry-level sustainability goals. Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors; Detroit LinkedIn | Company profile Raised in Detroit, as a teen Mary Barra worked as a co-op student at Pontiac Motor, where her father was a die maker. In 2014, the electrical engineer and MBA became the first woman to lead a U.S. automaker. As electric vehicles drive toward the mainstream, General Motors has come full circle as well. It mass-produced the first electric car in the 1990s, then literally crushed most of them in 2003. Now, in its eventual internal-combustion phaseout, GM can’t seem to make EVs fast enough, and 30 new models are lined up for the market for 2025. In November, the company said it will spend $7 billion more than initially planned on electric and self-driving vehicles through 2025, a total of $27 billion. Barra’s vision for General Motors includes bringing emissions, crashes and congestion down to zero while becoming the “most inclusive company in the world.” The automaker’s sustainability goals include sourcing energy only from renewable sources and getting at least half the materials in its vehicles from recycled, bio-based or renewable origins — by 2030 in the U.S. and globally by 2040. The company touts advancing responsibility for sourcing raw ingredients, such as cobalt, within its supply chain. Nearby in Flint, where at least 100,000 residents suffered exposure to lead-poisoned tap water, GM turned millions of water bottles into filler for coats for homeless people. To prevent additional layoffs as the pandemic dented sales, Barra took a temporary pay cut, and GM pivoted with partners to build ventilators and masks. Less advertised around that time, the company unveiled details about its new modular vehicle platform and Ultium batteries , designed to lower EV prices and allow a 400-mile range fully charged. Christophe Beck, CEO, Ecolab; St. Paul, Minnesota LinkedIn | Company profile Christophe Beck is brand-new as Ecolab CEO this month, taking over from retiring Doug Baker , an established advocate of the “virtuous cycles” of sustainability and profitability. In Beck’s mind, too , forwarding-thinking companies should look at natural resources not just as consumables but as recyclable goods, and then design systems and products in a way that eliminates waste. Nearly a century ago, Ecolab sold dishwasher soap with a dispenser described as its first effort to reduce waste. The next frontier is “connected chemistry,” extending the internet of things to “the internet of natural resources,” Beck said in 2019. The leader in water, hygiene and energy services sells to a diverse collection of institutions such as hospitals, food and beverage providers, as well as heavy industry including power plants and plastic manufacturers. Ecolab says it helped its customers save enough water in 2018 equivalent to the needs of 600 million people. The company, an early partner with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, has positioned water and carbon emissions as equally critical in the climate crisis. Last year, Ecolab set a goal for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, getting halfway there by 2030. Beck, trained in mechanical engineering and aerodynamics, worked at one time for the European Space Agency. Spending the past year as Ecolab’s president and COO, he joined as an executive vice president in 2008 after capping off 15 years as Nestlé’s head of corporate sales in Europe. Rosalind ‘Roz’ Brewer, COO and Group President, Starbucks Company profile Rosalind Brewer is the first African-American and woman to steer the company’s Americas operations as well its global supply chain, product and store development. Yet about six months in as president and COO at Starbucks, she was terrified in 2018 to hear that two Black men had been arrested needlessly at one of its Philadelphia stores. “This could happen to my son any day of the week,” she said. “I felt like it happened under my watch.” Starbucks ramped up its anti-bias training, closing 8,000 stores one day to do so — a prelude in 2018 to its response to the interconnected crises of 2020. In October, Starbucks announced it would ramp up hiring of people of color to at least 30 percent of the corporate workforce and 40 percent of retail and manufacturing by 2025. It’s also investing in professional mentorship for minorities and backing communities through $6.5 million in Neighborhood Grants. A chemist with a knack for analytics, Brewer has spoken of bringing her head and her heart to leadership. She was known for promoting diversity and inclusion while CEO and president of Walmart Sam’s Club. At Starbucks, that expanded focus also blends with its climate leadership initiatives. In 2019, it issued a $1 billion sustainability bond , the first corporation to do so. After learning of the outsize impact of dairy in its supply chain, it added more plant-based items to its menu. “I can’t even explain to you how much richer the conversations are when you have a diverse group of people in the room challenged against one problem, and how quickly you get to solutions,” she said in 2018. No doubt those conversations will be at play in Starbucks’ 50th year. As it expands by 800 stores annually, it also will strive toward a science-based, “resource positive” framework of halving carbon emissions, landfill waste and waste usage by 2030. Patrick Collison, CEO and co-founder, Stripe; San Francisco LinkedIn | Personal website It’s a prototypical Silicon Valley tale: Irish-bred Patrick Collison sold his first tech company for millions as a teen with brother John. Their next big project, payment service provider Stripe, has ballooned in its 10th year to a $36 billion valuation, just behind Elon Musk’s SpaceX among a few privately held unicorns. CEO Collison (John is president) has his eye on making an outsized climate impact by accelerating negative-carbon solutions. In May, Stripe named four young CO2-sequestration efforts it’s bankrolling with a combined $1 million, including Project Vestas (green-rock beaches) and CarbonCure (concrete). Natural carbon sinks, carbon mineralization and direct-air capture are early focus areas for Stripe’s 2019 Negative Emissions Commitment , which aims to spend at least double in these areas compared with what it pays for carbon offsets. Stripe Climate, launched in October, is an attempt to address a chicken-egg problem by driving up adoption for CO2-removal services that are, for now, prohibitively expensive for other companies. Online merchants can divert a portion of each sale toward carbon sequestration, and show that off to downstream shoppers at the point of purchase. Unlike with offsets, there’s no tit-for-tat estimate of how many GHG tons may be involved, which is intentional. The billionaire bibliophile has a side publishing effort, Stripe Press , which tries to further “ideas that we think can be broadly useful” toward shaping “the world of tomorrow.” João Paulo Ferreira, CEO, Natura &Co Latin America; São Paulo LinkedIn | Company profile From its cosmetics direct-sales origins in 1969, Natura &Co has matured to swallow up Avon, the Body Shop and Aesop. The Brazilian company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange one year ago, sells beauty and biodiversity as intertwined. Its mission: to offer products that “promote the harmonious relationship of the individual with oneself, with others and with nature.” Working under group CEO Roberto Marquez, João Paulo Ferreira’s Latin America CEO position has overseen the heart of the original business since 2016. The electronic engineer and MBA spent 19 years as a supply chain vice president at Unilever before joining Natura in 2009. In 2019, Ferreira urged Brazilian leaders to protect the fire-scarred Amazon rainforest, from which so much megadiversity — and Natura’s product base — derives. Ucuuba berries used in a moisturizer, for example, are more lucrative for local residents to collect and sell to Natura than chopping down the trees for timber. “But you have to do this in an orderly way that conserves the local culture, including traditional know-how, and adds value to the communities involved,” Ferreira has said. In the past decade, Natura has planted several hundred million dollars toward rainforest protection and sustainable development. Full traceability for palm oil, mica, paper, alcohol, soy and cotton is due in 2025. The company’s “Commitment to Life” vision for 2030 includes net-zero GHG emissions by 2030, and raising by 7.4 million acres the 4.4 million acres it protects in the Amazon. Natura, which issues a regular environmental profit-and-loss statement , went carbon-neutral in 2007 and became the first public B Corporation in 2014. Furthering fair wages and closing the gender gap is another goal, as is embracing circular principles. It’s throwing $100 million toward biotech solutions for repurposing waste and improving plastics; regenerative agriculture in deforested zones; and building up markets for biological ingredients. Beth Ford; President & CEO; Land O’Lakes; Arden Hills, Minnesota LinkedIn | Company profile Best known for its butter — and the Native American logo it retired last year — Land O’Lakes is also a 21st-century force in technology. Beth Ford is cultivating agtech at scale to optimize yields sustainably across the 150 million acres it touches in every state. Farmers are “the original environmentalists,” she said in July. “The way we think about sustainability is data-enhanced decisions.” Land O’Lakes is a cooperative owned by some 300,000 farmers, who were already struggling before COVID-19 upended supply chains. Toward its bid to accelerate regenerative agriculture and aid farmers, one acre and data point at a time, the company recently partnered with Microsoft on a multi-year effort to hasten innovation and boost rural broadband. Microsoft’s cloud architecture eventually will house Land O’Lakes’ data tools including Truterra , which tracks impacts on soil , air and water from no-till, cover crops and fertilizer management practices, as well as WinField United r7 software that uses satellite imagery and geolocated data. Raised in Iowa, Ford became the only openly gay Fortune 500 CEO in 2018. She came to the co-op from International Flavors & Fragrances in 2012 as supply chain and operations executive vice president and became COO several years later. Ford’s resume spans industries, including time at Mobil Oil, PepsiCo and Scholastic. Ford is on the board of directors at the Business Roundtable, Consumer Goods Forum and U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Logan Green, Co-founder and CEO, Lyft; San Francisco LinkedIn Logan Green has cited growing up with Southern California traffic and carpooling as a student in Zimbabwe for inspiring the launch of Zimride in 2007. He was fresh out of a business economics bachelor’s program in Santa Barbara and a stint as the youngest director on the local Metro Transit District board. Zimride merged into Lyft in 2013, its vehicles announced by a fuzzy pink “grill-stache.” By 2019, the company counted more than a billion total rides, with 2 million annual drivers in more than 650 U.S. and Canadian cities. In June, Lyft set a course to move toward 100 percent electric or other emission-free vehicles by 2030. That’s in the vehicles that Lyft drivers own, as well as the company’s Express Drive rentals for drivers and its eventual Level 5 self-driving fleets. The ride-sharing brand positions this as a radical shift that will benefit communities, partly by reducing pollution. Working with the Environmental Defense Fund, Lyft predicts it will prevent the release of tens of millions of metric tons of GHG emissions and avert the consumption of a billion tons of gasoline. Lyft’s IPO filing in 2019 exposed contradictions between its goals to “redesign our cities around people, not cars,” and the traffic congestion its rides have caused. Among other challenges, Lyft’s scooter rentals mostly have flopped, but the company isn’t giving up on micromobility. And its LyftUp effort seeks to meet transportation needs in underserved urban communities. Ridesharing demand crashed with COVID-19, and Lyft became part of the frontline delivery and medical access infrastructure. With holes in the gig economy torn open, Lyft tried to keep some drivers working by partnering with