Climate crisis could turn the Amazon rainforest to savanna

October 6, 2020 by  
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A new study published in the journal Nature Communications indicates that the Amazon rainforest could shift from a closed canopy rainforest to an open savanna due to the climate crisis. The study shows that the rate of deforestation coupled with forest fires sparked by climate change could significantly change the status of the rainforest in the future. According to the researchers, rainforests are very sensitive to changes in rainfall. If they experience prolonged droughts and fires like the ones recently witnessed in the Amazon , they may lose more trees and become more like a savanna. Although scientists have always known that this was possible, it was thought that such changes were decades away. The new study, led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, now indicates that the changes are much closer than initially anticipated. Related: You can help monitor Amazon deforestation from your couch Almost 40% of the Amazon is already receiving less rainfall than usual and is at the point where it could exist as a savanna instead of a rainforest . While the researchers say that the process of fully changing the forest to savanna would take decades, they also say that once the process starts, it is nearly irreversible. “Drier conditions make it harder for the forest to recover and increase the flammability of the ecosystem,” Arie Staal, lead author of the study, told The Guardian . If the Amazon rainforest changes to a savanna, there would be dangerous consequences. Rainforests are important because they support a huge number of species and absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If the rainforest changes, much of the plant and animal species here could be lost. The problems experienced by rainforests like the Amazon are exacerbated by harmful policies. For instance, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has made promises to develop the Amazon , a move that has been criticized by many. This year, the Amazon has experienced a 60% increase in fire hotspots compared to 2019. The study now warns that if such fires continue, the rainforest could be permanently altered. + Nature Communications Via The Guardian Image via Jose Eduardo Camargo

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Climate crisis could turn the Amazon rainforest to savanna

You can help monitor Amazon deforestation from your couch

October 2, 2020 by  
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While many people around the world worry about deforestation in the Amazon rainforest , to most of us, it’s still remote. Most people have never visited the Amazon, and many have no idea what they can do about deforestation. But a new online tracking system relies on citizen scientists to help monitor the Amazon via satellite. “You don’t have to be a climate scientist, you don’t have to be a data scientist, you just have to be a citizen that is concerned about the issue of deforestation,” said Elliot Inman, a researcher at systems analysis company SAS, as reported in Huffington Post . SAS worked with Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis to create an app that depends on humans to look at images and help train artificial intelligence to spot deforestation. Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife World Resources Institute oversees the resulting Global Forest Watch tracking system. First, a computer algorithm scans incoming images. When it identifies a place where trees have recently disappeared, it flags that image. Human eyes are needed to help discern what might have caused those missing trees. Volunteers scan the images for signs of human impact, such as roads, farm plots or tree lines that are suspiciously straight. This human input helps train the artificial intelligence , so that eventually the system will be able to digest images more quickly on its own. The system relies on consensus from multiple users. Sometimes it’s tricky to determine whether a brown patch on an image is due to humans burning trees to clear land for agriculture versus a natural forest fire . With a bit of training, citizen scientists are better able to notice small things that the computer might miss, such as a thin line that indicates a primitive road leading to the burned clearing. Data gathered by the system will help conservation organizations and governments identify when they should intervene to protect ecosystems. In the future, Global Forest Watch may even help predict where deforestation will happen next. All you need to help is an internet connection and a little bit of free time. + Global Forest Watch Via Huffington Post Image via Sentinel Hub

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You can help monitor Amazon deforestation from your couch

A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

October 2, 2020 by  
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Refined, elemental and minimal: these words were the inspiration behind a recently completed net-zero home in West Seattle. Built to endure the test of time and incorporate elegance with an unobtrusive aesthetic and restrained size, the home takes inspiration from the Japanese concept of Shibui. Uncomplicated and honest, the concept of Shibui in design favors simple, subtle beauty. The architectural team followed the client’s suggestion to utilize the technique by creating a minimal -yet-elegant home with few superfluous touches. Though the design is uncomplicated, leading to a sense of peace while inside, it is not lacking in convenience. Despite being on the smaller side when compared to similar luxury homes, the 1,153-square-foot house still has an open-plan kitchen, a living and dining area, a den to be used as an office or guest room, two bathrooms and a garage with electric vehicle charging capability, bike storage and a trash room. Related: Twin timber buildings draw inspiration from traditional Japanese shrines The home also maintains a small carbon footprint with energy-efficient features like Passive House-certified windows for high thermal performance, LED fixtures and WaterSense-certified fixtures. To put more value on privacy, the home is set farther back from the street to create a sense of distance from the public. Setting the house back also gained the additional bonus of preserving an existing cherry tree onsite. There is a non-infiltrating bio-retention tank to collect rain and stormwater, filtering the collected water before applying it to landscaping inside the raised yard. The location of interior spaces, also guided by privacy and control, features diagonal views and sliding doors that block neighbor views. A large roof accommodates a substantial solar panel system and guards the home against the elements. On the upper level, the home opens fully to the west deck through patio sliders while roof overhangs provide protection for occupants. + SHED Architecture and Design Photography by Rafael Soldi via SHED Architecture and Design

