Biden and the future of clean energy politics

January 22, 2021 by  
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Biden and the future of clean energy politics Sarah Golden Fri, 01/22/2021 – 01:00 Have you heard about the clean energy triangle?  The theory goes that in order to rapidly deploy clean energy, you need three elements: technology; policy; and finance. When these components are integrated, we’re able to thoughtfully accelerate the speed and scale of clean technologies. The technology is there and is getting better. The finance is following as investors see there’s money to be made. The only missing piece, before this week, has been policy.  The inauguration of Joe Biden as president is the dawn of a new political era; for the first time, the stars are aligning for the clean energy sector to unleash its full potential.  Biden’s position on clean energy is as diametrically opposed to his predecessor as this analyst can fathom. On his first day, the new president signed executive orders killing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and recommitting the United States to the Paris climate accord. As a candidate, Biden called for 100 percent clean energy in the U.S. by 2035. He’s integrating climate experts across all departments in “the largest team ever assembled inside the White House to tackle global warming.” The political sea change is larger than the whims of a single politician. It’s a reflection of the growing, influential force of the clean energy sector itself that will be difficult for serious politicians to ignore forevermore.  How clean energy pros helped POTUS land his new job Biden didn’t always make clean energy his issue. He responded to the public’s growing concerns about climate change and listened to experts about its immense economic potential.  That didn’t happen by accident. The clean energy sector has been growing and maturing for years, and in this election cycle, it helped Biden land his dream job thanks in part to the all-volunteer organization Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B) .  “I’m not just hopeful, I’m pretty convinced [clean energy professionals were politically influential],” Dan Reicher, CE4B co-chair and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy, told me in a phone conversation. “They’ve shown themselves to be very capable in President Biden’s victory and made a real difference.” CE4B brought together more than 13,000 individuals in all 50 states, including 40 regional affinity groups in key locations across the county. It raised $3.2 million through more than 100 fundraisers and held hundreds of phone banks to get out the vote. The effort brought together impressive, diverse and passionate professionals  excited about leaders who understand clean energy. (Full disclosure: I’m a volunteer for CE4B.) The success of the CE4B’s organizing and campaign efforts inspired organizers to spin out a newly formed nonprofit, Clean Energy for America, which will support candidates and policies that will accelerate the clean energy transition at the state and national levels.  “Clean Energy for America is a recognition that the transformation that we need to address our clean energy challenges and opportunities needs to happen up and down the ballot,” Reicher said. “It’s not enough to work on a presidential campaign and then close up shop. We’ve got to continue on a variety of races on the national level, but we have to get really focused on state and local races as well.” It’s also a recognition that clean energy professionals are realizing their power and are here to stay. As clean energy continues to disrupt dirty energy incumbents, the sector will grow in numbers and power. It also means those in power today will decide the policy levers that shape our energy future; who benefits and in what way.  Clean Energy for America is continuing with the key tenets of CE4B, organizing around the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion to ensure that the clean energy transition is a just transition for all. The long road to Clean Energy for America  Before Clean Energy for Biden, there was CleanTech for Hillary. Before that, there was CleanTech for Obama.  The evolution of the name — from cleantech to clean energy — is a reflection of the industry itself.  “We treated it as a technology play, not ready for prime time,” said Reicher, who was involved in each organization. “We now call it clean energy. We had decided we had become mainstream; we were no longer a large tech sector backed by venture capital communities. It is a large, mainstream energy sector backed by large investment firms around the U.S. and world.” Today, millions work in clean energy (about  3.4 million before the start of the pandemic), and those numbers translated into a larger network.  “We still marvel today at how fast [CE4B] grew to 13,000 people,” Reicher said. “We never saw that level of growth in the other organizations.” With the birth of Clean Energy for America, the group is poised to continue to mobilize in races quickly. That, combined with the virtuous cycle that promises millions more Americans will be employed by clean energy in the coming decades, plants a clean energy flag in the sand.  Topics Renewable Energy Energy & Climate Jobs & Careers Wind Power Solar Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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How the Sunrise Movement is changing the climate activism game

