Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways

October 14, 2020 by  
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Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways Lilian Liu Wed, 10/14/2020 – 01:30 COVID-19 has radically accelerated the need for the fashion industry to innovate. The second edition of the Circular Fashion Summit bears fruit of this new socially distanced reality. The world’s first virtual reality (VR) fashion summit Oct. 3 and 4 was pioneered by founders Lorenzo Albrighi and ShihYun Kuo of Lablaco , a company that uses technology to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy for fashion, and was an official part of the Paris Fashion Week program this fall.  The virtual reality environment was mirrored after the Grand Palais, an iconic architectural exhibition hall at the heart of Paris and home to the famous Chanel shows. Fashion week formats have evolved dramatically during the pandemic — with digital and virtual shows or mixed digital plus in-person elements events taking place. The Circular Fashion Summit continued to push expectations. Participants were able to not just consume fashion content but also discuss, network and learn from others joining from around the globe —as long as they had a VR headset and an internet connection. Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81 percent by 2030, according to Global Fashion Agenda and the Boston Consulting Group . Under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50 percent, according to a recent study from McKinsey and the Global Fashion Agenda . Clearly, COVID-19 is no time for inaction. Originally planned as an in-person gathering, the Circular Fashion Summit team decided to host the summit in virtual reality — just like being at a real event but without the footprint of travel, and in the shape of your customized avatar. A screenshot shows panelists for a talk during the Circular Fashion Summit. Attendee avatars can be seen. Screenshot courtesy of Lilian Liu. 4 summit takeaways 1. Digital technologies are opening up new ways for us to consume fashion without the waste or carbon footprint…  During the “Technology: The New Product Storytelling” panel, it was astoundingly clear that emerging digital technologies can make a big difference for fashion brands and their customers. “Now that we socially-distance, we need different ways of engaging with audiences, from the first point of creation and design to retail and engaging the consumer. Digital and 3D is becoming integral for every fashion brand,” said Matthew Drinkwater, head of Fashion Innovation Agency at the London College of Fashion. As the technology gets better, digital prototypes of garments are becoming much closer to the real thing, and you can get feedback on early iterations to save material and time in producing real prototypes.  As fashion is transitioning to digital, the lines between industries have started to blur even more, and the relationship between fashion and the gaming industry has grown. Agatha Hood, head of advertising sales at Unity Technologies , a software development company that specializes in creating and operating interactive real-time 3D content, shared that 25 percent of in-game purchases in the U.S. are being spent on customizing personal avatars, characters or the virtual space.  After the conference, Hood added: “While VR is obviously a great way for both consumers and industry experts to view and explore fashion, another medium that makes us really excited is augmented reality. Being able to view fabrics, textures, designs in real life through a device really brings the products to life — to say nothing of the ability to try fashion on.” The technology already exists for us to interact with digital objects as a seamless part of the real world. In the future, we are likely to see more designers creating fashion in a digital format, making it easily available for consumers to engage in self-expression without buying new physical clothing — lowering the environmental and social footprint of fashion significantly. Virtual consumption could help us curb our everlasting appetite of buying physical clothing while keeping the creativity and fun of fashion alive. 2. …with an emphasis on the need for new skills, and a reminder that the transition to digital fashion needs to be inclusive. With stronger digital integration, we are rapidly seeing the need for education and new skills in the fashion workforce. Drinkwater pointed out the large generational gap in this regard. “A few years ago [fashion] students couldn’t leverage [digital creation platforms] such as Unity or Unreal Engine, but now they can and it makes a difference.”  From a global perspective, Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Style House Files , a creative development agency for Nigerian and African designers, and Lagos Fashion and Design Week, reminded attendees that we need to ensure that the transition is inclusive. “The future lies in virtual platforms; however, it’s important that nobody is left behind. The socio-economic impacts and value that fashion creates will go away from some,” she said.  Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81% by 2030 and under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50%. In the move from physical to virtual engagement, education will be critical. “We need to be able to empower everyone, where a virtual fashion economy still gives opportunity for meaningful employment and meaningful work for many,” Akerele said.  3. To accelerate progress on circularity, we need investment, expertise and a whole lot of collective action. During the “Sustainability: Turning Circularity into Business” panel, speakers discussed the barriers of circularity and how we can overcome them. More investments to scale circular innovation are critical. There is also a need for accessing information and expertise to unlock circular solutions. “Right now a handful of experts have the knowledge, and we need to give access to this expertise to more people,” said Nina Shariati, sustainability strategist at H&M who founded the pro-bono consultancy Doughnate Hour to help bring circularity expertise to brands.  Most strikingly, radical collaboration was the ingredient that was repeated again and again. The only way to overcome barriers in knowledge and scaling these innovations is if brands work pre-competitively and actively collaborate with policymakers and circularity experts.  To embody this philosophy, the Circular Fashion Summit promised to do more than just convene conversations and plans to take collective action. It has set three Action Goals to be achieved by 2021: recirculate 100,000 fashion item; tokenize 10,000 fashion items on the blockchain; and upcycle 1,000 pairs of sneakers. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. The goals are powered by Lablaco technology and will be achieved together with the summit attendees (“Catalysts”). For example, The Lane Crawford Joyce Group ’s social initiative Luxarity launched a resale initiative featuring pre-loved items from celebrity closets, with Lablaco tokenizing the items on the blockchain to help achieve the goals. Unilever is partnering with the blockchain powered peer-to-peer platform Swapchain to recirculate fashion. A partnership with Plastic Bank is also underway, in which the summit team is launching a recycled sunglasses collection. All in all, achieving the goals will save an estimated 2,000 metric tons of CO2 and 793,000 gallons of water from landfill. 4. Circular fashion can be more than closing the loop. Going beyond neutrality, companies can embrace regenerative practices and the social benefits of a circular economy.  Maggie Hewitt, founder of fashion company Maggie Marilyn , emphasized the need for brands to embrace regenerative practices. “The idea that we only have 60 years of top soil left if we continue to degrade our soil is scary. We will need to regenerate our soil if we want to be a lasting business,” she said.   The circular economy is often is seen through a lens of waste reduction and ensuring that materials go back into a circular system. Although Ellen MacArthur Foundation ’s definition of circular economy includes the concept “regenerate natural systems,” regeneration doesn’t get as much attention. To achieve real progress from circular solutions, we need to think beyond neutral and aim for positive impact. Another highlight is how circular business models can be used to increase access and inclusion to fashion, well-being and even economic opportunity. As Darren Shooter, design director at The North Face , shared, the company successfully piloted a rental service for tents and backpacks. “This opened up products to consumers that might not afford or have space for outdoor gear at home to still experience the outdoors. This rental pilot went really well and we are trying to scale it further to see how we can give people even more access to the outdoors,” he said, highlighting the human side and social benefits of a circular economy. It’s clear that the potential of new technologies to bring forward more sustainable ways of consuming fashion is endless. Smart fashion brands and innovators such as Lablaco and the Circular Fashion Summit are at the forefront of capturing this opportunity. In the same way that the summit presented a glimpse of our technological fashion future, it also opened up for the notion that we need to continue to push our circular impact and ambition. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. So, how did I feel attending my first VR summit? As I was teleporting between stages and exhibition hubs, I couldn’t help but wonder if we will ever gather as normal again, getting on an airplane instead of putting on a headset in my living room. With over 300 people getting up to speed with VR, which was a first for many, there were the inevitable tech glitches here and there, such as reboots of the system (and even some spontaneous dancing on stage!). Still, so much more engaging and fun than being on a zoom call. Would I do it again? Absolutely.  Pull Quote Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81% by 2030 and under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50%. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. Topics Circular Economy Fashion Virtual Reality 30 Under 30 Collective Insight 30 Under 30 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  franz12  on Shutterstock.

