Colorful rammed earth domes decorate an island in Iran

March 19, 2021 by  
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These whimsical rammed earth domes are made from locally sourced soil, sand, gravel and stone. Even better, they’re designed to help empower the island’s community. The domes are located on the Persian Gulf island of Hormuz just south of Iran, an area known for its struggling economy despite its proximity to one of the busiest shipping regions in the Middle East. Part of the project’s goal is to leave local craftspeople and workers with valuable building skills that they can carry over to future construction projects around the island. Part of a greater “Presence in Hormuz 2” urban development program, the rammed earth domes are known as “Majara.” Meant to match the colorful, natural topography of the island, the 10,300-square-meter village features matte tones of green, red, yellow and blue with differing shapes and sizes. The resulting cluster of domes is just as striking as its setting. At the forefront of the project is ZAV Architects, an award-winning firm based in Tehran, Iran. Related: Indonesian eco village features rammed earth domes and ocean views The domes are built using a specialized building technique developed by Nader Khalili, a well-known architect from Iran. Though the idea is simple, the small-scale process using rammed earth and sand is well-suited for the region. Thanks to the training provided by the architects and choice to use resident workers in the construction, the technique has been passed down to whole new generation. “Architecture has the capacity to be a mediator in the middle ground that converges the interests of different groups, from the state and investors to various classes and groups of people,” the architects said. “Majara does so in bringing together the owners of land from the neighboring port of Bandar Abbas who organize an annual landart event in Hormuz, the investors from the capital city Tehran, and the local people of Hormuz as partners in the project.” Not only does the project inspire social change by increasing value in the area, it uses sustainable materials and human resources from Iran to stimulate the local economy. The architects added, “Presence in Hormuz is a continuous process aiming at building trust rather than architectural objects, in order to encourage the participation of local people and the inclusion of their interests in any intervention in the island.” + ZAV Architects Via ArchDaily Images via ZAV Architects

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Colorful rammed earth domes decorate an island in Iran

Industrial decarbonization picks up steam

March 1, 2021 by  
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Industrial decarbonization picks up steam Sarah Golden Mon, 03/01/2021 – 01:00 This article originally appeared in the State of Green Business 2021. You can download the entire report here . The industrial sector is the backbone of the economy, producing the materials that build everything from cities to phones. It’s also a significant contributor to the climate crisis: Industrial processes — from the creation of raw materials to chemicals — are responsible for more emissions than any other sector, making up a third of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Increasingly, the stars are aligning for industrial emissions to take center stage, for three key reasons: demand for clean solutions is growing; technologies are maturing; and the conditions for policy solutions are ripe. The emissions associated with manufacturing and other heavy industries could broadly be divided into three categories : indirect energy (from purchased electricity and heat, responsible for about 44 percent of emissions); industrial processes (such as the use of chemicals that release greenhouse gases, 19 percent); and onsite combustion (37 percent, usually for heat processing). All three are in urgent need of innovations and deployments, but the last of those three — combustion — has, until now, received the least attention. Climate-conscious companies that depend on thermal processing — used to produce everything from food to ferrous metals — seek better solutions. Historically, these have been inadequate or unaffordable, but a new generation of technologies is promising to change that. For example, in 2019 L’Oréal USA announced that 14 of its factories were “carbon neutral,” and the beauty giant continues to look for renewable options for all of its thermal loads as part of its science-based targets. U.S. Steel Corporation had a goal to reduce its emission intensity by 20 percent by 2030, based on 2018 baseline levels. While a modest target, the commitment is an acknowledgment that the sector needs to make progress, as steel is one of the most emission-intensive sectors (together with cement and chemicals). Companies are banding together to reach breakthroughs faster. In 2019, General Motors, Cargill, Mars and L’Oreal USA formed the Renewable Thermal Collaborative (RTC), and since have been joined by more than a dozen other large energy users. Modeled after the success of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance , which brought together large energy purchasers to accelerate the availability and affordability of renewable power, the RTC provides a space for companies to learn best practices to decarbonize manufacturing. Climate-conscious companies that depend on thermal processing — used to produce everything from food to ferrous metals — seek better solutions. “These companies and other institutions are trying to send a signal to the marketplace: If people can produce renewable thermal technology that is cost-effective, there are buyers out there that want them,” said David Gardiner, a facilitator of the RTC, in an interview with GreenBiz . Companies are also pushing for industrial decarbonization outside their four walls. Apple, for example, last year announced a carbon-neutrality target throughout its entire supply chain . As more organizations follow suit, corporations can leverage their market influence to help accelerate the deployment of cleaner industrial processes. Finding renewable alternatives for industrial heat is a complicated business. Different applications require different working temperatures, which necessitate different solutions. Some applications — such as cooking, pressurizing and sterilization — require lower temperatures (150 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit), while chemical, concrete and steel processes require much higher temperatures (above 400 F). Today, most process heating in the United States is fueled by natural gas, which can be plugged into many technologies and which already enjoys a robust infrastructure. Globally, coal meets the majority of thermal fuel demands for both steel and cement. Renewable options, on the other hand, often require specialized equipment that is still early-stage and may require retraining or operational shifts, which add costs. While many consumer-facing brands want renewable options, most are price-sensitive and unwilling to pay a premium for these cleaner technologies, especially during a time of rock-bottom natural gas prices. Moreover, clean technologies are at different stages of innovation, feasibility and cost, all with their own constraints, including temperature, quality and flow rates. Key pathways to decarbonize thermal energy include: Efficiency. An oldie but a goodie, the promise of deep efficiency still has not been fully realized. According to energy-efficiency expert Amory Lovins , whole-system redesign today can yield 30 to 60 percent of energy savings in retrofits and 40 to 90 percent savings in new construction. Electrification. While innovations are emerging quickly for applications ranging from roasting coffee to alloying steel , the technologies are expensive and require specific equipment. Still, costs are falling quickly and experts anticipate wide-scale adoption of electric appliances for industrial applications in the coming decade. Green hydrogen. The perennial “fuel of tomorrow,” it has long tantalized experts, who envision that excess renewable power can be used to create hydrogen, which can be plugged into applications as easily as natural gas. However, because hydrogen molecules are much smaller than methane molecules, today’s natural gas infrastructure is too leaky to hold or transport hydrogen. Expect this to be in the R&D phase with limited deployment for onsite applications until midcentury . Biomethane. Capturing methane emissions from dairies, landfills and wastewater treatment facilities holds great promise. While seductive, the resulting fuel (sometimes called renewable natural gas, or RNG) has a limited supply (it could cover only 3 to 7 percent of natural gas used today) and issues with land use (large dairies impact surrounding, low-income communities). Meanwhile, natural gas utilities are overstating its potential to justify infrastructure investments, which runs the risk of slowing electrification of appliances that already have market-ready electric alternatives. Additional technologies include solar thermal, geothermal, nuclear, cogeneration and carbon capture and storage. All have economic and technical tradeoffs, and with corporations and policymakers backing the transition, innovators have a lot to gain by cracking the renewable thermal energy code. Robust policy support will be key to rapidly scaling the transition. Despite corporate commitments to decarbonize, emissions from heavy industry are on track to rise 0.4 percent annually through 2050 — at a time when they need to be dropping precipitously. According to 30 leading experts on energy and policy, high-impact policies to decarbonize industry include carbon pricing, government support for R&D, industrial process emissions standards and energy-efficiency support. It bodes well that decarbonization is seen as a boon for the economy. The good news is many of these policies align with components of President Joe Biden’s climate plan , which include financial support for innovation and deployment, boosting markets through federal purchase requirements, and workforce training and education. The new administration also has placed a specific emphasis on industrial heat needed for steel, concrete and chemicals. Policy also has an important role in supporting financing on these innovations. Given that new infrastructure development works on roughly 25-year cycles, policy direction now can help us avoid making climate-busting investments down the highway. While time will tell if the Biden administration will realize all its goals, it bodes well that decarbonization is seen as a boon for the economy. Rewiring America research shows how decarbonizing the economy can create around 25 million jobs in the United States alone. According to separate reports from Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and the Industrial Innovation Initiative (I3) , a coalition of industry, NGO and public sector players dedicated to decarbonizing industry, investment in R&D for clean breakthroughs will stimulate jobs and economic growth. Meanwhile, Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy commissioned a report that crunched the numbers to show that the spillover economic gains from such an investment would be significant — all of which bodes well for political action. Pull Quote Climate-conscious companies that depend on thermal processing — used to produce everything from food to ferrous metals — seek better solutions. It bodes well that decarbonization is seen as a boon for the economy. Topics Energy & Climate State of Green Business Report Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image by Shutterstock/Nostal6ie Close Authorship