January 21, 2021 by  
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Climate change has remained a central topic internationally for some time. Although a few non-believers still dismiss the idea, science has repeatedly shown the damaging effects of human activity on the  environment . The Sunrise Movement represents a growing force that encourages all citizens to work towards better balance for the planet at an individual, governmental or corporate level.  It’s a grassroots movement with feet on the ground across the nation. Members attend organized events, talk with people on the street and even spread their message door to door. The group’s ongoing efforts lead to a continued increase in numbers, which has helped publicize their mission to advocate for the environment. This membership allows the Sunrise Movement to make a statement in large groups, which proves especially powerful since one of the group’s guiding principles is to remain non-violent at all times. Related: Kids are hungry for books about eco-activists, in what publishers call ‘the Greta effect’ The Sunrise Movement is unique in several ways, the main one being that most members are under the age of 30. Youth, passion and concerns for their futures as citizens of the planet drive the group of teens and young adults. Members unite to educate citizens, but also take activism to a political level by encouraging the election of leaders willing to work towards the health and well-being of the planet and its citizens. They regularly organize campaigns for candidates who support the cause and demonstrations against representatives who don’t. Most recently, members contacted over 6.5 million voters to drive the largest youth turnout in history. Additionally, the Sunrise Movement presented president-elect Joe Biden with a comprehensive climate mandate that includes specific candidate recommendations for cabinet picks. Members also outlined the installation of a new executive called The Office of Climate Mobilization to focus on reversing climate change as a national project. Although the Sunrise Movement originally endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2020 presidential election, the group shifted behind president-elect Biden after his primary win. The organization also targets fossil fuel executives to draw attention to and eliminate their influence on policy. Members refuse to step away due to pressure or fear of retribution. Instead, they make their voices heard in one-on-one scenarios as well as at very public events. For example, in February 2020, middle and high school students demonstrated in the U.S. Capitol Building. Twenty of them, one as young as 13, were arrested during the event. Those not arrested stood, arms linked or holding signs, peacefully addressing lawmakers who have failed to implement action to heal climate change. Specifically, that group at the capitol and the movement as a whole are focused on implementing The Green New Deal , a set of principles aimed at reversing climate change, eliminating poverty and creating sustainable jobs for working Americans. Although the group applies direct pressure at the governmental level, an equally-important mission is to encourage the masses to push through legislation in alignment with The Green New Deal at a local, city, county and state level. Although some members aren’t even old enough to vote, their message shines through conversations within classrooms, churches and communities across the country. Tapping into the youthful members’ energy and focus offers a unique opportunity to empower the voices people often disregard. The movement provides youths with a chance to share their ideas and speak out for policies critical to their futures. By coming together as a larger unit, they not only create a bigger vision and louder voice but also create a tidal wave of energy that continues to gather momentum. Members proudly display this energy via banners that read, “Our Time to Rise.” Their mission is focused, and they are determined to rattle the doors of every politician failing to take action. Although peaceful, the Sunrise Movement refuses to be ignored. As stated on the Sunrise Movement website, “Our generation is done asking nicely.” Even with members in every state and Puerto Rico, it’s sometimes difficult to be heard. This difficulty motivated the group to adopt a tactic from the past century, inspired by the Wide Awakes, a pro-abolition mass youth movement in the 1860s. The group began gathering at the doors of politicians and shouting, chanting, and singing to wake them up both physically and to the reality of the world’s climate crisis . Since there is no formal membership, the Sunrise Movement’s number of activists is estimated at around 80,000 who have participated in some way, from making phone calls to sending mailings. Around 15,000 members are estimated to have attended events in person. Not a bad beginning to an army that only began forming three years ago. Perhaps more powerful than the number of members is the strength of the mindset. The Sunrise Movement is wholly dedicated to the mission of forcing open the eyes of politicians who refuse to see the same future they see for themselves. Where some young adults their age look forward to a decade of career building, the Sunrise Movement sees a closing window of opportunity. As the deadline set by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlines, 2030 represents the point of no return for the world to drastically lower emissions or suffer the effects of a climate catastrophe. + Sunrise Movement  Via Vox and Teen Vogue   Images via Hailey Asquin, Nelson Klein, Evan McEldowney, Ken Schles, Kell Schneider, Rachael Warriner and Josh Yoder

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Is your team embedding equity considerations into its carbon removal projects?

