Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Guide: Kids Edition

December 1, 2020 by  
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Need some help making a list of eco-friendly holiday gifts … The post Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Guide: Kids Edition appeared first on Earth 911.

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Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Guide: Kids Edition

Biophilic campus provides a safe haven for children with autism

November 30, 2020 by  
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Austin-based architecture and interior design firm Runa Workshop has recently completed One of the Kids, a nature-inspired campus for children who have autism. In preparing for the project, the architects first needed to educate themselves on how to best suit the needs of the children. Then, the team had to decide how to create a welcoming, comfortable campus within a tight budget of just $800,000 for an approximately 8,000-square-foot space. Cost-effective materials, an emphasis on natural lighting and the incorporation of biophilic and green elements tie the campus together. Created as a local family’s passion project located just north of Austin , One of the Kids provides a safe haven for children with autism to learn and play. The clients sought a campus that would encourage the children to explore their surroundings without overstimulating them. As a result, the designers used biophilic design to create a calming yet inspiring atmosphere. Related: HIVE Project proposes biophilic, self-sufficient homes of the future “Nature has been proven to promote healing, so we incorporated biophilic design to help us achieve this connection,” the designers at Runa Workshop explained. “We maximized the amount of natural light in each therapy room and incorporated a view of nature or green space to tie back into the concept. The design allowed for a large space where children can interact with water and ‘grass’ in a well-lit space while burning off excess energy so they can better focus in their therapy sessions.” Cost-effective oriented strand board , large windows and green paint are used throughout to strengthen a connection to nature, from the green “mountains” painted on the walls to the turf in the play area. In addition to the creation of active social spaces, such as the large indoor/outdoor play area and an indoor pool, the designers also carved out “chill rooms” with low lighting and dark-colored walls to provide children a comfortable place to go calm down when they feel overwhelmed. + Runa Workshop Images via Runa Workshop

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Biophilic campus provides a safe haven for children with autism

Jules Ferry School is a model for a sustainable learning environment

November 16, 2020 by  
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A school in France is showing the world how to use eco-friendly design to create much more than buildings. The Jules Ferry School will be part of an entire youth center that is designed to create a learning environment where children help to create their own academic experiences. What is architecture? To Méandre etc’ architects, architecture is an invitation to examine social relationships. That was the concept the team brought to the Jules Ferry School, where everyone has a role in their own learning journey. Related: Modular Tree-House School concept connects kids with nature The school is at the historic Bois du Mont Guichet in a residential area of Montfermeil. Jules Ferry School will have 13 classrooms and a recreation center. The school is close to a sports field and several other schools, creating a youth center right in the heart of the neighborhood. The building will be oriented southward to take advantage of the natural light and heat from the sun. Children enter the building through a beveled entrance that creates a transition between the outside world and the learning environment within. There will be a nursery school on the ground floor, with four classrooms for the little ones. Older children will be on the upper levels. A library and a local market will be housed on the first floor. The library has its own independent entrance, so it can be enjoyed by the general public as well as the children in the school. Each classroom on the ground floor will be a stand-alone unit with its own facilities and direct access to the garden outside, which opens up to the schoolyard itself. The courtyard is designed with geometric forms to create a playful, fun area for the children to enjoy. On the roof will be a large solar array to provide clean energy for the school. The building itself will be constructed with geo- and bio-sourced materials. The plan is to create a passive, unheated building using eco-friendly materials, including straw, mudbrick and wood. The design for the Jules Ferry School has already won an award for its innovation and creative concept. Construction on the project is scheduled to start in early 2021, with plans to open the building in 2022. The school is an example of how design can be part of our world without taking away from it, yet still be tailored to the purpose it is supposed to serve. The Jules Ferry design could be a model that determines what schools look like in the future. + Méandre etc’ architects Images via aR. communication

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Jules Ferry School is a model for a sustainable learning environment

Redress winner launches puffer jacket made of upcycled materials

November 16, 2020 by  
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U.K. designer Maddie Williams has recently launched a sustainable puffer jacket after winning the Redress Design Award 2019, one of the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competitions. Created in collaboration with major Chinese fashion brand JBNY Group, the sustainable puffer jacket is made with a mix of upcycled and recycled materials , including deadstock fabrics for the exterior and recycled polyester for the lining. The jacket now retails in over 100 stores in China. After placing first in the 2019 Redress Design Award, Maddie Williams joined the Hangzhou-headquartered JNBY Group to launch a sustainable garment for its fashion brand ‘less’ to be sold in more than 100 of its stores. The young designer drew on the patchworking technique from her zero-waste Redress Design Award collection, ‘The Mourners’, to create a multicolored puffer jacket stuffed with repurposed duck and goose down collected from post-consumer duvets and pillows. Related: This clothing tech company is 3D-printing garments to help reduce waste “It was an immersive and authentic experience of working in the fashion industry,” Williams said. “With the guidance and translation of the JNBY team I spoke to in-house pattern cutters and knit technicians, did sample fittings, looked through deadstock fabric and picked trims in their giant storerooms. It was a very dynamic and fast-paced place to work; you could request something in the morning and get it back in the afternoon. Being able to do this gave me my first genuine insight of the realities of creating a collection for retail — and it was a unique experience to have been involved in all of the steps.” In collaborating with Williams, JNBY Group has also worked together with Redress, the Hong Kong-based environmental NGO that aims to prevent and transform textile waste in the fashion industry through education and initiatives such as the Redesign Design Award. The Redesign Design Award 2021 will begin accepting applications from emerging designers worldwide on January 8, 2021.  + Redress Design Award Images via Redress

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Gina McCarthy: Protecting the planet for all people