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Industrial decarbonization picks up steam

Here’s why companies should assess double materiality

February 24, 2021 by  
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Here’s why companies should assess double materiality Denielle Harrison Wed, 02/24/2021 – 01:20 This article originally was published in the BSR Insight . This is the first post in a four-part series on materiality. After years of debate over the definition of materiality, 2020 has brought a consensus that materiality is double — meaning that businesses should report on financially material topics that influence enterprise value as well as topics material to the economy, environment and people. The new definitions of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and the two papers published by the five reporting standard organizations helpfully clarify reporting standards’ different perspectives on the question “material to whom,” enabling greater interoperability between them:  On the one hand, a company identifies and assesses those sustainability issues that influence enterprise value. We also can call this “financial materiality” or “impacts inwards.” This is covered by the SASB definition of materiality. The main audience for this information is investors, lenders or other creditors. On the other hand, a company identifies and assesses impacts on the economy, environment and people. This refers to “environmental and social materiality” or “impacts outwards.” This is covered by the GRI definition of materiality. The main audience is a broad set of stakeholders, including governments, consumers, business partners, responsible investors, employees, civil society organizations, local communities and vulnerable groups. Take the topic of climate change. A business will want to understand how physical and transition risks may affect its enterprise value. Severe weather events may affect the company’s manufacturing sites or supply chain security, or climate regulation may mean that some of its products and services are no longer relevant. On the other hand, the company emits carbon emissions that affect the environment and people’s livelihoods. Double materiality is also applicable to an issue such as diversity, equity and inclusion. In a talent-tight market, a company’s ability to attract a diverse workforce may improve its pool of talent and workforce productivity and influence its enterprise value. If a company has discriminatory practices, this may result in lawsuits or change of leadership, which could in turn negatively affect enterprise value. On the other hand, discriminatory practices constitute an infringement on civil and human rights. However, some topics may constitute significant impacts outward without affecting enterprise value (top left quadrant of the matrix). Take the presence of conflict minerals in electronics companies’ supply chains. Minerals extracted in conflict zones are sold to perpetuate conflicts, affecting communities’ human rights and livelihoods. On the other hand, conflict minerals has not proven to negatively affect enterprise value.  Looking at the bottom-right quadrant, customer satisfaction likely will affect enterprise value. However, it might not constitute a significant impact on people, the environment or human rights. For the purposes of reporting, a business should engage its investors on topics that affect enterprise value (in the two right quadrants). The business will report to a wider range of stakeholders, such as consumers, business partners and local communities, on significant impacts to the economy, the environment and people (in the two top quadrants). So, why should companies apply this concept of double materiality? We hear from our members that despite having completed a materiality assessment, they still get questions from stakeholders about other issues that may not be material to their business. We hear that some topics such as modern slavery get board time and attention, even if this topic may not be material to the company. We hear that executives get tired of hearing that all sustainability issues are material topics, when actually they are not. By applying the concept of double materiality, a company will be able to clearly distinguish between inward and outward impacts. A company should report on all its significant impacts outwards, regardless whether they are material to the business. Applying the concept of double materiality will help answer stakeholder pressures for greater corporate transparency. The sustainability field has at times overestimated the impact of sustainability topics on the business. In our view, this can impede on the sustainability team’s ability to convey true priorities. By identifying those issues that are financially material, a sustainability team will be able to advance priorities that are truly a business concern. Understanding the link between inward and outward impacts of an issue will help the company build an adequate management plan, as well as report on these topics in a meaningful way to different stakeholders. When drawing a plan to manage an impact, such as labor rights in the supply chain, a business will be able to inform the plan with an understanding of whether this is a true risk for the business or whether this is part of the company’s responsibility to mitigate an impact on people. As businesses are looking to refresh their materiality assessment, applying the lens of double materiality will help enhance the value of the assessment for reporting and strategy. We will continue to explore how to enhance the value of materiality assessments in this blog series. We are interested in hearing your thoughts and continuing the conversation about double materiality with our members. Contact us . Contributors Charlotte Bancilhon Topics Reporting GreenFin Collective Insight BSR Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  THINK A  on Shutterstock.

