Episode 261: Sea changes, strategy shifts

March 26, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Episode 261: Sea changes, strategy shifts

Episode 261: Sea changes, strategy shifts Heather Clancy Fri, 03/26/2021 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (4:22). How infrastructure is banking on green banks Unilever sets out net-zero plan for shareholder vote Power struggle: The looming high-tech battery crisis Features A new wave for ocean adaptation? (19:30) Oceanographer John Englander chats with Senior Editor Deonna Anderson about his upcoming book, ” Moving to Higher Ground: Rising Sea Level and the Path Forward .”   BSR’s take on resilient business strategies (36:55) A new guide from the nonprofit BSR suggests ways companies can anticipate material changes to their operations, develop and test strategies to adapt — ones that will help them become part of “thriving societies.” BSR president and CEO Aron Cramer weighs in with insights. WBCSD’s guide to changing minds on systems change (46:05) The World Business Council for Sustainable Development — and 40 of its member companies — collaborated on Vision 2050: Time to Transform , a “framework for action” for addressing the climate emergency, nature loss and systemic inequity. WBCSD CEO Peter Bakker drops by with more details. *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere : “As I Was Saying,” “Southside,””Vaping in L.A.,” “New Day,” “Sad Marimba Planet” and “Nice Caves” Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episode of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes or Spotify . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Topics Podcast Corporate Strategy Oceans & Fisheries Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 56:17 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

Read more here:
Episode 261: Sea changes, strategy shifts

The risky business of climate risk: ‘Stop predicting the future’

March 8, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on The risky business of climate risk: ‘Stop predicting the future’

The risky business of climate risk: ‘Stop predicting the future’ Elsa Wenzel Mon, 03/08/2021 – 01:00 Blindsided by how COVID-19 quickly dominated the planet? You’re not alone. Fourteen months ago, the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report neglected to include a pandemic among its major warnings for the year ahead. The crisis has exposed not only the lack of foresight but the lack of effectiveness in mainstream business risk management policies. Fewer than six out of 400 companies surveyed in 2020 legal filings said there was a potential pandemic problem, Rodney Irwin, managing director of redefining value at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, said during GreenBiz 21. That’s despite this being the second pandemic in 10 years, the fourth respiratory illness in 18 years, and numerous warnings from the World Health Organization, he added at the February virtual event. “Let’s stop predicting the future because we’ve proven we’re incapable of doing it,” Irwin said. “Instead of asking, as part of our risk determination process, how likely something is to happen, we ask a more cerebral question, which is, if it did happen, could we manage it? That’s a very different question.” Reframe as vulnerability Irwin looks back on 2020 with “somewhat rose-tinted glasses” because it has proven the need to take the relationship between nature and society seriously. And that leaves a tremendous opportunity to address ESG-related issues. The process of handling disrupted supply chains, shifts in demands and business models and modes of communication; governance and decision-making changes during leadership under lockdown. “It’s also made us realize that the consulting world’s obsession with reducing everything down to the bare minimum, agility and removing all slack from our systems, doesn’t give you any wiggle room when the chips are down,” Irwin added. “So it’s allowed us to reintroduce to the world of the business community this notion of what it means to be resilient, and not just to be agile.” If risk management is the responsibility of corporate boards of directors, they have plenty of reckoning to do in the coming months and years about the effectiveness of existing risk management procedures and policies. Gloria Santona, Of Counsel at Baker McKenzie in Chicago, detailed three related legal issues that businesses should note: disclosure; compliance; and litigation. Consider disclosure As for disclosure, investors expect more of it and at a more robust level, but they are also demanding goal-setting, with metrics and accountability. The U.S. government may mandate for more companies to open up, as signaled in February when Satyam Khanna became the first policy adviser for climate and ESG within the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Diversity and human capital management are also likely to come under more scrutiny legally and by stakeholders, Santona added. “The pandemic has raised a number of issues with respect to the way that people work, or the way that they’re treated when they’re ill,” she said. “Boards of directors are going to spend more time thinking about corporate culture than they have in the past and, as well, probably there’ll be more disclosure around that either in sustainability reporting or mandatory disclosure.” Consider compliance COVID-19 illuminated problems with complex supply chains, and Santona said she expects a rise in demand for transparency particularly around human rights, labor conditions and corruption, as well as biodiversity loss and water risks. Santona foresees the need for companies to talk with suppliers, even out to the third and fourth tiers, and to collaborate about climate change, identifying ways to harness renewable energy, reduce waste and streamline manufacturing and logistics. “At the end of the day, it’s really incumbent upon companies to scrutinize their compliance of their suppliers and align your suppliers with their own compliance practices,” she said, adding that mergers and acquisitions will force more companies into due diligence as their supply chain networks balloon. Balancing efficiency with resilience, as well as considering operational risk, are likely to become more of a focus, too. Consider litigation Santona brought up an ongoing debate to watch in the United States in cases involving ESG. The question is whether states can regulate and try cases having to do with climate change. “As lawyers, we’re concerned, because if there is no federal preemption, then there will be a multitude of litigation against the companies with respect to activities that they take that may be considered to be negative due to the climate change,” she said. The risks of not sharing Santona described the “siloing” of information within a corporation as the biggest impediment to risk management. “One of the things that we think about from a legal perspective is whether boards are properly organized in order to think about these risks, and whether there is a mechanism or a method to ensure that the board is actually hearing about all the risks it needs to hear about,” she said.  Santona noted the importance of auditing and the promise of emerging technologies, such as distributed ledgers and the blockchain, which can trace the material origins and points of contact within supply chains. Yet the most important factor is a senior management team that’s open to discussion across functions and geographies, especially for vast international operations. Without that, progress in one country or practice may not be matched by another elsewhere. “It’s a very much an ‘all hands on deck’ to get the best thinking together about how to manage these really complex problems,” Santona added. Bayer, for one, shows signs of moving toward such a direction. Its governance, risk management and ESG teams work together, and compensation for the board of management is tied directly to meeting sustainability goals. When bracing for future disruptions such as a pandemic, it’s important for companies to foster resilience within the communities it touches, said Gabriela Burian, global partnerships and multi-stakeholder platform lead at Bayer. “We were able to act fast because we have a plan for our resilience and engagement within our communities. But that being said, we really need to have a better plan for bigger impacts, and we are working on these.” In addition to its benchmark for 2030 to become carbon neutral, Bayer in January shared a goal to advance public health globally by boosting contraception access for 100 million women . The power of metaphor Bracing for big impacts organizationally may start with intimate conversations. Risk management is a human thing, Irwin noted. For example, you check the water temperature before you step into a shower, and click a seatbelt before you drive. But what happens when risk management comes into the workplace, and how does it translate to an organizational process? More than a decade ago, Irwin used a vulnerability management exercise called voyage mapping at courier company TNT (now part of FedEx). When the risk management team used metaphors to chart their journey, removing the barrier of language led to an outpouring of things people needed to say, he said. “But then you change the conversation and say, well, that’s the journey you’ve had, what is the one you want to have?” he said. “You’ve often heard the quote, ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’ So look at 2020 at the gifts that it brought us — it has given us a vision of 20/20 to know that we have to change, so that risk management can be an area that you go back and have a rethink of. Bring it to the attention of the board because ultimately they are responsible for this.” Pull Quote It’s a very much an ‘all hands on deck’ to get the best thinking together about how to manage these really complex problems. Topics Risk & Resilience GreenBiz 21 COVID-19 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Illustration of the COVID-19 virus disrupting dominoes. Shutterstock eamesBot Close Authorship

