4 climate finance priorities for the Biden administration

February 17, 2021 by  
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4 climate finance priorities for the Biden administration Joe Thwaites Wed, 02/17/2021 – 00:30 Providing funding to poorer nations to undertake climate action is not only a moral and legal responsibility for developed countries, but also a strategic investment in a cleaner and more resilient world. Such support pays dividends by reducing the severity and costs of climate impacts for people, including extreme weather, ecosystem loss and societal instability both at home and abroad. Over the last four years (see our coverage from 2017 , 2018 , 2019 and 2020 ), Congress has sought to maintain U.S. finance for international climate action, in the face of repeated efforts by the Trump administration to drastically cut funding back. But while the United States has been treading water on climate finance, the rest of the world has moved ahead, and the climate crisis is only intensifying. In 2009, developed countries made a collective commitment to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries between 2020 and 2025. As the largest cumulative greenhouse gas emitter , the United States has not been doing its fair share towards this goal. It is time for the United States to not just catch up, but to lead on climate finance — for the country’s own sake as well as for others’. Climate change is a global phenomenon with significant local implications. Over the past five years, the United States has suffered $600 billion in direct losses from climate and weather-related events. Yet just $2.5 billion, or 0.07 percent of the federal budget each year, supports international efforts to address climate change. It is time for the U.S. to not just catch up, but to lead on climate finance. President Joe Biden has made climate change a top priority, and this week his special envoy for climate, John Kerry, told the international community, “We intend to make good on our climate finance pledge.” Biden’s recent executive order, ” Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad ,” charged his team to develop a climate finance plan in the next three months. There are four key areas of climate finance that the administration should prioritize to bolster U.S. influence and impact as it reengages in global climate action . International climate finance in the 2021 funding bill First, it’s important to look at what the fiscal year 2021 spending package passed by Congress in December did for international climate funding. This provides the baseline from which the Biden administration must build. $811 million in bilateral allocations for environmental programs addressing biodiversity protection, sustainable landscapes, renewable energy and adaptation: Congress directed that at least $811 million in bilateral assistance — given directly to other governments — be used for environmental objectives, a $5 million increase compared to fiscal year 2020. These amounts, which come primarily from the Development Assistance and the Economic Support Fund, are similar to the Obama administration’s spending. But whereas President Barack Obama voluntarily supported these areas, starting in fiscal year 2020 Congress enshrined renewable energy and adaptation as new mandatory lines in the spending bills (alongside existing lines for sustainable landscapes and biodiversity) to prevent the Trump administration from cutting them. $140 million for the Global Environment Facility: This international fund has financed projects that help developing countries meet commitments under a variety of global environmental agreements for 29 years, and has enjoyed long-standing bipartisan support in Congress. Despite the Trump administration’s repeated efforts to halve U.S. contributions, Congress has maintained Global Environment Facility funding over the past four years. $1.48 billion for multilateral development banks: These banks are significant sources of climate finance for developing countries, providing $46 billion in climate finance in 2019. The United States is a major shareholder in these institutions. Funding for 2021 was one area where the Trump administration and Congress were in full agreement. $32 million for the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund: This fund helps developing countries reduce their use of ozone-depleting chemicals, which include several powerful greenhouse gases . The United States maintained funding at the same level as last year. $6.4 million for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC ) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC ): These United Nations entities support climate science and international negotiations, respectively. The United States provides around two-fifths of the IPCC’s total budget and one-fifth of the UNFCCC’s. The 2021 bill maintained funding at the same level as last year, but this amount is less than the $10 million previously provided under Obama. The US should take a fresh look at multilateral climate institutions. Media Source Shutterstock Media Authorship Cienpies Design Close Authorship Hard work by many members of Congress ensured overall U.S. climate finance did not significantly decline during the Trump administration. But as other countries have continued to scale up their funding, the U.S. has fallen down the rankings. The Biden administration must make up for lost time by rapidly scaling up climate funding and restoring the country to a leading role. Next steps on climate finance for the Biden administration U.S. reengagement on climate finance is not only a matter of how much, but also where unding is allocated. The complex landscape of climate finance has many possible channels , but some have more impact than others. Here are five top priorities for the Biden administration on international climate finance: 1. Fulfill and double the US pledge to the Green Climate Fund President Donald Trump stopped U.S. contributions to the  Green Climate Fund (GCF), which has a mandate to help countries build low-carbon, resilient economies and take ambitious action under the Paris Agreement. Biden has said he would “recommit the United States to the Green Climate Fund,” and it should be No. 1 on his list of international climate finance priorities. The fund gives developing countries an equal voice in decision-making, and it has some of the strongest policies of any financial institution promoting gender responsiveness and Indigenous peoples’ rights. It delivers funding through a diverse range of more than 100 organizations , from major U.S. investors to local businesses and nonprofits in developing countries. While the GCF has faced problems with slow decision making in the past, a new voting procedure instituted in 2019 has led to far more efficient delivery. Last year the fund approved a record $2 billion for 37 projects, more than any other international climate fund. Obama pledged $3 billion to the GCF in 2014 but only delivered $1 billion before leaving office, meaning the United States still owes $2 billion from that original pledge. In 2019, most other developed countries made a new round of pledges , with many doubling their original commitments. Resumed U.S. contributions to the GCF would deliver the most diplomatic bang for the buck. The GCF was a key part of the grand bargain that underpinned the Paris Agreement: that poorer countries would undertake more climate action but needed increased support from richer countries to do so. Developing countries, as well as the U.S. climate movement , have made clear that ambitious backing for the GCF is a key test of Biden’s recommitment to global climate leadership. The GCF has significant support in Congress: for the first time last year, the House of Representatives requested funding for the GCF. With Democrats also gaining control of the Senate, and members of the pivotal Appropriations Committee backing the Fund , the potential for GCF appropriations never has looked better. To get back up to speed, Biden should deliver the outstanding $2 billion from the country’s existing pledge and make a new, more ambitious commitment of $6 billion to match peers who already have doubled their pledges . 2. Contribute to other multilateral climate institutions The United States should become a first-time contributor to the Adaptation Fund , which helps developing countries adapt to climate impacts. Like the GCF, the Adaptation Fund has an official role in implementing the Paris Agreement . Developing countries are strong champions of the Adaptation Fund because of its track record in quickly delivering funding to small-scale projects that make tangible differences to people’s lives. The fund also has pioneered innovative ways to give developing countries more say over how climate finance is spent, including giving developing countries a majority in its board and granting funding directly to recipient country institutions . A U.S. contribution to the Adaptation Fund would signal to the world that the Biden administration will fully and actively support the Paris Agreement, and that it understands the priorities of vulnerable countries. The Adaptation Fund is much smaller than the GCF, receiving just over $1 billion in cumulative contributions over 12 years. Germany is the largest contributor, pledging around $60 million each year. A U.S. contribution on that scale would provide a massive boost to the Adaptation Fund’s important work. Similarly, the United States should make a new pledge to the Least Developed Countries Fund  — which provides adaptation funding to the poorest countries — at a similar level to the $51 million it pledged in 2015. In 2021, countries will begin negotiating the Global Environment Facility’s eighth replenishment, for 2022 to 2026. The United States should come prepared with an ambitious pledge that makes up for not increasing contributions at the last replenishment in 2018. Biden also should continue support for the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund, and restore full funding for the IPCC and UNFCCC. 3. Integrate climate throughout all development funding Biden promised to “fully integrate climate change into foreign policy.” To ensure a coherent approach, his administration must coordinate across the government agencies that extend development assistance to other countries, including the Departments of State and Treasury, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. The administration should work with Congress to increase bilateral funding allocated in the annual appropriations bills for climate adaptation, renewable energy and sustainable landscapes. In addition to these specific allocations, the administration also should mainstream climate across all its development spending. This does not mean cutting spending from other priorities such as healthcare, education and gender equality, but that as part of an overall increase in the development assistance budget, all spending would take into account the impacts of projects on the climate — and of climate change on projects. This includes ending overseas financing for fossil fuels as part of the administration’s commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. Trump reversed previous efforts by the Obama administration to mainstream climate, so the Biden administration should work closely with Congress to ensure these reforms have longevity. 4. Push development banks to align with the Paris Agreement The multilateral development banks are major climate finance contributors . But they also have a long history of financing fossil fuels . In 2018, these banks committed to align their activities with the Paris Agreement, but they have made slow progress. The heads of both the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank are Trump appointees, so this is perhaps unsurprising. The United States is a major shareholder in most multilateral development banks. The banks’ leadership are likely to ask for increased funding from the Biden administration, which gives the United States significant influence. For example, last year House Financial Services Committee chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) secured important reforms to increase accountability and transparency of the World Bank’s private sector arm as part of a U.S. capital increase. The Biden administration and Congress are in a strong position to push multilateral development banks to move faster toward Paris alignment , including ending funding for fossil fuels, and ensuring their pandemic recovery funding helps countries rebuild cleaner, more resilient societies. The administration should use all the tools at its disposal, including updating the Treasury guidelines for how U.S. representatives vote in development banks. Biden’s Jan. 27 executive order provides a mandate to deliver on all four of these priorities. The administration’s forthcoming climate finance plan should set out concrete steps for how the United States will meet its responsibilities and become a leader in supporting developing countries to take ambitious action, which benefits both the United States and the world. Pull Quote It is time for the U.S. to not just catch up, but to lead on climate finance. Topics Finance & Investing Policy & Politics WRI Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The Paris Agreement is just one part of the puzzle. Shutterstock CienpiesDesign Close Authorship