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Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways

Are lawyers and accountants doing enough on climate change?

October 13, 2020 by  
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Are lawyers and accountants doing enough on climate change? Joel Makower Tue, 10/13/2020 – 01:40 When it comes to the climate crisis, it’s not just what you make and sell, it’s what you do, and for whom you do it. That’s the message from several recent reports focusing on the role of service-sector companies in addressing — positively or negatively — climate change. The mere existence of these documents, and the campaigns behind some of them, represent another broadening of the conversation, a clarion call for nontraditional business players to lead, or at least not hinder, efforts to address the climate crisis. But, hopefully, lead. Exhibit A: law firms. According to a new report from Law Students for Climate Accountability, most of the top 100 law firms in the United States “provide far more support to clients driving the climate crisis than clients addressing it.” Its research focuses on the work of Vault Law 100 firms, “the most prestigious law firms based on the assessments of lawyers at peer firms.” According to the group’s scorecard , Vault 100 firms: litigated 286 cases exacerbating climate change (versus three cases mitigating it) supported $1.316 trillion in transactions for the fossil fuel industry received $37 million in compensation for fossil fuel industry lobbying The study analyzed litigation, transactional and lobbying work conducted from 2015 to 2019. Each firm received an overall letter grade reflecting its contribution to the climate problem based on the data in these three categories. Four firms receive an A while 26 received an F. Even among those in the middle, the group found that “some firms contribute far more to the climate crisis than others.” The report is intended to provide law students and young lawyers “with a resource when deciding on their current and future employment,” it said, adding: We cannot ignore the role of law firms in exacerbating the climate crisis, and this report is another step in raising consciousness of how our employment choices shape the world. We, the next generation of lawyers, can choose what firms to work for and where to spend our careers. We can ask law firms how they plan to address their role in the crisis and hold them accountable to do so. Of course, for the firms themselves, it’s mostly about following the money. After all, the $41 million ExxonMobil spent on climate lobbying in 2019 ( according to InfluenceMap ) exceeds the entire $37 million annual operating budget ( 2019 ) of Greenpeace USA. “Climate lobbying” in the report is defined as efforts “to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change.” Still, as the group notes, “These firms could use their extraordinary skills to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future, but too many are instead lending their services to the companies driving the climate crisis. Law firms cannot maintain reputations as socially responsible actors if they continue to support the destructive fossil-fuel industry.” It will be interesting to see whether shining a bright light on the nation’s top firms — which generally avoid scrutiny, let alone comparisons with one another — will encourage them to forgo revenue in favor of the greater good. Will job-seeking law students truly shun firms seen as bad actors? And if firms dropped oil, coal and gas companies as clients, would it move the fossil fuel industry even one iota? Suffice to say, the jury is out. Lawyers aren’t the only service-sector firms targeted for their climate ties. A report coming out later this week from the Australia-based Sunrise Project “will reveal that the top 10 U.S. health insurers are all invested in the fossil fuel industry” and will call on insurers to divest from these companies, calling them “the greatest threat to human health.” On a more proactive note , the CFA Institute, a trade group that measures and certifies financial analysts, recently released ” Climate Change Analysis in the Investment Process ,” a report that aims to improve the industry’s understanding on how climate risk can be applied to financial analysis. The report, written by Matt Orsagh, director of capital markets policy at the institute, explains the economic implications of climate change and covers such topics as a price on carbon and the growing carbon markets, increased transparency and disclosure of climate metrics, and how analysts should engage with companies on the physical and transition risks of climate change. And then there are banks and other financial institutions , which have long been the focus of climate activists. That, too, is ramping up. Earlier this month, the Science Based Targets initiative released a framework and validation service for financial institutions “against the backdrop of growing awareness of the material risks posed by climate change.” Fifty-five financial institutions including Bank Sarasin, Amalgamated Bank and Standard Chartered are backing the new certification and already have committed to setting science-based targets. For the first time, those organizations have the opportunity to verify their emissions reduction plans against the goals of the Paris Agreement. I’m fairly certain that campaigns are already ramping up to get the world’s largest financial institutions on board. Follow the money, indeed. Topics Corporate Strategy Policy & Politics Featured Column Two Steps Forward 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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Are lawyers and accountants doing enough on climate change?