See the rest here:
The risky business of climate risk: ‘Stop predicting the future’

3 circular economy trends that defined 2020

December 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on 3 circular economy trends that defined 2020

3 circular economy trends that defined 2020 Lauren Phipps Mon, 12/21/2020 – 00:15 As the year comes to a (welcome) close, it’s worth taking a moment to consider how the circular economy concept has emerged and evolved during this very particular year. Here are three trends that defined the circular economy in 2020, and what they might mean for the year to come.  1. Reuse is on the rise. Despite some setbacks posed by the pandemic (including misinformation about the safety of reusables peddled by industry lobbying groups), the transition from single-use to reusable packaging is building real momentum. With such proof points as Loop’s continued growth and recent $25 million Series A , Algramo’s New York expansion and the launch of the Beyond the Bag initiative, to name a few, it’s clear that reuse is taking hold at scale.  In 2021, I’ll be watching CPG and food and beverage companies, which have been scrutinized for one-off pilots and an overall failure to move quickly enough towards commitments to make all packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. If brands and retailers intend to fulfill their public commitments, we’ll need to see real investment in reuse platforms and systems in the year ahead.  2. Metrics begin to materialize. This year saw the launch of new tools and standards to calculate and track the circular nature of products, business and systems. Notably, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development released the Circular Transition Indicators and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched the Circulytics tool; GRI established a new standard on waste ; and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute released the fourth version of its product standard . The bright and shiny narrative of the circular economy’s promise will lose its luster without verified data and material evidence to show that circular is indeed better, and these tools are a step in the right direction.  Next year, I expect to see an emphasis on reporting and consistency of data behind various claims, as well as an effort to fold circular economy metrics into existing sustainability and ESG frameworks. I also will be looking for more actionable datasets and analysis on the link between climate change and the circular economy, and opportunities to mitigate carbon emissions using circular economy strategies.  3. It’s (still) all about plastic. Plastic continues to be the star of the show when it comes to the global conversation about materials management and circular economy solutions. The topic is top of mind for most of us given the increased demand for single-use everything amid the pandemic, which has led to a surge in plastic waste entering into waterways and oceans. But this year also offered a collective leveling-up of our data-backed knowledge and understanding about the flows and intervention points that could stem the tide on plastic pollution.  While source reduction continues to be the No. 1 solution to the global plastic waste crisis, many companies continue to solely address end-of-life management — notably in chemical recycling technologies for plastics packaging and synthetic textiles .  2021 is sure to bring continued tension between the problem of plastic waste and the problem of plastic production and use. I’ll be keeping my eye on the policy landscape and the balance between upstream action and accountability alongside downstream solutions.   This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Circular Weekly, running Fridays. Subscribe here . Topics Circular Economy Reuse Plastic Featured Column In the Loop Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