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4 climate finance priorities for the Biden administration

Insights from green banking: What keeps customers from switching banks?

February 17, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Insights from green banking: What keeps customers from switching banks? Diane Osgood Wed, 02/17/2021 – 00:05 ESG may be all the rage, but what about retail banking? The deposits you make at your retail bank for personal and business accounts sustain the bank’s ability to make loans and investments. Loans and investment fuel growth. Put simply, a bank’s capital can flow towards fossil fuels or renewable energy, towards local business loans or financing environmentally damaging projects. Imagine if all retail banks required environmental impact assessments for loan applications. Or committed a certain percentage of loans and investments for renewable energy projects. Certainly, this is a vision all climate-concerned citizens can support, and the opportunity to influence banking as citizens is large. Most U.S. households (93 percent) have a checking or savings account while only 52 percent own stock. Why don’t more people choose to bank with climate-friendly retail banks that have clear environmental investment and loan policies? So why don’t more people choose to bank with climate-friendly retail banks that have clear environmental investment and loan policies? Last February, I began empirical research to discover the reasons people don’t change to green banks. I narrowed the pool of participants to people who self-identify as either “climate activists” or “environmentalists.” The study was designed to hold a series of in-person focus groups in Europe and the United States. I finished two focus groups in Europe before pausing the project due to COVID-19. While more research is required, a few insights can be drawn from this small data set. I share here the interim results for the first time. In the opening discussion in both groups, the majority said that they’d not made clear decisions about where to bank. One participant in her early 20s, an ardent Swiss climate change activist, said that her parents had set up her banking account and she’d never questioned it. Others said they’d picked the least-worst option for service and didn’t think about the choice again. The most common responses from both focus groups related to a lack of information about good alternatives and how to find out more information about their current banks’ investment policies. Many participants expressed a sense of being overwhelmed at the thought of trying to find this information and make the change. What I heard aligns with published research. Many people only move bank accounts during a moment of transition such as starting college, moving to a new city, starting a new job or getting married, then remain there unless a disruptive event happens. Many folks simply begin with the most convenient bank and stay. The U.S. national average age of a checking account in the U.S. is 16 years. I am no different; I opened my first account where my parents banked and kept it there for more than a decade. As the conversations developed, emotive reasons surfaced as driving forces behind the inertia. Two of the younger participants (age 20-25) expressed frustration that they don’t feel that they have any power as a young client of a big bank. One said bluntly: “Who am I to ask them about the bank’s investment policies? The bank manager has all the power. My account is tiny.” Older respondents (in their 50s) expressed a different emotional factor: cynicism. In the first focus group, the conversation moved to how could they really believe anything a bank says, including the well-known green banks? The responses fell into three categories that correspond to Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch framework . This framework applies the image of a rider on an elephant trying to steer the elephant down a path. The elephant, symbolizing our emotional body, must want to go. The rider, symbolizing our mind, must want to go as well. Our minds are lazy, so the change needs to be easy. Finally, the path must be clear with no obstructions or unacceptable costs. If any of these three conditions aren’t met, change will be difficult. The customer will not change banks. Using this simple framework, we see focus group results hit all three types categories. Banks need to respond to all three types of barriers to enable more people to make the switch. In other words, providing only the information won’t suffice. Banks need to ensure the process of switching is low-friction and that feelings of loyalty, security and possible skepticism are addressed. Clients also need to feel welcomed as valued and equal partners. We’re itching to get back out when it’s safe to hold more in-person focus groups and build out this research. In the meantime, the lessons from banking can be applied to other products and services. How are you addressing: The rider: Do your customers know your climate-friendly, “green” product exists? Can they easily find relevant information? The elephant: How do you help customers believe your claims? How do you make them feel genuinely welcome? The path: Are your products really easy to find? Do you need to woo new customers away from “sticky” loyalty programs? Let’s keep the conversation going. Leave a comment here or reach out to me at diane@osgood.com . Pull Quote Why don’t more people choose to bank with climate-friendly retail banks that have clear environmental investment and loan policies? Topics Consumer Trends Banking Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Insights from green banking: What keeps customers from switching banks?