November 4, 2020 by  
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Gina McCarthy: Protecting the planet for all people Sara Murphy Wed, 11/04/2020 – 01:30 Gina McCarthy thinks we should be more ambitious in our goals for a thriving planet and an equitable society. The former EPA administrator and current president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been a leading advocate for smart, successful strategies to protect public health and the environment for more than 30 years. During a  VERGE 20  virtual event Friday, McCarthy talked with GreenBiz co-founder Joel Makower about how racial justice and climate justice go hand in hand, and what we need to do to assure a bright future for everyone’s children. “We’re facing a lot of challenges at once,” McCarthy noted, “but they’re also an incredible signal about the future we need to deliver and the way to get there.” The first challenge is the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, we are facing a racial reckoning that is long overdue. Third, many people are feeling the painful effects of the economic fallout from the pandemic. Finally, the climate crisis is worse than it’s ever been. For too long, climate change was viewed as a problem for the planet instead of a problem for people. What do these four challenges have in common? “They stem from the system we chose when we grabbed and relied on fossil fuels,” McCarthy said. “For too long, climate change was viewed as a problem for the planet instead of a problem for people. The planet doesn’t give a damn if we’re around — we do!” McCarthy pointed out that we can protect our planet and natural resources in a way that grows jobs and well-being. “We have solutions,” she said. “Let’s grow the demand for them.” Social imperative McCarthy focused strongly on the need for equitable action in the face of society’s four major challenges, noting that data on COVID-19 show the disease is killing twice as many exposed Black people as their white counterparts. McCarthy observed that the pandemic is one more example of how our system has left some communities behind, drawing a parallel to the disproportionate impact of climate change and pollution on communities of color. “They’re in the crosshairs of the danger,” she said. McCarthy thinks that we as individuals must reckon with the fact that we can take action in our own communities. If we commit to doing so, the solutions will come, she said. McCarthy discussed regulators’ role in delivering solutions, noting the EPA’s obligation to protect people’s health. The agency sets standards that send market signals, she said, which supports growth and expansion. Business community role Big business needs to look at its entire supply chain and be transparent in how it tells us what it’s valuing, McCarthy said, so consumers can make choices accordingly. While we’re making progress on this front, we still have a long way to go, she said. “We’re not talking about sacrifices, but rather benefits,” McCarthy explained. I want twofers and threefers. I want something better than survival. Why aren’t we wanting it all and demanding it all? For example, people can make money from technological expansion, among other types of innovation. The transformation we need demands significant work in transportation, McCarthy offered. She sees no question that electric vehicles are the wave of the future, and we just need to work to get the technology up to critical mass by expanding the relevant infrastructure via public-private partnerships and other mechanisms. The same applies to hydrogen technologies for heavy vehicles and more. “If we work at the state level, it won’t matter who’s sitting at the federal level,” McCarthy opined. “If we drive the kind of change we want at every level of government, it will open up markets everywhere.” Trade-offs? “I want twofers and threefers,” McCarthy exclaimed, referring to the idea that we can and should have multiple ambitious goals at the same time. “I want something better than survival. Why aren’t we wanting it all and demanding it all?” She highlighted the imperative to raise up everybody in the process, pointing to the need for better housing, clean air and clean water for communities left behind by systemic racism. McCarthy also emphasized the United States’ outsized obligation to the rest of the world, given that “we’ve been shipping our pollution elsewhere, merrily going on our way as if we didn’t do that. We have a shot at an equitable, healthy, sustainable future. There is no reason we have to compromise on those goals.” Message of hope? Wrapping up her comments, McCarthy enjoined everyone to hug their children and to listen to them about the future they want. She called upon all parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, godparents and caregivers to deliver a future for the children in their lives that would bring them pride. “We humans care about taking care of our families more than anything else,” McCarthy concluded. “Let’s use that to lift all families up.” Pull Quote For too long, climate change was viewed as a problem for the planet instead of a problem for people. I want twofers and threefers. I want something better than survival. Why aren’t we wanting it all and demanding it all? Topics Policy & Politics VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Then EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy speaks to the National Press Club on climate change and power plants in September 2013. Shutterstock Albert H. Teich Close Authorship

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Gina McCarthy: Protecting the planet for all people

6 differences between forestry and soil carbon offsets

November 4, 2020 by  
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6 differences between forestry and soil carbon offsets Jesse Klein Wed, 11/04/2020 – 01:00 Carbon offsets are a big, confusing topic. Three breakout sessions at VERGE 20 covered this topic, with over 100 participants at each. Still, each one went over the allotted time with many questions left unanswered. While understanding the basics is important, many nuances and small details warrant their own entire discussion.  Carbon credit projects vary widely, from urban forestry projects to air carbon capture to regenerative agriculture. And while many will have the same basic benefits and limitations, there are huge differences in management, co-benefits, costs and analyses.  In two VERGE 20 sessions, experts dived deep into the specifics of soil carbon credits and forestry carbon credits. Here are six differences between these two popular types of carbon offsets.  1. Forestry credits have a longer history Forestry credits have been around for a while and a lot of data is publicly available data from the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program . The robust data set reports on trends in forest areas including size, species, health, growth, mortality, removals and carbon sequestrations. The data is publicly available for scientists to study and can help them come to concrete conclusions about the effectiveness of forests as a carbon sink.  “On the forest side, we have 100 years of public data in the United States on the types of trees and effectively the carbon content in different forest types,” Danny Cullenward, policy director at CarbonPlan, said during VERGE 20. “We don’t really have anything comparable on the soil side.”  Soil credits are much newer. According to Cullenward, soil data is being collected by private and third-party platforms, and to get farmers to work with them, these companies have to promise data privacy and security.  “None of that [data] is feeding back into the public ecosystem to improve transparency,” he said.  2. Soil is more challenging Because soil carbon sequestration, the data associated with the process and the resulting credits are in their infancy, science hasn’t come to a consensus on many important aspects of this type of carbon sequestration. This includes the depth of soil monitoring that is needed. According to Cullenward, most models and samples only analyze the top layer of soil, the first 30 centimeters. But new science suggests there is a risk for reversal.  “Now there’s a strain of science suggesting that when you look deeper down to 1 or 2 meters, you get a very different answer,” he said. “Might see a net reversal, when you look at the full profile. Everybody’s focusing on the shallow surface layer. And you need to pay attention to emerging evidence about what happens across the deeper soil.”  The second reason soil is more complicated is because it requires extensive physical sampling, which is expensive. Forestry, on the other hand, can use satellite imagery to verify the trees exist and are in the locations the model is assuming. No satellite can tell you what is going on in the soil.  Everybody’s focusing on the shallow surface layer. And you need to pay attention to emerging evidence about what happens across the deeper soil. 3. Both have additionality issues, but they differ Additionality is really hard to prove with any carbon offset project. For the uninitiated, additionality is the concept that the carbon removal is happening because of the investment from a carbon credit market and wouldn’t have happened without that investment. Most of the time you are comparing one outcome to one that never actually happened. So additionality is always just an estimation evaluated against a baseline.  Forestry credits have been having an issue with that baseline calculation.  “The protocols are allowing landowners that are already managing their lands in sustainable ways to claim a baseline with aggressive harvesting, and earn offset credits without necessarily changing their land management practice,” Barbara Haya, research fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, said during the VERGE 20 forestry credit session. A land trust that was never going to chop down their trees could be collecting a forestry offset on the baseline that it would sell all its wood to the timber market. The company that invests to keep those trees alive actually hasn’t protected anything.  On the soil side, there are economic advantages to regenerative agriculture practices. Studies indicate that crop rotations, no-till procedures and other sustainable techniques can increase crop yield, decrease costs and sequester more carbon into the land. Farmers have an economic incentive without the carbon market to change land management routines.  Cullenward expressed concern that farmers are just tacking on the climate benefits to a decision they already have made to get a few extra bucks from the carbon market.  4. Soil credits have more upfront costs than forestry However, a rebuttal to the idea that farmers are making the switch to regenerative practices on their own is the large upfront costs it takes to do so. Adoption among farmers of regenerative practices is a big issue. They have to learn new skills and buy new machinery. Even then, according to Alexsandra Guerra, director of corporate development at Nori, a soil carbon marketplace, farmers will see reductions in yield for a few years. “That does not make financial sense. A farmer isn’t going to adopt practices that for even a second, or even one growing season, will decrease yields much less for three to seven years,” she said. “Farmers need to see there’s a financial mechanism, trading price on carbon, where they could enter in some preliminary data and say, ‘Oh, look, this how much money I can earn in a carbon market for the next 10 years.'” They need to be able to   create a financially viable plan for their farm and the carbon market investment helps bridge the gap.  In forestry, while some surveying costs are needed early on in the process, the carbon market is paying them to not do something, such as chop down the trees, which is much cheaper than paying farmers to do something. 5. Forestry’s longer contracts can create permanence horizon concerns  We need carbon to be stored for centuries to make a real impact, but short-term contracts might be the way to go. Nori makes farmers commit to a 10-year contract for soil sequestration. While 10 years is not enough to make an impact on our atmosphere, it allows Nori to check in on the farms and ensure they are continuing regenerative practices more often, every time they re-up on the contract.  Right now, forestry credit contracts tend towards 50 or even 100 years. Cullenward warned that buyers should be skeptical of forestry contracts written for these longer periods. Few partnerships in any field survive 100 years. The longest contract a typical financial institution will give you is a 30-year mortgage. Yet many forestry offset buys are content to sign onto a 100-year offset without really understanding how to monitor something for a century.  “You don’t know how credible those contracts really are,” he said.  6. Soil carbon sequestration can be lost easier and quicker The biggest risk for soil carbon offsets is how quickly they can be reversed. Just as easily as carbon can be put into the ground, it can be taken out. According to soil health experts such as Haya from UC Berkeley, there are a lot of biological ways carbon can be lost from the soil. Many of these are instantaneous when a landowner decides to change the way land is plowed. According to Cullenward, soil carbon is more vulnerable to reversals than forestry because a farmer easily can switch back to traditional farming methods without much notice.  To release all the carbon in a forest, however, takes a lot more time and planning. Getting machinery into the forest to chop the trees, finding a buyer and shipping the logs is a lot more obvious and visible. There is more time for intervention to prevent carbon loss. But there is one way forests can lose all the carbon in a matter of moments: wildfires. And with the fire season becoming more brutal and longer due to climate change and bad forestry management practices, it becomes a renewed and very real problem for forestry credits.  There are a lot of issues with both types of credits. But there are a lot of opportunities as well. Seizing the opportunities while addressing the issues is something we desperately need to figure out, and soon.  “There’s a climate crisis. I think that the space is rushing to find a solution because we need a solution,” Guerra said. “We will never figure it out without actually implementing it.”  Pull Quote Everybody’s focusing on the shallow surface layer. And you need to pay attention to emerging evidence about what happens across the deeper soil. Topics Forestry Carbon Removal Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Forestry Carbon Removal VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Understanding the different limitations of forestry and soil credits illuminates the wide variety of issues in the carbon offset market.//Courtesy of Unsplash