Original post:
3 circular economy trends that defined 2020

It’s Giving Tuesday! Here are some eco-friendly ways to get involved

December 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on It’s Giving Tuesday! Here are some eco-friendly ways to get involved

After the extreme materialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes an opportunity to support your favorite causes — without acquiring more stuff. Instead, Giving Tuesday encourages people to do good. Since its creation in 2012, the day has turned into a global movement inspiring generosity. Here’s how to celebrate, plus some environmental charities to consider supporting. Ways to give The most obvious way to give on Giving Tuesday is through a monetary donation — and we’ll get to that in a minute — but don’t let a shortage of cash keep you from participating. If you have more time than money, donating volunteer hours can make a huge difference. You could also give voice as an activist, advocating for your nearest and dearest causes by signing petitions or amplifying their messages through your social media accounts. Maybe you have a special talent that a nonprofit organization needs, such as being able to consult on HR or IT. Taproot matches talented volunteers with the organizations that need their skills. You can also donate goods. Do you still have gifts from past holidays that you never or barely used? Consider giving those unused gifts to somebody who needs them more. Related: Survey shows most adults prefer volunteering at local parks and recreation areas Environmental causes to support The number of nonprofits that need support is truly staggering. Whether your heart lies with trees, the climate, whales or just about anything else, you’ll find an organization thrilled to accept your donation. Here are just a few of the many worthy environmental charities you might choose to support on Giving Tuesday. Cool Effect This crowdfunding platform began in 1998 by supporting clean-burning woodstoves in Honduras. Now, Cool Effect helps people support carbon-reducing projects around the world. As the nonprofit puts it, “We have made reducing carbon pollution as simple as tapping a button. Together, small actions can ignite planet-sized change.” All those small actions add up. Cool Effect has already reduced carbon emissions by more than 2 million metric tons. Heal the Bay This environmental nonprofit works to make water around Greater Los Angeles safe for marine life and human recreation. Heal the Bay started 35 years ago to protect the Santa Monica Bay. Now, the nonprofit provides water quality information every week for 450 California beaches. That’s a big job. They also monitor the quality of popular freshwater recreation areas such as the Malibu Creek, LA River and San Gabriel River watersheds. Rainforest Alliance This famous, internationally known nonprofit conserves biodiversity and helps ensure sustainable livelihoods for people who toil in rainforests. If you’ve ever bought a product with a certification seal featuring a frog, that’s the Rainforest Alliance letting you know that the product is environmentally sound and contributes to socioeconomic sustainability. Giving Tuesday is a good time to remember and help the lungs of our planet. Sea Turtle Conservancy Just about everybody likes turtles , so a donation to the Sea Turtle Conservancy in your friend or family member’s name could make for a great holiday gift. There are many turtle-focused organizations these days, but the Florida-based Sea Turtle Conservancy is the oldest. Founded in 1959, it was instrumental in raising turtle awareness and saving the Caribbean green turtle from the brink of extinction. Louisiana Environmental Action Network Louisiana is a beautiful state, but it is also one that has been unfairly exploited by petrochemical companies and other similarly toxic industries. Since the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN)’s founding in 1986, it has served as a voice for Louisianans who want to live in their state without seeing its beauty destroyed and their family members felled by cancer. The organization can use your spare dollars to continue the fight against huge polluting industries. Human Access Project Portland’s Willamette River has historically served as a dumping ground for industry. But a massive cleanup effort has made the Willamette safe for recreation. Still, locals are leery. Since 2010, the Human Access Project (HAP) has worked to improve the river’s reputation and increase people’s access to it. HAP is responsible for hosting an annual inner tube party on the river called The Big Float, organizing the River Huggers Swim Team and helping to build river beaches for people to swim, launch their kayaks or just hang out. Bat Conservation International People often fear bats , but these mysterious little creatures are crucial to ecosystems. Many have already died from human encroachment and white-nose syndrome. Bat Conservation International focuses its attention on the world’s most vulnerable bats and their habitats. The organization always remembers that it may be operating as a guest in other countries. “We are respectful visitors to the countries where we work — seeking to learn, understand, and honor the historical, cultural, political, and economic context of our projects,” BCI states on its website. Appalachian Trail Conservancy If you’re a hiker, you’ve probably thought about those usually unseen people who spend countless hours building and maintaining trails. Where would we be without them? Lost in the bushes. Remember your favorite trails on Giving Tuesday. Perhaps a donation to preserve the pathways, forests and clean water of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy would be in order. Community Solidarity If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you could donate to Community Solidarity , the largest all-vegetarian hunger relief food program in the U.S. Community Solidarity serves people in the New York City and Long Island areas with free groceries and warm, vegan meals. Defenders of Wildlife Can’t decide between supporting manatees, wolves or prairie chickens? Help them all with a donation to Defenders of Wildlife . The organization’s mission is to protect and restore endangered wildlife across North America and beyond. You can also help out by purchasing branded merchandise or supporting its adopt-an-animal program. Natural Resources Defense Council Founded in 1970, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a big organization that helps the environment in many ways. The New York Times has called NRDC one of the nation’s most powerful environmental groups. The organization works on overarching issues like food waste, wildlife conservation, climate change and renewable energy. + Giving Tuesday Images via Kat Yukawa , Joel Muniz and Josh Hild

