Here’s how companies should prepare for new human rights regulations

April 13, 2021 by  
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Here’s how companies should prepare for new human rights regulations Alice Pease Tue, 04/13/2021 – 01:30 This article originally was published in the BSR Insight . Governments are increasingly scrutinizing human trafficking and forced labor abuses in private sector operations. In addition to the moral imperative to address these abuses, businesses should be on alert given the significant disruptions in supply chains that government regulation may cause, resulting in potential economic, legal and/or reputational harm. Apparel, food and beverage, technology and financial services companies in particular should closely monitor and prepare for global regulatory developments.  1. Companies should expect more active involvement from civil society organizations in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Withhold Release Order process The situation: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has used Withhold Release Orders (WRO) to suspend the importation of goods at a U.S. port of entry when the agency has reasonable evidence of the use of forced labor in the manufacturing or production of a good entering the U.S. supply chain. The onus is then on the importer to demonstrate to the U.S. government that the good was not made with forced labor. In the last two years, the CBP has ramped up its use of this enforcement tool, issuing 13 WROs across multiple industries in 2020 alone. While the CBP has welcomed the public to submit information on merchandise that could be considered for a WRO, there has been limited visibility on submissions until now. In February, anti-trafficking organization Liberty Shared submitted two petitions to the CBP concerning the use of forced labor in the supply chains of the apparel industry in Leicester, U.K. and of Boohoo, PLC.  What business can do: Companies which have identified forced labor as a supply chain risk should be conducting ongoing human rights due diligence to identify, assess and mitigate potential or actual risks of forced labor, engage in meaningful dialogue with rights-holders and ensure their grievance mechanisms are working. 2. Companies should prepare for increased regulation and withholding of products sourced or manufactured in Xinjiang, China The situation: Reports have described the mass internment and surveillance of over a million ethnic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, China. News sources detail how Uyghurs and other minorities are being forced to work in factories that produce raw materials and goods which are shipped throughout China and around the world. Reports also have documented the capital provided to Chinese technology companies by financial institutions and private equity firms to support the mass surveillance of Muslim minorities. Industries implicated in these reports include food and beverage buyers, pharmaceutical companies, apparel brands and technology and renewable energy companies. In response to these findings, the U.S. , Canada  and U.K . have published advisories for companies doing business in or with links to Xinjiang. The U.S. also has passed a Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, issued sanctions and banned the entry of goods allegedly produced by forced labor in Xinjiang. The EU is considering implementing sanctions as well.   What business can do: Companies should map business activities and business relationships with suppliers, customers and end users of products in China and conduct due diligence on business relationships to ensure that they are not working with entities involved in aiding human rights abuses. With business challenges related to Xinjiang unlikely to disappear in the short term, companies should work with third parties such as NGOs, industry associations and business associations to better understand the human rights situation, and they also should craft and pilot traceability measures in collaboration with peers. See guidance from the CBP on best practices here .  3. Companies should begin planning for more stringent modern slavery disclosure requirements The situation: In response to calls from business leaders, civil society and legislators to strengthen the U.K. Modern Slavery Act, the U.K. government in September announced proposals that would require businesses to report against each of the six reporting areas and would make approval and sign-off requirements more stringent. In September, the New South Wales government signaled its intent to enact a Modern Slavery Act (NSW MSA), which would include a provision to require more entities across Australia to submit a modern slavery statement by lowering the national reporting threshold from $76 million to $38 million. In addition, the NSW government indicated its position to levy financial penalties for breaches of the Act. A modern slavery disclosure bill also was introduced to Canada’s Senate in October. While sharing similarities with Australia, California and the U.K.’s disclosure legislation, Canada’s bill could be the first to allow personal liability for directors and officers for non-compliance.  What business can do: Businesses subjected to the U.K. Modern Slavery Act should be prepared to report against the proposed requirements. Companies that are not captured under an existing legislative scheme should at minimum understand where human trafficking risks may be present in their supply chain and proactively take prevention measures. As more governments enact modern slavery acts, more robust legislation on supply chain due diligence is on the horizon .  4. Companies should be aware of heightened scrutiny of illicit financial flows linked to human trafficking The situation: There have been some signals suggesting that companies with weak compliance systems to capture proceeds associated with human trafficking may be the subject of future attention by government authorities. For example, in July, Deutsche Bank was fined $150 million by the New York State Department of Financial Services for failing to maintain an effective and compliant anti-money laundering program related to client Jeffrey Epstein, his sex trafficking enterprise and correspondent banks. In September, Australia’s financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC, reached a $1 billion settlement agreement with Westpac Banking Corporation for facilitating transactions that enabled child exploitation in the Philippines. What business can do: Financial institutions should integrate indicators of human trafficking into their compliance systems to capture financial flows that may be connected to human trafficking. In addition to facing fines, financial institutions face potential criminal liability through the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act and U.K. Criminal Finances Bill. Financial institutions should assess their links to human trafficking and forced labor holistically through their lending portfolios, core business operations, platform and business relationships. Guidance from the FAST initiative and FinCEN on identifying and reporting human trafficking may be a good start. Contributors Shubha Chandra Mark P. Lagon Topics Human Rights Policy & Politics Supply Chain Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Businesses should be on alert given the significant disruptions in supply chains that government regulation may cause. Shutterstock Jimmy Tran Close Authorship

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Here’s how companies should prepare for new human rights regulations

Who are your climate justice advisors?

