The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan

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

The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 04/07/2021 – 01:15 Within President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan — the American Jobs Plan — unveiled last week, the White House is proposing a massive $174 billion investment “to win the EV market.” It’s a historic move that will have deep implications for the emerging U.S. EV industry. If it passes Congress mostly intact, we could see Americans’ use of plug-in vehicles jump considerably. A lot of ideas are in the plan, and many impacts will result from it. Here are 10 important bits to know about the planned federal investments for electric vehicles and EV infrastructure (and a reminder that we’re hosting an event about many of these pressing topics, VERGE Electrify online May 25 and 26): 1. It’s a boost for EV chargers: Biden has been calling for a goal of 500,000 chargers built out across the U.S. by 2030 since before the election. His infrastructure plan says the federal government will help achieve that goal by creating grant and incentive programs for local and state governments as well as the private sector to deploy EV chargers. Companies that own EV charging assets, such as ChargePoint and Tesla, saw a big boost to their stock prices following the release of the plan last week. 2. There’s a big push to electrify transit and school buses: The plan calls for replacing 50,000 diesel-powered transit vehicles as well as electrifying 20 percent of the U.S. school bus fleet through a new Clean Buses for Kids Program. Electric transit and school buses are two types of vehicles that already have been quickly electrifying because transit agencies and school districts can save money on fuel and maintenance costs while reducing air pollution for riders. What these organizations need is incentives to reduce the upfront purchase price of the electric vehicles, which are still more expensive than their diesel-powered counterparts.  3. Ditto the federal fleet: The plan also calls for electrifying vehicles in the federal fleet, including the United States Post Office. Details are sparse at this point, but it’s good to know that the elusive and complicated USPS will be a target. 4. It would buoy domestic EV production: Asian countries own the world’s EV battery production markets. But Biden is hoping to boost domestic manufacturing of batteries and EVs through incentives for automakers. Former President Barack Obama’s green recovery stimulus invested in battery and EV manufacturing with some mixed results. Biden’s plan should make sure to invest in scaling up already proven companies and technologies, instead of betting on emerging ones.  5. It includes incentives for Americans to buy EVs: The plan says it will give EV buyers “point of sale” rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made EVs. Despite the dropping costs of batteries and EVs, consumers still need incentives to buy more expensive electric cars. Biden reportedly plans to extend the current $7,500 federal tax credit, an amount that diminishes for vehicles built by automakers including Tesla and General Motors that already have sold over 200,000 electric vehicles. Biden could drop that 200,000 ceiling as well as enhance incentives for EV buyers in disadvantaged communities. 6. It prioritizes building out transmission lines and clean energy: If many of America’s vehicles go electric, we’ll need more electricity, and the nation’s electric grid will have to get more resilient and cleaner. Biden’s plan calls for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to cover transmission lines (which will provide much-needed financing ), as well as energy storage projects. It also would extend the ITC and the Production Tax Credit for another decade. The plan also mentioned a Clean Electricity Standard, which would set goals for the percentage of clean energy required each year. Many states including California have set state-level renewable portfolio standards that have been successful in boosting clean energy. 7. It prioritizes racial justice: Biden’s plan uniquely says it will use its overall infrastructure investments to prioritize “addressing long-standing and persistent racial injustice.” Forty percent of the total planned investments (not specific for EVs) will create climate and clean energy benefits for disadvantaged communities.  8. Decarbonizing transit is a big focus: Beyond EVs, the Biden infrastructure plan calls for investing $85 billion into “modernizing existing transit,” and help transit agencies expand systems to boost ridership. There’s also $80 billion for intercity rail systems such as Amtrak. This is essentially a doubling of federal investment in public transit, and transit advocates are saying this a ” dramatic shift ” in transportation spending. 9. Corporate taxes will feed funding: Biden seeks to raise corporate taxes, raising $2 trillion over the next 15 years. Corporations would see a boosted tax rate of 28 percent, and some offshore tax loopholes would be closed. 10. The proposal still needs to get through Congress: Biden’s plan likely will see significant reshaping as it spends months making its way through Congress. What’s been floated now is an aspirational initial draft. Still, the plan is historic and could help kick-start a real EV revolution in the U.S.  Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Investments in electrified public and school transportation options is just one piece of President’ Biden’s infrastructure proposals.

See original here:
The key things to know about Biden’s EV infrastructure plan

For a clean, resilient grid, look to EV infrastructure

March 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on For a clean, resilient grid, look to EV infrastructure

