BMW, Ford, other automakers rev up carbon commitments

July 29, 2020 by  
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BMW, Ford, other automakers rev up carbon commitments Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 07/29/2020 – 02:00 The world’s biggest automakers are ramping up their carbon commitments even as they struggle to build back in the wake of the pandemic.  This week, Germany’s BMW took the plunge and set a goal to reduce its carbon emissions per car by at least one-third by 2030. Like its peers, BMW plans to reach those targets through a combination of developing and selling electric vehicles (including newly announced electric versions of the 5 Series sedan and X1 compact SUV), combined with incorporating more sustainable materials, working with its supply chain vendors and adopting clean energy for facilities. Last month, Ford announced that the company would become carbon neutral by 2050, a striking commitment for an American automaker. Mary Wroten, director of sustainability at Ford, told GreenBiz that Ford is aiming for 2050 to align with the Paris Commitments and because “anything after 2050 is unacceptable climate change risk.” Several big European and Asian automakers already have started down this road. Volvo Cars — owned by China’s Geely Holding and not to be mistaken with Volvo Group — is pledging to become carbon neutral by 2040. By 2025, Volvo Cars plans to reduce the CO2 footprint of each car it makes by 40 percent.  We have an obligation to get electrification right.   Volkswagen, which has linked electric vehicles to its comeback following the emissions scandal, says it’ll be carbon neutral by 2050. “We have an obligation to get electrification right,” Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh said in a release last year.  So what’s behind this carbon car company tipping point, even as automakers are expecting slower sales this year due to a global recession? Three macrotrends: Regulators in Europe and China are tightening emissions rules and driving automakers that sell into those markets to launch zero- and low-emissions vehicles. The U.S. at a federal level is lagging behind this movement, but states such as California have been acting much more aggressively to mandate emissions reductions targets for vehicles (such as the new Advanced Clean Truck rule). In general over the years, the auto industry has been slow to adopt zero-emission vehicle technologies. That has created an opening for upstart automakers such as Tesla, Rivian and Nikola Motors to emerge and gain customers from big auto. Rivian won a 100,000 electric delivery and freight truck deal with Amazon. Tesla is eligible to join the S&P 500 after four profitable quarters. Losing marketshare, and fear of losing marketshare, is a key driver of remaking the auto industry around sustainability.  Some automakers are using the struggles of the pandemic to lean into sustainability goals. “Build back better” is a refrain I’ve heard from a variety of transportation companies in recent weeks. In Europe, there’s a major push to fund clean transportation infrastructure, both EV chargers and hydrogen fueling, in stimulus packages.  What do you think? Are the automakers doing enough when it comes to carbon emissions? Love to hear your thoughts: katie@greenbiz.com . This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe  here . Pull Quote We have an obligation to get electrification right. Topics Transportation & Mobility Automobiles Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The BMW 7 series electric car at Bangkok Motor Show 2020.

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BMW, Ford, other automakers rev up carbon commitments

Rainn Wilson launches climate change web series featuring Greta Thunberg

July 28, 2020 by  
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A new web series, “An Idiot’s Guide to Climate Change”, will help shift viewers’ understanding of climate change from theoretical to terrifyingly real. Actor Rainn Wilson, well-known for his role as Dwight in “The Office”, takes viewers along as he visits what he calls “Ground Zero for climate change .” Wilson is a funny and relatable guide through the six-part series that charts his course from “well-intentioned, but uninformed, liberal” to devoted climate activist. Wilson takes viewers along to global climate marches and conferences, the melting Greenland ice sheet and an Icelandic Toyota factory that is trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Along the way, he talks to leading climate scientists and global activists, including Greta Thunberg, arctic scientist David Hik, astronomer and climate activist Sævar Helgi Bragason, atmospheric scientist Jennifer Francis and Future Coalition’s executive director Katie Eder. Related: What to know about Hulu’s Greta Thunberg documentary “Before our current devastating pandemic, I took a trip to Greenland with some climate scientists to explore that other devastating future pandemic — climate change,” Wilson said. “I knew nothing about climate science and global warming, and I’d never seen a glacier before. The amazing, fun, and terrifying journey seen in ‘An Idiots Guide to Climate Change’ really opened my eyes. It was my idiotic way of exploring this extremely non-idiotic issue.” Wilson is co-founder of the content studio SoulPancake, which has more than 1 billion video views on its digital platforms and has won several web video awards. The studio is known for its Instagram live series, “Hey There, Human”, which was created as a response to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. New episodes of “An Idiot’s Guide to Climate Change” will premiere every Tuesday on the SoulPancake Youtube Channel . You can view the trailer here . + SoulPancake Image via SoulPancake

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Rainn Wilson launches climate change web series featuring Greta Thunberg