April 8, 2021 by  
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Who are your climate justice advisors? Heather Clancy Thu, 04/08/2021 – 02:00 For me, the most important element of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and climate action plan is the administration’s conviction that “historically marginalized and polluted overburdened communities” should have a loud say in the policy decisions. It’s not just talk: The Biden bunch has committed to directing at least 40 percent of related investments toward those communities.  Who will help shape those decisions? Last week, the White House published the list of more than two dozen volunteers whose voices are part of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council — in fact, they already have convened their first meeting. This is a diverse group in many senses of the word: It includes a cross-section of Black, Indigenous and people of color, as well as minds representing the concerns of rural and urban America. Personally, I would have liked to see more focus on the nation’s midsection, although the decision to include at least two organizations representing farmworkers is encouraging.  For me, there were some familiar names including Jade Begay , an Indigenous rights advocate at NDN Collective; Robert Bullard, the Texas professor sometimes dubbed the ” father of environmental justice “; Tom Cormons, executive director of Appalachian Voices ; and Catherine Flowers, founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (who GreenBiz interviewed a couple months ago). But I’m ashamed to say I’m meeting most of these individuals for the first time through their participation in this important collaboration. So I’ve made it a priority to learn about their work. In that vein, I recently spoke with Mildred McClain, co-founder and executive director of The Harambee House/Citizens for Environmental Justice , which has helped bridge communities and companies for more than three decades. Based in Savannah, Georgia, the organization develops the capacities for local communities to “speak for themselves” when it comes to economic or environmental decisions that could affect their health and well-being. McClain, a featured speaker on an EarthShare webinar series in April and May about climate justice, was instrumental in creating a community business roundtable in Savannah that helped shape the environmental policies of organizations with a big economic stake in the region including International Paper, the Georgia Ports Authority and Colonial Oil.  It was not easy to overcome corporate skepticism that the constituents Harambee House represents — predominantly Black individuals but also white and brown community members with lower incomes, she recalls. “It took us a quite a long time to convince them that, in fact, environmental justice was not an impediment to anything, that it was a bridge to everything,” McClain told me.  There’s a really critical, critically important step here that corporate leaders need to take. And that is to really humble themselves, and understand the power and authority, but also the humanity, that they carry. How did the dynamic change? Much of it came down to both sides acknowledging each other at a human level, according to McClain and her long-time ally, Michelle Moore, chief executive officer of community energy nonprofit Groundswell, who was also part of the conversation. “There’s a really critical, critically important step here that corporate leaders need to take,” Moore observed. “And that is to really humble themselves, and understand the power and authority, but also the humanity, that they carry.” Here are other important dynamics that make for a successful corporate-community relationship: Respect the need for self-determination. Like it or not, businesses are just one facet of the larger community and shouldn’t be the only entity to have a say in planning. “It starts off with the definition that environmental justice … starts with the fair treatment of all people, and then the meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of their race, color, income, national origin, all that kind of stuff,” McClain said.  Listen to each other, and come with data. The person who became one of McClain’s key allies within Colonial Oil was someone who embodied many stereotypical characteristics of a white supremacist, McClain recalls. But because she set aside her own initial biases and focused on supporting her passionate arguments with quantifiable data that his business didn’t have, a mutual respect emerged. “We showed them that indeed … we were able to negotiate, that we were researchers, that the residents were what we call subject matter experts,” McClain said.  Be willing to invest in communities where businesses have done damage. Throwing money at a community in the form of grants and philanthropic donations after the fact isn’t the same thing as including individuals in the process in the first place. If your company is seeking to offer reparations, a more effective mechanism is to support low-interest loans that enable business owners and entrepreneurs to revitalize brownfields. Both McClain and Moore pointed to the long-standing Regenesis program in Spartanburg, South Carolina — which has leveraged $300 million over the past two decades — as a model worth emulating. But proceed with caution: “The finance piece of the equation can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution, we have to think about reparation,” Moore said. As companies look beyond their internal processes for cultivating diversity, equity and inclusion, they would do well to seek ways to engage the BIPOC communities affected by their operations more proactively — not just as a one-time fact-finding exercise but as part of a systemic approach to considering environmental justice in their overall strategy. That could mean anything from prioritizing business with minority-owned suppliers, as GreenBiz editor at large Marilyn Waite suggested earlier this year , to creating a council of advisers to help guide climate action plans. If you’re aware of great examples I should write about — ones that aren’t simply a rehash of long-time philanthropic activities — email me at heather@greenbiz.com . Pull Quote There’s a really critical, critically important step here that corporate leaders need to take. And that is to really humble themselves, and understand the power and authority, but also the humanity, that they carry. Topics Social Justice Infrastructure Corporate Strategy Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Climate accountability reaches the CFO suite