January 18, 2021 by  
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Is your team embedding equity considerations into its carbon removal projects? Gloria Oladipo Mon, 01/18/2021 – 01:15 With carbon emissions expected to rebound this year, 2021 presents another opportunity for companies to invest in climate-saving initiatives that move the corporate world closer to a net-zero future, especially carbon removal projects . While some companies already have started investing in these solutions on a larger scale, questions remain about how to conduct the process equitably. In other words, what environmental justice considerations should companies evaluate when investing in these opportunities? There’s a good reason to ask. Historically, carbon removal projects have a legacy of potentially reifying inequality; projects in the Global South become responsible for hosting said projects and their associated consequences while countries (and companies) in the Global North use these initiatives to meet their carbon reduction targets. Examples of this dynamic include projects such as a hydroelectric plant in Guatemala ( later linked to egregious human rights abuse ) and forest preservation projects in Brazil ; both offered Western companies opportunities to gain carbon offset credits, but the reality of their impact from a human rights standpoint was less understood.  Ugbaad Kozar, senior policy advisor at Carbon180, discussed these disparities and the power imbalance associated with carbon removal measures. “There’s a long history of Global South countries inheriting the burden of hosting projects that have benefited wealthier countries in reaching their climate targets,” Kozar said. “These projects can lead to inadequate payments, loss of local control over natural resources, loss of ability to use their land for other livelihood purposes.” A number of safeguards developed by NGOs can aid companies deciding whose carbon removal projects to invest in, Kozar said.  Carbon removal is still relatively nascent, which gives us a unique opportunity to shape how, where and which solutions will be deployed. For example, in 2005, the “Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhancement of carbon stocks” (REDD+) system was created as a social and biodiversity safeguard to make sure carbon removal efforts didn’t harm biodiversity and that its benefits were given to local communities. Elsewhere, the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance , a partnership spanning several international environmental NGOs, created “Climate, Community and Biodiversity” standards to ensure land-based projects respected community stakeholders and their cultures, and nurtured biodiversity, among other goals.   However, as argued by Holly Buck, assistant professor of environment and sustainability at the University at Buffalo, these safeguards have not been carried out without issues. REDD+ social safeguards have had mixed results ; the impact of the safeguards sometimes have been difficult to monitor and interventions made based on the safeguards had mixed results, she noted. Looking forward, that means companies have an opportunity to be even more progressive in establishing their own standards for equity considerations related to carbon removal, according to Kozar and Buck.  “Companies are even poised to play a role in having even more ambitious standards because some of those safeguards haven’t always been working out as well as intended … [companies can make] sure that theoretical co-benefits are actually delivered upon and [pay] more attention to who reaps the benefits from these projects,” Buck said.  Where to start? Before analyzing equity considerations related to their external carbon removal work, companies should first ensure they cultivate a workplace culture of justice within their organizations, Buck and Kozar said. This type of internal work is not only critical to unseeding racism in general (demonstrated as more carbon capture companies focus on making meaningful contributions to environmental justice ). Among other things, the Clean Air Task Force  also is following projects in California and Texas to determine how carbon capture technology might play a role in reducing local air pollution, with a view to releasing its research after this year to front-line communities. it’s an important first step for companies hoping to address oppression in their environmental work.   “It is so important for companies to start by looking internally and meaningfully begin anti-oppression work and diversification of the workforce. Doing so allows for opportunities to refute and rethink contextual perspectives and to understand the drivers of inequity and injustice,” Kozar said.  It is so important for companies to start by looking internally and meaningfully begin anti-oppression work and diversification of the workforce … In addition to creating equity within the workplace, companies investing in carbon removal projects must be committed to transparency about the process itself, all associated data, community involvement and an equitable distribution of resources. Carbon removal projects can be an opaque process, shrouded in litigation and inaccessible information; community members where carbon removal projects are located should be made aware of the process and included in the discussion of the project’s effects. “With industrial removal, some of the questions at the project site are: Are people happy with the industrial facility? Is it impacting them? … Are they seeing any benefit from it or just having to live next to a waste disposal site?” Buck said.   Most important, benefits need to be equitably distributed, ideally problem-solving for legacy effects of climate change that often occur in marginalized communities. For instance, a strategy of planting trees not only could address removing emissions but also help cool neighborhoods, reduce pollution, provide shade and have other benefits, an example Kozar provided.  Buck also cited the importance of government involvement to help ensure benefits are given equally. She noted how the California government helps redistribute funds from the state’s cap-and-trade program to vulnerable communities.  Overall, while the increase in companies investing in carbon removal programs signals a positive shift in more climate-friendly thinking, it’s critical to participate in these solutions in a way that centers and benefits oppressed communities, Buck and Kozar advised.  “Carbon removal is still relatively nascent, which gives us a unique opportunity to shape how, where and whi ch solutions will be deployed. As the industry emerges and scales, key players need to prioritize transparency and accountability, ensuring they do not ignore legacy pollution that harms marginalized communities,” Kozar said.  Pull Quote Carbon removal is still relatively nascent, which gives us a unique opportunity to shape how, where and which solutions will be deployed. It is so important for companies to start by looking internally and meaningfully begin anti-oppression work and diversification of the workforce … Topics Carbon Removal Social Justice Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Climeworks’ technology captures atmospheric carbon by drawing in air and binding the CO2 using a filter. The filter is heated to release the concentrated gas, which can be used in industrial applications, such as a source of carbonization for the food and beverage industry. Courtesy of Julia Dunlop/Climeworks Close Authorship