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Here’s why companies should assess double materiality

Dasgupta Review puts biodiversity in stark economic terms

February 3, 2021 by  
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While humans often feel like the luxuries money can buy enhance their lives, human prosperity has not been good for the planet. Now, a landmark review by Sir Partha Dasgupta of the University of Cambridge is showing just how devastating prosperity can be. Dasgupta is challenging the idea that the internationally used Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a worthy measure of economic prosperity. He believes the system needs to be redesigned to recognize nature as an asset. Related: World gets F on Aichi biodiversity report card “Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognizing that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them,” Dasgupta said in a statement. The 606-page report, titled “The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review,” stresses that humans are part of nature and that natural resources are finite. The review uses financial terms to explain the dire situation we face by living beyond our means vis a vis the natural world. “We have collectively failed to engage with Nature sustainably , to the extent that our demands far exceed its capacity to supply us with the goods and services we all rely on,” is one of the headline messages of the report. “Estimates show that between 1992 and 2014, produced capital per person doubled, and human capital per person increased by about 13% globally; but the stock of natural capital per person declined by nearly 40%.” Dasgupta offers many recommendations, including making food and energy systems sustainable with technology and setting policies to change prices and behavioral norms. The report urges more investment in addressing biodiversity loss and in community-based family planning programs. Dasgupta calls on governments to introduce natural capital into national accounting systems. Biodiversity is on a steep decline, with nearly one-quarter of global animal and plant species threatened with extinction . There’s been about a 70% decline in mammal, fish, bird, amphibian and reptile populations since 1970. “The survival of the natural world depends on maintaining its complexity, its biodiversity. Putting things right requires a universal understanding of how these complex systems work. That applies to economics too,” natural historian Sir David Attenborough said in a statement. “This comprehensive and immensely important report shows us how by bringing economics and ecology face to face, we can help to save the natural world and in doing so save ourselves.” + The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review Via BBC News Image via Jarekgrafik

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Dasgupta Review puts biodiversity in stark economic terms

Could green hydrogen be key to a carbon-free economy?