For a clean, resilient grid, look to EV infrastructure Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 03/24/2021 – 00:30 Electric vehicle charging infrastructure could provide a major benefit — boosting both clean energy and resiliency — for the power grid. On Monday, automaker BMW and northern California utility PG&E announced a new expanded program that could help incentivize 3,000 BMW drivers to shift the charging of their vehicles to times of day when clean energy (namely solar power) is abundant. The program could also nudge drivers to curb EV charging during times when the grid is really congested.  “We see smart charging as a way to make EVs more sustainable,” said Adam Langton, energy services manager for connected e-mobility for BMW of North America, in an interview with GreenBiz. BMW previously offered two smaller pilot programs with PG&E and found that smart charging services paired with clean energy could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Northern California by 32 percent. “Some customers were very motivated to use more clean energy for charging. Using digital tools, we can provide them with that clean energy,” Langton said. Some customers were very motivated to use more clean energy for charging. While the latest effort is still just a pilot program right now, here are five reasons I think this initiative is particularly interesting: Utilities and automakers need to collaborate. To build a grid — with an abundance of clean energy and electric vehicles — that operates well, utilities and automakers will need to create strong partnerships. Currently not many have these relationships in place. BMW’s Langton said this pilot is the only example he knows of where a utility is providing an automaker with clean energy generation projection data. I would think sharing this type of data would be extremely important and valuable to all players across the EV infrastructure and hardware ecosystem. It’s all about data. To enable this type of dynamic smart-charging ecosystem, the automakers, utilities, tech providers, charging companies and drivers need data to optimize the systems. They need clean energy projections, but also predictions about user behavior, dynamic electricity rates, weather prediction data, etc. Data will be the key — the currency — that underlies all of these programs. Design experience will be required. The way these programs are designed, and taking into consideration how users drive and want to drive their EVs, will be extremely important in ensuring that drivers volunteer to take part in them. Negative experiences around programs being difficult to use, complicated, not flexible or just not worth the extra effort to be enrolled will greatly affect the rollout. The teams creating these programs need strong expertise in consumer behavior.  This could be a stepping stone to V2G. Utilities and automakers need to get these smart-charging programs right in order to move to the next stage where they’re looking at projects around enabling vehicle-to-grid capabilities. That’s where EVs can discharge electricity back onto the power grid in an exchange with utilities. V2G has long been overhyped and underdeployed, but to kick it into the next gear will require these smart charging baby steps first.  This is a big year for infrastructure. These types of EV smart-charging pilot programs will become even more important as the federal government is expected to spend potentially trillions of dollars on a stimulus plan this year that could include $1 trillion for infrastructure such as roads, bridges, rails, EV charging and grid gear. Getting the steps right on a micro-level — 3,000 EV drivers in California — will help inform how and where EV infrastructure spending should be deployed.  Want more great analysis of electric and sustainable transport? Sign up for Transport Weekly , our free email newsletter. Pull Quote Some customers were very motivated to use more clean energy for charging. Topics Transportation & Mobility EV Charging Electricity Grid Resilience Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

View original here:
For a clean, resilient grid, look to EV infrastructure

The food and ag sector’s inequality pandemic

March 19, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on The food and ag sector’s inequality pandemic

The food and ag sector’s inequality pandemic Jim Giles Fri, 03/19/2021 – 01:15 As we passed the one-year anniversary of lockdown in the United States, I planned to write about how the pandemic has affected sustainability in food and ag. But I kept thinking of the number of people felled by the virus — 536,000 people in the U.S. to date — and asking myself different questions: Why didn’t companies and regulators in these sectors do more to protect workers? Or at least compensate employees for the risks they took on? Perhaps the most shameful shortcomings came in the meatpacking industry. Investigative reporting by the New Yorker , the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and others revealed numerous examples of companies failing to implement social distancing and detering unwell workers from taking time off. It’s hard to be precise about the impact of these failures, but they surely play some role in the alarmingly high rates of COVID the U.S. Department of Agriculture found in counties dependent on meatpacking jobs:   Another administration might have intervened. Instead, President Donald Trump issued an executive order in April that he claimed required meatpacking plants to stay open. ( The order did not do that , but it was effective PR anyway.) Company executives and the former president faced a choice: safeguard workers and their communities, or ensure a steady supply of chicken nuggets. They chose the nuggets. Grocery workers also found themselves on the frontline. One study, conducted at a Boston store in May, revealed the infection rate in workers to be around 20 times higher than in the local community . Early in the pandemic, it seemed these risks would be acknowledged. Billboards lauded the contribution of retail workers. Some firms awarded them “hero pay” bonuses. Grocery retailers certainly could afford to raise wages, because the closure of restaurants led to a jump in revenues. The pandemic and the profits persisted; hero pay did not. A November study from the Brookings Institution found that despite what the authors describe as “eye-popping” corporate earnings in the retail sector, the average worker at large U.S. stores had gone 133 days without receiving any hero pay .  Workers on farms were, like retailer employees, initially declared to be “essential” — only to have that status watered down. In October, a study found that one in five farmworkers in Salinas Valley, California, tested positive for COVID antibodies. Because of such high infection rates, federal vaccine guidelines state that agricultural and food retail workers should be among those second in line for vaccines, behind healthcare workers and residents of long-term healthcare facilities. But it’s up to the states to implement these guidelines. Several, including Iowa, Massachusetts and New York, have pushed either grocery or farms workers farther back in line.  All these groups — the lettuce pickers and the folks on the chicken disassembly lines and the crews in supermarket warehouses — have long suffered from another kind of pandemic: inequality. Workers in these jobs are typically poorly paid and more likely to be undocumented. They are disproportionately people of color. When it comes to coronavirus, these factors are effectively preexisting conditions. In California, for instance, excess mortality among food and agriculture workers jumped by 39 percent during 2020 , more than in any other occupation. For Latinx agricultural workers, the increase was 59 percent; for Black retail workers, 36 percent; for white workers in food and ag, 16 percent. At this point, it might feel like I’ve strayed into a problem far beyond the control of readers of this newsletter. It’s reasonable to expect food and ag companies to keep workers safe. But if economic and racial inequity are the root causes here, isn’t this a job for governments? The answer is only yes if you insist on the narrowest, profit-focused definition of what companies exist to do. Plenty of companies take a broader view by including metrics related to inequity in their definition of success. Unilever, one of the world’s largest food companies, publishes human rights data about its operations, which it uses to benchmark progress toward a commitment to paying all suppliers a living wage. The company is also committed to spending $2 billion annually with suppliers owned and managed by under-represented groups. Too many food and ag companies failed their workers during the pandemic. If your company could have done more, take a look at Unilever’s strategy. Ask your executives or board how they can implement something similar. The results would be spectacular. If Unilever hits its target, that one company alone will ensure that more than a quarter of a million people in its supply chain, many in developing nations, will receive a living wage. When a pandemic or other disaster next strikes, every one of those people will be better able to protect their families.  For more great analysis of sustainable food systems sign up for Food Weekly , our free email newsletter. Topics Human Rights COVID-19 Social Justice Food Systems Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off An international team of farm workers wearing medical face masks harvesting zucchini. Image by Shutterstock/Iakov Filimonov