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5 radical visions for a 2050 food system

January 15, 2021 by  
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5 radical visions for a 2050 food system Jim Giles Fri, 01/15/2021 – 01:30 Just over a year ago, the Rockefeller Foundation put out a global call for proposals for radical reform of our food systems. More than 1,300 teams from 119 countries responded. The pile of submissions was whittled down to 79 semifinalists and then, last week, to 10 “bold ideas for tackling some of the world’s most pressing food systems challenges.” Each winner was awarded $200,000 to pursue their vision for reform. The winning proposals cover a dizzying range of locations and issues — from food sovereignty on a Native American reservation to plant-based diets in metropolitan Beijing. But as I read them, the commonalities seem as prominent as the differences. Embedded in the ideas is an emerging consensus on the critical ingredients for food system reform, regardless where it takes place.  I encourage you to browse the final selection and see for yourself, but here’s my reading of that consensus: Food systems must connect to local communities. There’s a stunning example of this need in the proposal from the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota . The reservation occupies almost 2,000 square miles, yet has just three grocery stores. There are plenty of local farms, but most grow commodity crops such as soybeans. The result is a food desert surrounded by fertile land. Technology is part of the solution. Agtech is often associated with highly efficient yet unsustainable practices, but the same tech can benefit sustainable approaches. In their vision of a holistic food system for the Netherlands , for example, Wageningen University researchers imagine farmers using drones to precisely target nutrient use. At the Stone Barns Center in upstate New York, the team wants to build a cold storage lab dedicated to extending the season for local crops . It’s got to be regenerative. Almost every winner made it clear that regenerative agriculture is central to their vision. That was predictable given that the foundation sought proposals for a “regenerative and nourishing food future,” but it nevertheless reflects the growing importance of regenerative ag in food policy. (And perhaps the waning importance of organic?) From linear to circular. Circular processes — the transformation of crop residues into compost, for instance — are a common feature of food system reform. But the Wageningen team ups the ante with a rallying cry for circular agriculture, circular cooking and circular chefs: “By 2050,” they write, “we have replaced the wasteful, linear model of our current food system with a circular one.” Among other things, this includes limiting livestock to numbers that can be supported on food waste and food byproducts. Which brings us to… Plant-based diets. No surprise to hear entrants from North American and Europe advocate for this: These are regions where a reduction in emissions from meat production is seen as an essential way to reduce the climate impact of food. Perhaps only because I know less about food debates elsewhere, I was interested to see entries from China and Nigeria that also placed alternative proteins at the heart of their visions.  Before I sign off, I’ll mention one other, more controversial, commonality. Many visions are either explicitly or implicitly pitched in opposition to Big Ag . I see where this comes from: Chemical inputs and monocultures and livestock farming have undeniable negative impacts. But Big Ag is more than that. It brings efficient land use, which prevents native ecosystems being converted to farmland, and sophisticated supply chains that provide year-round abundance at low prices. I don’t say this to gloss over the sector’s problems, but as we imagine a better system, we shouldn’t ignore the benefits of the current one. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Systems Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off At the Stone Barns Center in upstate New York, the team wants to build a Cold Storage Lab dedicated to extending the season for local crops . Courtesy of Stone Barns Center Close Authorship

