Is the golf industry doing enough to combat climate change?

April 9, 2021 by  
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Is the golf industry doing enough to combat climate change? Aubrey McCormick Fri, 04/09/2021 – 02:00 Sports leagues are seeing the impacts and the surge of climate-responsible athletes using their platforms to promote positive environmental and social impact — it’s something for the history books. The golf industry, for one, is increasing its efforts to promote environmental sustainability and marketing to the general public its desire to embrace a more diverse demographic. Professional golfers have started speaking out about the changing climate, leading to some corporate sponsors rethinking strategies and how they can better align. For many professional athletes, it’s no longer enough to represent a brand without purpose. The same can be said for consumers. People want to engage with companies, brands and industries that represent their values. Over the last few years, the golf industry has made strides towards being more “sustainable,” but is it enough? According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, “climate change is real and human activities are the main cause.” The future is net-zero, and re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement should be seen as a signal to step up and act faster than ever before. Nearly every country in the world, including the U.S., has agreed to voluntarily lower their carbon emissions, report progress and implementation efforts to show transparency. In the U.S. alone, 2 million acres of land are used for golf courses. As the population grows, we may see more demand for this land to be used for agriculture, parks and real estate. The UN Sports for Climate Action Framework aims to unite the global sports community to combat climate change through “commitments and partnerships according to verified standards including measuring, reducing and reporting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.” Currently, five golf organizations have joined: the United States Golf Association (USGA); Waste Management Phoenix Open; The International Golf Federation; World Minigolf Federation; and Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore. Golf is making strides both on social and environmental impact. Internationally, the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) uses its OnCourse program to help facilities, tournaments and golf course developments meet strict voluntary standards of sustainability. GEO’s influence is found around the world with partnerships spanning over 60 countries, including its new partnership with the Saudi Golf Federation, which is implementing GEO’s current sustainability strategy. New golf course developments in Asia, the Middle East and Africa are incorporating sustainability into the design and implementation phases of their projects. Particularly, Laguna L?ng Cô Golf Course and Resort in Vietnam has developed a regenerative model with a 17-acre rice field that runs throughout the property that yielded a 28-ton crop in 2020. As one of three golf courses in the world to be EarthCheck-certified , it is empowering employees to support the local community and protect the environment. In the U.S., the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) just completed its three-year plan to establish Environmental Best Management Practices for all 50 states. In professional golf, several PGA Tour tournaments are leading the way to decrease their carbon footprints by becoming GEO-certified events. Led by the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the LPGA’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, these high-profile events are the PGA’s platform to broadly engage local communities and fans while assessing and reporting the true impact their tournaments have on local ecosystems. Nonprofit organizations such as the National Links Trust , recent bid winners to take over operations of Washington, D.C.’s three public golf courses, are dedicated to protecting affordable municipal golf courses, understanding the positive impact they have on local communities. Issues of diversity and inclusion in the game are garnering more attention as investments are made in supporting golf programs managed by historically Black colleges and universities. Of particular note are the establishment of Howard University’s men’s and women’s golf teams by Steph Curry and “Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Change,” an event featuring Charles Barkley and Phil Mickelson that raised $6.4 million . LPGA professional and two-time major champion Suzann Pettersen has emerged as a leading golf sustainability spokesperson, becoming the first professional golfer to openly endorse and partner with the GEO Foundation to establish new levels of awareness and action. Said Pettersen at the 2020 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, “As a mother of a young child, it is incredible how concerned you become over the future of the planet, its biodiversity, air quality and climate. These things are absolutely vital to the health and wellbeing of future generations, so we all need to do our best to make things better.” According to the National Golf Foundation 2019 Industry Report , there are about 15,000 golf facilities and 24 million golfers. This is equivalent to around one in every nine Americans playing some form of golf. The industry has significant reach and an opportunity to lead by example and align to the world’s global emission goals. In the U.S. alone, 2 million acres of land are used for golf courses. As the population grows, we may see more demand for this land to be used for agriculture, parks and real estate. Subsequently, millennials and Gen Z individuals will become the majority of the population. As these generations mature, environmental transparency and carbon impact data, among many other sustainability-focused initiatives, will become the standard. So, what’s next? We have some ideas on how the golf industry can join the green sports movement and take action.  The Golf Channel should join the U.N. Sports for Climate Action Initiative. If the Golf Channel were to become the first major American sports broadcasting network to sign onto this framework, the move would be a signifier of the golf industry’s recognition of its environmental impact beyond golf course development and tournament operations and show leadership in sustainable broadcasting and messaging. We need more sustainability commitments from golf equipment manufacturers. Incredible amounts of money are spent every year on R&D as top golf equipment manufacturers compete for consumer dollars. Implementation of transparent, ethical and sustainable practices into their supply and value chains would increase accountability and responsible sourcing of inputs, report true emissions impact and expose gaps where current sustainable initiatives can increase efficiencies. If Amazon, Waste Management (and any other Fortune 500 company) can do it, then certainly the top manufacturers such as Titleist, TaylorMade and Ping Karsten Group can, too. The PGA of America should introduce a sustainability curriculum to its member certification process. With over 26,000 members around the globe, PGA golf professionals are the lifeblood of the golf industry and serve as the industry’s experts. Giving them the tools to redesign systems to be more sustainable, innovative and regenerative would generate significant ROI opportunities while adding value to the profession and meeting global emission reduction goals. We’d love to see broad implementation of sustainable operations across professional tournament golf. The select few professional golf tournaments that have committed to zero-waste and emission goals have provided a blueprint for how to conduct largescale tournaments in harmony with local communities. However, as the sponsorship dollars driving Corporate America’s investment into professional golf tournaments shift focus to include social and environmental accountability, will the managers and operators of golf tournaments be prepared to answer the call? A tremendous opportunity to activate climate action awareness campaigns awaits as fans and sponsors begin to return to the course to watch the game’s greats.  Federal legislation should help cities reinvest and retrofit existing municipal and public golf courses. In an effort to build back better, include city-owned golf facilities in any legislation that calls for grants, policies or loans that make them more accessible, inclusive and able to incorporate renewable systems. Investment in energy efficiency, water reclamation and irrigation systems, solar technology and alternative agricultural uses of unused space present golf courses as living laboratories for regenerative and circular urban ecosystems. Imagine if golf courses could grow enough food to feed an afterschool program or provide enough energy to power a homeless shelter. The time is now. Pull Quote In the U.S. alone, 2 million acres of land are used for golf courses. As the population grows, we may see more demand for this land to be used for agriculture, parks and real estate. Contributors Andrew Szunyog Topics Corporate Strategy Sports Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock S. Wassana Close Authorship

