How open data can help countries address climate emergency impacts

April 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

How open data can help countries address climate emergency impacts Delfina Grinspan Wed, 04/07/2021 – 01:30 This article originally was published on World Resources Institute . In the aftermath of the 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia, in 2016, disaster managers were able to able to identify which communities were at greatest risk due to rapid access to data. They used the open source InaSAFE platform to access real-time hazard data and modeled population data mapped down to the village level. This was made possible by the collaborative use of “open” data — data that is free to use, open license and in machine-readable formats — between scientists, local and national governments and communities. By using open data, disaster managers were able to develop 20 disaster contingency plans with communities. While earthquakes are not climate-driven, the damage they cause is similar to that of extreme weather, and this example demonstrates the importance of openly sharing data. Indeed, there are big payoffs for both civil society and governments that implement open data policies. The idea of making data open is nothing new, but for many countries the challenge of doing so and the investment upfront means that much of the critical climate-related data that governments need remains locked away or in unusable formats. In some cases, the barrier is cultural or political: if sharing data and information has not been previously expected or enforced, there may be inertia to changing practices, a desire to withhold information as a source of power or, in some cases, fear of accountability. Additionally, implementing open data practices requires staff time and technical capacity to set up the data infrastructure to publish online and ensure that it is updated, curated and easy to find. The scale and urgency of the climate crisis requires coordination across sectors and collaboration with non-state actors and civil society. And it couldn’t be more critical: countries must demonstrate increased climate ambition while building trust — both domestically and internationally — through the transparent and accountable implementation of policies. By applying open data principles governments can strengthen cooperation, identify the data needs of different users, reduce redundancies in reporting to donors, build trust with their constituencies and enable innovation.   The idea of making data open is nothing new, but for many countries the challenge of doing so and the investment upfront means that much of the critical climate-related data that governments need remains locked away or in unusable formats. New research from WRI and the Open Data Charter reveals not only what some of the big payoffs are, but how to achieve them. Here are four of the many benefits countries can expect from implementing open data policies for addressing the climate emergency: 1. Improved decision-making Climate risks cut across government sectors — such as water, agriculture and energy — and solutions for one sector can have positive or negative consequences for another. Therefore, integrating data from across sectors is important for informing decisions and ensuring coherent and equitable responses. When data is readily accessible, well-publicized and free to use, it can be centralized in an easier-to-find location, which builds users’ awareness of what is available and reduces the burden of searching for and requesting data. Take the example of the Climate Just tool, which combines open data from government and academic sources to visually display how heatwaves, flooding and other extreme climate events will affect disadvantaged and impoverished communities. Developed by a team of researchers and developers from civil society, academia and government in the United Kingdom, the tool was used by the New Economy — the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s policy and research arm — in its mapping system to assess the climate vulnerability of over 1,000 potential sites for development. By making data available to citizens and developers the aim was to help increase transparency and engagement in the planning process. The city’s Fire and Rescue Service also used the platforms to quantify exposure to flood risk, helping potentially inform response efforts in the future. 2. Strengthened collaboration Open data reinforces collaborative action by helping build an understanding of risks and priorities, as well as sustaining partnerships between actors with different sets of expertise. This is especially important for climate action given that the analyses needed — such as downscaling global climate models or creating vulnerability assessments — can require complex techniques and specialized knowledge. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries cannot afford to lose time through uncoordinated approaches. In the same way, open data makes it possible for those who have data analysis expertise to partner with those who represent the needs of affected communities. In Malabon City in the Philippines, for example, known for its frequent flooding, a coalition of international NGOs and civil society organizations from the Global South were able to use information from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to adapt existing flood warning systems for the local context. With this information they were better able to identify the most at-risk areas and place flood risk maps at strategic locations in flood-prone neighborhoods. This also led to a shift in mindsets around disaster preparation and further community participation in developing evacuation plans. 3. Enhanced monitoring Open data also can play an important role in monitoring climate policies and programs. When relevant data and information is made accessible, citizens are better able to engage in formal and informal monitoring processes in an evidence-based manner. By improving knowledge and data sharing across agencies and levels of government, open data also can strengthen governments’ monitoring and reporting frameworks under the Paris Agreement. In Costa Rica, for example, the development of the National System of Climate Change Metrics (Spanish) strengthened relationships and institutional arrangements between various data-producing government agencies to produce an open data platform on a wide range of climate change drivers, risks and responses — something that reportedly had been lacking due to the effort required to establish processes for consistent data sharing. The Climate Change Directorate expects this will help the country transition to new reporting procedures under the Paris Agreement’s enhanced transparency framework. 4. Improved modeling Additionally, it’s important to note open data’s contribution to improved, accessible and accountable modeling. Modeling exercises underlie many climate change analyses — from estimating risks of climate-related hazards to generating credible projections of future greenhouse gas emissions. Data availability and transparency are critical to building context-specific models that are trusted and reliable and can be effectively used in national, sectoral and local planning. In Chile, the research institute CR2 has created climate simulations at the national and regional level using, in part, publicly accessible global and national datasets. These models, as well as other data made available through CR2’s platform (Spanish) , are widely used by Chilean stakeholders from all sectors, including the government. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries cannot afford to lose time through uncoordinated approaches. As these examples demonstrate, governments can spur collaboration and build trust with civil society, operate more efficiently and ensure their climate actions are informed by best available data. Pull Quote The idea of making data open is nothing new, but for many countries the challenge of doing so and the investment upfront means that much of the critical climate-related data that governments need remains locked away or in unusable formats. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries cannot afford to lose time through uncoordinated approaches. Contributors Jesse Worker Topics Data Risk & Resilience Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Buildings damaged in a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in 2016 in the Pidie Jaya Regency, Aceh Province of Indonedia.  Shutterstock teuku rizal dc Close Authorship

