Is COVID-19 slowing progress toward the SDGs? Yes, say experts.

March 30, 2021 by  
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Is COVID-19 slowing progress toward the SDGs? Yes, say experts. Tove Malmqvist Tue, 03/30/2021 – 01:00 As we move into a crucial decade of action on achieving serious progress on sustainability, many are hoping the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic recession will serve to reset our priorities toward a greener future in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, many experts are not optimistic about the possibility of a green recovery. Over half of sustainability professionals believe that COVID-19 instead will slow the rate of progress toward achieving the SDGs, according to a new report,  Evaluating Progress on the SDGs , by GlobeScan and The SustainAbility Institute by ERM . Findings from the research also show that sustainability practitioners continue to report poor progress toward each of the 17 goals, as well as on sustainable development overall. Nearly 500 experienced sustainability professionals in 75 countries were asked to evaluate the progress that has been made, on sustainable development overall and on each SDG; to rank the relative urgency of each goal; and to share insights into the priorities within their own organizations. Experts also were asked how the pandemic will affect progress on the SDGs. The survey also tracked expert opinions polled in 2017 and 2019. Sustainability practitioners report poor progress toward each of the 17 goals, as well as on sustainable development overall. When asked to rate the progress to date on the overall transition to sustainable development, more than half of sustainability experts (54 percent) say progress has been poor, with most remaining respondents giving neutral ratings (41 percent). Only 4 percent are satisfied with society’s achievements so far. Those who have the most negative views on progress tend to work in the academic and research sector, with European experts being the most negative. Negative expert perceptions of our collective sustainability efforts so far are also apparent in their assessments of progress on individual SDGs, with majorities rating achievements as poor on 10 of the 17 Goals. Life Below Water (Goal No. 14), Reduced Inequalities (No. 10), Life on Land No. 15) and No Poverty (No. 1) are seen by experts as the SDGs where society’s level of achievement has lagged the most. Proportions of seven in 10 or higher see progress in these areas as being poor — particularly on Reduced Inequalities. In contrast, only around one-third of experts believe that there has been poor progress on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (No. 9) and Partnership for the Goals (No. 17). Sustainability experts tend to believe that several goals where progress has been the most unsatisfactory are also the most urgent, which is a cause for some concern. When asked to assess which goals require the most urgent action, experts overwhelmingly choose Climate Action (No. 13) — a goal that fewer than one in 10 experts say we have made good progress on achieving. Reduced Inequalities, the goal with the lowest overall score in terms of our collective progress, also ranked as one of the most important areas for action — along with Life on Land and Responsible Consumption and Production (No. 12). The perceived urgency of Reduced Inequalities has increased compared to 2019 in the wake of the pandemic, highlighting the unequal impact experienced by poorer countries as well as more vulnerable populations within countries. Within their own work and organizations, sustainability professionals are most likely to be addressing Climate Action; almost half of experts surveyed (44 percent) and more than half of corporate sustainability professionals (52 percent) say this is one of the SDGs receiving the most attention within their own organizations or work. Climate Action is prioritized by respondents across most sectors and regions except the academic and research sector and among those based in Africa and the Middle East, both of which focus more on Quality Education (No. 4). Far fewer (6 percent) say they focus their work on Reduced Inequalities, despite the relative parallel urgency of this secondary issue. Other goals that are mainly overlooked include No Poverty, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (No. 16), and Zero Hunger (No 2). The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have further dampened experts’ views on our collective progress on the SDGs. Around one-third of those surveyed say that the pandemic will serve to accelerate headway on achieving the goals, perhaps placing their hope in the potential of Green New Deals or renewed faith in our potential to collectively solve great challenges such as developing vaccines to save humanity. But over half instead believe that the pandemic and its economic impacts will further slow our already dismal progress. Experts in the service and media sector are more optimistic about the potential impact of the pandemic, whereas respondents in the academic and research and NGO sectors, along with those based in Latin America and in Africa and the Middle East, are most prone to pessimism — possibly reflecting the limited resources available in many markets that may be directed away from long-term sustainability priorities to cover more immediate needs. This diversion from the SDGs toward other more immediate issues resulting from the pandemic and its economic impacts should be of great concern to all. At this crucial point in time, we need to ensure that our collective efforts on sustainable development are not only maintained but accelerated. Pull Quote Sustainability practitioners report poor progress toward each of the 17 goals, as well as on sustainable development overall. Topics Commitments & Goals Sustainable Development Goals / SDGs Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage

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Is COVID-19 slowing progress toward the SDGs? Yes, say experts.