7 roles to create sustainable success

October 2, 2020 by  
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7 roles to create sustainable success Ellen Weinreb Fri, 10/02/2020 – 00:30 There is a lot of talk right now about systems change, and for good reason: With so many people experiencing the effects of several major crises — the pandemic, the recession, racism and the ongoing climate crisis — we have a narrow window of opportunity for change. As they say, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. As someone who works at the intersection of human resources and sustainability, I’m fascinated by the question of who is leading this change, and how they can do so effectively. That’s why I was pleased to read Carola Wijdoogen’s new book, ” 7 Roles to Create Sustainable Success: A Practical Guide for Sustainability and CSR Professionals ,” which launches Oct. 6. Wijdoogen spent several years as chief sustainability officer at the Dutch passenger train operator NS, leaving in 2019 to start Sustainability University Foundation, a platform she co-founded to empower sustainability professionals through peer-to-peer learning and research. In the foreword, Peter Bakker, president and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, described right now as “a pivotal moment for business to lead the way in achieving a world where more than 9 billion people have a decent quality of life within the boundaries of our planet by 2050.” We have the blueprints to make this happen, from the Paris Agreement to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, but we need people who can get us there. That’s where Wijdoogen’s book comes in. Wijdoogen points out that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to sustainability, but every sustainability team deploys seven common roles at some point: 1. The Networker:  Wijdoogen describes two types of networking roles: Stakeholder engagement and peer networks. Both serve to enhance and focus a company’s sustainability program, and both support learning. Networkers also can help companies identify opportunity and risk early on. 2. The Strategist:  This role is all about creating the sustainability vision and mission by defining the organization’s “why” when it comes to sustainability, whether that’s about growing profits, reducing risk, enhancing reputation, accelerating innovation, crystalizing the firm’s growth plan or something else. 3. The Coordinator and Initiator:  These roles support and spur implementation across the organization, so the people in this role must deeply understand the CSR mission, strategy and plan and how the organization works so they can “anchor sustainability in the structure, system and processes” of the company. 4. The Stimulator and Connector:  If the coordinator sets up the system to make taking action easier, the stimulator makes others want to take action. They’re the ambassadors for sustainability who influence organizational culture and make desired behaviors stick. 5. The Mentor:  Put simply, mentors empower others. In this chapter, Wijdoogen describes how to make sustainability relevant to different teams and how to encourage individuals to understand its relevance to their own role and career growth. Those in the mentor role also could heed the advice of Imperative’s Workforce Purpose Index on how to improve employee fulfillment, which I wrote about in 2019 . 6. The Innovator:  Wijdoogen breaks down how sustainability can be used toward innovation in different areas — from new products and services to the design process to new business models. She writes that part of the innovator’s role is to help the company understand how sustainability can be a growth opportunity — something that’s about expanding, not limiting, potential. 7. The Monitor: The people who do measurement, reporting and analysis — the wonks of sustainability — help their companies learn from successes and failures. As I have written recently , there’s a proliferation of sustainability frameworks, and the monitor can help their companies understand and use these frameworks for greater impact. While the roles Wijdoogen describes are nothing new, the way she presents them is invaluable. She boils down each role to its essence — defining it, explaining its purpose and sharing examples to illustrate what they look like in practice. She also provides a toolbox of tips at the end of each chapter. Applying this framework In the past, I have written about different frameworks on sustainability roles and competencies , and Wijdoogen’s book should sit alongside these articles. They are great resources to review if you’re reflecting on the people side of sustainability, particularly if you’re in one of the following situations: Changing your team:  When you have a new team or a new leader, the book can help everyone understand different roles, who holds special skills and how to deploy them effectively. Starting out in sustainability: ­ The book also would be useful to people about to start in sustainability, whether it’s their first job or they are switching careers; the book can provide a primer on different roles you might play and how to play them effectively. Hiring:  Hiring managers can use the book to understand what roles are missing and which competencies are important to hire for. Starting a new strategy:  Finally, I can imagine people flipping through this book when starting a new strategy or initiative: What will you need to really make this new thing stick? Who will play those roles? For many of us in sustainability, this year has given us pause for reflection on the work we’re doing and how we’re doing it. This makes Wijdoogen’s book well-timed as we consider how collectively these seven roles can feed the systems change we desperately need. To learn more, the book launch is taking place at 10 a.m. EDT Oct. 6 via Zoom and open to the public. Registration is at this link. Topics Careers Featured Column Talent Show 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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Third Nature imagines a zero-emission regenerative city district in Bergen

September 28, 2020 by  
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An old logistics port and ferry terminal in Bergen, Norway has been reimagined into an inspiring zero-emission district where nature-based climate adaptation, a community-based sharing economy and renewable building materials will take center stage. Copenhagen-based architecture studio Tredje Natur (Third Nature) is the mastermind behind this grand vision, a 40-hectare mixed-use development known as the future Dokken. The design follows principles of a regenerative city, from the emphasis on public transportation and pedestrian-friendly spaces over car-oriented transit to the inclusion of low-carbon construction strategies, such as adaptive reuse and building with renewable and reusable materials. Developed for the Bergen Municipality in close collaboration with Entasis, Matter by Prix and MOE, the future Dokken regenerative city concept seeks to fulfill the goals of the Paris Agreement . Located along the water, Dokken is continually being expanded upon with surplus materials, such as granite rubble, from infrastructural works around the city. The architects aim to better connect the area’s enlarged footprint with two primary elements: a new urban “allmenning,” a climate streetscape that builds on Bergen’s existing urban fabric with unique public spaces, and an all-encompassing, nature-based loop that would create a new 4.5-kilometer coastline. The coastline would introduce a massive, publicly accessible green space connected to the natural harbor-front. Related: Futuristic eco-city powered with renewable energy is unveiled for the Maldives To inject new life into the area, the first phase of the Dokken development would include The Sea Quarter, which comprises the Institute for Marine Research, the Directorate of Fisheries and the new Bergen Aquarium housed within the old Harbor Warehouse; The Sugarhouse Square, a new public space; and Under the Bridge, a place for experimental urban interventions and grass-roots initiatives located under the Puddefjord Bridge. New housing would be built of renewable and reusable materials, while car parking would be tucked underground to create a pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly area with close access to light rail. In total, the urban development encompasses 535,000 square meters of mixed-use, cultural and civic buildings.  “Creating a regenerative city is about integrating sustainability into all the discrete parts if the city, great or small,” the architects said. “In a sustainable future, everything — from our everyday consumer habits to the total ecological footprint of the city — must work together in circular processes, which won’t destroy our nature and climate. The sustainable city must correct the sins of the past by recreating lost narratives and reuniting separate areas and processes — and, in the case of Dokken, by creating new connections and reuniting Bergen with the water.” + Tredje Natur Images via Tredje Natur

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Seven ways to inform better decisions with TCFD reporting

