ESG in 2021: The State of Play

February 25, 2021 by  
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ESG in 2021: The State of Play Date/Time: March 18, 2021 (1-2PM ET / 10-11AM PT) The world of environmental, social and governance metrics and ratings has entered a new and dynamic phase. Suddenly, nearly every publicly held company — and many privately held firms — are examining their policies and programs through the lens of investors’ rising interest in ESG metrics. For their part, investors are learning that corporate environmental and social activities are no longer a nice-to-do activity — they are core to well-managed and profitable companies. As a result, ESG has moved from the margins to the mainstream. What are the implications for today’s sustainability and finance professionals? How can they serve the interests of investor relations departments, risk professionals and other internal stakeholders who have become part of the ESG ecosystem inside companies?  In this one-hour webcast, you’ll hear the state of play from two industry insiders. Among the things you’ll learn: What are the key ESG metrics investors are examining? What are the opportunities for sustainability professionals to play a leadership role in their company’s ESG strategy? How will the Biden administration affect the trajectory of ESG transparency and disclosure? What are the rising ESG issues that investors are considering in assessing companies? Moderator: Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Speakers: Thomas Kamei, Executive Director, Investment Management, Morgan Stanley Tessie Petion, Head, ESG Engagement, Amazon If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast. taylor flores Thu, 02/25/2021 – 11:53 Joel Makower Chairman & Executive Editor GreenBiz Group @makower Thomas Kamei Executive Director, Investment Management Morgan Stanley Tessie Petion Head, ESG Engagement Amazon gbz_webcast_date Thu, 03/18/2021 – 10:00 – Thu, 03/18/2021 – 11:00

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ESG in 2021: The State of Play

The electronic waste collection conundrum

July 16, 2020 by  
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The electronic waste collection conundrum Heather Clancy Thu, 07/16/2020 – 01:15 The primary reason I started covering the business of sustainability during the 2008 financial crisis wasn’t just because I was laid off from my position as editor of a technology trade publication. Quite simply, I had become obsessed with the tech industry’s then-blasé attitude about the seemingly intractable problem of electronic waste.  A dozen years later, it’s still a massive problem — although data released this week by Morgan Stanley suggest that shifting consumer mindsets about electronics recycling, refurbishment, repair and trade-in programs could be a catalyst for change. First, some stats. According to a December report by the United Nations Environment Program, roughly 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste is produced globally on an annual basis. By weight, that’s more than all of the commercial airliners ever manufactured, and only 20 percent of the stuff is formally recycled. (The operative word being formally, because a lot of it gets handled in informal ways that can inflict serious human and environmental damage. But that’s a subject for another essay.) The numbers will never scale until collection is scaled. When I started mining some of my stories from a year ago, those figures were eerily familiar. The amount of e-stuff collected and processed for some useful end — either mined for metals and rare earths or refurbished for a second life — definitely has been growing, thanks to companies such as Apple, Dell, HP Inc. and Samsung. But not nearly enough when you think of all the gadgets that have made it into the world’s hands over the past 10 years.  Interest in seeing that change is growing among consumers — at least before the pandemic really set in — according to research fielded in February by Morgan Stanley. More than half the individuals the financial services company surveyed — 10,000 people from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China and India — said they recycle old electronics devices. That’s up from 24 percent just two years ago. Close to half of them, 45 percent, said electronics recycling should be handled by the manufacturer. Furthermore, close to 80 percent of the respondents reported that they repaired a device — or planned to repair — at least one gadget; 70 percent had bought or planned on buying a refurbished one. “As advanced robotics technology becomes more accessible, repairs and chip-set upgrades could become a more compelling method in making devices more ‘sustainable,’” Morgan Stanley noted in its report. Great idea, but how does all this stuff get to a location where it can be repaired, refurbished or recycling? “The numbers will never scale until collection is scaled,” long-time electronics recycling executive Kabira Stokes told me when I chatted with her earlier this week. Stokes founded her first electronics recycling organization in 2011 as a social purpose corporation and later sold Homeboy Industries. Homeboy Recycling, where she’s a board member, handles recycling for companies, notably HP — it has raised oodles of press for its workforce development program, which creates jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals. She’s hoping to bring the same ethos as CEO of one-year-old Retrievr , which is (you guessed it) focusing on solving the collection problem. The company’s first market is Philadelphia, where it has contracted with the city and more than 80 nearby municipalities to pick up unwanted clothing and electronics that otherwise might wind up in places where we really don’t want it. Retrievr’s lead investor is Closed Loop Partners and it is advised by execs from Accenture and Google. “This is a way to reach into people’s houses. In my mind, it’s the only way to move the needle,” Stokes said. While Retrievr isn’t ready to talk about its partners in fashion and technology, it’s shopping the software behind its collection system as a way to help product makers get stuff back more easily, Stokes told me. Historically speaking, many makers of stuff haven’t taken responsibility for its end of life. That’s changing as more explore circular production methods. Morgan Stanley’s analysis notes that consumers are particularly interested in trade-in options, with more than three-quarters of those surveyed hoping to participate in such a program by 2022. This isn’t just a matter of sustainability, it’s a matter of competitive advantage. The firm figures of the value of Apple iPhones that could be traded toward new devices is somewhere around $147 billion, an amount that could fund roughly 30 percent of new iPhone purchases over the next three years. “We believe that now is the opportune time for manufacturers to invest more aggressively in infrastructure to support these types of programs,” the Morgan Stanley analysis notes. Of course, it’s possible that if this same survey were fielded today, fewer consumers would be interested in repairs or refurbished devices or in trading the old for new. During a pandemic, things previously owned by others don’t have quite the same cachet. One big wildcard is how the COVID-19 economic crisis — and potentially permanent new habits in remote working and education — might affect demand for personal computers and tablets. Think of how many households with multiple children have had to invest in additional devices in order to keep everyone online. Just last week, research firm IDC reported that second quarter PC shipments grew by double digits compared with a year ago. It could be exactly the right time to change the model. This article first appeared in GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, VERGE Weekly, running Wednesdays. Subscribe  here . Follow me on Twitter: @greentechlady. Pull Quote The numbers will never scale until collection is scaled. Topics Information Technology Circular Economy E-Waste Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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The electronic waste collection conundrum