View original here:
How open data can help countries address climate emergency impacts

Matter of opinion: What the 2021 Earth Day polls reveal

April 6, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Matter of opinion: What the 2021 Earth Day polls reveal Joel Makower Tue, 04/06/2021 – 02:11 For more than a decade, this has been the time of year — the run-up to Earth Day — when I’ve surveyed the public opinion polls, of which there have been many, to assess consumer and citizen trends on environmental issues, notably related to shopping. I started doing this in 2007 and, with a few exceptions, continued it annually through last year . This year, I’m changing it up, for several reasons. First, the number of polls has continued to dwindle. For whatever reason, pollsters, and those who commission them, aren’t as interested in understanding consumers’ green sentiments. Or, to the extent they are, they’re conducting these polls privately, not for public consumption. (That also suggests that fewer companies are interested in being seen as thought leaders on green consumer issues.) The second reason is that these polls rarely change, a drum I’ve been beating for decades . In general, a large swath of consumers — typically, two-thirds to three-fourths — claim they are ready, willing and able to make green choices at home and when they shop. The reality, of course, suggests otherwise. So, even when the surveys are new, the insights aren’t. (Is it any wonder that I once suggested that the whole green marketing thing may not be worth the effort?) Third, the pandemic has roiled just about everything. More shopping is done online, which can make green shopping habits easier (by enabling us to find and buy products not sold in our local shopping haunts) and harder (by creating barriers to inspecting products and scouring labels). For example, despite nearly every survey showing that a sizable majority of consumers want to reduce their own plastic waste, the pandemic has necessarily increased the use of single-serve and disposable products and packaging. It will be interesting to track how those habits shift as we enter the post-pandemic era, but for now consumers aren’t willing to trade their own health for that of the planet. Some of the more interesting survey findings come from groups who seem more credible than consumers — or, at least, have fewer incentives for virtue-signaling. Beyond all that, some of the more interesting survey findings come from groups who seem more credible than consumers in their opinions — or, at least, have fewer incentives for virtue-signaling. Economists, for example. Consider a recent global survey conducted by the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, focused on climate change risks and their related costs. Nearly three-quarters of the 738 economists around the world who responded said they agree “immediate and drastic action is necessary” to address the climate crisis. Fewer than 1 percent said climate change is not a serious problem. Of the economists surveyed, about three-fourths (76 percent) said the climate crisis likely or very likely will have a negative effect on global economic growth rates. And 70 percent said climate change will make income inequality worse within most countries, with 89 percent saying it will exacerbate inequality between high- and low-income countries. There’s good news for companies and policy makers here: 66 percent of economists agreed “the benefits of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 would likely outweigh the costs,” compared with just 12 percent who disagreed. As the report noted: “Costs are often cited as a reason to delay or avoid strong action on climate change, but this survey of hundreds of expert economists suggests that the weight of evidence is on the side of rapid action.” The people speak One citizen poll I found credible and intriguing, and without any apparent preconceptions or agendas. The Peoples’ Climate Vote , the largest survey of public opinion on climate change, polled 1.2 million people, including half a million younger than 18, across 50 countries, covering more than half the world’s population. The survey, conducted by the United Nations Development Programme and the University of Oxford, was distributed across mobile gaming networks in order to include audiences hard to reach through traditional polling. The results reveal a strong global appetite for climate action. For example, in eight of the 10 survey countries with the highest emissions from the?power sector, most respondents backed?more renewable energy. In four of the five countries ?with the highest emissions from land-use change, there was majority support for?conserving forests and land. Nine of 10 of the countries with the most urbanized populations backed?more use of bicycles or electric vehicles. Young people (under 18) are more likely to believe climate change is a global emergency than other age groups, but a substantial majority of older people still agreed with them. Nearly 70 percent of under-18s said climate change is a global emergency, compared to 58 percent of those over 60.  