September 28, 2020 by  
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Seven ways to inform better decisions with TCFD reporting Steven Bullock Mon, 09/28/2020 – 00:00 This article is sponsored by Trucost, part of S&P Global . The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) is helping to bring transparency to climate risk throughout capital markets, with the aim of making markets more efficient and economies more stable and resilient.  Many stakeholders are involved in the initiative, across corporations and financial institutions. Each can apply TCFD reporting intelligence to inform better decisions in different ways. Image of seven stakeholders; Source: Trucost, part of S&P Global. 1. Finance director: Developing a business case to increase capital expenditure on carbon-mitigation projects  A global manufacturing company wanted to undertake a carbon pricing risk assessment to understand the current and potential future financial implications of carbon regulation and related price increases on operating margins. The finance director felt the results could strengthen the business case for investment in low-carbon innovation at operational sites around the world. He used the carbon pricing risk assessment in Figure 1 to illustrate the differences the company might see in its operating margins under different climate change scenarios and highlight where investment in carbon-mitigation projects would matter most.  2. Purchasing manager: Minimizing supply chain disruption by identifying suppliers vulnerable to physical risks A global energy company wanted to undertake a physical risk assessment to understand the firm’s potential exposure to climate hazards, such as heatwaves, wildfires, droughts and sea-level rise that could lead to supply chain disruptions and increased operating costs for the business. The purchasing manager felt the results could help identify raw material suppliers that may be affected by these hazards and provide an opportunity to speak with them about steps they are taking to address these risks. As shown in Figure 2, a physical risk assessment can pinpoint vulnerable sites that could cause problems down the road.  3. Sustainability manager: Setting science-based targets for company greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions  A global beverage company wanted to quantify its carbon footprint for its own operations and global supply chain. The sustainability manager saw this as an excellent starting point to set science-based targets for a reduction in emissions, with the targets reflecting the Paris Agreement and carbon reduction plans for countries in which the company did business. As shown in Figure 3, targets could help the company understand the reduction in emissions needed to move to a low-carbon economy and enhance innovation. 4. Investor relations manager: Publishing a TCFD-aligned report  A large consumer goods company wanted to assess the firm’s climate-related risks and opportunities in accordance with the recommendations of the TCFD. Using four core elements — governance, strategy, risk management and metrics and targets — the TCFD assessment helps quantify the financial impacts of climate-related risks and opportunities. The investor relations team wanted to report these findings alongside traditional financial metrics to publicize that the company was taking steps to manage climate-related issues. To illustrate what could be done, the team pointed to the TCFD report shown in Figure 4 completed by S&P Global for its own operations.   5. Portfolio manager: Screening a portfolio for carbon earnings at risk using scenario analysis An asset management firm wanted to test its investment strategy by assessing the current ability of companies to absorb future carbon prices so its analysts could estimate potential earnings at risk. Integral to this analysis is the calculation of the Unpriced Carbon Cost (UCC), the difference between what a company pays for carbon today and what it may pay at a given future date based on its sector, operations and carbon price scenario. A portfolio manager wanted to use the findings, such as those shown in Figure 5, to report these estimates of financial risk to stakeholders and engage with portfolio constituents on their preparedness for policy changes and strategies for adaptation.  6. Chief investment officer (CIO): Using TCFD-aligned reporting as a way to engage asset managers on climate issues A large pension plan wanted to undertake a climate change alignment assessment of its global equity and bond portfolios to understand how in sync it was with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and where there could be potential future carbon risk exposure. The CIO wanted to publish the results and use the findings, such as those shown in Figure 6, to engage with the firm’s asset managers to determine how they were integrating climate risk into investment decisions. 7. Risk officer: Assessing exposure to climate-linked credit risk  A large commercial bank wanted to estimate the impact of a carbon tax on the credit risk of companies in their loan book. The Risk Officer felt this would add an important dimension to the assessment of creditworthiness. Figure 7 highlights the changes that might be seen in quantitatively derived credit scores for the materials sector under a fast-transition scenario. This shows a rapid increase in carbon tax, with companies reacting in various ways. Some invest in greener technology to meet the reduction targets in 2050 (green bars), while others do not invest and pay a high carbon tax or experience lost revenue resulting from bans on the use of certain materials (red bars). There are many more examples of how TCFD reporting is helping organizations inform better decision-making and capture new opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy.   Please visit spglobal.com/marketintelligence/tcfd or watch our on-demand webinar to learn more.   Topics Finance & Investing Risk & Resilience Sponsored Trucost, S&P Global Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article On Taking action to keep the world green; Source: Trucost, part of S&P Global.

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From China’s stand to Walmart’s wish list: A Climate Week news cheat sheet