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Is the golf industry doing enough to combat climate change?

The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan

April 7, 2021 by  
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The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 04/07/2021 – 01:15 Within President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan — the American Jobs Plan — unveiled last week, the White House is proposing a massive $174 billion investment “to win the EV market.” It’s a historic move that will have deep implications for the emerging U.S. EV industry. If it passes Congress mostly intact, we could see Americans’ use of plug-in vehicles jump considerably. A lot of ideas are in the plan, and many impacts will result from it. Here are 10 important bits to know about the planned federal investments for electric vehicles and EV infrastructure (and a reminder that we’re hosting an event about many of these pressing topics, VERGE Electrify online May 25 and 26): 1. It’s a boost for EV chargers: Biden has been calling for a goal of 500,000 chargers built out across the U.S. by 2030 since before the election. His infrastructure plan says the federal government will help achieve that goal by creating grant and incentive programs for local and state governments as well as the private sector to deploy EV chargers. Companies that own EV charging assets, such as ChargePoint and Tesla, saw a big boost to their stock prices following the release of the plan last week. 2. There’s a big push to electrify transit and school buses: The plan calls for replacing 50,000 diesel-powered transit vehicles as well as electrifying 20 percent of the U.S. school bus fleet through a new Clean Buses for Kids Program. Electric transit and school buses are two types of vehicles that already have been quickly electrifying because transit agencies and school districts can save money on fuel and maintenance costs while reducing air pollution for riders. What these organizations need is incentives to reduce the upfront purchase price of the electric vehicles, which are still more expensive than their diesel-powered counterparts.  3. Ditto the federal fleet: The plan also calls for electrifying vehicles in the federal fleet, including the United States Post Office. Details are sparse at this point, but it’s good to know that the elusive and complicated USPS will be a target. 4. It would buoy domestic EV production: Asian countries own the world’s EV battery production markets. But Biden is hoping to boost domestic manufacturing of batteries and EVs through incentives for automakers. Former President Barack Obama’s green recovery stimulus invested in battery and EV manufacturing with some mixed results. Biden’s plan should make sure to invest in scaling up already proven companies and technologies, instead of betting on emerging ones.  5. It includes incentives for Americans to buy EVs: The plan says it will give EV buyers “point of sale” rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made EVs. Despite the dropping costs of batteries and EVs, consumers still need incentives to buy more expensive electric cars. Biden reportedly plans to extend the current $7,500 federal tax credit, an amount that diminishes for vehicles built by automakers including Tesla and General Motors that already have sold over 200,000 electric vehicles. Biden could drop that 200,000 ceiling as well as enhance incentives for EV buyers in disadvantaged communities. 6. It prioritizes building out transmission lines and clean energy: If many of America’s vehicles go electric, we’ll need more electricity, and the nation’s electric grid will have to get more resilient and cleaner. Biden’s plan calls for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to cover transmission lines (which will provide much-needed financing ), as well as energy storage projects. It also would extend the ITC and the Production Tax Credit for another decade. The plan also mentioned a Clean Electricity Standard, which would set goals for the percentage of clean energy required each year. Many states including California have set state-level renewable portfolio standards that have been successful in boosting clean energy. 7. It prioritizes racial justice: Biden’s plan uniquely says it will use its overall infrastructure investments to prioritize “addressing long-standing and persistent racial injustice.” Forty percent of the total planned investments (not specific for EVs) will create climate and clean energy benefits for disadvantaged communities.  8. Decarbonizing transit is a big focus: Beyond EVs, the Biden infrastructure plan calls for investing $85 billion into “modernizing existing transit,” and help transit agencies expand systems to boost ridership. There’s also $80 billion for intercity rail systems such as Amtrak. This is essentially a doubling of federal investment in public transit, and transit advocates are saying this a ” dramatic shift ” in transportation spending. 9. Corporate taxes will feed funding: Biden seeks to raise corporate taxes, raising $2 trillion over the next 15 years. Corporations would see a boosted tax rate of 28 percent, and some offshore tax loopholes would be closed. 10. The proposal still needs to get through Congress: Biden’s plan likely will see significant reshaping as it spends months making its way through Congress. What’s been floated now is an aspirational initial draft. Still, the plan is historic and could help kick-start a real EV revolution in the U.S.  Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles 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 Investments in electrified public and school transportation options is just one piece of President’ Biden’s infrastructure proposals.