Why data and measurement are key to a circular economy transition

February 12, 2021 by  
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Why data and measurement are key to a circular economy transition James Woolven Fri, 02/12/2021 – 01:00 This article originally appeared on Circulate News . Measuring financial results, customer retention, productivity and inventory are all commonplace, but these measurements alone are no longer enough to tell a business whether it will stand the test of time. To be successful, it is becoming increasingly clear that businesses need to consider their social and environmental impact — or else be caught out by changing legislation or left behind by customers. What once simply could be written off as a “negative externality” has financial implications and has to be central to business strategies. This means changing the way businesses see their role in society and, ultimately, transforming the economy. Our current economic model is based on extraction and waste. It is linear — we take materials from the planet, make products from them and eventually throw them away. This take-make-waste economic model fundamentally cannot work long term. It relies on the extraction and eventual disposal of finite materials and — to satisfy an ever-growing demand for resources — encroachment into natural ecosystems, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions and staggering biodiversity loss. Alternatively, an economic system based on the recirculation of resources and the regeneration of natural systems offers a way forward that can work in the long term. This model, known as the circular economy, could help tackle the world’s biggest challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution. The circular economy is underpinned by three principles, each driven by design: eliminate waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use; and regenerate natural systems. Circular economy is gathering momentum and is being embraced across the public and private sectors around the world. For example, more than 50 global leaders, including CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies, policymakers, philanthropists, academics and other influential individuals, signed a joint statement in June calling for a transition to a circular economy in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In the plastics sector, more than 1,000 organizations have united behind, and are working towards, a common vision of a circular economy for plastics . As organizations begin to make strides in their efforts to transition away from a linear way of doing business and to implement real-world changes, clear and comparable metrics will be valuable for assessing their success and planning future actions. It is vital that we understand how to achieve a circular economy beyond the recirculation of materials. Upstream solutions such as product and service design are essential to eliminate waste before it happens. Jarkko Havas, insights and analysis lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, explains: “Implementing changes can only be effective when we have a clear vision of a future state, an understanding of where we are now and a view of how quickly we are moving between the two states. Measuring progress and tracking changes is an essential factor in the transition to a circular economy.” Measuring the circular economy transition for businesses To understand whether business activity is achieving the aims of a circular economy, business leaders need access to data that measures the circular economy performance of their business, alongside the more commonplace metrics used for assessing the business. However, measuring circular economy performance is a relatively new area and this can lead to misinterpretation of circular economy, with the outcome being well-intentioned incremental tweaks to linear systems, rather than the adoption of truly circular business models. The concept of a circular economy, and what it means for businesses, has been interpreted in many ways. As a result, standardization of the concepts behind circular economy and their inclusion into broader non-financial reporting standards are areas of ongoing work. Measuring circular economy performance also requires data on areas of a business that haven’t traditionally been measured, such as the circularity of water flows or physical assets. Havas adds: “It is vital that we understand how to achieve a circular economy beyond the recirculation of materials. Upstream solutions such as product and service design are essential to eliminate waste before it happens. On an organizational level, we also need to ensure that the circular economy is a part of strategy, risk assessment and organizational targets, to name a few.” In order to measure circular economy performance, it is important to take stock of the concrete results of a company’s efforts to transition to a circular economy — to create a snapshot of the company’s current circularity, in terms of material flows and business models. However, it is also important to look at things that enable the transition to happen, such as senior leadership buy-in and necessary infrastructure. This gives an insight into companies’ circular economy potential. As more businesses have employed circular economy models, a number of initiatives have been developed to measure circular economy performance. This includes the Circular Transition Indicators by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circulytics tool, of which version 2.0 recently has been launched. Broader reporting frameworks, such as the Global Reporting Initiative, also have started to embed concepts of the circular economy. Anna Krotova, senior manager for standards at the Global Reporting Initiative, says: “Since its last revision in 2016, we have updated the GRI Waste Standard to reflect the continued transition to the circular economy. This update will help thousands of GRI reporters look beyond operational waste, towards understanding how their activities, products and services cause or relate to waste impacts, and where in the value chain they are exposed to risk. Consequently, this will enable organizations to identify circularity opportunities and demonstrate to their stakeholders — such as communities, customers, investors and governments — how they are adopting a holistic and progressive approach to waste and resources management.” Circular economy measurement is also an ongoing area of work for Europe’s new Circular Economy Action Plan. The action plan calls for improved metrics to monitor the progress towards circularity. This monitoring should cover the interlinkages between circularity, climate neutrality and the zero-pollution ambition. The Bellagio process is an initiative taken by the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research and the European Environment Agency to respond to this need. We therefore need to focus our attention on more than just the flow of materials, and include also environmental and social aspects. The circular sustainable life should be a good life. Peder Jensen, expert, circular economy and resource efficiency, at the European Environment Agency, says: “Circularity is an idea as old as nature itself. So it is really the linear model that is the ‘odd one out.’ Only by transitioning to a circular model can we ever establish a real model for sustainable development. We therefore need to focus our attention on more than just the flow of materials, and include also environmental and social aspects. The circular sustainable life should be a good life. “The Bellagio principles are a set of guidelines on how to monitor the transition to a circular economy. The principles focus on capturing both the narrow material flow related aspects (circular material use) and the broader aspects linked to the environment and social implication. In this way, it pays tribute to the broadly accepted concept of sustainability and sustainable development.” Havas adds: “At the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we are working on measurement on many fronts: We continue to develop our company-level circular economy measurement tool Circulytics together with our network of companies; work with circular economy measurement standardization as a liaison to the ISO technical committee on circular economy; with non-financial reporting standards efforts; and with public sector actors especially in the EU. Our food initiative has also developed a city self-assessment tool for cities to understand solutions to achieve a circular economy of foods. Our aim is to act as an impartial organization on these different levels of measuring the circular economy, and to bring consistency across them.” Benefits of circular economy measurement Having access to metrics assessing the circular economy performance of a company can have a series of benefits, both for the individual companies themselves and for the overall transition to a circular economy. Establishing the extent of a company’s circular economy performance can be a motivating force to drive faster, fuller adoption of the circular economy. It can empower strategic decision making, helping companies fully realize circular economy opportunities and can help to drive continued progress. The systemic transition to a circular economy creates value and opens up opportunities for collaboration with a view to open innovation. If made publicly available, data on the circular economy performance of companies also can help accelerate the wider transition to a circular economy by giving the financial world a metric on which to base investment decisions. Given that the circular economy is a complex and many-faceted system, making decisions on whether a company is “circular” can be complicated for investors without clear, consistent and comparable metrics. Intesa Sanpaolo was an organization involved in the joint statement calling for a circular economy transition. The bank’s global head of circular economy, Massimiano Tellini, says: “The systemic transition to a circular economy creates value and opens up opportunities for collaboration with a view to open innovation. The change of cultural paradigm generates both a benefit for our customers, in terms of increased competitiveness, and an opportunity for us in terms of advisory and business origination. The renewed awareness of the urgency of this change determined by the pandemic and the opportunity offered by the Next Generation EU plan are key elements for a redefinition of the development model on an international scale investing in innovation and training. “These aspects stimulate a dialogue based on the sharing of approach and information assets combined with the impact capacity of each player in favor of the transition, with the natural consequence of involving more and more actors in a common path to accelerate the transformation.” Pull Quote It is vital that we understand how to achieve a circular economy beyond the recirculation of materials. Upstream solutions such as product and service design are essential to eliminate waste before it happens. We therefore need to focus our attention on more than just the flow of materials, and include also environmental and social aspects. The circular sustainable life should be a good life. The systemic transition to a circular economy creates value and opens up opportunities for collaboration with a view to open innovation. Topics Circular Economy Data Ellen MacArthur Foundation Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  Freedomz  on Shutterstock.