November 19, 2020 by  
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Could green hydrogen be key to a carbon-free economy? Jim Robbins Thu, 11/19/2020 – 01:30 This article originally was published on Yale Environment 360 . Saudi Arabia is constructing a futuristic city in the desert on the Red Sea called Neom. The $500 billion city — complete with flying taxis and robotic domestic help — is being built from scratch and will be home to a million people. And what energy product will be used both to power this city and sell to the world? Not oil. The Saudis are going big on something called green hydrogen — a carbon-free fuel made from water by using renewably produced electricity to split hydrogen molecules from oxygen molecules. This summer, a large U.S. gas company, Air Products & Chemicals, announced that as part of Neom it has been building a green hydrogen plant in Saudi Arabia for the last four years. The plant is powered by 4 gigawatts from wind and solar projects that sprawl across the desert. It claims to be the world’s largest green hydrogen project — and more Saudi plants are on the drawing board. Green hydrogen? The Saudis aren’t alone in believing it’s the next big thing in the energy future. While the fuel is barely on the radar in the United States, around the world a green hydrogen rush is underway, and many companies, investors, governments and environmentalists believe it is an energy source that could help end the reign of fossil fuels and slow the world’s warming trajectory. “It is very promising,” said Rachel Fakhry, an energy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Experts such as Fakhry say that while wind and solar energy can provide the electricity to power homes and electric cars, green hydrogen could be an ideal power source for energy-intensive industries such as concrete and steel manufacturing, as well as parts of the transportation sector that are more difficult to electrify. “The last 15 percent of the economy is hard to clean up — aviation, shipping, manufacturing, long-distance trucking,” Fakhry said in an interview. “Green hydrogen can do that.” Europe, which has an economy saddled with high energy prices and is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas, is embracing green hydrogen by providing funding for construction of electrolysis plants and other hydrogen infrastructure. Germany has allocated the largest share of its clean energy stimulus funds to green hydrogen. “It is the missing part of the puzzle to a fully decarbonized economy,” the European Commission wrote in a July strategy document. Germany has allocated the largest share of its clean energy stimulus funds to green hydrogen. Hydrogen’s potential as a fuel source has been touted for decades, but the technology never has gotten off the ground on a sizeable scale — and with good reason, according to skeptics. They argue that widespread adoption of green hydrogen technologies has faced serious obstacles, most notably that hydrogen fuels need renewable energy to be green, which will require a massive expansion of renewable generation to power the electrolysis plants that split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Green hydrogen is also hard to store and transport without a pipeline. And right now in some places, such as the U.S., hydrogen is a lot more expensive than other fuels such as natural gas. While it has advantages, said Michael Liebreich, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst in the United Kingdom and a green hydrogen skeptic, “it displays an equally impressive list of disadvantages.” “It does not occur in nature so it requires energy to separate,” Liebreich wrote in a pair of recent essays for BloombergNEF. “Its storage requires compression to 700 times atmospheric pressure, refrigeration to 253 degrees Celsius… It carries one quarter the energy per unit volume of natural gas… It can embrittle metal; it escapes through the tiniest leaks and yes, it really is explosive.” In spite of these problems, Liebreich wrote, green hydrogen still “holds a vice-like grip over the imaginations of techno-optimists.” Ben Gallagher, an energy analyst at Wood McKenzie who studies green hydrogen, said the fuel is so new that its future remains unclear. “No one has any true idea what is going on here,” he said. “It’s speculation at this point. Right now it’s difficult to view this as the new oil. However, it could make up an important part of the overall fuel mix.” Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical in the universe. Two atoms of hydrogen paired with an atom of oxygen creates water. Alone, though, hydrogen is an odorless and tasteless gas, and highly combustible. Hydrogen derived from methane — usually from natural gas, but also coal and biomass — was pioneered in World War II by Germany, which has no petroleum deposits. But CO2 is emitted in manufacturing hydrogen from methane and so it’s not climate friendly; hydrogen manufactured this way is known as gray hydrogen. Green is the new kid on the hydrogen block, and because it’s manufactured with renewable energy, it’s CO2-free. Moreover, using renewable energy to create the fuel can help solve the problem of intermittency that plagues wind and solar power, and so it is essentially efficient storage. When demand for renewables is low, during the spring and fall, excess electricity can be used to power the electrolysis needed to split hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Then the hydrogen can be stored or sent down a pipeline. The last 15 percent of the economy is hard to clean up — aviation, shipping, manufacturing, long-distance trucking. Green hydrogen can do that. Such advantages are fueling growing interest in global green hydrogen. Across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, more countries and companies are embracing this high-quality fuel. The U.S. lags behind because other forms of energy, such as natural gas, are much cheaper, but several new projects are underway, including a green hydrogen power plant in Utah that will replace two aging coal-fired plants and produce electricity for southern California. In Japan, a new green hydrogen plant, one of the world’s largest, just opened near Fukishima — an intentionally symbolic location given the plant’s proximity to the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster. It will be used to power fuel cells, both in vehicles and at stationary sites. An energy consortium in Australia just announced plans to build a project called the Asian Renewable Energy Hub in Pilbara that would use 1,743 large wind turbines and 30 square miles of solar panels to run a 26-gigawatt electrolysis factory that would create green hydrogen to send to Singapore. As Europe intensifies its decarbonization drive, it, too, is betting big on the fuel. The European Union just drafted a strategy for a large-scale green hydrogen expansion, although it hasn’t been officially adopted yet. But in its $550-billion clean energy plan, the EU is including funds for new green hydrogen electrolyzers and transport and storage technology for the fuel. “Large-scale deployment of clean hydrogen at a fast pace is key for the EU to achieve its high climate ambitions,” the European Commission wrote. The Middle East, which has the world’s cheapest wind and solar power, is angling to be a major player in green hydrogen. “Saudi Arabia has ridiculously low-cost renewable power,” said Thomas Koch Blank, leader of the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Breakthrough Technology Program. “The sun is shining pretty reliably every day and the wind is blowing pretty reliably every night. It’s hard to beat.” BloombergNEF estimates that to generate enough green hydrogen to meet a quarter of the world’s energy needs would take more electricity than the world generates now from all sources and an investment of $11 trillion in production and storage. That’s why the focus for now is on the 15 percent of the economy with energy needs not easily supplied by wind and solar power, such as heavy manufacturing, long-distance trucking and fuel for cargo ships and aircraft. The Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field (FH2R), a green hydrogen facility that can generate as much as 1,200 normal meter cubed (Nm3) of hydrogen per hour, opened in Japan in March. Source:  TOSHIBA ESS The energy density of green hydrogen is three times that of jet fuel, making it a promising zero-emissions technology for aircraft. But Airbus, the European airplane manufacturer, recently released a statement saying that significant problems need to be overcome, including safely storing hydrogen on aircraft, the lack of a hydrogen infrastructure at airports, and cost. Experts say that new technologies will be needed to solve these problems. Nevertheless, Airbus believes green hydrogen will play an important role in decarbonizing air transport. “Cost-competitive green hydrogen and cross-industry partnerships will be mandatory to bring zero-emission flying to reality,” said Glen Llewellyn, vice president of Zero Emission Aircraft for Airbus. Hydrogen-powered aircraft could be flying by 2035, he said. In the U.S., where energy prices are low, green hydrogen costs about three times as much as natural gas, although that price doesn’t factor in the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels. The price of green hydrogen is falling, however. In 10 years, green hydrogen is expected to be comparable in cost to natural gas in the United States. A major driver of green hydrogen development in the U.S. is California’s aggressive push toward a carbon-neutral future. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, for example, is helping fund the construction of the green hydrogen-fueled power plant in Utah. It’s scheduled to go online in 2025. A company called SGH2 recently announced it would build a large facility to produce green hydrogen in southern California. Instead of using electrolysis, though, it will use waste gasification, which heats many types of waste to high temperatures that reduce them to their molecular compounds. Those molecules then bind with hydrogen, and SGH2 claims it can make green hydrogen more cheaply than using electrolysis. California officials also see green hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels for diesel vehicles. The state passed a Low Carbon Fuel Standard in 2009 to promote electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles. Last month, a group of heavy-duty vehicle and energy industry officials formed the Western States Hydrogen Alliance o press for rapid deployment of hydrogen fuel cell technology and infrastructure to replace diesel trucks, buses, locomotives and aircraft. The price of green hydrogen is falling. In 10 years, green hydrogen is expected to be comparable in cost to natural gas in the United States. “Hydrogen fuel cells will power the future of zero-emission mobility in these heavy-duty, hard-to-electrify sectors,” said Roxana Bekemohammadi, executive director of the Western States Hydrogen Alliance. “That fact is indisputable. This new alliance exists to ensure government and industry can work efficiently together to accelerate the coming of this revolution.” Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $100 million investment to help develop large, affordable electrolyzers and to create new fuel cell technologies for long-haul trucks. In Australia, the University of New South Wales, in partnership with a global engineering firm, GHD, has created a home-based system called LAVO that uses solar energy to generate and store green hydrogen in home systems. The hydrogen is converted back into electricity as needed. All these developments, said Blank of the Rocky Mountain Institute, are “really good news. Green hydrogen has high potential to address many of the things that keep people awake at night because the climate change problem seems unsolvable.” Pull Quote Germany has allocated the largest share of its clean energy stimulus funds to green hydrogen. The last 15 percent of the economy is hard to clean up — aviation, shipping, manufacturing, long-distance trucking. Green hydrogen can do that. The price of green hydrogen is falling. In 10 years, green hydrogen is expected to be comparable in cost to natural gas in the United States. Topics Energy & Climate Renewable Energy Wind Power Solar Hydrogen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Hydrogen’s potential as a fuel source has been touted for decades, but the technology has never gotten off the ground on a sizeable scale — and with good reason, according to skeptics. Photo by petrmalinak on Shutterstock.

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Could green hydrogen be key to a carbon-free economy?