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Biden pushes to expand offshore wind energy

March 31, 2021 by  
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On Monday, President  Biden  announced that he intends for the U.S. electricity sector to be carbon neutral by 2035. His sights are set on lots of wind energy and lots of jobs. Later this year, the Interior Department intends to begin selling leases for a new wind energy area between the Jersey coast and Long Island. These relatively shallow waters are known as the New York Bight. The project is called Ocean Wind. A 2020 study by the Wood Mackenzie research firm predicted that constructing wind  turbines  in the bight could support approximately 32,000 jobs over the next decade. About 6,000 of these jobs would be permanent. Related: Reindeer herders in Norway take a wind farm to court “President Biden believes we have an enormous opportunity in front of us to not only address the threats of  climate change , but use it as a chance to create millions of good-paying, union jobs that will fuel America’s economic recovery,” White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy said in a statement. Eventually, the Biden administration envisions the  offshore wind industry  operating all along the east and west coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. By 2030, they aim to deploy 30 gigawatts of turbines — enough to fuel 10 million US homes. “In areas like the Gulf Coast, you will find steel fabricators, heavy lift vessel operators, subsea construction companies, helicopter service providers and more who built their experience in the  oil  and gas industry but will be vital in building offshore wind,” National Ocean Industries Association president Erik Milito said in a statement. But not everybody is stoked about massive wind farms operating off coasts. Local opposition, such as  Save Our Shoreline NJ , say the new wind energy would hurt recreation, tourism and the commercial fishing industry. The Biden administration has promised $1 million in grants to assess wind energy’s impact on fishing. The U.S. is partnering with other countries that are already deep in the wind business. The  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  agreed to share ocean mapping and other environmental data with Ocean Wind’s Danish developer Ørsted. Via NPR Lead image via Pixabay

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Bald eagle population bounces back from brink of extinction

March 29, 2021 by  
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The once shrinking population of bald eagles has quadrupled over the past 12 years, according to a new survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The study has found that there are over 316,000 bald eagles in the lower 48 states of the U.S., with over 70,000 breeding pairs . According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there were approximately 500 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the U.S. in the late 1960s. However, the story changed with the discovery that DDT, often found in insecticides , was affecting wildlife, effectively leading to its ban in 1972. In 1973, the federal government signed the Endangered Species Act, which led to the protections of various species, including the bald eagle. Related: Critically endangered regent honeyeaters are losing their song Since then, the population has been growing gradually, and the bird was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Following a recent survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has discovered that the number of bald eagles has more than quadrupled since 2009 when they were last counted. Speaking to the press, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said that this turnaround is historic. “The bald eagle has always been considered a sacred species to American Indian people, and similarly it’s sacred to our nation as America’s national symbol,” Haaland said. This success story proves that conservation measures work. Although the birds were hunted, killed and poisoned for years, the population has grown thanks to focused conservation efforts. While the report might seem like a good indication for the future of wildlife in the U.S., the reality on the ground is quite different. A recent study by Cornell Lab of Ornithology has established that the overall population of birds in the U.S. has dropped by about one-third in the past 50 years. A different report by the National Audubon Society has established that about two-thirds of North American birds are at an increased risk of extinction, primarily because of climate change. “By stabilizing carbon emissions and holding warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, nearly 150 species would no longer be vulnerable to extinction from climate change ,” the report noted. + U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Via NPR Image via Jan Temmel