Read the original here:
It’s Giving Tuesday! Here are some eco-friendly ways to get involved

Maryland bans single-use foam containers

October 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Maryland bans single-use foam containers

Last week, Maryland became the first U.S. state to ban single-use foam containers for carryout. Although the legislation banning their use was passed in 2019, it came into effect on Thursday, October 1. Among the items that will be prohibited in the new law include cups, plates, trays and containers. All entities in the state will be affected by the law, including businesses and institutions, such as schools. Originally, the state had set July 1 as the deadline for implementing the new law. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the deadline was pushed to October 1. Even with the delays, many cities and counties within the state had already implemented the ban early. Related: Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers Democratic Delegate Brooke Lierman was the main sponsor of the House bill that led to the new law. Although she had proposed the bill twice before, it was unsuccessful. But due to the recent climatic events, her colleagues started to shift their positions. According to Lierman, plastics are already hurting our environment, and actions have to be taken now to stop their effects. “Single-use plastics are overrunning our oceans and bays and neighborhoods,” Lierman said. “We need to take dramatic steps to start stemming our use and reliance on them … to leave future generations a planet full of wildlife and green space.” For a long time, polystyrene foam containers have been the go-to solution for businesses. They provide a cheap option for food packaging and are preferred by most business operators. But they are detrimental to the environment. In opposition to the new bill, the American Chemistry Council said that banning the single-use containers would vastly harm the local businesses. “Polystyrene foam packaging and containers provide business owners and consumers with a cost-effective and environmentally preferable choice that is ideal for protecting food and preventing food waste , particularly when used for food service,” the council argued. “Foam packaging is generally more than 90 percent air and has a lighter environmental impact than alternatives.” Although the law does not leave loopholes for continued use of the outlawed products, the Maryland Department of Environment allows schools and other institutions to apply for a grace period of up to one year. This will only be granted in special situations, where the institution may not be able to fulfill the ban in time. + Maryland Expanded Polystyrene Ban Via CNN Image via Jens S.

Read more: 
Maryland bans single-use foam containers

Prefab holiday cabins appear to float among misty tea fields in China

October 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Prefab holiday cabins appear to float among misty tea fields in China

Chinese architecture firms Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab have designed and built the Mountain & Cloud Cabins, a boutique hotel hidden in the mountains of Yichang in China’s Hubei province. Commissioned by the local cultural and tourism development agency, the nature-focused hospitality project features 18 timber cabins that are prefabricated and strategically sited for reduced site impact and optimized landscape views. The cabins are also engineered for energy efficiency and include a floor heating system and a fresh air exchange system. Completed earlier this year, the Mountain & Cloud Cabins project takes cues from the lead architect Mu Wei’s experiences living in Norway. The mountainous site in Hubei reminded Wei of the Norwegian landscape, so he channeled Scandinavian minimalism for the design of the modern cabins. The project includes hotel rooms, a cafe and a swimming pool. There are five different types of cabins that range from 35 square meters to 65 square meters in size. Each cabin’s main structure can be assembled in one day thanks to the use of prefabricated, cross-laminated timber panels. Related: Sophisticated, sustainable lakeside cabin showcases the best of Nordic minimalism “You can never order nature, besides you become part of it,” explained the architects, who endeavored to blend the buildings into the landscape. “We try to design and build as nature: cabins seem to come from the future, but disappear in the nature. They are the viewfinders of nature and breathe freely in the forest.” While the structure of the buildings are built of timber, the exterior of the cabins vary depending on the location. A bridge-like cabin that spans the tea valley, for instance, takes the form of an elevated, 14-meter-long wooden bridge with a courtyard terrace, while the angular, spacecraft-like LOFT cabins perched higher up on the mountain are clad in mirrored metal plates that reflect the surrounding environment. The unusual shapes of the various cabins lend the project an extra layer of mystique in the foggy tea field landscape. + Wiki World Photography by ?????? via Wiki World

More here: 
Prefab holiday cabins appear to float among misty tea fields in China

SEC rule change stifles key risk signal, disenfranchises retail investors

October 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on SEC rule change stifles key risk signal, disenfranchises retail investors