Arctic wildfires rage through Siberia

July 28, 2020 by  
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The earth’s poles have made the news a lot this summer, and not for good reasons. Now, another awful update has hit, with  Arctic wildfires burning out of control. “We’ve had exceptional and prolonged heat for months now and this has fueled devastating Arctic fires,” said Clare Nullis, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) spokesperson, at a  press conference in Geneva . “And at the same time we’re seeing rapidly decreasing  sea coverage along the Arctic coast.” Related: Siberia hits record 100 degrees Scientists use satellite images to gauge the extent of the wildfires. However, fire’s dynamic nature can make it hard for authorities to track the exact number of fires burning at once. On Wednesday, data indicated “188 probable points of fire.” The worst fire blazed in Russia’s Sakha Republic and Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, in the far northeast reaches of Siberia . “We’re seeing, you know, dramatic satellite images, which show the extent of the burns surface,” said Nullis. “The fire front of the northern-most currently active Arctic wildfire is less than eight kilometres from the Arctic ocean – this should not be happening.” Pollutants found in wildfire smoke include nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, solid aerosol particles and volatile organic compounds. The WMO said that Arctic wildfires emitted the equivalent of 56 megatons of  carbon dioxide  this June, up from 53 megatons in June 2019. This year’s persistent heat is caused by what meteorologists call “blocking high pressure aloft.” A blocking high pressure system can linger over an area for a prolonged time, forcing other  weather  systems to go around it. High pressure aloft traps heat by compressing air downward and preventing cooler air from pushing through and bringing the region some relief. “In general, the Arctic is heating more than twice the global average,” said Nullis. “It’s having a big impact on local populations and  ecosystems , but we always say that what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic, it does affect our weather in different parts of the world where hundreds of millions of people live.” Via AP News and Huffpost Image via Pixabay

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Antarctica’s seafloor is leaking methane, scientists confirm

July 23, 2020 by  
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For the first time, scientists have confirmed that methane leaking is from Antarctica’s sea bed. They say the  methane  is likely escaping into the atmosphere. According to the EPA, in 2018, methane accounted for about 10% of U.S. human-driven greenhouse gas emissions. But the Antarctica leak may be beyond human influence or control. Scientists believe that immense quantities of methane are stored under  Antarctica’s  seafloor. They don’t know the leak’s cause, but global warming probably isn’t to blame, since the Ross Sea has not yet warmed significantly. Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature Decaying, thousands-of-years-old algae deposits likely create the methane. Usually, microbes consume undersea methane before it reaches the atmosphere. But the  ecosystem  around the Antarctica leak has been slow to produce the methane-eating microbes, making for an inadequate methane biofilter beneath the vast West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Current climate change models don’t allow for this lag time between seepage and microbe development, which could lead researchers to overly-optimistic conclusions. Divers first noticed the methane seep in 2011, but  scientists didn’t start investigating until 2016, studying it in detail both onsite and in the laboratory. Scientists regard the methane release from permafrost regions and frozen underwater stores as a key indicator that  global warming  can no longer be stopped. “The methane cycle is absolutely something that we as a society need to be concerned about,” said Andrew Thurber, the Oregon State University scientist who led the research. “I find it incredibly concerning.” The new research,  published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B , places the methane seep at a site called Cinder Cones in McMurdo Sound. The patch is about 70 meters long. “The delay [in microbes consuming methane] is the most important finding,” Thurber said. “It is not good news. It took more than five years for the microbes to begin to show up and even then there was still methane rapidly escaping from the  sea  floor.” + The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Antarctica’s seafloor is leaking methane, scientists confirm

Are we on the cusp of the ‘Age of Freedom’?

