Morgan Stanley will measure CO2 impact of loans and investments

July 27, 2020 by  
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Morgan Stanley will measure CO2 impact of loans and investments Michael Holder Mon, 07/27/2020 – 00:15 Morgan Stanley has become the first major U.S. bank to commit to measuring and disclosing the climate impact of its loans and investments, announcing last week that it has joined a multi-trillion dollar group of global financial institutions developing a standardized method for carbon accounting. The U.S. bank has become the latest financial firm to join the Global Carbon Accounting Partnership (PCAF), a growing coalition which first began in the Netherlands in 2015 and now boasts 66 formal members from around the world representing more than $5.3 trillion in assets. In addition, Morgan Stanley also has joined the PCAF’s steering committee alongside founding members Amalgamated Bank from the United States; Dutch banks Triodos, BN AMRO and ASN Bank; and the Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). As a steering committee member, Morgan Stanley will “lend insights and expertise” to help PCAF develop the global accounting standard, as well as committing to measure and disclose its own financial emissions, according to industry coalition. The announcement marks a major coup for the PCAF and is a landmark green move for Morgan Stanley, one of the world’s largest and most recognizable private banking groups, which from 2016 to 2019 invested more than $91 billion n fossil fuels, according to the Rainforest Action Network . Wall Street is driving the climate crisis, and if banks want to be part of the solution, they have to start by being transparent about the extent to which they’re currently part of the problem. “We are excited to join PCAF and to support the important work they are leading to build a methodology for global banks’ efforts to track and measure climate change risks,” said Audrey Choi, Morgan Stanley’s chief sustainability officer and CEO of the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. Launched globally only last year, PCAF describes itself as as a collaborative effort from financial institutions to develop “a harmonized approach to the assessment and disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions financed by loans and investments” for use by asset owners, asset managers and banks. It is a separate initiative from the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFDs), although the two can complement each other, according to the PCAF. Whereas the TCFDs offer a voluntary framework for assessing and disclosing physical and transitional climate risks, the PCAF aims to develop a formal carbon accounting standard for the financial sector, potentially enabling for more detail and consistency in reporting. PCAF said the measurement of the emissions associated with loans and investments — the financial sector’s Scope 3 emissions — would provide crucial data to help banks and financial firms to assess climate risk, manage impact, meet the disclosure demands of stakeholders and customers, and assess progress towards climate goals. The industry coalition’s carbon accounting methodology “will soon be published as a global methodology” and “has been the work of a core team of financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley,” it explained. “We are very excited about Morgan Stanley’s leadership in sustainability and believe they will bring an important voice to our management group,” said Giel Linthorst, executive director of the PCAF secretariat. “As we work towards COP26, and a critical year ahead in aligning the finance sector with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, we believe that PCAF and member financial institutions will play an important leadership role in that work.” It comes as banks and financial institutions face growing pressure from campaigners, policymakers, regulations and investors to account for and take action against the sizeable climate risk in their investment portfolios. Ben Cushing, senior campaign representative at U.S. environmental NGO Sierra Club, hailed the move as “a major step in the right direction” for Morgan Stanley, and said all banks claiming to support the goals of the Paris Agreement also should follow suit. “Wall Street is driving the climate crisis, and if banks want to be part of the solution, they have to start by being transparent about the extent to which they’re currently part of the problem,” he said. “Measuring and disclosing their impact is important, and now the critical next step will be to mitigate this impact by committing to an aggressive timeline to phase out their funding for climate-polluting fossil fuels altogether.” Pull Quote Wall Street is driving the climate crisis, and if banks want to be part of the solution, they have to start by being transparent about the extent to which they’re currently part of the problem. Topics Finance & Investing ESG Banking BusinessGreen 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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Why the private sector needs to invest in conservation agriculture right now