September 25, 2020 by  
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From China’s stand to Walmart’s wish list: A Climate Week news cheat sheet Heather Clancy Fri, 09/25/2020 – 00:30 As with virtually all gatherings of the climate community during the COVID age, this year’s Climate Week was convened as an online event — one hosted from more than 20 countries across myriad time zones rather than its usual host city of New York.  Instead of running between Manhattan locations, attendees platform-hopped among more than 450 presentations, panels, screenings and other events, including those hosted by the World Economic Forum and the United Nations, while iconic structures such as the Empire State Building turned their lights green to recognize the urgency of the climate crisis. As is their wont, many companies used the occasion to proclaim updated commitments — the buzzword du la semaine was “net-zero” with Walmart declaring a zero-emissions target by 2040 along with a big clean fleet promise and a pledge to “protect, manage or restore” at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030. GE made headlines with its decision to stop making equipment for new coal-fired power plants to focus on its renewables business (although it doesn’t say anything about fixing the old ones).  More than 1,500 companies are committed to net-zero emissions, triple the number that had made those pledges by the end of 2019. Morgan Stanley offered its own twist with a promise to reach “net-zero financed emissions” by the critical 2050 timeframe. The intention is to align its portfolio with the goals of the Paris Agreement. (Morgan Stanley, along with Bank of America and Citigroup, has agreed to deeper disclosure.) In other words, stop financing the emitting stuff, as it has been criticized for in the past. The biggest national-level news of the week came out of the United Nations General Assembly, where Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that the country aims to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Given the country’s status as the world’s largest emitter, the development is essential for progress against climate change.  While words aren’t action, the commitment stands in sharp contrast with the extensive environmental protection rollbacks adopted by the Trump administration, which has announced its plan to pull out of the Paris climate accord. At the state level, California Gov. Gavin Newsom put the transportation industry on notice with his executive order banning new gasoline-powered vehicles after 2035. Newsom also was named to a two-year term as co-chair of the Under2 Coalition, a network of states and regions looking to integrate the Paris Agreement goals with a mind to social justice.  On the other side of the U.S., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo finalized a ban on hydrofluorocarbons, a superpollutant found in refrigerators, air conditioners and other cooling equipment. And the mayors of 12 cities — representing 36 million residents — announced their plans to divest from fossil fuels. Among the signatories to the C40 campaign: Berlin, Bristol, Cape Town, Durban, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Pittsburgh and Vancouver. Throughout the week the heightened attention to supporting nature and biodiversity and to going beyond carbon emissions reductions was also a frequent theme — with a particular focus on the role of science-based targets in driving corporate action.  The Science Based Targets Network has created new guidance for companies interested in setting goals for land and freshwater use, biodiversity or ecosystem impacts using science-based principles, as many are doing to set emissions reduction targets.  “The best companies in the world are no longer satisfied with ‘doing better’,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of World Resources Institute, in a statement. “They insist on ‘doing enough’. That’s what science-based targets provide them.” Wondering what you missed from your home office? Below is a curated list of notable corporate commitments and campaign updates that emerged during Climate Week.  Accounting bigwigs suggest ‘universal’ ESG metrics Four iconic accounting firms — Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC  — teamed up with Bank of America to develop and release a set of standard metrics and disclosure frameworks that companies can use to report on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.  The new guidance, released by the World Economic Forum as part of the Sustainable Development Impact Summit , focuses on four pillars: Treatment of employees, including diversity, wage gaps, and health and safety Dependencies on the natural environment related to emissions, land and water use How a company contributes to community well-being, including what it pays in taxes Criteria for accountability  Amazon signs more Climate Pledgers, curates sustainable products shopping site Five more companies have signed the Climate Pledge, an initiative orchestrated by Amazon and Global Optimism : retailer Best Buy ; engineering firm McKinstry ; professional sports club Real Betis ; energy firm Schneider Electric; and manufacturer Siemens . This gesture commits them to reaching a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040, one decade before the deadline for the Paris Agreement.  The mighty e-commerce retailer also created a new “Climate Pledge Friendly” shopping section on Amazon.com dedicated to showcasing consumer products that hold one or more of 19 sustainability certifications such as Cradle to Cradle, Energy Star and Fairtrade.  The focus is on grocery, household, fashion, beauty and consumer electronics options — and some initial brands showcased are Burt’s Bees Baby, HP Inc. and Seventh Generation. Amazon also created its own externally validated certification, Compact by Design , which will recognize products designed to require less packaging, which makes them more efficient to ship.  Jenny Ahlen, director of EDF+Business, praised Amazon’s new strategy but said it doesn’t go far enough. “Certifications are a good starting point for companies to help shoppers make more informed and sustainable choices,” she wrote in a blog about the announcement. “But to truly make progress on creating safer, more sustainable products, retailers — Amazon included — need to work with their suppliers to improve the quality of all the products they sell and share that information with shoppers. Calling out a small portion of products that have met environmental standards isn’t enough.”  Climate Group tallies up more members for RE100, EP100  Beverage and snack company PepsiCo set a new global target to source 100 percent of its electricity for company-owned and controlled operations using renewable power by 2030, and across its entire franchise by 2040. (It expects to reach this goal for its U.S. operations by the end of this year.) This move could result in the equivalent of removing 2.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca amped up its renewable energy with a deeper commitment to addressing industrial heat by joining the Renewable Thermal Collaborative, dedicated to decarbonizing tough-to-abate manufacturing and production processes. Currently, 13 percent of AstraZeneca’s power load comes from combined heat and power, and the company has committed to identifying renewable alternatives by 2025. Two energy-centric campaigns managed by the Climate Group welcomed new members this week. The EP100 initiative , which encourages companies to commit to higher levels of productivity and revenue while using less energy, has more than 100 members, with Japan’s Daito Trust Construction among the latest joiners. The RE100 , which represents more than 260 companies committed to using 100 percent renewable power, added new signatories including Intel , ASICS (the apparel company), pharma firm Sanofi and manufacturers SKF and VELUX .  Formidable food purveyors forsake food waste A group of powerful food retailers including Kroger , Tesco and Walmart and food service company Sodexo created the “10x20x30” initiative , which commits them to convincing at least 10 of their suppliers to halving food waste and loss by 2030. The effort is part of Champions 12.3, a group focused on addressing the challenge of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which calls for a 50 percent reduction in food loss and waste by the end of this decade.  One example of the actions we might see as a result is Walmart’s move to source cucumbers that use a coating provided by startup Apeel that extends their shelf life through a natural coating that extends shelf life. “Cutting food loss and waste in half  — from farm to fork — by 2030 will require ambitious, collection action,” said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability for Walmart, in a statement. “The 10x20x30 initiative is accelerating progress by aligning and training shareholders across the industry on how to dramatically reduce food waste.” IKEA, Unilever, others bring 1.5 Celsius mindset to supply chains The Exponential Roadmap Initiative in Stockholm launched the 1.5 Degrees Supply Chain Leaders initiative , a group of multinational companies that have set targets to halve their absolute GHG emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions across their supply chains by 2050 — in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. Initial supporters include BT Group , Ericsson , IKEA , Telia and Unilever . Among the commitments is making climate-related targets and performance a “key supplier purchasing criteria” by this time next year.  “To tackle the climate challenge, it is not enough for us to collaborate with the big global suppliers,” said Mikko Kuusisto, senior director of strategic sourcing for Telia, in a statement. “We need to engage also with the smaller, more local and often nonlisted companies to get them to commit to halving their emissions by 2030.” To help facilitate that transition, the Exponential Roadmap Initiative teamed up with the International Chamber of Commerce, the We Mean Business coalition and the United Nations Race to Zero Campaign to create the SME Climate Hub . The website will provide a set of resources intended to help smaller suppliers take these steps, including measurement tools, best practices frameworks and services.  Mars, Carrefour giants cultivate new coalition for forests The Forest Positive Coalition of Action, which includes close to 20 companies with a collective market value of $1.8 trillion, is a CEO-level group under the umbrella of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) vowing to address key commodity supply chains that often contribute to deforestation. Among the actions they are advocating include joining forces for forest conservation in “key production landscapes,” policy initiatives and regular reporting.  Aside from sponsors Mars and Carrefour , the list of participants includes Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Danone, Essity, General Mills, Grupo Bimbo, Jerónimo Martins, METRO AG, Mondel?z, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever and Walmart. The launch was greeted with skepticism by environmental NGOs including the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), SumofUs, Friends of the Earth U.S. and Amazon Watch, which notes that the involved companies so far have fallen short on deforestation commitments and on protecting the rights of Indigenous people. “We’ve see 10 years of inaction, half-measures and greenwashing from the CGF, while human rights defenders and frontline communities have been putting their lives on the line to defend forests from rampant corporate expansion,” said Brihannala Morgan, senior forest campaigner at RAN, in a statement. Microsoft shares ‘positive’ vibes for water Building on its “carbon negative” pledge in January, a goal that will see it remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it historically has emitted, Microsoft is applying that same mindset to its water strategy. Only in reverse. Its new commitment will see it reduce the per-megawatt consumption of water related to the energy that powers its operations and also focus on water replenishment in 40 “stressed” regions in which it operates. The goal is to replenish more water than it uses by 2030. That will inspire measures such as: Wetland restoration Removal of impervious pavement Installation of on-site rainwater collection and water recycling systems across its newest offices, including the new Silicon Valley campus, the redesign at its central campus in the Seattle area and facilities in India and Israel A heightened focus on evaporative and “adiabatic” (outside air) cooling technologies for its data centers AI for Earth technologies, such as a project called Vector Center, for helping measure water risk and scarcity  It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s new strategy prioritizes not just availability but also accessibility, the issue of safe drinking water and sanitation. Were there other announcements this week? Sure, and I’m also sure I’ll get plenty of emails about what I “missed.” While I am grateful for every company that commits to taking practical, meaningful, un-greenwashed action, the common thread of the visions advanced above is that they set the bar higher — even if just a little bit. That’s what we need to move entire industries to support taking action on the climate crisis. Topics Corporate Strategy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A moment in time for the climate clock on the metronome in New York’s Union Square.