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A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

Episode 239: Wildfires and resilience, California’s car ban

October 2, 2020 by  
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Episode 239: Wildfires and resilience, California’s car ban Heather Clancy Fri, 10/02/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (5:15). 5 things to know about California’s gas car sales ban Cities should track emissions from the goods they import Missing ingredients: How to accelerate the meat alternatives revolution Features Riffing on transportation trends (11:30)   What’s the buzz in the work of fleet management? HIghlights from last week’s transportation and mobility track at Climate Week, selected by GreenBiz analyst Katie Fehrenbacher, with insights from IKEA CSO Pia Heidenmark Cook and BT Group Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer Andy Wales.  The new world of wildfire management (17:15) In September, the Almeda Fire ripped through the Rogue Valley in Oregon, decimating two towns: Talent and Phoenix. This was not an ordinary wildfire, nor could it have been prevented by traditional forestry management. GreenBiz analyst Sarah Golden speaks with state senator Jeff Golden (her father) about the climate change influence and what’s next for improving resilience.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “More on That Later,” “Night Caves,” “I’m Going for a Coffee” and “Here’s the Thing” *This episode was sponsored by Amazon and MCE Resources galore Partnerships for packaging . How working together advances low-cost, circular solutions. Register for the webcast at 1 p.m. Oct. 6.  Innovation in textiles. The global fashion industry is looking toward innovative materials and strategies. Learn more about what’s possible in this interactive discussion at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 13. Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Katie Fehrenbacher Sarah Golden Topics Energy & Climate Podcast Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Zero Emissions Resilience Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 31:23 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 239: Wildfires and resilience, California’s car ban

Episode 239: Wildfires and resilience, California’s car ban

October 2, 2020 by  
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Episode 239: Wildfires and resilience, California’s car ban Heather Clancy Fri, 10/02/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (5:15). 5 things to know about California’s gas car sales ban Cities should track emissions from the goods they import Missing ingredients: How to accelerate the meat alternatives revolution Features Riffing on transportation trends (11:30)   What’s the buzz in the work of fleet management? HIghlights from last week’s transportation and mobility track at Climate Week, selected by GreenBiz analyst Katie Fehrenbacher, with insights from IKEA CSO Pia Heidenmark Cook and BT Group Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer Andy Wales.  The new world of wildfire management (17:15) In September, the Almeda Fire ripped through the Rogue Valley in Oregon, decimating two towns: Talent and Phoenix. This was not an ordinary wildfire, nor could it have been prevented by traditional forestry management. GreenBiz analyst Sarah Golden speaks with state senator Jeff Golden (her father) about the climate change influence and what’s next for improving resilience.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “More on That Later,” “Night Caves,” “I’m Going for a Coffee” and “Here’s the Thing” *This episode was sponsored by Amazon and MCE Resources galore Partnerships for packaging . How working together advances low-cost, circular solutions. Register for the webcast at 1 p.m. Oct. 6.  Innovation in textiles. The global fashion industry is looking toward innovative materials and strategies. Learn more about what’s possible in this interactive discussion at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 13. Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Katie Fehrenbacher Sarah Golden Topics Energy & Climate Podcast Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Zero Emissions Resilience Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 31:23 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 239: Wildfires and resilience, California’s car ban