Amazon, and paid some time off due to virus exposure. Although they laid off nearly 1,000 employees, Green and co-founder John Zimmer declined their own pay. The company has played the self-described “woke” foil to market leader Uber. “We care” is what sets Lyft apart, Green has said. Lyft’s first ESG report reaffirmed as much in July, also showing that working conditions for its diverse driver base top the list of stakeholder concerns, alongside community safety and emissions. Mauricio Gutierrez, CEO, NRG; Houston LinkedIn | Company profile After the contentious exit of David Crane , who was leaning hard into the disruptive power of renewables, COO Gutierrez became CEO overnight in 2015. The company has since whipsawed between its wholesale-energy legacy of fossil fuels and greener horizons. To mollify shareholders, NRG shed its renewables business and EVGo vehicle-charging infrastructure. However, like Crane before him, Gutierrez is wise to the macro trends that favor clean energy, and has called sustainability “the glue that keeps all of our stakeholders working together toward a common goal with purpose.” In 2019, Gutierrez issued a new goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, expecting to reach it halfway by 2025. NRG in December issued a $900 million sustainability-linked bond, which it called a first for a North American company. Motivated to decarbonize, digitize and customize, Gutierrez has been advancing an integrated-power strategy to bring generation and retail together. Rather than invest capital directly in renewable-energy projects, he wants NRG to provide long-term contracts that improve their financeability. Gutierrez joined NRG from Dynegy in 2004 as an energy portfolio director. The engineer holds master’s degrees in mineral economics and petroleum economics. An outspoken advocate for racial justice, Gutierrez has urged companies to take action on social issues that matter to stakeholders, and to be honest that the playing field is not level. “We cannot create equity value if we do not take care of our employees or if we don’t serve our customers and their communities,” he said in June. Helena Helmersson, COO, H&M Group; Stockholm LinkedIn | Company profile Helena Helmersson may be the first former CSO to ascend to the top job at a major corporation, signaling H&M’s designs to further stitch sustainability and equity into operations. She’s also the first woman, succeeding longtime CEO Karl-Johan Persson one year ago. Joining H&M in 1997 in the buying department, Helmersson wound her way through the company, moving from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Hong Kong to Stockholm. A vocal advocate for purpose in retail, she oversees 126,000 employees and 5,000 storefronts in 74 countries, with a complex supply chain network. The H&M model embodies some big contradictions. It helped define fast fashion, yet is in the vanguard of circular innovations in apparel. It strives to improve conditions for garment workers and improve transparency, yet still attracts activist ire. H&M seeks by 2030 to become fully circular, eliminating waste and adopting sustainable and recycled materials , and has partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation since 2018. Helmersson views engaging consumers as the key, and the company is working on the Higg Index with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to improve industry labeling. H&M is among the first apparel giants to enable product take-back for any garment and to prioritize reducing toxic chemicals in manufacturing. In 2019, customers returned 29,000 tonnes of worn clothes in exchange for 15 percent discounts, beating company expectations. Pure cotton and polyester can be downcycled into insulation and other things. H&M forged a five-year partnership in November with RenewCell to produce millions of pieces of clothing from Circulose, a pulp made from used cotton fabric. The H&M Foundation and CO:LAB venture capital arm share a focus on advancing textile recycling. More broadly, the company is moving toward a “climate positive” value chain by 2040, embracing science-based targets. It is already at 96 percent renewable energy toward the 2030 goal of 100 percent. Ilham Kadri, CEO, Solvay; Brussels LinkedIn | Company profile The first woman to lead a major European chemical company, Ilham Kadri has called chemistry “the mother of all industries.” Directing operations in 64 countries from the EU capital, she seeks to catalyze circular models and take Solvay far past its 1863 roots as a soda ash producer. “Without industry there is no reinvention and without reinvention there is no future,” the chemical engineer and physics-chemistry Ph.D. said in December . Kadri launched Solvay’s One Planet sustainability framework of “climate, resources and better life” last year, 11 months after becoming CEO. With some $12 billion annual sales, the company’s eclectic mix of products includes coatings, solvents and binders for electric car batteries; lightweight composites for airplanes; recycled polyamide for apparel and sustainable vanillin for chocolate. Solvay seeks to double revenues from renewable or recycled solutions and count 65 percent of its products as sustainable by 2030 — also closing the loop on energy and resources in its plants; extending life cycles and optimizing consumption within its supply chains. It uses blockchain to trace sourcing in India for guar, used in shampoos. The company is an Ellen MacArthur Foundation partner, including in a collaboration with Veolia to close the loop on lithium-ion EV batteries. Other circular approaches include making vanilla flavoring from discarded rice husks and reusing hydrogen peroxide for paper production. Solvay repurposes wastewater from dairy production in the United Arab Emirates to cool cows in arid fields. Kadri, raised in Casablanca, was previously CEO of hygiene tech company Diversey and counts management experience at Sealed Air, Dow and Shell. She brings an international perspective and an embrace of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and has worked in the U.S., UAE, Switzerland and France. Mark Mason, CFO, Citi; New York City LinkedIn | Company profile In May, Mark Mason flung open a door that’s rarely unlatched on Wall Street by publishing a wrenching company blog post against systemic racism. Its first words, 10 times repeated, were the last spoken by police brutality victim George Floyd: “I can’t breathe.” Unusual for a finance chief, the message is one that Mason felt necessary for Citi’s 204,000 employees and the world at large. Yet “words are not enough.” So Citi threw its heft behind a $1 billion, three-year Action for Racial Equity initiative supporting Black homeownership, entrepreneurship and professional development. Mason, who was raised in Queens, is one of the few senior Black executives in banking, at Citi since 2001 in a slate of leadership roles including CEO of Citi Private Bank. He also leads Citi Ventures Initiatives, which invests in efforts to “help people, businesses, and communities thrive.” Citi Impact Fund investments include waste-to-fuel company, smart water management and 3D printing companies. Startups in the area of “access to capital and economic opportunity,” for which $50 million has been earmarked, are “coming soon” on the website. Citi positions environmental sustainability and racial justice as intertwined, seeking to be the finance leader in low-carbon solutions, and Mason holds the purse strings. In 2019, it followed an inaugural €1 billion bond with a $1.5 billion U.S. bond. The bank recently added circular economy and sustainable agriculture focus areas for its $250 billion Environmental Finance Goal, which it expanded from the original $100 billion goal that it met four years early. Lisa McKnight; Senior Vice President, Global Head of Barbie; Mattel; El Segundo, California LinkedIn | Company profile The cultural impact of the Barbie doll is hard to overestimate. Whether seen as innocent or insidious, she’s a prism through which generations of girls have shaped their self-image and aspirations. About six years ago, Lisa McKnight’s team found the blonde bombshell falling out of favor with parents. She set out to redirect and reposition Barbie as “the original empowerment brand,” touching on the icon’s origins as the invention of a 1959 mompreneur. As a result, today’s kaleidoscope of Barbies includes 176 dolls with 94 hairstyles, 35 skin tones and nine body types. She is a chicken farmer, a zoo doctor, a firefighter, a polar marine biologist, a park ranger and a political candidate. One in five is Black. Barbie is Rosa Parks, David Bowie and Susan B. Anthony. Barbie may have a wheelchair, no hair or vitiligo. On social media, she describes baking banana bread during quarantine and ponders why women overuse the word “sorry.” Barbie annual sales are soaring beyond $1 billion. What does this have to do with sustainability? When the world’s second-biggest toy maker plants the seeds for more inclusive play, the fruit may feed SDG No. 5 on gender equality. Empowering girls and women offers a multitude of carbon-reduction benefits. McKnight, at Mattel for 22 years after leading marketing at Gap, is working within the 91-year-old company’s greater shift to environmental sustainability. Mattel seeks for all products and packaging to comprise recycled or recyclable materials by 2030, and in June it brought sugarcane-plastic toddler stacking rings to market. Most of Mattel’s paper-based packaging is Forest Stewardship Council-certified. The toymaker seeks to cut normalized carbon emissions in half by 2028. Vasant Narasimhan, CEO, Novartis; Basel, Switzerland LinkedIn | Company profile “Vas” Narasimhan views this moment as the best to be alive, partly because science promises to advance health by unlocking genetic mysteries that have built up over 3.7 billion years of evolution. No wonder he keeps an ammonite fossil in his bag. Addressing health equity is a special focus area for Narasimhan, who cut his teeth as a public health doctor addressing malaria and HIV in developing nations. With 103,000 employees and 800 million people using its products, Novartis is at the forefront of exploring genetic and cell therapies for human health. A subsidiary is involved in an early-stage, gene-based vaccine for the novel coronavirus. “We all have to speak up in defense of really rigorous, well-defined science,” Narasimhan said in December. “If we lose that battle, the world will give up a lot of the gains that we’ve had and perhaps many we could have in areas like environment and climate change.” With erudite Narasimhan in charge, Novartis is buckling down to embed ESG into operations. In September, the company issued healthcare’s first sustainability bond, priced at $2.26 billion. In November it became the first European pharmaceutical company to meet 100 percent renewables through virtual power purchase agreements. The Swiss firm aims to reach neutrality in carbon, water and plastic by 2030 across its supply chain, and phase out polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in medical packaging by 2025. The charismatic “unboss,” as he has called his role, has been at Novartis since 2007, with a stint at Sandoz. Raised in Pittsburgh and one of the youngest multinational leaders, Narasimhan is fond of sharing books that inspire him on Twitter. He serves on the National Academy of Medicine and on boards including African Parks. Patti Poppe, CEO, PG&E; San Francisco LinkedIn | Company profile Patti Poppe has a grounded, straight-talking style, an inclination to see opportunities in crisis, and an embrace of innovation to enrich the triple bottom line. It’s easy to see why Pacific Gas & Electric snapped her up in November from Consumers Energy in Michigan, where she was on track to fold its coal and nuclear operations by 2040. “There are ways to make this clean energy transition that are additive, that are extraordinary,” she said in 2019. “We’ve got work to do; there’s no time to stand on the sidelines and hope and holler and think that somebody’s gonna do something about this.” As the California utility crawls out of a bankruptcy and restructuring, the human and environmental toll left by the epic wildfires it caused remain incalculable. Can PG&E earn back the trust of its 16 million consumers? A