July 23, 2020 by  
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Are we on the cusp of the ‘Age of Freedom’? Shana Rappaport Thu, 07/23/2020 – 01:00 Anything with “technology convergence” and “climate change” in the same sentence captures my attention. Contextualize it in the “making or breaking of human civilization as we know it” and I’m hooked — and admittedly a tad skeptical. That’s why I buckled up and dug into the recent 90-page report put forth by think tank RethinkX , co-founded by internationally recognized technologists and futurists Tony Seba and James Arbib. ” Rethinking Humanity ” makes the case that the convergence of key technologies is about to disrupt the five foundational sectors that underpin the global economy, and with them every major industry in the world.  Super heady stuff, to be sure. The vision Seba and Arbib detail reads somewhat like a distant techno-utopia. But the vision they lay out isn’t all that far off: Climate change solved and poverty eradicated within the next 15 years? Got my attention. Given that Seba and Arbib have been impressively accurate over the past decade in predicting the speed and scale of technological disruption, I figured it was worth giving the analysis a closer look.  From extraction to creation  Focusing on the disruptive potential of emerging technologies in the information, energy, transportation, food and materials sectors, the report predicts that across all five — and within the next 10 years — we could see costs of key technologies fall by 10 times or more, production processes become 10 times more efficient, all while using 90 percent fewer natural resources and producing up to 100 times less waste. What Seba and Arbib are calling the “fastest, deepest, most consequential transformation of human civilization in history” isn’t just a reframe of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which we know is underway and being enabled by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and 3D printing. Indeed, many of their predictions will sound familiar to those conversant in technological change. But it’s not just the march of progress of individual technologies that will save us. The report does not introduce this alluring vision as an absolute — quite the contrary. Therein lies one big variable: Humans need to make it happen, and fast.   Instead, the report posits that we are on the cusp of the third age of humankind — what they describe as “The Age of Freedom.” This new era will be defined by a shift away from models of centralized extraction to localized creation; ones built, they say, not on coal, oil, steel, livestock and concrete, but on photons, electrons, DNA, molecules and qbits (a unit of quantum information).  They predict, for example, that the combination of cheap solar and grid storage will transform energy systems into entirely distributed models of self-generation in which electrons are virtually free. And that as the widespread adoption of autonomous electric vehicles replaces car ownership with on-demand ride sharing, we’ll completely reimagine and redesign our roads, infrastructure and cityscapes. Their vision for the future of food, outlined in greater detail in another report last year, predicts that traditional agriculture soon will be replaced by industrial-scale brewing of single-celled organisms, genetically modified to produce all the nutrients we need ( say what? ). Similar processes, combined with additive manufacturing and nanotechnologies, will allow us to create all the materials necessary to build infrastructure for the modern world from the molecule up, rather than by continuing to extract scarce and depleting natural resources.  These transformations mirror, in many ways, what we’ve seen already in the information sector — in which the decentralization enabled by the internet has reduced barriers to communication and knowledge in ways unimaginable 25 years ago.  What may sound like a pipe dream is what Seba and Arbib claim could be a lifestyle akin to the “American Dream” — in terms of energy consumption, transport needs, nutritional value, housing and education — accessible to anyone for as little as $250 a month by 2030. Humanity at a crossroads  To be clear, the report does not introduce this alluring vision of The Age of Freedom as an absolute — quite the contrary. Therein lies one big variable: Humans need to make it happen, and fast. Will the public embrace self-driving cars and genetically modified foods, among other innovations? Futurists have been wrong before about such things. (Weren’t we all supposed to be getting around in flying cars by now?) “We can use the upcoming convergence of technology disruptions to solve the greatest challenges of humankind — inequality, poverty, environmental destruction if, and only if, we learn from history, recognize what is happening, understand the implications and make critical choices now; because these very same technologies that hold such promise are also accelerating civilization’s collapse,” Seba said. We can use the upcoming convergence of technology disruptions to solve the greatest challenges of humankind — inequality, poverty, environmental destruction if, and only if, we learn from history …   Indeed, we face an epic choice. But, are utopia or dystopia really our only options? Is framing the path forward in a binary win-or-lose scenario actually accurate, let alone helpful for the business leaders, policy makers and citizens in whose hands such a complex set of decisions rest today? And what about the millions of people without access to jobs, food, housing or healthcare right now? Where do they fit into this grand, seemingly idyllic plan? The report outlines a set of recommendations which, in many ways, seem as unlikely as the vision they’re intended to enable. Giving individuals ownership of data rights, scaling new models for community ownership of energy and transportation networks, and allowing states and cities autonomy on policies such as immigration, taxation and public expenditure, for example, take time. The rapid reimagining and restructuring of what they call our society’s fundamental “Organizing System” is no small feat. And the report seems to gloss over many messy realities of how social change actually occurs. Still, there’s something compelling here. Regardless whether Seba and Arbib’s techno-utopian dream materializes in the ways they’ve outlined, the report offers compelling ideas for building a more robust, resilient and equitable society than we’ve ever seen. It’s certainly good fodder as we enter a decade that will, without question, be defined by great disruption — and already is. Pull Quote The report does not introduce this alluring vision as an absolute — quite the contrary. Therein lies one big variable: Humans need to make it happen, and fast. We can use the upcoming convergence of technology disruptions to solve the greatest challenges of humankind — inequality, poverty, environmental destruction if, and only if, we learn from history … Topics Innovation Information Technology Corporate Social Responsibility Clean Economy Corporate Social Responsibility Featured Column On the VERGE 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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Are we on the cusp of the ‘Age of Freedom’?

Paul Polman: ‘Businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail’

