Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

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

Read more from the original source:
Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

BofA, BlackRock and State Street CEOs talk stakeholder primacy — and fall short

December 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on BofA, BlackRock and State Street CEOs talk stakeholder primacy — and fall short

BofA, BlackRock and State Street CEOs talk stakeholder primacy — and fall short Sara Murphy Mon, 12/14/2020 – 01:45 Some of the world’s biggest asset managers have been talking a lot lately about sustainable capital markets, stakeholder capitalism and how improved environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure can contribute to more resilient markets. While these organizations are taking steps in the right direction, their companies’ actual behavior in the marketplace often falls short of their leaders’ proclamations, and those leaders’ visions for capital markets fail to rise to the increasingly urgent challenges that confront our society. At the recent 2020 Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Symposium , the CEOs of Bank of America (BofA), BlackRock and State Street provided their views on the role of the private sector in addressing societal challenges and why ESG integration is no longer optional. They led with their thoughts on stakeholder capitalism, a concept that has exploded since Aug. 19, 2019, when the Business Roundtable (BRT) updated its Principles of Corporate Governance to redefine “the purpose of a corporation to promote an economy that serves all Americans.” CEOs from 181 publicly traded companies — including those addressing the SASB Symposium — signed the principles, which purportedly signaled an end to Milton Friedman’s doctrine of shareholder primacy established in the 1970s, and the beginning of a new era of stakeholder capitalism. “The concept of just one stakeholder — shareholders — has evolved and changed,” said Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. He noted the need for businesses to work with their employees and clients, and in a globalizing world, to work with the societies in which businesses operate. We’re not looking for short-term blips as a shareholder but rather durability. “This creates some difficulties but companies that manage this set themselves up for long-term profitability,” Fink said. “We’re not looking for short-term blips as a shareholder but rather durability. In challenging cycles like the pandemic, those companies are the ones that make it through and endure. That’s how management and boards need to think about this.” Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan concurred, adding that a long-term focus on all constituencies helps to attract talent and customers. State Street Global Advisors CEO Cyrus Taporevala remarked that asset managers and owners are reacting to three trends: a growing correlation between ESG factors and investment risk; end investors wanting to see their ESG preferences expressed in their investments; and regulators around the world signaling an intention to require more around ESG criteria, reporting and investing. A clarion call to convergence All three CEOs repeatedly asserted an urgent imperative for the financial services industry to “coalesce” and “converge” around standardized disclosure of ESG information and data, perhaps unsurprising given that SASB — the symposium’s host — is a leading disclosure framework. Their general argument was that standardized disclosure is less burdensome for companies, which will enhance the quality of reporting and encourage smaller companies to participate. It allows for collection and analysis of large data sets that help investors, regulators and the public to assess and compare companies’ ESG performance, they said. In addition to SASB, the CEOs pointed to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) as a leading standard. Moynihan recommended convergence with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “If that’s what the world told us we need to do across 90 countries in 2015, then that’s what we should be aiming to achieve,” he said. The CEOs also emphasized the value of transparency. “We need people to say what they’re doing so they can be encouraged to do more,” Moynihan said. “When we [at Bank of America] make decisions about whom to lend to, we have the information, but the world may not. It’s a little behind the curtain. Standardized disclosure will cascade down the system, even to a middle-market private company where employees and customers will ask, ‘Where’s our disclosure?’” “Transparency reveals the good and the bad,” Fink said. “Better financial and sustainability disclosure forces management and the board to have laser focus. It lifts us faster, even if we’re embarrassed at times when we’re not moving as quickly as we should.” Too little too slowly And indeed, they’re not moving as quickly as they should, and the actions of these three companies are not entirely setting the examples these CEOs espouse. Bank of America is the world’s fourth leading financer of fossil fuels , even as the imperative to decarbonize the economy to stave off the worst effects of climate change grows more urgent by the day. In 2019 the company agreed to pay $4.2 million to resolve employment discrimination allegations brought by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Nevertheless, Bank of America maintains it is fulfilling its commitment to stakeholder primacy. Standardized disclosure will cascade down the system, even to a middle-market private company where employees and customers will ask, ‘Where’s our disclosure?’ Among 60 of the world’s largest asset managers, BlackRock was the fourth least supportive and State Street the 13th least supportive of shareholders’ efforts to promote better social and environmental stewardship among companies in their portfolios, according to a recent analysis by campaigning organization Share Action. Both companies’ own reporting and disclosure on their social and environmental stewardship lacks the sort of transparency and meaningful information they purport to champion in the marketplace. This may be because a pernicious tension is built into the entire stakeholder capitalism construct. A question of purpose and prosperity “We’re not trying to disrupt a company or destroy their footprint or business,” Fink said. “I know some people would like for us to do that, but that is not our fiduciary responsibility. Our fiduciary responsibility is to maximize profit.” “State Street Global Advisors is looking to get the best risk-adjusted return for investors, and we come at ESG from a perspective of value, not values,” Taporevala said. “It’s not up to us as a fiduciary to decide what the right values are.” Therein lies the conundrum: What’s best for the social and environmental systems on which our economy depends won’t always align with an individual company’s profit maximization. Companies, investors and shareholders will have to reckon with this reality. Rick Alexander, founder and CEO of The Shareholder Commons, expounded on this point in a February article : Most investors hold broadly diversified portfolios and rely on their job as their primary financial asset. They need a healthy economy and planet in order to have solid portfolio returns, decent wages and good lives. They know that some companies need to surrender shareholder value in order to preserve the critical systems we all rely on (think coal, oil, tobacco and, not coincidentally, large financial institutions that threaten systemic stability). A recent study determined that publicly traded companies create annual social and environmental costs of $2.2 trillion. While any given company may profit by ignoring costs that it can externalize, its diversified shareholders ultimately pay the price. Moynihan emphasized that the world’s problems cannot be solved without leadership from the private sector. He pointed to the SDGs, noting that all the charitable spending in the world doesn’t amount to the estimated cost of delivering on those goals. “You could go to governments, but they’re running huge deficits, and they don’t have the money,” Moynihan said. The three CEOs talked at length about the importance of coalescing around a common set of metrics and data, but that’s only a partial solution. If the objective is truly to assure our ongoing prosperity, then everyone involved in capital markets must prioritize the vital systems upon which a thriving economy depends, rather than profit margins at any one company. At the end of the day, only that approach will serve both shareholders and stakeholders. Pull Quote We’re not looking for short-term blips as a shareholder but rather durability. Standardized disclosure will cascade down the system, even to a middle-market private company where employees and customers will ask, ‘Where’s our disclosure?’ Topics Finance & Investing Reporting TCFD GreenFin Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off “The Fearless Girl” statue facing Charging Bull in Lower Manhattan, New York City (June 2017) Shutterstock Quietbits Close Authorship

See the original post here:
BofA, BlackRock and State Street CEOs talk stakeholder primacy — and fall short