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Why data and measurement are key to a circular economy transition

The potential for carbon-capture tech is captivating

February 4, 2021 by  
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The potential for carbon-capture tech is captivating Heather Clancy Thu, 02/04/2021 – 01:30 This week, oil giant ExxonMobil pledged $3 billion to the development of a carbon capture and storage business over the next five years — in a bid to manage its business risks associated with climate change. CEO Darren Woods noted in the company’s press release: “We are focused on proprietary projects and commercial partnerships that will have a demonstrably positive impact on our own emissions as well as those from the industrial, power generation and commercial transportation sectors, which together account for 80 percent of global CO2 emissions.”  Even Elon Musk is intrigued by the emerging market for carbon removal innovations, as his recent tweet promising $100 million for the “best carbon capture technology” well illustrates. The good news is that even without the pocket change the Tesla billionaire is promising, 2021 is shaping up as a potential tipping point for carbon removal solutions in the United States.  The biggest breakthrough came with the passage of a two-year extension to the 45Q corporate tax credit for carbon removal projects in the dying days of the Trump administration — projects now have until Dec. 31, 2025, to commence construction — along with the publication of guidance from the Internal Revenue Service about how it can be applied. The credit allows for a deduction of up to $50 per metric ton of carbon captured and sequestered, but many viewed the earlier timing window as too restrictive to really jumpstart the market.  In our view, DAC is feasible, available and affordable. “The final rule will provide long-overdue regulatory and financial certainty to incentivize private investment in economy-wide deployment of carbon capture, removal, transport, use and geologic storage across a range of key industries,” noted the Carbon Capture Coalition , an industry group convened by the Great Plains Institute that advocates the cause.  Like another industry group focused on advocating carbon removal solutions, Carbon 180 , the coalition has some suggestions for policies it would love to see the Biden administration embrace related to the nurture of carbon capture and storage approaches that go beyond planting trees.  One argument in favor of direct air capture (DAC) investments fits well with the new president’s climate-equals-job-creation mantra: A June analysis by the Rhodium Group suggests the industry has the potential to create at least 300,000 U.S. jobs. DAC technologies remove emissions from the atmosphere, then store them geologically or use the captured CO2 as a feedstock for something else, such as fuel, chemicals or construction materials.  The need for cost-effective carbon removal solutions is urgent. The International Energy Agency reports that around 30 carbon capture and storage projects have been approved since 2017 — the ones already in operation sucked up around 40 million metric tons last year. But that’s a teeny-tiny amount compared with the roughly 35 billion metric tons of carbon the industrial and agricultural worlds spit up annually. Some models figure we need carbon removal methods to draw down at least one-quarter of the current emissions in order to really address climate targets. It’s widely believed that the U.S. tax credit should make DAC more attractive to companies beyond the oil and gas companies, and power, chemical, cement and steel companies that typically have shown interest in the earlier projects. The list of examples is already growing. United Airlines in December said it would become a “multimillion-dollar” investor in 1PointFive, a joint venture between Occidental Petroleum and Rusheen Capital Management developing an industrial-sized DAC plant using technology licensed from Carbon Engineering (CE). E-commerce company Shopify was actually CE’s first corporate buyer ; it is investing in the Canadian company’s first commercial plant in Squamish, British Columbia, which should be up and running by August. Climeworks’ technology captures atmospheric carbon by drawing in air and binding the CO2 using a filter. The filter is heated to release the concentrated gas, which can be used in industrial applications, such as a source of carbonization for the food and beverage industry. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Julia Dunlop/Climeworks Close Authorship Other tech companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Stripe are talking up direct investments in carbon removal technologies. Last week, Microsoft announced an extensive portfolio of carbon removal projects as part of an update about its year-old carbon-negative strategy . In aggregate, the company reduced emissions by 6 percent in its first year. It also purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tons of carbon from 15 suppliers, across 26 projects — including bioenergy, blue carbon, forestry and agricultural soil sequestration. Its nod to DAC includes a contract for 1,400 metric tons of CO2 captured by a plant being developed by Climeworks in Iceland .  “In our view, DAC is feasible, available and affordable,” says Steve Oldham, who as CEO of CE obviously has a vested interest in seeing the market move toward the mainstream.  The plant CE is planning to build in the Permian Basin of Texas, with construction scheduled to begin by the end of 2021, will be capable of removing 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year at a price of $95 to $250 per metric ton, according to Oldham. The ultimate price will depend on the financing the project receives — it will take two to three years to build it. For context, carbon capture costs easily can run $600 per metric ton. So, that’s a significant reduction. In Oldham’s view, DAC investments are necessary to “decarbonize in parallel” with renewable energy deployment. To those who suggest carbon capture schemes perpetuate fossil fuels extraction and production, he says it’s not feasible to transition cold-turkey and that it’s imperative to finance removal alongside new generation capacity. “One plus minus-one is also zero,” he says. As corporate climate types are aware, most strategies for carbon removal will include a portfolio or projects — including nature-based solutions such as regenerative agriculture or forests or blue carbon as well as the sorts of innovations that the DAC crowd is hoping to perpetuate. Research published in mid-January in the journal Nature Communications suggests that creating a “wartime” response to climate change by investing 1.2 to 1.9 percent of GDP in DAC innovation and deployments could stimulate the removal of 2.2 to 2.3 gigatons of CO2 per year. But it’s no silver bullet: Even “massive deployments” aren’t likely to start reversing concentrations until the 2070 timeframe, according to the researchers. Really, we have no time to waste, and the companies investing directly in projects are to be commended for being in the advance guard of action. Pull Quote In our view, DAC is feasible, available and affordable. Topics Carbon Removal Direct Air Capture Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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The potential for carbon-capture tech is captivating

PepsiCo CSO on embedding sustainability into ‘day-to-day business’