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Realizing the full potential of stakeholder capitalism

March 22, 2021 by  
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Realizing the full potential of stakeholder capitalism Michael Wilkins Mon, 03/22/2021 – 00:30 Under the traditional capitalist model, financial performance for shareholders has been the primary measure of the success of a business. However, a growing awareness of ESG trends has given rise to the concept of “stakeholder value,” whereby the focus is on long-term value creation for customers, employees, society and the environment rather than just short-term value for shareholders. The pandemic has sharpened this focus by highlighting the importance of metrics such as employee health and well-being, safety protocols, cybersecurity and business continuity, to name a few. While undoubtedly beneficial in theory, the pursuit of stakeholder capitalism comes with a number of practical challenges. How do businesses measure the value created by stakeholder capitalism? How do they balance stakeholder and shareholder interests? And where does all this leave fiduciary duty? These questions are difficult to answer, and the solutions may not be immediately evident. But one thing is clear: If businesses want to achieve long-term sustainability, they must work to overcome these obstacles. Aligning stakeholder interests The interests of shareholders and other stakeholders often conflict. Although it is no simple task, businesses must find a way to reconcile clashing priorities if a true stakeholder capitalism model is to be reached. Often, the answers lie in understanding the nuances between (and, sometimes, within) each stakeholder group. The allocation of voting powers between majority and minority shareholders, for instance, is one significant area of debate. Should one share equal one vote or should long-term shareholders be granted additional voting rights? Businesses must decide whose interests should be prioritized, and to what extent. Once such priorities are established, determining the framework through which the value created should be measured further complicates the issue. The race among AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer to develop a COVID-19 vaccine perfectly exemplifies the difficulty of satisfying the needs of each stakeholder group simultaneously. Should one share equal one vote or should long-term shareholders be granted additional voting rights? AstraZeneca, for instance, prioritized wider societal needs by pricing its vaccine lower than any of the others — thereby providing the greatest long-term “value” to its recipients. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, however, delivered greater relative value to shareholders, by reason of the higher price.  This begs the question: Can the interests of shareholders and stakeholders ever be reconciled? Critics of the stakeholder capitalism model argue they cannot — believing that the quest for such a reconciliation is not just a fundamental limitation, but a potentially insurmountable weakness for addressing today’s global challenges. Indeed, Eugene F. Fama, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2013, goes as far as arguing stakeholder capitalism is “indefinite and ineffective,” for this very reason. Measuring success The “value” created by stakeholder capitalism is difficult to measure, and this could limit its operational effectiveness. The solution to this is perhaps more transparency and accountability — which can be achieved only through enhanced, standardized, non-financial disclosure metrics, as well as the acknowledgement and management of externalities, such as global warming, increasing social fragmentation and unrest. The drive to improve disclosure around such metrics is ongoing. In September, for instance, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released guidance in collaboration with the big four global accountancy firms on measuring stakeholder capitalism. In its report, the WEF suggested companies track their shared value contribution by defining metrics organized into four categories — Principles of Governance, Planet, People and Prosperity — in order to increase the comparability of sustainability reporting. While this was a step in the right direction, many believe we are still some way away from standardized reporting. To make matters more challenging, for many companies, it remains unclear what they are being asked to disclose or how to disclose. Often, this means publicly disclosed data is insufficient to perform detailed, comparable and up-to-date analysis and benchmarking of sustainability performance — a key requirement to determine value creation for stakeholders. There has been some movement in the right direction, however, and a number of high-profile institutions responsible for global reporting standards have begun addressing this issue. The IFRS Foundation, for example, recently consulted on the establishment of a Sustainability Standards Board and looks set to pursue its establishment. The new board would operate alongside the International Accounting Standards Board under the same three-tier governance structure, build on existing developments, and collaborate with other bodies and initiatives in sustainability, focusing initially on climate-related matters. The hope is that the emergence of such initiatives will make the transition to stakeholder capitalism quicker and more straightforward for businesses. Redefining fiduciary duty Under corporate law, fiduciary duty requires a corporation to act in the best interest of its shareholders, rather than serving its own interests, recognizing loyalty and prudence as the most important duties. The traditional interpretation of this has been to pursue optimal profit margins. Stakeholder capitalism, however, challenges this view and suggests directors should expand their definition of fiduciary duty, by considering the impact of board decisions on all stakeholders — both internal and external — despite there currently being no legal requirement to do so. The ‘value’ created by stakeholder capitalism is difficult to measure, and this could limit its operational effectiveness. Already, a number of initiatives, such as the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the U.N. Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), have highlighted the importance of redefining fiduciary duty, in order to stimulate long-term sustainable growth and the economic health of companies. Indeed, sustainable finance veteran Paul Watchman (an advisor to UNEP FI) argues “the concept of fiduciary duty is organic, not static. It will continue to evolve as society changes, not least in response to the urgent need for us to move towards an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable financial system.” We have certainly seen this to be the case in the last two decades. Future-proofing: The potential of stakeholder capitalism Despite the challenges associated with implementing stakeholder capitalism, empirical evidence reveals that companies focusing on sustainability issues achieve lower costs, enhance employee productivity, mitigate risk and generate new growth opportunities. In fact, research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch suggests integrating greater stakeholder engagement and ESG initiatives in corporate strategy could help prevent around 90 percent of bankruptcies. While this wider shift toward stakeholder capitalism has been ongoing for some time, it has been catalyzed by the COVID-19 crisis, which has reaffirmed the materiality of sustainability-related risks, and the deep links between businesses and their stakeholders across the value chains. In today’s world of deepening socioeconomic challenges, effective stakeholder management will become critical for companies looking to continue operating successfully. Pull Quote Should one share equal one vote or should long-term shareholders be granted additional voting rights? The ‘value’ created by stakeholder capitalism is difficult to measure, and this could limit its operational effectiveness. Topics Finance & Investing ESG Stakeholder Engagement Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off An Earth-Strike demonstration in Austria in 2019. Image by Shutterstock/Stefan Rotter