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If people will believe in QAnon, why won’t they believe in climate change?

November 4, 2020 by  
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If people will believe in QAnon, why won’t they believe in climate change? Suzanne Shelton Wed, 11/04/2020 – 00:15 In 2017, 65 percent of Americans believed that climate change was occurring and that it was caused by human activity. According to our latest Eco Pulse polling, that number is down to 55 percent. Now, what I regularly tell people about this seemingly distressing news is that the number of actual climate deniers — Americans who believe climate change isn’t occurring at all — stands at only 17 percent, right where it was in 2016. I regularly say, “We need to stop focusing on whose fault it is. If your kid calls you and says he or she has just been in a car wreck, your first question is, ‘Are you OK?’ not, ‘Whose fault was it?’ So, in our messaging let’s just focus on the fact that there’s a widely acknowledged problem and we should all do something about it.” I do still think that’s the right approach. But as noted in my blog post a couple of weeks ago , I think those of us in the sustainability community have something to learn from the Disinformation Machine. And I’ve found myself pondering the question in the headline of this piece a lot. To me, the QAnon conspiracy theory doesn’t even seem like a viable plot for a Hollywood blockbuster. Imagine the pitch to an A-list star: “So, half the politicians in Washington, and many in the entertainment industry, are leading a Satanic cult, kidnapping children and forcing them into a shadowy underworld of sex trafficking. These terrible villains sometimes kill the children to extract their adrenaline in order to make themselves younger and more powerful. You’re the president of the United States, recruited specifically to run for president so that you can destroy this evil plan. Many people in this terrifying cult will try to stop you — accusing you of courting foreign interference in your election, trying to impeach you, even throwing a pandemic your way. But you will not be stopped!” I can see three things the QAnon story has going for it that we need to figure out in the land of sustainability communications. Can’t you picture any star going, “Um, neat. And no.” It just sounds too far-fetched, right? How could that possibly be a plausible story? Of course, that’s how some people feel about climate change. As in, “Really? You expect me to believe in some unseen force that’s going to destroy life as we know it, and I’m supposed to give up fossil fuels and meat to save us all? Come on …” I can see three things the QAnon story has going for it that we need to figure out in the land of sustainability communications: 1. Save the children. That’s a QAnon rallying cry that looks to be pretty effective in pulling more mainstream moms into the fold. Most moms, myself included, are instinctively wired to protect children in peril. This is why it’s imperative that we stop talking about climate change as something that’s going to affect “future generations.” Who the heck are those people? And how am I supposed to have personal feelings about a generation? No, frame the message as “your children and grandchildren.” Co-opt the idea of “save the children” to use it to move people to take action against climate change. 2. Evil/the Devil. I recently finished the seventh Harry Potter book with my daughter. If you’ve read it — or even just heard about it — you know the entire series is about Harry ultimately saving the wizarding world from Voldemort, the incarnation of evil. We get how awful Voldemort is, and we desperately want Harry to win. That same idea has been played out over and over in books, movies and even in country-building — Nazi Germany horrifyingly positioned an entire group of people as evil. QAnon is doing the same thing (and many parallels have been drawn to anti-Semitic tropes). The trick, then, is how do we create an evil target to fight against to move people to action on climate change? Perhaps climate change itself is the evil? Perhaps it’s Big Oil? We need a villain to make our narrative more powerful. 3. Somebody people want a reason to hate. One thing I think is particularly nefarious and powerful about the QAnon narrative is that it holds up celebrities that many in America may want a reason to hate as perpetrators of the atrocities. It’s unpopular to hate Oprah Winfrey or the Pope. But say you actually don’t like them, for whatever reason. QAnon gives you a reason to justify your hate. And the whole Hillary Clinton “lock her up” thing that’s really old news? QAnon gives you a reason to bring it back and erase any lingering worries about the fact that Trump didn’t win the popular vote. “Who cares if she won the popular vote … she’s evil!” I don’t know who the equivalent is, but the “fight climate change” narrative needs more than a villain — we need a villain that people love to hate. Pull Quote I can see three things the QAnon story has going for it that we need to figure out in the land of sustainability communications. Topics Marketing & Communication Climate Change Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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If people will believe in QAnon, why won’t they believe in climate change?