clue may be found in Poppe’s approach to a crisis. Rather than asking if something is possible, she advocates for asking, “What has to be true to bring it to fruition?” Consumers Energy CEO since 2016, she was praised for preventing a bigger emergency two subzero Januarys ago, after a fire at a natural gas compressor threatened energy transmission. The company texted residents to turn down their thermostats, they responded, and nobody lost heat. As for the slower-moving climate crisis, Poppe grabbed the opportunity of a generation to replace fossil fuels and phase in “modular” renewables. The industrial engineer even made energy efficiency enticing at Consumers, in May teaming up with Google to give away Nest smart thermostats to 100,000 customers. Poppe said she won’t abandon her coworkers or their communities during the energy transition, describing how career employees at a shuttered coal plant stayed at the company. Before working in energy, the Michigander spent 15 years in plant management at General Motors. She’s the first woman to move from one Fortune 500 CEO office to another. Linda Rendle, CEO, Clorox; Oakland, California LinkedIn | Company profile One million Clorox wipes, prized during the pandemic, were rolling off the company’s assembly lines each day in 2020. The company cleaned up in sales, and it’s going on an advertising offense. It’s up to new CEO Linda Rendle how aggressively Clorox will lead its 8,800 employees on sustainability. Joining the America Is All In pledge supporting the Paris Agreement in December is an early indicator. One of Rendle’s tasks for 2021 will be to complete a 100 percent renewable electricity goal for Clorox’s U.S. and Canadian operations. Rendle is the first woman in the job as of September, and the 38th female CEO on the Fortune 500. Promoted from president, she has risen steadily over 18 years through a series of vice president titles in supply chain and operations. Rendle has shunned social media. Visa cited her strategy- and brand-building experience when it welcomed her to its board in November. In August, the 98-year-old company joined the U.S. Plastics Pact, and it aligned in 2019 with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy commitment. Clorox seeks to prevent plastic waste and pollution in packaging, pledging to halve its use of virgin plastic and fiber by 2030 while doubling PCR recycled plastic. By 2025, it wants to achieve 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging. (None of that addresses closing the loop on the synthetic wipes themselves.) The bleach and Brita filter maker is also phasing out PVC and supporting emerging refill models. Its recyclable Glad food bags and Hidden Valley Ranch dressing are available through the innovative Loop reusable packaging service. Clorox reportedly seeks to build on its legacy of “natural” products, burnished when it bought Burt’s Bees in 2008, and in its own formulation of the Green Works line of household cleaners. Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO, Cisco Systems LinkedIn | Company profile As CEO since 2015, Chuck Robbins has earned accolades for taking Cisco’s corporate responsibility to new heights while keeping the enterprise hardware brand nimble in the cloud computing era. In 2016, he issued an edict to positively affect 1 billion people by 2025. Last year, he set a new corporate purpose: “To power an inclusive future for all.” The company and its foundation have pledged more than half a billion dollars toward coronavirus relief. Cisco pledged $50 million in 2018 to address Silicon Valley homelessness and sponsors numerous programs and competitions to bridge digital divides and reward planet-positive technology innovations. Because Cisco’s technologies underpin many of the world’s “webscale” data centers, its advances enable a more energy-efficient, less emissions-intense internet. Its efficient $1 billion Silicon One architecture, for instance, squeezes more bandwidth out of routers. Since 2007, Cisco has reduced its GHG emissions by 55 percent since 2007. It has almost reached the goals for 2022 of 85 percent renewable electricity globally and 87 percent energy efficiency for its rack-mounted hardware. Robbins, who joined the company in 1997, also has led a top-down shift calling on the 75,000 employees to embrace circular principles such as modular designs in all products by 2025, building on Cisco’s seasoned product takeback and remanufacturing programs. He serves on the board of Ford Foundation, is a Business Roundtable member and has called himself “the ultimate optimist.” “OK, how is it that a kid who lived on a dirt road in Georgia has become CEO of a major tech company?” he said in 2019. “And I just realized that we have to run a good business, but there’s more to it. We need to take advantage of the power we’ve been given.” Ulf Mark Schneider, CEO, Nestlé; Vevey, Switzerland Company profile In 2020, Nestlé’s Haagen Dazs ice cream, Nescafé and Purina pet food flew off store shelves. The world’s biggest food company also created vegan “tuna” and tweaked its plant-based Sensational burger. In September, the Coffee mate maker opened an R&D test kitchen for sustainable dairy products and vegan “meats.” Ulf Mark Schneider, CEO since 2017, likes to boost markets in areas he’d like to accelerate. The German-American MBA sees the bottom-line benefit for “Creating Shared Value” and improving livelihoods across 2,000 brands in 189 countries. Last month, Nestlé announced it will sweeten its climate-mitigation efforts with $3.6 billion toward regenerative agriculture into 2025. Working with farmers supports the company’s goals to eliminate its environmental impact and slash emissions in half by 2030, reaching net-zero by 2050. “This is a time when people increasingly look towards business as a force for good and making something happen, so this is our part and we are fully committed to playing that part,” Schneider said in September. As for closing the loop, Schneider is leading Nestlé toward 100-percent recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. The CPG giant in 2019 created its Institute of Packaging Sciences and joined the New Plastics Economy as a core partner. Nestlé last year released Nespresso pods with 80 percent recycled aluminum. The bottled water seller knows that whether an item actually gets recycled is at the mercy of regional infrastructure, so it’s funding efforts to improve recycling technologies for vexing materials such as films, bags and bubble wrap, including a pilot effort with a curbside-pickup recycling plant in Pennsylvania. Here too, Schneider seeks to nurture an early market, buying 2 million metric tons of food-grade recycled plastics at a premium of close to $2 billion. Harmit Singh, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Levi Strauss & Co. LinkedIn | Company profile Long an influencer in style and sustainability, Levi Strauss pioneered low-water techniques to finish and weather jeans, and its Screened Chemistry program led to removing hazardous chemicals from its supply chain. Then it open-sourced these innovations for the benefit of wider industry. “At Levi’s, it’s not only important what we make but how we make it,” Harmit Singh told GreenBiz in 2017, describing how sustainability was first embraced to mitigate risk and since has become core to the fabric of Levi Strauss’ values. After joining Levi’s in 2013, Singh visited its factories in Turkey and India. “How companies conduct themselves — if they are committed to clean water, if they treat workers well, if they are good stewards of natural resources — means a great deal to those communities,” he said in 2019. “The visit cemented my sense of how important this work is.” Thirty years after Levi’s launched its supply chain code of conduct to support apparel workers’ well-being, the company is moving toward circular models across design, sourcing, manufacturing, use and reuse. The new, recyclable fabrics it has developed include single-fiber nylon and recyclable denim for its Wellthread line of jeans. From the New York Stock Exchange podium, Singh cheered on the company as it went public in March 2019 for the second time. Espousing Levi’s tagline of “profit through principles,” he helped to establish the U.S. chapter of Accounting for Sustainability. Singh joined the denim maker after driving growth as CFO at Hyatt Hotels in Chicago and Yum! Brands and Pizza Hut in Dallas, with previous work in Singapore and Delhi. Bob Swan, CEO, Intel; San Jose, California LinkedIn | Company profile Bob Swan describes 2020 as the most important year yet in Intel’s history, as COVID-19 drove a “digital transformation on steroids.” In May, he issued three sweeping global challenges for technology to meet, which require outside collaboration and come with measurable benchmarks: revolutionizing health and safety; boosting social inclusivity; and making computing carbon-neutral. The more people analyze, capture and process data, the more the company must advance transistor density — a fitting challenge, given that Moore’s law began in the mind of Intel co-founder Gordon Moore. Intel seeks to build the world’s most efficient computer, neutral in carbon, water and waste. It has boosted manufacturing waste recovery and reuse by 275 percent over the past three years. “It’s very important for us that purpose isn’t something that goes on the wall and social responsibility isn’t something that goes in a report; so they’re one and the same,” Swan said in December, entering his third year as CEO. Bringing his ample CFO experience from Intel, eBay, GE Lighting and even Webvan, Swan underscores how integrating sustainability and carbon neutrality benefits customers, investors and communities. Intel’s RISE acronym covers responsibility, inclusion and sustainability — the “e” being its enabling technologies. The company met most of its 2020 goals along those lines, reaching global pay equity, keeping a workforce whose gender and minority makeup reflects that of the greater labor market and raising spending with diverse suppliers to $1 billion. Next up: doubling the number of women and minorities among its leadership by 2030. Applying artificial intelligence and cloud technologies, Intel is establishing a Global Inclusion Index open standard for hiring across industries. Intel AI for Youth seeks to bridge the digital divide in STEM education. Also ahead: Intel seeks to become net-positive in water by 2030, also achieving 100-percent renewable power, zero waste to landfill and net-positive water. Carol Tomé, CEO, UPS; Atlanta LinkedIn | Company profile Imagine leaving retirement just in time to guide UPS through a pandemic. Carol Tomé became her industry’s first female CEO on March 12. Nine months later, she oversaw the company’s first shipments of the earliest Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, which must be pampered at close to negative 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Tomé’s talk of putting people first jibes with the UPS position of linking sustainability with social responsibility. (Its foundation backed nonprofits with several million dollars following spring’s racial justice crisis.) Tomé spent 24 years as Home Depot CFO, sometimes working the night shift in the retail stores, and continued to give store workers bonuses during the 2008 Great Recession. “To impact people, help them get to their highest potential,” Tomé told Fortune in October. “I view that as job No. 1. Job No. 2 is to get the stock price moving.” Under her guidance, UPS is moving forward on an ambitious partnership with London-based Arrival for 10,000 purpose-built modular electric vehicles — a sharp turn from UPS’s fleet history that began with a used Model T. The companies, which already had worked together in Europe on a pilot project, soon will be sited only several hours apart. UPS Ventures also made a minority investment in the Arrival, which seeks to build micro-factories to speed production.UPS has aligned with other sustainability innovations recently, such as its exclusive partnership on the 2019 launch of Loop , the zero-waste service for goods delivering groceries and other packaged goods. Topics Leadership Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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20 C-suite sustainability champions for 2021