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Realizing the full potential of stakeholder capitalism

Get ready, Corporate America: The carbon disclosure mandates are coming

March 17, 2021 by  
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Get ready, Corporate America: The carbon disclosure mandates are coming Tim Mohin Wed, 03/17/2021 – 01:00 A slew of announcements earlier this month point to new regulations on carbon disclosure. Corporate America better get ready. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been particularly busy. Acting chairwoman Allison Herren Lee issued a public statement directing the SEC staff “to enhance its focus on climate-related disclosure in public company filings.” In a series of tweets , Lee also aligned with the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) statement of an “urgent need to improve the consistency, comparability, and reliability of sustainability reporting, with an initial focus on climate change-related risks and opportunities.” Also earlier this month, the SEC hired its first senior policy adviser for climate and ESG . (See a partial transcript from Lee’s speech earlier this week here .) The message is clear: Carbon disclosure will be mandatory. It’s undeniable that climate risks and opportunities are material to corporate performance and must be included in audited financial statements. This is long overdue, but there can be no doubt that climate disclosure will become a fixture for publicly traded companies. Britain , New Zealand and Switzerland already have moved forward with unprecedented speed to require disclosures aligned with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The TCFD, created by the G20 Financial Stability Board, issued its disclosure recommendations back 2017. Since then, thousands of companies, governments and others have lined up in support.  It’s undeniable that climate risks and opportunities are material to corporate performance and must be included in audited financial statements. T While coming mandates are clear, the required disclosures are still a bit murky. There is real momentum behind the IFRS Foundation’s move to develop international “sustainability reporting” standards . The trustees meeting this month may shed some more light, but don’t hold your breath; the IFRS already has stated that it will “produce a definitive proposal (including a road map with timeline) by the end of September 2021, and possibly leading to an announcement on the establishment of a sustainability standards board at the meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 in November 2021.” With the slow pace of standards development, companies are facing uncertainty about what information to collect. While the requirements are unclear, carbon accounting procedures are well established. The greenhouse gas protocol has been around for many years and sets out a detailed process (more than 700 pages) for measuring corporate carbon footprints. While we wait to see what the required disclosures will be, companies can get a leg up by ensuring that their current carbon reporting is as aligned as possible with the greenhouse gas protocol. Accounting for carbon emissions from large enterprises is a daunting job. Complex multinational enterprises conduct thousands of carbon-generating transactions each day. Adding to the challenge is the Scope 3 problem: accounting for the carbon generated upstream (across the supply chain, for example) and downstream (products). Even for leading companies, creating assured carbon disclosures is hard work and will require new expertise, collaborations and enterprise-level technologies to streamline the process. Companies should start making those carbon finance hires today. Corporate leaders and boards also would be wise to get ahead of these regulations and take stock of their carbon management practices now. Having worked for three Fortune 500 companies, I can say firsthand that they won’t like what they find. Carbon management and disclosure is typically done on spreadsheets once per year and the data can be months old. This is not a management system; it’s a way to track annual performance.  Adding to these gaps is the carbon trading market. Carbon prices in Europe are skyrocketing  — surging 60 percent since November — on the news of impending regulation. Simultaneously, there are efforts in Europe and the U.S . to assign monetary value to each ton of carbon, with the Biden administration’s reinvigoration of the “social cost of carbon” initiative.   And if these developments weren’t enough of a wakeup call, the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, made it very clear it would hold the companies it invests in accountable for their carbon management. With $8 trillion under management, this would touch just about every company. Just to make the signal clearer, BlackRock doubled down by signaling it would vote against the boards who fail to meet its standards. Alarm bells are ringing in the C-suite and boardrooms. Corporate compliance officers will be up late scrambling to develop their carbon disclosure strategy. While there is a lot of work to be done, new resources emerge every day to help companies navigate this challenge.   After a long career in the sustainability space, it is gratifying to witness the tipping point where sustainability enters the mainstream of global commerce. It’s about time.  Pull Quote It’s undeniable that climate risks and opportunities are material to corporate performance and must be included in audited financial statements. T Topics Finance & Investing Reporting 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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Sustainable mobility drives the newest employee perk