EPA @ 50, and what it says about you and me

October 26, 2020 by  
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EPA @ 50, and what it says about you and me Terry F. Yosie Mon, 10/26/2020 – 01:45 The American people always have possessed a very personal relationship with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Like all personal relationships, the EPA and its public have their share of successes and shortcomings, adjustments of expectations to realities, and recognition that the daily grind of complexity reveals our own values however much they end up being compromised. Few institutions exhibit such a pervasive daily presence in American life as the EPA. Its decisions impact the air we breathe (indoors and outside), the water we drink, the food we eat, the health of the children we give birth to and raise, the cars and fuel we purchase, the beaches where we swim, the chemicals we consume (voluntarily or involuntarily) or the quality of nature that we enjoy. The public health and environmental benefits of the EPA’s actions have been enormous, even while controversial. As one example, a draft report to Congress from the current administration estimated that, over the past decade, annual benefits from EPA regulations ranged from $196 billion to $706 billion, while yearly economic costs were between $54 billion and $65 billion. On Dec. 2, the EPA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its establishment, not by an act of Congress but through an executive decision of President Richard M. Nixon. It has carried out its mission through the various statutes enacted by Congress beginning in 1970. The 50th-anniversary commemoration will not be widely celebrated because the EPA has become a political lightning rod among anti-regulatory conservative groups — who have dominated the national narrative about environmental policy during most of the past 40 years — and the toxic management of the current administration has weakened numerous health and environmental safeguards. However, the anniversary should stimulate serious reflection about what we as citizens expect from the EPA and ourselves if we are to successfully resolve the mounting domestic and international challenges that have placed the biological systems of our planet in various stages of collapse. The anniversary should stimulate serious reflection about what we as citizens expect from EPA and ourselves. A good place to begin that reflection is a new book by former senior EPA officials, “Fifty Years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Progress, Retrenchment and Opportunities,” edited by A. James Barnes, John D. Graham and David M. Konisky and soon to be published by Rowman & Littlefield. (I am co-author of the chapter on environmental science.) Long-term environmental policy observers will note that the EPA’s beginning coincided with a burst of public interest and participation to clean up America’s degraded skies, water and land. Often led by idealistic college students and affluent citizens of a growing middle class, a mass movement catalyzed new research, advocacy and media attention that greatly affected decisions in Congress and the executive branch and pioneered new judicial interpretations supportive of the EPA’s decisions. Fast-forward 50 years to the present. Both America and the EPA have experienced what author George Packer described as the “unwinding” of American life. The phenomenon of the unwinding means that people who have been on this earth since at least the 1960s “have watched structures that had been in place before your birth collapse like pillars of salt across the vast visible landscape … the order of everyday life … changed beyond recognition.” Unwinding support  America’s relationship to the EPA and environmental policy also has experienced an unwinding that has manifested itself in four distinctive ways: Environmental decision-making became less connected with core values and more focused around technocratic solutions. This understandable outcome resulted from a growing recognition that environmental problems were more complex than originally perceived and more costly to resolve. The resulting investments in science, technology and economic analysis, and debates over which scientific data and cost/benefit analysis met acceptable professional standards, moved the environmental conversation away from citizens and towards scientists and engineers and lawyers that knew how to craft or oppose regulations to support their positions. At times, these “insider” debates became dysfunctional (EPA’s scientific review of dioxin risks went on for about 20 years) and detracted from the ability to continuously engage in a broader public conversation about environmental priorities and the benefits of EPA policies to enhancing the quality of life. Bipartisan politics largely died. The bipartisanship present at EPA’s founding generally persisted through subsequent decades until the mid-1990s and the unveiling of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America. Deregulation was a central feature of this Republican agenda and has remained so to the present day. Democrats also abandoned the idea that the EPA should remain as an independent agency and, beginning with the Clinton administration, centralized much of environmental policymaking as part of the White House political operation. The financial advantages that Republicans and their corporate allies enjoyed supported their deregulatory agenda at all levels of government through gerrymandered congressional districts, volumes of commissioned studies conducted by their ideological supporters and more conservative judicial appointments. Both parties used environmental policy, and the EPA, as a weapon against their political opponents. A debilitated and insecure middle class led to weakened support for environmental protection. Beginning in the 1970s, America’s post-World War II economic success buckled through a series of recessions and depressions, oil embargoes, high inflation and low inflation, de-industrialization and free trade policies and financial collapses that eroded the affluence of the middle class. As a result, the widespread societal consensus for environmental protection fragmented across social and economic class lines as middle- and lower-income voters focused more directly on job security, health insurance and the broader social safety net. Advocacy groups opposed to taking action on climate change, strengthening controls on particulate matter or controlling non-point sources of water pollution were able to exploit the economic anxieties of workers in America’s industrial states and the farm belt. Environmental organizations, and other members of the center-left and progressive communities, have been slow to recognize that enacting their agenda necessarily depends upon building a new political coalition to build hope and job opportunities for those whose incomes have not kept pace in a changing economy. Public values have changed. Over several decades, public opinion polls consistently concluded that Americans support environmental protection as a second-tier priority (generally below health care, jobs and economic security, and education). These surveys, however, do not reveal that awareness of environmental problems necessarily motivates people to act upon this information, endorse specific policies or support EPA as an institution. The changing arc of the Baby Boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964) is a case in point. Boomers provided the tip of the emotional and advocacy spear for a host of environmental and social reforms while in their 20s and 30s. By the time they reached their 40s and 50s, their values and priorities had taken a decidedly more conservative turn in favor of tax cuts and more skepticism towards government intervention in the economy. They have represented a core part of the constituencies that elected the Reagan, Bush and Trump administrations and Republican control of Congress. As this generation, now proceeding into its retirement years, experiences the COVID-19 pandemic, its receptivity towards government taking preventive public health actions and securing a broader economic and social safety net appears to be evolving yet again. Regenerating and refocusing Renewing support for environmental protection, and for the EPA specifically, critically depends upon reviving America’s democracy. Such renewal depends upon success in three areas: Expanding voting and other forms of civic participation across all income levels and social groups so that environmental policymakers and legislators hear from a more representative range of voices across society; Assuring that future abundance is distributed more equitably and that the risks (environmental or economic) generated from such abundance are reduced and managed more effectively; and Rethinking the EPA’s role in advancing environmental and social justice. The very complexity of American society and its overcharged political system has the unfortunate byproduct that issues don’t get the attention they deserve until a crisis emerges to focus public and political attention. A regeneration agenda for the environment and EPA can advance through the following initiatives: Re-establishing the EPA as a science-based, professional, independent agency whose decision-making processes are decoupled from any White House or campaign political operation. While the agency’s senior leadership will continue to be political appointees who will generally seek to reflect any specific administration’s priorities, supporting the professionalism and diversity of EPA staff and its adherence to widely accepted scientific and economic methods and peer standards can significantly augment its effectiveness, reputation and legitimacy. Investing in and broadening public access to environmental data and decision-making. This should include expanding research to understand the impacts of pollution upon minority populations and supplementing the array of risk reduction tools beyond traditional regulation to expedite decision making. The EPA also must embrace more direct and extensive public engagement to listen to public concerns and explain its actions through community outreach, talk radio, town hall meetings and social media. Most EPA administrators and their leadership teams have not conceived these actions as a vital responsibility nor have they possessed the critical communications skills for success. Re-establishing the public’s relationship with the EPA is a vital factor in restoring the agency as a credible and effective — and non-political — public institution. Integrating environmental protection within the economic renewal agenda. Expanding health care, investing in more innovative infrastructure (digital technologies and more equitable access to broadband) and decarbonizing the economy all provide unique opportunities to unify environmental and economic policies. Well-paying job opportunities, greater economic security, healthier lifestyles, more prosperous communities and a more sustainable planet are measurable outcomes of such a strategy. Being explicit about the values that environmental policies support. Oftentimes, public policy decisions are submerged in a barrage of models and concepts that are impenetrable, even to many of the most senior leaders of the EPA and other agencies. If the outcome of an environmental decision will increase the cost of a consumer product as a means of protecting children’s health or reducing hospital admissions from pollution — then say so. Over time, and more often than not, the public will support such reasoning and appreciate the honesty and integrity through which it is offered. The very complexity of American society and its overcharged political system has the unfortunate byproduct that issues don’t get the attention they deserve until a crisis emerges to focus public and political attention. Even more, unfortunately, our present moment is experiencing four simultaneous crises — public health, economic, race relations and global climate change. The current unwinding largely was predicted and has been long in the making. It, too, can be resolved if economic investment, science-based policies and public engagement expand although the process will take time and be noisy and sometimes disruptive. As for those Baby Boomers, many of whom have entered their retirement years, it’s time to pass the torch to the millennials and their idealism, new skills and alternative outlooks on life and the planet we inhabit. Pull Quote The anniversary should stimulate serious reflection about what we as citizens expect from EPA and ourselves. The very complexity of American society and its overcharged political system has the unfortunate byproduct that issues don’t get the attention they deserve until a crisis emerges to focus public and political attention. 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EPA @ 50, and what it says about you and me