July 22, 2020 by  
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Paul Polman: ‘Businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail’ Deonna Anderson Wed, 07/22/2020 – 01:30 As people across the United States and the world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for racial justice, the business community has an integral role to play in both the dialogue and the solutions to these social issues. Last week, former Unilever CEO Paul Polman urged business leaders to be courageous in their response. “What COVID has done is a few things that we weren’t really able to get across until then. COVID has made clear that there cannot be healthy people on an unhealthy planet,” said Polman during his webcast conversation with Joel Makower, co-founder and executive editor of GreenBiz. “People are understanding how much more the relationships between biodiversity, climate, inequality — may I add racial tension to that? And I think it is not surprising that more people are asking now for a more holistic solution.” He noted that citizens, employees and executives alike want better solutions. Polman is co-founder and chairman of Imagine , a “for-benefit” organization and foundation, which he started in 2019 with Valerie Keller, CEO for the organization; Jeff Seabright, former chief sustainability officer of Unilever; and Kees Kruythoff, chairman and CEO of the Livekindly Company. Imagine’s mission is to mobilize business leaders to tackle climate change and global inequality.  During the webcast, Polman noted that one reason he co-founded Imagine was to help break down obstacles for companies trying to deliver on their sustainability commitments. “It’s difficult for individual companies now to do what the public at large expects from them. They might not have the skill. They might not have the capabilities. They might have the government working against them with policies, which still is the case in many places,” Polman said. “What we’re focused on now is, ‘Can we bring these CEOs together, at industry level, across value chains to make them more courageous leaders to drive these transitions faster?’”  Polman has spent decades at the helm of big corporations — in various roles at P&G and most recently as CEO of Unilever — and he’s known for his optimism.  In Polman’s work at Imagine, he aims to bring together key stakeholders who can make a big impact in their industries. “We carefully select the industries that we believe have the biggest impact on the Sustainable Development Goals, especially around climate change and inequality,” Polman said of Imagine, noting that the organization has started with the fashion industry and is starting to make traction in the food and finance industries. The COVID-19 pandemic puts Imagine’s efforts in the travel industry on hold. While Imagine is choosy for now about which organizations it is working with, Polman said there will be room for more collaborators in the future. “As these initiatives become bigger, we can include others in the circle, so to speak,” he noted. In the meantime, here are three major takeaways from last week’s conversation between Polman and Makower.  1. Companies that are focused on ESG performance are better off. “I think now it is clear … that if you want to maximize your shareholder return, it leads you automatically to a more responsible ESG, multi-stakeholder type business model,” Polman said. “That’s what the numbers keep telling us, and that’s also where the fiduciary duty is starting to move to.” In addition to meeting the expectations of financial stakeholders, there is also the need for companies to meet the needs of their employees. Right now, in particular, there’s an enormous tension within companies because employees want their C-suites to deliver on their promises — for example, truly embedding diversity and inclusion throughout their work in a way that is intentional and sustained. Companies that have not invested in their employees or their value chains “see that their relationships are broken now,” Polman said. “These are moments of truth where I think you can see what right corporate behavior leads to and what wrong corporate behavior leads to.” 2. Our social model is broken. The people who are most marginalized such as communities of color and those working in service industries have suffered most from the COVID-19 pandemic. Polman noted that people are starting to realize the importance of social cohesion. Moreover, their awareness about our broken systems is increasing. People in lower paid jobs “have disproportionately paid for this crisis and yet these are the people that we need the most,” he said. “These are the people that provide us healthcare, transport, agricultural products and the list goes on.” What COVID has done is a few things that we weren’t really able to get across until then. COVID has made clear that there cannot be healthy people on an unhealthy planet. For some, including government officials and corporate leaders, there’s a sense of urgency to create a better, greener economy. Polman notes that this push is being driven by corporate leaders’ deep understanding that “businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail.” There continues to be a need to operate within our planetary boundaries and move to a more inclusive, sustainable form of capitalism, Polman said. 3. The real Black Swan has been the lack of leadership. The coronavirus pandemic has done a lot of damage, but Polman said that government leaders, their lack of leadership and inability to work together have been the major reason for the extent of the crisis. Polman noted that governments around the world are trying to put rescue packages in place that could help with the “greening” of society. But that’s not enough. “The other half still needs to catch on,” he said. In addition to discussing government leadership, Polman said corporate leaders must show courage. That leadership needs to be moral and human, he said, in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past. For example, Polman pointed to the 2008 financial crisis in which the U.S. federal government rescued the wealthy but left others behind to figure it out on their own. “It needs to be a leadership with more empathy and more compassion,” Polman said. At the end of the webcast, this question was asked: At a moment in time when all hope feels lost, how can a person stay hopeful? “I’m a prisoner of hope. And the second thing is I believe in the goodness of humanity,” Polman answered. “I’m hopeful for the young people because they have a higher sense of purpose and they’re going to play a bigger role. And I’m actually hopeful because of us having waited so long, the cost of inaction is now clearly higher. … And we need to translate [the hope] into action and resources.” Pull Quote What COVID has done is a few things that we weren’t really able to get across until then. COVID has made clear that there cannot be healthy people on an unhealthy planet. Topics Leadership Social Justice Corporate Social Responsibility Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, speaking during the World Economic Forum panel on ending poverty through gender parity at Davos on January, 24 2015. Source:   Paul Kagame Flickr Paul Kagame Close Authorship

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Apple embeds racial justice into new supply-chain carbon neutrality pledge