February 1, 2021 by  
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PepsiCo CSO on embedding sustainability into ‘day-to-day business’ Heather Clancy Mon, 02/01/2021 – 02:00 The number of companies proclaiming their intent to go net-zero by 2050 has expanded exponentially in the past 12 months, but the ones short-cutting that commitment by a decade are a rarer breed. In mid-January, PepsiCo joined that club with a strategy to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent across its entire value chain by 2030 and to reach the elusive net-zero emissions status 10 years before it’s called for by the Paris Agreement. The latter commitment is one touted by members of The Climate Pledge, orchestrated by Amazon and Global Optimism, although PepsiCo isn’t a member of that campaign as of this writing. The same week that PepsiCo announced its new ambition, the company’s foundation extended the terms of its 14-year-long relationship with the Inter-American Development Bank — with initiatives including a fund meant to promote the inclusion of women in regenerative, sustainable agricultural models in Latin America. The extension will see $6 million more invested through 2026, initially in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Guatemala. Even though the foundation is a separate entity, there is a close link between its mission and the company’s sustainability goals, according to senior executives. These initiatives, for example, are thought of in terms of years rather than months. “We have to have the certainty that the community will invest the time and willingness to go on with a program for several years, and we need to create awareness,” said PepsiCo’s Latin America CEO, Paula Santilli, when I asked her about how communities are selected. “We choose mathematically and analytically and concentrate on those communities on the wrong side of the poverty line.” I’ve got history in sustainability, but I’m a business guy. In addition to Santilli, I recently chatted with PepsiCo Chief Sustainability Officer Jim Andrew about the link between sustainability and community development, as well as the strategy behind some other developments announced as part of its updated climate strategy — such as its new Sustainable from the Start product development philosophy and two new internal carbon pricing programs meant to embed climate-centric thinking into everyday business decisions. Andrew, an avid scuba diver who joined PepsiCo about 4.5 years ago after heading strategy and innovation at Royal Philips, took over as CSO after Simon Lowden retired last fall. “I think speed is of the essence, not just for PepsiCo, but for the whole world, for the planet and all the people in it,” Andrew told me when I asked for the motivation behind the accelerated goal. Following is a transcript of our discussion, edited for clarity and length. The Frito-Lay facility in Modesto, California. PepsiCo accelerates efforts to build a more resilient and sustainable food system, reducing absolute GHG emissions more than 4 percent by 2030 across entire value chain and pledging to net-zero emissions by 2040. Photo courtesy of PepsiCo Heather Clancy: The goals were finalized alongside the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Did that experience influence the final shape of the climate goals? Was anything adapted or reconsidered because of what was going on? Jim Andrew: Certainly COVID-19 has been a challenge for everyone on multi levels. But what I think it’s done, it’s really shone a light on the need to be even bolder and move even faster. What has it done? It has, I think, sharpened the focus on the need to move urgently. We all saw that the food system is probably more fragile than we thought. We saw that the need for a food system that is sustainable, that is regenerative, that is inclusive, it’s probably bigger than we thought. In that respect, it didn’t influence what we wanted to do, but it probably helped re-emphasize the need to be big and be fast. Clancy: You mentioned a couple of interim goals to the 2040 one. I’m just curious if you have other short-term milestones that we should expect or watch for. What should we watch for? And how will PepsiCo disclose them? Andrew: You should watch for transparency, consistency and regularity in our reporting. We are completely open in that. Any goal we set, believe me, there’s a lot of work behind coming up with those goals. We put as much work into ensuring transparent reporting because it helps us be accountable — both internally and externally, candidly — and also helps us track progress. We’re a company that likes to set a big objective out there and then go get it. One of the big parts of my job is mobilizing the organization. I’ve got history in sustainability, but I’m a business guy. I didn’t major in environmental science. I’m a business guy working to drive in partnership with our CEO, Ramon Laguarta, and the rest of my executive peers to really drive the organization forward. Having clear goals, having really good data integrity, is at the heart of all of our ESG reporting. That’s important because then we know how we’re doing. It also builds trust. That’s something that we take really importantly. So what are you going to see from us? We’re going to report our progress annually in our sustainability report. We have one coming up in a few months and will be happy to talk to you again, when that comes out. Anytime we can provide real-time updates, we will. All of the reporting entities, we’re in alignment with — the Global Reporting Initiative, the CDP, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. We just issued our first [TCFD] report. So, we are going to be transparent; you’re going see it on a regular basis. Our objective is set some bold goals, and then go get them and hold ourselves accountable. Clancy: Since you brought it up, how will you engage the PepsiCo organization to deliver, especially when we’re all in this new age of remote work? Andrew: It’s been incredibly exciting to me to see just in four months the level of excitement in our organization. We’re 260,000-odd people around the world, 200-plus countries and territories. We’re a big complex organization, but there’s a level of interest and excitement. People get it. You ask me, how am I going to engage? There’s three things that you’ve got to do. The first is you’ve got to excite people. With PepsiCo, when you announce an ambitious goal, like our climate goal, people get excited and they get energized. Honestly, a lot of our partners — our bottlers, our co-manufacturers, our suppliers — I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me and say, “Hey, this is really exciting. How can we help? We’re in on it.” So the first thing you got to do internally and also externally is excite and a big goal does that. You know, make no small plans? I think that’s one of the real keys to make sustainability work. You got to embed it in the business strategy, the business processes and the actions everybody takes every day. The second is, there is a level of education that’s important. When we talk to people internally about regenerative agriculture, Scope 3 emissions, those are terms that to most people are new. So we need to introduce those terms. We need to educate people on why the goals matter, but most importantly, how are we going to achieve them. Because that’s what it’s all really about, and we’re doing that across the company. Because we’re Scope 3, it’s got to be across your whole supply chain. We’ve rolled out, as part of the climate goal, a really well-done employee training program specific to our employees to help them understand the role of us as a company, and then the role of them as individuals. What can they do to mitigate climate change? And then finally, it’s about engagement, it’s how do we take that excitement, take that education and then really engage people to drive real action. Because ultimately, it’s about action, it’s about results, it’s about moving the needle. And so that’s everything from, how do we give people the tools? How do we put it in their incentives? How do we talk about it on a regular basis? How do we measure it clearly, because what gets measured gets done, all those things. So: Excite, Educate and Engage. Clancy: How will the Sustainable from the Start Program be implemented, and which product divisions will be first to adopt it? Andrew: That’s a great question, because this is one of my real beliefs and one of my real emphases, which is how do you get sustainability not as something that happens “over there,” but that is really part of the day-to-day business, part of the day-to-day work. Because if it’s part of what we do every day, then it happens and that’s how you really drive action. So, we’re looking at where there are business processes where we can embed sustainability. New product development is a great example. Everybody, every part of the company is interested in and cares about what happens in new product development. So we started this program called Sustainable from the Start, and it really puts sustainability at the heart of product design and new product development, because what it does is it encourages, but it also enables product development teams to make environmental impact a part of their decision-making from the very beginning as they think about the whole product life cycle. We’ve rolled out some tools that really help, because you’ve got to make it simple. The less friction that we can introduce, the easier it’s going to be. So we gave people a set of tools, so that they can estimate, for example, the carbon and the water footprint of products and development, and what are the choices that they make early that are going to affect those footprints. And then they can compare that data to some best practice benchmarks that we’ve built in, so they know what good looks like and they can make more informed decisions. Things like recyclability impediments. If people don’t know, they will not be able to make the kind of decisions that they will if they’re informed. That gets back to the education point I was making as well. If they’re informed and they’re energized and they’re motivated, then they’re going to make decisions that will have big impacts as we move through the life cycle. A big focus of the Sustainable from the Start program is reducing GHG emissions, sure, but also things like discouraging the use of non-recyclable packaging, because that’s really important. So we’ve conducted life-cycle analyses, carbon footprints. We’ve done it for about a quarter of all of our brands now, and we’ve got plans to get all of them done. When you’re a company as big as PepsiCo, you’ve got a lot of brands, so it takes a little while to go through. We’ll have more to share on this — again, transparency, openness. But it’s a great business tool that we’re actively embedding, so that people are thinking about this, from the beginning, as a part of their day-to-day jobs. Because I think that’s one of the real keys to make sustainability work. You got to embed it in the business strategy, the business processes and the actions everybody takes every day. A farmer gives her livestock water in Cucungara, Peru. The success of infrastructure projects piloted by PepsiCo and the IDB in these rural communities has attracted additional support from international public sector partners that has been used to fund new infrastructure, including pipe systems and treatment plants. Photo courtesy of PepsiCo Clancy: Can you share more detail about the internal carbon pricing programs? Why are you embracing them now? Did they take effect? When will they take effect? Andrew: That’s another great example of where we’re trying to take environmental sustainability considerations and just put them in the normal flow of business. So, we’re going to have to collaborate and get employees involved, and also partners and suppliers and everything. There’s a couple that we mentioned. One is, how do we eliminate the carbon impact of employee business air travel? A lot of people travel; a lot of people may or may not fully understand what the implications are of that. What we have done is we have said that anytime any employee is going to travel by air for business, we’re going to put a price on that. And then we’re going to take that money, and we’re going to deploy it with a third party into our supply chain. It’s not something that’s out there, it’s put into our supply chain, to fully eliminate the impact of the emissions from that flight. And it’s flight by flight. And it allows every employee, every time they book a flight, to see that their choice has an impact and also that we as a company will do something. Again, it’s about how do you excite people because people get excited about, “Hey, I can do something.” It’s about how you educate them, because it’s right there, it’s going to be in the booking tool. We are programming it, as we speak. Then it’s ultimately about how you engage them, so they go do something. So that’s one. We’re rolling it out now. By the middle of this year, it’ll be up and running, full go. Then we’re also looking at how we build the carbon impact into carrier selection for third-party logistics. We’re working with our procurement team, so that the climate goals are a part of the consideration when they’re choosing carriers. Because what this will do is it will help you enforce, again, climate considerations and business decisions, which will help drive GHG reductions. And then we’re going to learn from these things, and we’re going to look for where can we continue to expand across other business processes, ways to just embed this into the everyday thinking in activities. Clancy: Those are great examples. Thank you for being so specific. Andrew: The carrier selection is being piloted right now. The employee air travel right now, obviously, we’ve got to do a little programming and not a lot of people are flying a whole lot right now. But the carrier selection program is being piloted right now. Clancy: The pandemic has underscored the fragility of the recycling infrastructure around the world, as well as the food system. What new investments is PepsiCo making to improve collection? And what steps are you taking to increase the use of recycled content in your packaging? Andrew: We have a very clear vision, and that’s a world where packaging never becomes waste. That is front and center for everything we do in packaging. There’s really three things that we have to [enforce that policy]. The first is reduce plastic use. The second is improve recycling, and the third is reinvent our packaging. Let me talk about those now and answer your question. To improve recycling, especially as you say, given some of the challenges, this is a systemic change that is necessary and it requires a lot of partnerships across the full value chain. It requires collaboration between the public sector and the private sector. And it really is how do we work together end-to-end for a circular economy for plastics? We set goals, and then we go and we work really hard to go achieve them. But you’ve got to be transparent along the way about what’s working, what’s not. Specifically to your question, in the last three years, we’ve pledged more than $65 million globally for recycling and collection. A little over a year ago we issued our first green bond. It was a $1 billion green bond. We’ve allocated just about half of that, I think it was $447 million, of the proceeds to projects that advance sustainability. Roughly $200 million of that was specifically to procure recycled PET in our North American beverage packaging. You want to talk about creating a market, that’s creating a market. We have brands, whole brands that are [using] 100 percent recycled PET in Europe. We’ve targeted 100 percent recycled PET in nine countries for our lineup of Pepsi-branded beverage bottles by the end of 2022. We’re working to both support the recycling infrastructure in partnership with other people in the supply chain, public entities, competitors, because this is something that we all have to work on. And then we’re also working at driving demand because if we drive demand and make clear what our commitments are, that helps support the investments that people need to make all along the chain. [Editor’s note: PepsiCo brands using 100 percent PET for their packaging include LIFEWTR, Tazo Tea and Naked Juice.] Clancy: The PepsiCo Foundation has invested considerably in cultivating economic growth and opportunities for women and disadvantaged communities around the world. How does the PepsiCo corporate sustainability team collaborate on those projects? How do they shape the execution of your strategy? How are they aligned? Andrew: We work very closely with the foundation. Again, this is a great example of where we work to use the scale and the reach that PepsiCo has to have a positive impact really across communities around the world, where we operate and to really show some leadership in helping to build a food system that’s sustainable, regenerative and inclusive, to your point. So what we’re always trying to do is work on both people and planet. The foundation and the business have very much those objectives. A good example of collaboration — in addition to the climate news we announced — was the announcement where PepsiCo, in particular our Latin American operations, with our CEO there, Paula Santilli, and the PepsiCo Foundation announced that they are expanding the social and environmental impact partnership that we have with the Inter-American Development Bank. We will go another five years through 2026. It’s a nearly $6 million investment. It builds on the heels of what has been a very successful investment in a partnership over the last 14 years. Over the last 14 years, we’ve supported about 19 million people across Latin America and the Caribbean, on five big pillars of things that are really, really important: water access; nutrition; sustainable agriculture; inclusive recycling; and disaster relief programs. There’s a great example of where the business, the foundation and third parties have been able to collaborate in ways that are more powerful. It’s one of those one plus one plus one equals probably seven. A lot of people have had been helped by a partnership that none of the organizations could do by themselves. Clancy: What’s on your mind right now that I haven’t asked about that you feel like we should talk about more? Andrew: This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. The challenges that the world is facing, when it comes to climate — again, go back to our recent climate announcement, which is top of mind — are challenges where no company, no government, no NGO can do it themselves. The need for collaboration, for partnership, for working together, has never been higher. These are difficult challenges. These are not things that can be solved by any one entity, and they’re not things that are there to be solved overnight. But they are also things that we can’t wait on. The science is clear, the need is clear; the time to act is now. All of us have to find partners to move forward. There’s going to be some mistakes, there’s going be some things that won’t work but together, we have to work together, find those areas of common interest and where we can complement each other, and then move forward with urgency. That’s why we looked and said: “We want big goals, we want goals that will motivate not only ourselves internally, but also other folks externally.” I’ve gotten a lot of calls from people saying, “Hey, great, how do we team up? I see you’re interested in this; how can we work together on that?” That’s what we need. I wake up every day, I wake up every morning, and I worry about what’s going on and sustainability and how PepsiCo is going to drive forward and meet our goals and move the needle on things. But I also think about, how can we do that with others? So, to me, that’s so important and I’m not sure that is fully appreciated by everybody who needs to work together. Clancy: There is a certain amount of skepticism about some of these big alliances right now. How do you keep them relevant and authentic? Andrew: You have to be open, transparent; you’ve got to build trust; and then you’ve got to show results. I think if those things happen, a lot of problems are going to take care of themselves. Back to the question you asked about milestones, transparency. We don’t set goals that we don’t think we can achieve. We don’t know always how we’re going to achieve them because they are big goals, and they’re bold, and they’re aggressive. But that’s what’s needed. But we don’t set ones just to get a headline or, as much as I love talking to you, we don’t set big goals just to be able to go do interviews. We set goals, and then we go and we work really hard to go achieve them. But you’ve got to be transparent along the way about what’s working, what’s not. How are we doing? Clancy: I just have one last question. What’s your most important priority as a chief sustainability officer at this time? Andrew: Oh, that’s easy. I’ve probably got the best job in the company because I get a combination of the chief sustainability role, and also some business responsibilities, which are all about sustainability. But the most important thing is easy, which is achieving the goals we’ve set. That’s hard to do, but easy to say. But that’s the priority. Ultimately it’s about how do we make the planet better for both the planet and for the people on the planet. How do we drive forward results around climate? How do we reduce emissions? How do we increase our renewable electricity to 100 percent globally? How do we end up at net-zero? That’s what is the most important part of my job. That’s what motivates me, because that’s what ultimately will show up and create real change. I need to work with a whole lot of people internally — 260,000 people have all got to be pulling in that direction. It starts at the top and goes all the way down to our frontline workers, but it also is true externally. But that’s my priority 1, 2, 3, working in every way that I can, with everybody to help us achieve the results that we know are necessary for the planet and the people on it. Pull Quote I’ve got history in sustainability, but I’m a business guy. I think that’s one of the real keys to make sustainability work. You got to embed it in the business strategy, the business processes and the actions everybody takes every day. We set goals, and then we go and we work really hard to go achieve them. But you’ve got to be transparent along the way about what’s working, what’s not. Topics Corporate Strategy Corporate Social Responsibility Net-Zero Carbon Pricing Collective Insight The GreenBiz Interview Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off PepsiCo CSO Jim Andrew