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Why nature is the next frontier for sustainable business

September 24, 2020 by  
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Why nature is the next frontier for sustainable business Erin Billman Thu, 09/24/2020 – 01:15 It has been encouraging to see company and government commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions coming thick and fast in recent months, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes announcements from corporate giants Facebook , Uber and Amazon . America’s Pledge has just revealed that U.S. businesses, states and cities accelerated their action on climate in 2020. Businesses are increasingly seeing that climate action is not only the right thing to do but it brings material benefits such as increased investment, improved reputation and overall competitive advantage. For example, investor BlackRock is asking that by the end of 2020, companies issue reports aligned with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. However, climate action alone is no longer enough to fend off the multiple environmental crises that our planet is facing. Nature — by which I mean the land, biodiversity, water and ocean we all depend on — is reaching a point of no return. As the World Economic Forum’s recent New Nature Economy report stated, there is no future for business as usual. The loss of nature poses a direct threat to economic activities currently responsible for generating over half of GDP. Since 2015, companies have been able to use science to ensure their efforts to tackle climate change are sufficiently ambitious. The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) was set up to facilitate this — to enable companies to ensure their efforts are “at least enough.” The corporate world has embraced this, using the SBTi methods and resources available to help them set and validate their climate targets for greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 1,000 companies are signed up, along with spin-off platforms such as the recently launched SME Climate Hub , which will help companies tackle their challenging Scope 3 emissions, particularly within their supply chains. What does this all mean for nature? While these efforts to tackle climate change can have some positive impacts on reducing nature loss to some extent, they are nowhere near enough and can create unintended consequences. Companies need to look holistically at all their impacts and dependencies on both climate and nature. We need to halve emissions by 2030, and we need to reverse nature loss. Neither is possible without the other. The interim targets provided in the guidance give companies direction they can align with now, across land use, freshwater use, climate impact and ecosystem regeneration. But when it comes to tackling nature loss, it is currently difficult for companies to know where to start or prioritize efforts. Until now there hasn’t been a framework that ties them together. The Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) was formed to provide this. It is comprised of more than 45 organizations working together to provide science-based targets for companies and cities. It builds on the momentum of the SBTi to enable companies to set targets beyond climate. It is part of the Global Commons Alliance which aims to create the world’s most powerful network to scale action to protect the planet. Now, the organization has published its first consensus guidance for companies on how to restore balance to the global commons by operating within Earth’s limits while meeting society’s needs. The guidance has been reviewed by 65 people from businesses, consultancies, NGOs and academic institutions. Our 14 business reviewers included representatives from Mars, Unilever and Kering — all of which are keen to remain involved with the SBTN and use the guidance in their own organizations.  Companies can use the guidance to help understand how to assess, prioritize, measure, address and track their impacts and dependencies on nature in line with science. In addressing their impacts and dependencies. It introduces an action framework that companies can follow to avoid future impacts, reduce current impacts, regenerate and restore ecosystems, alongside working to transform the systems in which they are embedded. The interim targets provided in the guidance give companies direction they can align with now, across land use, freshwater use, climate impact and ecosystem regeneration. The resource was developed to consolidate and build on multiple existing efforts companies are already involved in to protect nature rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. For example, they already can set targets to cut their emissions through the Science Based Targets initiative . For land use change targets, specifically deforestation and conversion, we signpost to the Accountability Framework Initiative . For water quantity and quality targets, the guidance directs companies to use contextual targets for water . For ecosystem integrity, specifically on working lands, the guidance recommends using regenerative agricultural practices in line with the European Commission. The guidance is also aligned with global frameworks including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to enable companies to consider their impacts on people in the land and seascapes where they operate. The goal is to engage with businesses to develop and refine this guidance in the coming months to ensure it is as easy to use and effective as possible. For companies, the main nature-related risk is inaction. Now is the time to get started as some steps required to prepare for science-based target setting can take time to do well. The future of all life on Earth depends on us fundamentally changing our relationship with nature now and building an equitable, nature-positive, net-zero carbon future. We urge all companies to get involved and join us on this journey. Pull Quote The interim targets provided in the guidance give companies direction they can align with now, across land use, freshwater use, climate impact and ecosystem regeneration. Topics Natural Capital Corporate Strategy Biodiversity Land Use Water Conservation 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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4 things corporations should know about urban forestry projects