Water joins the commodities market

December 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Water joins the commodities market

Water has now joined oil and gold on the commodities market. This week, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange launched the United States’ first water market tied to California water prices. “ Climate change , droughts, population growth, and pollution are likely to make water scarcity issues and pricing a hot topic for years to come,” said Deane Dray, RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst, as reported by Bloomberg . “We are definitely going to watch how this new water futures contract develops.” Related: UN warns that humans will lose their war against nature For readers not familiar with how futures trading works, Nerd Wallet explains: “A futures contract is an agreement to buy or sell an asset at a future date at an agreed-upon price. All those funny goods you’ve seen people trade in the movies — orange juice, oil , pork bellies! — are futures contracts.” The new water market was announced in September as a reaction to the year’s unprecedented wildfires . Advocates say the new market will quell farmers’ and municipalities’ uncertainty about budgeting for water. People made two trades the first day the market went live. “Without this tool people have no way of managing water supply risk,” said Clay Landry, managing director at consulting firm WestWater Research. “This may not solve that problem entirely, but it will help soften the financial blow that people will take if their water supply is cut off.” But opponents of the new water market scheme say considering water a tradable commodity jeopardizes basic human rights. “What this represents is a cynical attempt at setting up what’s almost like a betting casino so some people can make money from others suffering,” said Basav Sen, climate justice project director at the Institute for Policy Studies, according to Earther . “My first reaction when I saw this was horror, but we’ve also seen this coming for quite some time.” Via Yale Environment 360 Image via Martin Str

See original here:
Water joins the commodities market

An old farmhouse becomes a hotel focused on indoor-outdoor living

December 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on An old farmhouse becomes a hotel focused on indoor-outdoor living

Spanish architecture firm GANA Arquitectura has rehabilitated a historic cortijo — a type of traditional rural dwelling common in southern Spain — into a beautiful new hotel in the town of Villanueva del Rosario of Andalusia. The intervention pays homage to the local vernacular with its emphasis on indoor-outdoor living and preservation of the cortijo’s traditional materials while adding new life to the property with contemporary interiors. The boutique hotel, which was completed this year, had been created to take part in a growing tourist interest in Andalusia.  Located in the heart of a site filled with olive trees, the original cortijo was a large, whitewashed building topped with red, ceramic roof tiles. The architects kept the building’s structure and materials palette intact and added a simpler, gabled addition to the side — formerly a storage facility — to house 10 individual hotel suites that connect to a timber-lined outdoor patio with a pool. A new courtyard links the two buildings and was thoughtfully designed to protect the root systems of existing trees. Related: Niraamaya Retreat honors traditional design with local materials The old farmhouse spans two floors with common areas located on the ground floor and most of the hotel rooms placed on the second floor. The hotel rooms and shared spaces are designed to highlight the historic architecture. In contrast, the remaining hotel rooms in the new addition feature a deliberately contemporary style. A restrained palette of white walls, timber surfaces and concrete floors is used throughout to tie both buildings together and to keep the focus on the olive tree-studded landscape. Large windows, glazed doors and natural materials help achieve an indoor-outdoor connection. According to the architects, “The result of the intervention is nothing but the perfect harmony between traditional and contemporary architecture , over the amazing influence of nature in its purest form.” + GANA Arquitectura Images via Francisco Torreblanca Herrero and GANA Arquitectura

See more here:
An old farmhouse becomes a hotel focused on indoor-outdoor living

Why investor Green Century has taken an active interest in fighting deforestation

December 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Why investor Green Century has taken an active interest in fighting deforestation