Of course, there can be a yawning gap between respondents’ stated desire for change and their willingness — and that of their political leaders — to implement said change. But political action starts with public demand (at least in theory), so it’s an encouraging sign. The corporate view And then there’s the global survey of business leaders conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Navex Global, a firm that provides risk and compliance management software and services. It found most corporate managers and executives say their companies are falling short when it comes to meeting their goals, objectives and commitments on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Although an overwhelming majority of respondents (81 percent) said their company has a formal ESG program in place, they did not express a high level of confidence their organization was following through as measured against its own standards. Only 50 percent said their company performs very effectively in meeting its environmental goals; only 37 percent rated their company’s performance as “very effective” on social issues. That feels like an honest appraisal, more so than most survey results by purportedly green-shopping consumers. And, as I’ve pointed out in the past, it once again raises the issue of who’s really greenwashing here — everyday consumers who swear they are engaging in responsible habits in their daily lives but aren’t, or companies that have set meaningful commitments, are measuring and reporting against them annually and are pretty candid about how they’re doing? Let’s just say that as yet another Earth Day approaches, there’s plenty of room for improvement on everyone’s part. I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote Some of the more interesting survey findings come from groups who seem more credible than consumers — or, at least, have fewer incentives for virtue-signaling. Topics Consumer Trends Public Opinion Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage  

Original post:
Matter of opinion: What the 2021 Earth Day polls reveal

Climate change leads to earliest cherry blossoming on record

April 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The earliest cherry blossoming ever recorded is happening in Kyoto, Japan. While a colorful bust of cherry blossoms is not uncommon at this time of the year, the peak flowering season in 2021 has come earlier than has ever been recorded. Scientists now link this phenomenon to the warm spring experienced in the Northern Hemisphere. Cherry blossom season has been officially documented in Japan since the year 812 CE, with data indicating that the earliest blooming date witnessed in history occurred on March 27, 1409. The Japan Meteorological Agency started collecting data on peak bloom in Kyoto in 1953. Historically, the cherries start flowering in March, but the majority of buds open around April 17, based on historical data. Related: Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks Climate change and other factors have affected this event, leading to earlier blooms in the past century. Scientists say that full bloom has been repeatedly recorded around April 5 in the past 100 years. But by Friday, March 26, 2021, the full bloom event had already passed, several days before April. “Evidence, like the timing of cherry blossoms, is one of the historical ‘proxy’ measurements that scientists look at to reconstruct past climate,” climate scientist Michael Mann told the Washington Post . “In this case, that ‘proxy’ is telling us something that quantitative, rigorous long-term climate reconstructions have already told us — that the human-caused warming of the planet we’re witnessing today is unprecedented going back millennia.” The blooming of Japanese mountain cherries has been  documented  732 times since the 9th century. This is the longest record of a seasonal phenomenon that occurs naturally anywhere in the world. Scientists say that throughout the 1,200-year-long record of cherry blossom blooms, there have been clear trends that point to climate change . Scientists have noted that the mountain cherries started flowering earlier in the 1830s. The situation got worse between 1971 and 2000, with records showing that flowering came at least a week earlier than previously recorded averages. Among the factors that are linked to the early blooming include deforestation and building construction. Regional climate change accounts for about 2.2°C change, which accounts for about 5 days of  earlier flowering . Via Science Alert Image via Vcentee Alvarado