April 8, 2021 by  
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Climate accountability reaches the CFO suite Emily Chasan Thu, 04/08/2021 – 02:00 Reprinted from GreenFin Weekly, a free weekly newsletter. Subscribe here . It started with intangibles. I spent about a decade of my life writing about corporate accounting before I began focusing on sustainability and sustainable finance. In between all the conversations on accounting for stock options and leases, one megatrend in corporate accounting beat them all: the rise of intangible assets. In the 1970s, when the U.S. accounting rule-making body, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, was formed, tangible assets such as cash, buildings and inventory made up 83 percent of corporate balance sheets in the S&P 500. Just 17 percent of the value stemmed from intangible assets, such as patents, trademarks, brands, software and customer lists. Somewhat rapidly, everything switched . By 1995, almost 70 percent of corporate assets were considered intangibles. In 2020, fully 90 percent of the value of S&P 500 companies stemmed from intangibles. In 2020, fully 90% of the value of S&P 500 companies stemmed from intangibles. That’s the megatrend underpinning the rise of ESG, and the one that has brought it to the forefront for chief financial officers. Corporate reputation is a bigger asset than a plant or a headquarters and a company today means something totally different than it meant 50 years ago. The task of a company in the 1970s was to manage its plants, labor and equipment to get shareholder returns, but today companies get much more value from managing their reputation, brands and data. Those intangibles are much more sensitive to environmental and social risks, which makes ESG issues that much more important for both companies and shareholders. And the choices companies make about what they disclose, invest in and finance have a bigger impact on the future direction of the world. That’s increasingly brought CFOs and the sustainability goals together. And in just the past few years, it’s been elevated to something companies are financially accountable for. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation this year said they want to start seeing better disclosure from companies on climate change. Importantly, the SEC’s enforcement unit’s new climate and ESG task force likely will add more clarity to corporate climate and ESG disclosures. On S&P 500 earnings calls in the fourth quarter, 28 companies discussed climate change and energy policy, outpacing the 19 that mentioned COVID-19 policy, according to Factset . At the same time, the financial markets are creatively building sustainability incentives into loans, debt and financial instruments at an unprecedented rate — an effort to reduce the intangible risks lurking on their own balance sheets. Just the beginning Before the recent rise of sustainability-linked loans, precious few mechanisms in the market could truly hold companies accountable for reaching their sustainability goals. A shareholder proposal, even if it gets approved, often led to reports on how companies were performing — but not necessarily to better performance. The market for these loans, which specifically tie funding to achieving sustainability or environmental goals, is likely to grow twentyfold this year, representing up to $150 billion in financing, JPMorgan said . A better rate on corporate debt when interest rates already are low is a modest incentive, but banks are betting these loans will lead to better ESG performance because missing out on a better deal for your cost of capital can be pretty frustrating for CFOs. I plan to unpack this growing market in my plenary conversation next week at GreenFin 21 , with Enel CFO Alberto De Paoli, AB InBev CFO Fernando Tennenbaum and Pimco CIO Scott Mather. The two corporates have issued billions of dollars of debt with sustainability-linked guarantees and requirements in the past few years, and inquiring minds want to know how much of an impact these loans are having on corporate finance. For CFOs, the multibillion-dollar shift to sustainable debt is really just the beginning. “As custodians of over $14 trillion a year in corporate investment, CFOS are a driving force for achievement of the SDGs,” said Marie Morice, head of sustainable finance at the United Nations Global Compact. “It is increasingly crucial for CFOs to help their companies shape credible, SDG-aligned corporate sustainability strategies.” The corporate spending pool is actually enough to make a dent in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. Still, three out of four CEOs and CFOs say their company is underprepared for climate change . And to be honest, there are so many unknowns in climate change that it’s hard to think of many companies that truly would make it through a prepared checklist today: (?) Scenario plans (?) Independent energy supply (?) Negative emissions (?) Supply-chain contingencies (?) Critical business locations protected from flood, heat, fire, storms In a world that is rapidly shifting, when corporate value is more ephemeral than ever before, it’s definitely worth trying. Pull Quote In 2020, fully 90% of the value of S&P 500 companies stemmed from intangibles. Topics Finance & Investing ESG GreenFin Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage

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Climate accountability reaches the CFO suite

