Where are they now? Catch up with 30 Under 30 alumni

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

Where are they now? Catch up with 30 Under 30 alumni Heather Clancy Mon, 06/29/2020 – 02:30 June 22 marked the publication of the fifth annual GreenBiz 30 Under 30 , our report celebrating rising young professionals in the field of corporate sustainability.  What’s up in the worlds of the 120 alumni from past lists? We reached out this spring to check in, asking those inclined to weigh in on how current events have changed their world views. We asked them to consider two questions: With the world turned upside down, what is your focus at work? Do you think the COVID-19 crisis marks a turning point for the sustainability movement?  Following are some of their responses, lightly edited, representing perspective from all four past cohorts. We did not specifically ask the alumni to consider the broader question of systemic racism, as our outreach was completed prior to the national protests triggered by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But look for future updates and essays on this topic, such as the one digitally penned recently by Jarami Bond (named in 2017). One final note: Be sure to check the end of this article for quick job updates from others who responded to our outreach but chose not to comment on the two questions. Without further ado, here’s what’s up with members of past GreenBiz 30 Under 30 cohorts. And, if you want to consult those lists in their entirety, here are the links: 2016 , 2017 , 2018 and 2019 . Jessica Artioli Centurião ( 2018 ) Digital Innovation Manager, BASF; Sao Paulo, Brazil COVID-19 will definitely change the world, and I truly hope that this will bring a new priority for sustainability topics. We as human beings and our planet are all connected. That’s why I hope that after COVID-19 we will be more human and environmental-driven than money-driven. If our environmental is suffering, we will suffer at some point. We cannot forget that a better future is 100 percent in our hands, because WE, and only WE, have the power and the resources to make better decisions, to be more conscious. Sustainability must be a must have and not a nice to have. We are constantly looking for innovation and solutions that can help us in this new way of remote work, to improve our interactions to our customers and to be more emphatic than ever. We don’t need outstanding experiences now; we need to shelter our customers, our people, our environment.  Holly Beale (2019) Program Manager, Datacenter Environmental Sustainability, Microsoft; Seattle My environmental work in Microsoft’s datacenter communities has certainly been disrupted by the global crisis. Plans for tree-planting programs have been postponed; workshops for sustainability employment training are on hold; and community gatherings for local environmental projects are on hiatus.  As I get the chance to meet in virtual roundtables with community members, it can easily get pretty discouraging. However, right now I’m focusing on two main things: Focus on being flexible and understanding the unpredictability our community groups are facing; being sympathetic and supportive in the ways they need, even if this differs from our original approach. And turning towards smaller-scale, grassroots engagement. We’ve been able to shift many environmental projects’ approaches to the home-scale, like home gardens, yard tree plantings and home recycling campaigns.  As we emerge, we are learning how to build the capability to truly understand, qualitatively and quantitatively, our communities’ vulnerabilities against a much broader set of scenarios. In a way, we are seeing this crisis as an illustration of how expensive the failure to build resiliency can ultimately prove. As we are learning, in climate change as in pandemics, the costs of a global crisis are bound to vastly exceed those of its prevention. We’re understanding that the seeds we sew today will grow our shade for the future, and without rolling up our sleeves now and getting dirty, the future will force our path in a direction we do not desire.  Can I talk about one trend that’s emerging which is giving me incredible hope? The shift towards plant-based protein has been a movement I’ve been following closely, with baited (tempeh) breath. We know that animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming. According to Project Drawdown, eating a plant-based diet is “the most important contribution every individual can make to reversing global warming.” But even in parts of the population unconcerned with the devastating environmental effects, this virus’s life disruption is forcing our awareness of meat farms being a “breeding ground for pandemics.” Issues of health, the working poor and racial justice are making people uncomfortable, and with the supply chain disruption with the closing of meatpacking cesspools, Jonathan Safran Foer writes, “Our hand has been reaching for the doorknob for the last few years. COVID-19 has kicked open the door.” And it’s really happening. Earlier in May, sales of alternative meat products in grocery stores went up 264 percent! I’ll certainly be watching this trend, and I’m more hopeful for it than I’ve been about any singular issue in a long time. John Bello (2018) Project Manager, Skanska; Portland, Oregon After doing some research in Prague on carbon negative building materials, I have relocated to Portland and am currently working as a project manager/sustainability lead on the PDX Airport Terminal Core Redevelopment (TCORE) Project. We are using the newly developed Embodied Carbon for Construction Calculator (EC3) to support low-carbon procurement on structural steel, piles, rebar and concrete. We are also working directly with Pacific Northwest lumber suppliers to procure sustainably harvested glulam beams for the airport’s new undulating roof structure. Fortunately, we have been able to continue construction during the pandemic and have made several changes to our operations to promote social distancing, hand washing and face coverings. Despite the crisis, I am pleased to see that we have not wavered on our approach towards sustainable procurement and low-carbon development.   Sara Bogdan (formerly Lindenfeld) (2016) Manager Sustainability and ESG, JetBlue; New York  My job is typically one where I am frequently traveling and in the operation. My favorite part of my work has always been implementing emissions and waste reduction projects, allowing me to visit airports and meet crew members all across our network.  But now, being “grounded” along with everyone else, of course my day-to-day has shifted. We are inventing new ways of coordinating sustainability programs from afar. Our priority and resolve hasn’t changed. For JetBlue and my team, COVID-19’s massive impact to our business and way of life has only reinforced the importance of smart, sustained ESG risk management. Our industry was, of course, abruptly and majorly changed by the global pandemic. For us, this only bolsters the imperative of thinking through how we can mitigate additional ESG risk factors that may present themselves next — such as those associated with a warming climate. I am proud that we have already made industry-changing moves to set JetBlue up for success, including the first U.S. airline to announce a carbon-neutral domestic operation, purchasing sustainable aviation fuel and rolling out fleets of airport electric ground vehicles, to name a few. Willemijn Brouwer (2018) Lead, Internal Engagement for Sustainability, DSM; Heerlen, Holland While the dystopic headlines made me temporally get rid of my news apps, I now truly believe we can seize this global crisis as a tremendous opportunity. Albeit the virus bringing terrible consequences for the vulnerable in our society, it has demonstrated to be very inclusive and diverse in who it has hit. In other words, all countries and all people are experiencing the consequences. It’s a truly global challenge, but that also ignites a global awareness we have to build back better. In my own job at RoyalDSM, I was afraid my co-workers couldn’t be bothered less with my projects around sustainability ambassadorship. And I couldn’t be more wrong! There is a genuine and collective interest how we as a company and as individuals can contribute to the sustainable future of society at large. The past months have shown me that together we stand strong and we can achieve a lot — faster and more determined than ever. Devin