Read the original:
The food and ag sector’s inequality pandemic

An Oregon utility’s unique model for supporting clean energy goals 

March 19, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on An Oregon utility’s unique model for supporting clean energy goals 

An Oregon utility’s unique model for supporting clean energy goals  Sarah Golden Fri, 03/19/2021 – 01:00 Want more great analysis of the clean energy transition? Sign up for Energy Weekly , our free email newsletter. Portland General Electric (PGE) in Oregon manages a two-year-old program it hopes will accelerate the speed of renewable deployment in the state. It also may be a model for how other utilities can help customers choose clean energy.  The Green Future Impact (GFI) program provides an avenue for large companies and cities to choose renewable energy. The deals themselves look familiar to corporate energy buyers: power purchase agreements (PPAs) and load aggregation. The difference is how the utility acts as a partner in the deal, working with regulators to streamline the process for the customers.  “If we’re able to bring the utility together with our customers and bring new clean resources online, we can accelerate the impact and the move to a clean energy future in Oregon,” John McFarland, vice president and chief customer officer of PGE, said in a phone interview.  So far the program, approved by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission in 2019, has inked deals for 300 megawatts (MW) of new capacity, with hopes to expand soon. The program acts as a platform, so far supporting two procurement models: aggregate PPAs and corporate PPAs. The Wy’East Solar Project in Oregon. Credit: Avangrid Renewables The utility as a load aggregator  In May 2019, PGE launched the first GFI offering: access to the energy from a new 162-MW solar facility, to be built in Gilliam County, Oregon. Enrolling committed companies and municipalities to purchase energy from the new facility, allowing companies to get closer to clean energy goals while ensuring additionality.  The program filled up within three minutes of going live, with commitments from Adobe, Comcast, Intel, Daimler Trucks North America, Digital Reality, and 13 municipalities and academic institutions.  “What was really exciting about this was the demand,” McFarland said. “It signaled to us that we are onto something here, that our large business customer and our cities really wanted to partner to bring renewable energy online as quickly as possible.” All of the processes, all of the work with the state and the regulators, we had already done. In essence, PGE leveraged a PPA aggregation model, bundling together energy offtakers’ demand to support a new deployment (in this case, the largest solar farm in the state, according to PGE ). This structure allows companies and cities that may not be able to navigate a complex procurement process to benefit from clean energy.  Aggregation models have been growing in popularity with corporate energy buyers. One of the earliest was in 2018, when Apple helped orchestrate a deal with three smaller buyers: Akamai; Swiss Re; and Etsy. In that deal, Apple acted as the anchor offtaker, shouldering much of the legal and regulatory burden. In January 2019 , five corporations — Bloomberg, Cox, Gap, Salesforce and Workday — spearheaded a similar model in a 100 MW procurement deal, in which the companies jointly took on the project to split the closing cost and project risk.  More recently, this week Enel Green Power announced an aggregation deal for 111 MW, with offtakers MilliporeSigma, Akamai, Synopsys, and Uber.  Through the GFI program, PGE is taking on the regulatory and legal lift related to aggregation deals, meaning companies just need to sign up. The speed at which the program filled up indicates there is pent-up demand for streamlined clean energy options. McFarland said PGE is looking at adding 200 MW of capacity to include new customers.  “Our customers want clean, carbon-free energy, and they want it soon. They want it to be easy,” said McFarland. A utility as a PPA partner  Aside from the aggregation model described above, GFI supports a “customer supply option,” where a customer can identify a new renewable energy project and bring it to the utility for support in executing the PPAs.  Intel used this option to bring a 138-MW solar PPA to PGE, with developer Avangrid Renewables. The deal was inked in February , and the solar project will be built in Wasco County, Oregon.  The deal looks similar to other corporate PPAs: Intel signed a 15-year agreement to procure clean energy from the new resource. However, by using the GFI program, Intel was able to sidestep some regulatory and legal work associated with such an agreement.  “All of the processes, all of the work with the state and the regulators, we had already done,” McFarland said. “It was already worked through, it was already set up. We knew the offerings would be consistent with the requirements we have in Oregon.”  By doing the regulatory legwork, GFI could be a model for how other states could remove obstacles for corporate procurements and open up more options to companies.  Pull Quote All of the processes, all of the work with the state and the regulators, we had already done. Topics Renewable Energy Corporate Procurement 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 Intel’s Oregon campus. Source: PGE

See the rest here:
An Oregon utility’s unique model for supporting clean energy goals 

Hacking solutions to ‘time-sensitive’ climate problems

March 11, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Hacking solutions to ‘time-sensitive’ climate problems