Tips for auditing an ethical supply chain

March 29, 2021 by  
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Tips for auditing an ethical supply chain Jerome Brustlein Mon, 03/29/2021 – 00:01 Many serious concerns have hung over the supply chains of global corporations for decades, ranging from human rights issues to lack of transparency about sourcing and other matters. In the jewelry industry, the issues have ranged from unsafe mining practices and child labor to money laundering through the supply chains themselves.  The rise of conscious consumers has altered how brands compete, and ethical supply chains have become a source of competitive advantage as brands leverage prestigious certifications such as B Corp status to closely align themselves with mindful consumers who value sustainability, transparency and accountability.  But what defines an ethical supply chain and what does it look like in practice?  Put simply, an ethical supply chain focuses on the need to embrace corporate social responsibility and produce products or services in a way that treats both workers and the environment ethically. In practice, this means weaving these principles into the fabric of the business. For example, at Fenton, our teams believe everyone involved in the process of creating the company’s beautiful products should benefit from the value creation and come to no harm.  Unsurprisingly, to adhere to these principles, ethical supply chains require much more vigilance to set up and to crucially oversee (in comparison to traditional supply chains). We’ve regularly conducted unplanned visits to ensure that our conduct expectations are being adhered to and all reports from the team on the floor are accurate and true. Weekly audits remain an integral aspect of the responsible sourcing process and have been shown to improve working conditions, health and safety, environmental sustainability along with bribery and anti-corruption.  It’s Fenton’s mission to bring transparency and accountability to the jewelry industry, an industry once synonymous with opaque supply chains, riddled with middlemen adding no value to the product and driving prices up. The company’s business model centers around diligently overseeing its supply chain and sourcing exclusively from world leaders in ethical mining, such as Sri Lanka. Thus, I take this opportunity to offer tangible advice on how to audit an ethical supply chain and relate it to my own anecdotal experiences at Fenton. Embed internal teams on the workshop floor Audits receive criticism for being deceptive and disconnected from true accountability.  Often audits do not detect unauthorized subcontracting arrangements, and most audit firms have no investigative powers and limited capacity to verify that the information presented to them is both true and accurate. Secondly, auditors usually only inspect specific areas that suppliers choose to show them and are only able to speak to employees that they happen to see. Thus, it begs the question: What is the true state of play? Can a brand be truly vigilant of its supply chain if this is how it is managed? I suggest not.  Fenton has taken a different approach. The company has embedded several people on the workshop floor in South East Asia on a daily basis to ensure its values, ethical standards and best practices are adhered to at all times. This involves ensuring the right production and quality assurance steps for Fenton pieces are being respected along with coaching the team where needed (for example, on how to set a stone correctly) and ensuring the company’s code of conduct is upheld. Of course, this requires a much greater investment from the business, but it is fundamental to ensuring Fenton’s values are upheld on a daily basis. Implement stringent Know Your Customer procedures Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures are a critical function to assess customer risk and a legal requirement to comply with anti-money laundering laws. Effective KYC procedures involve knowing a customer’s identity, the risks it poses and their financial activity.  KYC procedures were first implemented by financial institutions but since have become a core component of ethical supply chain management practice. The process obviously differs depending on the industry, but the core framework behind the KYC procedure remains the same. Establish a mandatory process of identifying and verifying a customer/client/etc. Ensure you know and understand the ownership structure of all your suppliers Validate the legitimacy of their claims Verify or halt the relationship if the KYC standards are not met Fenton scrutinizes the operations of any potential supplier before agreeing do to business with it. This includes requiring it to prove the salaries that it pays employees, the beneficial owners of the business, and making sure it is in good stead with its taxes. Set a strict code of conduct all vendors need to abide by It’s also vital to expect all suppliers to meet — and where possible exceed — all applicable laws and regulations in force in the countries where your company operates.  Having “boots on the ground” will enable your company to remain attentive to this at all times, and encourage your partners to go beyond legal compliance and abide by all relevant international and brand standards with a commitment to continuous improvements. Having our team embedded on the workshop floor has been crucial to this process at Fenton. We’ve regularly conducted unplanned visits to ensure that our conduct expectations are being adhered to and all reports from the team on the floor are accurate and true. Apply for BCorp status There is obviously notable prestige in being granted such a certification; however, there is a lot of value in the application process itself.  As a brand, it forces your company to place itself under the microscope and scrutinize its processes from a third-party specialist perspective. From my own experience at Fenton, applying (and getting approved) for BCorp status really made our teams think deeply about what we do and how we continually can strive to uphold the values of the certification. For instance, we realized we could do more to source gemstones from smaller independent dealers and miners directly in Sri Lanka. As a result, Fenton tries to prioritize these sources as opposed to the larger dealers it works with in Mumbai. Pull Quote We’ve regularly conducted unplanned visits to ensure that our conduct expectations are being adhered to and all reports from the team on the floor are accurate and true. Topics Supply Chain Human Rights Corporate Strategy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Tips for auditing an ethical supply chain

Is harmonization of reporting standards possible or even desirable?