Carsdale (formerly Kleinfield-Hayes) (2017) Sustainability Compliance Auditor, Inter IKEA Group; Philadelphia I do think this crisis will force business to rethink its many assumptions about how it has conducted itself up until now. I traveled quite extensively for my job, securing IKEA’s supply chain throughout the Americas and meeting with suppliers to advise or verify the compliance of its many social, labor and environmental requirements. This situation has forced our team to do all of those activities virtually; some of which have the potential of staying that way permanently and others that may still need our attention in person. I have heard IKEA leadership referring to coming back stronger than ever and there is no question that its 2030 strategy is at the heart of it; with product circularity, renewable energy investment and taking care of workers as some of the key tenants, IKEA’s stewardship continues to be part of its core business model. My hope is that customers will reward companies that prioritize workers and the environment and have their precious purchasing power signal to the markets that “sustainable” business is the only kind of business here to stay. HY William Chan (2019) Urban Designer and Planner; Sydney, Australia We won’t have business as usual again, and we shouldn’t want it. Business as usual wasn’t working. We can evolve business (and cities, governance and individuals) to be and do better. The time is now to flatten the climate change curve. My focus is on “unlearning” the urban systems that we had taken for granted, the city challenges that were hidden until now, and shifting that paradigm long term. This includes a radical redesign of sustainable high density living, the development of better public spaces that support sustainable, personal active transport of walking and cycling, and to address gaps in food supply by innovating for more localized urban “farm to fork” approaches. I see these urban challenges as long-term opportunities in sustainability, catalyzed by what we have experienced together during the pandemic. Alexandra Criscuolo (2019) Environmental Sustainability Manager, New York Road Runners; New York As New York Road Runners’ Environmental Sustainability Manager, I have been tasked with developing and driving the execution of NYRR’s organization-wide sustainability strategy, which includes improving the sustainability of the TCS New York City Marathon, NYRR’s weekly running races, and our facilities.  Just prior to the pandemic, we wrapped up measuring our sustainability baseline with Waste Management Sustainability Services, and I was developing our detailed plan for the year ahead. As our programs and offerings began to shift and events were canceled as a result of the pandemic, we pivoted to donate unused equipment and other items to help frontline medical workers and others in need. I organized virtual meetings with stakeholders across the organization to determine a plan to keep the items from the landfill and give them another life. I am optimistic and believe this major disruption of our “business as usual” will allow us to rebuild a more sustainable future. A future that is more regenerative, circular and healthy for humans and the planet we call home. While operations have come to a halt, the climate crisis has not, and this pandemic can certainly be a turning point for the sustainability movement. We are focusing on two major goals: Planning for future events to be as sustainable — and safe — as possible while also using this time to enhance our sustainability data gathering process to make it as smooth as possible for the time when we return to operating races. Joseph Gale (2018) Environmental Specialist, RS&H; San Francisco RS&H Practices and Resource Groups are pushing forward to meet the ever-changing needs of our clients, as well as are furthering internal initiatives and external growth strategies. I am pleased to announce that in May, I received the approval to initiate an enterprise approach to corporate sustainability. Through collaboration with an internal cross-practice committee, this two-year effort achieved success with development of a business case, scope of services, and presentation to the company CEO in October. The Corporate Sustainability Team will be working with our CEO and executive team to implement new initiatives as they relate to sustainability and operational resilience. Alison Humphrey (formerly Larkins) (2019) Director, ESG, TPG Capital; San Francisco The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled world leaders, companies, communities and individuals to take urgent, collective action to confront a critical issue risking harm to people across the globe. It also illuminated challenges and opportunities previously obscured in the blurred corners of complex and interconnected global supply chains. My hope is that we can harness this energy and approach to address the climate crisis. In this spirit, I’m hearing from many companies that they are seizing this opportunity to reset, reassess and consider how we enhance and “rebuild” business and civic processes through an ESG and climate lens. From where I sit, I don’t see us losing momentum. Certainly, we’ll need hold ourselves and each other accountable, but I think ruthless optimism and hard work are ultimately what will get us to where we need to go. Kamillah Knight (2019) Diversity and Inclusion Lead, Unilever; Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey My focus at work has been providing tools, trainings and resources for all of Unilever’s employees in North America, focusing primarily on parents, women and our POC talent. My goal is to continue to create new and innovative ways to engage people both during and outside of their workday to ensure that they can show up as their best self no matter what. I do believe that the COVID-19 marks a turning point in the sustainability movement. We have seen countless reports during this time that make mention and provide facts around the decrease of pollution and harmful effects on the environment as a result of everyone being quarantined. This has led many people to say that they think it should be required for people to stay home for a certain amount of days in the year to give the environment a “break.” This time has not only changed the way that we see the environment and how it should be (without pollution), but it has also changed the way that people view other people and their needs given the huge disparities that exist in different communities, in addition to the value that people bring in the work that they do. The needs and diversity of communities is a huge component of achieving the SDGs and/pushing forward the sustainability movement. With the change in thought I am confident that we will see more people that will lean into sustainability than ever before. Just look at how companies are even responding. The most pressing issue on my mind right now is using the time that I am privileged to have right now to build stronger relationships and connections with my loved ones and to do the things that I didn’t have time to before. This is time that we will never get back in the same capacity. I am grateful and I know how I use this time will be reflected in how I “re-enter” the world once things open back up. Media Authorship UN Global Compact, Arlene Thompson Close Authorship Jillian Lennartz (2016) Manager, Sustainability Reporting, Teck Resources; Vancouver, British Columbia The COVID-19 pandemic has hit at a particularly interesting time for me. I moved from the U.S. to Canada in mid-February without any inkling that the border would snap shut behind me and the job market would suddenly all but dry up. Being a new immigrant looking for a job while there is a global health and economic crisis is not a situation I anticipated being in when I made plans to move. However, I was fortunate to have landed in an area with a few exciting roles that remained open despite the shutdowns. I’m beyond ecstatic to have started in a role with Teck Resources. I’ll be standing in for a fellow 30 Under 30 honoree (Katie Fedosenko, 2017 cohort) who will be going on a year of parental leave. She has built an impressive ESG program, which I anticipate will further evolve as the current global crisis plays out. SARS-COV-2 has noticeably impacted the entire process of interviewing and on-boarding. I have yet to step foot in Teck’s headquarters. Every interview, meeting and training has been remote, which has been an adjustment for both myself and the teams with Teck. Fortunately, I come from a generation and a culture that’s already very accustomed to using technology to its fullest; I believe we may have been the first generation to be referred to as “digital natives.” It therefore hasn’t been an entirely foreign experience to have meetings over teleconference and use cloud-based file sharing for collaboration. Especially as sustainability practitioners we have worked with stakeholders around the globe and formed relationships with site representatives we may never meet in person. I feel that as a profession we’re well-situated to continue our work as uninterrupted as possible. Ding Li (2018) Partner Business Development Manager, CLP Innovation; Hong Kong Ever since the COVID-19 crisis started in January in Hong Kong, I have been working from home and minimizing contact with people. As an extrovert, I have a strong need to be surrounded by people. I remember the first week of staying at home, I felt really bad. Boredom turned into negative thoughts, and negative thoughts turned into depressing thoughts. At the end of the week, I almost vomited because mentally I felt really sick.  