Go here to see the original: 
Climate change leads to earliest cherry blossoming on record

Artist draws attention to the single-use plastic crisis

April 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

New York City is famously a center for culture and creativity in the U.S. But even in a city that’s filled with so much to see and do, one art exhibit is standing out among the crowd. Artist Dionnys Matos is using art to draw attention to sustainability and why it matters so much, what it means for the Earth and how it can be used as an influence to create beautiful things. Matos recycles and reuses items like foam bowls, plastic cups, bubble wrap and packaging materials in his art. His work focuses on what single-use objects really mean and the impact they have. Related: News From the Future imagines iconic landmarks after a climate apocalypse One work, titled “Wave”, is a four-panel mural created with bubble wrap that was injected with acrylic. According to Matos, this work showcases how our oceans are being overtaken by plastic . In this piece, the sea is getting its revenge. The still-life nature of “The Nature of Things” invites viewers to pause and draw awareness to their surroundings, the objects they interact with daily and how these objects impact the surroundings in the long-term. “Do we destroy our environment, or do we adapt? Are we capable of reusing that which is at the service of our comfort?” the project statement asks. The exhibit, titled Take a Minute: A Show of Resilience, is on display at the Thomas Nickles Project gallery at 47 Orchard Street in New York City. This gallery focuses exclusively on contemporary Cuban art . The pieces will be on display until April 18, and more information about the exhibit is available online . “I link these works with the environment in favor of an ecological conscience, Adopting dynamics inspired by the conservation of nature,” the artist said of the exhibit. “I work with recycled art with disposable materials that are not biodegradable; In these works I use bubble wrap giving it a utilitarian purpose, with the main objective of creating awareness of the dangers that threaten the planet and promote its conservation , enhance communication and citizen participation in the defense of nature and encourage political commitment in pursuit of this.” Matos trained at the Professional Academy of Plastic Arts and lives in Bogotá, Colombia. He continues to work on projects that will promote recycling and raise awareness of environmental issues. Matos joins many artists who are calling attention to the environmental issues — and possible solutions — of our world. Throughout history, artists have always captured the world as they see it, freezing a moment in time for successive generations to enjoy … and ponder. + Thomas Nickles Project Images via Thomas Nickles Project

See original here: 
Artist draws attention to the single-use plastic crisis

Restore Our Earth With Climate Literacy

April 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco

April 22 marks the 51st Earth Day with the theme Restore Our Earth. That theme… The post Restore Our Earth With Climate Literacy appeared first on Earth911.