What big bets by Bezos Earth Fund say about climate action in 2021

November 19, 2020 by  
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What big bets by Bezos Earth Fund say about climate action in 2021 Heather Clancy Thu, 11/19/2020 – 01:00 A group of 16 nonprofits dedicated to inspiring climate action has much to give thanks for this week. With little fanfare other than a lengthy Instagram post, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pledged $791 million in donations from the Bezos Earth Fund — his $10 billion commitment to funding scientists, nonprofits and “others” that have made it their life’s work to fight climate change. For those of you keeping score, Bezos created the fund in February, although not much is known about who is behind the scenes running things — there’s isn’t even a public-facing web site. This is the first batch of grants bestowed by the organization.  Many of you will be familiar with the organizations that made the cut, and I see no reason not to list them all because they deserve as much attention as possible these days: The Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund , ClimateWorks Foundation , Dream Corps Green For All , Eden Reforestation Projects , Energy Foundation , Environmental Defense Fund , The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice , Natural Resources Defense Council , The Nature Conservancy , NDN Collective , Rocky Mountain Institute , Salk Institute for Biological Studies , The Solutions Project , Union of Concerned Scientists , World Resources Institute and World Wildlife Fund . The big green NGOs — EDF, NRDC, The Nature Conservancy, WWF and WRI — made out really big, each snagging $100 million. For perspective, EDF’s budget is usually about $230 million annually, so this is not an insignificant sum of money for any of these organizations. Poking more specifically into where the money is dedicated tells us a lot about where we can expect big corporations to prioritize climate action during 2021. With that in mind, here are three of my takeaways from Bezos’s big bets. 1. Climate equity and environmental justice is getting much-needed funding   Five organizations chosen for the grants this week are explicitly focused on addressing climate change through the lens of environmental justice. Three of them — the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, The Solutions Project and The Hive Fund — are receiving $43 million each. I love that all of these groups are laser-focused on local communities and people of color. The Solutions Project, for example, has pledged 95 percent of its funding to the BIPOC community, with 80 percent designated for women-led organizations.  An organization I’ll be researching more closely next year is NDN Collective, an Indigenous-led group that received $12 million. I should also mention that climate justice also permeates the other grants. NRDC, for example, will be using its grant to help advance climate solutions at the state and community level that “strengthen equity and justice at the heart of climate advocacy.” And The Nature Conservancy is using a big chunk of its fund to protect the Emerald Edge old-growth forest in the United States and Canada in collaboration with Indigenous and tribal communities there.   I have to be honest, I’ve been somewhat discouraged over the past few months when I’ve asked corporate sustainability professionals how they’re embedding racial justice considerations into their strategies. While there have been some really meaningful commitments — including Microsoft’s vow to include environmental justice as part of its renewable energy strategy or Apple’s Racial and Equity Justice Initiative — the vast majority of companies I’ve asked outright are struggling with blending justice into their environmental strategies. That needs to change, and these investments have me greeting 2021 with newfound optimism. 2. Anticipate more attention to the potential of ocean carbon sequestration Nature-based solutions for removing atmospheric carbon dioxide were the rage this year, and that sensibility is scattered across the press releases issued by the recipients. The Salk Institute, for example, is getting $30 million for its Harnessing Plants Initiative, focused on the soil sequestration of the world’s six biggest food crops, including soybeans and corn.  But it isn’t all about the land. The money is also supporting a big WWF program to protect and restore mangroves, small trees that grow in the brackish waters along coasts, in Colombia, Fiji, Madagascar and Mexico. What’s more, it includes funds for another solution that is capturing more attention as we stare into 2021: seaweed farming. According to advocates , kelp beds sequester five times more CO2 than terrestrial leafy greens such as kale or lettuce. There’s a movement brewing to use seaweed as a feedstock for fuel alternatives; it’s also finding a place on menus, including at fast-casual restaurant chain Sweetgreen, and a role in packaging (such as Loliware, which is making seaweed straws). Note to self: Learn more about seaweed and mangroves. 3. Don’t underestimate the potential of satellites in the fight against climate change  EDF’s grant is largely focused on launching the MethaneSAT , a network for locating and measuring methane pollution around the world and sharing it to ensure accountability.  It should not be lost on any of us that aside from being the CEO of one of the world’s largest retailers and tech companies, Bezos is behind Blue Origin, one of the private space companies that hopes to put people back onto the moon. It’s only natural that he’d explore extraterrestrial climate solutions. EDF isn’t the only organization benefiting here: WRI will be using its grant to develop a satellite-based network for monitoring carbon emissions as well as changes to forests, grasslands, wetlands and farms.   Here’s hoping that all of these initiatives find it much easier to get off the ground under the Biden-Harris administration, which has made addressing climate change — and cultivating clean economy jobs — one of its four priorities. And just think, “only” $9 billion more to allocate from the Bezos Earth Fund. That’s an inspiring sum of money. Topics Innovation Social Justice Climate Tech Equity & Inclusion Carbon Removal 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 Emerald Edge, the largest intact coastal rainforest on Earth, spans 100 million acres through Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. It will benefit from the first set of grants by the Bezos Earth Fund.

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What big bets by Bezos Earth Fund say about climate action in 2021

How Stockton and California are building resilience from the ground up

November 2, 2020 by  
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How Stockton and California are building resilience from the ground up Deonna Anderson Mon, 11/02/2020 – 00:05 California — as well as the rest of the United States and, in some cases, the rest of the world — is facing three major crises right now: the COVID-19 pandemic; the climate emergency; and racial injustice.  “We’ve had this shock to our system from the pandemic that has exposed these fault lines and the basic lack of resilience in our system, in our economy,” Kate Gordon, director at the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, said during a keynote panel last week at the VERGE 20 conference. “A priority for us at the state is to get a handle on the pandemic because, honestly, without getting a handle on the pandemic and the current fires, we can’t move forward as a state.” So, how is California building resilience in both its rural and urban communities? Let’s start with a local approach. Laying the groundwork for an equitable future Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs was part of the conversation with Gordon during VERGE 20. “As mayor of Stockton, the focus is really on equity and understanding that everything we’re talking about from the pandemic of COVID-19 to the issues with climate change and wildfires in this state … [is] really about people,” Tubbs said, adding that inequality and racism in the U.S. are not abstract notions. We’ve had this shock to our system from the pandemic that has exposed these fault lines and the basic lack of resilience in our system in our economy. It’s necessary, he said, to “understand that the most important investment we can make is an investment in all of our people to be able to live with dignity.” Stockton is an inland city in California’s Central Valley, where the median income is $51,318, according to the U.S. Census . Of the estimated 312,000 residents, about 20 percent live below the poverty line. Before the pandemic, Stockton had been running an 18-month pilot universal basic income program , which gave 125 residents who live at or below the median income line (around $46,000) $500 per month, with no strings attached , meaning they could spend it however they want. At the end of May, Tubbs announced that it would be extended until January . “[And we] now have 30 other mayors throughout this country who are saying a guaranteed income or basic income is a part of a strategy for COVID-19 response, part of a strategy that’s responsive to inequality and also a part of a strategy that’s responsive to climate change,” Tubbs said.  Gordon also pointed to the need for a just transition, which she defined as the same thing as high-road economic development, which typically prioritizes well-paying jobs and environmental sustainability. “We’re talking about a transition to a more sustainable, resilient and equitable economy that provides pathways into that economy, for underserved communities. And for folks who have been left out, frankly, of the current economy,” she said. Greening the entire economy Gordon noted that instead of embracing strategies that replace or displace jobs in the current economy with green jobs, there needs to be a more explicit focus on greening the entire economy. “The entire economy needs to be powered by cleaner energy and cleaner technologies,” she said. “That is a major opportunity across every sector and every region, of the state, of the country, of the world.” And as the economy goes green, people who make decisions need to engage communities in being part of the solutions because the needs of each community will vary, said Tubbs and Gordon. It’s necessary to understand that the most important investment we can make is an investment in all of our people to be able to live with dignity. “I really see this conversation about just transition, honestly, as an opening to a more bottom-up community-driven economic development approach here in California and everywhere, frankly,” Gordon said. California has a program called Transformative Climate Communities (TCC), in which communities most affected by pollution are able to choose their own goals, strategies and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address local air pollution. Tubbs said that during Stockton’s TCC planning process, one of the main issues that came up was the high cost of utility bills and the challenge of converting to solar. Renters can’t arbitrarily install solar panels on properties that they don’t own. And if residents did own a home, they might not be able to afford it. He said Stockton is looking forward to working with the state to figure out what it can do to provide more community solar opportunities as an option. Just like rooftop solar doesn’t work for everybody, plugging in an electric vehicle in a home garage doesn’t work for everybody. Gordon said that Kern County, California’s third largest county with about 900,000 residents , is a great example of a place struggling with EV infrastructure financing. Like Stockton, Kern County, known for agriculture and crude oil production, is inland and part of California’s Central Valley. Banks don’t think the county is a place where people will want EVs. But California is banning the sale of gas cars over the next 15 years, so every county needs a strategy. “That’s a place where we in government can step in and say, ‘Hey, can we derisk that? Can we provide some loan guarantees? Can we help you out there, because we need to expand these options throughout California?’” Gordon said. “These are not just options for our big coastal cities.” Pull Quote We’ve had this shock to our system from the pandemic that has exposed these fault lines and the basic lack of resilience in our system in our economy. It’s necessary to understand that the most important investment we can make is an investment in all of our people to be able to live with dignity. Topics Community Resilience Policy & Politics California Equity & Inclusion VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  Sundry Photography  on Shutterstoc.