The climate crisis needs climate leadership from businesses now

September 29, 2020 by  
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The climate crisis needs climate leadership from businesses now Maria Mendiluce Tue, 09/29/2020 – 01:00 As the world grapples with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial inequality and more, the impacts of climate change cannot be ignored. Most weeks bring fresh headlines of wildfires, droughts and rapidly melting ice caps. They’re a reminder that climate action cannot wait for calmer times.  Encouragingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has not diminished the recognized need for bold climate action and actually has strengthened resolve among citizens, companies, governments and investors to drive real progress. Consequently the need to develop a robust leadership position on climate action is more urgent than ever and central to any company’s strategic vision.  Companies can harness this moment to join the race to zero and set a course out of the crisis though climate leadership. For a business to be considered a leader on climate it must respond to the climate crisis with ambition, deliver on that ambition with action and speak up to secure wider change through advocacy. This means aligning corporate ambition with the best available climate science, setting a target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, at the latest, and setting strong interim targets to get there through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Companies then need to identify and implement action to deliver on their ambition, including engaging with supply chains. The small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that make up the supply chains of many of the world’s largest companies can access help in setting and achieving climate targets through the new SME Climate Hub . Companies also need to be transparent about progress toward their goals through disclosure and reporting. Beyond that, companies need to advocate for climate action at all levels of government, to industry peers and trade groups, ensuring alignment with lobbying practices and net-zero targets. Companies are stepping up The good news is many of the world’s largest companies are already stepping up their ambition. Just this month, companies including PayPal, Walmart, Ford and Facebook have increased their level of climate commitment, announcing bold strategies to accelerate the zero-carbon transition. To date, nearly 300 companies have joined the Business Ambition for 1.5 Degrees C campaign, led by SBTi, including those in hard-to-abate sectors such as the world’s largest cement maker, LafargeHolcim.  LafargeHolcim’s commitment represents real ambition. The company is not only aligning its own 2030 decarbonization pathway with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, it also is helping to develop a pathway for the entire cement sector, in conjunction with the SBTi. It is clearly the kind of leadership the world needs. Meanwhile, Amazon is taking action against its bold commitment to be carbon-neutral by 2040. Just this month, the online retail giant launched a new program to help make it easier for customers to switch to more sustainable products through labeling and certifications, Climate Pledge Friendly . Last month, the company announced it is buying 1,800 electric delivery vans from Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, building on its previous deal to buy 100,000 electric vans from Rivian Automotive out to 2030.  And companies including renewable energy pioneer Ørsted recognize the importance of working with governments to accelerate climate action and speaking up to make it clear they support bold climate policies.  “It’s quite clear that governments cannot do it alone, and companies cannot do it alone. We need to work together. Governments need to set ambitious targets for carbon reduction and renewable energy deployment and create the visibility needed for companies to deploy the vast amount of capital and drive the innovation that is needed to further mature and scale renewable energy and to further bring down costs,” said Jakob Askou Bøss, senior vice president at Ørsted.  These are some examples, but we want to see many more. We urge all companies to engage with these three A’s: ambition; action; and advocacy. Our new guide, Climate Leadership Now , outlines how companies can progress their climate strategy towards a climate leadership position fit for this decisive decade. Now is the time to join the Race to Zero and show leadership in the global effort to tackle the climate crisis.  Now is the time for companies to lead on climate, to lead us out of this crisis.  Topics Climate Change COVID-19 Climate Strategy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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The climate crisis needs climate leadership from businesses now

Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future

September 1, 2020 by  
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Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future Heather Clancy Tue, 09/01/2020 – 00:02 Business strategy organization Boston Consulting Group will use remote workplace lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce per-employee travel by at least 30 percent by 2025, one key element of the $8.5 billion company’s new commitment to achieve net-zero status for its own operations by the end of this decade.  It’s also planning an investment push that will see it fund carbon removal projects at a starting cost of $25 per metric ton in 2025, increasing to $80 per metric ton in 2030 — far higher than the amount companies traditionally pay to purchase carbon offsets on voluntary markets.  Both declarations are notable, for different reasons. The consulting industry traditionally has relied heavily on travel to deliver services — it represents 80 percent of BCG’s total footprint, for example. Reducing that activity is something that neither the consulting sector nor its clients would have imagined was possible at the end of 2019, BCG CEO Rich Lesser told GreenBiz. “We are in a period of unbelievable learning,” he said. “My expectation is we will find different kinds of models with less travel intensity.” While BCG hasn’t made any specific commitments about what that model might look like, Lesser said it could include using videoconferencing for certain sorts of engagements in the future rather than sending someone for an on-site meeting or arranging for consultants to work at client locations on a staggered, rotating basis rather than all at the same time. Within its own operations — it has 21,000 employees and offices in 50 countries — BCG is aiming to reduce direct energy and electricity emissions by 90 percent per full-time employee against a baseline measurement of 2018, according to the new set of commitments the company announced Tuesday. It previously committed to purchasing 100 percent renewable energy and will use energy-efficiency measures to fill the gap. Beyond 2030, BCG aspires to be “climate positive” — by removing more carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere on an ongoing basis than it actually emits through its own activities. While the company didn’t publicly identify projects in its press release about the new commitments, those investments will be for both nature-based and “engineered” solutions. “I suspect it will be a mix of both,” Lesser said, adding that BCG will prioritize “change the game” kinds of solutions. One example of an organization with which BCG already works is Indigo Ag, the company behind the Terraton Initiative, an effort to draw down 1 trillion tons of atmospheric CO2 through regenerative agriculture and soil wellness initiatives. Indigo is growing fast both in terms of funding and connections with farmers, which are hoping to get credit for the carbon sequestration potential of their agricultural practices. In early August, it added $360 million in new financing, bringing its overall total to $535 million. The Indigo Marketplace, where it links growers prioritizing sustainability practices directly with grain buyers, has completed more than $1 billion in transactions since September 2018. ‘The model has yet to be fully proved out, but there is massive capacity,” Lesser said. Aside from its own commitments, BCG also has pledged up to $400 million in services — such as research or consulting support through its Center for Climate Action — to support environmental organizations, industry groups, government agencies and others working on net-zero projects. It works on more than 350 such projects with more than 250 organizations, including the World Economic Forum, WWF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. How does BCG’s new pledges compare with other leading business consulting firms? McKinsey & Company declared carbon neutrality in 2018 and has set emissions reductions in line with the Paris Agreement, including a 60 percent reduction in purchased energy by 2030 and by 90 percent by 2050. It also has been active in engaging its suppliers — including 50 of the world’s largest airlines and five of the biggest hotel groups — on how to improve environment performance. And it has a large sustainability practice, focused on helping other businesses reduce their own impact. Another business consulting heavyweight, Bain & Company, was declared carbon neutral by Natural Capital Partners in 2012. It has reduced its direct emissions by 70 percent since 2011, with a pledge to reach 90 percent by 2040. It committed to delivering up to $1 billion in pro bono consulting work for social impact projects between 2015 and 2025. (So far, it has delivered about $335 million.) Topics Corporate Strategy Carbon Removal Net-Zero 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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Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future

What if sports reacted to climate change like it’s reacting to coronavirus?

March 25, 2020 by  
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GreenSportsBlog’s Lew Blaustein lays out a future that imagines how American sports leagues could take climate action.

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What if sports reacted to climate change like it’s reacting to coronavirus?

