This "super plant" can actually absorb air pollution

February 19, 2021 by  
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Scientists at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have found that Cotoneaster franchetii could help absorb pollution on heavily trafficked roads. In a study that compared how different plants tame pollution, RHS scientists found this species of cotoneaster to be the most effective. The plant was compared to other shrubs, including western red cedar and hawthorn. According to the researchers, cotoneaster turned out to be a “super plant” that could act as a carbon sink for fossil fuel pollution. However, the study established that the plant was really only helpful in areas with high traffic. In comparison to the other plants in the study, cotoneaster was found to be 20% more effective in absorbing pollution. In quiet regions with limited pollution, the plant was found to be less effective. Related: The Ray integrates plants and pollinators along I-85 “On major city roads with heavy traffic, we’ve found that the species with more complex, denser canopies, rough and hairy leaves such as cotoneaster were the most effective,” said Tijana Blanusa, lead researcher. “We know that in just seven days, a one-meter length of well-managed dense hedge will mop up the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500 mile drive.” Air pollution is a big concern in the modern world. RHS conducted a survey that involved over 2,000 participants to find out their take on pollution matters. The survey revealed that 33% of respondents have been affected by pollution but only 6% had taken steps to combat the situation in their own gardens. But researchers are hopeful that sharing how powerful cotoneaster and similar plants are could help the public participate in improving air quality through gardening . “We are continually identifying new ‘super plants’ with unique qualities, which, when combined with other vegetation, provide enhanced benefits while providing much-needed habitats for wildlife,” said Alistair Griffiths, director of science and collections at RHS. “We’ve found, for example, that ivy wall cover excels at cooling buildings, and hawthorn and privet help ease intense summer rainfalls and reduce localized flooding . If planted in gardens and green spaces where these environmental issues are most prevalent, we could make a big difference in mitigating against and adapting to climate change.” + Royal Horticultural Society Via The Guardian Image via Père Igor

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This "super plant" can actually absorb air pollution

Volunteers brave winter storm to save cold-stunned sea turtles

February 19, 2021 by  
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While the brutal winter storms across the U.S. are difficult for humans, they also put wildlife at risk, particularly cold-blooded reptiles, like sea turtles . Fortunately, instead of staying home and trying to keep warm during massive power outages, volunteers in coastal Texas are braving stormy waters and cold weather by boat or on foot to haul in cold-stunned sea turtles. Sea Turtle, Inc. is overseeing this massive rescue, which has saved over 4,500 sea turtles since last Sunday. The conservation nonprofit is getting creative to house all these turtles. About 500 are in bins in the organization’s own facility. The other 4,000 are currently residing at the South Padre Island Convention Center. Instead of the center’s usual business trade show or convention crowd, it is hosting sea turtles in a wall-to-wall array of kiddie pools, boxes and tarps. Perhaps the most impressive turtle rescued so far weighs 400 pounds and is about 150 years old. Related: Climate change pushes US weather to extremes “The love and support of people who just want to help things that can’t help themselves is overwhelming,” said Wendy Knight, executive director of Sea Turtle, Inc. In addition to individual volunteers , local government-built turtle storage platforms and SpaceX, which has a nearby launch site, provided something really special. “Like a ray from heaven, yesterday at 7:30 p.m. the site director and operations manager for SpaceX Boca Chica and two electricians and engineers from SpaceX showed up on our property with the largest generator I’ve ever seen,” Knight told NPR on Wednesday. With no end yet to the cold weather , the turtles will probably stay in the convention center at least until the weekend. If more turtles are rescued, a third storage facility will be necessary. Cold-blooded animals like turtles are especially vulnerable to weather extremes, as they are unable to regulate their body temperatures. Cold stun happens when water temperatures drop below 50°F. Suddenly, sea turtles find themselves unable to move and may become stranded or injured; they could even drown. Texas has five species of sea turtles, all of which are considered either threatened or endangered. + Sea Turtle, Inc. Via NPR Image via Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

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Volunteers brave winter storm to save cold-stunned sea turtles