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How Stockton and California are building resilience from the ground up

A vote for clean energy

October 16, 2020 by  
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A vote for clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 10/16/2020 – 01:45 I recently joined the most impressive group of clean energy leaders I’ve known, and it happens to have come together in support of Joe Biden for president. The network: Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B).  It includes more than 9,500 clean energy professionals in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. There are entrepreneurs, engineers, policymakers, technicians and investors. There are thought leaders I’ve long admired and business leaders that have made clean energy more accessible to all people. Clean energy professionals as a voting bloc CE4B is evidence that the clean energy sector is, perhaps for the first time, a significant voting bloc in the United States.  Before the start of the COVID crisis, the clean energy sector employed nearly 3.4 million Americans in all 50 states. In 42 states, more people are included in clean energy than in the fossil fuel industry. If mobilized, these millions of Americans could have a major impact in this and future elections.  CE4B shows that support for clean energy as a voting issue is already widespread. The self-organizing, all-volunteer effort has more than 25 active state teams and organized more than 100 grassroots events, which collectively have raised more than $2.6 million on behalf of the Biden campaign.  The executive council is more than 50 industry leaders, including household names (for energy nerds) and representation from major companies, including Kate Brandt of Google, Jigar Shah of Generate Capital, Kate Gordon of California’s Office of Planning and Research and Jon Wellinghoff, former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Why get political now? We don’t write about politics much at GreenBiz (although I’m sure regular Energy Weeklyians have a sense of my personal politics).  Much about this presidential contest is outside of the purview of my job as an energy analyst. But when it comes to accelerating the adoption of clean energy, I would be remiss to not call attention to what may be the starkest difference in energy platforms in American history.  If I may simplify the two men’s stances, Donald Trump’s energy policy looks backward to the energy that powered our past, and Biden is looking forward to the fuels of the future. I’m not going to dive into either candidate’s specific platform; others already have written much on the topic. Rather, I’m here to highlight that candidates who support clean energy policy are also supporting economic, climate and social justice policies.  Clean energy policy is economic policy As the economic fallout of the COVID pandemic is coming into focus and the job creation is leveling off, the clean energy transition represents an opportunity to put Americans back to work.  First, clean energy is more jobs-rich than fossil fuels, meaning more people are employed per unit of energy created. A 2010 study found that for every $1 million invested, oil and gas would create roughly five jobs, while wind and solar would create 13 or 14 jobs.  Second, clean energy jobs are distributed. While dirty energy is usually centralized — think coal miners in West Virginia or roughnecks in North Dakota — clean energy manufacturers, technicians and installers are needed in every community, and provide options at every skill level. According to E2, all but two of America’s 3,007 counties are home to clean energy jobs.  Third, prioritizing clean energy gives America a chance to be a global leaders in advanced energy technologies. Getting ahead of the innovation curve means the country could be exporting technologies as other nations race to meet climate goals. Which I find a lot more exciting than trying to prop up dinosaur industries.  My two cents: if you are worried about the economy, supporting candidates that understand the jobs potential in the clean energy sector is a smart move.  Clean energy policy is climate policy  Scientists agree that the next decade will be critical to addressing climate change and avoiding the worst of its economic impacts and human toll.  So it makes sense that voters are beginning to see climate as a voting issue. A recent poll from Pew Research shows that 68 percent of likely voters rank climate as “very” or “somewhat” important, up from 44 percent in 2009. Luckily, the same policies that will create clean energy jobs will curb energy-related emissions. While energy is not the only source of climate-changing emissions, it is a sector that has carbon-free solutions today, meaning it must rapidly decarbonize to give us a chance at a safe climate future.  We’re already seeing the economic impacts of extreme weather across the country and world. Politicians that work to curb the worst impacts of climate change are working to curb the human and economic tolls.  Clean energy policy is social justice policy Like so many other issues, those most affected by pollution from dirty energy are low-income communities and communities of color.  If you’re Black in America, you have higher rates of lung cancer and asthma, and are more likely to have (and die from) heart disease, all linked to living with dirty air. Nearly one in two Latinx people in the U.S. live in counties where the air doesn’t meet EPA smog standards. People of color are more likely to live near highways, airports, power plants and refineries.  That all takes a toll on health, economic potential and quality of life. Supporting a just energy transition is synonymous with supporting marginalized communities to become more resilient, prosperous and healthy.  Clean energy technologies — the same that uplift the economy and address climate change — can help all communities thrive. Politicians who understand that are taking the realities of environmental racism seriously.  Vote Clean energy is a rare issue that is win-win-win: it uplifts the economy, creates jobs and helps curb climate change. The only downside is incumbent energy powers need to get out of the way.  Of course, the sector isn’t perfect. Clean energy advocates are working hard to not replicate the same inequities or unintended consequences as the old, dirty energy sources. But I, for one, am ready for political debates about how to best create energy systems for the future, rather than debate if we should stay in the past.  And, no matter what your political ideology is, if you’re a U.S. reader, vote in whatever way you can. It’s what being American is all about.  This essay first appeared in GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Topics Energy & Climate Policy & Politics Social Justice Clean Energy Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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A vote for clean energy