These changes to our food systems could improve human and planetary health

October 26, 2020 by  
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These changes to our food systems could improve human and planetary health Oliver Camp Mon, 10/26/2020 – 01:30 On the recent World Food Day, the clarion call was clearer than ever: We must fix our food systems to improve human health, drive economic growth and save the planet from environmental collapse. The challenges facing us are wide-ranging. The way the world produces and consumes food causes huge environmental impacts, and yet 3 billion people worldwide are unable to afford a healthy diet, and up to a third of the food we produce is wasted. What’s more, hunger and micronutrient deficiencies are concentrated among the poorest and most vulnerable — often including those who produce the food we eat. Meanwhile, the so-called double burden of malnutrition is on the rise: hunger and malnourishment coexisting with overweight and obesity, often in the same countries, communities or even individuals. Tackling these multiple challenges and threats requires coordinated action from the public sector, private sector, NGOs, civil society, innovators and actors throughout the food value chain. In my role at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (a Swiss-based foundation on a mission to advance nutrition outcomes by improving the consumption of nutritious and safe food for all people, especially the most vulnerable), I am constantly inspired by the passion and commitment of our partners across these sectors. In particular, young leaders who refuse to accept the status quo are already driving real change and positive impact in food and ag. Over the past two months, I reached outside my usual network to discuss this topic via email with six fellow honorees from the 2020 GreenBiz 30 Under 30 , to which I was named in June. In particular, our exchange explored how food systems can be made healthier and more sustainable as we look to a future in which we’ll need to find a way to produce enough food to nourish as many as 10 billion people while staying within planetary boundaries. We also considered the role of young leaders from the private and public sectors in this essential transformation. All comments expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of their organizations. Below are excerpts, edited for style and length. If you’d like to discuss these subjects and the future of food systems, join Oliver Camp’s roundtable session Thursday at VERGE 20 . Jennifer Ballen, head of global market operations, Indigo Ag What concerns you about the current global food system when it comes to environmental sustainability and human health? Only eight countries in the world spend less than 10 percent of their household income on food, with the United States spending the least amount (around 6 percent). In contrast, Nigeria spends over half of its household income on food, followed by nine other countries that spend over 40 percent on food. This is not because food is more expensive in Africa than it is in the United States. Au contraire, it is the reverse. The average American spends $2,392 per year on food while the average Kenyan spends $543 per year on food (World Economic Forum, 2016). The global food system, like many of the world’s Achilles’ heels, is representative of the tragedy of the commons: a renowned economic theory by which individual agents of a system using shared resources act in accordance to their self-interest at the expense of society. As the demand for the resource overwhelms the supply, each additional unit consumed directly harms those who can no longer reap the benefits. The chief impediment is that the gain is private, yet the cost is public. One juicy hamburger for you equates to (about) 600 gallons of water consumed, 0.126 pounds of methane released, 13.5 pounds of cattle feed that could have been consumed by a malnourished human, 64.5 square feet of land and the assuaging of animal species distinction, water pollution and habitat destruction. My biggest concern is running out of time. Looking back with regret. My grandchildren wondering how our generation let this happen. The world seems to be less nourished than ever before. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), there are almost 60 million more undernourished people now as compared to 2014. In 2019, 690 million people or 8.9 percent of the world population were undernourished. Moreover, to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, scientists posit carbon emissions must drop rapidly to 25 gigatons by 2030, or 7.6 percent emissions reduction every year over the next decade (United Nations). Pause and consider how difficult this will be considering the pace at which our population is growing. We must change our relationship with food. What gives you hope and optimism when you look at the future of our global food system? The problem is vast. In our world of finite resources, we need to revolutionize the way we produce and consume food to ensure enough nutritious food for 9.8 billion people by 2050. And we need to do so in a way that reduces the environmental devastation on our planet. Awareness is vital to ignite change. I am optimistic that the world is “waking up” Corporations, governments and individuals are enduring the conversation and mobilizing around solutions aimed at producing enough nutritious food for our growing population in a sustainable manner. We have access to myriad documentaries and books aimed at increasing awareness. I am witnessing the increase in education ignite behavior changes in some communities: less meat; less waste; more conscious decisions.  People, corporations and governments are seemingly taking action. We’re seeing a variety of interesting solutions and advancements from the private sector such as carbon sequestration on farms, meatless food that tastes like meat, greater access to vegetarian and vegan options and the use of technology to reduce food waste. The public sector is mobilizing around curbing hunger. We’re working with each other, not at each other’s expense. Collaboration is queen if we are to solve this thing. How can young sustainability leaders play a role in securing a nutritious and sustainable future of food? Long-lived, profitable habits are hard to change. While some ignore the issue at hand, others point to the food system as “broken.” Both are dangerous vantage points. The chief impediment to the notion that a system is broken is the illusion that a system can easily be fixed. A different point of view is that the food system is not broken, but instead working exactly the way it was built — by and to the advantage of the rich at the expense of the poor. We don’t need small tweaks and improvements: We need a revolution.  The battle against climate change is vital. The more troops the merrier. Learn, share, act. Sustainability leaders of all ages must educate themselves on the systemic food production and consumption challenges and subsequently educate others. Sustainability leaders should vote those with strong environmental platforms into office. Leaders should also ‘vote’ with their wallets, supporting companies that are part of the solution and avoiding companies that are part of the problem. When designing solutions, it’s imperative to understand that the climate crisis and therefore the global food crisis disproportionately affects people of color, particularly Black and Indigenous peoples, who are more likely to live near toxic areas, be inflicted by pollution and climate-related diseases, experience lagging response to emergencies — the list, unfortunately, goes on. Sustainability leaders must vote at the polls and with their wallets. We need strong public sector commitments to mitigate the global food crisis. Sustainability leaders should vote those with strong environmental platforms into office. Leaders also should “vote” with their wallets, supporting companies that are part of the solution and avoiding companies that are part of the problem. Leaders must lead by example in their own food consumption habits. Is your household dependent on meat? Do you know where your food is coming from and how it is produced? Charlotte Bande, global head of climate strategy, Quantis International What concerns you about the current global food system when it comes to environmental sustainability and human health? I think the first element is how slow we are moving in the right direction. While I understand the complexity of these supply chains and how difficult it will be to fully transition to a more sustainable food system, we are losing critical time in endless debates that are not focusing on action.  