I realized this is a problem and I have to fix it — I started to schedule virtual coffee meetings with friends in the sustainability industry. They shared with me how COVID-19 has impacted their organizations, their job roles and their personal life. Facility managers say they have discovered energy use issues in their buildings — buildings are not able to adjust loading with the decrease in occupancy; sustainability managers shifted their focuses from environmental issues to community engagement; and others say they spent more time with their family and experienced work-life balance for the first time. They have taken advantage of the situation and used it to enhance their companies’ sustainability strategy and their own personal goals. It is a rare opportunity for me to engage people who I know professionally in a personal way. It helped me to cope with the difficult self-isolation situation and allowed me and my friends to be united in this crazy time.  Meanwhile, I built an office space at my rooftop, which helps me to stay focused and separate work from personal life. I have cooked more healthy meals and now I am enjoying my time at home. If not because of COVID-19, I would not know how resilient and adaptive everyone can be.  We would not have imagined millions of people could stay at home to avoid a pandemic, just like we would not have imagined countries and businesses could truly collaborate and build a zero-carbon economy.  I am proud of what humanity has accomplished so far when facing the challenge of COVID-19, and I believe this gives us a reason to be optimistic when facing the climate crisis. We are more resilient and adaptive than we think. When there is a will, there is a way! Idicula Mathew (2019) Founder and CEO, Hera Health Solutions; Memphis Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our team at Hera Health Solutions has been closely interacting with leaders in the industry to build strategies and innovations that will outlast to redefine the new normal in healthcare. As a startup that is an innovator in pharmaceutical devices, Hera Health Solutions is now looking forward to help shape the future of sustainable long acting medications. Since my being featured in GreenBiz 30 Under 30 in 2019, Hera Health Solutions has closed a more than $1.25 million investment round led by leaders in healthcare venture capital firms and impact organizations. With the new funding, the Hera Health Solutions team has grown. Now even more notably, Hera Health Solutions has kickstarted new R&D for its proprietary implantables for areas of other extended release medication potentials including vaccinations. On the other side of this global pandemic is a new normal that we will establish together. And while there is an undeniable number of uncertainties, one thing for sure is that the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry has now changed. The world had to witness the sudden and overnight decline of hospital and physician resources. The new demand in contactless and physically distant healthcare has now become a precedent for the future. Now more than ever, the need for more effective and sustainable long acting medications to patients and users is highlighted more than ever.  Ana Sophia Mifsud (2019) Senior Associate, Rocky Mountain Institute; New York Life in New York has certainly felt intense over the last couple of months. In the midst of all the chaos, my work has never felt so important. Since my 30 Under 30 nomination, I have shifted roles and am now working on deep decarbonization a little closer to home. I have joined RMI’s Building Electrification program, which is focused on eliminating fossil fuels in buildings. What many don’t realize is that roughly 70 million homes and businesses directly burn fossil fuels for heating and cooking. In addition to contributing to almost 10 percent of the U.S.’s climate impact, these emissions lead to unhealthy living situations. Even before the pandemic hit, on average, Americans spent about 90 percent of their time in buildings. Yet, indoor air quality has remained largely unregulated, leading to disproportionate health impacts, particularly in already vulnerable populations.  While our work is more important than ever, we’ve had to make some adjustments in order to continue convening and strategizing virtually. I’ve developed some best practices to help guide this recalibration and am putting them in practice while facilitating an eLab accelerator team focused on decarbonizing affordable multi-family housing in Chicago. In this decisive decade of climate action, I feel fortunate to be working on developing solutions that create sustainable jobs, reduce our climate impact and create healthier places for us all to live and work.  With regards to whether the COVID-19 crisis marks a turning point for the sustainability movement, I’m not sure. But I firmly believe we should all act in the spirit of applied hope . The type of hope that catalyzes action out of the belief that we can create the type of future we deserve. Catherine Queen (2017) Senior Manager, Sustainable Development and B Corp, Danone; Broomfield, Colorado As a sustainability professional, and a stubborn climate activist, I see the stark parallels between the pandemic and climate change. Climate change is unseen in our daily lives — until it isn’t — much like this virus. Those impacted the hardest are vulnerable populations.  Amid the uncertainty, my specific focus at work has not shifted. After leading Danone North America to become the world’s largest Certified B Corporation, I continue to work to integrate the environmental and social mission into how we run our business — inspiring and engaging teams to take action every day to balance short-term profits and results for long-term social and environmental implications, including and especially during a pandemic.  While the pandemic has shown how interconnected we all are, and I have seen many inspiring examples of our shared humanity, it is devastating to see continued areas of grave disconnectedness with ongoing inequality and inequity. Our collective response to the pandemic has also shown what we can do, as a company and as a society, when we use our collective voices and action. I hope next year when these updates are requested, we will have globally proven that collectively we made a difference, to create a better and more equitable for us all.  Similar to the mission of the B Corp Movement, this year is illustrating the importance of being bold and taking a leadership stance — even when you don’t have all the answers. We can’t address crisis on our own and my hope is this time serves as a call to action — to join together to solve the issues of our times.  Alexis Rocamora (2019) Senior Sustainability Consultant, EY Japan My focus since last year has been to help companies in Japan integrate sustainability into their supply chain management. I do so by helping them adopt supplier policies and by conducting due diligence processes to verify suppliers’ compliance with sustainability obligations (environment, health and safety, labor and human rights).  