The climate crisis needs climate leadership from businesses now

September 29, 2020 by  
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The climate crisis needs climate leadership from businesses now Maria Mendiluce Tue, 09/29/2020 – 01:00 As the world grapples with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial inequality and more, the impacts of climate change cannot be ignored. Most weeks bring fresh headlines of wildfires, droughts and rapidly melting ice caps. They’re a reminder that climate action cannot wait for calmer times.  Encouragingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has not diminished the recognized need for bold climate action and actually has strengthened resolve among citizens, companies, governments and investors to drive real progress. Consequently the need to develop a robust leadership position on climate action is more urgent than ever and central to any company’s strategic vision.  Companies can harness this moment to join the race to zero and set a course out of the crisis though climate leadership. For a business to be considered a leader on climate it must respond to the climate crisis with ambition, deliver on that ambition with action and speak up to secure wider change through advocacy. This means aligning corporate ambition with the best available climate science, setting a target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, at the latest, and setting strong interim targets to get there through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Companies then need to identify and implement action to deliver on their ambition, including engaging with supply chains. The small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that make up the supply chains of many of the world’s largest companies can access help in setting and achieving climate targets through the new SME Climate Hub . Companies also need to be transparent about progress toward their goals through disclosure and reporting. Beyond that, companies need to advocate for climate action at all levels of government, to industry peers and trade groups, ensuring alignment with lobbying practices and net-zero targets. Companies are stepping up The good news is many of the world’s largest companies are already stepping up their ambition. Just this month, companies including PayPal, Walmart, Ford and Facebook have increased their level of climate commitment, announcing bold strategies to accelerate the zero-carbon transition. To date, nearly 300 companies have joined the Business Ambition for 1.5 Degrees C campaign, led by SBTi, including those in hard-to-abate sectors such as the world’s largest cement maker, LafargeHolcim.  LafargeHolcim’s commitment represents real ambition. The company is not only aligning its own 2030 decarbonization pathway with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, it also is helping to develop a pathway for the entire cement sector, in conjunction with the SBTi. It is clearly the kind of leadership the world needs. Meanwhile, Amazon is taking action against its bold commitment to be carbon-neutral by 2040. Just this month, the online retail giant launched a new program to help make it easier for customers to switch to more sustainable products through labeling and certifications, Climate Pledge Friendly . Last month, the company announced it is buying 1,800 electric delivery vans from Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, building on its previous deal to buy 100,000 electric vans from Rivian Automotive out to 2030.  And companies including renewable energy pioneer Ørsted recognize the importance of working with governments to accelerate climate action and speaking up to make it clear they support bold climate policies.  “It’s quite clear that governments cannot do it alone, and companies cannot do it alone. We need to work together. Governments need to set ambitious targets for carbon reduction and renewable energy deployment and create the visibility needed for companies to deploy the vast amount of capital and drive the innovation that is needed to further mature and scale renewable energy and to further bring down costs,” said Jakob Askou Bøss, senior vice president at Ørsted.  These are some examples, but we want to see many more. We urge all companies to engage with these three A’s: ambition; action; and advocacy. Our new guide, Climate Leadership Now , outlines how companies can progress their climate strategy towards a climate leadership position fit for this decisive decade. Now is the time to join the Race to Zero and show leadership in the global effort to tackle the climate crisis.  Now is the time for companies to lead on climate, to lead us out of this crisis.  Topics Climate Change COVID-19 Climate Strategy 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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Episode 238; Facebook faces up to criticism, Climate Week conversation

September 25, 2020 by  
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Episode 238; Facebook faces up to criticism, Climate Week conversation Heather Clancy Fri, 09/25/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (7:40). Global net-zero commitments double in less than a year Walmart drives toward zero-emission goal for its entire fleet by 2040 Anthology “All We Can Save” passes the mic to female climate leaders Features Facebook faces up to climate misinformation (18:20)   The social media company’s CSO, Ed Palmieri, briefs us on the Climate Science Information Center, a separate, dedicated space on Facebook that connects its community with factual resources from the world’s leading climate organizations and actionable steps people can take in their everyday lives to combat climate change. Fifth Wall’s mission in ‘climate-friendly’ real estate (28:45) Fifth Wall is the largest venture capital firm focused on technologies and innovations related to real estate. We chat with the Brendan Wallace, co-founder and managing partner, about the company’s new fund dedicated to helping the industry reduce the carbon impact of buildings and its recent decisions to become a Certifed B Corporation. *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “Waiting for the Moment That Never Comes,” “Knowing the Truth,” “Late Night Tales” and “Introducing the Pre-roll” *This episode was sponsored by Amazon and WestRock Resources galore A dilemma . How do we develop sustainable packaging solutions that protect food safety and availability everywhere, while living up to critical environmental and climate commitments? Join the discussion at 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 29. Clean air in California? It’s easier than you think.  Hear from the California Air Resources Board, the city of Oakland and Neste in this session at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 1. Partnerships for packaging . How working together advances low-cost, circular solutions. Register for the webcast at 1 p.m. Oct. 6.  Innovation in textiles. The global fashion industry is looking toward innovative materials and strategies. Learn more about what’s possible in this interactive discussion at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 13. Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy  (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps  (Friday).  You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Topics Podcast Corporate Strategy Facebook Venture Capital Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 41:31 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 238; Facebook faces up to criticism, Climate Week conversation