July 21, 2020 by  
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Apple embeds racial justice into new supply-chain carbon neutrality pledge Heather Clancy Tue, 07/21/2020 – 04:13 Apple already has ventured far beyond most other companies when it comes to pushing for climate action within its supply chain.  Consider that it has convinced more than 70 Apple suppliers to use renewable energy to produce products on its behalf , an effort funded in part by close to $5 billion in green bonds issued by the technology giant as well as a dedicated pool of money in China.  Now, it’s wandering farther into uncharted territory. With its latest set of combined sustainability commitments, Apple is pushing for carbon neutrality across its entire business by the end of this decade, including its supply chain and the life cycle for its products. Its own operations have been carbon neutral for some time, thanks in large part to its extensive investments in renewable energy projects. While every large company focuses to some extent on motivating suppliers to embrace sustainability principles such as reduced emissions or zero waste, few have aggressively and officially extended their corporate carbon neutrality pledges into the Scope 3 realm and into to their entire value chain. IKEA, L’Oreal, Microsoft and Unilever stand out as the notable recent exceptions in my sphere of knowledge. (I’d love to hear about more.) “By driving this scale of climate ambition through its supply chain, Apple is making a big, global contribution to the move to clean energy, transport and manufacturing. It will have a particularly big impact in some of the most critical markets for tackling greenhouse gases. The 2030 timing is as important as the scale of this move. By then, the whole world needs to halve carbon emissions,” said Sam Kimmins, head of the RE100 initiative at the Climate Group, in a statement. As of this update — and thanks to new projects in Arizon, Oregon, and Illinois — Apple has supported the development of more than 1 gigawatt of clean energy to support its own corporate campus footprint. Apple’s new carbon neutrality strategy will be supported by a number of investments, including a carbon solutions fund to protect and restore forests (something that Microsoft and Amazon are also prioritizing). Its first projects, in partnership with Conservation International, include a unique focus on restoring mangroves — which can store up to 10 times more carbon than forests on land. The overall aim of this nature-based carbon solutions fund is to remove 1 million to 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, with the aim of scaling over time. “This approach is more than buying carbon credits — it is an investment in nature that provides meaningful returns for both the planet and the people who invest in it,” Apple notes in 2020 annual environmental progress report . Speaking of investments in people, Apple has created an Impact Accelerator meant specifically to invest in minority-owned businesses focused on “positive outcomes” in its supply chain or addressing communities disproportionately affected by environmental hazards. “Systemic racism and climate change are not separate issues, and they will not abide separate solutions,” said Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives for Apple, in a statement. “We have a generational opportunity to help build a greener and more just economy, one where we develop whole new industries in the pursuit of giving the next generation a planet worth calling home.” Apple hasn’t said how much the accelerator will allocate in funding toward addressing the climate crisis, but the effort is part of Apple’s larger $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative announced in June. We’ll be watching this initiative closely. Plenty of other updates are included in Apple’s progress report. I’ll leave you with a few highlights:  7 gigawatts and counting. That’s how much clean energy companies within Apple supply chain have committed to using. In China and Japan, Apple also has stepped in to help facilitate the development of close to 500 megawatts of solar and wind projects. Incidentally, while many of these initiatives are international, close to a dozen involve facilities in the United States. A new materials diet. Apple is using the first batch of the low-carbon aluminum it has been developing in production related to the 16-inch MacBook Pro notebook computer. Liam and Daisy, meet Dave. The company has added another disassembly robot within its materials recovering and circular production lab in Austin, Texas. This one takes out the Taptic Engine from iPhones, which is the haptics technology component. (You can catch a video here .) Recycled and rare. All rare elements included in the aforementioned Taptic Engine were reclaimed from recycling. 35 percent. That’s how much Apple reduced its actual carbon footprint since it peaked in 2015. This story was updated at noon EDT July 21 to remove the Greenpeace USA comment, as it did not properly reflect certain publicly stated elements of Apple’s strategy. Topics Information Technology Corporate Strategy Supply Chain Social Justice Energy Efficiency Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Apple partnered with Conservation International and regional partners in 2018 to protect and restore a 27,000-acre mangrove forest in Colombia. It will apply those learnings to addition projects. Courtesy of Apple Close Authorship

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Apple embeds racial justice into new supply-chain carbon neutrality pledge