See the original post:
Restore Our Earth With Climate Literacy

The Road to Powering Amazon on 100% Renewable Energy by 2025

March 31, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

The Road to Powering Amazon on 100% Renewable Energy by 2025 Date/Time: April 29, 2021 (1-2PM ET / 10-11AM PT) Amazon has been investing in sustainability for many years. Back in 2014, Amazon started making major investments in renewable energy. Most recently the company committed to powering global operations on 100% renewable energy by 2025 as part of The Climate Pledge, a commitment to be net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. How will the company get there five years ahead of the initial 2030 target? How does a company like Amazon with operations worldwide navigate policies in global markets? How is the company thinking about buying renewable energy and turning on projects during a pandemic? Join us for a panel with Amazon’s team of experts and partners to uncover how you can apply these learnings to your business and sustainability strategy. Moderator: Heather Clancy, Editorial Director, GreenBiz Group Speakers: Chris Roe, Renewable Energy & Sustainable Operations Lead, Amazon Daniela Fitzpatrick, Energy Procurement Manager, Amazon Web Services Miranda Ballentine, CEO, Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) Alana Kühne, Head of CE PPAs & Merchant Products, Ørsted If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast. taylor flores Wed, 03/31/2021 – 11:12 Heather Clancy Editorial Director GreenBiz Group @GreenTechLady Chris Roe Renewable Energy & Sustainable Operations Lead Amazon Daniela Fitzpatrick Energy Procurement Manager Amazon Web Services Miranda Ballentine CEO Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) @renewablebuyers Alana Kühne Head of CE PPAs & Merchant Products Ørsted gbz_webcast_date Thu, 04/29/2021 – 10:00 – Thu, 04/29/2021 – 11:00

See the original post:
The Road to Powering Amazon on 100% Renewable Energy by 2025

How corporations can jump-start industrial electrification in the US

March 31, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

How corporations can jump-start industrial electrification in the US Ali Hasanbeigi Wed, 03/31/2021 – 01:00 From cardboard boxes delivered to our doors to home appliances, nearly everything comes from industrial processes. Those processes use a lot of energy and largely come from fossil fuels; one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from industry. To achieve net-zero economy-wide emissions by 2050 and limit global warming, industrial emissions must drop while still meeting societal needs. A key route to industrial emissions reductions is electrification (replacing industrial fossil fuels with electric alternatives). Recent analysis using Energy Innovation’s Energy Policy Simulator showed electrification could reduce industrial emissions while growing the economy and creating jobs, and we look forward to exploring viable pathways to industrial electrification at the upcoming VERGE Electrify event . But we can start now by deploying commercially available electric technologies, scaling transformative industrial process technologies and continuing research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of next-generation solutions. Start with heat Most industries require a lot of heat and steam for manufacturing, which today are mainly generated by fossil fuel combustion, which creates about 52 percent of direct industrial greenhouse gas emissions. But substantial unrealized potential exists to electrify industrial processes and reduce these emissions.  