Even before the COVID-19 crisis, companies were increasingly carrying out such assessments, for several reasons (rise in due diligence legislation, ethical concerns, willingness to limit corporate risks, etc.). However, as COVID-19 is amplifying inequalities worldwide, companies are realizing that knowing their suppliers is not merely about keeping the business as usual while applying green paint on the surface, or avoiding a few inconvenient headlines in the media. As it turns out, sustainability risks of suppliers act like a cascade effect on the most vulnerable in a time of crisis: Part-time workers are being laid off, foreign workers are forced to repatriate at their own expense, workplaces with poor health and hygiene measures become hot spots for the virus to spread.  So in the future, supply chain relocalization, full transparency and mandatory supplier due diligence might become mainstream, not (only) because it is the sustainable thing to do, but because businesses depend on it. Companies have a tendency to relegate sustainability to “non-financial” issues (which doesn’t matter much to shareholders, and thus to management). I have the feeling that this crisis will contribute to the realization that businesses actually depend more than they thought on real-world considerations, which are better embedded into sustainability factors than financial statements. This might lead to giving corporate sustainability a strategic and transformational role rather than a PR and risk management one.  I’ve been re-reading “This Changes Everything” from Naomi Klein recently. In the same way that she pointed out that the sustainability movement could have been successful if it had been put at the center of mass economic transformations (such as the spread of neoliberalization since the 1980’s or the economic stimulus granted to the banks after the financial crash of 2008), I believe that the economic crisis unleashed by COVID-19 should only be addressed by measures that aim to redefine our societies’ economic model towards a sustainable and equitable one.  Regarding adaptation to the situation, my company (even in Japan) has been promoting flexible working arrangements for a long time so the transition was rather easy. What I can tell about the situation here overall is that Japanese companies are known to have a conservative corporate culture with long working hours, mandatory drinking activities with teammates and an obsession for physical workplace attendance. COVID-19 has disturbed this prehistoric work culture by forcing even the most traditional companies to massively adopt flexible working arrangements (some are even in the process of ditching the mandatory use of the Japanese “seals,” used for hundreds of years to sign every official documents!) and I hope that these changes survive the pandemic.  Alejandra Sánchez Ayala (2019) Sustainability Leader, C&A Mexico; Guadalajara, Mexico My focus for the last 12 weeks has been to make sure my team is prepared for the new normal we will be facing in the short and medium term. We have been preparing strategies for adapted versions of our programs and revisiting the ideas of what makes sense in our supply chain. In Mexico, a lot of small business have been severely affected by the economic crisis linked to the lockdown, and we have a shared responsibility to take this into account for future decisions. I do believe that this crisis has arisen questions about the implications of the environmental challenges that we might face due to climate change and what role we play as society, consumers and professionals. We are facing challenges we never believed we’d have to face. I had a conversation with some colleagues about the almost apocalyptic sight of people wearing masks all the time. Now it’s about protecting ourselves from a virus, but what if this was linked to permanently poor air quality?  Sadly, I don’t think all governments are living up to the requirements of this crisis. For example, in Mexico, due to COVID-19, some highly questionable decisions have been made regarding environmental topics, which now seems to be even a lower priority than ever. Renewable energy projects have been threatened under the excuse of COVID-19, to favor fossil fuels, a strategy the government is pushing since last year. In this context, I believe that although consumers might be willing to engage in more conversations regarding sustainability (engrained in the core of business and not as a nice to have added value), this also requires participation from governments and private industry. But in the current landscape, I don’t believe that in the short term we will be seeing the turning point we wish regarding sustainability. Devan Tracy (2018) Smart Buildings and Energy Analytics Lead, Lockheed Martin; Washington, D.C. With the world turned upside down, I’ve noticed that data visualization has been used more frequently in mainstream media to depict COVID-19 spread projections, medical supply inventory or supply chain interrelationships. We are all becoming better data scientists as a result. In the smart buildings world, this is key. I’ve partnered with our data and analytics office to continuously optimize algorithms, explore anomalies, detect faults and jump on opportunities for our newly launched, large-scale smart buildings pilot. This pilot set the stage for an expansion of the program to 50,000 additional sensors across an additional 5.8 million square feet at Lockheed Martin this year. And the beauty of smart buildings is that they were designed from day one to support remote work. It is no longer a requirement to be onsite to operate and optimize a campus.  Powerful visualization underscores the importance of the effective translation of data, allowing us to address problems quicker than ever before — and helping everybody get to the future faster, together. Check out this quick video where I talk about our smart buildings program on the LM YouTube Channel “Talk Techy to Me” series.  We are all emerging from the crisis with a refined perspective. Now more than ever, dog barks and baby cries are welcome additions to conference calls. This is humanizing and reminds us that we are all multidimensional creatures. Colleagues are increasingly accommodating, and interactions more frequently extend beyond surface level chatter. These snapshots into our personal lives bring teams closer together and make us more cohesive teams. After all, we are human beings and not just human doings. Finally, here’s a list of other comings and goings among the 30 Under 30 (presented in alphabetical order): Kelly Elizabeth Behrend (2016) left New York City for San Salvador, El Salvador, to become director of sustainability at hugo, “the first Central American superapp.” Former Easton sustainability analyst Claire Castleman (2018) has started a new position as Small Business Support Program Associate at Self-Help Credit Union. James Connelly (2016) left the Living Future Institute after eight years to become CEO of My Green Lab, a nonprofit in the life science Industry.  Fifth Element Group partner Pratik Gauri (2019) is the India host of Fintech.TV, which produces a program on ESG investing and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He’s also started a new blockchain venture and is a new global youth lead for innovation nonprofit Dream Tank .   I hear Lizzie Horvitz (2017) recently started a company (still in stealth) that helps incentivize consumers to make better purchasing decisions based on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with products.  Jeffrey Jennings (2016) in January started a new role as a senior supply chain sustainability process leader with Freeport-McMoran. He’s assisting with the development of a responsible sourcing program and assessment of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks in our supply chain.  Entrepreneur Andrew Krioukov (2016) has become an adviser to an early stage venture fund focus on artificial intelligence and internet of things, UNION Labs. His startup, Comfy, was acquired by Siemens two years ago.  Isabel Mogstad (2019) has left the Environmental Defense Fund to become director of U.S. policy and engagement at BP.  Former Sula Vineyards and PepsiCo sustainability team member Inesh Singh (2019) recently took over as manager of agro development at Anheuser-Busch InBev in India.  If you’re a GreenBiz 30 Under 30 honoree who’d love to engage — or contribute essays about the cause of corporate sustainability, environmental justice and the clean economy imperative — reach out to me by email at heather@greenbiz.com . 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Where are they now? Catch up with 30 Under 30 alumni