Why investor Green Century has taken an active interest in fighting deforestation Julie Nash Wed, 12/02/2020 – 00:15 Jessye Waxman is a shareholder advocate at Green Century Capital Management, where she uses the environmentally responsible investment firm’s leverage as a shareholder to protect forests. Ceres talked with Waxman about Green Century’s focus on deforestation and its growing importance as a driver of climate change. It comes as deforestation  — and associated greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts — are mounting in many regions of the world. What follows is a lightly edited interview. The discussion is part of Investors Talk Deforestation, a series of interviews with influential investors and partner organizations who supported the development of the Ceres Investor Guide to Deforestation and Climate Change . The guide aims to engage investors on deforestation emissions and other related risks across their portfolios and drive more corporate action on the issue. Julie Nash: Green Century has been engaging companies on deforestation risks for many years. When did this work begin and how has the firm’s strategy evolved over the years? Jessye Waxman: We started working on deforestation in 2012. Initially, we focused on palm oil supply chains and urged companies to adopt no-deforestation policies. Eventually, we adopted a No Deforestation, No Peatland, No Exploitation (NDPE) framework. As we took a more comprehensive perspective of deforestation-related risks, we moved beyond palm oil to work on multiple forest risk commodities. In 2015, we really started focusing on a cross-commodity approach (that year we worked with [Archer Daniels Midland] to adopt a cross-commodity deforestation commitment, which was a first for the grain traders). In addition to continuing to work with new companies to adopt policies, we do a lot of work now to ensure companies update, improve and implement the policies they already adopted. Nash: Why is deforestation an important issue on multiple fronts? Waxman: Green Century is very focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues; so our investment strategy and shareholder engagement is driven by the evidence-backed conviction that companies that address ESG risks in their operations and supply chains may perform better in the long run.  Deforestation touches on a lot of the environmental and social issues investors are concerned about. Among other impacts, deforestation drives systemic risks like climate change and biodiversity loss that affect not just companies in agricultural supply chains, but companies throughout portfolios. These two risks, in particular, have long-term impacts, but can best be solved in the near term, making it important for investors to talk to companies about now.  Among other impacts, deforestation drives systemic risks like climate change and biodiversity loss that affect not just companies in agricultural supply chains, but companies throughout portfolios. For example, the Amazon is hugely important for precipitation patterns and food systems, both locally and globally. There’s research showing how deforestation losses in the Amazon can affect agricultural productivity as far away as the American Midwest.  Beyond these issues, deforestation has also been associated with problematic labor practices, ranging from withholding passports of migrant laborers to slave labor and child labor and land conflicts.  Nash: Can you talk about specific successes Green Century has helped achieve? Waxman:  In the past year, we’ve seen encouraging progress from the world’s second-largest meat processor, Tyson Foods, and food service giant Aramark.  After several years of pressure from shareholders, Tyson agreed last fall to undertake a comprehensive deforestation risk assessment focusing on its global supply chain for palm oil, soybeans, beef and timber and paper products. The results of the assessment will drive the company’s development of a Forest Protection Policy. The company still has a long way to go, but this is an important first step. We were also encouraged by Aramark’s commitment to develop and fully implement a no-deforestation policy across its global supply chain, including legal deforestation, by 2025. Nash: You briefly mentioned the greenhouse emissions associated with deforestation. A big ask to companies in recent years has been the setting of science-based targets (SBTs) for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and having those targets approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). Can you speak to the importance of engaging companies to set a SBT, and why this can be challenging with regards to emissions from deforestation? Waxman:  Science-based targets are a really helpful tool for companies to understand the climate-related impact of their operations and supply chains. But we also need to realize that when you’re talking to a company about how they’re addressing their environmental- and climate-related impacts, setting a science-based target, at this point, certainly doesn’t cover everything. For many companies that use forest risk commodities, an outsized portion of their emissions come from their supply chain and from the emissions released when those commodities are produced. This means that any associated emissions would fall under Scope 3. [Scope 1 emissions are from sources owned or controlled by the company. Scope 2 are emissions released in generating electricity, heating or cooling used by a company. Scope 3 are other indirect emissions from a company’s supply chain. For most companies, emissions from agricultural production, deforestation and conversion fall under Scope 3.]  A lot of companies that should be looking much more closely at their supply chains and upstream impacts may not be required to have a target to reduce those emissions. Currently, SBTi only requires approved targets to include Scope 3 emissions if those emissions are in excess of 40 percent of the company’s total emissions. Beyond that, as of now, SBTi doesn’t have a methodology for measuring emissions associated with deforestation and land-use change in its supply chains, so the vast majority of companies that have set science-based targets are failing to include a significant part of their emissions in their goal setting. In other words, a lot of companies that should be looking much more closely at their supply chains and upstream impacts may not be required to have a target to reduce those emissions, and may therefore be less motivated to address their suppliers’ exposure to deforestation and other agricultural practices. Nash: Do you think the way investors are thinking about issues like deforestation and climate change is evolving? Waxman:  There’s certainly a growing awareness among investors about deforestation as a climate risk. In the past, agriculture’s role in driving climate change has often been overlooked, with a lot of the focus being on the energy and transportation sectors. But, as the new Ceres Guide clearly illustrates, a firm can’t say that it is comprehensively addressing climate risk if it’s not also addressing agriculture and deforestation. A recent shareholder vote at Procter & Gamble (P&G) suggests that not only is awareness growing among investors, but investors might finally engage on the issue. The shareholder resolution on deforestation and forest degradation that Green Century filed with P&G received the support of 67 percent of the votes cast at its annual meeting. This is almost three times what other deforestation resolutions have averaged over the last few years, so I’m hopeful this might signal a turning point for how the financial community approaches forest-related risks.  Nash: Related to Scope 3 emissions and supply chains, are smallholder producers something you’re focusing more attention on? Waxman: Yes. The smallholder conversation is especially relevant in palm oil supply chains where considerable supplies — as much as 40 percent  — are coming from farmers who own small amounts of land. As market expectations regarding sustainability have shifted, many larger producers have started to improve some of their practices to meet these heightened expectations. Subsequently, smallholders are becoming bigger drivers, proportionately, of deforestation in the palm oil supply chain. Both from an ecological perspective and sustainable development perspective, working to incorporate smallholders into sustainable supply chains is really important. In part due to increasing pressure from investors and other stakeholders, we’ve seen more companies working directly with smallholders, including efforts to get groups of smallholders certified by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Kellogg’s is one such company that is helping thousands of smallholder farmers, many of them women and many of them palm oil growers in Malaysia and Indonesia, on these kinds of issues.  Nash: Are there other ways that investors should be thinking about deforestation risks that we have missed? Waxman: It’s important for investors to recognize that deforestation, like climate change, poses risks at both the company-specific and portfolio level.  Climate change and its associated physical and transition risks may affect every industry and every company. Similarly, deforestation also creates portfolio-level risks, in part because of its large contribution to climate change, but also because of its impacts on global agriculture and biodiversity.  When we talk to companies about risks in their supply chains, the solutions need to not only address the risks to the companies but also help advance systemic change. Removing deforestation out of one company’s supply chain only to have it appear in a different company’s supply chain doesn’t help the problem. As long as deforestation is still occurring, the risks to companies, industries, investors and the environment persist. The good news is that because many people have been working on deforestation for a long time, there are best practices out there, such as those outlined in Part 5 of the Ceres Guide, that are recognized as helping to comprehensively mitigate risks from deforestation. As investors engage with companies, they should look not just at how a company is managing these risks at a high level, but whether it is implementing recognized best practices that help advance systemic changes in their industry. Pull Quote Among other impacts, deforestation drives systemic risks like climate change and biodiversity loss that affect not just companies in agricultural supply chains, but companies throughout portfolios. A lot of companies that should be looking much more closely at their supply chains and upstream impacts may not be required to have a target to reduce those emissions. Topics Corporate Strategy Finance & Investing Deforestation Ceres Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A palm oil plantation in Southeast Asia. Shutterstock Rich Carey Close Authorship

See the original post here:
Why investor Green Century has taken an active interest in fighting deforestation

Pressure on creatives: PR, advertising firms targeted by fossil fuel divestment movement

November 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Pressure on creatives: PR, advertising firms targeted by fossil fuel divestment movement