March 15, 2021 by  
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Sustainable mobility drives the newest employee perk Katie Fehrenbacher Mon, 03/15/2021 – 00:05 This article originally appeared in the State of Green Business 2021. You can download the entire report here . San Francisco Bay Area biotech giant Genentech is a world leader in making medicines for diseases such as cancer and cystic fibrosis; it’s even trialing one of its medicines for helping treat COVID-19. It’s safe to say that the company, a division of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, isn’t officially in the transportation business. But over the past few years, the company has aggressively built out an electric commuter shuttle program for its employees, as well as developed other sustainable mobility offerings such as easy access to carpooling, transit services and ferry lines. The goal: Move the more than 10,000 employees that normally commute to its South San Francisco campus (pre-pandemic) with the lowest carbon footprint possible, and offer its traveling salesforce across the country access to EVs. Why? One big reason — rising in importance at companies across the globe — is employee engagement. “It matters to our employees,” said Andy Jefferson, Genentech’s director of transportation, at the VERGE 20 conference in October. Retaining the best talent is crucial to Genentech’s ability to stay ahead with biotech innovation. Enabling employees to make sustainable choices about their commutes and transportation is the latest perk it can offer to an elite workforce. And Genentech isn’t the only one. Enabling employees to make sustainable choices about their commutes and transportation is the latest perk a company can offer to an elite workforce. Companies around the world, from Sweden’s Inkga Group (the holding company for the IKEA retail chain) to Clif Bar (with operations in the Bay Area and Twin Falls, Idaho) are developing sustainable mobility offerings for employees. These programs can include an array of services, from on-campus EV chargers, access to carpooling programs, financial incentives for buying bikes, e-bikes and EVs, and — for the lucky few — rides to and from work in electric buses. For most companies, tackling the carbon emissions associated with employee travel is a big part of the decision to offer these perks. For Inkga Group, 15 percent of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, a combination of employee and customer travel as well as goods delivery. IKEA is developing plans to halve its emissions from customer and employee travel, and is piloting a program to better help its 160,000 coworkers carpool together.  But attracting and retaining employees remains a solid byproduct of overarching corporate sustainability goals. “A significant part of our employees are under 25, and we want to attract the best talent on the market. So we need to figure out how to get people to us,” said IKEA Head of Sustainability Angela Hultberg at VERGE 20. Nonprofits such as The Climate Group are increasingly working with these companies to help set goals around EVs. Genentech, Inka Group and Clif Bar are all members of the EV100, a group of companies that have pledged to deploy EV chargers on campuses and, when possible, convert vehicle fleets to electric. So far, 92 companies have joined the EV100, representing major growth from the program’s launch three years ago. Another driving force behind the growth in corporate sustainable mobility programs is evolving consumer and political sentiment. Most Americans agree that global warming is happening, and the Biden administration is touting the most ambitious climate agenda in American history. Transportation emissions are the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States, and American cities, and some states such as California, are making big moves, including phasing out or banning fossil-fuel vehicles altogether.  Companies with many employees commuting to their campuses also have learned that it’s smart to work closely with cities on the most sustainable ways to move hoards of workers to campuses. Their quality of life rises and the air gets cleaner. In communities when fewer single-occupancy vehicles are on the roads, there’s less traffic and shorter commute times. Then there’s the advancing technology of electric vehicles, one of the leading solutions for slashing transportation emissions. The costs of the batteries that power EVs continue to drop, making electric vehicles cheaper, and global automakers including Volkswagen, General Motors and Daimler are investing billions of dollars into electrifying vehicle lines. Years ago, an electric commuter bus would be far too expensive for a company such as Genentech to invest in, let alone own and operate dozens of them. But as battery prices plummet, electric buses actually can save companies money on fuel and maintenance costs over time. The ubiquity of mobile computing, social networks and big data is also playing a role in new sustainable mobility services. Carpooling startup Scoop has developed an app that offers companies a way to help employees strategically carpool with coworkers and neighbors and even provide back-up rides with ride-hailing ones from Lyft. Scoop says it is America’s largest carpooling app and works with 15 percent of the Fortune 100, including LinkedIn, Samsung and Rakuten. Rakuten HR Business Partner Elva Huang provides a testimonial for the app: “Building community and offering unique programs is the best way to attract and retain great talent. Scoop helps us provide our employees with an organic and genuine way to connect with one another on a shared experience.” Of course, like much in 2020, COVID-19 has upended how employees travel to work. Many are working from home for the foreseeable future, transportation emissions unexpectedly have dropped and public transit, in particular, has seen a disturbing decline in ridership. A silver lining of the shift to remote work has been an increasing reliance and interest in telecommuting. Expect some key aspects of this trend to remain in place after employees return to offices, including significantly reduced business air travel and an increase in video conference calls. In 2021, companies will continue to leverage the sustainability and efficiency boosts of working from home, at least much more than pre-COVID.  Some policymakers are even looking to codify such COVID-era sustainable transport trends into new mandates and goals. The San Francisco region’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission recently proposed developing sustainable commute targets for companies that have more than 50 employees. But eventually, as vaccines are widely deployed, employees across the globe will return to workplaces in greater numbers. It’s now the role of forward-looking companies — and their transportation leaders — to lean into sustainable mobility offerings for employees to enable their transition back in the greenest way possible. Pull Quote Enabling employees to make sustainable choices about their commutes and transportation is the latest perk a company can offer to an elite workforce. Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets Electric Bus Electric Vehicles Ride Hailing Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off One of Genentech’s electric commuter buses. Courtesy of Genentech Close Authorship