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Q4 2020: Amazon, AT&T, McDonald’s and Starbucks lead the way as clean energy procurement matures

January 14, 2021 by  
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Q4 2020: Amazon, AT&T, McDonald’s and Starbucks lead the way as clean energy procurement matures Sarah Golden Thu, 01/14/2021 – 04:11 After a strange year, corporate renewable procurement deals ended on a high note, with corporations inking some of the biggest, most complex transactions to date. The result was a blockbuster fourth quarter, with more than 7.3 gigawatts of contracts inked — more than any other single quarter since the start of the GreenBiz deal tracker .  The list includes familiar names: Amazon; Google; Starbuck; AT&T; McDonald’s among them. These corporations continued to innovate, inking bigger, more complicated and more holistic energy deals. The roster also included some fresh faces, including Crown and Kimberly-Clark.  Amazon inks largest renewable energy deal to date Web giant Amazon inked what it calls the largest corporate procurement deal to date: 3.4 GW spread over 26 projects across eight countries and four continents. Prior to this announcement, the largest comparable deal was Google’s 1.6 GW deal in September 2019. At the time, I called that jaw-dropping . Amazon just raised the bar substantially.  Among the dozens of projects within the deal is Europe’s largest offshore wind corporate power purchase agreement (PPA), according to the developer, Orsted. The offshore wind project is planned to be 900 megawatts, 250 MW of which Amazon will procure. Last quarter, Orsted inked what it called the largest corporate PPA from a single project: 920 MW of offshore wind in Taiwan. Amazon says it has overtaken Google as the largest corporate user of renewables, and the renewable procurement projects are in service of its climate pledge to reach net-zero carbon by 2040.  This deal also highlights how corporate climate trailblazers are bundling deals to make more of a splash. While the capacity procured here is huge, the average size per project is 130 MW — impressive, but not enough to get headlines on its own. The same could be said of Google’s announcement in 2019, which comprised 18 deals, meaning each averages at about 90 MW per project.     AT&T, Honda are lead offtakers in largest single U.S. solar development Corporations Honda, AT&T, McDonald’s, Google and Home Depot partnered with three Texas municipalities (Bryan, Denton and Garland) to be the offtakers in a massive 1.3 GW solar development. Developer Invenergy says, when complete, it will be the largest solar development in the United States.  AT&T is slated to take 500 MW, bringing the telecommunications company’s total procurements to more than 1.5 GW of capacity. Honda is the second largest offtaker, earmarking 200 MW, followed by McDonald’s with 160 MW.  The deal is an example of an aggregation project, where offtakers jointly shoulder the negotiations, risk and paperwork to streamline the offtake process. The model was spearheaded by Bloomberg, Cox, Gap Inc., Salesforce, Workday and developer BayWa r.e. at the start of 2019. At the time, the structure was unprecedented and inspired webcasts and case studies as others wondered if it could open up procurement opportunities to more types of companies. (The project came online last quarter .) While this new deal doesn’t include any companies new to the renewable procurement game, it reflects how the aggregation model can scale; this solar development is 10 times the size of the BayWa r.e. project.  Starbucks takes a holistic approach to procurements Starbucks announced its sustainability goals for 2030, which the company says puts it in line with becoming a ” resource positive company. ” The initiatives include components to address its carbon, water and waste.  Its fourth-quarter clean power announcement included four new investments in renewable energy, each using a different procurement strategy:  A supply chain virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) — a first for the company — in a move to reduce its Scope 3 emissions  Investments in 23 community solar projects in New York state to supply solar to its stores and the community  A VPPA and a virtual storage agreement (VSA) to provide energy to stories in California  An investment in a wind project in Washington state to power stores and the company’s roasting plant Starbucks does not provide a total procurement figure for the four investments. But the move reflects a trend noted in the Q3 2020 tracker : Corporations are beginning to think about renewable energy within their larger sustainability initiatives.  Notable mentions McDonald’s inked a deal for two wind farms and a portfolio of solar projects with a collective capacity of 1.13 GW . This massive deal is almost three times the size of the fast-food giant’s debut procurements in Q4 2019 , and it is in service of its broader climate and sustainability goals.  Two steel manufacturers made this quarter’s tracker: Evraz North America and Nucor Corporation. The procurement reflects the move for heavy industry to decarbonize on the eve of the Biden administration, which indicated decarbonizing steel as a climate priority.  Microsoft inked a tiny but important deal: its first peace renewable energy credit ( P-REC ), a clean energy deal with co-benefits that support the local community. The deal will directly finance the installation of streetlights in a recently electrified neighborhood in the Congo — and clears the way for more deals to consider energy access in their procurements. The move is in line with a trend identified in Q3 2020 , where companies are embedding social and environmental benefits into the renewable energy procurement process. The P-REC was executed with Energy Peace Partners, a VERGE Clean Energy Equity Showcase honoree . Home improvement giants made a strong showing this quarter, with Home Depot inking two deals (one an aggregation deal for 50 MW, the other a solar plus energy storage PPA for 75 MW) and Lowe’s inking a 250 MW solar deal. My hot take: The two are battling it out for the perception of climate leadership, and I am 100 percent here for this rivalry.  Topics Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreements Corporate Procurement Collective Insight Clean Energy Deal Tracker Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of GreenBiz Group Close Authorship