Pressure on creatives: PR, advertising firms targeted by fossil fuel divestment movement Michael Holder Mon, 11/30/2020 – 01:00 As fossil fuel companies’ social license to operate becomes increasingly frayed, more industries in their orbit are getting entangled in the reputational quagmire that is now part and parcel of any activity that exacerbates the climate crisis. Airlines have faced “flygskam” — or flight shame — which has seen some travelers shun air travel, heightening pressure for the sector to demonstrate that it can develop a flight path to net-zero emissions. Similarly, carmakers around the world are racing to develop fully electric models in response to escalating consumer and regulatory pressure. And energy providers the world over are rushing to slash their reliance on fossil fuels as the clean energy transition gathers pace.  Now advertising and public relations companies, it seems, are also feeling the pressure from the societal drive for a rapid net-zero transition — and it is posing difficult questions for an industry far more used to pushing messages from behind the scenes than being front and center of the story itself. Yet that is precisely where the industry has found itself, after a new grassroots campaign — Clean Creatives — launched this month in the United States, aimed at pressuring advertising, PR and public affairs agencies to end what it regards as “greenwashing and misinformation campaigns that help delay climate action.” We can’t let these major oil companies that are spending most of their capex on oil and gas run a bunch of advertising pretending they’re renewable energy companies. Anyone doubting the seriousness of the campaign needs only look at the team behind it. Clean Creatives is backed by the same organizations and individuals that helped trigger the fastest divestment movement in history, convincing thousands of investors to ditch fossil-fuel assets and arguably doing more damage to fossil-fuel companies’ license to operate than any other campaign. Backed by climate activist and journalist Bill McKibben — who wrote an article in the New Yorker titled ” When creatives go destructive ” calling on major advertising and PR firms to stop working with oil, gas and coal companies that are not taking concerted action to decarbonize — the campaign aims to shine a spotlight on the scale of money being poured into boosting fossil-fuel firms’ reputations. It is a big business. Between 2008 and 2017, fossil-fuel industry trade associations in the U.S. spent almost $1.4 trillion on public relations, advertising and communications, according to Clean Creatives. Since the 1990s, the world’s top five public oil companies alone — Exxon, BP, Chevron, Shell and ConocoPhillips — have spent over $3.6 billion on reputational advertising, much of it centered on projecting an environmental and socially responsible image, according to a Brown University study . Yet the actual figure could be even higher, as it is difficult to lift the bonnet on the often private relationships between PR firms and their clients. Campaigners have long argued that while major fossil fuel companies are spending big sums on publicly pushing messages that suggest they are committed to decarbonizing by investing in greener forms of energy, in reality, the overwhelming majority of their capital expenditure still goes towards oil and gas. Now, this new campaign wants to call out PR and advertising firms on this apparent disconnect. “That’s exactly what we’re trying to highlight — we can’t let these major oil companies that are spending most of their capex on oil and gas run a bunch of advertising pretending they’re renewable energy companies,” Jamie Henn, co-founder of global climate campaign group 350.org and producer of the Clean Creatives campaign, told BusinessGreen. “The reason they do that is to maintain their relevance to the economy, to convince politicians that they don’t need regulation, and to try and get the public to not worry about the fact that these companies are destroying the planet.” He argued oil and gas company advertising is usually not directed at getting consumers to buy their products and services but is more akin to political lobbying. “This is political advertising that they’re running to maintain their influence over public policy,” he suggested. And as pressure ramps up on major advertising and PR firms for change, the impact is already being felt. Almost immediately in response to the Clean Creatives campaign, communications consultancy Porter Novelli announced it would end its working relationship with the American Public Gas Association from 2021. Clean Creatives hopes others soon could follow suit. “We think this campaign can be quite effective because if there was ever a target that cares deeply about their public image, it’s PR and ad people,” Henn said. “They’re uniquely sensitive to critiques like this.” The pressure on the industry has been building for quite some time already, and the reputational hazards are already being laid bare. Last week, it emerged that FTI Consulting — one of the largest management consultancy and communications firms in the world — has been dropped by at least three clients, while several other global asset managers are also reviewing their relationship with the firm, due to revelations about its controversial work with oil companies in a New York Times expose earlier this month . When contacted by BusinessGreen, the firm declined to comment. We think this campaign can be quite effective because if there was ever a target that cares deeply about their public image, it’s PR and ad people. “The precedent has now been set that if you want to be known as a green PR company or want to work with clients who care about sustainability, you can’t work with the fossil fuel industry,” Henn said. “We’re seeing that with FTI Consulting, and we’re also seeing that with Porter Novelli.” He argued the ripples from these reputational risks have the potential to spread much further than the PR and advertising industry itself, too, as the issue poses wider questions for any company that contracts out its PR and advertising services, not just the agencies themselves. “A lot of businesses think really deeply about transparency when it comes to sustainability — such as who their suppliers are, what pesticides they use, or whether they are buying materials from sustainable sources,” Henn explained. “The same question is rarely asked about their PR and advertising firms, but it’s a crucial issue, because if you’re paying millions of dollars a year to an agency that is also spreading misinformation on climate change, you’re spending against your values — just in the same way that you wouldn’t want your organic cereal to come from a wheat field sprayed with pesticides.” Yet it is clear that the industry — like many so many others — is in danger of totting up significant long-term costs in return for the money it earns from fossil fuels in the short term. And just like fossil fuel companies themselves, they also risk upsetting staff and stakeholders, and losing out to competition in a future talent pool drawn from an increasingly climate-conscious public. Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association in the United Kingdom, believes it therefore is becoming increasingly untenable for advertising, PR and lobbying firms to engage in blatant greenwashing on behalf of fossil fuel clients. “I think we’ve been at that stage for some time, but it is now accelerating partly because it’s of huge concern to the people working in the industry,” he told BusinessGreen. But for advertising, PR and lobbying firms looking to avoid the reputational risks of working with fossil fuel industries, there are not always easy answers. Turning down a client contract to run a major PR campaign for an oil major that consistently has lobbied against climate action and has not even signaled its intention to be part of a future net-zero economy is one thing, but more clients from carbon-intensive industries do not fall quite so easily into the climate laggard category. One could argue, for example, that having set net-zero targets and started to demonstrate a willingness to align with the Paris Agreement goals, oil majors such as Shell, BP and others have an entirely legitimate case for enlisting PR firms to showcase their green efforts. As with the financial divestment movement, there is a valid debate about whether engagement with high-carbon firms that are working to reduce their emissions is more effective than simply severing ties. Many within the energy and PR industries would argue that in publicly showcasing a carbon-intensive firm’s decarbonization plans, they help build momentum in support of climate action and make it more likely that ambitious emission reduction strategies are enacted. Yet the Clean Creatives campaign specifically calls out PR giants such as WPP and its subsidiary Ogilvy for working with Shell and BP, respectively. As with all of the PR firms contacted by BusinessGreen for this article, WPP declined to comment. Woodford believes agencies may face some difficult decisions over which clients to work with in the short term, but that it will become increasingly straightforward to tell the difference between a fossil fuel company paying lip service to climate action and one which is genuinely intent on reinventing its business over the coming decades in support of a net-zero emission economy. “I think it’s up to each individual firm and management team to make their own decision and judgements for whether their agency believes a company is going fast enough or acting seriously enough to tackle the climate crisis,” he said. “But whether that’s a favorable or unfavorable view, the pressure from the public and from governance is ultimately all going in one direction, and I think that’s a very good thing.” If you want to be known as a green PR company or want to work with clients who care about sustainability, you can’t work with the fossil fuel industry. The Advertising Association has been at the forefront of an industry-wide initiative in the U.K. that launched earlier this month dubbed Ad Net Zero , which aims to achieve net-zero emissions across the development, production and media placement of advertising over the next decade. It also intends to work with production agencies, clients and event organizers to decarbonize the wider value chain, while harnessing the power of their work to influence and promote more sustainable consumer choices. The initiative has had widespread support from across the advertising sector — including from WPP — according to Woodford, who says Ad Net Zero will be working with advertising businesses “wherever they are on the [net-zero] spectrum to help them improve their performance.” But while much of the focus has been on the negative greenwashing activities of some firms in the industry, advertising, PR and lobbying also can be used to accelerate climate action. For example, last year 20 U.K. advertising and communications agencies including Greenhouse PR, Barley Communications and Borra Co signed a pledge launched by sustainability consultancy Futerra to avoid working on fossil fuel briefs, promising to “use their power for good.” McKibben last weekend described PR campaigns and snappy catchphrases used to launder fossil fuel firms’ reputations as the kindling “on which the fire of global warming burns,” but in the right hands these tactics also can act as grease for the wheels of climate action by drumming up public support for the positive, exciting future the net zero transition offers. “The sector can help businesses drive positive change,” says Woodford. “Momentum is building across all sorts of industries, and I think the role of the advertising and PR industry is to amplify and accelerate that, to help businesses that are doing the right thing win in the marketplace, which can also encourage others to do the same.” As the net zero transition accelerates across economies and societies, there will be challening decisions for companies in all industries to make about the future direction of their business. But for ad and PR agencies which are all too aware of the value of maintaining a strong public reputation, those decisions likely will have to be made very quickly indeed, and the direction of travel suggests the pressure on them to avoid working with laggard fossil fuel firms will only intensify. As Woodford says, the potential impact of the adverting and PR industry on the pace and direction of the net zero transition therefore could be hugely significant. “Hopefully the tipping point is where you see the full array of competitive forces aligned to reducing the carbon footprint of industry and society, and people competing on this basis,” he explains. “This is where advertising is a great driver of competition and innovation.” Pull Quote We can’t let these major oil companies that are spending most of their capex on oil and gas run a bunch of advertising pretending they’re renewable energy companies. We think this campaign can be quite effective because if there was ever a target that cares deeply about their public image, it’s PR and ad people. If you want to be known as a green PR company or want to work with clients who care about sustainability, you can’t work with the fossil fuel industry. Topics Marketing & Communication Corporate Strategy Climate Strategy BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Various climate change-related placards carried by protesters at the Global Climate Strike Rally and March in downtown San Francisco in September 2019. Shutterstock Sundry Photos Close Authorship