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Sustainable mobility drives the newest employee perk

Jason Blake on PepsiCo’s sustainablility agenda

March 4, 2021 by  
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Jason Blake on PepsiCo’s sustainablility agenda   This video is sponsored by PepsiCo. Pete May, President and Co-Founder, GreenBiz Group interviewed Jason Blake, Senior Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer, PepsiCo Beverages North America during GreenBiz 21 on February 9-11th. View archived videos from the conference here: https://www.greenbiz.com/topics/greenbiz-21-archive . YanniGuo Thu, 03/04/2021 – 13:24 Featured Off

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Jason Blake on PepsiCo’s sustainablility agenda

Walter Lelerc on how Ecolab’s partnership is making water management goals

March 4, 2021 by  
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Walter Lelerc on how Ecolab’s partnership is making water management goals This video is sponsored by Ecolab. Pete May, President and Co-Founder, GreenBiz Group interviewed Walter Leclerc, Director of Environmental Occupational Health and Safety, Digital Realty during GreenBiz 21 on February 9-11th. View archived videos from the conference here: https://www.greenbiz.com/topics/greenbiz-21-archive . YanniGuo Thu, 03/04/2021 – 13:22 Featured Off

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Walter Lelerc on how Ecolab’s partnership is making water management goals

Industrial decarbonization picks up steam

March 1, 2021 by  
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Industrial decarbonization picks up steam Sarah Golden Mon, 03/01/2021 – 01:00 This article originally appeared in the State of Green Business 2021. You can download the entire report here . The industrial sector is the backbone of the economy, producing the materials that build everything from cities to phones. It’s also a significant contributor to the climate crisis: Industrial processes — from the creation of raw materials to chemicals — are responsible for more emissions than any other sector, making up a third of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Increasingly, the stars are aligning for industrial emissions to take center stage, for three key reasons: demand for clean solutions is growing; technologies are maturing; and the conditions for policy solutions are ripe. The emissions associated with manufacturing and other heavy industries could broadly be divided into three categories : indirect energy (from purchased electricity and heat, responsible for about 44 percent of emissions); industrial processes (such as the use of chemicals that release greenhouse gases, 19 percent); and onsite combustion (37 percent, usually for heat processing). All three are in urgent need of innovations and deployments, but the last of those three — combustion — has, until now, received the least attention. Climate-conscious companies that depend on thermal processing — used to produce everything from food to ferrous metals — seek better solutions. Historically, these have been inadequate or unaffordable, but a new generation of technologies is promising to change that. For example, in 2019 L’Oréal USA announced that 14 of its factories were “carbon neutral,” and the beauty giant continues to look for renewable options for all of its thermal loads as part of its science-based targets. U.S. Steel Corporation had a goal to reduce its emission intensity by 20 percent by 2030, based on 2018 baseline levels. While a modest target, the commitment is an acknowledgment that the sector needs to make progress, as steel is one of the most emission-intensive sectors (together with cement and chemicals). Companies are banding together to reach breakthroughs faster. In 2019, General Motors, Cargill, Mars and L’Oreal USA formed the Renewable Thermal Collaborative (RTC), and since have been joined by more than a dozen other large energy users. Modeled after the success of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance , which brought together large energy purchasers to accelerate the availability and affordability of renewable power, the RTC provides a space for companies to learn best practices to decarbonize manufacturing. Climate-conscious companies that depend on thermal processing — used to produce everything from food to ferrous metals — seek better solutions. “These companies and other institutions are trying to send a signal to the marketplace: If people can produce renewable thermal technology that is cost-effective, there are buyers out there that want them,” said David Gardiner, a facilitator of the RTC, in an interview with GreenBiz . Companies are also pushing for industrial decarbonization outside their four walls. Apple, for example, last year announced a carbon-neutrality target throughout its entire supply chain . As more organizations follow suit, corporations can leverage their market influence to help accelerate the deployment of cleaner industrial processes. Finding renewable alternatives for industrial heat is a complicated business. Different applications require different working temperatures, which necessitate different solutions. Some applications — such as cooking, pressurizing and sterilization — require lower temperatures (150 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit), while