SEC rule change stifles key risk signal, disenfranchises retail investors Sara Murphy Mon, 10/05/2020 – 02:00 The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted Sept. 23 to amend its shareholder proposal rule , effectively depriving most retail investors of the ability to use the process to protect and advance their interests. In so doing, the SEC is dampening an important risk signal to corporate management and investors, especially with respect to environmental, social and governance issues. The change appears to have been heavily influenced by a network of corporate oil and gas interests, and is likely to be contested in court. First, some background. Shareholders in publicly traded companies have the right to vote on certain corporate matters. As most people cannot attend companies’ annual meetings, corporations offer shareholders the option to cast a proxy vote by mail or electronic means. While most proposals originate with company management, a growing investor movement uses shareholder proposals or resolutions to promote more sustainable business practices. This is becoming increasingly difficult for corporate boards to ignore. This process is codified under SEC Rule 14a-8, and investors with an interest in environmental protection and social justice consider it a useful way to proactively and constructively engage with the companies in their portfolio. Risk and opportunity signals Over time, the shareholder resolution process has evolved to offer an additional benefit. “Shareholder proposals provide an early warning signal of risks and opportunities for management and boards,” said Heidi Welsh, executive director of the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2). Shareholder proposals provide an early warning signal of risks and opportunities for management and boards. Si2 is a nonprofit organization that provides impartial research and analysis about corporate responsibility issues for institutional investors and maintains a rich database of information on shareholder resolutions, including support levels and the most detailed and precise issue taxonomy available in the marketplace. Si2’s data reveal that proponents were filing resolutions as far back as 2010 on issues that have risen to stark prominence in 2020 as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest over racial inequality have rippled through the business world. For example, the number of shareholder resolutions related to decent work — addressing topics such as minority pay disparity and income inequality — has steadily increased over the last decade (see chart below). Data source: Si2 Note: The chart above includes resolutions that were withdrawn (usually by agreement between the company and the proponent) or omitted (usually after the company successfully challenged the resolution at the SEC on procedural grounds). Such resolutions, while not ultimately submitted to a vote, still provide risk and opportunity signals. Average shareholder support for these resolutions also has increased over the same period, as reflected in the chart below. Data source: Si2 Note: The chart above includes only resolutions that went to a vote. Process changes and impacts The SEC’s decision alters the shareholder resolution process in several significant ways, including by: Increasing the value of stock shareholders need to own before they can submit proposals if they haven’t been invested for three years; Eliminating shareholders’ longstanding practice of pooling their shares to meet filing thresholds; and Raising the level of support shareholders need to resubmit a proposal from the previous year. The ownership threshold changes are substantial. For investors who have held a company’s securities for one year, the previous ownership threshold was $2,000 — it is now $25,000. This bar becomes higher still now that the practice of pooling shares has been prohibited. The SEC’s own impact analysis — which it published long after the public comment period on these amendments had closed — estimated that at 55 percent of all companies, less than 5 percent of investor accounts would be eligible to file a shareholder proposal under the amended rule. At 99 percent of all companies, three-quarters of investor accounts would be unable to meet the new proposal submission thresholds. “The sheer racism of a $25,000 threshold for submission (no matter the holding period) in a country with a racial wealth gap like ours is stunning,” said Rick Alexander, co-founder of The Shareholder Commons (TSC), in a LinkedIn post. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a press call that the amendments will modernize the shareholder proposal process to benefit all shareholders and public companies. “It’s all about having a credible demonstration that the proponent’s interests are aligned with all of the others’ interests from an investment or ownership standpoint,” Clayton said. SEC Commissioner Allison Herren Lee disagreed. “Today’s amendments do not serve shareholders or the capital markets more broadly,” Lee said in her statement of opposition . “They will have pronounced effects in two important respects. First, in connection with environmental, social and governance issues at a time when such issues — climate change, worker safety, racial injustice — have never been more important to long-term value. Second, in connection with smaller shareholders, Main Street investors, who will be dramatically disadvantaged by the changes we adopt today.” Industry support These outcomes appear to be part of the design. Bloomberg reporters Zachary Mider and Ben Elgin published an investigation in November 2019 that bolstered claims of a clandestine campaign by oil and gas interests to promote the rule amendments at the SEC. The investigation found evidence that a coalition of industry groups including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) — of which Exxon Mobil and Chevron are members — manipulated the public comment process to create the impression that droves of ordinary Americans passionately supported the rule revisions. The Business Roundtable (BRT) — a group that includes major companies such as Amazon, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase — expressed its support for the rule changes, despite a statement its member companies signed late last year to redefine the purpose of a corporation to one that delivers value to all stakeholders, not just shareholders. It may be no coincidence that the 2020 proxy season featured shareholder resolutions at six BRT signatories that sought to pin down what the companies’ purported stakeholder focus meant in practice. For example, the resolutions asked Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs to determine if the BRT statement “is reflected in our Company’s current governance documents, policies, long-term plans, goals, metrics and sustainability practices” and to publish their recommendations on “how any incongruities may be reconciled by changes to our Company’s governance documents, policies or practices.” The sheer racism of a $25,000 threshold for submission (no matter the holding period) in a country with a racial wealth gap like ours is stunning. A September analysis of BRT signatories found that they performed no better than their non-signatory counterparts on measures of stakeholder well-being related to the pandemic and social unrest over racial inequality. “The result [of the rule changes] will be fewer shareholder proposals,” said Amy Borrus, executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, “and that is precisely the goal of the business lobby that pressed the SEC to make these changes. Simply put, CEOs and corporate directors do not like being second-guessed by shareholders on environmental, social and governance matters.” What happens next? The final rule amendments are slated to apply to any proposal that will go to a vote on or after Jan. 1, 2022. Many observers expect to see legal challenges that could forestall implementation. The outcome of the Nov. 3 election is also likely to influence the process considerably. Some stakeholders envision a more systemic shift. A September analysis by nonprofit organizations The Shareholder Commons and B Lab calls for comprehensive legislative and regulatory change to U.S. corporate and securities laws. The policy proposals revolve around a core concept: creating a legal structure that encourages the creation of “guardrails,” investor-sanctioned limits on corporate behavior that exploits vulnerable communities or common resources. The report proposes that the current amendments to Rule 14a-8 be reversed, and that the rule be further amended to clarify that proposals aimed at protecting social and environmental systems are proper matters for shareholders to bring before annual meetings. Such proposals would seem to be a necessary feature of our collective future, not our past. At a time when social and environmental stressors have an increasingly potent impact on the systems that support our economy, corporate accountability to a broad range of stakeholders is paramount. Pull Quote Shareholder proposals provide an early warning signal of risks and opportunities for management and boards. The sheer racism of a $25,000 threshold for submission (no matter the holding period) in a country with a racial wealth gap like ours is stunning. Topics Policy & Politics ESG Shareholder Activism Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