Read the original post:
Pressure on creatives: PR, advertising firms targeted by fossil fuel divestment movement

Taking stock of Chase, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley’s recent climate commitments

November 24, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Taking stock of Chase, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley’s recent climate commitments

Taking stock of Chase, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley’s recent climate commitments Whitney Mann Tue, 11/24/2020 – 00:40 Recent months have seen major moves on climate action by some of the world’s largest private banks, including JPMorgan Chase, HSBC and Morgan Stanley. What sets this latest wave of climate pledges by financial institutions apart from past announcements? Building on previous commitments that increase green investments or restrict financing to certain high-emitting activities, recent pledges add to growing evidence that banks are taking a more holistic approach to the climate emergency. Looking across their investments in different sectors and regions, more banks are considering how to reduce the carbon intensity of entire portfolios over time. After all, through their product offerings, lending activities and client engagement, financial institutions can play a key role in influencing the transformation necessary for a net-zero emissions economy. What we have given the market is an ambition that our total financing by 2050 will be net zero. That is a far bigger prize or goal than picking a sub-segment of our portfolio and saying ‘I am not going to bank you’ because that’s not what the world needs. That industry or that customer may then just go to Bank X, Bank Y, or Bank Z. They won’t have changed their business model. — Noel Quinn, CEO, HSBC, in an interview with Reuters on Oct. 9, 2020. While recent commitments signal increased ambition, they vary in content and structure across institutions. RMI established our Center for Climate-Aligned Finance in July to support financial institutions — as well as their stakeholders and shareholders — in overcoming practical challenges to align portfolios and investment decisions with a 1.5 degree Celsius world. As part of this work, the center seeks to bring transparency to the new landscape of climate commitments — discerning barriers to success and pinpointing opportunities to ensure measurable impact from this promising momentum. Climate commitments across institutions may have similar bumper stickers — Paris Alignment, climate alignment, or net zero by 2050 — but what’s under the hood? Unpacking commitments October announcements by JPMorgan Chase and HSBC outline their intended contribution to the low-carbon transition over a given time. Specifically, JPMorgan Chase announced in October that it would shape its financing portfolio in three key sectors to align with the Paris Agreement; three days later, HSBC announced its statement of net-zero ambition . This past year has seen a slew of similar statements, including from Barclays in May — making it one of the first banks to announce ambition to go net zero by 2050 — and then from Morgan Stanley in September. While this blog focuses on a subset of global banks, their commitments are part of a larger movement across the financial sector that includes institutional investors and broader coalitions. Climate commitments across institutions may have similar bumper stickers — Paris Alignment, climate alignment or net zero by 2050 — but what’s under the hood? Below, we identify signposts to help pick apart the differences between similar-sounding commitments. These categories represent critical questions facing a financial institution that has committed or may be looking to commit its portfolio to alignment with a climate goal. Coverage Coverage refers to the business units and financial products included in the commitment to measure, manage and reduce emissions. For instance, several banks have committed to align their lending portfolios. Barclays’ accounting additionally covers the capital markets activity it supports. Coverage also often can be delineated by sectors, such as BNP Paribas’s decision to prioritize decarbonization within its power portfolio, or ING’s inclusion of nine sectors in its annual Terra Report . ING has iterated further by indicating which part of the sectoral value chain is included in the scope (upstream oil and gas rather than trading, midstream, storage or downstream). JPMorgan Chase has committed to a sector-specific approach that will seek to address all emissions, including scope 3 emissions in their priority sectors. Targets and pathways For the designated coverage, commitments are further distinguished by targets (what will portfolio emissions be reduced to and by when?) and pathways (what trajectory will portfolio emissions take over time toward the specified target?). Pathways incorporate technology roadmaps based on a set of assumptions about what the world will look like over time. The extent of decarbonization achievable over time depends on which low-carbon technologies will be available when — projections that hinge on assumptions about investment rates, policies, demographic shifts and beyond. BNP Paribas and Barclays are among the institutions that will use the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) to guide their energy and power commitments, but many other pathways exist. RMI’s Charting the Course highlights that selecting a pathway from the nearly limitless options presents a key challenge to financial institutions taking meaningful steps toward alignment. Tools for analysis Many analysis tools, methodologies, models and platforms exist to support institutions in understanding where their emissions are today, and how they can transition their portfolios over time. For instance, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citi recently announced their participation in the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF)  — a coalition working on measuring financed emissions and improving transparency through disclosure. Other tools are more forward looking to support investing that steers portfolios in line with climate commitments over time. For instance, 17 global banks recently piloted PACTA for Banks to analyze their corporate loan books with different climate scenarios and inform future decision-making. And 58 financial institutions have committed to SBTi’s financial sector framework , which helps financial institutions “set science-based targets to align their lending and investment activities with the Paris Agreement.” Disclosure and reporting Disclosure in line with The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure recommendations, much like other financial risk disclosure obligations, is critical for transparency and accountability, and to ensure risks are accurately priced in financial markets. There are currently many voluntary standards and frameworks for reporting material factors across sectors, creating a complex landscape and motivating five standard-setting groups — Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, Global Reporting Initiative, Climate Disclosure Standards Board, International Integrated Reporting Council and CDP — to collaborate toward a commonly accepted reporting framework. These existing standards ultimately could inform what disclosure and reporting mandates from forward-looking regulators might look like in the future. Implementation actions How do banks turn statements of ambition into progress along their pathway and, in turn, measurable impact in the real economy? When investing in a world believed to be on track to warm to 4 degrees Celsius, increasing the volume of green finance is essential. However, it cannot in and of itself create the low-carbon world and attendant investment opportunities needed for banks to achieve their climate alignment commitments. Rather, by influencing the availability and cost of capital, banks can more strategically and actively shape the real economy. When investing in a world currently believed to be on track to warm to 4C, increasing the volume of green finance is essential. ” Breaking the Code ,” RMI’s August survey of climate action efforts in the financial sector, outlines different influence levers financial institutions possess. These levers range from designing products to support the transition of high-emitting assets to offering services to support their clients’ transitions. These levers can and should be employed in unique ways across business units and asset classes based on an institution’s particular commitments and individual context. Organizational approach Finally, banks are adopting different organizational responses to support implementation of new products, offerings and services stemming from commitments. One such approach reflects an “embedded” model, wherein responsibility is dispersed across existing business verticals by, for instance, placing a climate expert within a bank’s asset management team. Alternately, banks may opt for a more “centralized” model involving some sort of systemic re-organization around their commitment. A centralized model may involve creating new business units with a dedicated remit spanning the institution. JPMorgan Chase, for example, is launching its Center for Carbon Transition , which will provide clients with centralized access to sustainability-focused financing, offer research and advisory solutions and engage clients on their long-term business strategies and related carbon disclosures. Of course, significant variation exists. Notably, Credit Suisse has adopted a somewhat hybrid approach involving elements of both a centralized and embedded model. JPMorgan Chase has put partnering with its clients in carbon-intensive industries at the center of its new commitment. — Paul Bodnar, Chair, Center for Climate-Aligned Finance JPMorgan Chase is one of the center’s founding partners , alongside Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. Next steps The landscape of climate commitments by financial institutions is changing rapidly. At the center, we expect our analysis to broaden and deepen as we work with this sector to first crystallize and then actualize commitments toward climate alignment. Innovation is at the heart of competition among financial institutions, and actions advancing climate alignment should be no different. We expect future analysis to focus on frameworks for enabling comparability across institutions. Our goal is to broaden the path forged by these alignment pioneers, reinforcing their efforts to accelerate change at the scale demanded to meet the challenge of climate change. Pull Quote Climate commitments across institutions may have similar bumper stickers — Paris Alignment, climate alignment, or net zero by 2050 — but what’s under the hood? When investing in a world currently believed to be on track to warm to 4C, increasing the volume of green finance is essential. Contributors Shravan Bhat Brian O’Hanlon Topics Corporate Strategy Finance Banking Collective Insight Rocky Mountain Institute Rocky Mountain Institute Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  wutzkohphoto  on Shutterstock