A new report by Global Efficiency Intelligence shows that by increasing electrification across 13 industrial sectors — from food processing to paper products — these sectors could reduce emissions more than 134 million metric tons (Mt) per year in 2050 (emissions from 29 million cars). And as the grid decarbonizes, overall emissions will continue declining over time. For example, its analysis found that using electrified drying for the recycled paper industry could avoid 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2050. Here’s how these sectors could get a start: Prioritize low-temperature heat processes. Lower-temperature applications are the best fit for electrification, as two-thirds of industrial heat demand is below 300 degrees Celsius . The food, beverage, tobacco, transport equipment, textile, chemicals and pulp and paper industries are early candidates with high proportions of process heat in this range. Potential technologies for use include heat pumps, electric boilers, microwaves and infrared heaters, notes Beneficial Electrification in Industry . For example, continuous cooling of plastics during injection molding can be precisely controlled using heat pumps. Clean electricity can provide a viable alternative for remaining industrial processes with higher heat needs by generating hydrogen via electrolysis. Hydrogen also can be used as a fuel or a feedstock. Optimize electric energy efficiency. Energy efficiency can reduce energy inputs and lower cost differences between electricity and natural gas. Efficiency gains can be achieved by optimizing how material and energy flow, and by replacing inefficient heat usage with precisely targeted electrical heat from induction or lasers. Continued energy efficiency improvements can help improve electrification economics, reduce emissions and improve industry’s bottom line. So, what is needed to jump-start U.S. industrial electrification? Evaluate the full range of benefits. Electric technologies can be more efficient with lower capital costs. Industrial users should evaluate the non-energy benefits of electrification including operational advantages, reduced waste, improved productivity and increased worker safety. Electric induction or microwave heating for drying can be more controllable, allow higher throughput and degrade the material less, thereby reducing waste. Meet industrial customer needs. Industrial electrification technologies such as heat pumps must be integrated with myriad existing systems, and detailed engineering studies may be needed. Reliable field support can help maintain performance and workforce training can ensure longevity and increasing confidence in electric technologies (a market opportunity for business innovation). Continue to prioritize a reliable and clean electric grid. As industries electrify, utilities and states must rigorously invest in renewable energy and grid modernization to maintain and enhance reliability. Industrial customers also may seek on-site distributed generation or storage for resilience, economic benefits and energy management — policies and regulations should support such investments. Pursue policies, regulations and RD&D to stimulate the market. Policies and regulatory mechanisms including industrial rate design and RD&D are needed to jumpstart low-carbon technology adoption and reduce electric technology costs, including: Government incentives and funding: Financial incentives should help scale emerging technologies and open the door for electrification technologies. RD&D capabilities at government agencies and national labs should advance electrification technologies in collaboration with industry and utilities. Industrial leadership and partnership: Industry leaders should partner with academia, national labs, think thanks and the private sector to scale electrification technologies and train the future workforce. They should also work with policymakers, utilities and financial institutions to advance policy, regulatory and financial mechanisms. Utility coordination and regulatory mechanisms: Electric utilities and their regulators should evaluate synergies between demand response, electric rates and grid investments to accelerate electrification. Industry decarbonization is key to reducing emissions and electrification is a clear pathway to this goal. Industry leaders, governments and utilities should work collaboratively to increase competitiveness, deliver health benefits and transition to a net-zero future. Contributors Ed Rightor Sara Baldwin Topics Energy & Climate Manufacturing Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Using electrified drying for the recycled paper industry could avoid 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2050. Shutterstock Industry Views Close Authorship