Verizon, NRG, Oliver Wyman share tips on TCFD scenario planning and reporting

July 21, 2020 by  
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Verizon, NRG, Oliver Wyman share tips on TCFD scenario planning and reporting Aaron Mok Tue, 07/21/2020 – 00:30 More than 1,000 global leaders have implemented recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure as part of their climate action plans. But many organizations are still grappling with how, exactly, to do this. TCFD reporting offers a standardized framework for companies to disclose information on climate-related financial risk to their investors and stakeholders who seek greater corporate transparency. The core elements of the TCFD framework include: governance; strategy; risk management; metrics; and targets.  During last week’s GreenBiz webcast “How Businesses Can Overcome Barriers to Achieving Climate Goals,” three corporate sustainability leaders offered insights for how businesses can best adopt TCFD recommendations into their carbon reduction strategies.  In particular, TCFD reporting expands the scope of climate-related financial transparency, considering issues related to both corporate social responsibility and risk management, noted Edwin Anderson, partner with management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Businesses are exposed to two types of climate risks: physical and transition. Physical risk refers to climate-related events such as natural disasters, while transition risk encompasses the financial costs associated with institutional changes required to decarbonize, Anderson said. In the TCFD framework, these risks are assessed through a climate-scenario analysis, a methodology companies use to set science-based targets in line with their climate goals and to provide insight into climate change’s potential opportunities and risks. Most senior executives are sympathetic to the problems that the world faces, and you have to face the roles and metrics they rely on. Greg Kandankulam, senior manager of sustainability at NRG Energy highlighted the importance of engaging a third-party expert to aid scenario-planning. “Don’t be afraid to get external on your scenario process,” he said during the webcast. “Sometimes, institutional thinking doesn’t provide everything you need.”  Using the TCFD framework, NRG developed its own scenario, then received recommendations from the International Energy Agency and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Kandankulam said. He also emphasized collaboration with individuals on the governance team to increase the likelihood of buy-in.  “Direction from the board and CEO helps,” Kandankulam said. “As the TCFD conversation evolved between 2017-2018, we approached leadership with a body of work and engaged with institutional investors to discuss how important it is, what decision-making is useful, and what stakeholders will be looking for in credibility and disclosure. A collaborative process engenders a greater level of buy-in on a management and executive level.” Emily Bosland, director of ESG reporting and engagement at Verizon, stressed the value gained from speaking to investors during the reporting process.  “We found having very honest, transparent conversations with our investors and governance to be exceptionally helpful,” she said. “Feedback from investors and governance on the report has been entirely positive.” After conducting a scenario analysis with IEA’s assistance, Verizon drew on the TCFD recommendations to include this disclosure in its recent sustainability reporting: “Even with growth in electricity usage, carbon prices and electricity prices, Verizon is resilient in a carbon policy environment that is aligned to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius.” (The company aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.) Verizon plans to reach its carbon goal by reducing its carbon footprint across all its operations, using tactics such as adopting newer, energy-efficient technologies and optimizing the temperature control of its data centers, Bosland said. At the end of the webcast, speakers shared their closing thoughts on best practices for businesses to adopt the TCFD disclosure recommendations. Bosland reiterated Kandankulam’s advice that receiving outside help is useful if feasible. Likewise, Kandankulam expanded on his previous point about prioritizing internal collaboration, advising listeners, “Start canvassing your companies and start finding those champions — risk, strategy, investor relations, get them to understand why this is important and necessary.” Finally, Anderson underscored the effectiveness of explaining the value of TCFD disclosure to executives through monetary terms. “Pull it back to dollars and cents. Not because it matters most, but because that’s the lever they require to pull,” he said. “Most senior executives are sympathetic to the problems that the world faces, and you have to face the roles and metrics they rely on.” Pull Quote Most senior executives are sympathetic to the problems that the world faces, and you have to face the roles and metrics they rely on. Topics Reporting Climate Change ESG TCFD Climate Strategy Risk 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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Verizon, NRG, Oliver Wyman share tips on TCFD scenario planning and reporting

Tracking climate data in real time

July 20, 2020 by  
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Climate TRACE, an alliance of climate research groups, is developing a new tracker using artificial intelligence that would allow the public to access international climate data in real time. They hope to have it ready to unveil at the COP26 climate change meetings in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021. The finished tracker will track all global greenhouse gases in real time. Third parties will verify the data, and the information will be available free to the public. Related: This sustainable luxury smartwatch monitors climate change “Currently, most countries do not know where most of their emissions come from,” Kelly Sims Gallagher, a professor of energy and environmental policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, told Vox . “Even in advanced economies like the United States, emissions are estimated for many sectors.” Gaining this information, she said, could help countries devise smart and effective policies to mitigate emissions and chart progress on their goals. The effort began last year, when U.S.-based WattTime , U.K.-based Carbon Tracker and some other nonprofits made a successful grant application to Google.org, which is Google’s philanthropic arm. Google gave them $1.7 million for their mission of using AI and satellite data for real-time tracking of global power plant emissions. Other nonprofits and environmental crusaders, including Al Gore, heard about the effort and became involved. Now, the Climate TRACE (which stands for Tracking Real-Time Atmospheric Carbon Emissions) Coalition includes a handful of niche organizations with important things to offer. For example, Hypervine employs spectroscopic imagery to chart blasting at quarries, and OceanMind tracks global movements of ships, extrapolating carbon emissions based on engine specs. For years, the lack of accurate climate data has caused friction between countries, who waste time arguing over monitoring, reporting and verifying data. Sometimes a country later reveals that they reported inaccurate data, such as when China admitted in 2015 to underestimating coal usage by 17%. Such revelations breed suspicion between countries who need to work together to solve our climate crisis. “It will empower the people who really are interested in reducing their emissions,” Gore said of the new climate tracker. “It is extremely important for this effort to be independent and reliable, and for it to constantly improve.” + Climate TRACE Image via William Bossen

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8 cities share how racial justice is embedded into their climate plans