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A new LEED Gold civic center will reinvigorate downtown Long Beach

January 19, 2021 by  
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As part of Long Beach’s largest public-private partnership effort to date, international architecture firm SOM has helped inject new life into the downtown area with the Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan. This 22-acre project celebrated its grand unveiling of multiple LEED-targeted civic buildings late last year. The Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan, which has redesigned the downtown as a new and vibrant mixed-use district, targets New Development LEED Gold certification. Launched in 2015, the Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan provides a new heart for public life in the City of Long Beach. The LEED Gold-targeted, 270,000-square-foot City Hall and LEED Platinum -targeted, 232,000-square-foot Port Headquarters buildings, both completed in July 2019, are designed with energy-efficient, under-floor air conditioning systems and an abundance of natural light. The solar-powered, 93,500-square-foot Billie Jean King Main Library that opened to the public later that fall is also designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Related: SOM designs a low-carbon waterfront community for China’s “most livable city” The masterplan includes design guidelines for the development of 800 residential units and 50,000 square feet of commercial development. A regional bicycle network, buses and the Metro Blue Line have been woven into the design to promote a pedestrian-friendly environment. The historic Lincoln Park has been revitalized as well to better engage a greater cross-section of the city’s population. “Targeting New Development LEED ® Gold certification, the new Civic Center plan optimizes operations and maintenance, maximizes street parking, introduces plazas and promenades, and expands bike infrastructure to create a hierarchy and quality of place,” SOM explained in a project description. “The proposed sidewalk configurations, along with the scale and density of tree planting, create not only a welcoming and walkable environment, but a differentiated sense of place — one that befits the city’s dynamic center for culture, recreation, education, and government.” + SOM Images via SOM | Fotoworks/Benny Chan, 2020

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A new LEED Gold civic center will reinvigorate downtown Long Beach

Could contraception for pigeons be a humane option for population control?