Go here to see the original:
SEC rule change stifles key risk signal, disenfranchises retail investors

From golf to gardens: Houston’s new botanical garden opens

September 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on From golf to gardens: Houston’s new botanical garden opens

It’s a loss for golfers but a big win for  plant  lovers. After decades in the planning stage, the  Houston Botanic Garden  finally opened September 18 on the former Glenbrook Golf Course in southeast Houston. The garden serves as yet another draw for locals and visitors to explore Sims Bayou, a watershed area near Hobby Airport that already includes miles of walking and biking trails and countless places to launch canoes. “The  garden  will showcase international and native plant collections, educational classes for children and adults, and provide engaging programming that will embrace the garden and natural settings,” said Justin Lacey, director of communications and community engagement at Houston Botanic Garden. The international firm West 8 designed and managed the overall garden project, with Harvey Cleary Builders as the general contractor. Houston’s Clark Condon designed the garden’s planting and soil, with installation by Landscape Art. Related: Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed Building a garden By the time Nancy Thomas, past president of the Garden Club of America, and the late Kay Crooker formed the nonprofit  Houston  Botanic Garden in 2002, they’d already been talking about it for years. The two women dreamed of a massive botanic garden that would rival those of other metropolitan cities. But like all massive projects, the garden took a lot of planning and plenty of  money . It wasn’t until 2015 that the Houston City Council unanimously approved a plan for the garden to take a 30-year lease on Glenbrook Golf Course. Garden supporters had to raise $20 million by the end of 2017 to claim the city-owned property. The garden has been built from the ground up. First, the garden team analyzed how long-term golfing had impacted the soil. Maintaining perfect-looking greens meant decades of intensive mowing and regularly applying  pesticides  and herbicides. In 2018, the horticulture staff quit applying chemicals to the golf course and cut the Bermuda turf very short. They tilled to a depth of about six inches, added compost, and seeded the land with cover crops like tillage radish and white clover. In 2019, gardeners worked on the drainage system and specially blended  soils  for the garden’s different areas. Planning for tropical, sub-tropical and arid plants, the gardeners sought the right mix to keep all the flora happy. The staff’s 30-year master plan includes conserving water, promoting biodiversity and providing habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife. Garden designers integrated the plans into the surrounding Sims Bayou, allowing for the flooding and intense weather events so prevalent in Houston. Themed gardens The botanic garden will be organized into smaller themed gardens. Landscape architects picked about 85% of the plants showcased because they grow easily in Houston. The architects hope that this may inspire visitors to up their home  gardening  efforts. “In one area, we are assessing the rate of success for simply spreading seed, versus spreading seed and  compost ,” Joy Columbus, the garden’s vice president for horticulture, wrote in an article about the garden’s opening. “In another, we are spreading seed, compost, and a liquid biological amendment. Our goal is to provide home gardeners with a menu of choices – including the cost, both monetary and in sweat equity – and the opportunity to see the results for themselves on our property.” Visitors will drive over a bridge crossing Sims Bayou then cruise down tree-lined Botanic Boulevard to enter the garden. Once inside, they can explore rare species from the Houston region and around the world in the Global Collection Garden, learn about practical uses for plants in the Edible & Medicinal Garden and gain knowledge of water purification and flood control in the Stormwater Wetlands Garden. The Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden features forests, floating gardens, a play area, a picnic grove and the chance to get close to aquatic and carnivorous plants (but not too close). A one-acre Culinary Garden will thrill both gardeners and chefs. For those who lack the yard space at home, the botanic garden plans to have room for about 100 raised  vegetable  beds in a community garden. Events in the garden One of the botanic garden’s goals is to connect Houstonians across different cultures and ethnicities. The events schedule reflects this aim. For example, Celebrating Latin America on the opening weekend will include demonstrations of uses of cacti and succulents in  Mexican  culture, a mariachi performance and a talk on the aesthetic aspects of Latin American cooking by Adán Medrano, author of the cookbook “Don’t Count The Tortillas: The Art Of Texas Mexican Cooking.” In October, the Celebrating Asia event will feature an outdoor educational demonstration on ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement, a virtual lecture on Vietnamese gardens in Houston and performances by Dance of Asian America. What about golf? But what about the  golf course? Americans aren’t as keen on golf as they used to be. Since 2007, golf courses have closed faster than new ones have opened. Theories about golf’s decline in popularity vary, but the sport doesn’t seem to have caught on with millennials, who might be put off by the sport’s exclusive reputation. Or maybe it’s because Americans work longer hours than workers in many other countries, according to  The Center for American Progress . This leaves Americans with significantly less time for lengthy rounds of golf. But botanic garden visitors will probably be too busy learning about plants or sampling a cooking demo to bemoan golf’s demise. Instead, they will happily enjoy the course formerly known as Glenbrook’s 132 acres of rolling hills and draping Spanish  moss . + Houston Botanic Garden Photography by Michael Tims Photography