Hacking solutions to ‘time-sensitive’ climate problems Shana Rappaport Thu, 03/11/2021 – 01:03 For more essays and articles by Shana Rapport, sign up for VERGE Weekly , one of our free newsletters. Sanjana Paul is a 23-year-old scientist, electrical engineer and environmental activist on a mission.  Yes, she’s worked at NASA. But her mission isn’t to explore the outer edges of the solar system. Instead, it’s to harness the full power of technology and the ingenuity of young people to solve our most pressing environmental challenges — right here on Earth.  In addition to her former role as a junior atmospheric science software developer at NASA and her current work as a researcher at MIT, Sanjana is founder and executive director of Earth Hacks , an organization that hosts hackathons for college students to combat the climate crisis.  I caught up recently with her to talk about technology innovation, climate solutions and environmental justice. The following interview has been edited for clarity and length. Shana Rappaport: Before we get into Earth Hacks’ mission, let’s start with your own passion for innovation. What technologies are you personally most excited about or inventions are you most proud of? Sanjana Paul: That’s a great question, and not an easy one because the answer changes every few months. The technology landscape is evolving so rapidly and always reflective of the society that we live in.  I think I’ll have to stick with a classic and choose harnessing the photoelectric effect through solar panels. The trajectory we’re on of being a planet powered by the sun is such a powerful way to support a growing, thriving society. Rappaport: You also have some inventions of your own. Can you speak briefly to those?  Paul: I’ve been fortunate to work on a number of different hardware prototyping projects that I’m very proud of. One is what’s now the Sentinel Project at Conservation X Labs , which is a next-gen camera trap for wildlife conservation that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to assist wildlife conservationists. Another is a robot that I created with a partner of mine, FLOATIBOI , that captures marine plastic debris in coastal areas using visual identification. [Editor’s note: FLOATIBOI is short for Floating Long-term Oceanic Autonomous Trawler Incorporating Buoyant Object Identification.] Rappaport: You founded Earth Hacks in 2018 to leverage the power of the hackathon innovation model in direct service of climate education and solutions. Talk a little bit about what set you on this journey. Paul: I used to go to hackathons as a way to boost my coding skills and supplement what I was learning as an electrical engineering and physics student. But I’d go to these hackathons and find myself stunned because the problems that they presented seemed completely out of touch with the reality that we are living in. They seemed like things only third-year computer science majors would care about.  So, I started to wonder: If hackathons are a place where really smart people come to essentially give up their whole weekends to work on problems, why are we not presenting societally relevant problems? And why are we not presenting really time-sensitive problems, like climate change, which is the most time-sensitive issue we have ever faced as a species? I got a group of my friends together, and we decided to have environmental hackathons as a space to engage with environmental issues and actually start imagining what we can do about them. It all spiraled from there. We started out with one in Richmond, Virginia, and then started getting contacted by students across the country and eventually across the world. We formed an organization around it, and now we’re fortunate to have worked with people from every inhabited continent on the planet — on hackathons ranging from creating urban heat island maps to creating better tools for conservationists working with endangered species. Rappaport: The EarthHacks model is also working to ensure that great ideas don’t just get generated at these student-driven hackathons but are actually implemented. What are some of the real-world projects that have come out of them so far? Paul: That’s a great question, and before I dive into it, I just want to say that one amazing part of all this is that nothing is ever really lost at these hackathons. Even if no cool inventions or startups come out of them, we’re still fortunate that this is an educational opportunity — students still walk away learning about these issues and engaging with them more closely than they did before. That said, we’ve seen some really incredible projects come out, already being put to work in really interesting ways.  We collaborated with a startup called Urban Canopy and with scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab — working with satellite data from the International Space Station to create the world’s first public map of urban heat islands. We basically gave students data, said, “Pick a city, plot the land surface temperature and put it on a map.” This told us where urban heat is most concentrated, which we can hand over to city planners or researchers, and hopefully guide policy so that people have to deal less with extreme heat.  Another example is endangered species conservation. We worked with a bunch of nonprofit organizations who focus on vaquitas — a very endangered porpoise that lives in the Sea of Cortez. We were able to create technical tools for the conservation teams to better track the animals and some of the key issues surrounding them; and to engage law students to draft a white paper that is going to go public soon with real recommendations to lawmakers about how to deal with wildlife crime. We also created a public outreach campaign, because no one is going to do anything about endangered species if they don’t know about them.  Rappaport: Let’s talk about the intersection of tech, climate and social issues. What are your aspirations for how EarthHacks, and the tech industry more broadly, can work to advance environmental justice?  Paul: First, I just want to acknowledge that, for a long time, I think the environmental movement as a whole was really focused on environmental issues as somewhat abstract, as separate from us. Maybe they affect species in far-off places or natural landmarks whose beauty we marvel at but we’ve never seen in person.  But fundamentally, the climate crisis is about people, right? It’s about whether we’re going to have the ability to live happy, healthy lives. Because of that, the climate crisis is inherently tied into social justice and social crises. That’s why I think that taking a more complete view of climate is so critical. The single biggest thing that business leaders today can do to help young people with aspirations is to take drastic action on climate, so that we have the time and space to grow up and to be business leaders ourselves. Second, it’s the practical thing to do. If we ignore how social issues are a huge chunk of the climate problem, and how it’s actually playing out, we’re not going to be able to meaningfully solve either. For the tech industry, specifically, the movement for social, racial and gender equality needs to become integrated into all of the core actions that we take — not just an extra thing to do. Social equity needs to be included in decision-making processes and planning from the very start.  If we don’t work to address these issues now, we’re not going to be able to when we’re overwhelmed by changing temperatures and extreme storms. Even though these can be uncomfortable conversations, we need to expand the cultural window of where they happen and make sure that they happen everywhere all the time. Rappaport: You’re speaking to an audience of business leaders. What kind of support can the private sector provide to you and other young technologists committed to solving environmental challenges, either as corporate partners or as intergenerational allies? Paul: I love the phrase “intergenerational allies” — and I think that’s key. The single biggest thing that business leaders today can do to help young people with aspirations is to take drastic action on climate, so that we have the time and space to grow up and to be business leaders ourselves.  The other smaller step that everyone can take is, put simply, to engage. All of the students we work with at our hackathons are always looking for more opportunities. They’re looking for people to learn from, to come and speak at their events, to mentor them. They’re looking for places to work that are advancing sustainability. So, just engaging with us, reaching out and saying, “Hey, we’d like to support you in some way” — that’s hugely meaningful to us. There are so many different ways to get involved, but it’s always going to start with just reaching out. Pull Quote The single biggest thing that business leaders today can do to help young people with aspirations is to take drastic action on climate, so that we have the time and space to grow up and to be business leaders ourselves. Topics Innovation Featured Column On the VERGE Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off An Earth Hacks hackathon in 2019.