What to know about Hulu’s Greta Thunberg documentary

February 28, 2020 by  
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Hopeful, passionate and completely fearless, Greta Thunberg is quickly becoming the face of climate change awareness. The teenage climate activist became a household name after a school-wide strike ignited an international sensation, inspiring millions of young people to stand up to the environmental crisis plaguing the planet we all share. Since those first days of solitary protests outside of the Swedish Parliament, Thunberg has continued to be an example for climate activism. From taking a zero-emissions sailboat for two weeks to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit to publicly putting the world’s leading politicians on blast, it appears that the 16-year-old is just getting started. Now, her inspirational efforts will be explored in a new Greta Thunberg documentary by Hulu. Hulu recently announced that the original documentary on 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg will be released sometime in 2020. Directed by Nathan Grossman and tentatively titled Greta , the documentary will follow the young activist beginning in August 2018, when she single-handedly started a climate-focused strike in her school in Stockholm, Sweden at the age of 15. The strike and its passion-fueled message made headlines around the world; seemingly overnight, the young girl was catapulted into the spotlight at the center of the climate crisis stage. Related: 16 must-see environmental documentaries Thunberg is the daughter of opera singer Malena Ernman and actor Svante Thunberg and a distant relative of Svante Arrhenius, a scientist who came up with a model of the greenhouse effect and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903. Thunberg’s passion for the environment was clear from an early age (she even convinced her parents to become vegan ), and she said that she first learned about climate change at the age of eight . She told Time that after finding out what exactly climate change was, she thought, “That can’t be happening, because if that were happening, then the politicians would be taking care of it.” In May 2018, just three months after winning a local newspaper contest with an essay on climate change, she began protesting weekly in front of the Swedish parliament building with a sign simply reading “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (Swedish for “ school strike for climate ”). Her mission was to convince the government to meet the carbon emissions goal that had been set out by the Paris Climate Agreement , requiring governments to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise. By December, there were more than 20,000 students following suit using the hashtag #FridaysForFuture, with millions more from 150 countries around the world joining in shortly after. Thunberg quickly graduated to internationally covered protests, touring North America while attending rallies, meeting with world leaders and, most famously, speaking at the UN Climate Action Summit (which went viral soon after) and the COP25 Climate Change Conference in Madrid. Part of her impassioned message during the Climate Action Summit addressed her frustration at politicians for ignoring the signs of climate change and placing the burden on young people. “How dare you. I shouldn’t be up here,” she said. “I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. We will be watching you.” The teenager took almost all of the 2019 school year off in order to attend the UN summit in New York as well as the annual Climate Change Conference in Madrid. Thunberg made history again when she became nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize by two lawmakers in her home country of Sweden. She was named 2019’s Person of the Year by Time , the youngest person with the honor in the 92-year history of the award. After fearlessly going to bat with the likes of President Trump and Vladimir Putin, she has received an outpouring of support from fans including Michelle Obama and Leonardo DiCaprio . The famously public Twitter feud between the President and Thunberg escalated when President Trump suggested she “chill,” “work on her anger management problem” and go to “a good old fashioned movie with a friend,” leading the 16-year-old to quickly update her Twitter bio to say she was “a teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.” The spat even was featured in a “Saturday Night Live” cold open shortly after, with Kate McKinnon playing Thunberg. The team responsible for the documentary has been following Thunberg from her initial school strikes in Sweden through her more recent evolution into a world-famous face of climate change . So, you can expect to see a deeper dive into all of the above events in the Greta Thunberg documentary. Produced by Cecilia Nessen and Frederik Heinig of B-Reel Films, the production of the film is unsurprisingly an international affair. The documentary is co-produced by WDR of Germany, France Télévisions of France, BBC of the U.K., SVT of Sweden, DR of Denmark, YLE of Finland, NRK of Norway and Hulu of the U.S. Greta will also be sold internationally by distributor Dogwoof, which recently boarded the documentary. “ Greta goes well beyond the subject of climate change,” Anne Godas, CEO of Dogwoof, told Variety . “It’s about young people accepting themselves as they are, believing they can change the world, and celebrating being different from the rest. As a mother of two young girls, I can’t think of a better inspiration for them.” Images via Lev Radin, Per Grunditz and Roland Marconi / Shutterstock

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What to know about Hulu’s Greta Thunberg documentary

Ways to view the climate as an infrastructure asset

February 5, 2020 by  
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Even with relatively conservative assumptions, the math yields a clear and compelling answer: investing in climate action today would be a lot cheaper than the effects of unmitigated warming.

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Ways to view the climate as an infrastructure asset

Plastic to-go containers are bad, but the alternatives might not be much better

February 5, 2020 by  
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Single-use plastic bans are showing up across the nation. But compostable plates and forks may not solve the plastic crisis.

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Plastic to-go containers are bad, but the alternatives might not be much better

Shipowners float plans for $5 billion fund to catalyze low carbon shipping

December 20, 2019 by  
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Industry body insists it has ‘definitely got the memo’ on the need for urgent climate action.

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Shipowners float plans for $5 billion fund to catalyze low carbon shipping

Shipowners float plans for $5 billion fund to catalyze low carbon shipping

December 20, 2019 by  
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Industry body insists it has ‘definitely got the memo’ on the need for urgent climate action.

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Shipowners float plans for $5 billion fund to catalyze low carbon shipping

A whole new way to love McDonald’s: its climate goals

November 14, 2019 by  
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Plus, a potential new model of climate action for companies that have own franchises.

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A whole new way to love McDonald’s: its climate goals

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