Fighting deforestation should be a top priority for 2021, and here’s how it can be

January 11, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Fighting deforestation should be a top priority for 2021, and here’s how it can be Heather Clancy Mon, 01/11/2021 – 02:00 One of the biggest stories of 2020 was the rise of the corporate tree-planting movement, with dozens of multinational businesses from virtually every industry pledging millions of dollars to one of nature’s most effective carbon sequestration solutions.  Now, NGOs and investors are urging consumer goods and food companies and financial institutions to devote more resources to addressing the root cause of shrinking forests, deforestation.  Many companies have promised to address deforestation related to their business activities for years, but few have fully delivered on those plans — and an astonishingly high number of companies don’t have an explicit commitment to ending deforestation.  A confluence of factors as we move deeper into the “Decade of Action” is raising the stakes: deepening global concerns over the loss of species habitat and biodiversity; an environmental justice awakening that has more of us attuned to systemic human rights issues, including encroachment of Indigenous communities, as well as child and slave labor; and a heightened awareness among the investment community about the long-term ecosystem and financial risks associated with deforestation. As 2021 begins, more companies are seeing their strategies for addressing deforestation deep down into their supply chains scrutinized.  “We need companies to make commitments that are specific to how they are addressing their supply chains,” says Jessye Waxman, shareholder advocate with Green Century Capital Management, which has so far engaged dozens of businesses encouraging them to improve their “no deforestation” policies and practices. Among those it has targeted: food service operator Aramark, meat company Tyson Foods and consumer products maker Procter & Gamble.  Green Century’s latest shareholder proposals related to deforestation were filed in late December with two of the world’s largest grain traders, The Archer-Daniels Midland Company and Bunge . Both companies already have commitments to eliminate deforestation, but the investment firm would like to see them become even more aggressive with members of their soy supply chains. “There is definitely increasing urgency around this issue,” Waxman says. Palm oil plantation at the edge of a rainforest. Many promises, limited followthrough Here’s what we’re up against. More than 1 million acres of forests have been lost since 1990, leaving the global stock at near 10 million acres, according to a July report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). While the rate of annual deforestation slowed to about 25 million acres between 2015 and 2020, the trendlines in several regions — especially countries in Africa and South America — aren’t moving in the right direction. Brazil, for example, recently recorded its highest rate of deforestation since 2008 during the period from August 2019 to July, an increase of 9.5 percent.  The vast majority of that destruction (up to 80 percent) is linked to commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef, leather, timber, and pulp and paper. Cattle-rearing practices in Brazil are of particular concern among multiple NGOs. Yet, many companies hugely reliant on these resources aren’t actively fighting deforestation , according to data from research organizations including CDP and Global Canopy.  What’s more, of the companies that have made commitments, many have failed to deliver or to set deadlines — with some continuously pushing dates into the future or changing the rules by which they judge progress, according to both organizations. CDP’s recent ” Zeroing In on Deforestation Report ” urged consumer products and food companies to devote more energy to this issue. It found, for example, that the supply chains for cattle and soy are particularly opaque — the largest meat processor in the world, JBS, fares “very poorly.” Food and consumer products companies that buy meat from organizations such as these need to become far more engaged in tracing the regional origins of the product they’re buying, says Ling Sin Fai Lam, lead analyst on the report. “CPG companies are going to find it harder to meet their own goals if they don’t seek collaboration from people closer to the ground,” she says.  While new forest strategies have been declared in recent months — Tyson Foods published its forest protection standard in November after a lengthy assessment by nonprofit Proforest — the dialogue around deforestation was relatively muted last year, when compared to the tree-planting movement.  “Are there more companies with stated strategies? Generally, yes, we have seen a few more commitments and improvements,” notes Sarah Rogerson, research associate at Global Canopy and lead researcher for its Forest 500 report , which evaluates corporate deforestation strategies. “But not a step change over what we have seen in previous years. There hasn’t been an obvious gearup. We were hoping [2020] would be a big year for forests and nature.” (The next edition of the Forest 500 is due in late January; here’s last year’s coverage .) Progress takes root There were some hopeful signs over the past 12 months. Cargill, which has been evolving its deforestation policy for decades, reported in June that it was on track to “eliminate deforestation in all commercial palm oil concessions in its third-party supply chain by the end of 2020.” After being contacted for an interview for this story, the company provided several written updates about its soy sourcing strategy including these highlights: More than 95 percent of the soy it purchased in Brazil for the 2018-2019 crop year was “deforestation- and land-conversion free” It had mapped 100 percent of its Brazilian soy supply chain by early 2020 It continues to develop a certification program in Brazil and Paraguay, in order to provide a “large market” for soybeans grown via verified methods Aramark was praised by Green Century in mid-November for its ” prompt progress ” on its no-deforestation policy . Within one year of publishing the strategy in December 2019, the company already has shifted to sourcing 100 percent of its soy and 99 percent of its palm oils from regions with no deforestation risk. So far, 60 percent of the beef it sources is “deforestation-free,” according to Aramark. In written responses to questions submitted for this story, Aramark Vice President of Sustainability Kathy Cacciola noted that Aramark’s biggest challenge in delivering on the strategy is its position of influence in the value chain for the covered commodities.  “For example, we do not source any raw palm oil, but it is present in tiny amounts of a vast number of products that we purchase, thus our ability to influence producers is limited,” she wrote. “Moreover, although our supplier partners are always willing to provide us with the information we ask for, they do not always have full visibility to where their raw commodities are coming from.”  We’re seeing the end of the commodity era, where materials are sourced from largely unknown origins and bought purely for price on a transactional basis. Mars also generated plenty of headlines in 2020 with its claim of a “deforestation-free palm oil supply chain,” an initiative related to the Palm Positive Plan it adopted in September 2019. Getting there required a drastic reduction in the number of mills that the company uses to source palm oil — to fewer than 100 this year, compared with 1,500 previously. It plans further reductions by 2022, according to the press release Mars issues to trumpet this achievement.  In written responses to questions submitted for this article, Kevin Rabinovitch, global vice president of sustainability for Mars, said simplifying the company’s supply chain through longer-term contracts and fewer suppliers was crucial for helping it verify that partners are meeting environmental, social and ethical standards and for laying the foundation for collaborative engagement. “We’re seeing the end of the commodity era, where materials are sourced from largely unknown origins and bought purely for price on a transactional basis,” he wrote. “That model doesn’t address some key elements of the world we want tomorrow. The future will leverage sourcing from known farms, with price, human rights and sustainability impacts evaluated side by side.”  As of this writing, there has been no independent verification of the Mars palm oil claim. Mars is also part of the new Forest Positive Coalition , launched in September by a group of 17 companies belonging to the Consumer Goods Forum — including Danone, General Mills, Nestle, P&G, PepsiCo, Unilever and Walmart. The group has pledged support of collective, systemic efforts to “remove deforestation, forest degradation and conversion from the key commodity supply chains of palm oil, soy and paper, and paper, pulp and fiber-based packaging.”  Another coalition of companies — including ADM, Bunge and Cargill — is working with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to improve the traceability of soybeans grown in Brazil’s Cerrado region, one of the least-protected regions in the country, which is experiencing higher rates of deforestation than the Amazon. So far, the Soft Commodities Forum has engaged with about 121 producers, according to a December update .  “Only by bringing producers to the center of the quest for solutions will we be able to contribute to a world without commodities-driven conversion, balancing environmental outcomes with resilient and prosperous rural communities,” said Tony Siantonas, director of the Scaling Positive Agriculture initiative for WBCSD, in a statement.  Soybean production and cattle raising activities are linked to deforestation in Brazil’s Cerrado region. Engagement seen as central to effective strategies That sentiment was echoed by a number of companies that have devoted considerable time and resources to the evolution of their policies for addressing deforestation, including food companies Cargill and Mars, food services firm Aramark, restaurant chain McDonald’s and fashion company Kering.  “I think the headline would be: Don’t work alone,” Yoann Regent, biodiversity and animal welfare specialist with Kering, told me in an interview. “Map your sourcing. You can’t do anything if you don’t know where to do it.” But the companies interviewed for this article have differing strategies for how to handle suppliers that don’t comply with their mandates. As already mentioned, Mars made the decision to pare down its partners to root out those with possible connections to deforestation. Kering also takes a relatively hardline approach, one that’s sewn into its contracts.  “Any leather suppliers that have a link to deforestation, especially in the Amazon, would be terminated,” Regent says. “There are so many other alternatives.”  Kering uses tools from NGOs, such as the Forest Mapper from Canopy, and certification information from the Forest Stewardship Council to guide decisions. It’s also planning to embrace an emerging resource from Textile Exchange called the Leather Impact Accelerator , which uses benchmarks to trace animal welfare and deforestation/land-conversion issues at the farm level. Other companies shy away from outright termination and advocate the notion of big companies using their buying power to inspire and demand change deep down into supply chains. Once you sever ties with a supplier, you lose leverage when it comes to convincing them to change business practices, they say.  “Fortunately, all of our suppliers for the relevant commodities are already working on ensuring that deforestation is happening in their respective supply chains,” writes Aramark’s Cacciola. “We focus on continuous improvement, so we engage with our suppliers to make improvements where relevant. We also expect quick and decisive action from suppliers if they do identify issues.”  “We don’t need to boycott, we need to choose the sustainable commodity,” observes Dan Strechay, global outreach and engagement director for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil , which represents more than 4,000 members of the palm oil supply chain with standards focused on sustainable production. “It’s time for everyone to uphold their sourcing policies. We need to implement the policies and reward the growers that we’ve asked to take these steps.”   And, companies need to act with more urgency, he urges: “Don’t take the policy you missed and kick it five years down the road. Make it count in the next two to three years.” Traceability transformed through technology The social distancing requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic have made the already complicated task of tracing and verifying supply chain claims related to forest degradation more difficult — and underscored the critical role that digital technology can play in supporting successful “no deforestation” strategies. Kering is looking to solutions such as isotope tracking, genetic mapping and laser markings as a means of verifying that materials meet health and sourcing requirements, Regent says. McDonald’s is also looking to advanced technologies, notably satellite-mapping, to define its approaches to addressing deforestation. For example, it is working with agtech company AgroTools and Proforest to trace the origin of all Brazilian beef used in McDonald’s restaurants, notes Rachael Sherman, director of global sustainability for McDonald’s, in response to questions submitted for this article. “After determining risk level based on sourcing location, we use a combination of satellite imagery of the farm area and data analysis to assess whether deforestation has taken place and/or is projected to take place,” Sherman wrote. “This enables our suppliers to implement continuous improvement plans with farms that don’t comply with our policy.” McDonald’s is expanding this resource to other regions and has shared it with The Tropical Forest Alliance to encourage broader use, according to the company.  Elsewhere, Cargill is increasingly using a combination of GPS information and satellite imagery to pinpoint where forest degradation is taking place, specifically as part of its cocoa sourcing practices in the Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Bar-coding technology helps trace cocoa to individual farms.  “All of this tracking, mapping and ranking leads us to the most crucial step for making change: partnering with farmers and farmer organizations,” wrote Cargill’s vice president of global sustainability, Jill Kolling, in a GreenBiz article about the project . “The insights we collect can help Cargill determine precisely where to invest resources and how to tailor its farmer engagement initiatives to prevent new deforestation.” The integral role of Indigenous communities Indeed, the companies, NGOs and others contacted for this article echoed a similar conviction: That it will take active, authentic and at-the-ground-level engagement with the communities affected by deforestation — particularly Indigenous peoples — to deliver real progress in eliminating deforestation.  “We’ve seen a big movement in jurisdictional approaches, multi-stakeholder collaborations that include governments, NGOs and smallholder companies,” notes CDP’s Lam. She points to two programs that might serve as models for other initiatives. The first, the forest management program nurtured by paper company UPM, works with landowners to help diversify their revenue sources by co-locating activities such as cattle raising and agriculture alongside sustainable eucalyptus production. The partnerships currently cover more than 296,000 acres of lands — about 30 percent of the wood requirements for the UPM Fray Bentos pulp mill. UPM commits to timber purchases and helps with technical skills and seedlings.  I think the headline would be: Don’t work alone. Map your sourcing. You can’t do anything if you don’t know where to do it. The second, focused on the Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia , is coordinated by the Earthworm Foundation and funded by a who’s-who list of multinationals including The Clorox Company, Colgate-Palmolive, The Hershey Company, Nestlé, Mars and Reckitt Benckiser, among others. It relies on a satellite system to hone which local communities should be priorities for engagement. Within the communities, the focus is on helping local farmers and mill owners secure their economic livelihoods in harmony with conservation practices. “Engagement is very, very important and that is why these multi-stakeholder collaborations are important,” Lam says. A crucial voice in these initiatives should be Indigenous communities, according to the executives and researchers who contributed insights for this article. “You can’t go in with your idea of what sustainability is. … You can’t bring your own perceptions about what will work,” says RSPO’s Strechay.  In particular, businesses should be more diligent about integrating the concept of ” free and prior informed consent ” into their supply chain engagement practices, if they want to take meaningful action on fighting deforestation, notes Global Canopy’s Rogerson.  By considering these rights upfront, companies can surface potential development issues at a much earlier stage. This should be a priority for 2021, Rogerson says, but “far fewer companies have policies for this [than for deforestation], even though these issues are intertwined.” Sustainability teams that feel they are too far removed from those actors to make an impact should engage with organizations that do have those connections, says Kering’s Regent. “Rely on local NGOs, scientific communities,” he says. “They might challenge you, but that is part of the game. Otherwise, you may address the program from the wrong angle.” Rabinovitch of Mars notes that the most important thing a company can do is grasp the reality of the challenges it will face.  “By fully understanding the scale of your carbon footprint and the systemic issues in your value chains, you’ll be able to set science-based targets to guide strategies leading to transformational, not incremental change,” he said. “It certainly isn’t easy work, and you won’t be able to do it alone, so finding partners who share your values and can help you identify achievable goals means your business can make a measurable, meaningful difference.” Pull Quote We’re seeing the end of the commodity era, where materials are sourced from largely unknown origins and bought purely for price on a transactional basis. I think the headline would be: Don’t work alone. Map your sourcing. You can’t do anything if you don’t know where to do it. Topics Supply Chain Forestry Deforestation Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Fires in the Amazon, photographer from space. Close Authorship