March 24, 2021 by  
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Is harmonization of reporting standards possible or even desirable? Antonio Vives Wed, 03/24/2021 – 01:14 Interest in corporate sustainability metrics has skyrocketed in the last few years, particularly in the financial industry. With it has come a surge in demand for information related to these activities, one accommodated by existing reporting standards and frameworks produced by organizations such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), CDP and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), with more being proposed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation and the European Union. This data is collected and transformed by a wide variety of actors in the sustainability information industry for use by stakeholders and, particularly, investors. Given the proliferation of reporting and aggregating and disaggregating of information, over which there is no consensus, there has been widespread dissatisfaction about the lack of harmonization and comparability In response, there have been attempts at harmonization by the standard setters, based on the assumption that it is feasible and desirable. I’m not sure it’s either. Is harmonization possible or even desirable? If harmonization means consensus on a single standard, then the answer is most likely no. Why? Let’s consider four major components of the context in which this ecosystem operates. The object of reporting: It is nonfinancial metrics that purportedly represent the sustainability of the company. This is a fuzzy concept, different for each company, depending on the context in which operates. It changes with time, the material stakeholders affected and those it wants to affect, the actions of competitors and the pressure they receive from their stakeholders, among other factors. To get a sense of this, contrast the large differences in the sustainability ratings of a given company, by different raters based on sustainability information, with the generalized agreements in their respective credit ratings which are based on financial information. Quantification of the information: A significant, critical portion of the information required to assess sustainability is simply not quantifiable: culture; values; processes; strategies; product responsibility; quality of management, among others. Does the existence of a sustainability strategy or a board committee constitute sustainability? What is a measure of sustainability? Inputs such as the number of dollars spent on teaching the code of ethics; or outputs such as the number of hours taught; or results such as the number of cases considered by the ethics committee and its decisions; or impact such as the change brought about in the culture of the company? Which of these four attributes are reported through ESG indicators? Which ones indicate a potential financial impact? The users of the information: Every stakeholder uses a very different lens to make their decisions — from investors to managers to the community, employees, labor unions and governments. Each group is concerned about the impact on their stakes. Most users, especially those in the financial markets, are used to the strictures of financial accounting and want information that is comparable, relevant and reliable, among other attributes. But comparability requires the reduction to a minimum set of common information and its indicators, that risk losing relevance and reliability. Comparability requires generalization, but relevance requires specificity. And reliability requires consistency of the information through time and across providers. It’s hard to achieve all three, simultaneously. A given percentage of women on the board may be quite an achievement for one company but a serious deficiency in another. The sustainability information industry is composed of many varied actors. Most are in it for profit, each one with its own stake and market to protect and expand. There are standard-setters (GRI, SASB et al), compilers of information (Bloomberg et al), ratings companies (S&P Global et al), index providers (MSCI et al), accounting firms (the Big Four et al), and consultants on sustainability and reporting (Sustainalytics et al). According to the Reporting Exchange , there are over 650 ratings firms and more than 500 national reporting requirements. MSCI alone produces more than 1,500 equity and fixed income ESG indices. Blomberg collects information on over 700 indicators. Will they all accept to provide the same information, the same indicators, the same reports, use the same methodology for ratings and indices? (SASB has asked them to concentrate on their indicators.) What is possible? Based on these considerations, it looks difficult and maybe not even desirable to achieve harmonization. The needs of investors, which are more homogeneous and focused, seem to offer the most promise but with caveats: It would require a consensus about what is meant by sustainability and its measurement. Currently, each of over 650 sustainability raters has its own model of what sustainability means, using only quantifiable information, with their specific indicators and relative importance weighted to calculate a score. Finding consensus would require them to agree on a core set of comparable measures applicable to all companies, and another set specific to the industry, as in the SASB standards and the new WEF proposal. A third set of measures specific to each company, as proposed by the Yale Initiative on Sustainable Finance , would be added. Comparability requires generalization, but relevance requires specificity. This approach would please fund managers and analysts, as it would greatly simplify their work and even reduce potential legal liabilities by contending that their decisions are based on an accepted ESG reporting standard. It would enhance comparability but reduce relevance. It could disincentivize companies to differentiate themselves based on their sustainability . It also might motivate companies to gear their sustainability strategies to achieve better ratings and manage to specific indicators, not necessarily to have a better impact on society. A broader possibility would be for GRI to accept that its standards should be useful to investors and expand them, or for SASB/IIRC to accept that theirs also must serve all stakeholders and expand them. Either should subsume proposals such as the one offered by the WEF. But to please everybody, the resulting framework would be complex and unwieldy. It would involve a big cultural change and capitulation to the standards that prevailed. It does not look politically feasible, in the medium term, that the aforementioned institutions will agree to subsume their standards into a single entity. At the very minimum, I believe two standards will coexist — one to respond to the needs of finance providers and the other to the needs of all stakeholders. And the myriad indicators, indices and ratings provided by the extensive market of sustainability information would not disappear. Is reduction to a single reporting standard desirable? Yes, for some, but not for all stakeholders. Is it feasible? Yes, if one is willing to achieve simplicity and comparability at the expense of relevance and impact. Pull Quote Comparability requires generalization, but relevance requires specificity. Topics Reporting Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Is harmonization of reporting standards possible or even desirable?