A great example is accounting. Companies often spend months if not years trying to get the accounting perfect, and this can shift the focus away from action as a result. Accounting methodologies are yet to be refined and finalized and, in the meantime, companies need to try to find a balanced way to track progress while also taking action. Secondly, companies are setting individual targets to try to solve a global challenge. By focusing on reducing their own impacts instead of looking at things holistically, they sometimes end up losing sight of critical pieces and actually driving change. It leads them to focus on optimizing their current business models rather than taking a step back and look to transform it. To give some concrete examples of what I mean, let’s talk about three major transformations that our food system needs to undertake to become more sustainable, and where we are not seeing the right pace of change. Deforestation is a critical environmental challenge associated with the food system. It drives most of the food and beverage industry climate impacts, threatens biodiversity and water, as well as habitat for people and animals. While many companies are very aware of this issue, they are working on it in a siloed way, which significantly limits opportunities for improvement. Companies have targets that push them to fix their own supply chain, but this can lead to simply shifting the problem to another company’s supply chain. Companies are setting individual targets to try to solve a global challenge. By focusing on reducing their own impacts instead of looking at things holistically, they sometimes end up losing sight of critical pieces and actually driving change. Food loss and waste is another big environmental topic. And like deforestation, it affects much more than the environment alone. We need to feed 11 billion people in the future, and some studies estimate food loss and waste amounts to up to 50 percent of food production. Food loss and waste is very poorly measured right now, and most value chains are not equipped to understand the extent of food loss and waste that is occurring in their supply chain or at consumer levels. However, this is a topic that brings great economic and social opportunities. Reducing companies’ food loss and waste not only would help drastically reduce the food system’s heavy impact at the raw materials extraction stage, it also would help reduce costs, as less food would need to be produced to feed 11 billion people in the future. It might even help farmers earn more for what they sell. Finally, meat consumption. Animal protein production is heavily reliant on feed that is fossil-dependent and contributes to deforestation. To reach a 1.5 degrees Celsius world, we’ll need a paradigm shift in the way we raise animals, and regenerative agriculture practices can and should be a part of the solution. However, in addition to improving practices, there is an opportunity for producers to rally around the idea that less and more sustainable meat options, which will be critical to limit global warming, can still be good for business. These examples show the importance for every company to take a step back and look at the overall picture, understand what a 1.5 degrees C food system looks like, and define how their business model will need to shift to guarantee not only that we can stay within planetary boundaries, but also to ensure their business’ long term resilience. What gives you hope and optimism when you look at the future of our global food system? The first thing is the shift in consumer mindsets. In Southern California, where I live, I can see the explosion of interest in our local farmers’ markets or the appearance of plant-based options on restaurant menus. To me, this really shows a demand from consumers for these products. On a corporate level, working with companies at Quantis, I have seen a major shift over the past few years. Companies now have a good sense of where their major drivers lie and are seeing the case for some environmental actions. Additionally, they start to better identify where risks associated with a siloed approach might occur and ensure that their identified solutions aren’t simply shifting impacts. Finally, NGOs like the WWF are working to define what a sustainable food system looks like, and I’m hopeful that bringing more clarity on the level of sector-wide transformation needed will help companies take the transformative actions we need. How can young sustainability leaders play a role in securing a nutritious and sustainable future of food? I believe it is our role to make these risks and opportunities more visible. During conversations with companies we work with at Quantis, I always try to bring a more global perspective in our discussions, supporting companies in identifying the questions that will put them on the right path and broadening the conversation towards business model transformation rather than incremental changes.  It’s also our role to share our knowledge with the people we know. Not everyone works in our fields and has access to the information we have. We should use this to help others make better-informed decisions by helping them learn what we have learned throughout our careers.  And finally, ask more from our politicians and governments. This is a global challenge that will require collective action. We need everyone on board. Arturo Elizondo, CEO, Clara Foods What concerns you about the current global food system when it comes to environmental sustainability and human health? I am deeply concerned about our reliance on animals to make our food. From a sustainability standpoint, animal agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector (all the planes, ships, cars in the world combined). And from a health standpoint, it’s the cornerstone of the Standard American Diet directly fueling heart disease as the No. 1 killer in the country. What gives you hope and optimism when you look at the future of our global food system? Conscious consumers give me hope. People voting with their dollars. If it weren’t for conscious consumers actively trying to eat more sustainably, pushing companies to source better and more ethical ingredients, and striving to eat less meat and animal products, the sustainable food-tech startups that can scale massively to transform our food system would have a harder time getting off the ground. How can young sustainability leaders play a role in securing a nutritious and sustainable future of food? Advocate for plant-based options at your corporate cafeterias, get you and your colleagues at work to do Meatless Mondays, and get you and your friends excited about out all the new plant-based foods that are now ubiquitous. Demand drives supply. A tiny ripple can create a tsunami. It makes a difference. Alyssa Harding, executive director, Sustainable Food Trade Association What concerns you about the current global food system when it comes to environmental sustainability and human health? Our food system as it is today is broken and is disconnected from the needs of its stakeholders. Our planet’s 500 million smallholder farmers tend to be the most impoverished and malnourished groups, not to mention the disproportionate lack of equitable access to healthy, nutritious food that low income, minority communities often face. We need to find sustainable and equitable solutions that provide nutritious food to almost 10 billion people by 2050, and remedy the global food inequity that permeates our communities and supply chains. What gives you hope and optimism when you look at the future of our global food system? The global pandemic has illustrated that local, sustainable supply chains are more resilient, and with the rise of regenerative organic agriculture, it is clear that a redefined food system can provide an opportunity for climate impact and environmental justice. I’ve worked with many brands over the past few years who are intrinsically motivated to find good food solutions and think business as a force for good has a unique role to play in both climate action and social justice. Although sustainable food systems lag behind energy and health when it comes to investment and policy, we are at a critical mass to help push forward sustainable development, focus on equitable food access, and diversify our leadership to better serve our economies, people and planet. How can young sustainability leaders play a role in securing a nutritious and sustainable future of food? Many of my colleagues can be considered young leaders, and youth climate activists have been gaining a lot of momentum in terms of educational awareness and producer responsibility. I feel very fortunate to pursue both my personal and professional passions in one role, and I think that young leaders can bridge the gap between industry/sector leaders and bring new technology innovation, research hubs, new financing mechanisms and radical collaboration to our conversations on building a truly holistic food system. José Miguel Salazar, senior specialist, corporate sustainability services, CSRone What concerns you about the current global food system when it comes to environmental sustainability and human health? Since the Industrial Revolution, as humanity we have been achieving unprecedented progress in terms of decoupling famine from our living conditions due to advances in technological innovation, science and more efficient industrial practices, among others. However, our modern food systems also have brought a new set of global challenges that require urgent attention and action to fix systemic failures that threaten our way forward. In terms of environmental sustainability, our current global food system accounts