January 19, 2021 by  
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City-dwellers often complain about pigeons, calling them “rats with wings” and condemning them as noisy, messy, disease-carrying feces machines. But they’re really pretty benign. Much of the problem is that pigeons aren’t afraid to colonize areas that people think of as theirs. So can we really justify the usual methods of pigeon control: trapping, shooting or poisoning? Erick Wolf, CEO of Innolytics, thinks not. For 15 years, he’s been developing birth control for pigeons and other birds that people deem pests. OvoControl is the official brand name, though Wolf sometimes calls his business model “Planned Pigeonhood.” The way it works is that a contraceptive chemical called nicarbazin is put into an automatic feeder and set out where a flock of pigeons live. Every morning at the same time, the feeder dumps the feed, and the pigeons flap around, gobbling it up in minutes. Related: Birds are dying mid-air possibly due to climate crisis effects The U.S. Humane Society recommends OvoControl as a kinder alternative to poisoning, and the EPA approved it back in 2010. Wolf spoke with Inhabitat about how he got in the family planning business for birds. [Note: This interview has been edited for space.] Inhabitat: How did you come up with this idea? Wolf: The active ingredient in this stuff, the chemical that interferes with egg fertilization in birds, has been around for 65 years. It was originally developed by Merck for use in chickens . The utility in chickens has nothing to do with egg hatchability, it has something to do with coccidiosis, an enteric disease that chickens get. But it’s got this one unwanted side effect in that it interferes with egg hatchability when fed to the wrong chicken. So we were sitting around the table having a couple of beers one day and said, “If it’s so good for preventing egg hatchability in chickens, why don’t you just feed it to pigeons?” Inhabitat: What’s wrong with the usual ways to control pigeons? Wolf:  The conventional methods for pigeon control is trap, shoot or poison , none of which is very humane. What they’re using in the U.S. to poison the birds is really horrible. You would think that a poison that’s used to kill an animal like that would be fast-acting, you’d give it to them, they’d drop over dead. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. So this stuff that they use commercially takes 20 minutes to 2 hours for the bird to basically convulse to death. It’s awful. If you go out and kill animals like that, you end up with more of them a few months later. You’ve got a site with 100 pigeons at it and you go in and you trap or you shoot or you poison 50 of them, within a few weeks, a few months at the very latest, you have more than 100 pigeons again. They just breed back. So unless you stop the breeding, there’s no point. They’re just coming back. Inhabitat: How do OvoControl’s results compare? Wolf:  It works great, but it’s not an overnight success. It takes time, because you have to wait for the attrition of the population. Pigeons die every day. They die of disease, they die of nutrition, they die of predation. Some of them freeze to death in the winter, some of them roast in the summer. But there’s this constant replenishment going on. Unless you stop that, you’re going to live with the pigeons forever. These are pigeons, so they’re breeding every 6 weeks, two eggs per clutch. So five mating pairs of pigeons will make 400 birds in 2 years. So that’s what you’re up against. I have talked with customers that have killed 10,000 pigeons . They only had 3,000 to begin with. They’re harvesting birds.   People that call us are not ones that have a few pigeons around. I have conversations with people that have thousands of pigeons. And it seems like the more pigeons they’ve got, the more likely they are going to be to try to kill more of them. The more they get, the more they want to murder them. Inhabitat: So your method takes patience? Wolf: We’ll get customers that use it for a month and say, “I didn’t see anything happen.” I say, “You’re not supposed to see anything happen.” Pigeons die every day. But the only way to kill them with OvoControl is to just drop a 30-pound bag of it on them. Then the pigeon’s dead. But other than that, you’re not going to kill any pigeons. So get used to it. We have customers that have been using this stuff for years. After a couple, three years, the management will turn over or something and I stop getting orders. It’s usually about 2 or 3 years later, I’ll get an email: “Send us 10 bags.” (laughs) If you stop, they start breeding again. Inhabitat: Who are your customers? Wolf: Who’s going to pay for it? People have talked to us and they say, “Oh my gosh, cities must be great customers. They’ve got so many pigeons.” And I say yes and no. They’ve got a lot of pigeons but they’re not so interested in putting them on birth control. There’s not a budget in the city maintenance for birth control for birds. The low-hanging fruit for the business is pretty much large industrial sites. Power plants, oil refineries, steel mills, pulp and paper, glass foundries, ports. Not necessarily airports, but seaports. Big places. Places where you can’t stretch a net to keep the pigeons out. Any kind of manufacturing facility that’s got open doors. Hospitals are good. What a hospital has very typically are parking garages and lots of places for pigeons to find cubbies. There’s a lot of heat being produced there. College campuses are good because they’re multi-structure. At a multi-structure facility, the guy will come in there and say, “We’re going to net the physics building because it’s got all the pigeons on it.” So they net the physics building and all the pigeons go over to the chemistry building. They’re resident birds. They’re not leaving campus. That’s where they found food. That’s where their nests are. That’s where they’re going to stay. Inhabitat: Are your clients international? Wolf:  We have registrations now in Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan. We have one pending that looks very promising in Australia , and pending in New Zealand as well. Here in the home market, the U.S., it continues to be a really long, uphill battle. People want tangible and immediate results. When you tell them you’re going to lose half your birds over a year, and then another half over the next year and so on and so forth, the pest controller will say, “Forget it. My customer wants the birds gone today.” + OvoControl Images via Pixabay

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Could contraception for pigeons be a humane option for population control?

Can we finally standardize ESG standards?