Could trash-to-energy technology feed hydrogen demand?

July 15, 2020 by  
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Could trash-to-energy technology feed hydrogen demand? Arlene Karidis Wed, 07/15/2020 – 01:00 One novel spin on emerging hydrogen fuel options is “clean hydrogen” made from trash.  Early pioneers of these hydrogen-from-waste technologies such as Ways2H, SGH2 Energy (SGH2) and Standard Hydrogen say not only are they making carbon-free, energy-rich fuel, their approaches also will divert mountains of trash from landfills and waterways, cutting greenhouse gas emissions.   Green hydrogen — made by splitting water’s hydrogen and oxygen using electricity produced by renewable sources — is a small fish in the “energies pond.” Today, more than 95 percent of hydrogen is fossil-based and does not rely on renewables. Other technologies are in the mix, such as battery electric vehicles. Hydrogen from waste is an even smaller fish than hydrogen from renewable energy. There are only a few waste-to-hydrogen projects, most which are in early stages and relatively small scale. Still, there is potential for clean — low- or zero-carbon — hydrogen to take off, energy experts believe. It is energy-efficient, abundant and an environmentally friendly alternative to natural gas. Clean hydrogen could cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel by up to 34 percent, reported Bloomberg New Energy Finance.  Deployed at scale, hydrogen from all sources could account for almost 20 percent of energy consumed by 2050, projects the Hydrogen Council . The annual demand could reach 19,120,458,891 tons by then, representing a tenfold increase from 2015 to 2050.  When we began marketing our services, we expected most of the interest to center around our hydrogen production capabilities, but most inquiries have centered around waste consumption.   Looking specifically at hydrogen from renewable energy, Bloomberg calculates that if the cost for the technology to produce it continues its current downward curve, renewable hydrogen could be competitive with natural gas in several countries before 2050. And it could be cheaper than producing hydrogen from natural gas. Combined with a push for decarbonization, these economics could drive demand, project energy experts.  A few tech companies are working to grow clean hydrogen in Europe and Asia and, lately, California. As the state weighs hydrogen as a possible path to its goal of carbon neutrality by midcentury, California’s policy makers are following emerging research, including a recent report from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory looking specifically at converting hydrogen from waste. It concluded this approach could be a cost-effective way to actually achieve negative emissions. One company hoping to capitalize is Ways2H , which has a thermal process to convert municipal solid waste, medical waste, plastics and sewage sludge into renewable hydrogen. With four pilots under its belt, the company soon plans to launch a commercial project in Tokyo. It will start by making transportation fuel from wastewater sludge, then add plastics, according to the company.  Later this year, the developer intends to build a plant in California to make hydrogen from waste for transportation fuel or for the power grid; it is negotiating with a healthcare provider to supply the trash. The plan is to build more plants in California and other U.S. locations in 2021. Above photo courtesy of Ways2H Ways2H CEO Jean-Louis Kindler believes he’s found a promising niche. “As we see more hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, beginning with public transportation applications … that are happening worldwide, and as more utilities adopt hydrogen as a power generation fuel, producing renewable hydrogen from waste will be an important source of supply to meet growing clean hydrogen demand,” he said.  Is this the best second life for trash? Energy Transitions Commission, a global coalition of leaders across the energy landscape, is exploring low-carbon energy systems — including different ways to make hydrogen. The commission’s stance is that leveraging biomass to make hydrogen fuel is not putting waste as feedstock to its best use. “We try to understand bioresource demand and to prioritize its use, using it as a resource where there are no other low-carbon options. There are other ways to make hydrogen. Meanwhile, there are applications with few low-carbon options that need the biomass more, such as biofuels for aviation,” said Meera Atreya, Energy Transitions Commission Bioeconomy lead. That hasn’t dissuaded Ways2H and others from forging ahead.  SGH2 , for example, is producing hydrogen from mixed paper, which is fed into a gasifier that operates at very high heat generated by oxygen and plasma torches. The heat breaks down waste’s hydrocarbons into a synthetic gas; hydrogen is then separated and purified to 99.9999 percent.   