June 6, 2020 by  
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Why the private sector needs to invest in conservation agriculture right now William Ginn Sat, 06/06/2020 – 02:00 This is an excerpt from ” Valuing Nature ” by William J. Ginn. Copyright 2020 William J. Ginn. Reproduced here with permission from Island Press, Washington, D.C.  Resistance to change is universal. For example, despite more than 30 years of good science and best practices that support conservation agriculture in the United States, less than 5 percent of U.S. soy, wheat, and corn farmers use cover crops, and only 25 percent have adopted crop rotation and conservation tillage practices, even though the country is losing more than 10 billion tons of soil each year as well as more than $50 billion in social and environmental benefits. One challenge is the increasing percentage of farms owned by investors who lease land year to year to the highest bidder, which gives farmers little incentive to invest in conservation practices that might take years to be fully realized. Nevertheless, [The Nature Conservancy (TNC)], along with a consortium of farmers’ groups and a contingent of seed and fertilizer companies, has set a goal of getting half of the country’s wheat, soy, and corn crops into conservation tillage by [2025] (PDF). To achieve this goal, the same kind of incentives, extension services, and creative financial mechanisms being advocated for in the developing world are going to be needed in the United States too. Building capacity and providing patient capital at the farmer level is a big challenge; at NatureVest, it is referred to as the last-mile problem. Although big-picture interventions are often understood in theory, the capacity of farmers to implement these solutions on the ground is often quite limited. Nearly everywhere these challenges exist, we need to dramatically increase the number of intermediaries who can help farmers through the difficult but necessary transition to new cropping and livestock-raising systems. It is all high-risk business, and as such, it is not always successful. Several years ago, TNC entered into an agreement with an agricultural consulting company in Argentina with the objective of helping farmers improve sheep-grazing practices. Years of overgrazing had left the region’s grasslands substantially degraded; in fact, at one point in the early years of Patagonia’s colonization, more than 45 million sheep roamed free. Today, the region is home to between 5 million and 8 million sheep, but even that number may be too many. Building capacity and providing patient capital at the farmer level is a big challenge; at NatureVest, it is referred to as the last-mile problem. The restoration plan, called the Patagonia Grassland Regeneration and Sustainability Standard, or GRASS for short, incorporated conservation science, planning, and monitoring into the management plans of wool producers. The idea was not new: rather than grazing sheep in one place continually, they are moved in and out of different pastures depending on the conditions of the grasses. This practice encourages more diversity of native grass species and expanded yields from the revitalized pastures. Done well, ranchers, sheep, native plants, and animals can thrive together. But what motivates ranchers to make these investments in better management and fencing? The basic business idea of GRASS was to improve management practices on ranches and produce a certified wool product that would attract buyers willing to pay more for sustainably grown wool. The program attracted two early adopters, Patagonia, Inc ., a brand committed to sourcing their raw materials sustainably, and Stella McCartney , a high-end clothing manufacturer and daughter of Paul McCartney. Prior to this venture, both companies had been buying their wool primarily from Australia and New Zealand, but for Patagonia in particular, a shift to sourcing from Argentina provided a nice opportunity for alignment with their brand. Dozens of ranches signed up to participate, and many saw measurable yield improvements, even though the initial wool purchases were small. Despite the program’s early successes, the program became unraveled when the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released video footage of alleged animal abuse occurring at some of the ranches. As chief conservation officer of TNC at the time, I can say that I was not very happy with these practices, but I thought some of the allegations were overblown. For example, PETA considers docking tails of sheep to be inhumane, yet it is long-standing practice that arguably improves the health of animals. Nevertheless, both Patagonia and Stella McCartney abruptly ended their contracts with GRASS, and without a market partner, the program has failed to scale to a commercial model. Although any improvement in grazing is useful, the expected impact across the landscape now seems a distant objective. Because feeding the world is an absolute imperative, farmers, investors, and aid organizations continue their quests for new models of sustainable intensification that will both feed more people and restore the soils and hydrological systems that are essential to agriculture. Providing capital in a way that reaches the hundreds of millions of small farmers across the globe as well as the necessary skills and technical expertise is a challenge that will remain for years, but business opportunities abound. Our shared natural assets — soil, water, and a stable climate — will only increase in value as the world demands more food. Pull Quote Building capacity and providing patient capital at the farmer level is a big challenge; at NatureVest, it is referred to as the last-mile problem. Topics Corporate Strategy Food & Agriculture Biodiversity Books Food & Agriculture Conservation Conservation Finance Collective Insight GreenBiz Reads Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Flock of sheep in Patagonia, Chile. Shutterstock gg-foto Close Authorship