A LEED Gold-targeted office will enhance worker wellbeing

February 5, 2021 by  
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Milan-based firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel (ACPV) has unveiled plans for the sustainable renovation of energy company Enel’s historic Rome headquarters. Guided by innovative and sustainable principles, the redesign will cover a total surface area of approximately 80,000 square meters and infuse workspaces with natural light and greenery to enhance workers’ physical and mental health. The modern, light-filled offices will follow bioclimatic and biophilic principles with the goal of achieving both the LEED and WELL certifications at Gold level. Located on Viale Regina Margherita, the Enel headquarters consists of seven interconnected buildings. Given its prominent location in historic Rome , the architects have framed the renovation as a major urban redevelopment project that will update the HQ and renew the building’s relationship with the city. The design will follow a “building-city” concept, in which the towers of the central structure will be complemented by extensive glazing in the modern facade to promote transparency. Related: Perkins Eastman’s WELL Platinum Chicago office prioritizes employee health “The rethinking of the Enel offices makes it possible to initiate a redevelopment which, in addition to the historical site, involves several buildings and impacts an entire urban sector, enhancing their historical qualities but at the same time creating more innovative and sustainable spaces,” said Luca Montuori, the councilor for urban planning of the City of Rome. “An example that demonstrates how it is possible to carefully combine, thanks to the project developed by the Citterio Viel firm, a vision of the future, a reflection on the workplace in this difficult historical moment, the reinterpretation of existing urban morphologies in a contemporary key, recovery of symbolic buildings of the city thanks to the company’s choice of a renewed alliance with the city.” Building information modeling ( BIM ) will be used to inform the design of the renovated headquarters to ensure sustainable design, efficient construction management and responsible building operations.   + Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel (ACPV) Images via ACPV

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Tasmanian island to be powered by wave energy

February 3, 2021 by  
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In about one month’s time, a remote Tasmanian island will be powered by wave energy. If the test project is successful, King Island residents will enjoy renewable energy harnessed from wave swells. This will make the island one of the few places on Earth where three forms of clean energy are used. Currently, about two-thirds of the island’s energy needs are covered by wind and solar power. The island of 1,700 people is being used as an example of how renewable energy can be adopted in the modern world. The project has been backed by federal agents and other investors, and it is led by Wave Swell Energy, a progressive energy company based in Australia . Tom Denniss, the co-founder of Wave Swell Energy, explained how the wave energy harnessing system works. Related: First-of-its-kind device prototype harnesses renewable energy from ocean waves “It’s very much like an artificial blowhole,” Denniss said. “There’s a big underwater chamber that’s open out the front, so the water is forced into the chamber. It pushes that air back and forth. The movement of air that spins the turbine and produces electricity.” Studies have shown that Australia’s southern coast has the potential to generate huge amounts of wave energy . A study carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found that the huge swells of waves on the coast can generate commercially viable power. Research showed that if wave energy is well-harnessed in Australia, it could cover up to 11% of the country’s energy needs by mid-century. “Clearly there’s a massive wave resource . It’s definitely a resource worth pursuing,” Denniss said. “We’ll have something soon but it’ll still be relatively small. It’s the future we’re looking towards.” The project uses a boat-like structure that floats on water . The structure is expected to harness about 200kW of power, but Wave Swell Energy has plans for a bigger model. “This is just a demonstration of the technology at this stage,” Denniss explained. “The aim of the project is to get a good estimate and generate data on how much it produces in different-sized waves. We want to see all different-sized waves so that we know across the full range of conditions what the unit can produce.” + Wave Swell Energy Via The Guardian Image via Hans B.

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Tasmanian island to be powered by wave energy

Le Littoral is a modern retreat tucked into an idyllic region of Quebec

January 29, 2021 by  
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Located in a region of Quebec known for its rolling hills and stunning views, this modern, minimalist retreat overlooks the area where the ocean meets the St. Lawrence River. The residence is known as Le Littoral and was designed by Architecture49, a firm based in Western Canada that specializes in creating wooden structures with off-center volumes. The clients are a couple who wanted to create a home with a contemporary style that complements the natural setting of rural Charlevoix. They wanted it to be used as both as a vacation residence and a luxury rental for visitors to the popular area. Architecture49 brought that vision to life by taking inspiration from the region’s historic architecture and farm buildings, then adding modern elements. Related: A lakeside, prefab home in Quebec aims for LEED Gold With sustainability in mind, the architects were sure to take highlights such as woodcutting and landscaping into account to minimize the impact of construction on the natural surroundings. To address the sloping nature of the setting, the home was elevated, and a lack of a basement eliminated the need for excavation. The building’s layout minimizes energy consumption while still taking advantage of lakeside views in the front and a private forest in the back. La Littoral features a swimming pool , sauna, fireplace and a spa, with a kitchen inside the cantilevered upper volume. As avid foodies, the clients requested a fully functional kitchen with amenities that would allow professional chefs and amateur cooks alike to take advantage of Charlevoix’s abundance of local ingredients. In addition to turning to local businesses and artisans, the architects relied on locally sourced FSC -certified cedar and pine for the structure’s skeleton. The kitchen features Quebec granite countertops, and the roof is made of sheet metal. The home’s automation systems are produced by local companies as well. + Architecture49 Photography by Stéphane Brügger via v2com