More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat

September 25, 2020 by  
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More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat Jim Giles Fri, 09/25/2020 – 01:30 Editor’s note: Last week’s Foodstuff discussion on the impact of regenerative grazing on emissions from meat production prompted a flurry of comments from the GreenBiz community. This essay advances the dialogue. Let’s get back to the beef brouhaha I wrote about last week. I’d argued that regenerative grazing could cut emissions from beef production , helping reduce the outsized contribution cattle make to food’s carbon footprint. This suggestion produced more responses than anything I’ve written in the roughly six months since the Food Weekly newsletter launched. The future of meat is a critical issue, so I thought I’d summarize some of the reaction. First up, a shocking revelation: There’s no truth in advertising. I’d written about a new beef company called Wholesome Meats, which claims to sell the “only beef that heals the planet.” Hundreds of ranchers actually already are using regenerative methods, pointed out Peter Byck of Arizona State University, who is leading a major study into the impact of these methods. This week, in fact, some of the biggest names in food announced a major regenerative initiative: Walmart, McDonald’s, Cargill and the World Wildlife Fund said they will invest $6 million in scaling up sustainable grazing practices on 1 million acres of grassland across the Northern Great Plains . Two members of that team also are moving to cut emissions from conventional beef production. We tend to blame cows’ methane-filled burps for these gases, but around a quarter of livestock emissions come from fertilizer used to grow animal feed . When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. Farmers growing corn and other grains can cut those emissions by planting cover crops and using more diverse crop rotations — two techniques that McDonald’s and Cargill will roll out on 100,000 acres in Nebraska as part of an $8.5 million project. These and other emissions-reduction projects are part of Cargill’s goal to cut emissions from every pound of beef in its supply chain by 30 percent by 2030. Sounds great, right? You can imagine a future in which some beef, probably priced at a premium, comes with a carbon-negative label. Perhaps most beef isn’t so climate-friendly, but thanks to regenerative agriculture and other emissions-lowering methods, the burgers and steaks we love — on average, Americans eat the equivalent of more than four quarter-pounders every week — no longer account for such an egregious share of emissions. Well, yes and no. That future is plausible and would be a more sustainable one, but pursuing it may rule out a game-changing alternative. In the United States, around two-thirds of the roughly 1 billion acres of land used for agriculture is devoted to animal grazing . Two-thirds. That’s an extraordinary amount of land. And that doesn’t include the millions of acres used to grow crops to feed those animals. When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. The alternative here is to eat less meat and then, on the land that frees up, restore native ecosystems, such as forests, which draw down carbon. This week, Jessica Appelgren, vice president of communications at Impossible Foods, pointed me to a recent paper in Nature Sustainability that quantified the impact of such a shift . The potential is staggering: Switching to a low-meat, low-dairy diet and restoring land could remove more than 300 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050. That’s around a decade of global fossil-fuel emissions. In some regions, regenerative grazing techniques, which mimic an ancient symbiosis between animals and land, might be part of that restorative process. So maybe the trade-off isn’t as stark as it seems. But demand for beef is the primary driver of deforestation in the Amazon, where the trade-off is indeed clear: We’re destroying the lungs of the planet to sustain our beef habit. Once you factor in land use, eating less animal protein and restoring ecosystems looks to be an essential part of the challenge of feeding a growing global population while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact of our food systems. That doesn’t mean everyone goes vegan, but it does mean we should cut back on meat and dairy. Pull Quote When we consider the best way forward, we have to think about what economists call an opportunity cost: the price we pay for not putting that land to different use. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff 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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More reflections about regenerative grazing and the future of meat

First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action?