January 19, 2021 by  
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Can we finally standardize ESG standards? Tim Mohin Tue, 01/19/2021 – 01:00 Most GreenBiz readers are well aware of the complex sustainability reporting landscape. It seems like every year new reporting standards or frameworks are added to the overstuffed workload of the corporate sustainability professional. As the former chief executive of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), I had a role in the ongoing movement to “standardize the standards” that companies use to report their sustainability results. I also worked on the corporate side (Intel, Apple and AMD) and have a deep appreciation of the work that goes into these reports. Over the years, there has been more talk than action on reducing confusion and burden in the reporting space. To be fair, some of the burden is self-inflicted by companies that insist on publishing 100-plus page sustainability reports. Over the years, there has been more talk than action on reducing confusion and burden in the reporting space. As we enter 2021, there are strong signals of meaningful change in the sustainability reporting world. Three main trends are emerging: Mandatory disclosure: Policymakers are increasingly requiring ESG disclosure around the world . For example, the European Union (EU) will tighten its “Non-Financial Reporting Directive” in 2021 , which requires environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure from companies with more than 500 employees doing business in the EU. And it’s likely that the incoming U.S. administration will introduce new ESG mandates as well. Investor demand: There were record inflows to ESG investment funds in 2020 and the total tops $40 trillion — larger than the entire U.S. economy . Major asset managers such as BlackRock are using their ownership stake to pressure companies to improve their ESG disclosures. Consolidated ESG standards: Recently, four leading ESG standards organizations — GRI, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB); CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project); the Carbon Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB); and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) — declared their intent to collaborate . While this is a welcome signal, all of this work could be rendered moot by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation’s proposal to develop ESG standards . One hundred twenty countries use the IFRS Standards as the foundation for company financial disclosure, making it more than likely that these countries will endorse and require companies to use the new ESG standards. The IFRS Foundation received more than 500 comment letters on its sustainability standards proposal with many key stakeholders in support . Given the momentum, the IFRS Foundation seems well-positioned to accomplish the elusive goal of a single global ESG standard I have stated publicly and will reiterate here that I strongly support the IFRS action. A globally accepted ESG standard will improve the quality and comparability of disclosure, unlocking investment and trade that will improve, rather than ignore, the sustainability needs of society. But there are several key challenges to address: 1. Materiality: The mission of the IFRS Foundation is “to develop standards that bring transparency, accountability and efficiency to financial markets around the world.” The concerns of financial markets are a subset of the broader concerns of sustainability. The IFRS Foundation must adopt a broader view to create transparency for sustainability issues that may not yet be financially material to companies or investors but are very important from a sustainability lens. Many companies already report on ESG matters beyond the scope of financial materiality and, as we saw in the pandemic, the definition of materiality is fluid and dynamic. It’s crucial that the IFRS articulates a strategy to straddle the boundary of “dual materiality,” enabling transparency on issues important for financial reasons and important to people and the planet. 2. Comparability: Many have criticized the lack of comparability in sustainability disclosures. Sustainability, unlike financial matters, includes a vast array of disparate issues that are not easily compared. An example is reporting on gender diversity vs. greenhouse gas emissions: Both are well within the scope of sustainability reporting, but obviously can be neither compared nor offset. As such factors cannot be reasonably merged into a sustainability score, they must be compared within the boundaries of the topic. The IFRS should emphasize the inherent lack of comparability between disparate ESG issues. To enhance ESG comparability, the IFRS should consider the concepts in the International Business Council/World Economic Forum report: ” Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation .” It outlines a series of universal metrics drawn from existing ESG standards. Setting aside the selection of the metrics, universally required disclosures will provide greater consistency of reporting across sectors and thus increase the quality and comparability of reporting. 3. Capabilities: The IFRS’s competency and credibility in the development of globally accepted financial disclosure standards makes them a natural hub for this work. But, because they have little experience with ESG issues, they will need to hire staff with sustainability credentials. And as they develop the standards, the IFRS must engage recognized experts in each respective topic that represent all relevant sectors, geographies and stakeholders. Blending sustainability expertise with the IFRS core competencies will not be easy, but is essential for the success of this proposal. 4. Technology: The sad fact is that the tools for gathering, auditing and reporting sustainability information are poor. The IFRS should incorporate the latest reporting technology into its sustainability standards. Information technology will not only reduce the burden of reporting, it will make it more actionable. Technology also will improve the quality of reporting, thus making it more reliable for investors and stakeholders and thus more effective in driving sustainability benefits. After 35 years working in this field, it’s rewarding to see the rapid maturation of the sustainability movement. By taking on ESG standards, the IFRS Foundation is forging a path toward a global common language for sustainability. It is also confirming that sustainability has moved into the mainstream of global commerce. In essence, this signals the alignment of capitalism with the needs of people and our planet — and not a moment too soon. Pull Quote Over the years, there has been more talk than action on reducing confusion and burden in the reporting space. Topics Standards & Certification ESG GreenFin Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Can we finally standardize ESG standards?

A micro-house offers a formerly homeless resident both privacy and connection

January 15, 2021 by  
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Austin-based Mckinney York Architects has completed its second micro-house for the Community First! Village , a program by Mobile Loaves & Fishes to uplift people experiencing chronic homelessness in Austin with affordable, sustainable tiny homes. As with the firm’s first project for the community, Mckinney York Architects teamed up with Bailey Eliot Construction to design, underwrite and build a permanent new home for a Community First! resident. Located 20 minutes east of downtown Austin , the two-phased Community First! Village is a transformative residential program with 51 acres of affordable, permanent housing and community for residents who were formerly homeless. The first phase of the program kicked off with Tiny Victories 1.0, a 2014 design competition hosted by AIA Austin and Mobile Loaves & Fishes that invited firms to design minimalist and sustainable one-person shelters no larger than 200 square feet. In fall 2018, the program moved forward with Phase II by adding 24 more acres of development for a total of over 500 tiny homes along with new amenities such as community gardens, outdoor kitchens and a welcome center. Related: Community First! provides affordable, permanent micro-housing Building on its experience with Phase 1 Tiny Victories, Mckinney York Architects began the Tiny Victories 2.0 project by speaking with current and future Community First! Village residents to determine design needs. The firm was assigned to design a custom tiny home for a “Seed Neighbor,” a woman who lived in Phase 1 of the development and would be “transplanted” to Phase II. In working closely with the client, the architects crafted a home that respected her desires for privacy without compromising a sense of community. For example, instead of large windows, the architects installed a screened porch in the front corner of the home that can be opened up to the neighborhood or closed off when more solitude is desired. The tiny house is topped with a butterfly roof that harvests rainwater for irrigating the garden, and the cozy interior is lined with knotty pine paneling. + Mckinney York Architects Photography by Leonid Fermansky via Mckinney York Architects

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A micro-house offers a formerly homeless resident both privacy and connection

Stefano Boeri Architetti designs prefab COVID-19 vaccination centers for Italy

January 15, 2021 by  
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Stefano Boeri Architetti — the Milan-based architecture firm best known for the Vertical Forest skyscrapers — has partnered with a team of consultants to design and develop the architectural and communication concepts for Italy’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. All aspects of the project, which was completed free of charge, are united by a floral logo of a pink primrose and the motto “With a flower, Italy comes back to life.” The campaign also includes the design of solar-powered, prefabricated pavilions that are designed to pop up with speed across Italy’s squares and public spaces to serve as vaccination distribution centers.  The COVID-19 vaccination campaign was commissioned by Domenico Arcuri, the Italian Special Commissioner for the COVID-19 emergency. Arcuri unveiled the conceptual designs to the public in mid-December. In addition to the designs of a campaign logo and temporary prefabricated pavilions, the project also includes proposals for informational totems and communications strategies for combating vaccine skepticism. Related: Modular Emergency Hospital 19 pops up in Italy in just 3 months “With the image of a springtime flower, we wanted to create an architecture that would convey a symbol of serenity and regeneration,” Stefano Boeri said in a press release. “Getting vaccinated will be an act of civic responsibility, love for others and the rediscovery of life. If this virus has locked us up in hospitals and homes, the vaccine will bring us back into contact with life and the nature that surrounds us.” Circular, prefabricated pavilions would be set up in public places to administer the vaccine; these pavilions are designed for easy dismantling and reassembly. Each timber-framed structure would be wrapped in textiles made of different recyclable, naturally biodegradable and water-resistant materials. Self-supporting fabric partitions would also be used to organize the interior. The circular roof, which would feature a large-scale floral logo, would also be topped with enough photovoltaic panels to generate all of the building’s electricity needs. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Stefano Boeri Architetti designs prefab COVID-19 vaccination centers for Italy

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