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Le Littoral is a modern retreat tucked into an idyllic region of Quebec

Agrodomes are individual greenhouses for budding crops

January 29, 2021 by  
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Farmers and backyard gardeners often find themselves rolling the dice in regards to when to safely transport seedlings from the greenhouse to the ground. It can be a crucial decision, as plants are vulnerable to heavy rain, hail or dry conditions. To facilitate healthy plant growth, Agrodome is a solution that eliminates the need for a greenhouse altogether. Designed by Agustin Otegui of NOS Design Consulting in collaboration with Jorge Álvarez, Agrodome is a modular dome for outdoor crops. With its transparent design, it allows farmers to germinate seeds directly in the field rather than growing them in a greenhouse only to transplant them into the field later. In essence, these domes act as individual greenhouses by protecting the plants from harsh weather and providing a temperature-controlled growing environment. Related: Sead Pod offers grassroots solution to air pollution and global warming Agrodomes are made from natural polymers and recycled PET , so they are fully recyclable at the end of their useful product life. Each dome measures 3 square feet, and the height is easily adjusted by simply pulling it up or pushing it deeper into the soil. The translucent upper part of the dome is ventilated to allow oxygen exchange for controlling humidity and temperature. A narrowed center portion works as a funnel, diverting water directly underground so it doesn’t flood the budding plants and allows the soil to achieve better absorption. The bottom portion of the funnel features holes that further disperse the water beneath the surface of the soil. Agrodome is designed to be lightweight yet strong. This allows farmers to easily stack, store and transport it. It also makes it easy to move the domes from one section of the field to another as different sections of the field are ready to plant or as plants are ready to thrive without the Agrodome. The modular aspect means it can be used for a variety of crops in different parts of the field at the same time, taking advantage of natural light and catering to the needs of each plant. + NOS Design Consulting Images via NOS Design Consulting

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Agrodomes are individual greenhouses for budding crops

The Good Life House uses passive design for year-round comfort in Melbourne

December 17, 2020 by  
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When Mark and Kate approached Brunswick-based firm MRTN Architects to design a new, energy-efficient home for their family of five in Fairfield, they brought with them a wealth of design ideas that included memories of family farm visits and the eco-friendly Alistair Knox houses that they had considered purchasing previously. The resulting home — dubbed the Good Life House — thoughtfully integrates those stylistic influences into a contemporary design that also references the Californian Bungalow and Arts and Crafts houses typical to the Fairfield suburb. Sustainability also informed many design choices, from the use of heat pump technologies to passive design elements, such as reverse brick veneer construction for thermal mass and high operable windows that take advantage of the stack effect. Instead of an open-plan layout, Mark and Kate made it clear from the start that they wanted a home where their family of five could “live together and also live together apart.” As a result, the architects divided the home into a series of smaller spaces that allow for a range of social and solitary activities. For example, instead of a main living space, the architects sandwiched the combined kitchen and dining room at the heart of the home between an “active living room” to the west and a “quiet living room” to the east. Related: Modern farmhouse-inspired dwelling in Melbourne is largely self-sufficient Though undeniably contemporary, the Good Life House respects the surrounding homes’ hip and gable roof forms with a similar roofline to fit in with its existing neighbors. But unlike its neighbors, the home eschews a front door in favor of a variety of entrance options that include entry via the covered outdoor space, the large sliding gate or the garden in the north. To ensure year-round comfort, the architects chose materials for optimal thermal performance and low-maintenance durability. In-slab hydronic flooring, ceiling fans and operable windows help maintain a comfortable thermal environment while energy-efficient appliances and a heat pump reduce the home’s energy footprint. + MRTN Architects Photography by Dave Kulesza via MRTN Architects

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The Good Life House uses passive design for year-round comfort in Melbourne