More here:
Taking stock of Chase, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley’s recent climate commitments

Bill McKibben reflects on brand advocacy, the final frontier of climate leadership

November 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Bill McKibben reflects on brand advocacy, the final frontier of climate leadership

Bill McKibben reflects on brand advocacy, the final frontier of climate leadership Mike Hower Tue, 11/03/2020 – 01:30 Four years ago today, many corporate sustainability professionals — regardless of political leanings — stood shocked as they watched Donald Trump clinch the presidency in one of the biggest upsets in American presidential history. Many of us feared for the future of climate action, and pretty much every other social and environmental issue. We were right to worry — things are, to be blunt, looking pretty terrible from a federal climate policy perspective. The Trump administration has abandoned all semblance of U.S. leadership on the climate crisis during the very years when we needed to be taking the most decisive actions to curb emissions. It axed the Clean Power Plan, gutted the National Environmental Policy Act, weakened the role of scientific evidence in environmental policy and withdrew the United States from the historic Paris Agreement — a decision that takes effect Nov. 4 — among an endless list of other anti-climate actions. Meanwhile, the climate crisis has continued to devastate communities across the country with record-shattering extreme weather events — from hurricanes and floods to droughts and wildfires. With the latest science telling us that we have until 2030 to take the necessary actions to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, we can’t afford four more years of what we’ve seen — or, rather, haven’t seen — over the past four years. I think probably corporations would be wise to be very humble in their storytelling. “If we don’t get much of the work done by 2030, we probably aren’t going to get a chance to do much afterward because it’ll be too late,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org , last week during a VERGE 20 keynote. While McKibben praised the proliferation of voluntary individual and corporate actions to address the climate crisis, he emphasized that this wouldn’t be enough. “It’s very good that corporations are moving to electrify their delivery fleets, but I will tell you … the fleets I care about most are the fleets of lobbyists being deployed on Capitol Hill,” McKibben said. “It’s time to make sure those guys aren’t spending all their time trying to get the next tax break and to make sure they are falling in line behind the things we need to do to have a liveable planet.” While it’s true corporate sustainability continued to advance climate action even during the Trump administration — and likely will continue to do so regardless of who sits in the White House over the next four years — the climate crisis won’t be solved by a hodgepodge of voluntary actions. It will require sweeping policy change, and businesses can and must play a central role in making this happen. “I do think that it’s most impressive when you get people cooperating across industries to tell a story together,” McKibben said. “But I also think that companies can really start … if they really have a genuine story to tell, as part of the story of their own progress towards understanding what justice and solidarity are coming to mean. We’ve got to move out of a world where we see it simply as a zero-sum game where companies fight with each other to be the biggest or the best or grow the fastest, or whatever. People have to understand that at this point in Earth’s history and human history, this requires something much deeper, more profound. I think probably corporations would be wise to be very humble in their storytelling.” Change the narrative, change the game One of the most powerful ways businesses can help advance climate policy is by helping to counter the false narrative that climate action and economic prosperity are mutually exclusive. Years of misinformation campaigns bankrolled by Big Oil first worked to sow doubt over whether the climate crisis was even real. While the United States still has a significant number of people who downplay or deny the climate crisis, six in 10 Americans view it as a major threat — up from 44 percent from 2009, according to Pew . This change in opinion is likely in large part because the impacts of the climate crisis — such as extreme weather, floods and wildfires — have been too gargantuan to ignore more than a sudden increased love for science. Meanwhile, those who oppose climate action have shifted their strategies. The narrative has changed from denying the climate crisis outright to acknowledging its existence while claiming that taking action to address it would hurt the economy. “The big issue on climate is getting influential companies to influence policymakers and counteract the negative influence of those who are trying to preserve the status quo,” said Bill Weihl, executive director at ClimateVoice , recently during a thinkPARALLAX Perspectives virtual panel event, ” Brand Advocacy: The final frontier of climate leadership ,” which I moderated. There’s plenty of negative influence to be countered — since the Paris Agreement was signed, companies such as Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil and others have spent over $1 billion in direct lobbying against climate policy in the United States. “The big challenge big companies face as they think about brand advocacy is political risk,” Weihl said. Many companies fear that if they speak up on an issue such as the climate crisis, they might draw unwanted regulatory attention to another aspect of their business, which could hurt their bottom line, he added. Moving forward, companies must find the courage to overcome this fear because they are uniquely positioned to help change the national conversation on the climate crisis. Today, Americans are more likely to trust companies than the federal government, a factor largely influenced by the corporate response to the pandemic, according to an Axios-Harris poll . Values-driven policy action Many companies abstain from brand advocacy out of fear of alienating employees or customers by being “too political,” said Will Lopez, vice president of Customer Success at Phone2Action , a digital advocacy company, during the thinkPARALLAX virtual panel. But brand advocacy done correctly is a natural outgrowth of a company’s values that inspire employees or customers to act. “When we work with organizations that talk about brand advocacy, we’re looking at organizations that are mobilizing their customers or internal employees on policy issues that are relevant to their values and policy initiatives,” he said. “Your customers already value your product and values.” Martin Wolf, director of sustainability and authenticity at Seventh Generation , concurred. “Companies should advocate for issues and policies that align with their mission and values,” he said. This shouldn’t be done to sell more product, Wolf said, but to put in front of the public who you are so that consumers can join you in advocating for some endpoint. “Make sure that what you do