roughly for 12.8 percent of our total global greenhouse gas emissions , and its contribution as a sector to climate change is quite significant. In addition, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that roughly a third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted along different stages of the value chain. If food waste alone were a country, its emissions would rank third in carbon emissions after China and the U.S. Fixing our food system is an important component to address the urgent climate crisis and at the core lies decoupling our reliance on animal-based foods, which overall have a significantly higher footprint than plant-based foods. We as sustainability professionals have a unique positioning in our organizations, networks and communities to serve as ambassadors or influencers to communicate these challenges and emphasize the opportunities … In terms of human health, based on the latest estimates from the Global Nutrition Report, globally one in nine people is hungry or undernourished, and one in three people is overweight or obese. These findings indicate that a very significant percentage of the world’s population is affected by malnutrition and at least by one or some of the following health issues: poor child growth; micronutrient deficiencies; overweight and obesity; and non-communicable diseases. These health issues ultimately could bring serious and lasting burden for individuals and their families, for communities and for countries. The convergence of these challenges creates unprecedented risks for the sustainability of our natural environment and the development of societies and economies. Moreover, we need to keep in mind that our world population is expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050, hence food production would have to be increased to meet growing demands and, of course, we would have to bring innovations along the value chain. In this regard, what concerns me the most is our ability to accelerate the innovation and change at scale that is needed on time and in ways that respect human well-being and the environment. What gives you hope and optimism when you look at the future of our global food system? There are several positive signals of change I’ve been observing in the last few years. But I’d like to highlight three in particular: 1. Growing awareness and changing behaviors. Increased access to education and modern communication technologies have brought more attention towards these issues, and rapidly emerging groups of consumers advocate and favor food products that are more nutritious, with lower environmental footprint and that contribute to regenerative agricultural practices. This is still a niche market from the total, however many social enterprises, companies and even multinational corporations are understanding and designing or re-adjusting their operations to meet these emerging needs. 2. Advances in technologies and their applications. Solving these challenges requires addressing a number of gaps (food production gaps, agricultural land area use gaps, GHG mitigation gaps, inequities gaps, nutrition outcomes gaps, etc.) and this requires better collection and analysis of data. Emerging new technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence can help us to understand and identify areas to invest resources and increase positive impact. 3. The rise of multi-stakeholder initiatives. Organizations such as GAIN, the FAO, the Global Nutrition Report, the WEF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) provide important platforms for different stakeholders to convene and develop system-wide proposals and solutions. These initiatives can be implemented on the ground through the collaboration of governments, investors, business, NGOs, civil society and consumers that have the capacity to accelerate change and scale up the innovations where needed the most while creating shared value. Solving the food systems challenge is an immense task and it could not be addressed by one stakeholder alone. How can young sustainability leaders play a role in securing a nutritious and sustainable future of food? Since this is a very complex and systemic challenge, I think there are plenty of areas where sustainability leaders can advance progress. Any sort of innovation brought along the value chain (production, storing, processing and packaging, distribution and consumption) will be important. There is a great report from the World Resources Institute (WRI) that offers a set of five solutions to ensure we can feed 10 billion people by 2050 without increasing emissions, fueling deforestation or exacerbating poverty. I highly recommend everyone interested in the topic to take a look at it. In my view, anybody can exercise the role of a positive agent of change in these topics and move forward solutions; however, in terms of how and where can young sustainability leaders be most influential, I believe it is through the advocacy of the risks and opportunities from the food system failures internally in their organizations and externally with the wider society and governments. We as sustainability professionals have a unique positioning in our organizations, networks and communities to serve as ambassadors or influencers to communicate these challenges, but also and most importantly emphasize the opportunities of creating shared-value and proposing practical initiatives that can bring these opportunities forward.   Katerina Fragos, manager, sustainability and climate change consulting, PwC What concerns you about the current global food system when it comes to environmental sustainability and human health? I have three concerns with the global food system. First, a large majority of medical practitioners will tell you that nutrition is not well-covered in medical school curriculum just as several farmers will tell you that regenerative agriculture techniques are not yet well-understood in their community groups. This means that two of the most important stakeholders in our health and food system are missing the knowledge and tools to entrench sustainability within the system. Second, modern life has decoupled us from the food system, with many of us never visiting a farm or tending to a garden in our lifetimes. A lack of exposure to the various steps in our food system value chain makes it challenging to understand just how damaged the system has become. Third, the cheapest and most available foods are also often the least healthy and sustainable. We need to start replacing calorie-dense, nutrition-devoid foods with plant-based, nutrition-rich alternatives to make the healthiest foods the most accessible and affordable. What gives you hope and optimism when you look at the future of our global food system? I am encouraged by the large number of medical professionals focusing on communicating and simplifying the complex science behind nutrition and health to empower people to make more informed food choices. There are fantastic sources of information available. To name a few: Dr. Michael Gregger’s NutritionFacts.org and Daily Dozen app as well as Dr. Will Bulsiewicz’s Fiber Fueled . There is also a great deal of momentum around regenerative agriculture with organizations such as the Land Institute , Regeneration International and RegenAg taking the lead. Interestingly, certain experts, like Dr. Zach Bush, have even begun to triangulate the concepts of health, nutrition and regenerative agriculture through efforts such as the Farmer’s Footprint . How can young sustainability leaders play a role in securing a nutritious and sustainable future of food? From a personal perspective, a few actions to consider: transition towards a plant-based diet; aim to grow our own food (start small with herbs) if possible; try to buy from local farmers; look for third-party certifications (RFA, organic, etc.). From a professional perspective, there are plenty of opportunities to drive action. For instance, aim to influence the spending habits of the organization you work for (catered events, cafeteria options), work for food manufacturers and retailers to help accelerate their transitions to more sustainable and regenerative models; participate in sustainable food advocacy groups or organizations. Pull Quote Sustainability leaders should vote those with strong environmental platforms into office. Leaders should also ‘vote’ with their wallets, supporting companies that are part of the solution and avoiding companies that are part of the problem. Companies are setting individual targets to try to solve a global challenge. By focusing on reducing their own impacts instead of looking at things holistically, they sometimes end up losing sight of critical pieces and actually driving change. We as sustainability professionals have a unique positioning in our organizations, networks and communities to serve as ambassadors or influencers to communicate these challenges and emphasize the opportunities … Topics Food & Agriculture 30 Under 30 VERGE 20 Collective Insight 30 Under 30 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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These changes to our food systems could improve human and planetary health