This waterproof outwear is made with fishing nets and nylon waste

November 11, 2020 by  
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Sisters Marta and Lucia Scarampi have always focused on slow fashion by making each item in the Marta Scarampi clothing line on-demand as orders are received. This avoids excess waste and unnecessary inventory. Additionally, the company uses every scrap from the cutting room floor to make hair scrunchies, headbands and masks. Now, the brand’s newest line, The Greta Collection, makes use of waste like fishing nets to create sustainable, durable outerwear. The newest collection continues the trend of avoiding waste during the manufacturing process but also reduces waste already in the environment by relying on ECONYL, a fiber made in Italy. ECONYL is generated from used carpets, old fishing nets and other fabric scraps. In addition to the recycling involved at the origin, the materials are endlessly recyclable at the end of the garments’ lifecycles, too. Related: Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls Marta Scarampi’s investment in ECONYL for circular fashion is referred to as The Re-Waste Project, and the initial release is the capsule The Greta Collection. It includes six pieces that can be worn for work or play. “With most of us working from home now, we shifted the focus to casual wear to match this modern lifestyle,” Marta said. “We imagine you wanting to be comfortable when you’re out on the weekends, running errands, riding your bike, and really just enjoying the present, and being you.” The capsule collection offers interchangeable options that include a parka, cape, jacket, detachable hood, belt bag and, of course, the latest universally necessary accessory, a face mask. The material for all of the products is waterproof, machine-washable and durable. If at some point you want to part with your coat or accessory, it can go back into the recycling process, directly contributing to the reduction of pollution at every stage of the cycle. Lucia said, “Even when you one day decide to discard the reusable face masks we make, the best part is knowing that it can eventually be recycled, and turned into new ECONYL® fibre again.” + Marta Scarampi Images via Marta Scarampi

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This waterproof outwear is made with fishing nets and nylon waste

Rethinking the role of sustainability reports

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

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Green groups urge UN to raise climate ambition on global shipping