Continued here:
Hacking solutions to ‘time-sensitive’ climate problems

Orlando’s journey to accelerate sustainability and resilience

March 11, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Orlando’s journey to accelerate sustainability and resilience

Orlando’s journey to accelerate sustainability and resilience Chris Castro Thu, 03/11/2021 – 01:00 Cities are home to more than 50 percent of the global population and as a result are presented with ever-growing challenges, including finding a balance between social equity, economic vitality and environmental sustainability. Cities also have extraordinary potential to enable change and the ability to find harmony between people, prosperity and the planet that creates a better future for all. Recognizing this, member-countries of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals , including a historic goal on SDG 11: Sustainable Cities: “to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” by 2030, leaving no person, place or ecosystem behind. This global framework continues to be centered as a Rosetta Stone to advance humanity in a more sustainable direction. I’m a second-generation Cuban-American from Miami. I’m also a social entrepreneur, community organizer and now director of sustainability and resilience for the city of Orlando. In my role, I advise Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and am tasked with making Orlando a showcase model for the U.N.’s sustainable cities vision and making our city a great place, to live, work, learn and play. Cities have extraordinary potential to enable change and to find harmony between people, prosperity and the planet. Before I get to details about my day job, it’s important to share my experiences where things actually get done: the community. Over the last 15 years, I’ve been actively engaged in the Central Florida community through my work with several nonprofit NGOs, social enterprises, academia, community groups and businesses chambers to engage a wide range of individuals in advancing the sustainable cities vision, including USGBC-Florida, Florida Green Chamber of Commerce (FGCC), Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, Florida Renewable Energy Association (FREA), Solar United Neighborhoods of Florida (FL SUN), Global Shapers Orlando and Climate Reality Project. One organization that is near and dear to my heart is Ideas For Us , a U.N.-accredited NGO that works to develop, fund and scale local solutions that advance the Sustainable Development Goals worldwide. In 2008, I co-founded Ideas for Us while attending college at the University of Central Florida, and over the last 13 years I have worked with an amazing team to expand a grassroots movement of collegiate and community chapters that engage youth leaders around the world, creating and expanding local sustainability solutions to more than 200 communities in 25 countries on five continents. Today, two of the most successful and impactful programs are still active across the IDEAS movement. The first is a think and do tank called the Ideas Hive , which brings public awareness to the U.N. SDGs by facilitating conversations about global challenges and developing local action projects that we can implement in our own community. In addition to monthly workshops (made virtual thanks to COVID), the Ideas Hive also coordinates public eco-tours, eco-film screenings and Umuganda Community Action days for public awareness, education and community engagement. The second successful program is an urban agricultural solution for communities that is redefining local food systems, specifically how we produce and distribute food in our communities.  Fleet Farming turns suburban lawns into a distributed network of micro-urban farms and uses a fleet of volunteer farmers to build, maintain and distribute the produce grown to local venues — all by bicycle. This effort has gotten the attention of more than 60 million people around the world, been on major media outlets such as NPR and NBC Nightly News , and is in the process of scaling to communities to address food insecurity and access. Ideas for Us has incorporated an exciting new program called the Solutions Fund, a micro-granting program providing funding to women and young change-makers to incubate proof-of-concept ideas that advance the SDGs around the world. With this focus on environmental philanthropy, we are becoming a conduit for foundations and corporations to make a direct difference in advancing sustainability, and an outlet for people of all ages around the world to make a difference in our local communities. As for my work in the city, I’m happy to say Orlando is shaping up to be one of the smartest and most sustainable cities in the country at the forefront of innovation and sustainability. Through the vision and leadership of Dyer and the Green Works Orlando initiative, we have implemented innovative policies and programs in a wide variety of focus areas, including energy and green buildings, local food systems, livability, water resources, transportation and smart cities — and have worked to provide our residents and businesses with the tools to live more environmentally friendly lifestyles. In 2018, Orlando became the first city in Florida to pass legislation that requires public disclosure of energy and water efficiency in buildings , and an ambitious goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy city-wide by 2050 . To strive towards the goal, the city added four new rooftop solar projects to critical facilities, including fire stations and neighborhood centers, and subscribed over 5 megawatts of community solar to offset all of our electricity use at Orlando City Hall, the Orlando police headquarters and all 17 fire stations. With clean energy financing options available for home and business owners, community solar farms and local solar cooperatives, we are working to make the transition to renewable energy as easy and cost-effective as possible. We’ve even been researching creative applications to achieve this goal, such as floating solar farms on stormwater ponds at the Orlando International Airport and other locations throughout the region. In December, our hometown utility, OUC, also published the Energy Integrated Resources Plan (EIRP) , which outlined a long-term plan for the electric utility that made bold commitments, including achieving net-zero by 2050 without offsets, with intermediate targets of 50 percent CO2 reduction by 2030 and 75 pecent by 2040; a commitment to early-retire the last two coal-fired power plants; and a significant ramp-up of energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage and electric vehicles over the next 30 years. This plan not only aligns with the Green Works goals, but it also supports science-based targets to address the climate crisis. Imagine if every utility in the country made this commitment. As for transportation, our city has bike-share and ride-share programs, one of the largest networks of electric vehicle chargers, real-time bus travel information, a commuter rail (SunRail) and a fare-free bus rapid transit system called the Lymmo to help lessen commuter pollution and congestion within the city. In October, we also unveiled the first fleet of electric buses in the Lymmo BRT, and a commitment to transition 100 percent of transit buses to electric and alternative fuels by 2030. If that wasn’t enough, in December, the city also published its first smart city master plan, Future-Ready Orlando , which works to combine some of my work in sustainability and resilience with technology to position Orlando to be a leading experimental prototype city of the 21st century. I believe in the ability for humans to live sustainably in harmony with the planet, and not just survive, but thrive. Whether it’s building climate resilience to the challenges we will face, taking direct action to mitigate and reverse our impacts or increasing public awareness and engagement about creating a more environmentally friendly future, I have made it my life’s mission to advance sustainability on a personal and professional level. Many say it’s become who I am, not what I do. No small act of improvement is wasted in this effort, so how much are you willing to contribute to building the future we want? Listen to Chris Castro on the EDF+Business podcast. Pull Quote Cities have extraordinary potential to enable change and to find harmony between people, prosperity and the planet. Topics Cities Renewable Energy Transportation & Mobility Resilience 30 Under 30 Collective Insight 30 Under 30 EDF Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