September 25, 2020 by  
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First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action? Sarah Golden Fri, 09/25/2020 – 01:00 It’s Climate Week: the time of year that climate leaders and professionals usually descend upon New York City in a cloud of transportation emissions to talk climate ambitions and targets.  Like everything else this year, Climate Week wasn’t the usual. Sessions and panels were virtual. There were no breakfast buffets. People presumably drank alone instead of mingling at happy hours. From an emissions standpoint, Climate Week 2020 may go in the books as the greenest of all time.  But some things stayed the same: Corporations seized the opportunity to announce climate commitments.  Corporate commitments roundup Climate Week has become a favorite for heads of states and companies alike to make bold climate commitments.  This week, dozens of corporations re-upped goals, reflecting that the private sector is internalizing what’s at stake — physically, reputationally and economically — if climate change is left unchecked. Some of the most notable (some announced in the run-up to Climate Week) include:   Morgan Stanley became the first major U.S. bank to commit to net-zero emissions generated from its financing activities by 2050.  AT&T pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2035, a step up from its previous goal to reduce Scope 1 emissions by 20 percent and Scope 2 emissions by 60 percent. This comes following AT&T’s leadership in wind corporate procurements .   Walmart pledged to become carbon-neutral across its global operations by 2040 — without relying on offsets. In a separate announcement, Walmart joined forces with Schneider Electric to “educate Walmart suppliers about renewable energy” and accelerate deployment with the aim of removing a gigaton of carbon from its supply chain (aka Scope 3 emissions).  Google committed to becoming powered by clean energy — in real time — by 2030.  General Electric announced it will exit the market for new coal-fired power plants and instead prioritize renewable energy investments — a smart move for the climate and its return on investment .  Amazon got more companies to sign on to its Climate Pledge , including Best Buy, McKinstry, Real Betis, Schneider Electric, and Siemens. Signatories agree to implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement. Intel Corporation , PepsiCo , ASICS (Japan-based apparel company), Sanofi (healthcare company in France), SKF (Swedish manufacturer) and VELUX Group (Danish manufacturer) all signed on to RE100 , a commitment to procure the equivalent of the company’s annual electricity consumptions from renewable sources.  Talk is cheap  I love seeing these commitments rolling in. I love that major companies want to communicate they are on the right side of climate action. I love that consumers care about the climate enough to make it worth consumer brands’ time and effort.  But these commitments are the beginning of something, not the end. And these companies need to be held accountable for reaching their goals in meaningful ways — and to continue to uplevel their commitments to meet the scale of the climate challenge.  Already, climate hawks are pushing corporations for more details.  Following the Morgan Stanley announcement, Rainforest Action Network’s climate and energy director Patrick McCully, wrote in a statement, “We look forward to Morgan Stanley quickly putting meat on this barebones commitment by using the Principles for Paris-Aligned Financial Institutions, and in particular by setting an interim target to halve its emissions by 2030.” Walmart is working hard to let the world know about its new carbon-neutrality commitment (including taking over all ads in my Podcast feed). Yet, as Bloomberg pointed out, this commitment applies to the retail giant’s direct and indicted emissions (Scope 1 and 2), which make up about 5 percent of the company’s total emissions. Whatever happened to last year’s Climate Week’s corporate commitments?  Last year on the eve of Climate Week 2019, employees from big tech companies planned a walkout , demanding their employers take climate seriously across operations. Among the complaints were the companies’ duplicit policies; while companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon were procuring massive amounts of renewables , they also were working with fossil fuel companies to extract oil more efficiently. Employees rightfully pointed out that one does not cancel out the other.  Take Amazon, for example. Last year, the retail giant’s employees formed a group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, demanding its corporate overlord do more on climate. The result: Amazon’s Climate Pledge ( announced during Climate Week 2019) and the company’s founder Jeff Bezos, a.k.a. the richest person on earth, pledged $10 billion of personal wealth to fight climate change.  According to E&E News , Bezos said he would begin issuing grants this summer. “[Tuesday] is the first day of fall, and the Bezos Earth Fund” — as he dubbed the venture — “has yet to announce a single grant.” In the cycle of activism and corporate climate commitments — company profits off climate destruction; employee/customers are mad; company makes a pledge; company doesn’t deliver on pledge — the ball is back in the activists’ court. Making commitments is not the same thing as taking action. In fact, Microsoft just announced another deal with Shell that will expand the oil giant’s use of the software company’s artificial intelligence technology to make extraction more efficient.  In the words of climate journalist Emily Atkins , “The West Coast is now in flames, the Gulf Coast is now waterlogged, and Bezos is now the richest man in the world. And in some people’s eyes, he’s a climate hero, because he promised to spend $10 billion solving climate change. And this, my friends, is exactly why rich people and corporations make voluntary climate pledges. It makes them seem benevolent and wonderful. And there’s no consequence if they never follow through.” Where is everyone else?  We have a terrible habit of scrutinizing companies that have made climate commitments more than those that have done squat.  I’ve spoken to many corporate sustainability professionals that say they don’t publicize their climate commitments. Why? Because yahoos such as me write critical columns about how they’re greenwashing or failing to do enough. Or environmental campaigns target them for hypocrisy.  I’m not saying we should stop holding companies accountable for their commitments. But we certainly shouldn’t give companies doing nothing a free pass. Right now, companies are punished more for speaking out than staying quiet.  In the aftermath of this Climate Week, consider asking the last company you patronized, “What is your organization doing to ensure a safe climate future?” It’s time to make staying quiet more dangerous than taking action.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe  here . Topics Energy & Climate Corporate Strategy Zero Emissions Renewable Energy Procurement Featured Column Power Points 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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First stop: Climate commitments. Next stop: Climate action?