Go here to read the rest: 
From golf to gardens: Houston’s new botanical garden opens

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

September 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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

Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future Heather Clancy Tue, 09/01/2020 – 00:02 Business strategy organization Boston Consulting Group will use remote workplace lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce per-employee travel by at least 30 percent by 2025, one key element of the $8.5 billion company’s new commitment to achieve net-zero status for its own operations by the end of this decade.  It’s also planning an investment push that will see it fund carbon removal projects at a starting cost of $25 per metric ton in 2025, increasing to $80 per metric ton in 2030 — far higher than the amount companies traditionally pay to purchase carbon offsets on voluntary markets.  Both declarations are notable, for different reasons. The consulting industry traditionally has relied heavily on travel to deliver services — it represents 80 percent of BCG’s total footprint, for example. Reducing that activity is something that neither the consulting sector nor its clients would have imagined was possible at the end of 2019, BCG CEO Rich Lesser told GreenBiz. “We are in a period of unbelievable learning,” he said. “My expectation is we will find different kinds of models with less travel intensity.” While BCG hasn’t made any specific commitments about what that model might look like, Lesser said it could include using videoconferencing for certain sorts of engagements in the future rather than sending someone for an on-site meeting or arranging for consultants to work at client locations on a staggered, rotating basis rather than all at the same time. Within its own operations — it has 21,000 employees and offices in 50 countries — BCG is aiming to reduce direct energy and electricity emissions by 90 percent per full-time employee against a baseline measurement of 2018, according to the new set of commitments the company announced Tuesday. It previously committed to purchasing 100 percent renewable energy and will use energy-efficiency measures to fill the gap. Beyond 2030, BCG aspires to be “climate positive” — by removing more carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere on an ongoing basis than it actually emits through its own activities. While the company didn’t publicly identify projects in its press release about the new commitments, those investments will be for both nature-based and “engineered” solutions. “I suspect it will be a mix of both,” Lesser said, adding that BCG will prioritize “change the game” kinds of solutions. One example of an organization with which BCG already works is Indigo Ag, the company behind the Terraton Initiative, an effort to draw down 1 trillion tons of atmospheric CO2 through regenerative agriculture and soil wellness initiatives. Indigo is growing fast both in terms of funding and connections with farmers, which are hoping to get credit for the carbon sequestration potential of their agricultural practices. In early August, it added $360 million in new financing, bringing its overall total to $535 million. The Indigo Marketplace, where it links growers prioritizing sustainability practices directly with grain buyers, has completed more than $1 billion in transactions since September 2018. ‘The model has yet to be fully proved out, but there is massive capacity,” Lesser said. Aside from its own commitments, BCG also has pledged up to $400 million in services — such as research or consulting support through its Center for Climate Action — to support environmental organizations, industry groups, government agencies and others working on net-zero projects. It works on more than 350 such projects with more than 250 organizations, including the World Economic Forum, WWF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. How does BCG’s new pledges compare with other leading business consulting firms? McKinsey & Company declared carbon neutrality in 2018 and has set emissions reductions in line with the Paris Agreement, including a 60 percent reduction in purchased energy by 2030 and by 90 percent by 2050. It also has been active in engaging its suppliers — including 50 of the world’s largest airlines and five of the biggest hotel groups — on how to improve environment performance. And it has a large sustainability practice, focused on helping other businesses reduce their own impact. Another business consulting heavyweight, Bain & Company, was declared carbon neutral by Natural Capital Partners in 2012. It has reduced its direct emissions by 70 percent since 2011, with a pledge to reach 90 percent by 2040. It committed to delivering up to $1 billion in pro bono consulting work for social impact projects between 2015 and 2025. (So far, it has delivered about $335 million.) Topics Corporate Strategy Carbon Removal Net-Zero Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