Read more:
Orlando’s journey to accelerate sustainability and resilience

Electrifying everything should start with the masses

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

Comments Off on Electrifying everything should start with the masses

Electrifying everything should start with the masses Sarah Golden Fri, 02/26/2021 – 00:45 The case for electrifying buildings is a no-brainer. It makes buildings healthier , cheaper and is essential to addressing climate change (building operations account for 28 percent of emissions globally — more than all of the transportation sector). That doesn’t mean electrifying buildings will be easy. Beyond the coordination needed between building owners, contractors and occupants to retrofit buildings, electric appliances still have a higher upfront cost (although they are cheaper over the life of the appliance). That means the early adopters tend to be affluent individuals (think early Tesla owners) or companies with healthy profit margins (such as Google and Microsoft).  BlocPower , a New York-based startup, wants to flip that path to adoption upside down. Its vision is to finance all-electric upgrades for buildings in low-income communities to accelerate the speed and scale of deployments.  “We have to start with the mass market and communities of color, and offer them services and projects that make sense to their budget in order to reduce greenhouse gases on a time frame that makes sense,” BlocPower CEO Donnel Baird recently said on the podcast Watt It Takes . This week, the company announced a Series A funding round to the tune of $63 million, led by The Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. The fund will enable BlocPower to expand and scale its inner-city energy retrofits to projects across the nation, with $49 million going toward low-income residential buildings and $6 million dedicated to low-income small commercial buildings, houses of worship and other community buildings.  Core to this strategy is keeping the benefit of building electrification in these communities — creating jobs, improving health and saving households money. It also is a glimpse into financing models that can help commercialize technologies, while ensuring all communities have access to climate tech.  Financial innovations are as important as technological innovations There is a beautiful dance between finance and technology that can scale clean energy technologies: Prices fall when deployments increase; deployments increase when prices fall. The challenge is getting this virtuous cycle going. Early technologies are expensive and can have bugs, which can scare away early adopters. Financial innovations can help by jumpstarting the mainstreaming of clean technology and removing the risk from customers. The classic example of this in action is solar , where the innovation of solar loans and leases led to the proliferation of rooftop solar. This supported the rapid reduction of price, with utility-scale solar reaching 6 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2017 — three years before the Department of Energy’s ambitious SunShot goal , once seen as unrealistic.  Many clean energy technologies save money over time, so upfront finance can be a great investment. It’s one reason why there has been a rise in companies that offer energy upgrades as a service — the offtaker pays a subscription fee that is more than offset by energy savings, while the owner of assets gets a return on its investment.  BlocPower is taking this principle and applying it to low-income neighborhoods, often overlooked in financial innovations, and electric appliances, in need of rapid commercialization before they can scale to meet the climate challenge. Keeping economic benefits of clean energy local BlocPower’s model goes beyond bringing the energy savings to poor neighborhoods; it is also working to keep the wealth creation local.  According to Baird, the financial product developed with Goldman creates a holding company that owns the clean energy equipment available to low-income building owners. The twist is these holding companies could be co-owned by low-income community members and nonprofits, so they benefit from the dividends.  “So now the idea or concerns about, ‘How do you get people of color or low-income people in the climate movement?’ Well, we’re going to give you an economic stake,” Baird said on Watt It Takes. “We’re going to give you equity, not just in terms of, ‘Are we going to treat you fairly?’ Equity in terms of, ‘We’re going to give you stock in a new corporation that we’re co-creating so that you have financial incentive to participate in the clean energy economy.” Relatedly, BlocPower strives to create local jobs within the communities where building upgrades occur. While the details of job training aren’t spelled out in the company’s funding release, the idea is solid; workforce training uplifts communities and keeps people engaged in the clean economy.  And there will be enough jobs to go around. Rewiring America , a think tank that has done detailed accounting into what it would take to curb U.S. emissions, estimates that electrifying everything (buildings, transport and industry) would create upwards of 25 million jobs in America alone.  Building electrification is worth it From a climate perspective, electrification is an imperative . There just isn’t a path to a safe climate future without addressing natural gas in buildings. But even if that weren’t the case, electrification is great for building occupants. From a cost perspective, electrification will slash energy bills in new construction and in many retrofits today. Looking forward to the cost of electricity in the years to come, Rewiring America determined that the average American household would save an average of $1,900 per year by going all-electric — including financing to switch to electric appliances and cars.  This is especially valuable for communities of color, who disproportionately suffer from energy poverty, meaning they struggle to afford baseline energy needs. As a percentage of income, Black households pay upwards of threefold more than white households for energy. Relieving monthly expenses associated with inefficient and dirty energy is a natural way to uplift communities and help keep money local.  From a health perspective, a growing mountain of evidence shows natural gas appliances in homes can be dangerous, with research from UCLA showing they produce a range of air pollutants inside homes that can have acute and chronic health impacts. This is especially bad in smaller apartments — where low-income families tend to live.  Want more great analysis of the clean energy transition? Sign up for Energy Weekly , our free email newsletter. Topics Energy & Climate 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 Exterior view of new multifamily residential building facade under construction in San Jose, California. Image by Shutterstock/Michael Vi