advocate for is aligned with positions you’re taking outside of the consumer space because if there’s a lack of alignment, you are going to be subjecting yourself to criticism.” During the thinkPARALLAX panel, Michael Millstein, global policy and advocacy manager at Levi Strauss & Co . said that, before advocating on an issue, the company puts the policy up to a test of whether it is consistent with its core values and if the benefits of weighing in on this outweigh costs and risks. “Climate policy clearly passes this test,” he said. Uniting sustainability and government relations In many large corporations, corporate sustainability and government relations operate in separate siloes. This lack of unity leads to, at best, disjointed and, at worst, contradictory policy actions. As I wrote in GreenBiz earlier this year, one of the best ways to ensure alignment in corporate sustainability and government relations teams is by making sustainability central to business strategy. One way Levi’s does this, Millstein said, is by holding both its policy and corporate sustainability teams responsible for addressing sustainability goals. While materiality assessments, for example, typically are the domain of corporate sustainability teams, at Levi’s the policy advocacy team also has a mandate to address material issues. “This helps us all be on the same team,” he said. Business schools and sustainability people are taught to speak the language of finance and the CFO, but the CFO and other people aren’t taught how to speak the language of morality, humanity and ethics. If a company effectively makes sustainability core to business strategy, there naturally won’t be a conflict between departments, said Darcy Shiber-Knowles, director of operational sustainability and innovation at Dr. Bronner’s , during the thinkPARALLAX panel. If capitalism is a force for good, then the term “corporate sustainability” shouldn’t even exist, she said. “Corporations ought to be sustainable and inherently socially responsible,” Shiber-Knowles said. “So to have one department that is not in alignment with another department focused on long-term sustainability doesn’t make good business sense.” Yet many companies operate far from this ideal — the financial bottom line trumps the sustainability team’s agenda every time. “Business schools and sustainability people are taught to speak the language of finance and the CFO, but the CFO and other people aren’t taught how to speak the language of morality, humanity and ethics,” Weihl said. The next four years While uncertainty shrouds the future political environment around the climate crisis, one thing companies can bank on is growing expectations from all stakeholders to better engage on climate policy, among other issues. Just as silence is complicity in the ongoing movement for racial equality, the same could be said of the climate crisis. “The No. 1 thing that will come out of the election, regardless of who wins, is that the appetite will still be there from consumers and organizations to do something about climate change,” Lopez said. Millstein agreed. “The outcome will influence what’s on the table, but there will be opportunities regardless,” he said. Remember to get out there and vote — and don’t stop there. We are the last generation that can do something about the climate crisis before it’s too late. Another four years of a Trump administration certainly would be a setback for the planet and everyone living on it, but it doesn’t mean game over — any more than a Biden victory means we can sit back and relax. Democracy is difficult and demands our constant civic engagement in order to realize desired outcomes. We owe it to ourselves and everyone who comes after to fight for policy change that addresses the climate crisis and secures a better future for all. Pull Quote I think probably corporations would be wise to be very humble in their storytelling. Business schools and sustainability people are taught to speak the language of finance and the CFO, but the CFO and other people aren’t taught how to speak the language of morality, humanity and ethics. Topics Policy & Politics Marketing & Communication Corporate Strategy VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Nancie Battaglia Close Authorship

Read the original here:
Bill McKibben reflects on brand advocacy, the final frontier of climate leadership

Episode 243: VERGE voices with Apple’s Lisa Jackson, 350.org’s Bill McKibben

October 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Episode 243: VERGE voices with Apple’s Lisa Jackson, 350.org’s Bill McKibben

Episode 243: VERGE voices with Apple’s Lisa Jackson, 350.org’s Bill McKibben Heather Clancy Fri, 10/30/2020 – 00:10 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (4:30). Carbontech is getting ready for its market moment The top 25 most sustainable fleets Why Google, BASF and Sephora are coming together on safer chemistry Features VERGE 20 mainstage highlights (16:55)   Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple , reflects on the intersection of racial inequity and climate strategy; how it’s shaping the company’s circular economy strategy. Andrew Zolli, head of global impact initiatives at Planet , on making the most of our “long emergency”  Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, on how companies can be more authentic in their storytelling 5 questions with JPMorgan Chase (31:35)   Marisa Buchanan is managing director and head of sustainability for the financial services firm. She chats about JPMorgan Chase’s new financing commitment aligned with the Paris Agreement, how it’s helping clients with their carbon mitigation journeys, and its strategy for supporting stronger community resilience.  A ‘Fixation’ with fixing things (41:30)   Sandra Goldmark, is a theater design artisan and founder of social enterprise Fixup , which runs repair and reuse events. She urges us to reimagine our relationships with stuff, especially broken stuff. In this segment, the Right to Repair movement advocate discusses her new book, “Fixation: How to have stuff without breaking the planet.” Read an excerpt here . *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “Waiting for the Moment that Never Comes,” “Knowing the Truth,” “Night Caves” and “I’m Going for a Coffee”  *This episode was sponsored by Amazon and IHG, and features VERGE 20 sponsor JPMorgan Chase. Resources galore Lessons in resilience from the produce industry. Subject matter experts from Kwik Lok, Walmart and Second Harvest Food Bank join us at 1 p.m. EST Nov. 10 to discuss responding to disruption and how to balance food safety and security to minimize food waste. Behavior change and the circular economy. How innovation and new business models alter people’s relationship with waste. Join the discussion at 8 p.m. EST Nov. 12.  Missing pieces of decarbonization. Join us for a discussion on how 100 percent renewable power can practically, affordably and quickly become a reality. Register for this webcast at 1 p.m. EST Nov. 19. Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Deonna Anderson Topics Podcast Circular Economy Policy & Politics VERGE 20 Finance Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 58:59 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