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GM’s electric delivery foray, plus other mobility trends headlining CES

January 13, 2021 by  
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GM’s electric delivery foray, plus other mobility trends headlining CES Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/13/2021 – 01:30 For the first time in its 54-year history, the world’s largest tech show — the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) — kicked off this week as an all-virtual event, cramming a week of keynotes, press conferences and over 1,000 exhibitor booths onto the screens of our laptops and from the comfort of our homes.  As a recovering tech reporter, who for years traversed the football field-sized ballrooms in Las Vegas to check out the latest and weirdest gadgets, I, for one, am glad not to be stuck in the scene of long taxi lines, awkward parties and rampant consumerism.  But virtual or not, CES continues to highlight what some of the biggest tech and retail companies in the world are prioritizing and building. And in recent years it has emerged as a place for automotive and mobility companies to make announcements, launch products and get attention. 2021 was no different in that respect.  Here are five mobility tech themes from the show to keep an eye on this year: Electric delivery:  The biggest mobility newsmaker from the show was General Motors , whose CEO, Mary Barra, delivered an hour-long keynote (check out our list of 20 C-suite sustainability champions such as Barra). GM announced it’s launching a new business unit called BrightDrop that will seek to electrify the goods delivery market. GM showed off images of an electric delivery vehicle called the EV600, as well as a pallet system called the EP1. FedEx Express announced it will be the first customer of BrightDrop. It will be the first company to receive the EV600s, which will have a 250-mile range, can carry 200 pounds of payload and will have 23 cubic feet of cargo space. GM’s logistics news comes amidst a massive growth in e-commerce during the pandemic. A couple of months ago, Ford, too, announced it plans to launch an electric delivery vehicle called the e-Transit, based on its popular Transit commercial vehicle.  GM is making a huge $27 billion push to electrify its product lines. GM also showed off a new electric Cadillac luxury vehicle and more details about its next-gen battery technology.  Of course, GM wasn’t the only automotive player that emphasized the electric transition at CES. Panasonic touted a new battery containing less than 5 percent cobalt that it’s working on, while LG and auto parts maker Magna provided more details of their joint venture to sell electric vehicle power trains. Mercedes-Benz showed off a sleek curved vehicle screen that will debut in one of its luxury electric vehicles.  The state of autonomous:  Due to the ever-present hype cycle and over-ambitious promises, autonomous vehicles have under-delivered on expectations. But make no mistake, they’re just around the corner. The CEO of Mobileye (owned by Intel), Amnon Shashua, did a long-ranging interview about the state of AVs, predicting robotaxis will be the first commercial application for true AVs, followed by consumer vehicles in 2025.  The commercial sector is already tapping into autonomous tech for business. Caterpillar highlighted at CES how it’s using autonomous vehicles in its mining vehicles on a mining site to save customers’ money and time.  