October 20, 2020 by  
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Green groups urge UN to raise climate ambition on global shipping Cecilia Keating Tue, 10/20/2020 – 00:15 The global shipping industry’s decarbonization efforts once again face stormy seas. Ahead of the latest crucial round of talks this week at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), green groups are warning proposals are “an empty shell” that will have a negligible impact on the sector’s emissions. Seasoned observers fear that growing calls for a bolder and more ambitious global policy framework are continuing to founder on the rocks of vested interests and short-term cost concerns.  IMO member states are meeting this week for critical talks to discuss how the carbon-intensive shipping industry can be regulated to meet its 2030 climate target of reducing its carbon emissions intensity by 40 percent compared to 2008 levels. While the target was set two years ago, the latest talks are where the member states are expected to agree on how to enforce it, before the proposals are moved forward to committee stage in November. A joint proposal from 15 major shipping nations and influential industry group the International Chamber of Shipping is to form the basis of the discussions, yet green groups have slammed the proposals as a “low ambition” plan that could have disastrous implications for the sector’s chances of falling into line with the overarching global goals set out in the Paris Agreement. The frontrunning proposal, sponsored by France, Germany and Japan, has come under fire due to a recommendation that stringent enforcement of operational efficiency regulations is introduced no earlier than 2029. And despite warnings from climate scientists that the IMO’s 2030 carbon-intensity target is insufficient to meet global climate goals — it has been rated by Climate Action Tracker as “critically insufficient” and aligned with a potentially devastating global temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius — the plan does not recommend the industry aim for sharper emissions reductions. Faïg Abbasov, head of shipping at campaign group Transport & Environment, told BusinessGreen the proposal was “essentially an empty shell.” “To achieve 1.5 degrees [of warming] we need to decarbonize by the mid-2030s,” he explained. “To achieve 2 degrees we need to decarbonize by mid-century. This proposal goes nowhere near that level.” To achieve 1.5 degrees [of warming] we need to decarbonize by the mid-2030s. To achieve 2 degrees we need to decarbonize by mid-century. This proposal goes nowhere near that level. While green groups contend that the proposed plan in fact will undermine the shipping sector’s already-weak climate targets, the joint proposal’s sponsors argue the agreement represents a major step forward for a historically fractured industry that has spent much of the past decade delaying and diluting more ambitious proposals. BusinessGreen understands that advocates of the plan will argue that it balances the need to act fast to reduce the sector’s climate impact and the need to give industry time to adjust as regulators work out how to calculate and regulate operational efficiency, a measurement that is more difficult to define than a ship’s technical efficiency due to its being affected by weather conditions. The dispute is the latest in a long history of quarrels between environmentalists and the IMO, the United Nations agency charged with the regulation of a global shipping industry that operates largely outside and between national jurisdictions. With many nation states choosing to keep international shipping outside their domestic climate targets, the onus falls on the London-based agency to set the pace and direction of decarbonization efforts. But while a growing number of nations and shipping operators have stepped up calls for a more ambitious global policy regime, any attempts to introduce robust new regulations through the IMO have tended to be thwarted by those countries that fear the financial impact on their shipping industry from new emissions standards or carbon pricing regimes. It is a dynamic that has left environmental campaigners increasingly frustrated.  Last week, Transport & Environment’s Abbasov warned that the regulatory framework set to be discussed this week could perhaps “bend” growth of carbon emissions in the shipping sector by mid-century but would “not be able to stop it.” Transport & Environment is one of a number of green groups, including Carbon Market Watch, Seas at Risk and Ocean Conservancy, to have written to the Secretary General of the United Nations in early October to warn of the short-term policy measures being cooked up by member states ahead of the meeting. “It is not the job of the United Nations to protect vested fossil fuel interests,” they wrote in a letter seen by BusinessGreen. “It is the job of the United Nations to protect people and planet from the ravages of runaway global heating.” The NGOs, united as the Clean Shipping Coalition, warned that if robust enforcement of operational emissions standards is delayed to 2029, the IMO will fail to meet a number of the stated aims contained in its own landmark 2018 greenhouse gas reduction strategy, namely to achieve significant additional CO2 reductions “before 2023,” ensure emissions emissions peak “as soon as possible” and deliver a carbon dioxide reduction pathway in line with the Paris goals. Furthermore, they stressed that civil society organizations had not been invited to the private meetings where member states and the shipping industry had hashed out the plan, and that a separate proposal submitted by green groups earlier this year which set out how the industry could reach a more ambitious 80 percent reduction in carbon intensity emissions by 2030 had been omitted from the document. Campaigners maintain that stronger ambition is required given that the 2030 target the IMO is working towards — a 40 percent reduction in carbon-intensity emissions — is not aligned with the Paris Agreement in the first place. They argue that, with the existing 2030 commitment already three-quarters met purely through the trend for slower speeds and bigger ships, there is a huge opportunity for the industry to raise its ambition at the informal meetings take place next week. But industry players counter that the current proposals are plenty robust enough, pointing out that under the proposals new technical efficiency standards for ships will be enforced immediately, as will plans to introduce a new mandatory operational efficiency rating system, where ships are rated on an A to E grading system that should subject poor-efficiency ships to the power of the market. “The fact that we are so close to a consensus among IMO members states is a huge step in the right direction,” Simon Bennett, deputy secretary general at the International Chamber of Shipping, told BusinessGreen.   