A vote for clean energy

October 16, 2020 by  
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A vote for clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 10/16/2020 – 01:45 I recently joined the most impressive group of clean energy leaders I’ve known, and it happens to have come together in support of Joe Biden for president. The network: Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B).  It includes more than 9,500 clean energy professionals in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. There are entrepreneurs, engineers, policymakers, technicians and investors. There are thought leaders I’ve long admired and business leaders that have made clean energy more accessible to all people. Clean energy professionals as a voting bloc CE4B is evidence that the clean energy sector is, perhaps for the first time, a significant voting bloc in the United States.  Before the start of the COVID crisis, the clean energy sector employed nearly 3.4 million Americans in all 50 states. In 42 states, more people are included in clean energy than in the fossil fuel industry. If mobilized, these millions of Americans could have a major impact in this and future elections.  CE4B shows that support for clean energy as a voting issue is already widespread. The self-organizing, all-volunteer effort has more than 25 active state teams and organized more than 100 grassroots events, which collectively have raised more than $2.6 million on behalf of the Biden campaign.  The executive council is more than 50 industry leaders, including household names (for energy nerds) and representation from major companies, including Kate Brandt of Google, Jigar Shah of Generate Capital, Kate Gordon of California’s Office of Planning and Research and Jon Wellinghoff, former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Why get political now? We don’t write about politics much at GreenBiz (although I’m sure regular Energy Weeklyians have a sense of my personal politics).  Much about this presidential contest is outside of the purview of my job as an energy analyst. But when it comes to accelerating the adoption of clean energy, I would be remiss to not call attention to what may be the starkest difference in energy platforms in American history.  If I may simplify the two men’s stances, Donald Trump’s energy policy looks backward to the energy that powered our past, and Biden is looking forward to the fuels of the future. I’m not going to dive into either candidate’s specific platform; others already have written much on the topic. Rather, I’m here to highlight that candidates who support clean energy policy are also supporting economic, climate and social justice policies.  Clean energy policy is economic policy As the economic fallout of the COVID pandemic is coming into focus and the job creation is leveling off, the clean energy transition represents an opportunity to put Americans back to work.  First, clean energy is more jobs-rich than fossil fuels, meaning more people are employed per unit of energy created. A 2010 study found that for every $1 million invested, oil and gas would create roughly five jobs, while wind and solar would create 13 or 14 jobs.  Second, clean energy jobs are distributed. While dirty energy is usually centralized — think coal miners in West Virginia or roughnecks in North Dakota — clean energy manufacturers, technicians and installers are needed in every community, and provide options at every skill level. According to E2, all but two of America’s 3,007 counties are home to clean energy jobs.  Third, prioritizing clean energy gives America a chance to be a global leaders in advanced energy technologies. Getting ahead of the innovation curve means the country could be exporting technologies as other nations race to meet climate goals. Which I find a lot more exciting than trying to prop up dinosaur industries.  My two cents: if you are worried about the economy, supporting candidates that understand the jobs potential in the clean energy sector is a smart move.  Clean energy policy is climate policy  Scientists agree that the next decade will be critical to addressing climate change and avoiding the worst of its economic impacts and human toll.  So it makes sense that voters are beginning to see climate as a voting issue. A recent poll from Pew Research shows that 68 percent of likely voters rank climate as “very” or “somewhat” important, up from 44 percent in 2009. Luckily, the same policies that will create clean energy jobs will curb energy-related emissions. While energy is not the only source of climate-changing emissions, it is a sector that has carbon-free solutions today, meaning it must rapidly decarbonize to give us a chance at a safe climate future.  We’re already seeing the economic impacts of extreme weather across the country and world. Politicians that work to curb the worst impacts of climate change are working to curb the human and economic tolls.  Clean energy policy is social justice policy Like so many other issues, those most affected by pollution from dirty energy are low-income communities and communities of color.  If you’re Black in America, you have higher rates of lung cancer and asthma, and are more likely to have (and die from) heart disease, all linked to living with dirty air. Nearly one in two Latinx people in the U.S. live in counties where the air doesn’t meet EPA smog standards. People of color are more likely to live near highways, airports, power plants and refineries.  That all takes a toll on health, economic potential and quality of life. Supporting a just energy transition is synonymous with supporting marginalized communities to become more resilient, prosperous and healthy.  Clean energy technologies — the same that uplift the economy and address climate change — can help all communities thrive. Politicians who understand that are taking the realities of environmental racism seriously.  Vote Clean energy is a rare issue that is win-win-win: it uplifts the economy, creates jobs and helps curb climate change. The only downside is incumbent energy powers need to get out of the way.  Of course, the sector isn’t perfect. Clean energy advocates are working hard to not replicate the same inequities or unintended consequences as the old, dirty energy sources. But I, for one, am ready for political debates about how to best create energy systems for the future, rather than debate if we should stay in the past.  And, no matter what your political ideology is, if you’re a U.S. reader, vote in whatever way you can. It’s what being American is all about.  This essay first appeared in GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Topics Energy & Climate Policy & Politics Social Justice Clean Energy Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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A vote for clean energy