How COVID-19 can shape the response to climate change

May 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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How COVID-19 can shape the response to climate change Terry F. Yosie Wed, 05/13/2020 – 02:31 Part Two of a four-part series. Part One can be found here . As the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, insights are emerging on how to repurpose what’s been learned for the benefit of climate change mitigation. To date, most of the focus on the pandemic-environment nexus has been short-term. A number of environmental activists, for example, have recommended that temporarily reduced air pollution levels be made permanent through regulatory controls. Conversely, the Trump administration has used the pandemic as an argument to issue an open-ended suspension of the enforcement of environmental laws. These examples reflect the battle lines being drawn for an even larger conflict that is emerging over climate change policy.  Three key facts Three key facts highlight the growing stakes in play for climate change decision making. First, many parallels exist between arguments that deny the existence of climate change and the assertion that COVID-19 is a large-scale hoax designed to reduce personal liberty, confiscate the purchase and use of weapons and alter the traditional American way of life. Using Facebook and YouTube as principal social media organizing platforms and Fox News as a megaphone to broadcast their views, “denialists” have proven their ideology to be adaptable across multiple issues, including climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and vaccinations against communicable diseases. Recent Washington Post investigations have reported linkages among groups that organize and financially support denialist demonstrations. Some of these groups also fundraise in behalf of the Trump re-election campaign. As the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, insights are emerging on how to repurpose what’s been learned for the benefit of climate change mitigation. Second, a principal argument used against greenhouse gas controls — that they rely upon data and protocols developed by scientific experts — has garnered substantial public support when applied to combating the COVID-19 pandemic. This result occurs because individual citizens understand that their personal well-being is at risk. Thus, they are more receptive to receiving guidance on how to mitigate this risk from medical professionals that they know of and trust. Also, the medical advice provided is both direct and practical — shelter-in-place, wear a mask, maintain social distancing. A similar opportunity exists to provide more specific climate change mitigation advice from independent scientists and professional bodies directly to citizens whose awareness of climate risks continues to grow. Third, there is overwhelming evidence that both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change damage were knowable and preventable. Numerous scientific reports, intelligence community assessments and public pronouncements from well-known public health or technology authorities such as Bill Gates warned, over a period of years, of the probability of a pandemic. The inability to respond to these warnings represents a system-level failure on the part of those responsible for protecting public health. A similar failure towards a system-level set of risks is unfolding with accelerating climate change. Over the past three decades, an elaborate evidence-based system has been in place for evaluating scientific data, modeling temperature changes and effects as varied as the melting of polar ice caps, sea level rise, heat waves and droughts and the spread of disease vectors. Unlike their health scientist counterparts, climate scientists have encountered a longstanding, organized campaign of skepticism and denial — funded by dark money business interests — about their peer-review procedures and their conclusions. This has resulted in direct harassment of both Individual climate scientists and established scientific bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and has directly slowed policymakers’ and civil society’s ability to respond to life-threatening climate risks. COVID-19 outcomes for climate change planning At this juncture of managing the COVID-19 crisis, three significant outcomes have emerged that can inform responses to the climate crisis: People have connected their personal well-being to expectations of government action. They expect the institutions of government (and civil society organizations) to act on their behalf by defining essential economic activities, providing needed medical infrastructure (hospital capacity, critical supplies and tests) and maintaining civil order. Governmental officials, medical professionals and citizens have embraced the need to “bend the curve” for COVID-19 incidence and mortality. Citizens believe they have a responsibility to each other by sheltering in place, frequently washing their hands, maintaining appropriate distances, limiting their mobility and wearing masks outside of their homes. This has occurred for reasons of self-interest but also stems from moral and ethical values and notions of good citizenship. Actions to bend the climate curve Public support for a goal to “bend the climate curve” can be built but will require national and International efforts to limit/reduce future greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and contain a worldwide temperature increase to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius over the next few decades (the two pre-eminent metrics for measuring success in bending the curve).  Three types of actions are required to achieve this goal: policy initiatives that can acquire sufficient political support to be enacted within the next two years; interventions by investors on climate governance; and behavioral change through moral and ethical appeals to individuals and groups. Policy actions Policy actions should be guided by the “Bill Gates Principle”: People should not waste idealism and energy on a policy that will not cause any reduction in the use of fossil fuels. Policy actions should encompass regulatory, tax and budgetary actions. They include: Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord , with the objective of renegotiating more ambitious climate targets and timetables with added transparency. Setting a U.S. objective of decarbonizing the economy through a policy of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 across all major industry sectors. Appropriate interim objectives also should be established. For example, the U.S. government and the utility industry should establish a goal for phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030. The Obama administration’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards should be maintained and periodically updated. Removing all energy subsidies , including those for solar and other renewables. The latter have achieved a level of market competitiveness and will succeed in gaining expanded access to various energy markets. Fossil fuel companies, a growing number of which are heavily indebted or experiencing reductions in their customer markets, should compete in the future only on a market-clearing basis and not as rent-seeking enterprises. Avoiding transfer of public funds to large, carbon-intensive companies. Innovation potential is higher when funds are directed at new technology development rather than larger, more heavily capitalized firms with existing access to credit markets. Investor actions Investors have become increasingly active in engaging multinational companies on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments. Their influence is greatly strengthened by the performance of ESG or sustainability fund investment portfolios when compared against traditional benchmarks such as the S&P. Moving forward, investors should be: Intensifying engagement with CEOs and corporate boards on climate governance and commitments. Increasing synergy involving Climate Action 100+ (and allied partners) advocates, ESG-focused investment firms, individual analysts and shareholders have achieved some impressive gains in recent years and should accelerate. Shell Oil Company’s April 16 declaration to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, followed shortly thereafter by a similar announcement by French oil giant Total, are examples of such engagement. Investors should espouse that all Fortune 500 companies achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with interim, transparent reporting benchmarks established for 2030 and 2040. Advocating the elimination of deferred carried interest. This refers to the preferred tax treatment received by hedge fund and private equity fund managers. Current rules treat carried interest income as a long-term capital gain (taxed at a U.S. rate of 23.8 percent) rather than as ordinary income (subject to a rate of 39.6 percent). This favored tax treatment is completely artificial, and benefits investors primarily interested in accumulating short-term gains rather than longer-term focused portfolios such as investments in sustainable energy. Carried interest deferral also contributes greatly to social inequality. Recommending that the financial transaction tax (FTT) be raised . Presently, each stock transaction is taxed at a rate of 2 cents per $1,000. Raising the FTT to $1 for each $1,000 of transactions will disincentivize high-frequency trading, create fairer markets, encourage longer-term possession of stocks and lessen inequality. Mobilizing citizens Persuasive facts directly engaging citizens must accompany policy and investor actions if a growing public awareness of climate change is to mobilize an aggressive movement to support greenhouse gas reductions. A citizen mobilization strategy should include: Expanding philanthropic support for grassroots citizen participation to distill climate change science into usable, actionable knowledge. This can be done by establishing academic fellowships, research centers and grants to develop position papers and other content; training citizens to participate in government decision making; and multiplying citizens’ voices at the grassroots levels and through social media. Leading philanthropists should pool their resources, using nonprofit, tax-deductible organizations, to invest at least $1 billion annually within the next two years and subsequently. Unlike the “dark money” contributions of foundations, whose aim is to weaken health and environmental protections and sow political divisions, the sources of pro-climate change philanthropy should be completely transparent. Convening community climate risk commissions to evaluate risk scenarios, the resilience of current infrastructure (drinking water systems, the electricity grid, subways and bridges). The outcome of this effort — ideally a collaboration of local governments with universities, nongovernmental organizations, progressive businesses and interested citizens — would be the development of a community climate plan to identify key local risks and recommended priorities and budgets for their resolution. Expanding the moral and ethical rationale for climate actions. The moral basis for reducing climate risks includes: self-preservation of humans and ecosystems that sustain all life forms; expanding economic opportunities that broadens the middle class, expands the social safety net and rewards investors; creating a fair and more equitable society; and protecting the earth for future generations. Coupling moral arguments with expanded economic opportunities (job creation, purchase of newer and cleaner products, investing in companies with highly rated environmental, social and governance portfolios) can unleash powerful incentives at market scale to transform enterprise management and consumer behavior to better manage climate risks. Contemporary society already has entered the era of system-level risk from climate change. By way of context, scientists evaluating the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have concluded that mitigation measures taken in January-February were far more effective in avoiding disease incidence and mortality than later initiatives to self-isolate and shut down non-essential economic activities. In a similar fashion, delays in implementing climate mitigation and adaptation measures across the globe will result only in more draconian setbacks to life as we’ve come to know it. Leadership consists of mobilizing governments, businesses and citizens to support initiatives that can begin to bend the climate curve in the next two years. Pull Quote As the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, insights are emerging on how to repurpose what’s been learned for the benefit of climate change mitigation. Topics Climate Change COVID-19 Policy & Politics Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Catherine Zibo Close Authorship