Bennett also argued the total decarbonization of the shipping sector ultimately would rely on technological innovation. “These measures will be legally binding and an important step towards our goal of full decarbonization of the shipping sector,” he said. “We know more can be done and what we do must work in practice as well as in writing. If we’re to achieve a truly global solution to the total decarbonization of world shipping, then radical, innovative technological solutions must be found over the next decade.” But Transport & Environment’s Abbasov warned that a low-ambition regulatory framework agreed on this week could have negative implications for shipping policy for decades to come. “It will set a wrong precedent that adopting cosmetic measures or low-ambition measures are okay, and anything in the future will probably forward the same path,” he stressed. “It will set a domino effect that is extremely, extremely dangerous.” While the final shape of the proposals to be agreed by member states remains to be seen, Abbasov and ICS agreed that it was likely to not stray far from scenarios contained in the draft document. As such, attention is likely to quickly turn to alternative avenues for accelerating the development and adoption of the lower-carbon shipping technologies and practices that remain in the pipeline. As Abbasov argues, if IMO member states decide to endorse the current proposal and send it to the committee stage, then the onus will fall more than ever on regional national governments to set regulatory standards that catalyse decarbonization progress across shipping sector. With more than one quarter of the global economy committed to achieving net-zero emissions over the coming decades, it follows that the shipping sector will be under increased pressure from governments and private players to clean up its act. In some quarters, these dynamics already seem to be at work, with oil major Shell calling on the IMO last month to adopt more ambitious climate targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050 as it published its new sustainable shipping strategy. However, the IMO always has been the subject of fierce lobbying from the shipping and other industry bodies, and it is unclear to what extent corporate net zero commitments are being matched by behind-the-scenes advocacy arguing against more ambitious rules and regulations. Reports from InfluenceMap and Transparency International have explored how some industry groups historically have lobbied to obstruct meaningful climate change action in the shipping sector, and green groups have alleged that vested fossil fuel interests continue to play an oversized role in IMO negotiations.  That said, there is growing evidence that some businesses are looking to provide a counterweight to those lobbyists pushing for a more relaxed regulatory regime. When asked by BusinessGreen about what outcome they would hope to see out of the latest round of talks and whether they would support more ambitious targets from the IMO, representatives from businesses with high profile net-zero commitments emphasized the need to decarbonize their supply chains, even if they largely declined to comment on the agency’s specific plans. If we’re to achieve a truly global solution to the total decarbonization of world shipping, then radical, innovative technological solutions must be found over the next decade. A spokesperson from IKEA stressed that ocean shipping made up 40 percent of the carbon footprint of its supply chain operations and therefore the company’s pledge to reduce the carbon footprint of all transport by an average of 70 percent by 2030 compared to 2017 was a “huge ambition.” Meanwhile, Apple said it planned to reduce its carbon impact from shipping by leveraging fleet improvements, sustainable fuels and supply chain efficiencies, while explaining that it planned to prioritize shipping over aviation as a low-carbon form of product transport as it worked to meet a net-zero supply chain commitment. A statement provided by Shell welcomed signs that some form of new regulatory regime was on the way. “Achieving net-zero emissions shipping by 2050 is vitally important — and that means ambitious regulation coming into effect in 2023 will be required,” said Grahaeme Henderson, Shell’s global head of shipping and maritime. “It is encouraging to see a consolidated proposal on carbon intensity and energy-efficiency measures on the agenda for IMO discussions next week to progress towards that goal.” As the U.K. government gears up to host critical COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in 2021 and repeatedly asserts its world-leading climate reputation as it attempts to steer a green recovery from the coronavirus, it could be argued that the U.K. has a role to play in pushing for the highest possible ambition at this week’s talks. When questioned about what outcome the U.K. would support from the talks, a spokesperson from the Department for Transport emphasized the government was committed to delivering a decarbonized shipping sector. “Shipping emissions require a global solution, and we will work with our international partners through the IMO to achieve a greener, zero emissions future for the shipping sector,” they said. The U.K. government has broadly committed to working with other IMO member states to “raise the ambition” of the IMO’s climate targets at a five-year review of the original 2018 IMO GHG strategy planned for 2023. It is also working to introduce net-zero emissions ships in U.K. waters by 2025 as it works to make domestic shipping net-zero by mid-century. But despite positive noises from the government, Transport & Environment’s Abbasov stressed the U.K. was a relatively small player at the IMO. “The DfT has been genuinely helpful — maybe not always vocal — but genuinely helpful behind the scenes in giving the right feedback and at least recognizing that what was being discussed and agreed is nonsense,” he reflected. “But we should not overestimate the U.K.’s power in international negotiations. The U.K. is one country out of 190, and secondly it’s not even the most powerful shipping nation. Power has really moved to Panama… The U.K. is no match to those countries. Even Malta and Greece are more powerful than the U.K. when it comes to shipping.” Optimists remain confident emerging hydrogen, battery and biofuel technologies coupled with new ship designs could yet deliver a net-zero-emission fleets by 2050. But with vested interests once again locked in a standoff with environmental campaigners and those corporates that want to build a net-zero economy, it looks as if the voyage to deliver a low-emission global fleet is proving to be as tumultuous as ever.  Pull Quote To achieve 1.5 degrees [of warming] we need to decarbonize by the mid-2030s. To achieve 2 degrees we need to decarbonize by mid-century. This proposal goes nowhere near that level. If we’re to achieve a truly global solution to the total decarbonization of world shipping, then radical, innovative technological solutions must be found over the next decade. Topics Shipping & Logistics Climate Change Corporate Strategy Sustainable Shipping BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Avigator Fortuner Close Authorship

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Green groups urge UN to raise climate ambition on global shipping

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