Luxury in the new normal: Leadership and innovation in 2020 and beyond

October 16, 2020 by  
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Luxury in the new normal: Leadership and innovation in 2020 and beyond Elisa Niemtzow Fri, 10/16/2020 – 01:00 Business as usual for the luxury industry is over. 2020 brings with it the end of a positive growth cycle, as analysts expect global luxury sales to contract 25-45 percent in 2020 , with a recovery that could take up to three years. And yet, the coronavirus pandemic, for all the havoc it has wrought on the industry, has pushed the sustainable business agenda even further, forcing business leaders to reevaluate their role in society and better articulate their value, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of corporate purpose and the way they contribute to the world.   Recent months have revealed several fragilities and also several strengths as the luxury industry navigates its future. Companies demonstrated the depth of their commitment and a certain financial resilience by shifting production lines to manufacture hand sanitizer and masks or forgoing government aid to demonstrate social solidarity. Brands have reimagined design and distribution of products in a context of lower sales volumes and digital acceleration. The crisis also has multiplied the insecurity of some workers and left some precious material supply chains, such as cashmere and exotic skins, even more vulnerable.   As luxury fashion brands adapt and survive in the “new normal,” they can drive a renewed vision of the luxury business that demonstrates how to decouple volume growth from value growth. They can seize opportunities to strengthen resilience and further set the example when it comes to long-term value creation, business transformation and progressive leadership. To drive innovation and demonstrate leadership in the years ahead, luxury leaders should consider these three opportunities: 1. Deepen luxury’s value proposition Luxury brands can deepen their value proposition by further embedding efficiency, sustainability and inclusion into business models and practices, building on the new approaches that the pandemic accelerated. Designers are streamlining collections, focusing on evergreen best sellers and incorporating upcycling, regenerative materials and use of dead stock (French) in collections. Meanwhile, digitization is accelerating efficiency and agility. Design teams are working together online and using virtual sampling. Showrooms and fashion weeks have gone digital. And brands are hurrying to transfer business to online outlets. Supply chain experts argue companies can make less product and increase margins as they reduce waste (via better inventory management), better connect supply and demand (via strengthened omni-channel programs) and optimize understanding of client needs and trends (via enhanced client data). For an industry on the receiving end of considerable finger-pointing for its destruction of unsold merchandise, the win-win of increased embedded efficiency and sustainability is substantial — less environmental impact, more financial resilience and, potentially, redistribution of investment across the supply chain to benefit primary raw material producers and workers upstream. For an industry on the receiving end of considerable finger-pointing for its destruction of unsold merchandise, the win-win of increased embedded efficiency and sustainability is substantial. Optimized distribution of value creation is important in a context where the pandemic has rendered raw material and manufacturing workers more vulnerable. For example, the Sustainable Fibre Alliance raised the alarm of COVID-19’s considerable consequences for the economic security and well-being of cashmere goat herding families. In the case of exotic leather, a controversial material prior to the pandemic according to animal rights activists, conservationists recently have raised their voice about the necessity of protecting the benefits to species, people and ecosystems generated by this trade. At the moment, luxury brands are still struggling to develop the business cases and financially support all of these actors. One promising mechanism to explore is a “reverse-sourcing” approach whereby value chain actors for a specific raw material pilot interventions to drive positive change and then connect the dots to create a traceable, sustainable supply chain. In one example, this approach allowed vulnerable suppliers who committed to improved environmental and social practices to broker a long-term contract with a global beauty company at a premium — enabling investment in long-term sustainability while the beauty brand achieved the security of a traceable, sustainable supply chain. Additionally, luxury brands can leverage sustainable finance mechanisms and growing investor interest in ESG to partner on long-term value creation. Following on the heels of Prada, Burberry, Moncler and other players outside the sector, Chanel made its first public offering on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange in September. Its sustainability bond will support business transformation including raw material extraction, regenerative agriculture and innovation across its supply chain. This announcement is notable as it signals the emergence of a deeper value proposition and the importance of communicating this value to key stakeholders. 2. Build on luxury’s predisposition for circular and regenerative practices Over the last several years, the industry has adopted several circular economy initiatives, such as the CEDRE recycling platform  (French) initiated by LVMH, support for innovation via Fashion for Good and training designers on circular economy principles. Yet huge barriers still exist to scaling an efficient luxury fashion circular ecosystem — whether it’s closing the loop on certain product categories such as luxury leisurewear and sneakers, which have shorter lives than typical luxury items; acquiring sustainable, regenerative materials in sufficient quality and quantity (such as leather); or fully embracing the idea of producing fewer new items, including encouraging the multiple lives of products and brand-controlled secondhand markets (as Gucci has just done with The RealReal). Further, as luxury companies make their way in the “new normal,” there is a strong rationale to focus on the third leg in the circular economy stool: regenerating the natural and agricultural systems they rely on for their high-quality natural materials . With 60 percent of species and ecosystem functionality lost, the clock continues to tick. In 2021, the Convention on Biological Diversity will launch a new 10-year strategic plan with the Business for Nature coalition driving business support for policy changes and new targets. Additionally, late last month, an informal working group, Task Force on Nature-related Disclosure, was launched. The work will take several months but signals an expectation of increasing accountability for companies and investors related to their impacts on nature. Luxury brands are well-poised to demonstrate leadership on this and other aspects of the circular economy. Luxury brands also can explore two newer areas: first, assessing their performance against a comprehensive set of circularity indicators to focus on circular economy practices across entire operations and increase robustness of efforts. Second, brands can explore how to take a people-centered approach to circular fashion systems which ensure that as new infrastructure and business models are created, they are inclusive and fair for people from the outset. 3. Demonstrate socially progressive leadership As described above, in the urgency of initial responses to the coronavirus, luxury companies relied on their financial resources and business infrastructure to contribute to their workforce and local communities. Against the profound upheaval transforming our world, luxury leaders have significant opportunity to continue using this power to drive positive change. Doing so will help to preserve the social acceptance of luxury and create the stable operating environment needed by all businesses. Earlier this year, BSR published a report discussing five principles for business action to contribute towards creating a 21st century social contract that supports economic prosperity and social mobility. While the luxury industry can contribute to all principles, it is well-placed to focus on contributions to developing stakeholder capitalism, an approach to business strategy focused on long-term value creation and based on a multi-stakeholder model. Specific actions luxury companies can take include: ensure that corporate governance structures, including board and executive leadership, are inclusive and consider the interests and perspectives of all; pay their fair share of taxes; and align policy advocacy, participation in industry associations and monetary contributions with environmental and social objectives. What’s next Given luxury’s outsize influence on society, luxury brands and their leaders have significant opportunity to build on their efforts and demonstrate the behaviors we need to drive resilient and thriving societies. When will we see every luxury CEO’s bonus dependent on achieving Scope 3 climate targets, paying a living wage in supply chains and achieving zero product destruction? Thriving in the “new normal” will take nothing less than bold leadership such as this. Pull Quote For an industry on the receiving end of considerable finger-pointing for its destruction of unsold merchandise, the win-win of increased embedded efficiency and sustainability is substantial. Topics Circular Economy Fashion Collective Insight BSR Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off LVMH’s partnership with CEDRE centers on finding second-life uses for its products.

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Luxury in the new normal: Leadership and innovation in 2020 and beyond

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