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How COVID-19 can shape the response to climate change

How COVID-19 can shape the response to climate change

May 13, 2020 by  
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How COVID-19 can shape the response to climate change Terry F. Yosie Wed, 05/13/2020 – 02:31 Part Two of a four-part series. Part One can be found here . As the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, insights are emerging on how to repurpose what’s been learned for the benefit of climate change mitigation. To date, most of the focus on the pandemic-environment nexus has been short-term. A number of environmental activists, for example, have recommended that temporarily reduced air pollution levels be made permanent through regulatory controls. Conversely, the Trump administration has used the pandemic as an argument to issue an open-ended suspension of the enforcement of environmental laws. These examples reflect the battle lines being drawn for an even larger conflict that is emerging over climate change policy.  Three key facts Three key facts highlight the growing stakes in play for climate change decision making. First, many parallels exist between arguments that deny the existence of climate change and the assertion that COVID-19 is a large-scale hoax designed to reduce personal liberty, confiscate the purchase and use of weapons and alter the traditional American way of life. Using Facebook and YouTube as principal social media organizing platforms and Fox News as a megaphone to broadcast their views, “denialists” have proven their ideology to be adaptable across multiple issues, including climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and vaccinations against communicable diseases. Recent Washington Post investigations have reported linkages among groups that organize and financially support denialist demonstrations. Some of these groups also fundraise in behalf of the Trump re-election campaign. As the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, insights are emerging on how to repurpose what’s been learned for the benefit of climate change mitigation. Second, a principal argument used against greenhouse gas controls — that they rely upon data and protocols developed by scientific experts — has garnered substantial public support when applied to combating the COVID-19 pandemic. This result occurs because individual citizens understand that their personal well-being is at risk. Thus, they are more receptive to receiving guidance on how to mitigate this risk from medical professionals that they know of and trust. Also, the medical advice provided is both direct and practical — shelter-in-place, wear a mask, maintain social distancing. A similar opportunity exists to provide more specific climate change mitigation advice from independent scientists and professional bodies directly to citizens whose awareness of climate risks continues to grow. Third, there is overwhelming evidence that both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change damage were knowable and preventable. Numerous scientific reports, intelligence community assessments and public pronouncements from well-known public health or technology authorities such as Bill Gates warned, over a period of years, of the probability of a pandemic. The inability to respond to these warnings represents a system-level failure on the part of those responsible for protecting public health. A similar failure towards a system-level set of risks is unfolding with accelerating climate change. Over the past three decades, an elaborate evidence-based system has been in place for evaluating scientific data, modeling temperature changes and effects as varied as the melting of polar ice caps, sea level rise, heat waves and droughts and the spread of disease vectors. Unlike their health scientist counterparts, climate scientists have encountered a longstanding, organized campaign of skepticism and denial — funded by dark money business interests — about their peer-review procedures and their conclusions. This has resulted in direct harassment of both Individual climate scientists and established scientific bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and has directly slowed policymakers’ and civil society’s ability to respond to life-threatening climate risks. COVID-19 outcomes for climate change planning At this juncture of managing the COVID-19 crisis, three significant outcomes have emerged that can inform responses to the climate crisis: People have connected their personal well-being to expectations of government action. They expect the institutions of government (and civil society organizations) to act on their behalf by defining essential economic activities, providing needed medical infrastructure (hospital capacity, critical supplies and tests) and maintaining civil order. Governmental officials, medical professionals and citizens have embraced the need to “bend the curve” for COVID-19 incidence and mortality. Citizens believe they have a responsibility to each other by sheltering in place, frequently washing their hands, maintaining appropriate distances, limiting their mobility and wearing masks outside of their homes. This has occurred for reasons of self-interest but also stems from moral and ethical values and notions of good citizenship. Actions to bend the climate curve Public support for a goal to “bend the climate curve” can be built but will require national and International efforts to limit/reduce future greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and contain a worldwide temperature increase to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius over the next few decades (the two pre-eminent metrics for measuring success in bending the curve).  