September 24, 2020 by  
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4 things corporations should know about urban forestry projects Jesse Klein Thu, 09/24/2020 – 01:00 It’s hard to make planting trees political, one reason this climate mitigation strategy has received rare bipartisan support for the past two decades. Corporations have used that to their advantage to become an important part of the tree planting business . Funding tree planting in rural areas across the globe was an easy way for businesses to invest in green initiatives and to win points with the general public.  But urban forestry has a different history. The canopy of trees in cities often corresponds to maps of redlining, income and race. That’s one reason investing in urban forestry isn’t as simple; nor does it have the same sustainability impacts. Regardless of those challenges, more businesses are deciding to put their money behind forestry projects in cities. In 2013, American Forests called Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and New York; Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California; Seattle and Washington, D.C., the 10 best cities for urban forestry. In a 2016 study, Seattle determined 28 percent of the city is covered in trees, close to its 2037 goal of 30 percent. D.C. hopes to cover 40 percent of its district with canopy by 2032.  That has attracted the attention of companies. Amazon, for example, recently announced a $4.37 million commitment to The Nature Conservancy to support an initiative in Berlin. And for the past few years, Bank of America has partnered with American Forests on the Community ReLeaf Program , planting nearly 3,000 trees in 19 cities. One impressive goal for this partnership is to bring 200,000 trees to Detroit. As Microsoft builds data centers in Iowa, it is also investing in urban forestry projects to bring an environmental and health benefit to the neighborhood as well. A project that planted 734 trees created total savings of $56,693 per year through energy savings, air quality and rain interception for the city.  Here are four things sustainability teams should know when considering the urban tree business. 1. You can get carbon credits for urban forestry   Because urban forestry generally has a relatively low carbon removal impact, fewer organizations are focused on creating carbon credits for these projects. According to McPherson, City Forest Credits thinks of itself as a LEED system for urban forestry. It connects businesses with urban forestry projects and then issues a certified carbon credit.  But because urban forestry has so many ancillary benefits not included in the carbon credit, McPherson’s company also issues a bundled credit that includes the health benefits of urban trees and it is working on an impact scorecard. City Forest Credits worked with scientists to quantify the exact health benefits of each tree, creating a measurement scheme similar to carbon removal metrics. “We can assess a project’s equity and health impacts, and then we’ve mapped those impacts to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.  But as is the case with renewable energy credits, there are worries that carbon credits could give businesses the same license-to-pollute mentality. McPherson sees it differently.  “Trees are like going on the offense,” he said. “They’re not just playing defense against climate, they are actually pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. That’s real.” 2. Urban forestry could create more impact with less volume For many years, urban forestry projects were unattractive to corporations because you couldn’t plant enough trees in an urban environment to achieve a meaningful carbon dioxide removal impact. Carbon removal was seen as the only benefit of trees and the only way corporations could quantify a project’s impact.  But urban forests have myriad other benefits that are becoming more understood and easier to measure: They have been demonstrated to help control stormwater, lower energy costs, improve air quality and provide both physical and mental health benefits. And if placed intentionally in the most needed areas, trees can have a profound effect in addressing environmental justice concerns. Partnerships with NGOs and businesses can bring trees to urban heat islands and help engage youth in the area.// Courtesy of City Forest Credits In Richmond, Virginia, for example, a 65-acre African-American forested cemetery was struggling economically, and the owner considered logging the trees to keep it as a pillar in the community. Instead, the organization opted for an urban forestry project with City Forest Credits that conserved the trees and created earnings for the cemetery by generating 5,376 carbon credits to sell. As a result, the trees continued to be an environmental asset to the community, important African-American history was conserved and the credits could benefit other corporations on their environmental goals. A threefold impact. “There’s a strong desire to have projects that benefit people,” said Mark McPherson, founder of City Forest Credits. “And the urban forest is obviously where people live and breathe and recreate.” 3. Urban forests are more expensive   Sustainability experts might be familiar with the dollar-per-tree model, but that isn’t true of urban forestry. The different cost structures for a city tree can come as a surprise to corporations. Urban land is expensive. The installation of mature trees is expensive. Maintaining trees is expensive.  Unlike wild forests where a planter can spread out a hundred seedlings easily and walk away, urban forestry requires more labor, planning and permits.  “We plant much more mature trees [in cities],” said Jad Daley, CEO of American Forests. “So they have a greater likelihood of surviving and so we can get the benefits more quickly, but that also makes them more expensive.” Corporations may opt to create a diverse portfolio of forestry projects, doing large landscape projects in rural areas for sequestering carbon and then supporting a few urban forestry projects for immediate contribution to the neighborhood. 4. An NGO isn’t a consultant Working with an NGO is a great way to contribute to an urban forestry project. But Lynn Scarlett, head of the external affairs division for The Nature Conservancy, working with Amazon on the Berlin project, stressed that companies shouldn’t treat NGOs as consultants.  “It’s a collaborative partnership between an NGO and a company,” Scarlett said. “We have our goals, and those are always front and center stage for us. Always. We look at partnerships that advance our mission.” Scarlett said companies usually team with The Nature Conservancy when they’ve determined that there are shared goals but they don’t necessarily have the full knowledge to execute them.  So while an NGO can help steer a company in the right direction, its goals might not overlap 100 percent with those of a company seeking to work on urban forestry. NGOs can act as the link between the money, the mission, the regulatory agencies and the population.  “NGOs can help bring together all stakeholders required,” said Kerstin Pfliegner, Germany director at The Nature Conservancy. “We can work well with governments and corporates while being close to civil society and communities.” Topics Forestry Social Justice Carbon Removal Environmental Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Urban forestry such as at this cemetery protected in part by a City Forest Credits project are becoming important parts of corporate sustainability and equality strategies. Courtesy of City Forest Credits. 

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The COVID Covenant: Going big is the price of admission

September 21, 2020 by  
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The COVID Covenant: Going big is the price of admission Gil Friend Mon, 09/21/2020 – 01:00 The world (well, most of it) attacked COVID-19 as if it were a true global emergency: with extraordinary speed, scale and scope. With real collaboration and a healthy dose of courage, some gutsy decisions were made both in government and business. Getting billions of people to don masks, allocating trillions of dollars and putting massive human safety nets in place around the globe in record time is no task for the faint of heart. Yet we haven’t responded to other planetary catastrophes with the same speed, scale, scope and coordination. This year’s Climate Week commitments notwithstanding, we haven’t shown the same guts and drive on climate as on COVID. But what if we did? That is the challenge posed by the COVID Covenant. Take climate change — in the grand scheme, a far greater and decidedly more existential emergency than the current pandemic. While some targets have been set, some progress made and some portion of the public enrolled, the world has not become galvanized to meet it. This is a threat we know will affect billions of people and displace hundreds of millions more through sea-level rise, desertification and other disastrous impacts by the time our children are grown. The stakes are high. There is no room here for laggards. We need to shift the whole game, raise the level of ambition, move that needle. We could talk about why we haven’t acted, but the real question is about what we will do going forward: How will we provoke the world into attacking carbon as it has the virus? And climate is not the only major threat we face. The social infrastructure that has left many millions without access to healthcare in the middle of a major pandemic certainly threatens global stability. Inequality and injustice are worldwide disasters as well. These are all global issues that underpin all of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and they are all soluble. Yet our planetary response to them has been tepid at best. Going big The COVID Covenant was created to kick the world into overdrive, to accept no less than the huge, unprecedented commitments required to deal with these issues, to make what seemed impossible, possible. In short: to go big. Developed by a cadre of sustainable business veterans, the COVID Covenant represents an all-in community of influential business leaders, municipal leaders and individuals who — after a long, deep breath — have committed to doing far more, far faster than they ever believed they could, and to turn on the sirens and the flashing lights for others while they’re doing it. Each has committed to the COVID Covenant. They have declared they are going big. That’s the price of admission. The COVID Covenant I solemnly commit to do what is necessary, at the speed, scale and scope that is necessary, to ensure we don’t go back to a broken system — an overheating, divided, unequal world — and build a resilient, equitable, healthy world in its place. Before the ink is dry on this Covenant, I will begin creating economic, social and governmental change at speed, scale and scope. I will practice, and advocate for, unprecedented levels of collaboration and I will mobile mobilize my organization(s), city, company and others in my circle of influence to do the same. We know what a real emergency response looks like now, what it feels like — the immediacy and urgency of it. And still, when this pandemic eventually ends, will most organizations return to their pre-coronavirus goals, such as to reduce emissions by 20 percent in five years, say, or to be carbon neutral by 2050? Will they continue with health care and wages as usual? Or will they go big, to get it done now?Demand and lobby hard to ensure everyone has health care, and for a far more equitable wage structure? Will they catalyze others to do the same? If, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says, we have a maximum of eight years of carbon left in our 1.5 degree Celsius carbon budget, then a goal of neutrality 30 or 40 years from now no longer looks like leadership. Like heroism. Like going big. Instead, it looks like thinking small. If — or more likely, when — the next pandemic hits, or Florida is underwater, or California is burning, or whatever the next disruption is — can we afford to have millions of people in food lines within a few days of a shutdown, or for millions to lose their jobs or not be able to access health care? The stakes are high. There is no room here for laggards. We need to shift the whole game, raise the level of ambition, move that needle. If the COVID Covenant can get those who are crawling toward progress to walk instead, if it can get the walkers to start jogging and the joggers to sprint, then we have a chance. (Those already sprinting? Time to turn on the jets — let’s see commitments that make Microsoft’s aim to remove all the carbon it has ever generated look like last year’s news.) The world has progressed — a bit — on climate. A few short years ago, climate targets were not science-based, and carbon-neutral commitments were rare. Most corporations were not reporting to GRI or SASB or thinking about TCFD. Now, thousands of companies are reporting, hundreds have set science-based targets and many corporations and communities already have committed to neutrality — though, as we’ve noted, their goals are too modest and too slow. The goalposts have moved, but nowhere near fast or far enough. Further, faster The message of the COVID Covenant is, “It’s great you say you’ll do this cool thing in 20 or 30 years, but that’s not soon enough. What if you treated it like the emergency it is and committed to getting the job done fast? What would it take for you to do it in 10 years? Five years? Three?” The COVID Covenant is seeding a community of collaborating competitors, of peers, experts and cheerleaders, sharing best practices, modeling what going big looks like and how to get there, offering feedback and advice, and trumpeting its work to the world. What this community does and becomes is up to those who commit to it — we’re confident that a group of people and companies whose uniting purpose is to go big will do more than just commit. The community might generate new business relationships among its members, new research or new public-private partnerships. However the collaboration evolves, it will be a vehicle for greater change and impact — picking up the gauntlet thrown down by the coronavirus, climate change and widening social inequity.  Those who’ve committed to the COVID Covenant include Andrew Winston, Hunter Lovins, John Izzo, Gil Friend, Daniel Aronson, Catherine Greener, Daniel Kreeger, Amy Larkin, P.J. Simmons and Phil Clawson.  Read more and make your own commitment here . Pull Quote The stakes are high. There is no room here for laggards. We need to shift the whole game, raise the level of ambition, move that needle. Contributors Daniel Aronson Topics Climate Change Leadership COVID-19 COVID-19 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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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry