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Episode 223: Climate action and racial justice must converge, urban forest credits

June 5, 2020 by  
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Episode 223: Climate action and racial justice must converge, urban forest credits Heather Clancy Fri, 06/05/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Commentary on this week’s news highlights begins at 13:00. This moment: An open letter to the GreenBiz community Al Gore: Climate action is “bound together” with racial equality and liberation How the Navajo got their day in the sun It takes a village to succeed in climate tech Features The quest for net-positive buildings (22:35) The pressure for companies and cities to consider the climate crisis — and associated risks — in post-COVID 19 recovery strategies is increasing. How feasible are net-positive buildings, and how might our new economic landscape affect their development? We discuss the issue with Ryan Colker, vice president of innovation for the International Code Council; and Andrew Klein, a professional engineer who is a member of ICC and code consultant for the Building Owners and Managers Association International. Growing a carbon market for urban forests (34:45) The process of issuing carbon credits for reforestation projects in places such as rainforests as well established — not so much when it comes to trees growing in the shadow of skyscrapers. Mark McPherson, executive director of City Forest Credits, talks about the nonprofit’s mission to plant and preserve more trees to towns and cities, and how companies can get involved. Extending the life of medical equipment (43:25) The iFixit repair site just added the world’s largest medical equipment repair database, a free resource for hospitals having trouble fixing equipment quickly — a problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The site’s CEO and founder, Kyle Weens, joins us to chat about the project and why more product vendors should rethink their repair and service policies. *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere:  “Southside,” “More On That Later,” “Night Caves,” “Curiosity” and “As I Was Saying” *This episode was sponsored by UPS. Virtual conversations Mark your calendar for these upcoming GreenBiz webcasts. Can’t join live? All of these events also will be available on demand. The future of risk assessment. Ideas for building a supply chain resilient to both short-term disruptions such as the pandemic and long-term risks such as climate change. Register here for the session at 1 p.m. EDT June 16. Supply chains and circularity. Join us at 1 p.m. EDT June 23 for a discussion of how companies such as Interface are getting suppliers to buy into circular models for manufacturing, distribution and beyond.  Resources galore State of the Profession. Our sixth report examining the evolving role of corporate sustainability leaders. Download it here . The State of Green Business 2020. Our 13th annual analysis of key metrics and trends published here . 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 Topics Podcast Carbon Removal Equity & Inclusion Offsets Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 56:55 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 223: Climate action and racial justice must converge, urban forest credits

What it takes to be a corporate climate leader

March 20, 2020 by  
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Making sustainability core to business strategy and aligning corporate sustainability and government relations teams helps companies deal with short-term crises such as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

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GreenBiz 20 Day 3 welcome

March 9, 2020 by  
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Day 3 welcome with GreenBiz’s Eric Faurot, Shana Rappaport, Lauren Phipps and Ellie Buechner. Waste Management’s Eric Gray gives a zero waste update.

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GreenBiz 20 Day 3 welcome

GreenBiz 20 closing remarks with Joel Makower

March 9, 2020 by  
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Joel Makower wraps up day 3 of GreenBiz 20.

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GreenBiz 20 closing remarks with Joel Makower

Growing Something Greater: Healthy Kids, Schools and Communities

March 9, 2020 by  
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Stephen Ritz is an educator in the South Bronx, where he takes a “whole school” approach to education, rooted in health, wellness and mindfulness. In the poorest Congressional district in America, where 45,000 people live within 8 square blocks of each other and healthy, fresh food is not available, he teaches students about growing and preparing their own vegetables in school farms. “Of all the crops I’ve grown,” he says, “my greatest crops have been my students themselves.” From GreenBiz 20.