Three types of actions are required to achieve this goal: policy initiatives that can acquire sufficient political support to be enacted within the next two years; interventions by investors on climate governance; and behavioral change through moral and ethical appeals to individuals and groups. Policy actions Policy actions should be guided by the “Bill Gates Principle”: People should not waste idealism and energy on a policy that will not cause any reduction in the use of fossil fuels. Policy actions should encompass regulatory, tax and budgetary actions. They include: Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord , with the objective of renegotiating more ambitious climate targets and timetables with added transparency. Setting a U.S. objective of decarbonizing the economy through a policy of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 across all major industry sectors. Appropriate interim objectives also should be established. For example, the U.S. government and the utility industry should establish a goal for phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030. The Obama administration’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards should be maintained and periodically updated. Removing all energy subsidies , including those for solar and other renewables. The latter have achieved a level of market competitiveness and will succeed in gaining expanded access to various energy markets. Fossil fuel companies, a growing number of which are heavily indebted or experiencing reductions in their customer markets, should compete in the future only on a market-clearing basis and not as rent-seeking enterprises. Avoiding transfer of public funds to large, carbon-intensive companies. Innovation potential is higher when funds are directed at new technology development rather than larger, more heavily capitalized firms with existing access to credit markets. Investor actions Investors have become increasingly active in engaging multinational companies on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments. Their influence is greatly strengthened by the performance of ESG or sustainability fund investment portfolios when compared against traditional benchmarks such as the S&P. Moving forward, investors should be: Intensifying engagement with CEOs and corporate boards on climate governance and commitments. Increasing synergy involving Climate Action 100+ (and allied partners) advocates, ESG-focused investment firms, individual analysts and shareholders have achieved some impressive gains in recent years and should accelerate. Shell Oil Company’s April 16 declaration to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, followed shortly thereafter by a similar announcement by French oil giant Total, are examples of such engagement. Investors should espouse that all Fortune 500 companies achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with interim, transparent reporting benchmarks established for 2030 and 2040. Advocating the elimination of deferred carried interest. This refers to the preferred tax treatment received by hedge fund and private equity fund managers. Current rules treat carried interest income as a long-term capital gain (taxed at a U.S. rate of 23.8 percent) rather than as ordinary income (subject to a rate of 39.6 percent). This favored tax treatment is completely artificial, and benefits investors primarily interested in accumulating short-term gains rather than longer-term focused portfolios such as investments in sustainable energy. Carried interest deferral also contributes greatly to social inequality. Recommending that the financial transaction tax (FTT) be raised . Presently, each stock transaction is taxed at a rate of 2 cents per $1,000. Raising the FTT to $1 for each $1,000 of transactions will disincentivize high-frequency trading, create fairer markets, encourage longer-term possession of stocks and lessen inequality. Mobilizing citizens Persuasive facts directly engaging citizens must accompany policy and investor actions if a growing public awareness of climate change is to mobilize an aggressive movement to support greenhouse gas reductions. A citizen mobilization strategy should include: Expanding philanthropic support for grassroots citizen participation to distill climate change science into usable, actionable knowledge. This can be done by establishing academic fellowships, research centers and grants to develop position papers and other content; training citizens to participate in government decision making; and multiplying citizens’ voices at the grassroots levels and through social media. Leading philanthropists should pool their resources, using nonprofit, tax-deductible organizations, to invest at least $1 billion annually within the next two years and subsequently. Unlike the “dark money” contributions of foundations, whose aim is to weaken health and environmental protections and sow political divisions, the sources of pro-climate change philanthropy should be completely transparent. Convening community climate risk commissions to evaluate risk scenarios, the resilience of current infrastructure (drinking water systems, the electricity grid, subways and bridges). The outcome of this effort — ideally a collaboration of local governments with universities, nongovernmental organizations, progressive businesses and interested citizens — would be the development of a community climate plan to identify key local risks and recommended priorities and budgets for their resolution. Expanding the moral and ethical rationale for climate actions. The moral basis for reducing climate risks includes: self-preservation of humans and ecosystems that sustain all life forms; expanding economic opportunities that broadens the middle class, expands the social safety net and rewards investors; creating a fair and more equitable society; and protecting the earth for future generations. Coupling moral arguments with expanded economic opportunities (job creation, purchase of newer and cleaner products, investing in companies with highly rated environmental, social and governance portfolios) can unleash powerful incentives at market scale to transform enterprise management and consumer behavior to better manage climate risks. Contemporary society already has entered the era of system-level risk from climate change. By way of context, scientists evaluating the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have concluded that mitigation measures taken in January-February were far more effective in avoiding disease incidence and mortality than later initiatives to self-isolate and shut down non-essential economic activities. In a similar fashion, delays in implementing climate mitigation and adaptation measures across the globe will result only in more draconian setbacks to life as we’ve come to know it. Leadership consists of mobilizing governments, businesses and citizens to support initiatives that can begin to bend the climate curve in the next two years. Pull Quote As the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, insights are emerging on how to repurpose what’s been learned for the benefit of climate change mitigation. Topics Climate Change COVID-19 Policy & Politics Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Catherine Zibo Close Authorship