chemical, concrete and steel processes require much higher temperatures (above 400 F). Today, most process heating in the United States is fueled by natural gas, which can be plugged into many technologies and which already enjoys a robust infrastructure. Globally, coal meets the majority of thermal fuel demands for both steel and cement. Renewable options, on the other hand, often require specialized equipment that is still early-stage and may require retraining or operational shifts, which add costs. While many consumer-facing brands want renewable options, most are price-sensitive and unwilling to pay a premium for these cleaner technologies, especially during a time of rock-bottom natural gas prices. Moreover, clean technologies are at different stages of innovation, feasibility and cost, all with their own constraints, including temperature, quality and flow rates. Key pathways to decarbonize thermal energy include: Efficiency. An oldie but a goodie, the promise of deep efficiency still has not been fully realized. According to energy-efficiency expert Amory Lovins , whole-system redesign today can yield 30 to 60 percent of energy savings in retrofits and 40 to 90 percent savings in new construction. Electrification. While innovations are emerging quickly for applications ranging from roasting coffee to alloying steel , the technologies are expensive and require specific equipment. Still, costs are falling quickly and experts anticipate wide-scale adoption of electric appliances for industrial applications in the coming decade. Green hydrogen. The perennial “fuel of tomorrow,” it has long tantalized experts, who envision that excess renewable power can be used to create hydrogen, which can be plugged into applications as easily as natural gas. However, because hydrogen molecules are much smaller than methane molecules, today’s natural gas infrastructure is too leaky to hold or transport hydrogen. Expect this to be in the R&D phase with limited deployment for onsite applications until midcentury . Biomethane. Capturing methane emissions from dairies, landfills and wastewater treatment facilities holds great promise. While seductive, the resulting fuel (sometimes called renewable natural gas, or RNG) has a limited supply (it could cover only 3 to 7 percent of natural gas used today) and issues with land use (large dairies impact surrounding, low-income communities). Meanwhile, natural gas utilities are overstating its potential to justify infrastructure investments, which runs the risk of slowing electrification of appliances that already have market-ready electric alternatives. Additional technologies include solar thermal, geothermal, nuclear, cogeneration and carbon capture and storage. All have economic and technical tradeoffs, and with corporations and policymakers backing the transition, innovators have a lot to gain by cracking the renewable thermal energy code. Robust policy support will be key to rapidly scaling the transition. Despite corporate commitments to decarbonize, emissions from heavy industry are on track to rise 0.4 percent annually through 2050 — at a time when they need to be dropping precipitously. According to 30 leading experts on energy and policy, high-impact policies to decarbonize industry include carbon pricing, government support for R&D, industrial process emissions standards and energy-efficiency support. It bodes well that decarbonization is seen as a boon for the economy. The good news is many of these policies align with components of President Joe Biden’s climate plan , which include financial support for innovation and deployment, boosting markets through federal purchase requirements, and workforce training and education. The new administration also has placed a specific emphasis on industrial heat needed for steel, concrete and chemicals. Policy also has an important role in supporting financing on these innovations. Given that new infrastructure development works on roughly 25-year cycles, policy direction now can help us avoid making climate-busting investments down the highway. While time will tell if the Biden administration will realize all its goals, it bodes well that decarbonization is seen as a boon for the economy. Rewiring America research shows how decarbonizing the economy can create around 25 million jobs in the United States alone. According to separate reports from Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and the Industrial Innovation Initiative (I3) , a coalition of industry, NGO and public sector players dedicated to decarbonizing industry, investment in R&D for clean breakthroughs will stimulate jobs and economic growth. Meanwhile, Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy commissioned a report that crunched the numbers to show that the spillover economic gains from such an investment would be significant — all of which bodes well for political action. Pull Quote Climate-conscious companies that depend on thermal processing — used to produce everything from food to ferrous metals — seek better solutions. It bodes well that decarbonization is seen as a boon for the economy. Topics Energy & Climate State of Green Business Report Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image by Shutterstock/Nostal6ie Close Authorship

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