July 20, 2020 by  
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8 cities share how racial justice is embedded into their climate plans Jesse Klein Mon, 07/20/2020 – 02:00 As COVID-19 rampages through vulnerable minority populations with tragic consequences, and protests for racial justice surge among a similar demographic, city climate planners see a renewed focus on climate justice. The pandemic, in some ways, has been a trial run for the anticipated coming impacts of climate change — a not-so-distant future in which low-income and minority populations are the most at risk. As mayors make quick strategic changes to address the short-term COVID crisis, they are also in the midst of planning for similar long-term climate issues. Last week, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group , an organization of mayors from around the global, launched a Detailed Agenda for Green and Just Recovery from COVID-19 to ensure that this crisis propels sustainable innovations instead of a return to old ways.  “Equity is really at the heart of our recovery in the city,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell of her city, New Orleans, during the C40 press conference. “We’ve had 542 deaths [due to COVID-19] in our city and out of the 542, 404 were Black or Brown. Our response to this pandemic is an opportunity to create a much more healthier, more sustainable and equitable city, no doubt about it.” Another organization, Climate Mayors , a network of 438 United States mayors, hopes to provide peer-to-peer sharing between American cities to help adapt to and in some ways reverse our changing climate. It has helped fill the U.S- shaped hole in leadership left by the Trump administration.  “We want to make sure we’re reflecting back to the international community that there is a lot of effort going on to reduce emissions and energy technology,” said James Ritchotte, director of Climate Mayors. GreenBiz recently spoke with eight chief sustainability officers and mayors that are part of the Climate Mayors network to understand what actions they are taking to ensure climate justice is embedded into their climate resiliency plans. Below are excerpts from the interviews, edited for length and clarity. Boston Boston is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050 by focusing on their 86,000 buildings. The city is also investing in seawalls to prevent erosion due to sea level rise.  Christopher Cook, chief of environment, energy and open space On COVID-19 pandemic learnings that can apply to climate change initiatives:  What COVID has put in the forefront is how interwoven racial equity is with our climate crisis. Those social equity gaps in our society show how intentional we have to be in the climate work to make sure that we’re not exacerbating the situation. We have to be very intentional about job creation, or else our most socially vulnerable won’t be able to fully participate. We started very intentional conversations with our Office of Workforce Development to make sure that we are connecting directly with communities of color, and are starting a job training program for city retrofitting. On how COVID-19 gives us a chance to help vulnerable populations:  We can take [the pandemic as an] opportunity to be intentional about creating a cleaner respiratory environment for our citizens, especially those living in affordable housing. People need to have air filters and high-quality HVAC systems. Can we also use this as an opportunity to electrify those systems and retrofit those systems? So as we make buildings more efficient and cleaner from a carbon perspective, can we also make them healthier buildings? Carmel, Indiana Carmel is focusing on making its city greener through transportation initiatives, including more bike access and roundabouts.  Mayor James Brainard On how making the city more bike accessible is an environmental justice issue: Everybody talks about affordable housing, it’s really more about affordable living. A lot of city design requires huge amounts of a poor person’s expenditures be spent on gas, automobiles and insurance. We unveiled 225 miles of bike trails so you can get anywhere within the city of Carmel by bicycle, which is also important for environmental justice. To somebody who can’t afford a car, that makes a huge difference. So many times we’ve designed our cities so that not having a car isn’t even an option. We are also working to make our city beautiful, too. Wealthy people can travel to some of the most beautiful places on earth. But for people who can’t, they have a right to have their city be beautiful as well. So we focused on that through public art and beautiful parks and trails. On environmentalism as a Republican issue:  [Environmentalism] is a Republican issue. It was Teddy Roosevelt that started the national parks. It was Eisenhower who set aside the arctic reserve. It was Nixon and Ford who signed the EPA into existence. The Migratory Bird act was Nixon. The Endangered Species Act was for Nixon. The Republicans were very much environmentalists, starting with Teddy Roosevelt. Ford was always environmentalist, and got a lot done. And it disappoints me that this is something the Republican party has not focused on recently. On how two ideologies can come to the same decision that benefits climate: I had a guy who was very conservative giving me a hard time about spending $750,000 on switching to LED streetlights. So I said to him, “Well, what about the cost savings?” Because of less electricity, the savings will be about a 22 percent a year annualized rate of return on that money we invest. I showed him the bills. And he said “Oh, I guess this is a pretty good idea.” So he didn’t care about the environment. But he did care a lot about the return on investment. By the time we ended the conversation he got to the same place. But not for the environmental reason, but for a fiscal reason. People can get in the same place for different reasons. Houston Houston has committed to 100 percent renewable energy for all municipal buildings on its way to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 .   Marissa Aho, chief of resilience officer On Houston’s strategy for imbedding climate justice into climate resilience: In January we released a report with recommendations particularly related to flood resilience. We focused on three historically underinvested communities in Houston: Independence Heights; Greenspoint; and Kashmere Gardens, which is part of Mayor [Sylvester] Turner’s Complete Communities Plan initiative, which is looking at 10 of our most historically under invested African American and Hispanic, Latinx neighborhoods, and creating action plans to improve quality of life. A majority of the key actions are really understanding that our most vulnerable people, places and systems are disproportionately affected when there is any disruption. So, we have a number of targets but one is to address the huge disparities in life expectancy depending on what neighborhood you grew up in or live in. And that pre-COVID was a 24-year disparity.  Los Angeles Los Angeles is on track for a 45 percent decrease in emissions by 2025 with the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The city’s climate initiatives was written in conjunction with creating new green jobs as part of Los Angeles’ Green New Deal.   