Read the original here:
Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future

How Pandora hopes to reach 100% recycled silver and gold

June 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on How Pandora hopes to reach 100% recycled silver and gold

How Pandora hopes to reach 100% recycled silver and gold Deonna Anderson Mon, 06/29/2020 – 16:55 By 2030, Pandora, the world’s largest jewelry brand by volume, will use 100 percent recycled silver and gold in its products. At least that’s the goal the Danish company set at the beginning of June. As it stands, 71 percent of the silver and gold in Pandora jewelry comes from recycled sources. And the company sells a lot of jewelry: Fast Company noted that last year, it sold 96 million pieces of jewelry, or roughly 750,000 pounds of silver, which is more than any other company in the industry. Pandora said it uses palladium, copper and man-made stones, such as nano-crystals and cubic zirconia, in its products but the volume of those materials is small compared to its use of silver, which accounts for over half of all purchased product materials measured by weight. The jewelry company also uses gold at a smaller volume. Pandora’s 100 percent recycled silver and gold commitment comes after the disclosure in January of its aspirational pledge to become carbon neutral in the company’s own operations by 2025. “With that, we then, of course, sit down and look at what are the main levers that we can pull to reach carbon neutrality and to reduce the footprint of the value chain connected with crafting our jewelry, delivering our jewelry, and then this comes in as one of those components,” said Mads Twomey-Madsen, head of sustainability at Pandora. To further move toward its larger goal of reaching carbon neutrality, Twomey-Madsen said Pandora is thinking about how the company might reduce its footprint in other parts of the business. For example, as the world reopens after shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company plans to reduce the energy it uses in its retail stores as it related to lighting and heating. The company is developing new store concepts to shift the lighting installations and also adjusting its procurement policies for electricity in its network so that its stores are more energy efficient, and that it is sourced from renewable sources sourced wherever possible, according to Twomey-Madsen. He noted that shifting from partially virgin metals to 100 percent recycled metals will make a big difference in Pandora’s carbon footprint. The company anticipates that when it reaches this goal, it will reduce its CO2 emissions, water usage and other environmental impacts. Recycling metals uses fewer resources than mining new metals. Namely, it takes a third of the CO2 to extract the same silver from consumer electronics, when compared to mining silver, according to Pandora. So, how will the company close the 29 percent gap between the amount of recycled silver and gold is uses now and what it hopes to use 10 years from now? It plans to engage with key stakeholders in its supply chain, which will be vital. “Every aspect of the supply chain needs to be connected to create a more sustainable future,”  said Iris Van der Veken, executive director of the Responsible Jewelry Council, during a session at the U.N. Global Compact Leaders’ Summit, according to trade magazine Jewelry Outlook . Pandora is a member of the Responsible Jewelry Council, which sets sustainability standards for the industry on matters ranging from labor to toxics to emissions, and Twomey-Madsen said the company plans to engage with the council on certification as it works toward its latest goal. The company was able to reach its current 71 percent recycled content rate by obtaining that content on its own, melting the metals and then crafting the jewelry themselves. But the company also buys semi-finished jewelry pieces from other sources. “That’s the focus that we’ll have now to work with those suppliers and make sure that in their operations, the pieces that we purchase from them [are] also sourced with recycled metals,” Twomey-Madsen said. One of the challenges is that the amount of recycled silver available is pretty low. With that in mind, Pandora plans to help build up the supply. And electronic waste could be a significant source for “mining” recycled silver (and gold). There is a lot of e-waste but only about 20 percent of it is formally recycled, with the rest being informally recycled or going to the landfill, according to Twomey-Madsen.  But stakeholders in this work are trying to get to work. Twomey-Madsen said Pandora is seeing interest from potential collaborators in the recycled materials space, with “some from e-waste and some with recovery from other forms of waste or collection of waste.” “We are also having interest from companies that work with new materials. We are, of course, really happy for this and are in dialogue to see if this could lead to new cooperations,” wrote Twomey-Madsen by email, just before publication.  As more key players get involved in trying to make a circular economy work for the jewelry industry, an important factor to think about is transparency in traceability. There must be processes to make sure that actors are well informed across the supply chain about the origins of the metals, he said.  “That’s probably where we need to work the most. We don’t see it as something that we cannot get done,” Twomey-Madsen said, while noting that this process will take time. Topics Supply Chain Commitments & Goals Mining Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Pandora Jewellery Close Authorship

More:
How Pandora hopes to reach 100% recycled silver and gold

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 1695 access attempts in the last 7 days.