BP, Shell, oil giants fund research into mobile carbon capture from ships at sea

October 26, 2020 by  
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BP, Shell, oil giants fund research into mobile carbon capture from ships at sea Michael Holder Mon, 10/26/2020 – 00:05 A coalition of oil and gas majors are eyeing up the potential to capture carbon dioxide emissions from ships out at sea, teaming up with global tanker owner and operator Stena Bulk to evaluate the feasibility of technology they claim could play a key role in decarbonizing the hard-to-abate sector. The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) — which represents 12 of the world’s largest oil and gas companies including BP, Shell, Exxon, Chevron, Aramco and Petrobras — revealed recently it is funding research alongside Stena Bulk into mobile carbon capture on board ships out at sea. The project aims to evaluate the technical and economic challenges involved in capturing CO2 from ships cruising the oceans, and is in part an extension to OGCI member Saudi Aramco’s research which it claims has successfully demonstrated carbon capture on board heavy-duty trucks on roads, it said. “Carbon capture will play an important role in reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions, but there’s no reason it needs to be limited to stationary applications,” said Michael Traver, head of OGCI’s transport workstream. “Expanding carbon capture to long-distance marine shipping could help accelerate its use, while addressing a difficult to abate sector of the transport industry.” Expanding carbon capture to long-distance marine shipping could help accelerate its use. OGCI claims mobile carbon capture technologies aboard ships could help the global shipping sector reach its current climate target to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2050, from a 2008 baseline — a goal that has faced criticism from green groups for lacking ambition. The research itself is also likely to provoke renewed criticism of the OCGI’s priorities, given it focuses on CCS technologies that would in effect prolong the use of fossil fuels to power ships, rather than on alternative, low or zero carbon shipping fuels that could transition the sector away from fossil fuels altogether. But Stena Bulk President and CEO Erik Hånell argued it was “increasingly evident that we need to evaluate as many potential solutions as possible that might help decarbonize the industry.” “Carbon capture might be such a solution with the potential to play a key role in this transition, and this feasibility study presents a unique opportunity for us to work with some of our key customers to understand and assess the technical and economic challenges involved in making carbon capture work onboard vessels,” he said. The global shipping sector is responsible for around 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and has received flak over its failure to come up with a detailed, ambitious plan to decarbonize in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The global shipping sector is responsible for around 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) — the UN-affiliated body which oversees the global shipping sector — agreed on a draft target to cut global emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008, alongside targets to cut the average carbon intensity by at least 40 percent by 2030. However, details of the strategy have yet to be fully thrashed out, and crunch negotiations over how the industry should go about meeting its near-term 2030 climate goals are set to kick off today at the IMO, amid concerns from green groups that current proposals amount to an “empty shell. ” Meanwhile, the OGCI today announced that its members collectively have reduced the cut their absolute upstream methane emissions by 22 percent since 2017, shrinking the methane intensity of members’ upstream oil and gas to operations to 0.23 percent. It surpasses its target to cut methane intensity to 0.25 percent by 2020, and as such the OGCI has set a stricter goal of 0.2 percent by 2025. Moreover, the group claims to have cut its carbon intensity by 7 percent collectively since 2017, as it pushes towards its target for a 13 percent cut.  However, carbon intensity targets have faced increasing criticism from green groups, as organizations potentially can still increase their overall emissions by expanding their business while reducing the CO2 intensity of their operations.  Pull Quote Expanding carbon capture to long-distance marine shipping could help accelerate its use. The global shipping sector is responsible for around 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Topics Oil & Gas Carbon Removal Shipping & Logistics BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Stena Conqueror is a Oil and Chemical Tanker, built by Swedish tanker giant Stena Bulk. The company is participating in a novel carbon capture project for shipping. Flickr royvanwijk Close Authorship

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