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Growing Something Greater: Healthy Kids, Schools and Communities

Reward offered to identify Mojave burro killer

August 30, 2019 by  
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A total of 42 wild burros from the Clark Mountain Herd Area in the Mojave Desert in California have been found shot to death since May in what officials declare as one of the largest killings of its kind on land overlooked by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Currently, BLM and animal rights groups have pooled their funds to offer nearly $60,000 in reward money to find the guilty party. “The cruelty involved in shooting these burros and leaving them to die warrants prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” BLM’s Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley said in a statement Wednesday . “We thank the animal welfare groups for adding their voices to those organizations who value these iconic symbols of the West.” Related: Trail use by outdoor enthusiasts is driving out an elk herd in Colorado BLM spokesperson Sarah Webster told the Washington Post that many of the slain burros appear to have been shot from a distance with a rifle aimed at their necks. Victims include both adult burros and foals who were innocently drinking from a water hole when the killer struck. The Platero Project— a collaboration between the BLM and the Humane Society of the US (HSUS)— has offered $32,500 in reward money. Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, American Wild Horse Campaign, Return to Freedom and The Cloud Foundation have also contributed to the fund, plus additional donations by both BLM and HSUS independent of Platero. Originally from North Africa, burros were first introduced to North America by the Spanish but wound up wild when they wandered off, were set free by dejected miners or survived their prospector owners. After finding a home in the desert land of Southern California, the wild burro populations grew exponentially, doubling every four to five years. By the 1950s the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals intervened due to excessive killings and called upon the government to enact proper legislation for their protection. The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act has protected them against animal cruelty and animal abuse since 1971, charging anyone caught harming, capturing or killing a burro with fines up to $2,000 or a year in prison. If apprehended, the offender responsible for the 42 burro deaths can face up to 42 years in prison. Via Ecowatch Image via BLM

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Reward offered to identify Mojave burro killer