Lauren Faber O’Connor, chief sustainability officer On how Los Angeles plans to address heat issues to benefit lower-income communities:  A big concern of climate change are impacts of heat and extreme heat in Los Angeles. Some of our citywide goals just facilitate a cooler, more resilient city, and I mean cooler as in temperature. This needs to happen citywide but we’re targeting the rollout in communities that are in greatest need and have the lowest tree canopy and the most vulnerability, like an elderly population, low-income population who may not be able to run an AC if they even have an AC. We want to make sure that we’re cooling those neighborhoods, and doing it in a way that meets their needs by focusing on the walk to a bus stop and at the area around the bus stop. The laying of cool pavement to reduce the urban heat island effect by literally paving a lighter shade over our streets. And then combining those with local tree planting to create more canopy cover and doing those things in neighborhoods that need it the most. On focusing money towards overlooked communities: The Transformative Climate Communities Program was created by the state through the climate investments, cap and trade dollars. We worked with local community leaders to prepare projects that would apply for state funding. The first year the Watts neighborhood was awarded a $30 million grant. Watts has a really incredible history, including the Watts riots in the 1960s. It’s a lively community. They’ve suffered a lot of injustices and need more significant and more direct investment. We prioritize that with incredible innovation by electrifying the local buses, electrifying the service in Watts. But also providing an EV Car Share service, bike share and bike lanes, multiple pedestrian improvements to allow for more walking, rooftop solar for home. What’s incredible is that when we hear from our community leaders, they would say to us that Watts is always last. In this project, LA has put Watts in the front of the line. Oakland, California Oakland’s climate action plan to get to carbon neutrality includes funding for a downtown shuttle, constructing electric vehicle charging stations and launching a green retrofitting program for residential houses, among 29 other initiatives.   Daniel Hamilton, sustainability program manager On climate programs that address inequities:  When we talked about the need to create denser urban environments to accommodate more people, the community said, “Well, it’s not just about the densities and the land use. Its about housing discrimination.” The climate solutions to these couldn’t be ignorant of or silent on those types of topics. The action items are designed specifically to address the broader social issues as well as climate issues. It’s not just a greenhouse gas reduction policy. It’s a policy that targets the systems that create the greenhouse gases in ways that address historic inequities and provide some solutions. An example of this would be the action items focused on anti-displacement, so keeping people rooted in Oakland. When we talked about this densification of land uses, housing came up as a big issue. But the final action item doesn’t say “provide greater densities.” The final action item is actually support for the community land trust model to build wealth within the communities to allow people who are in Oakland to stay in the community and not have to move out to second- and third-tier suburbs and drive a lot further to get to the same jobs they exist in today. Orlando, Florida Orlando hopes to power the city entirely off renewable energy by 2050 . But the city’s 2018 Community Action Plan is on an even quicker timeline, establishing goals for 2040 that include getting the government’s 232 buildings up to LEED code, planting 20,000 trees and increasing the electrical vehicle infrastructure.  Chris Castro, director of the office of sustainability and resilience On creating programs that help low-income communities meet overall climate goals:  Low- and moderate-income communities often are spending two and three times as much per square foot on utilities than more affluent communities. The landlords of these homes or apartments are reluctant to make ongoing maintenance improvements to them. So they have very outdated air conditioning systems, outdated insulation and lighting. As a result, they have less resources, but they’re spending more on their utility bills. In one of our notorious communities of color, Paramore, people are burdened by upwards of 18 percent of their household income being spent on utilities . The average across in Orlando is 4.5 percent. That has helped us to develop new programs. We’ve partnered with a nonprofit called SELF, Solar Energy Loan Fund. We helped them establish their regional headquarters in Orlando. They provide funding, specifically to low and moderate income communities for home energy improvements, reducing energy and water use, lighting and HVAC, onsite solar, and even sewer and water improvements. It’s a loan product that is really looking at an unsecured very low interest loan for homeowners. So a person with a low credit score of 500 can get a loan for 5 percent to 6 percent interest from SELF versus getting laughed out of the bank when they’re asking for a loan to get a new AC system. This is an opportunity for people on the low and moderate income spectrum to have the financial tools to make these home improvements that improve quality of life, save energy, save water and reduce carbon right at the end of the day. I think we’ve invested about $150,000 over the last few years to help them out. Richmond, Virginia To reach the city’s goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2050, the sustainability office is focusing on increasing alternative energy options with solar panel installations.  Alicia Zatcoff, sustainability manager On climate mapping helped with the COVID response: We have a pretty sophisticated mapping, the equity index. We have gone through and assessed and about 20 social vulnerability factors including geographic-based and demographic factors, resulting over 140 layers and pieces of data on the map. We rank those pieces of land using our climate equity index to identify where new parks or open spaces could be. We mapped our heat index looking for our heat islands. Using the equity index we can prioritize those areas, which is a different approach than we would have taken a year or two ago. So we’ve done that for climate. And then when COVID hit, we went back to see what the risk factors are for getting COVID and then the factors for getting severe disease or dying. And what we found is they are so closely aligned with the climate risk and vulnerability factors. The community that was on the frontline of climate change, we’re also on the front line of COVID. Saint Paul, Minnesota Saint Paul’s top priorities are to become a carbon-neutral community and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2050. The government buildings are hoping to decarbonize by 2030.  Russell Stark, chief resilience officer  On how car sharing will benefit low-income communities  We are making sure that at the same time that we’re reducing emissions, we’re actually creating a mobility access benefit for our lowest-income communities. For example, car sharing has operated on a round trip model. Most of the parking locations are where the market is, usually around colleges or high density neighborhoods or in some cases better-off neighborhoods. When we thought about expanding our car share was to expand the service into some of our lowest income communities and communities of color. We are partnering with community-based organizations to expand that service into 10 locations that really haven’t had the service before. Topics Cities COVID-19 Racial Issues Environmental Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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