Walmart drives toward zero-emission goal for its entire fleet by 2040

September 23, 2020 by  
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Walmart drives toward zero-emission goal for its entire fleet by 2040 Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 09/23/2020 – 01:50 If you needed any more evidence that America’s vehicle fleets are driving toward zero-emission status, it’s this: Walmart just announced that it will electrify and zero out emissions from all Walmart vehicles, including long haul trucks, by 2040.  That includes more than 10,000 vehicles, including 6,500 semi-trucks and 4,000 passenger vehicles. Up until this point, Walmart largely had emphasized fuel efficiency , although it also ordered several dozen Tesla electric semi-trucks for a Canadian fulfillment center.  Why the change? Zach Freeze, senior director of strategic initiatives and sustainability at Walmart, told GreenBiz that “more needs to be done,” and Walmart wanted to set the ambitious goal of zero emission “In order to get to zero, we need to transition the fleet,” Freeze said.  The semi-trucks will be the trickiest vehicles to adopt zero emission technologies, be that batteries, hydrogen or alternative fuels. Some heavy-duty truck fleets are opting for swapping in alternative fuels today, while the electric semi-truck market matures (check out this webcast I’m hosting Oct. 1 on the city of Oakland’s circular renewable diesel project). Expect Walmart’s 4,000 passenger vehicles to go electric much more quickly. Passenger EVs today can help fleets reduce their operating costs (less diesel fuel used) and maintenance costs, leading to overall lower costs for the fleets.  Walmart is just at the beginning of its zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) journey, but the strategy with its announcement is to “send a signal” to the market. “We want to see ZEV technology scaled, and we want to be on the front lines of that trend,” Freeze said.  Jason Mather, director of vehicles and freight strategy for the Environmental Defense Fund, described Walmart’s new goals in a release as “a critical signal to the industry that the future is zero-emissions.” However, these commitments only cover Scope 1 and 2 zero-emission commitments, not Scope 3. Of course, Walmart isn’t the only big company using ZEV goals to send market signals. Last year, Amazon announced an overall goal to deliver all of its goods via net-zero carbon shipments, and the retailer plans to purchase 100,000 electric trucks via startup Rivian.  Utility fleets will be another key buyer for electric trucks. Oregon utility Portland General Electric tells GreenBiz it plans to electrify just over 60 percent of its entire fleet by 2030. Utilities commonly use modified pick-up trucks, SUVs, bucket trucks, flatbed trucks and dump trucks. PGE says that 100 percent of its class 1 trucks (small pickups, sedans, SUVs) will be electric by 2025, while 30 percent of its heavy-duty trucks will be electric by 2030. Its entire fleet includes more than 1,000 vehicles. “It’s really important for us as a utility to be doing this. At the end of the day, we’ll be serving our customers’ electric fleet loads,” said Aaron Milano, product portfolio manager for transportation electrification at PGE. “It’s necessary that we learn and help our customers through this process.” I’ll be interviewing PGE CEO Maria Pope at our upcoming VERGE 20 conference , which will run half days across the last week in October, virtually of course. Tune in for a combination of keynotes and interactive discussions with leaders such as IKEA’s Angela Hultberg, Apple’s Lisa Jackson, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, Amazon’s Kara Hurst, InBev’s Angie Slaughter, the city of Seattle’s Philip Saunders and the Port Authority New York and New Jersey’s Christine Weydig.  Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets 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 Courtesy of Walmart Close Authorship

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Walmart drives toward zero-emission goal for its entire fleet by 2040

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