August 25, 2020 by  
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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry Zoé Bezpalko Tue, 08/25/2020 – 01:45 Thinking back to the beginning of 2020 can seem like a lifetime ago. Before the pandemic took root on a global level, the transportation industry was already in the midst of a great and exciting transition. The move to electric vehicles (EVs) was intensifying.  Take General Motors, for example. In early March, the company announced it would have 20 new EVs by 2023. It also is tackling ambitious innovations with its Ultium battery and propulsion system that could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mile-per-hour acceleration as low as three seconds.  And then COVID-19 hit. Sales for all vehicles plummeted. But new consumer revelations were (and are) occurring on a daily basis — and it is good news for the EV market. People are appreciating how skies can be clearer and bluer with fewer cars on the road. We’re learning the value of our time and resources with lessons in how to shop more efficiently with fewer trips. With a growing unease in taking public transportation, the demand for electric bikes and cars is also skyrocketing.  While governmental incentives for the EV market in the United States are minimal, the private sector is jumping on board to continue the momentum and meet the new consumer demand.  In June, Lyft announced that every vehicle on its platform will be electric by 2030. Despite a setback in the construction of its factory during the shutdown, Rivian will debut its electric pickup truck and electric SUV next summer. The company is also on track to manufacture more than 100,000 electric vans for Amazon. And GM isn’t shying away from its announcement and commitment to EVs, stating in May that it is continuing at full speed. But there is still much more that needs to change and be done. The present and future opportunities for EVs What can be done to propel the EV industry even further despite the current global climate with COVID-19? Like anything in today’s landscape, it’s complicated — but it’s possible to achieve new inroads. Let’s be honest. EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. From EV design to manufacturing and battery optimization and production, we must address needed changes head-on for a radical, new approach to design and manufacturing. Battery changes Of course, not every company can be GM and create its own battery system. That’s why there is a need for greater openness in battery design and production — and what is actually inside the “black box” battery pack provided by manufacturers. If we can tap into the battery itself, we can further innovate for more efficiency. Battery packs contain components such as cooling, sensors and battery management systems that, if more open, could allow engineers and designers to optimize storage and layout for energy efficiency. With the development of integrated digital design tools, the hope is that addressing both the battery and the car’s geometry in one combined design process will lead to greater efficiency for both.  Manufacturing changes Even before COVID-19, automotive manufacturers and suppliers already were looking at new ways to modernize factories for better performance and reduced energy consumption. Last fall, Porsche opened a new, innovative factory to manufacture its first fully electric sports car, the Taycan. The zero-impact facility is the largest built since the company was founded 70 years ago, and it is also one of the first in the world to begin use of driverless transport systems within the factory. It’s a great example of not only the acceleration of EV availability in the market, but a better way to approach manufacturing, too. COVID-19 and its disruptive impacts on the global supply chain have accelerated how manufacturers and OEMs are looking at their production for more resilience. When factories shut down, it was a chance to step back and think of embedding sustainability throughout operations, in the factory layout itself, or leveraging more additive and local manufacturing. That also means greater opportunity to bring EV manufacturing and production more into the fold and mainstream. EV design changes On the vehicle design side, there are still untapped opportunities to improve battery range, especially through lightweighting and friction reduction. Frictions can be reduced by employing computational fluid dynamics software for simulation. And using generative design , designers can look at an incredible array of options to reduce the overall weight of the car.  Imagine taking an EV design and inputting the parameters to optimize such as geometry, materials, mechanical properties or even the manufacturing process. With generative design, the design team can explore the generated solutions and prioritize and choose what is most important for their goals. What’s more, the power of generative design truly shines when coupled with additive manufacturing to reduce waste in production. It even can solve some supply chain challenges for parts availability. GM has been putting generative design to the test, especially for lightweighting. Its very first proof-of-concept project was for a small, yet important, component — the seat bracket where seat belts are fastened. With parameters based on required connection points, strength and mass, the software returned more than 150 valid design options. The team quickly identified the new seat bracket with a unique, unimaginable style, which is 40 percent lighter, 20 percent stronger and consolidates eight components into one 3D-printed part.  Driving forward If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are all much more resilient than we thought possible. This global pandemic is offering us an opportunity to reflect on a future we want — one that is not only more sustainable, but also more equitable for all. We are embracing change as never before. As we all adapt to our new reality, industries also follow suit. Change and adaptability always has been endemic to the EV industry. We have made huge strides already. Now it’s time to keep driving forward. Pull Quote EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. Topics Transportation & Mobility Design & Packaging COVID-19 Electric Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Porsche’s zero-impact factory designed to manufacture electric vehicles. Image courtesy of Porsche.

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