Read the rest here:
How corporations can jump-start industrial electrification in the US

Can sustainability save capitalism?

March 30, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Can sustainability save capitalism? Joel Makower Tue, 03/30/2021 – 02:11 My inbox and bookshelf have been groaning lately under the heft of some weighty books, essays and reports heralding a kinder, gentler era for capitalism. This idea isn’t exactly new. For years — decades, even — there has been a steady stream of visions and proposals aimed at, variously, reforming, rethinking, reimagining, reinventing, redefining and rebooting the operating system that drives capitalist economies. For most of those years, those visions and proposals were relegated to a relatively small group of academics and activists toiling in a world unto themselves. Few were taken seriously outside those circles. But it’s a different time. The conversation is growing, and not just among those selfsame insiders. It has broadened to include global business groups, investors, entrepreneurs and even some big-company CEOs, who believe that many of the woes facing the world — and especially the planet — can be linked directly to capitalism’s excesses. And that it may be time for a rethink. To be sure, few of these individuals and organizations are advocating for a sharp turn to socialism, communism or any other alternative-ism. Indeed, many claim to be diehard capitalists. And there’s a clear appreciation of the role capitalism has played in advancing food production, healthcare, transportation, industrial productivity and other quality-of-life aspects of our 21st-century world. For years, there has been a steady stream of visions aimed at reforming, rethinking, reimagining, reinventing, redefining and rebooting the operating system that drives capitalist economies. There is also a growing understanding that these advances haven’t been spread equitably — that vast swaths of the global economy lack adequate food, healthcare, housing, work, education and other basic human needs. And that while many at the lower rungs of the economic ladder are slowly moving up, those on the upper rungs are moving up much, much faster. Enter the alternatives: stakeholder capitalism; inclusive capitalism; regenerative capitalism; responsible capitalism; and probably a few others. Each has a slightly different take but a similar goal: to ensure that capitalistic economies and companies lift all boats and consider the interests of a broad range of stakeholders and interests, including the environment. Why now? I probably needn’t recite the current litany of global challenges — just peruse the 17 Sustainable Development Goals , perhaps the most comprehensive inventory of what needs to change or improve. The past year has laid bare a number of global and local problems and inequities, many of which were hiding in plain sight — most lately, the inequitable distribution of vaccines to combat the global pandemic, overwhelmingly favoring wealthier countries and populations, and growing “more grotesque every day,” according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. It’s become clear that the current system works only for a relatively small slice of humanity, and that the planet and vast populations are suffering as a result. Biblical proportions Amidst all this, the sustainability agenda has continued to gain steam, including recognition by heads of state, corporate chieftains, religious leaders and others of the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis, the hunger crisis and the healthcare crisis, among others. Today, the notion of providing a universal basic income, wiping out poverty, protecting human rights, ensuring clean water and sanitation and mitigating climate change are no longer seen as do-good fantasies. They are viewed as moral and economic imperatives for living gracefully on a planet inexorably creeping its way toward 10 billion human inhabitants. As I said, there is no shortage of ideas. Both the World Economic Forum (WEF) and The Conference Board have weighed in with their Davos Manifesto and Purpose of a Corporation treatises. BSR has advocated Creating a 21st-Century Social Contract . The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is focused on Reinventing Capitalism . Perhaps most intriguing of all is the new Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican , which describes itself as “a movement of the world’s business and public sector leaders who are working to build a more inclusive, sustainable and trusted economic system.” The group, whose global membership includes dozens of corporate CEOs and board chairs, launched in December but its roots emanate from the publication of Laudato si’ , Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on climate change. The pope’s emissary on the council is Cardinal Peter Turkson, who heads the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development at the Vatican. According to the council’s launch press release, its emergence “signifies the urgency of joining moral and market imperatives to reform capitalism into a powerful force for the good of humanity.” (We’ll host a keynote conversation with the council’s leadership at next month’s GreenFin 21  event.) The council, which is partnering with WEF and WBCSD, among others, aims to be the “convener of conversation,” as one of its leaders described to me, and intends to encourage CEOs to make public commitments about sustainability and social purpose. The business execs share a mission to “harness the private sector to create a more inclusive, sustainable and trusted economic system,” according to the council’s website . It remains to be seen whether the pope’s influential voice can help transform today’s capitalist model, or merely encourages companies to continue to make commitments already within their comfort zone. And what kind of pushback will the council encounter? Will the Vatican find itself in a standoff of biblical proportions with some of the world’s largest companies and investors? It will be fascinating to watch where this goes. What’s significant is that all of these efforts to tame capitalism’s worst impulses stem from the basic tenets of sustainability — full-spectrum sustainability, that is, not just the environmental stuff: That economies, and the companies and institutions that drive them, must ensure that their benefits extend broadly and deeply through society, and that they promote the well-being and prosperity of all living systems and species, human and not. I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote For years, there has been a steady stream of visions aimed at reforming, rethinking, reimagining, reinventing, redefining and rebooting the operating system that drives capitalist economies. Topics Finance & Investing Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage, via Shutterstock

Excerpt from:
Can sustainability save capitalism?

Can smart buildings be more equitable buildings?