Read more from the original source:
Electrifying everything should start with the masses

Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher

February 26, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher

Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher Deonna Anderson Fri, 02/26/2021 – 00:30   Moving from a linear business model to a circular takes time, effort and trial and error. But it also has its hidden benefits. “It can help you with some operational efficiencies. It can also position you to be sort of a company of the future, and also, frankly, tackle the environmental challenges that we have of our consumption model,” said Tensie Whelan, director at New York University’s Stern Center for Sustainable Business, at the end of a conversation that she moderated about circular business models at GreenBiz 21 .  Whelan led a conversation with leaders at REI, IKEA and Eileen Fisher, each of which are embracing circular practices in some parts of their businesses. For REI, transitioning to a circular model seems inevitable so it’s doing the work now. “REI, as a company, we believe that this broader kind of shift to a more circular economy is something that the world is really going to have to do over the next 10 years,” said Ken Voeller, director of circular commerce and new business development at REI. “And it’s also a shift that’s going to take many forms. There’s resale, there’s rental, there’s designing products with circularity in mind. It’s not really like there’s a silver bullet.” I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it. Here are four lessons about implementing and iterating circular business models from these retailers. 1. The nuts and bolts of resell sound simple on paper But they’re more complicated in action.  “There’s a lot to think about, as it relates to how do you want to build the infrastructure to support a more circular economy. And then how do you want to build the capability to support it,” Voeller said, noting that the effort aligns with the company’s broader business aspirations, including halving its carbon footprint by 2030. REI has been partnering with Trove (formerly Yerdle) to work out the kinks and operate its resell program in an effort to become more circular. “As we think about the things that we can do as a company to continue to grow revenue, without necessarily growing environmental impact, our circular businesses really hit that sweet spot of being able to do both of those things,” Voeller added. In order to make a circular economy work, a company needs a lot of partners. For REI, while Trove is one of those partners, in a sense, so are the customers that return items for the recommerce program. 2. Engaging customers before they step foot into a store IKEA, known for its flat-packed furniture, has launched buyback programs in select markets. Debuting on Black Friday 2020 , the program was temporarily launched in some countries where IKEA operates, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. And IKEA U.S. is looking forward to launching such a program in the future, after it’s able to wade through state regulations. The program is part of the company’s journey to become more circular. Here’s what the process looks like for a customer interested in selling furniture back to IKEA: Complete an online form about the piece of furniture Receive an payment offer from IKEA Drop off furniture at the store Receive payment from IKEA in the form of a voucher IKEA will sell item in its bargain section “We wouldn’t be asking a customer to lug in a big bookcase that maybe they have sitting in their basement that they haven’t used, just to see if we’ll buy it back from them,” said Jenn Keesson, sustainability manager at IKEA U.S., during the GreenBiz 21 discussion. At the time of the Black Friday announcement, the company noted that any items it is unable to resell will be recycled. “It’s really an end of life solution. … I’m sure that all of us can think of an item in our house that we haven’t gotten rid of, but we’re still not using. So we were excited to be able to offer this solution to our customers in the U.S.,” Keesson said. 3. Presenting customers with all their options Since clothing company Eileen Fisher launched its takeback and resale program Renew in 2009, it has collected 1.5 million returned garments, according to Cynthia Power, director of Eileen Fisher Renew. “I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it,” Power said. “It’s exciting to keep trying to figure out how to make it better and how to keep the most garments in use for as long as possible.” Since clothing company Eileen Fisher launched its resale program Renew in 2009, it has taken back 1.5 million garments. Photo by melissamn on Shutterstock. Eileen Fisher Renew has been experimenting with the larger main brand in some of its retail stores to display new products alongside used products, design samples and remanufactured products. “We’re really trying to give the customer a view into all the different life cycles of our clothes,” Power said. 4. A gateway for customers — new and old For both Eileen Fisher and REI, the recommerce work each company is doing seems to be getting the attention of people who’ve never shopped with them before. “We really see the renew program and resell in general as an opportunity to bring in a new customer who, whether it’s price point or environmental values, or whatever the customer likes, offers them a new way into the brand,” Power said. “We’ve definitely seen a significant percentage of new customers purchasing from Renew who haven’t necessarily purchased from the main line before.” A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up. Voeller of REI noted a similar trend at the outdoor recreation company and added that its resell program also offers an opportunity to develop a different type of relationship with existing customers. “We really view the supply side of our recommerce business as a really interesting retention tool to keep customers engaged with REI and continuing to turn to us for their outdoor purchases,” he said. “They’re able to say, ‘I’ve got this backpack that’s been in my closet for three years. I’ve used it twice. I really don’t need that. Why don’t I trade that into REI, and I’ll get credit to apply towards the thing that I really do want?’”  And while most of the conversations and strategies between these business leaders focused on resale, they know it’s not the only circular business model. Companies that want to be more circular likely will need and want to take multiple approaches to get there. “A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up,” Voeller said.    Pull Quote A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up. I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it. Topics Circular Economy GreenBiz 21 Business Development Recommerce GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Ikea, REI and Eileen Fisher are banking on a circular model to propel them into the next era of commerce.//Images by  Graeme Dawes ,  Eric Glenn and  Helen89 on Shutterstock.