Its first plant will be able to generate 3,800 tons of green hydrogen a year from waste supplied by the city of Lancaster in California, which will co-own the facility according to a memorandum of understanding, according to the SGH2 web site. The image above describes SGH2’s process. SGH2 is negotiating with fueling stations interested in the Lancaster plant’s output. SGH2 CEO Robert Do, whose background is in physics, medicine and business, can’t name companies yet but said, “We have also had enormous interest from other buyers in California and globally. We are in talks with utilities, cement companies, and hydrogen bus manufacturers, among others.”  A preliminary lifecycle analysis indicates that for every ton of hydrogen produced, SGH2’s process displaces 13 to 19 tons more CO2 than processes using electrolysis to split water’s hydrogen and oxygen. Do said his production costs are lower, averaging $2 per kg.  “We can do it cheaper because our fuel is free, in exchange for offering disposal services at no cost to generators. And we can run the plant year-round while electrolysis depends on availability of solar and wind,” he said. A 2020 Hydrogen Council report states that renewable hydrogen produced via electrolysis is about $6/kg hydrogen; although costs have been declining, and it projects they will continue to drop.  Another pioneer in the waste-to-hydrogen movement is Standard Hydrogen Company , which is converting waste to hydrogen sulfide, then splitting it into hydrogen and sulfur to make fuel from the hydrogen. Like SGH2, the company says its process is cheaper than electrolysis because it is less energy-intensive and involves no water. Standard Hydrogen CEO Alan Mintzer hopes to close on his first joint venture this summer with a consortium of North American utilities and multinational corporations that will provide feedstock and purchase the hydrogen. He is targeting pricing of $4/kg wholesale and $5/kg retail.   “When we began marketing our services, we expected most of the interest to center around our hydrogen production capabilities, but most inquiries have centered around waste consumption. Not only will we clean the landfills and plastic and tire dumps, but our process provides an incentive to go to the floating garbage islands out in the oceans, and convert them into hydrogen,” Mintzer said.  The California Energy Commission (CEC) and other agencies in that state have funded research on hydrogen transportation fuel, including potentially sourced from waste.  “As the state moves to deep decarbonization, we’re exploring all options — including hydrogen as a clean energy carrier — in order to identify the most cost-effective pathways to reduce carbon emissions and protect public health,” says Laurie ten Hope, deputy director for Energy Research and Development at the California Energy Commission.  Technology & Investment Solutions is among those doing research for California. Its project is in collaboration with the University of Southern California (USC) and entails converting organic waste to biogas through anaerobic digestion and uses USC’s catalytic reformer to convert the methane to hydrogen for potential use as vehicle fuel.  Still, the process of making hydrogen fuel from any source has a way to go before it has firm footing, even in a state committed to decarbonization.  While California is mandated to bring 100 hydrogen refueling stations on line by 2025, and is looking to add more, it currently has just over 6,000 hydrogen vehicles on the road, compared to nearly 700,000 electric vehicles, noted a CEC spokeswoman. She added, “So while the state has invested in hydrogen technologies, today there is far less adoption of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles than electric ones.” Through their growing pains, developers working on hydrogen from waste are onto something, speculated Keith D. Patch, an energy and technology consultant. Not only are other clean technologies such as electrolysis expensive, they require enormous energy and don’t address the waste problem that waste conversion technologies could, he points out. But what are the hurdles?  “The biggest barrier has been overly optimistic predictions by waste conversion companies, primarily around technical maturity and commercial economics. But once commercial readiness is validated by robust subscale testing, the industry should be primed for takeoff,” Patch said. Pull Quote When we began marketing our services, we expected most of the interest to center around our hydrogen production capabilities, but most inquiries have centered around waste consumption. The biggest barrier has been overly optimistic predictions by waste conversion companies, primarily around technical maturity and commercial economics. Topics Energy & Climate Circular Economy Hydrogen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Standard Hydrogen Close Authorship

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Morgan Stanley’s Courtney Thompson on the current state of sustainable finance

March 4, 2020 by  
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Courtney Thompson, vice president of global sustainable finance at Morgan Stanley says sustainability finance has taken off in recent years. “I think it’s mainstream and I think the sources of data that are enabling smarter decisions around this are also bringing the conversation around sustainability to the forefront for many, many investors,” says Thompson.