Trailhead Ambassador Program enhances hiking in Oregon

August 30, 2019 by  
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Wilderness lovers often see dismaying things on hiking trails: litter , thirsty people in flip flops who forgot to bring water, rambunctious dogs whose owners have never heard of leash laws, clueless couples who carve their names into trees. Instead of simply griping about these miscreants, some parks and wilderness areas have developed constructive ways to educate the public and make recreation safer and more fun for everybody. The Trailhead Ambassador Program at Oregon’s Mount Hood and Columbia River Gorge recruits volunteers to greet hikers at trailheads, answering questions and offering suggestions. Inhabitat talked to Lizzie Keenan, wilderness lover and co-founder of the program, about how trailhead ambassadors can make tangible differences in the local environment. Inhabitat: Tell us about your involvement with the Trailhead Ambassadors Program. Lizzie Keenan: I co-founded the program with Friends of the Columbia Gorge in the summer of 2017. The program was a mesh of an idea the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge Tourism Alliance had merged with Trail Talks, a program Friends of the Columbia Gorge piloted that summer. The Tourism Alliance, which I manage, has funded the bulk of the program since its inception, and I have been there every step of the way helping to shape and grow it into what it is today. Related: Seven commandments of Leave-No-Trace camping Additional partners to get it launched included U.S. Forest Service for the Columbia River Gorge and U.S. Forest Service for Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon State Parks, and local tourism entities like Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory . The idea came from increased feedback from our local communities in the region that search and rescue at our trails was at an all-time high, that congestion at trails was becoming unmanageable and there was a general call for help for educating visitors on best practices in our recreation areas. I did some research and found a couple of programs in different parts of the U.S. running something like what we were looking for. In the end, we mirrored a lot of our program from the White Mountain National Forest Trailhead Steward Program . Inhabitat: What are some of the more unusual questions ambassadors have heard? Keenan: Upon seeing the dog that our volunteers brought with them to the trail, a young boy asked, “Will I see other mountain lions like that one on the trail?” Ambassadors working at Multnomah Falls have been asked by visitors, “How do I get to the Columbia River Gorge from here?” The answer is usually, welcome! You made it! Someone asked at the Dog Mountain Trailhead, “Is there a restaurant or store on top of Dog Mountain, so we can buy food?” Inhabitat: What kind of traits should a volunteer have? Keenan: Being a trailhead ambassador requires someone who enjoys talking with people. We ask that our volunteers study up on the trails they will be volunteering at so they can share advice with confidence and authenticity. Finally, ambassadors should love the region. Love the trails, the communities, the culture of the area. That translates to visitors loving and appreciating the land they are recreating on more. Inhabitat: Have you seen any results? Keenan: Yes! In our first season, which ran over the course of 20 weekends, our volunteers talked to over 23,700 visitors in the Gorge and on Mt. Hood. They helped to shape visitors’ experiences. Example actions visitors have taken after speaking with a trailhead ambassador include going to their car to get better shoes and/or water, taking a picture of the map of the trail so they can reference it on their hike, getting a parking pass when they didn’t have one already and much more. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Other results include fewer car break-ins on the weekends that volunteers staffed the trails as well as a feedback loop of trail information that would go directly to the local land manager. One example of this was at Starvation Creek; after speaking with hikers in the area, the ambassadors found out there was a landslide on the trail. They were then able to inform Oregon State Parks about it, and soon rangers came in to close off that portion of the trail. Inhabitat: What kind of feedback have you received from visitors? Keenan: It has been 99 percent thankful and supportive. Both regular recreators and new folks visiting from out of town have been incredibly thankful to have trailhead ambassadors stationed at their trail. Those who are local are thankful to have people sharing advice at the trails, because they have seen and helped unprepared visitors in the past. Those new to the trails are excited to have someone nice and approachable to talk to, to ask questions of and feel more confident about heading out on a new adventure. Inhabitat: Do you have any advice for other places interested in starting similar programs? Keenan: Borrow materials from another program who is running a program like the one you want to do; don’t recreate the wheel. Start small and develop your dedicated group of volunteers. Finally, collect data. This program has been a huge opportunity for us to learn and track common issues and trends at our trailheads that we and the other agencies involved can use to better serve the land and visitors in the future. + Trailhead Ambassadors Program Images via Trailhead Ambassadors Program and Bureau of Land Management

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Vuntut Gwitchin is the first indigenous nation to declare a climate emergency

May 28, 2019 by  
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Last week, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation became the first indigenous tribe to declare an official climate emergency . Like other nations that have made similar declarations, the announcement is not backed with funding but rather is an official call to action. Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm is hopeful that the declaration will spur a domino effect among indigenous groups and lead to an Indigenous Climate Accord. “The indigenous peoples have been left out of the Paris Climate Accord,” Tizya-Tramm said. “We’ve gotten a nod in the preamble, but where are the national and international public forums for indigenous voices?” Related: In a world first, the UK declares a climate emergency In June, the Gwitchin Steering Committee is planning an Arctic Indigenous Climate Summit and hopes that many different groups will come together to discuss their shared climate problems and possible plans of actions that are stronger than even the Paris Agreement . The Vuntut Gwitchin is a northern tribe in Canada’s Yukon territory, where melting icecaps are an unavoidable daily truth. “We’re seeing it in the priming of furs, in the emptying of lakes, in the return of animals , such as, this year, the geese coming before the black ducks, which we hadn’t seen before,” Tizya-Tramm said. “It’s about bringing that to the rest of the community, nationally.” Few media outlets reported on this major declaration from May 19, but indigenous groups have been prominent climate activists across the globe, including leading pipeline protests at Standing Rock and leading water justice actions. Traditional knowledge will likely be a critical ingredient for determining solutions to reduce the climate crisis, but international discussions largely ignore indigenous voices. Other nations to declare climate emergencies include the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and the Czech Republic. + Vuntut Gwitchin Via Earther Image via Bureau of Land Management

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Vuntut Gwitchin is the first indigenous nation to declare a climate emergency

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