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Fighting deforestation should be a top priority for 2021, and here’s how it can be

Why carbon tracking and reporting is necessary to hold corporations accountable

January 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Why carbon tracking and reporting is necessary to hold corporations accountable Daniel Goldman Thu, 01/07/2021 – 01:30 The world is changing, and it’s changing fast. More companies are committing to emissions reductions but still struggle to measure and verify the impact from corporate headquarters to global operations to supply chains. Now, new breakthrough climate accounting technologies are emerging as solutions to track and verify energy and carbon emissions, and report energy purchases and consumption. As more of these services hit the market, corporations making ambitious climate pledges will need to adopt energy and carbon tracking and reporting technologies. In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this year, Cornerstone Capital Group CEO Erika Karp said the biggest challenges of ESG investment are data and measurement. As more companies make “carbon net-zero” commitments, how will stakeholders — investors, employees, customers and regulators — hold these companies accountable? Everything hinges on measurement KPMG’s 2020 Study on Climate Accounting estimates that $90 trillion of investment is needed to finance sustainable infrastructure and cities in the U.S., and that after 2024, fines totaling as much as $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion will be paid to meet enforcement of climate standards for emissions reduction. In order to get to enforcement, we need a standardized methodology for measurement of carbon reductions and zero-emission energy that uses internet of things (IoT) sensing, blockchain and artificial intelligence to verifiably track and account for all emissions. It can be extremely complex to match up carbon emissions reductions purchased through carbon offsets, renewable energy certificates or direct purchases of zero-carbon energy under contract or on the spot market with your use of such energy. Courtesy of worldculturenetwork Let’s consider a relatively simple market, such as commercial real estate. To assess their carbon footprint, companies need to accurately monitor each building’s energy use, including both energy efficiency measures and onsite energy systems (cogeneration, solar and/or back-up power systems and fuels used), be able to measure and report where the energy is coming from to supply those buildings, and determine the carbon footprint of every kilowatt-hour or Btu of that energy. Evaluating energy use and the associated carbon impact needs to take place in real time, given that the mix of power generation on the grid changes frequently, and transmission and other constraints may limit the availability of renewable energy that a building is deemed to have purchased. Gathering data from different vendors — from energy use and embodied carbon — and using it to determine emission that fall under Scope 1 (under a company’s control), Scope 2 (indirect from energy purchases still under a company’s control) and Scope 3 (from activities not under the company’s control) has been challenging due to the lack of comprehensive standards for carbon accounting or a single set of guidelines on how to audit, verify and report.  What is available now? Most technologies on offer focus on energy and carbon and consider Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. A range of solutions that address the challenge are being offered by startups including ClearTrace, Flexidao, The Energy Origin and Allinfra. (My firm, Clean Energy Ventures, is an investor in ClearTrace.) Flexidao offers a blockchain platform to track renewable energy generation. The Energy Origin tracks renewable energy generation and end-use consumption using real-time sensors and a blockchain-based platform. Allinfra uses digital renewable energy certificates to record and track renewable energy production. ClearTrace has built an immutable ledger to measure energy supplies at their source, overlay it with “metadata” such as the grid emissions profile of the energy and carbon impact calculations, and use this information to generate a verifiable and auditable report for clients in real time. This provides a transparent and indisputable record — a digital climate asset — of customers such as JP Morgan Chase and Brookfield Renewable Partners’ energy use and carbon footprint.  This sector is growing rapidly with strong interest from energy generators and wholesalers including Brookfield, NRG Energy and NextEra Energy. Likewise, real-estate firms such as CBRE, Rudin and Hines, alongside industry organizations such as the Real Estate Board of New York, are pursuing carbon tracking measures driven primarily by legislation requiring massive reductions in energy use and related carbon emissions. To ensure the carbon offsets you are purchasing are not already being purchased by someone else, a frequent occurrence, a trustworthy end-to-end solution to provide all the data is needed. To ensure the carbon offsets you are purchasing are not already being purchased by someone else, a frequent occurrence, a trustworthy end-to-end solution to provide all the data is needed. It’s important to keep in mind that not all carbon offsets are created equal. Additionality, permanence or durability, buffers or insurance, and leakage define the ultimate quality (and price) of an offset. Stripe, the payment processing software company, recently announced its purchase of carbon offsets — which ranged in quality and in price from $75 to $775 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent, with some offsets being highly speculative technology development projects. For Stripe, JP Morgan Chase or Shell, carbon offsets will be essential to the market but should be considered a secondary action after energy efficiency solutions that are key elements in any carbon tracking platform. Roughly 23 percent of the companies in the Fortune Global 500 have made some form of commitment to reach carbon neutrality between now and 2050. While companies may need tracking and reporting software to measure their climate footprint and avoid heavy fines, stakeholders also need data to trust how Fortune 500 companies are reporting their carbon footprint. While Amazon, Microsoft and others are leading the way, I foresee more companies beginning to adopt these technologies and addressing carbon emissions in their business models. We will see strong growth in climate accounting-as-a-service technologies surge in what promises to be a billion-dollar data management opportunity in the next decade. Pull Quote To ensure the carbon offsets you are purchasing are not already being purchased by someone else, a frequent occurrence, a trustworthy end-to-end solution to provide all the data is needed. Topics Carbon Removal Reporting Accounting 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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Why carbon tracking and reporting is necessary to hold corporations accountable

Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/06/2021 – 00:30 One of the big things I’m thinking about to kick off 2021 is how electric vehicles will be entwined with a U.S. recovery. Even before Joe Biden has formalized any green stimulus plans, the EV industry in the U.S. is showing important indicators that it will see solid growth this year — and that means jobs. New industry jobs. Electric jobs. Climate jobs.  Recently I chatted with the CEO and founder of Lion Electric , an electric bus and truck maker based in Saint-Jerome, Quebec. Marc Bedard founded the company 12 years ago — after working at a diesel school bus company in the 1990’s — with the goals of eliminating diesel engines for school buses and diesel fumes from the air that school kids breathe.  Lion got its start making electric school buses and has delivered major orders to the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, and White Plains School District in White Plains, New York. More recently it unveiled an electric delivery truck and scored orders with Amazon and Canadian logistics provider CN.  While Lion Electric already has a factory in Montreal that can make 2,500 e-buses and trucks a year, the company tells GreenBiz it plans to expand into the U.S. by buying and converting an American factory that could be large enough to make 20,000 vehicles a year. Lion will unveil more details about where exactly that factory could be in the coming weeks, although vehicle production there probably won’t start for a couple of years. The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Lion isn’t the only EV truck maker eying expansion into the U.S. market. Arrival — a London-based EV truck maker with a 10,000-EV deal with UPS —  plans to invest $43 million into its first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The factory is expected to produce 240 jobs, with operations to start in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to Arrival and Lion, a handful of other independent U.S. EV makers have emerged in recent years to tap into the growing American electric truck market, including Lordstown Motors , Hyliion , XL Fleet , Rivian, Nikola and Lightning eMotors. All of these companies recently have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and gone public by merging with “blank check” companies, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also called SPACs).  Although the financial tool is a bit speculative in nature — the SPAC process is far quicker and less rigorous than going public via a traditional initial public offering — it turns out that SPACs, strangely enough, could help create thousands, if not tens of thousands, American EV industry jobs. Hopefully, most of those will end up being long-term, stable jobs.  And those are just the latest jobs from the newest players. Ford is developing an all-electric cargo van at a Kansas City plant that will create 150 jobs this year. That’s on top of the hundreds of other new EV jobs created by Ford’s new electric vehicle lines, the electric F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise, Daimler Trucks North America has been converting and expanding its factory to make electric trucks at its Swan Island headquarters in North Portland, Oregon. The new EV jobs couldn’t come at a better time. Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 saw historic American unemployment rates peaking in April and recovering to just 6.7 percent unemployment as of November. But with a slow vaccine rollout and surging infection rates, prolonged long-term high unemployment rates are expected. Clean energy jobs have been equally hit hard, with about a half-million clean energy workers left unemployed by the pandemic this year.  Despite not knowing what Biden’s green stimulus will look like, the administration already has signaled that the automakers could be a big part of a recovery. Biden selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his energy department secretary. Granholm worked closely with the Obama administration and the auto industry throughout the green stimulus program following the 2008 financial crisis.  The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. And these are just jobs from the vehicle manufacturers.  Equally strong job growth is expected for EV infrastructure providers riding the same electric wave and could get even more of a boost from a green infrastructure stimulus. A federal government stimulus also could inject funding and jobs into a growing domestic EV battery production sector.  In what is expected to be another dark couple of quarters for employment in 2021, look to EV jobs to offer a bright spot.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Pull Quote The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Jobs & Careers Electric Vehicles Electric Bus Electric School Buses Electric Trucks 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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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021

January 4, 2021 by  
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Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021 Mike De Socio Mon, 01/04/2021 – 02:00 Last year, a number of automakers announced or advanced ambitious plans to electrify heavy-duty big rigs, semi-trucks, box trucks, delivery vans and more. That article was one of GreenBiz’s most popular stories throughout the year. And the demand and interest in this technology is only growing stronger. Given that trucks consume the vast majority of energy compared to other modes of freight transportation, electrification in this area has huge potential to decrease the carbon impact of fleets. These new vehicles are quickly bumping up against familiar challenges of battery range, production capacity and charging, or fueling, infrastructure. That’s one reason a group of fleet leaders who spoke at the GreenBiz VERGE 20 conference late last year said they’re integrating renewable natural gas and other efficiency improvements alongside a long-term push to electrify. The transition is also proving to require a team effort that goes far beyond the vehicle manufacturers — and involving governments, utilities and a new ecosystem of technicians to go along with it. Nonetheless, the transition accelerated in 2020 as more mammoth automakers pushed electric trucking fleets closer to reality. Here’s a look at what nine big-name players accomplished over the past 12 months, and what to keep an eye on in 2021. Arrival Arrival, a five-year-old London-based startup, is establishing a presence in the U.S. and attracting major investments for its electric buses and vans still in development. The company closed out 2020 by investing $3 million and hiring 150 employees for its North American headquarters in Charlotte , North Carolina. But the bigger news for Arrival came earlier in the year, when UPS announced an order of 10,000 purpose-built electric vans, to be delivered through 2024. The deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Arrival. The upstart is hoping to distinguish itself in the electric vehicle market in two major ways. First, and perhaps most crucially, it plans to price its vehicles at the same or lower prices as comparable fossil-fuel vehicles. This will be achieved partially by using a patented, composite material the company has developed. Second, Arrival is building its vehicles in a network of “microfactories,” the first of which is in South Carolina . The smaller factories use a new type of assembly process and could allow the company to more easily customize vehicles for different customers . Each microfactory will be able to produce 10,000 vans or 1,000 buses per year, Arrival President Avinash Rugoobur told the Observer. Arrival still has yet to specify the range specifications for its vans, but it’s expected to be at least 100 miles . The composite material promises to make the vans lightweight and resistant to damage, another potential edge for Arrival over other van designs emerging in the market. The vans are expected to start rolling out for delivery in 2022. BYD delivered its 100th battery-electric truck in the U.S in early 2020. Photo courtesy of BYD BYD BYD is well-known for its electric buses, which continue to sell to fleets around the country. But the company’s trucking division is ramping up production of medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks, too. BYD is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, and its models include a Class 8 Day Cab, a Class 6 truck, a terminal tractor and two models of all-electric refuse trucks . BYD delivered its 100th battery-electric truck in the U.S in early 2020, a Class 8 model for Anheuser-Busch’s distribution operations in Oakland, California. It’s a relationship that’s likely to continue as Anheuser-Busch has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent across its entire value chain by 2025. BYD’s Class 8 has a range of 125 miles and a top speed of 65 miles per hour. It can recharge in as little as two hours with a high-speed direct current system or in about 14 hours with a standard 240-volt charging system. Global shipping provider DHL also began piloting BYD’s Class 8 trucks in November, adding four vehicles to its fleet in Los Angeles. That easily could grow as DHL works to meet a goal of net-zero logistics-related emissions by 2050. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand unveiled a new electric model in 2020, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul. Photo courtesy of Daimler Daimler Trucks Daimler, the largest truck maker in the world, is seeing significant progress on its Freightliner eCascadia, an electric big rig that promises a 250-mile range. The German automaker recently delivered a Freightliner eCascadia to Southern California Edison (SCE) for a three-month trial of the battery-electric Class 8 truck. The power utility company will use the eCascadia to transport heavy equipment from its warehouse to service centers. It fits in with SCE’s goal to electrify 30 percent of its medium-duty vehicles and pickup trucks and 8 percent of its heavy-duty trucks by 2030. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand also unveiled a new electric model this year, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul. It builds on the company’s existing short-range eActros truck that is already being tested by customers. The eActros LongHaul promises a 310-mile range, and Daimler predicts it will be ready for production by 2024 . Alongside the eActros LongHaul, Daimler also announced an electric-fuel cell truck called the Mercedes-Benz GenH2, which it says could drive more than 600 miles before refueling is needed. Daimler expects to start piloting the truck in 2023 and making it commercially available by 2025. Ford is promising that the E-Transit van will be available starting in late 2021. Photo courtesy of Ford Ford American auto giant Ford jumped into a new sector of the electric vehicle market in 2020 with plans to develop an all-electric version of its popular Transit cargo van. Ford is promising that the E-Transit van will be available starting in late 2021. The vehicle is expected to cost “less than $45,000” and will have a range of 126 miles. Ford sells 150,000 of its traditional E-Transit vans each year. Research from the company’s internal data says the average Transit user drives 74 miles per day, well within the projected range of the electric version of the vehicle. Ford’s ambitious production timeline is backed by a $100 million investment to retrofit a Kansas City plant that is already making the diesel-powered Transit. Ford says production of the E-Transit also will create 150 jobs. Across the company, Ford’s investment in electrifying vehicles through 2022 totals $11.5 billion. New models include the Mustang Mach-E and an electric version of its Ford F-150, America’s most popular pickup truck. NIkola Motors went public in June . Photo courtesy of Nikola Nikola Motors Phoenix-based startup Nikola Motors made a big step toward rolling out its electric semi-trucks this year. The company announced over the summer plans for a $600 million factory in Arizona, where it wants to begin making fully electric trucks in 2021 and hydrogen fuel-cell models by 2023. The plans came shortly after the company went public in June , marking a year of significant growth for the lesser-known auto company named after Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor who created electric motors. The company’s models include two semi-trucks available with either fully electric or hydrogen fuel-cell electric capabilities, and anticipated ranges between 500 and 700 miles. The Nikola Two is intended for North America, and the Nikola Tre is available in Europe, Asia and Australia. Creating the infrastructure to refuel tens of thousands of hydrogen-powered big rigs that Nikola plans to put on the road will require a huge investment. The company plans to build a nationwide network of 700 hydrogen stations in the U.S. by 2028, potentially with help from BP . (To put that into perspective, there are about 400 hydrogen fueling stations worldwide .) The company plans to power each refueling station with renewable sources such as wind and solar. It will take between 10 and 15 minutes to refill one of its semi-trucks. The interior of an Amazon Rivian van. Photo courtesy of Amazon Rivian Rivian spent much of 2020 racing to fill what is by any measure a huge order: 100,000 all-electric delivery vans designed for e-commerce giant Amazon. The company is building out a factory line for the vans in its Normal, Illinois, facility. A prototype is already being tested, and Rivian expects to deliver the first vans to Amazon during the second half of 2021, according to a company spokesperson. Rivian’s agreement with Amazon promises 10,000 vans by the end of 2022 and 100,000 by 2030. The vans will be built in three sizes and are part of Amazon’s strategy to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Ross Rachey, director of global fleet and product logistics for Amazon, spoke with GreenBiz Senior Writer Katie Fehrenbacher during a session at VERGE 20 . He said that in addition to the tall order Amazon gave to Rivian, another steep challenge will be the infrastructure needed to support the fleet. “The reality is that charging infrastructure, electricity and utility connections — it’s the longest lead, probably the most challenging part of this equation,” Rachey told GreenBiz. Tesla’s electric semi-truck isn’t fully commercial, but it’s changing the dialogue about electric fleets. Photo courtesy of Tesla Tesla Tesla has been teasing its entrance into the heavy-duty transportation sector for years, ever since it unveiled plans for the Tesla Semi in 2017. But production timelines have been pushed back over and over again, with the company now projecting a 2021 start date . Tesla nonetheless continues to receive large orders for the long-promised Tesla Semi electric Class-8 truck, including Walmart’s 130-truck reservation in September . Other big-name companies such as Anheuser-Busch, FedEx, PepsiCo and UPS also have expressed interest but have yet to put down the $20,000-per-truck reservation fees. The Tesla Semis will come in two models : one with a 300-mile range and one with a 500-mile range. According to the company, the expected base prices for those trucks are $150,000 and $180,000, respectively. (A typical Class 8 diesel day-cab starts at roughly $120,000.) Tesla says the Semi will accelerate from 0 mph to 60 mph in 20 seconds while carrying a full load (roughly 40 tons); it will be able to maintain that speed while traveling up a 5 percent grade, according to the company. As the delays in Tesla Semi production have piled up, some analysts believe the big rig has become a “distraction” and fundamentally different business from Tesla’s electric passenger vehicles. The VNR Electric has a 150-mile range, with speeds up to 65 mph on the highway. Photo courtesy of Volvo Volvo Volvo Trucks brought its zero-emission truck, the VNR Electric, to market just as 2020 came to a close . The VNR Electric has a 150-mile range, with speeds up to 65 mph on the highway. An 80 percent charge for the vehicle takes 70 minutes, Volvo says. The truck comes in three models: A straight truck; a 4×2 tractor; and a 6×2 tractor. Volvo invested $400 million into its New River Valley, Virginia, factory to assemble the trucks, which first rolled out in Southern California in 2019. VNR Electric comes out of Volvo’s broader Low-Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS), itself part of California Climate Investments. The statewide program puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Volvo company statement. Volvo has said it will offer the trucks for lease or sale, and also will lease and finance charging infrastructure to go along with them. Volvo Trucks is also in the early stages of introducing a hydrogen fuel-cell truck in a partnership with Daimler . Volvo Trucks CEO Martin Lundstedt said the COVID-19 crisis was a motivating factor for the company to increase its focus in this area, according to Forbes . Workhorse made headlines in July 2020 when it announced that Ryder System would be offering the C-Series vans through its leasing and rental programs. Photo courtesy of Workhorse Workhorse An electric truck startup out of Cincinnati, Workhorse is making progress on its C-Series all-electric delivery van, with big orders arriving in 2020. The company received a purchase order for 500 of its all-electric C-1000 delivery vehicles from Pritchard Companies in November. Pritchard is one of the nation’s largest commercial vehicle distributors, selling over 30,000 vehicles each year. Workhorse also made headlines in July when it announced that Ryder System would offer the C-Series vans through its leasing and rental programs. The C-1000 Workhorse electric van includes 1,000 cubic feet of cargo space , with about 100 miles of range. The vehicle can reach top speeds of 75 mph. As Workhorse heads into 2021 with a big stack of orders, it remains to be seen whether it can deliver on production. Automotive World reported in November that the company’s factory was struggling with short staffing amid a resurgent COVID-19 outbreak in Ohio. Workhorse’s fate also depends on whether it lands a piece of a $6.3 billion United States Postal Service contract to produce 186,000 mail trucks in the coming years. Workhorse’s stock fell 21 percent on the USPS announcement that it would not choose a contractor as originally planned near the end of 2020. A decision is expected in the second quarter of 2021. Four teams are competing for the USPS contract: India’s Mahindra Automotive North America; Turkey’s Karsan/Michigan’s Morgan Olson; American companies Oshkosh/Ford; and Workhorse. Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Clean Fleets Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Arrival scored a big deal with UPS early in 2020. Photo courtesy of Arrival