View original post here:
Episode 243: VERGE voices with Apple’s Lisa Jackson, 350.org’s Bill McKibben

Rethinking the role of sustainability reports

October 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Rethinking the role of sustainability reports

Rethinking the role of sustainability reports Mike Hower Tue, 10/20/2020 – 01:00 Corporate sustainability has a reporting problem — it always has. Companies typically don’t enjoy creating them and investors, customers, employees and most other stakeholders don’t revel in reading them. Yet, with investors more interested in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues than ever before, this long-standing problem has become an immediate liability for companies looking to maximize shared value. Today, some 90 percent of companies in the S&P 500 produc e corporate sustainability reports, and the practice has become so ingrained in corporate sustainability culture that few question its purpose or efficacy. Reporting has risen to prominence for good reason — there never has been a more critical time for companies to communicate their strategies and actions for corporate sustainability. Many investors evaluate nonfinancial performance based on corporate disclosures, with most finding value in assurance of the strength of an organization’s planning for climate and other ESG risks. Meanwhile, consumers increasingly are demanding responsible products, and attention to sustainability issues has become an employee expectation. But something isn’t right with the status quo of reporting. “By trying to meet the demands of multiple stakeholders, sustainability reports have become bloated, overly complex and expensive to produce,” said Nathan Sanfacon, an ESG expert at thinkPARALLAX , a sustainability strategy and communication agency. “This results in companies spending scarce resources on a report that doesn’t quite satisfy the needs of any stakeholder group.” To be more effective at engaging investors and other critical audiences on ESG, companies ought to shift towards communicating relevant data in a more agile and real-time format. This is particularly problematic for large, publicly traded companies seeking to attract and retain institutional investors. “To be more effective at engaging investors and other critical audiences on ESG, companies ought to shift towards communicating relevant data in a more agile and real-time format,” Sanfacon said. Addressing this disconnect is at the core of the new thinkPARALLAX white paper, ” The New Era of Reporting: How to Engage Investors on ESG ,” which examines the pitfalls of sustainability reporting in the past and present and offers a better way forward for corporate sustainability practitioners. A short history of sustainability reporting While reporting might seem a recent phenomenon, its origins go back nearly half a century — emerging first in Europe in the 1960s and later in the United States in the 1970s after the first Earth Day launched the modern environmental movement. Many of the earliest reports were strictly environmental and more about addressing public image problems than communicating anything that might resemble a proactive sustainability strategy. What we might call the modern era of sustainability reporting began in 1997 when public outcry over the environmental damage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill compelled Ceres and the Tellus Institute to create the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) . The aim was to create the first accountability mechanism to ensure companies adhere to responsible environmental conduct principles, which was then broadened to include social, economic and governance issues, GRI says on its website. “Prior to GRI, there was no framework to ensure that reporting was consistent or reflective of stakeholder needs,” said Eric Hespenheide, chairman of GRI, in an email. “First through versions of the GRI Guidelines and since 2016, the GRI Standards, we have been furthering our mission to use the power of transparency, as envisaged by effective disclosure, to bring about change.” Since then, multiple other reporting frameworks have emerged to cater to the ever-growing list of corporate sustainability stakeholders, such as the investor-focused Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) . “While sustainability reporting has come a long way, a lack of standardization means that there is a disconnect between what investors are looking for and what companies are communicating,” Sanfacon said. Giving investors what they want Here’s a billion-dollar question: What do investors look for when evaluating companies on ESG? The simple answer: data; data; and more data. “Investors tell us they’re looking for raw ESG data that is consistent, comparable and reliable — data that is focused on the subset of ESG issues most closely linked to a company’s ability to create long-term value,” Katie Schmitz Eulitt, director of investor outreach at SASB, wrote in an email. Schmitz Eulitt regularly engages with the investment community on disclosure quality, including with members of SASB’s 50-plus member Investor Advisory Group, who collectively manage more than $40 trillion in assets. “When companies more explicitly connect the dots between how they manage sustainability-related risks and opportunities and their financial outcomes, it’s both an opportunity to enhance transparency and strengthen performance,” Schmitz Eulitt added. When companies more explicitly connect the dots between how they manage sustainability-related risks and opportunities and their financial outcomes, it’s both an opportunity to enhance transparency and strengthen performance. But this is easier said than done because corporate leaders, investors and other stakeholders must work with two separate and disjointed reporting systems: one for financial and the other for ESG performance. “Companies can be screened in or out using various criteria, but there is no way to integrate the data into earnings projections or valuation analysis,” wrote Mark Kramer et al. in a recent piece in Institutional Investor. “The result is two separate narratives, one telling how profitable a company is, the other highlighting whether it is good for people and the planet.” The new era of reporting Investors, of course, aren’t the end all, be all of corporate sustainability communication — companies also want to reach customers, consumers, regulators and employees, among others. But limited time and money often results in corporate sustainability practitioners attempting to use annual or bi-annual reports as a one-size-fits all solution. More often than not, these reports are heavy on human-centric stories and light on quantitative information. While non-investor stakeholders tend to appreciate the human stories, they also typically aren’t taking the time to download and devour a portly PDF. Meanwhile, while investors are people too and can enjoy a good human story, they ultimately aren’t getting enough of the hard data they desire. In the new whitepaper, thinkPARALLAX proposes addressing this problem by dividing sustainability communication into two drivers — demonstrating performance and building reputation — so that companies can better invest time and resources to better engage investors and other stakeholders. Demonstrating performance involves conveying the effectiveness of a company’s sustainability strategy and management of material ESG issues, such as disclosing data around carbon emissions or diversity and inclusion through a digital reporting hub. Building reputation focuses on showing that a company is acting responsibly, limiting its environmental impact and delivering societal benefits. This could take the form of communications activities such as social media campaigns, microsites, videos, speaking or op-eds, among others.  “Companies most interested in engaging investors should focus more on demonstrating performance by communicating the hard ESG data they are looking for, as opposed to human interest stories,” Sanfacon said. “But if non-investor stakeholders like consumers, employees or customers are a primary audience, the company should invest more in building reputation by bringing the data to life through inspiring stories.” While this won’t single-handedly solve corporate sustainability’s reporting problem, it’s a start. As companies shift away from massive PDF reports and toward more targeted, real-time investor communication, they’ll free up time and resources to better engage consumers, employees and other key stakeholders on corporate sustainability. Pull Quote To be more effective at engaging investors and other critical audiences on ESG, companies ought to shift towards communicating relevant data in a more agile and real-time format. When companies more explicitly connect the dots between how they manage sustainability-related risks and opportunities and their financial outcomes, it’s both an opportunity to enhance transparency and strengthen performance. Topics Reporting ESG Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Kan Chana Close Authorship

Read more here:
Rethinking the role of sustainability reports

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 3980 access attempts in the last 7 days.