Nature takes root on the balance sheet

March 8, 2021 by  
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Nature takes root on the balance sheet Richard Mattison Mon, 03/08/2021 – 00:15 ESG issues continue to gain prominence, with climate change getting the most attention today. We see customers demanding action on carbon emissions, investment firms structuring new green products and governments developing regulations to support the transition to a sustainable future. This has led to a strong focus on two main sectors: energy and transportation. Of course, moving to renewable energy wherever possible and reducing emissions across cars, shipping and aerospace are important initiatives. If the focus remains narrow, however, all other patterns of consumption will stay the same. This will have a tremendous impact on nature that, in turn, will affect businesses and the global economy. As with climate-related risks, nature-related risks need to be better understood and acted upon. The World Economic Forum analyzed 163 industry sectors and their supply chains and found over half of the world’s GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services. Highly dependent industries generate 15 percent of global GDP ($13 trillion), while moderately dependent ones generate 37 percent ($31 trillion). Despite this reliance, human behavior continues to push species into extinction, reduce the world’s acreage of forests and deplete the water supply. The Financial Stability Board recognized that climate change presents a financial risk to the global economy. By creating the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), a framework is in place for organizations to better understand and report on these risks. This increased awareness is helping companies make more informed strategic decisions, while also providing better access to capital by increasing investors’ and lenders’ confidence that a company’s climate-related risks are being appropriately assessed and managed. The TCFD provides a framework to help understand and report on nature-related risk, but only in climate terms. Its framework excludes areas such as plastics in the oceanic food chain and the loss of soil fertility. In response, a Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) will be launched in 2021 to operate alongside the TCFD. The aim is to translate nature-related risks into financial terms and help redirect flows of finance towards nature-positive activities. Over half of the world’s GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services. Valuing the economic benefits of nature is a complicated undertaking, but some firms have been taking steps to tackle the challenge. Puma, a leading sports lifestyle company, believes that businesses should account for and ultimately pay for the cost to nature of doing business. It recognizes that these costs could hit the financial bottom line as a result of new government policies, environmental activism, consumer demand or a growing scarcity of raw materials. Back in 2011, the company worked with Trucost to develop an environmental profit and loss (EP&L) account to help measure and manage environmental impacts across its operations and supply chain. An extension to this analysis helped assess the environmental impacts of a product at each stage of its lifecycle, from the generation of raw materials and production processes all the way to the consumer phase when the owner uses, washes, dries, irons and ultimately disposes of a product. The work helped Puma realize the value of nature’s services, without which it could not sustain its operations. The Dow Chemical Company is another example of a company that is taking action. Its 2025 sustainability goals include one for valuing nature, which is a commitment to consider nature in all business decisions. The valuing-nature goal builds on work that began in 2011 in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Scientists, engineers and economists from both organizations have worked together to create tools to assess the various services that nature provides to Dow’s operations and the community, including water, land, air, oceans and a variety of plant and animal life. But much more is needed. While certain steps are being taken, it is important to ask what really has been accomplished to date. According to a 2020 report by the World Wildlife Fund, nature is worth $125 trillion, but humanity’s increasingly destructive behavior is having catastrophic impacts. The report points out that human activities have caused the world’s wildlife populations to plummet by more than two-thirds in the last 50 years. In addition, marine ecosystems have been negatively affected through overfishing and pollution, and deforestation is increasing the abundance of carbon dioxide in the air. Without question, nature is an even bigger issue than climate change. After all, climate change accelerates as nature is harmed. As the TNFD is launched, more information should become available to better understand the monetary value of nature. Once nature firmly takes root on the balance sheet, more companies likely will make investments that will help heal the natural ecosystem and preserve the world’s wealth. Pull Quote Over half of the world’s GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services. Topics State of Green Business Report Climate Change Nature Based Solutions Natural Capital ESG Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Steven Chiang Close Authorship

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Nature takes root on the balance sheet

3 tips for anticipating investor requests on climate, water and biodiversity

March 3, 2021 by  
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3 tips for anticipating investor requests on climate, water and biodiversity Thomas Singer Wed, 03/03/2021 – 01:00 2020 undeniably brought the “S” pillar of ESG into greater focus, including issues such as employee wellness, human rights, and diversity, equity and inclusion. But investors didn’t exactly ignore the “E” component and are poised to emphasize it even more in 2021 and beyond, according to a recent Conference Board corporate sustainability disclosure analysis . In fact, three environmental issues — climate risks, water risks and biodiversity impacts — are poised to be in sharp focus this year for investors, and companies should prepare. Here are three ways sustainability executives can anticipate investor requests on each issue. 1. Strengthen climate risk disclosures by replacing boilerplate text with specific risks and opportunities. As more companies include climate risks in financial disclosures, investors will turn their focus to the content and quality of those disclosures. The Conference Board finds that the number of S&P Global 1200 companies referencing climate risks in their financial reports has more than doubled in the past five years. Almost half (44 percent) of global companies include these risks in their 10-Ks or equivalent reports. Investor pressure on companies to report climate risks — and investors’ backing of reporting frameworks such as the one recommended by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) — have been key drivers of the uptick in climate disclosure. Regulatory initiatives are also playing a big role in spurring disclosure. The EU Taxonomy, for example, requires certain financial institutions to make climate risk disclosures by the end of this year. This regulation already has an impact: Companies in the financial sector had the greatest uptick in climate risk disclosure, with almost half of financial companies (47 percent) disclosing these risks in 2020, up from 31 percent in 2019. As climate risk disclosure becomes more prevalent, companies should anticipate investors will scrutinize their content. A recent report by The Conference Board and Datamaran found most climate risk disclosures remain general and lack mention of specific risks and opportunities. To prepare for this increased scrutiny companies should examine their current climate disclosures and consider replacing boilerplate text with more specifics, including physical impacts or transition impacts related to climate change. 2. Assess your exposure to water risks and prepare to report on them. For companies in certain industries, it is not a question of if but when water crises will cause major disruptions. But awareness of these risks has not translated into much action — water crises have been listed by the World Economic Forum as a top five global risk in each of the last nine years, yet few companies publicly disclose their water risks. Indeed, BlackRock has labeled water risks as “under-reported,” and The Conference Board analysis confirms disclosure levels are low across most sectors. For example, fewer than one in 10 companies report their water stress exposure (which refers to the percentage of freshwater withdrawn in regions with high baseline water stress). As companies prepare for this year’s proxy season, they should pay close attention to their efforts on climate, water and biodiversity. There are signs that disclosure activity is picking up in some sectors, however. One-third of companies in the materials sector, for example, disclose their water stress exposure, up from 7 percent in 2019. The energy sector also saw disclosure rates more than triple in one year. Investor-focused reporting frameworks are clearly having an impact on disclosure: Both the Sustainabiity Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and TCFD include water stress exposure as a significant metric for companies in the materials and energy sectors. Companies that have not already done so should assess their exposure to water risks and prepare to report on them. Their competitors are increasingly doing so, and investors are paying attention.  3. Take a fresh look at your biodiversity initiatives and examine your value chain for “hidden” impacts. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the interconnection between environmental health and public health. Among other things, the pandemic has reminded us that biodiversity-loss increases the risk of infectious diseases. As a result, companies should expect greater urgency for biodiversity-protection efforts. There is already evidence investors are paying more attention to biodiversity issues: The topic hit headlines in the U.S. last year when nearly 70 percent of P&G’s shareholders voted “yes” on a resolution aimed at addressing deforestation in the supply chain. This issue is likely to feature again in this year’s proxy season as investors are keen to understand how companies are managing their biodiversity impacts. Sustainability executives should also keep an eye on developments related to the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosure recommendations, an initiative modeled after the TCFD recommendations.  The time is right for companies to examine (or re-examine) their biodiversity impacts. Just over one-third (35 percent) of global companies have published a biodiversity policy, yet the number of companies exposed to such risks is likely much higher. Companies that may seem safe from these risks, such as those in the services sector, should take a fresh look at their value chains — doing so may reveal significant biodiversity impacts. Last year’s proxy season demonstrated that the crises of 2020 did not distract investors from the “E” pillar of ESG. Instead, support for shareholder proposals on environmental issues is at an all-time high: Last year these proposals received an average of 32 percent of votes cast — almost double the support they garnered five years ago. As companies prepare for this year’s proxy season, they should pay close attention to their efforts on climate, water and biodiversity. Companies that have not prepared disclosures in these areas should consider the materiality of these impacts to their business. And for those companies that currently have disclosures in these areas, now is a good time to assess the content and quality of those disclosures.    Pull Quote As companies prepare for this year’s proxy season, they should pay close attention to their efforts on climate, water and biodiversity. Topics Corporate Strategy Reporting Finance & Investing ESG Water Conservation Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Shutterstock Close Authorship