March 30, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Can smart buildings be more equitable buildings? Hadas Webb Tue, 03/30/2021 – 01:30 When I returned to the office after having my first child, I noticed for the first time that all of the offices and conference rooms either had windows or non-locking doors, which left me without any safe spaces for pumping. Fortunately, I work for a supportive company that requested modification from building management to convert a small conference room to a part-time pumping room. Shortly thereafter, the regional executives of a global pharmaceutical company came to my employer, Cimetrics, for help maintaining thermal comfort for women as part of their commitment to integrate the United Nations Global Compact and corporate social responsibility related to supporting women’s empowerment and advancing gender equality. Cimetrics’ analytical tools found that the facility’s energy reduction efforts led to exceptional efficiency but did not account for comfort variability relative to weather. These are only two examples of systemic bias within the building industry — in this case, related to understanding the needs of female occupants — that organizations are working to correct. Many building standards developed decades ago have had only small incremental updates over the years. For example, thermal comfort standards based on young, Caucasian, male body types (including ASHRAE standard 55) have been shown multiple times over to be biased , yet they persist as standards for building design. As another example, historically racist housing policies have resulted in heat islands and an imbalance of energy use across communities. A recent U.S. study found that “redlined” neighborhoods, which have fewer green spaces and tree canopy, are as much as 13 degrees warmer than non-redlined neighborhoods. There are ample regulatory drivers and utility incentives for reducing a building’s carbon footprint and embracing energy-efficient technology, but not for supporting diversity, particularly for privately held companies. Modern “smart” buildings that aim to optimize energy efficiency and occupant satisfaction now incorporate much more sophisticated technologies than those prevalent when these biased building standards were developed, but are we learning from the lessons of the past? There is no shortage of eye-catching headlines about how artificial intelligence can introduce or amplify bias, but evidence shows algorithms, in general, are still less biased than human decisions . Bias is introduced into the analytics AI or machine learning through the data selection process, called training data, and through the algorithms used to process that data. A straightforward example of bias introduced through training data is biometric facial recognition that is skewed toward lighter-skinned males and therefore falsely identifies African-American and Asian faces. There are ample regulatory drivers and utility incentives for reducing a building’s carbon footprint and embracing energy-efficient technology, but not for supporting diversity, particularly for privately held companies. What can we do to reduce bias within the built environment and create more equitable working spaces, while simultaneously working to reduce the climate impact of building and maintaining these structures? As a female leader, I find it offensive that we must create a business case to get people to pay attention to bias and equity. That said, there is a business case for harnessing diversity and ensuring equity, as has been reflected in myriad articles and research efforts of the past few years. Regarding the previously mentioned bias associated with temperature standards, at this time, research shows that productivity is not strongly correlated with room temperature, but productivity is correlated with the perception of comfort, and I would argue that the latter is more important for retaining high performing employees. Moreover, energy consumption can be reduced by expanding the thermostat range during certain conditions. In short, keeping equity at the forefront of smart building development has the potential to amplify its impact on carbon reduction. As you research building analytics and property intelligence tools that support your sustainability goals and ESG reporting requirements, make sure those tools have the flexibility to adapt to the requirements of your demographics, as well as track your performance in these areas. It begs the question: Are you collecting the right data to ensure the behavior, comfort, health and well-being of all building stakeholders are accounted for in your decision-making? After all, what is data but a decision-making tool that allows you to be proactive and intentional in your decisions? Pull Quote There are ample regulatory drivers and utility incentives for reducing a building’s carbon footprint and embracing energy-efficient technology, but not for supporting diversity, particularly for privately held companies. Topics Buildings Corporate Social Responsibility Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

Read the rest here:
Can smart buildings be more equitable buildings?

Tidal turbines power electric vehicles on Scotland’s Yell Island

March 29, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

As countries around the world increasingly embrace electric vehicles , charging is top of mind. In Scotland, the island of Yell is powering its EVs with tidal energy. Nova Innovation has built an underwater network of revolving tidal turbines anchored to the ocean floor. You can’t see them from above, and they’re designed to pose no navigational hazards. One thing is for sure about Yell — there’s plenty of ocean around it, so this is a predicable power source for the island’s grid. Related: Scotland to become first country to test 100% green hydrogen At 83 square miles, Yell is the second largest of Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Sheep outnumber the 966 inhabitants by about 10 to one. The underwater turbines have already been powering houses and businesses on Yell for the last five years. “We now have the reality of tidal powered cars , which demonstrates the huge steps forward we are making in tackling the climate emergency and achieving net-zero by working in harmony with our natural environment,” said Simon Forrest, Nova Innovation’s CEO. Scotland has long been a global renewable energy leader. The blustery country has harnessed enough wind to power a country twice its size. Its first tidal energy farm launched in 2016, and by 2020, it had more underwater turbines than any other country. The new tidal turbine charging station is a first. Forrest says this technology can be deployed around the world. Because traditional combustion engines in vehicles produce about one-fifth of U.K. carbon emissions, underwater turbines could be key in meeting emission reduction goals. More tidal turbines could be coming soon, as the Scottish government has banned the sale of new cars powered solely by diesel or gas by 2032. Marine scientists are still assessing the effects on wildlife . According to Andrea Copping with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, animals colliding with the turbines could be bruised but probably not killed. Compared to other coastal energy endeavors, such as offshore oil drilling, the threat from underwater turbines seems low. Via EcoWatch and Hakai Magazine Image via Leo Roomets

View post: 
Tidal turbines power electric vehicles on Scotland’s Yell Island

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 2256 access attempts in the last 7 days.