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Keep your eyes on these 9 electric truck and van companies in 2021

D prefab glass cabin immerses you in nature while you work

December 28, 2020 by  
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In a world where remote work is becoming the norm, modular design studio ÖÖD is offering a sustainable solution to those who want to feel surrounded by nature without the distractions of a traditional home office. The company’s prefab glass cabins blend into their surroundings with mirrored walls and cost about $22,000. At the forefront of the design is, obviously, the glass , which is separated into modules to allow for easy transportation and installation in virtually any setting. The glass portions are attached to a smaller bench and facade made of timber so users have a dedicated space to be outside and smell the fresh air. The minimalist office provides 113 square feet of space to mitigate distractions while also allowing enough space for essentials like desks and storage. It’s essentially a blank canvas, so in the event that a home office is no longer needed, it can be easily repurposed as a guest room or a studio. Related: This serene family home is connected by glass hallways The company recommends a natural setting for the office so that the environment may be reflected and the office can blend into its surroundings with ease. It can just as easily be installed in a more urban area; because the mirrored walls are designed to reflect, the structure will take on the appearance of its surroundings. Perhaps the best part, the glass allows for whoever is inside to see out while keeping their privacy with the glass mirrors on the exterior. As reported by Dwell, the glass reflects 97% of direct sunlight so the natural light won’t produce a glare on computer screens, even if a desk is placed directly against the glass. The standard office cost of $22,114 doesn’t include transport costs, though the company is planning on offering it through Amazon in the future. ÖÖD has the ability to transport the office to the buyer’s preferred location in completed form, installing only the glass modules on the spot, or building the house completely onsite in the event that there is no access in the location for transportation. + ÖÖD House Via Dwell Images via ÖÖD House

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D prefab glass cabin immerses you in nature while you work