Original post:
Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher

EVs are just one part of sustainable transportation

February 17, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on EVs are just one part of sustainable transportation

EVs are just one part of sustainable transportation Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 02/17/2021 – 01:15 Want more great analysis of electric and sustainable transport? Sign up for Transport Weekly , our free email newsletter. While electric vehicles hold big promise in 2021, another aspect of decarbonizing transportation could get major support this year: reducing car driving. Cutting down on car trips isn’t about guilt-tripping folks into abandoning cars. Many of us need to use cars. It’s about providing much better opportunities, infrastructure and incentives for alternatives to driving including walking, biking, micromobility and public transit, as well as better options for remote work and urban housing. Two transportation-related silver linings of the COVID-19 era are: Many cities quickly adapted to shelter-in-place orders by offering new mobility opportunities. Slow streets programs opened up roads for pedestrians and bicycles, while cities opened up parking spaces for outdoor dining, helping small businesses.  Companies that can do so are making plans to embrace policies that could make remote work permanent for substantial portions of their workforce. For example, Salesforce announced last week its plan for flexible work schedules that offer some employees the opportunity to work entirely at home (wherever home happens to be). As transportation leader and general badass Janette Sadik-Khan put it last month during a conversation at Micromobility World :  The pandemic revealed the streets that we always needed. Back in the day, Sadik-Khan helped then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg successfully remove cars from Times Square, and launched New York’s bikeshare program, as Commissioner for the New York City Department of Transportation. Today, she advises mayors of cities around the world as a principal of Bloomberg Associates, a philanthropic consultancy created by the ex-mayor. Now that, strangely enough, 2020 has primed cities to make choices about better streets for people (instead of just cars), 2021 is a prime opportunity to keep the momentum going by building back with lower-carbon transportation infrastructure. And that’s not just about EV infrastructure. A lot of this work will be about creating better and more bike lanes, a major boost in funding for public transit (President Joe Biden is pledging $20 billion) and even encouraging city transportation incentive tools (such as congestion zones and tolls). In the world of transportation, sometimes it’s the non-tech ideas and solutions that could have a big effect on decarbonization. Sadik-Khan is bullish about the newly appointed federal Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg. And you should be, too. She described him as “a secretary that looks at streets as more than moving cars.” “This is going to be a new ‘road order’ and a new era,” she said.  Sadik-Khan also explained why having a former mayor as DOT Secretary is “extremely important.” “He understands what cities need,” noting that mayors get in the weeds on budgets and community buy-in for new infrastructure projects. Buttigieg also just nominated another former NYC Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, as his DOT Deputy Secretary.  While I spend a lot of my time reporting on the rise of electric vehicles, and the emergence of new climate-tech innovations, in the world of transportation sometimes it’s the non-tech ideas and solutions that could have a big effect on decarbonization. Protected and expanded bike lanes are not a tech solution. Better-designed rapid bus routes are not a tech solution.  Sadik-Khan explained it like this: The smart mobility innovation of this century is not going to be using tech to reduce traffic congestion. It’s going to be about building a city where you don’t have to drive in the first place. At the Micromobility World event, I got to moderate a conversation focused on Scaling Unsung Climate Champions: 2-Wheelers (check out the video if you’re interested); it featured transportation leader Dan Sperling and Formula E driver Lucas di Grassi, among others. What stuck out to me from this conversation is that transportation options such as micromobility are not widely seen as climate solutions compared to electric passenger vehicles. And really they should be.  Yes, I’m caught up in the excitement and idea that the internal combustion engine vehicle is finally being replaced by the electric car. But a whole other set of solutions — some not sexy and some controversial — will help continue to decarbonize transportation and help us move more off of a reliance on all types of cars, too. Pull Quote In the world of transportation, sometimes it’s the non-tech ideas and solutions that could have a big effect on decarbonization. Topics Transportation & Mobility Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A slow street scene from Oakland, California. Courtesy of City of Oakland

Originally posted here:
EVs are just one part of sustainable transportation

4 climate finance priorities for the Biden administration

February 17, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on 4 climate finance priorities for the Biden administration

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

View post:
4 climate finance priorities for the Biden administration

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 2148 access attempts in the last 7 days.