Decarbonizing systems:  Sustainability doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with a huge convention hawking the latest ephemeral gadgets. But auto parts company Bosch used the digital CES to tout that the company has gone carbon-neutral this year, and now plans to go carbon-neutral across its supply chain, a particularly more difficult task. GM, likewise, emphasized the climate aspect of its electrification commitments. Data-driven user experience design: CES has long been the place for companies to emphasize their design and data-driven work on consumer experience and personalized experiences, whether that’s in-vehicle systems, gaming headsets or mobile screens. Of particular interest to Transport Weekly readers will be that a handful of companies such as Mercedes-Benz , Panasonic Automotive , mapping company HERE and Bosch also highlighted how data and design can be used to make the electric vehicle driving and charging experience better. 5G for connected cities:  The telcos always use CES to try to create buzz around their latest network investments. And a digital 2021 CES was no different. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg delivered a keynote that listed a series of new applications and experiences that 5G could help deliver. One of the most interesting was increased connectivity in cities that could lead to things such as reduced traffic. Meanwhile, UPS and Verizon announced that the companies are collaborating on testing drone delivery using 5G to a retirement community in Florida.  Beyond mobility trends, CES touted two major things you’d expect in a pandemic. First, technologies that make being stuck in your home easier, more fun and more comfortable. Think bigger screens, home robots, faster WiFi. Second: tools that can protect your health, such as over-engineered connected masks and air purifiers.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Autonomous Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off General Motors has created a new commercial business unit, called BrightDrop, with new electric vehicles to help businesses deliver goods efficiently. Courtesy of General Motors Close Authorship

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Earth911 Interview: Coastal Flooding in 2050 With Climate Scientist James Renwick

January 1, 2021 by  
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The sustainability year 2020 in review, in haiku

December 29, 2020 by  
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The sustainability year 2020 in review, in haiku Sue Lebeck Tue, 12/29/2020 – 01:00 Editor’s note: Back by popular demand, smart cities consultant Sue Lebeck provides GreenBiz highlights from the past year in verse. You’ll find her haiku from 2019 here . Rise before the Surprise Leaders gather for the first and last time in year of shelter-in-place. Learning on the Job Could ways to flatten coronavirus’ curve help bend climate’s curve too? From Farms to Front Lines Essential workers carry the day, unclear that anybody CARES. BLM joins COVID-19 In this raw moment, we are dually confronted. Here’s how to respond. Climate and Justice make a Great Pair   Not mere Facebook friends, these two spawn recovery, lift communities. Corporates Gain via E, S and G Weave people, purpose and commitment to climate — then watch value rise. At Circularity, Plastics gets Serious Pacts and moonshots are aiming to contain plastics’ value forever. Proof, Imagination and a Kick Great transit — public, active and electric — drives all toward equity. Food Focus Feeds a Flurry Regeneration- revealed opportunity cost: meat’s great land grab! Electrifying Path of “least regret” as wildfire climate destroys forests and sparks fears. The Forests AND the Trees Climate’s urgent need is restored forests! Also those one trillion trees. Carbontech is on the VERGE Carbontech hits the market; removal joins the carbon agenda. New Year’s Resolutions Watch GreenFin grow, help Big Oil shrink and build racial justice for all. Cheers! Topics Corporate Strategy Climate Change COVID-19 Sustainability Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Shutterstock/Protasov AN