2020 was the year that…

December 28, 2020 by  
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2020 was the year that… Joel Makower Mon, 12/28/2020 – 02:11 It was a very long year. True, just 366 days (it was a leap year, after all), each one, I’m told, containing only the standard 24 hours. But it was much, much longer than that. Remember 2019? Neither do I. To recall some of the key developments, as I have done each December for more than a decade, I’ve plumbed the nearly 1,300 stories, columns and analyses we’ve published on GreenBiz.com since the dawn of 2020 — a.k.a. the beforetime — accentuating the positive, seeking signs of progress and hope. We need such reminders to get us through these challenging times. Here, in no particular order, are five storylines that I found encouraging during the 12 months just ending. And, perhaps, to set us on a more bullish course for 2021. Here, in no particular order, are five storylines that I found encouraging during the 12 months just ending. (All links are to stories published on GreenBiz.com during 2020.) What would you add to the list? 1. Companies accelerated the route to sustainable mobility The rise of electric vehicles has been a perennial story for nearly a decade, but 2020 saw the pace of change accelerate. Indeed, in January, my colleague Katie Fehrenbacher predicted that 2020 would be a key year for EVs. She was right. Both the private and public sectors delivered big wins for the electrification of transportation. California’s governor signed a history-making executive order , banning sales of new gas-powered cars within 15 years. Britain upped the ante , with a similar ban but within a decade, helped by McDonald’s plan to install EV chargers at its UK drive-thru restaurants. On the supply side, General Motors and Volkswagen planned major EV rollouts. Ultimately, how fast these markets rev up depends on demand from fleet buyers. Amazon continued its aggressive EV buying plans , as did both Walmart and IKEA . One reason for all this: Batteries continue their journey down the price-experience curve, where increased demand lowers prices, further pumping up demand. New technologies are helping, many still in early stages . Some are specifically geared toward truck and bus fleets , an indication that the markets for medium- and heavy-duty EVs are about to kick into high gear . 2. Sustainable fashion became material Fashion is another long-simmering environmental story that has finally reached a boiling point. The issues are many, from the resources needed to grow cotton or produce synthetic fabrics, usually from petroleum feedstocks, to the waste that ends up in landfills, especially for inexpensive and trendy clothing items that often have a short useful life. In 2020, several new developments help put sustainability in fashion. For example, the nonprofit Textile Exchange  launched a Material Change Index , enabling manufacturers to integrate a preferred fiber and materials strategy into their products. It also  launched a Corporate Fiber and Materials Benchmark to help the fashion and textile industry take action on biodiversity. Circular models made the rounds, starting with the design department, where a lot of negative environmental and social impacts are baked into garments, usually unwittingly. Adidas and H&M Group  teamed up for a project to recycle old garments and fibers into new items for major brands. German sportswear company adidas committed to using only recycled polyester across its supply chain by 2024. Markets for secondhand clothing racked up sales, including recommerce , where companies sell their own reclaimed and refurbished goods back to customers. In the wings:  startups touting a new generation of textiles, production methods and business models, suggesting there are a lot more innovations in store. 3. Forestry took root on the balance sheet Saving and planting trees has been a cornerstone of environmental action pretty much since Day One. (Hence, the often-epithetic moniker “treehugger.”) And pressing companies to eliminate deforestation in their supply chains has long been an activist focus. Now, companies themselves are seeing the business benefits of proactive forestry policies. First, there’s risk mitigation — ensuring “a company’s ability to sell products into a global supply chain,” as a BlackRock executive put it . It’s not just the climate impacts of concern to investors. Deforestation and human rights abuses often go hand-in-hand — “there’s almost a direct correlation,” said another investor — an additional layer of risk for companies from neglecting forests and those who live and work there. And then there’s the opportunity for companies to offset their emissions, since trees are a natural climate solution that can help draw down greenhouse gases, especially firms adopting net-zero commitments (see below). Microsoft , JetBlue and Royal Dutch Shell are among those seeking to offset a portion of their carbon footprint by investing in forest protection and reforestation. Finally, there are the innovators — entrepreneurs who see gold in all that green. Silicon Valley venture capitalists are beginning to branch out into forestry-related startups — companies such as SilviaTerra and Pachama that provide enabling technologies to facilitate forestry projects. These entrepreneurs likely saw opportunity in the Trillion Trees initiative launched in early 2020. Of course, success requires stopping deforestation in the first place, especially in tropical rainforests. And that remains a problem. Half of the companies most reliant on key commodities that have a negative impact on forests — palm oil, soy, beef, leather, timber, and pulp and paper — don’t have a publicly stated policy on deforestation, according to one report . Still, some firms are making progress. Mars, for example, announced that its palm oil — used in food and pet care products — is now deforestation-free after shrinking the number of mills it works with from 1,500 to a few hundred, a clear-cut sign that progress is possible. 4. Food equity showed up on the menu For all the talk about Big Ag and Big Food, there’s a growing recognition of the smaller players in the food chain, from farmers and producers to those who prepare and serve meals. And, of course, the 821 million or so humans who face food insecurity, according to the United Nations. And that stat was from 2018, long before this year’s pandemic and global recession created millions more hungry bellies. With restaurants closed and other foodservice operations curtailed, one lingering question is what the world’s largest food companies are doing to help their suppliers and other partners. “Retailers and brands are recognizing that if they don’t step in to help their producers and distributors, the links holding together those supply chains may crack in ways that aren’t easily repaired,” my colleague Elsa Wenzel reported back in June. Collecting uneaten food or unsellable produce for distribution to those in need is one activity that accelerated during the pandemic . A newish concept, “upcycled food” — goods that “use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment” — is being promoted by a nonprofit consortium called the Upcycled Food Association. Increased concern for farmers is also on the menu. Fair Trade certified crops continue to rise , ensuring a living wage for many smallholder farmers, and there’s growing interest in supporting Indigenous farmers , who have long practiced regenerative techniques. The Regenerative Organic Alliance developed a standard to support farmers who promote soil health. All this will require making capital and assistance available to growers around the world, including the data and analytics that increasingly are core to 21st-century farming. And to do this quickly, before the ravages of a changing climate create further hardships for both food producers and consumers around the world. 5. Net-zero commitments found infinite potential And finally, zero — perhaps a fitting coda to a year that boasts two of them in its name. What began just a couple years ago blossomed into a full-on movement as the number of net-zero commitments doubled in less than a year . The list of companies making such commitments cut across sectors and international borders, among them BP , Delta , Facebook , HSBC , Nestlé , Walmart , even Rolls Royce . Verizon, Indian IT services giant Infosys and British consumer goods brand Reckitt Benckiser became the first global companies to join Amazon’s Climate Pledge initiative , committing to reach “carbon neutrality” by 2040. Some went further. Microsoft said it would become “carbon negative” within a decade , with a stretch goal to remove all the carbon it has emitted since it was founded in 1975. The travel-intensive strategy firm BCG said it aspires to be “climate positive” by removing more carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere than it emits. But getting to zero — or neutral or positive or some other goal — is not without controversy. As one report noted , net-zero commitments vary widely in terms of their metrics and transparency, among other things. That is, no single standard governs the way net-zero is defined or measured, or how it should be communicated. As such, net-zero could soon be in the crosshairs of activists eager to point out corporate greenwash. Help could be on the way. In September, the Science Based Targets initiative unveiled plans to develop a global standard for corporate net-zero goals, including the role of carbon offsets, a practice whose massive expansion is itself problematic and controversial . How it gets resolved will be an enduring storyline for 2021 and beyond. There’s more Those were hardly the only 2020 storylines of note. There was a significant uptick of Wall Street interest in  environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting … a surge of attention by companies to  environmental justice … the continued rise and empowerment of  corporate sustainability professionals . Oh, and the advent of a new U.S. presidential administration that  promises to reengage with business and the global community on addressing the climate crisis. That is to say, 2020 wasn’t all about the pandemic, recession and you-know-who. If that’s not enough, here — in alphabetical order by company — are a baker’s dozen other hopeful headlines from the past 12 months: How Apple aims to lead on environment and equity Bank of America CEO: Each public company needs to reach carbon zero BP announces net-zero by 2050 ambition Delta lifts off with $1 billion pledge to become carbon neutral Inside Eastman’s moonshot goal for endlessly circular plastics General Mills, Danone dig deeper into regenerative agriculture with incentives, funding HSBC invests in world’s first ‘reef credit’ system IKEA will buy back used furniture in stand against ‘excessive consumption’ Microsoft is building a ‘Planetary Computer’ to protect biodiversity Morgan Stanley will measure CO2 impact of loans and investments How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion Walmart drives toward zero-emission goal for its entire fleet by 2040 I invite you to  follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter,  GreenBuzz , and listen to  GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote Here, in no particular order, are five storylines that I found encouraging during the 12 months just ending. Topics Leadership Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Group

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2020 was the year that…

These were 10 key sustainable transport trends of 2020

December 16, 2020 by  
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These were 10 key sustainable transport trends of 2020 Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 12/16/2020 – 01:00 Have you ever been more ready for a year to be over? In a little over two weeks, this dumpster fire of a year will be relegated to history. And while the world will be dealing with COVID-19 for many more months into 2021, something just feels so good about leaving 2020 behind.  Many books will be written about 2020 as a turning point in — you name it: American power. China relations. Democracy. In my corner of the universe, I think 2020 was a pivotal year for organizations, policymakers and the financial community to start to take sustainable and electric transportation more seriously as an emerging and powerful market — and as a key piece to tackle climate change. Here are my picks for the 10 most important sustainable transportation trends of 2020: 1. Gas car bans make it big: While some cities around the world have been adopting gasoline-powered car bans and phaseouts for a couple of years, California was the first U.S. state to adopt such an important, and jarring, measure. Just three months ago , California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to halt the sales of new gas cars within just 15 years. Newsom signed the order as a direct response to California’s historic and tragic wildfire season and as an effort to try to ratchet up his administration’s levers to decarbonize transportation in the battle against climate change. 2. Amazon remakes e-logistics: More than any other company, Amazon has been changing how the electric truck market operates. For years, slow-moving OEMs have failed to make the kinds (and volumes) of electric trucks that commercial businesses need to move goods and people. Amazon’s answer to this problem was to partner at the ground level with startup Rivian and to place an order that turns heads: 100,000 EVs. Amazon Director of Global Fleet Ross Rachey told us at VERGE 20 : “We realized we needed to take an active role in accelerating the products and the technology.” Now Amazon is working on deploying its first Rivian electric trucks by the end of 2021. 3. Ride-hailing looks to electrify: Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft made big pledges this year to move to all-electric vehicles. Lyft took the plunge first, announcing it would move to all EVs for both its owned vehicles and driver-owned vehicles by 2030. Uber followed that up with its own plans to move all its vehicles to electric in the U.S., Canada and Europe by 2030 and the rest of the world by 2040. The moves show the policy pressures on these companies from cities and states to clean up their emissions, as well as the changing economics that EVs can be cheaper to operate by eliminating gasoline.  4. Fleets decarbonize with low carbon and electric: Fleet managers of public and commercial vehicle fleets are buying new electric trucks and buses and switching out diesel fleets with low-carbon fuels such as renewable diesel. These organizations are being pushed by a combination of regulations, sustainability goals and customers. While the electric truck and bus markets are young, they’re becoming increasingly competitive for certain types of vehicles running certain routes, such as last-mile delivery.  5. Tesla and Elon defy gravity: While many car companies faltered in the wake of the pandemic, Tesla continued to soar and soar. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is the second richest man in the world based on his Tesla shares, and the company plans to join the S&P on Dec. 18. The Silicon Valley-born electric car company has remade the auto industry, pushing the big car companies to chase its success into EVs, copy its online sales and promotions and mimic its over-the-air software systems.  6. Slow streets show what’s possible: 2020 saw the emergence of the slow-streets trend, where U.S. cities including Oakland, California, and Seattle blocked off miles of neighborhood streets to through traffic in a response to shelter-in-place measures. The slowed streets opened up possibilities for bikes, pedestrians and micromobility devices to move more safely, and reduced vehicles and air pollution in neighborhoods. The movement also gave city planners new tools to engage with residents and showed how cities can remake public spaces away from cars and towards humans.  7. The transport SPACs: An unusual financial tool — the Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC — emerged as the go-to choice for electric and autonomous transport companies to raise money and go public this year. It works like a reverse merger, where the company merges with a newly created entity and lists on an exchange, raising funds in the process. Why did these emerge this year? Going public via an IPO can take years, but opting for a SPAC can take mere months. Some new transport SPACs are speculative and pre-commercial, but many are legitimate companies with years of revenue and even profits. 8. Climate tech heats up: Venture capitalists and investors are increasingly interested in funding what the cool kids call “climate tech” today, and what we called cleantech in the mid-aughts. The new interest is coming from investors across the board, including old-school firms, brand-new climate funds and corporate arms ( a great resource here ). Entrepreneurs see growing markets, opportunities to work on world-changing solutions and more partners to buy energy, transport and carbontech. Is climate tech becoming so hot that there will be a bubble and bust? Probably. That’s the way Silicon Valley works.  9. Biden puts an end to the Trump darkness: While not strictly a transport story, the U.S. election of Joe Biden could be a major kickstart for the domestic electric vehicle and zero-emission vehicle industries. The president-elect could oversee the deployment of a massive ZEV infrastructure buildout and could quickly reverse the weakening of the auto emissions standards. His administration also will bring in new leadership that will prioritize decarbonizing transport and hopefully will set the bar even higher with new ZEV regulations.  10. Public transit moves into a crisis: mThe most disturbing transport story of 2020 is the crisis facing public transportation with the drop in ridership over safety concerns and COVID. Transit agencies across the U.S. are pleading with the federal government for help covering budget shortfalls, but even if tens of billions of dollars of help is approved, it likely won’t be enough. Many transit agencies will have to cut back on service, reduce staff and undermine the most climate-friendly source of transportation out there.  Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets Public Transit Electric Vehicles Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Rivian made headlines in September 2019 when Amazon (one of its investors) announced its plans to purchase 100,000 of the automotive startup’s all-electric delivery trucks.

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These were 10 key sustainable transport trends of 2020

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