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Why data and measurement are key to a circular economy transition

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

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Why data and measurement are key to a circular economy transition

Proposed model shows potential for circular practices in construction steel

January 29, 2021 by  
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Proposed model shows potential for circular practices in construction steel Niraja Chopade Fri, 01/29/2021 – 01:00 Contrary to popular belief, a profitable business model for reused construction steel is not nearly as impossible as one may believe. Steelmakers have almost perfected the “recycle” element of the four hierarchical elements of the circular economy — reduce, reuse, remanufacture and recycle — with steel recycling rates of almost 90 percent . Despite the recycling success, however, the steel industry is increasingly facing pressure to decarbonize. Recycling steel is still both energy- and cost-intensive, and both steelmakers and their customers must go further to reduce environmental impacts. One way to do this is to shift to a reuse model. Simultaneously, the built environment is working on lowering the embodied carbon of buildings — emissions from the manufacture of building materials — which make up about 11 percent of total global emissions . With steel being a main contributor to embodied carbon in buildings, one approach — the reuse of steel from older buildings in new construction projects — has gained attention, yet the supply of reused construction steel remains low. The practice of steel reuse is not new. For example, the industry has reused train rails and automotive components for decades, but reusing construction steel poses unique challenges. Experts in the steel industry view the barriers to a profitable reused construction steel model as insurmountable. Even if they are not, who are the main players in this new circular supply chain? In particular, is there even a role for a primary steel producer? How will steelmakers adapt their supply chains, manage storage and validate the steel quality? If steelmakers are involved, can this new business model create shareholder value without cannibalizing new steel sales? Our team of four graduate students at the Yale School of the Environment tackled these questions as part of a consulting clinic course and developed one potential business model for our “client,” ArcelorMittal, one of the world’s largest steel producers. Dubbed the “Steel Buyback Bundle Program,” the proposed model we developed on its behalf would enable steelmakers to offer reused construction steel profitably. Circular business model Our suggested business model encompasses the following five steps: partner with demolition contractors; buy back the steel; inspect the steel; bundle reused steel with new steel; and trace all steel specifications. In Step 1, the steelmaker develops relationships with demolition contractors in locations where they operate. These partnerships are meant to encourage contractors to deconstruct instead of demolishing and for contractors to alert the steelmaker that a building is set to come down. In Step 2, the demolition contractor deconstructs a building, incentivized by the premium price that the steelmaker offers for reusable steel over scrap steel. The demolition contractor transports the steel to the closest mill. The steelmaker pays a premium for construction steel that appears reusable based on visual inspection and offers a market price for the remaining scrap steel. In Step 3, the steelmaker validates 100 percent of the recovered steel according to applicable standards using already existing technology at the mills. Steel that does not meet the standards is recycled as scrap, minimizing financial loss. In Step 4, the steelmaker bundles new and reused steel in current orders, eliminating holding costs. The proportion of reused steel in the bundle is based on its supply and the steelmaker’s goal to minimize holding costs. In Step 5, the steelmaker’s customers enter steel bundle specifications into an inventory database for traceability, to promote future reuse. We believe wide adoption of this proposed model would enable the transition from partnerships with demolition contractors to a steel inventory database. The database would track buildings going up or down, and maintain specifications of the steel in buildings. Maintaining the steel specifications in a database would eliminate the need for partnerships with demolition contractors and minimize the inspection burden and cost for steelmakers. As part of our exercise, we demonstrated the model’s profitability using data on steel sections manufactured by ArcelorMittal. We focused on the United Kingdom, where embodied carbon and reuse of building materials is at the forefront of discussions. Based on the company’s numbers, we estimated a profit of about $565 per tonne for reused steel, seven times the profit per tonne for new steel sections. “The thinking out of the box worked with a very straightforward solution,” said Alan Knight, head of corporate sustainability and sustainable development with ArcelorMittal and an adviser for our project. “Many in the construction steel sector have wrestled with how to make steel reuse workable, the simple step of combining the reused with new is a significant step forward. It shows how a fresh look often finds choices that others close to the industry sometimes do not.” The Steel Buyback Bundle Program we proposed for ArcelorMittal successfully mitigates the logistical challenges associated with the sourcing, transportation, storage and inspection of reused steel. This no-regret business model could help steelmakers promote circular economy practices in the steel industry, lower emissions and secure the future supply of reused steel. In light of the changing regulatory landscape regarding building material reuse (such as European regulation EN 15804 , The London Plan Policy SI7 ), it is imperative that steelmakers prioritize decarbonization and implement reuse strategies such as this proposed model. Over time, industry-wide adoption of models such as the one we have proposed could strengthen their financial and operational feasibility and make reused construction steel an industry norm. Contributors Rachel Gould Noma Moyo Urvi Talaty Topics Circular Economy Buildings Decarbonization Reuse Manufacturing Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off An ArcelorMittal steel plant. Photo courtesy of ArcelorMittal