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How COVID-19 can shape the response to climate change

Downturn signals opportunity for climate-aligned investing

April 27, 2020 by  
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Several frameworks are emerging that sets performance thresholds identifying economic activities that align with the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets.

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Downturn signals opportunity for climate-aligned investing

Amid plunging stock prices, ESG leaders are holding their own

April 13, 2020 by  
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The pandemic and economic meltdown are highlighting the importance of integrating environmental, social and governance analysis into investment strategies.

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Amid plunging stock prices, ESG leaders are holding their own

Earth Day and the polling of America, 2020

April 13, 2020 by  
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In the future, it seems, we’re all model green citizens, at least in our minds.

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Earth Day and the polling of America, 2020

HSBC: Companies focused on climate change ‘outperformed’ as virus spread

April 6, 2020 by  
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Research note suggests businesses with strong ESG credentials are proving more resilient than peers to coronavirus turmoil. But there are regional differences.

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HSBC: Companies focused on climate change ‘outperformed’ as virus spread

The backstory and purpose behind 5 leading ESG reporting frameworks

March 25, 2020 by  
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If you’re recruiting ESG specialists, it helps to know the backstory.

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The backstory and purpose behind 5 leading ESG reporting frameworks

Where does your waste plastic go? This guide can help businesses develop the details

March 25, 2020 by  
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The Plastic Leak Project, created by Quantis in partnership with 35 organizations, takes a science-based approach to understanding plastic pollution in order to help companies reduce their waste flows.

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Where does your waste plastic go? This guide can help businesses develop the details

Trend: The bots are coming (to ratings and reporting)

March 23, 2020 by  
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Corporate reporting on sustainability has grown more than fivefold in the past 10 years. Roughly 20 percent of S&P 500 companies published a sustainability report in 2011. In 2018, that number rose to 86 percent.

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Trend: The bots are coming (to ratings and reporting)

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