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Morgan Stanley’s Courtney Thompson on the current state of sustainable finance

Episode 161: The voices of GreenBiz 19

March 1, 2019 by  
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Inspiration from former NFL football player Ovie Mughelli, and insights from Tiffany & Co.’s chief sustainability and philanthropy officer Anisa Kamadoli Costa. Plus, Morgan Stanley’s Audrey Choi on the mainstreaming of ESG.

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Episode 161: The voices of GreenBiz 19

Tesla sues oil exec for allegedly impersonating Elon Musk to get trade secrets

September 16, 2016 by  
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It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that impersonating Tesla CEO Elon Musk is probably not a good idea, but that’s exactly what Tesla alleges a senior executive of an oil company recently tried to do . In a lawsuit filed this week, Tesla accused Todd Katz, the chief financial officer of Seattle-based Quest Integrity Group, of attempting to obtain confidential financial information about the company by impersonating Tesla’s CEO via email. The suit claims Katz used an email address similar to one Musk was known to use in the past, and sent a message to Tesla Chief Financial Officer Jason Wheeler, on August 3, 2016 asking for information beyond what had just been published in the company’s quarterly financial report. The suspicious email originated from “elontesla@yahoo.com,” which Tesla officials say is similar to a legitimate address Musk used in the past. Tesla filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court. Forbes broke the news the same day, sending a wave of incredulous laughter across the internet. Related: Tesla announces plans for world domination: includes trucks, buses, and solar power According to the lawsuit, the email in question read: why you so cautious w Q3/4 gm guidance on call? also what are your thoughts on disclosing M3 res#? Pros/cons from ir pov? what is your best guess as to where we actually come in on q3/4 deliverables. honest guess? no bs. thx 4 hard work prepping 4 today em In layman’s terms, the author of the email was asking Wheeler to discuss information not released to the public. The lawsuit alleges that Katz was knowingly “impersonating Musk in an attempt to unlawfully obtain material, non-public information—including Tesla’s financial trade secrets—from Tesla’s CFO through fraud, artifice and deception.” The originating email address was a red flag to Wheeler, who did not disclose any of the requested information. Quest Integrity Group may not ring a bell for most Americans, but Katz was previously employed by several top Wall Street investment banks, including Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. Quest’s client list includes oil and gas giants such as BP, Shell, Chevron, and ExxonMobil. “On information and belief, Katz, Quest Integrity, and/or their oil company clients intended to use that non-public and trade secret information to further their own agendas and to harm Tesla,” the lawsuit reads. Via EcoWatch Images via Tesla and  Santa Clara County Superior Court via screenshot

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Tesla sues oil exec for allegedly impersonating Elon Musk to get trade secrets

Are fuel cells worth the investment?

May 2, 2016 by  
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Technology finds comfy niche at companies such as Microsoft, Morgan Stanley and Legrand.

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Are fuel cells worth the investment?

Is Tesla planning to compete with Uber using their own self-driving cars?

August 11, 2015 by  
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A Tesla earnings call this week has started rumours that Elon Musk is planning a foray into the world of ride-sharing using the company’s new self-driving cars. A few weeks ago, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said that he would buy all 500,000 of the self-driving cars Tesla plans to build in the next five years. On this week’s earnings call, Adam Jonas from Morgan Stanley asked Musk if he would consider supplying vehicles to ride-sharing companies or if he might “cut out the middle man and sell on-demand electric mobility services directly from the company on its own platform?” Musk’s enigmatic reply came after a short pause. “That’s an insightful question,” he said, “I don’t think I should answer it.” Via Engadget Images via  Maurizio Pesce

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Is Tesla planning to compete with Uber using their own self-driving cars?

Economy Doesn’t Dampen Clinton Initiative Commitments

September 22, 2010 by  
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Morgan Stanley, Procter and Gamble (P&G) and GreenTech Automotive announced plans at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting that will reduce emissions, speed deployment of electric vehicles, and expand access to clean drinking water in developing countries. This follows a similarly ambitious commitment from Donlen, Environmental Defense Fund and GreenDriver to reduce commercial fleet emissions by 20 percent over five years.

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Economy Doesn’t Dampen Clinton Initiative Commitments

Calling on CEOs to Become Nature’s Heroes

September 21, 2010 by  
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When it comes to climate change, consumers want simple and clear ways to buy the goods and services they desire, in a fashion that won’t destroy their planet. Legislation that puts the real price of carbon into the economy would be a good step in that direction

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Calling on CEOs to Become Nature’s Heroes

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