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Organic and conventional meat production cause equal amounts of emissions

December 24, 2020 by  
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Research published in the journal Nature Communications  has revealed that the environmental impact caused by organically farmed meat is equal to that caused by conventionally farmed meat. The research was carried out to determine the exact cost of foods if their climate costs were accounted for. According to the researchers, the analyzed data should be used to set food prices and taxes that reflect the true costs of food. The research shows that the emissions caused by organically produced meat is similar to those from conventionally farmed meat. This is especially true for cattle and sheep. The researchers found the climate-related damage of raising organic chicken to be slightly worse than raising conventional chicken. On the other hand, organic pork was found to be slightly better in terms of emissions as compared to conventional pork. Related: Will gene editing and cloning create super cows that resist global warming? The research further revealed that if all climate-related costs were considered per food item produced, there would be a 40% increase in shop prices for conventional meat. At the same time, there would be a 25% increase in organic meat . This is not because organic meat causes less pollution but because it is already more expensive than conventional meat. The prices of conventional milk would rise by about 33% while that of organic milk would increase by at least 20%. The study, led by Maximilian Pieper of the Technical University of Munich, analyzed German food production alone. But researchers say that the results would likely be replicated in many other European countries. “We expected organic farming to score better for animal-based products but, for greenhouse gas emissions, it actually doesn’t make much difference,” Pieper said. “But in certain other aspects, organic is certainly better than conventional farming.” Meat produced either organically or conventionally pollutes the environment in many ways. Overuse of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and mishandling of manure are some of the ways in which food production is problematic. Meat consumption can also lead to health complications. Research carried out in 2018 revealed that a  20% tax increase  on red meat would be necessary to cover its associated health effects. + Nature Communications Via The Guardian Image via Pen Ash

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Organic and conventional meat production cause equal amounts of emissions

Latest COVID-19 relief includes legislation on climate change

December 22, 2020 by  
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A $35 billion investment in clean power and other climate initiatives hitched a ride on the latest COVID-19 relief package. Backed by Senate Republicans as well as Democrats, the legislation will be the first significant climate change law in more than a decade — if it gets past President Trump’s desk this week. “This agreement protects both American consumers and American businesses,” said Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, as reported by The New York Times . “We can have clean air without damaging our economy.” Related: Biden promises US-led climate summit in 2021 One of the most important parts of this new legislation is a requirement for manufacturers to phase out coolants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While HFCs are a small percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, they have a disproportionate effect. HFCs have 1,000 times the ability to trap heat compared to carbon dioxide. In 2016, 197 nations agreed that HFCs had to go. They signed what’s called the Kigali agreement because it was signed in Kigali, Rwanda. Scientists say that if all nations complied with phasing out HFCs, it could prevent an atmospheric temperature increase of almost 1°F. An atmospheric temperature increase of 3.6°F would be catastrophic, so ending HFCs could be of great help in avoiding this. Trump never ratified the Kigali agreement, instead opposing efforts to curb HFCs. This new legislation requires companies to decrease HFC production and consumption to about 15% of the 2012 levels by 2036. The EPA will oversee this phase-out. U.S. chemical companies strongly support phasing out HFCs, and most have already turned to climate-friendlier alternatives. If nobody could use HFCs, those who have already made the responsible choice will be at a more financially competitive advantage. Stephen Yurek was in Kigali in 2016, and, as chief executive of the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, has been lobbying lawmakers since. “U.S. companies are already the leaders with the technology that has been developed to replace the less environmentally friendly refrigerants,” he said. “This bill is a victory for the manufacturers of all these products — not just the refrigerants; the equipment and component manufacturers.” Now the legislation’s proponents are crossing their fingers that Trump won’t stall it. Yurek said he didn’t even want to use the word “climate” when discussing the bill. “We didn’t want to give him any excuse to not sign it.” Via The New York Times Image via Tim Hüfner

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Latest COVID-19 relief includes legislation on climate change

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