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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/06/2021 – 00:30 One of the big things I’m thinking about to kick off 2021 is how electric vehicles will be entwined with a U.S. recovery. Even before Joe Biden has formalized any green stimulus plans, the EV industry in the U.S. is showing important indicators that it will see solid growth this year — and that means jobs. New industry jobs. Electric jobs. Climate jobs.  Recently I chatted with the CEO and founder of Lion Electric , an electric bus and truck maker based in Saint-Jerome, Quebec. Marc Bedard founded the company 12 years ago — after working at a diesel school bus company in the 1990’s — with the goals of eliminating diesel engines for school buses and diesel fumes from the air that school kids breathe.  Lion got its start making electric school buses and has delivered major orders to the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, and White Plains School District in White Plains, New York. More recently it unveiled an electric delivery truck and scored orders with Amazon and Canadian logistics provider CN.  While Lion Electric already has a factory in Montreal that can make 2,500 e-buses and trucks a year, the company tells GreenBiz it plans to expand into the U.S. by buying and converting an American factory that could be large enough to make 20,000 vehicles a year. Lion will unveil more details about where exactly that factory could be in the coming weeks, although vehicle production there probably won’t start for a couple of years. The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Lion isn’t the only EV truck maker eying expansion into the U.S. market. Arrival — a London-based EV truck maker with a 10,000-EV deal with UPS —  plans to invest $43 million into its first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The factory is expected to produce 240 jobs, with operations to start in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to Arrival and Lion, a handful of other independent U.S. EV makers have emerged in recent years to tap into the growing American electric truck market, including Lordstown Motors , Hyliion , XL Fleet , Rivian, Nikola and Lightning eMotors. All of these companies recently have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and gone public by merging with “blank check” companies, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also called SPACs).  Although the financial tool is a bit speculative in nature — the SPAC process is far quicker and less rigorous than going public via a traditional initial public offering — it turns out that SPACs, strangely enough, could help create thousands, if not tens of thousands, American EV industry jobs. Hopefully, most of those will end up being long-term, stable jobs.  And those are just the latest jobs from the newest players. Ford is developing an all-electric cargo van at a Kansas City plant that will create 150 jobs this year. That’s on top of the hundreds of other new EV jobs created by Ford’s new electric vehicle lines, the electric F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise, Daimler Trucks North America has been converting and expanding its factory to make electric trucks at its Swan Island headquarters in North Portland, Oregon. The new EV jobs couldn’t come at a better time. Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 saw historic American unemployment rates peaking in April and recovering to just 6.7 percent unemployment as of November. But with a slow vaccine rollout and surging infection rates, prolonged long-term high unemployment rates are expected. Clean energy jobs have been equally hit hard, with about a half-million clean energy workers left unemployed by the pandemic this year.  Despite not knowing what Biden’s green stimulus will look like, the administration already has signaled that the automakers could be a big part of a recovery. Biden selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his energy department secretary. Granholm worked closely with the Obama administration and the auto industry throughout the green stimulus program following the 2008 financial crisis.  The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. And these are just jobs from the vehicle manufacturers.  Equally strong job growth is expected for EV infrastructure providers riding the same electric wave and could get even more of a boost from a green infrastructure stimulus. A federal government stimulus also could inject funding and jobs into a growing domestic EV battery production sector.  In what is expected to be another dark couple of quarters for employment in 2021, look to EV jobs to offer a bright spot.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Pull Quote The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Jobs & Careers Electric Vehicles Electric Bus Electric School Buses Electric Trucks 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

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