Game on: New study shows which sports teams have the greenest fans

December 22, 2020 by  
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Game on: New study shows which sports teams have the greenest fans Kristen Fulmer Tue, 12/22/2020 – 01:00 Ever wondered which sports team has the most sustainable fans? From the perspective of a rights holder, this is becoming a critical question. The answers will drive business decisions for venue operations, fan engagement and brand partnership activation. For the green sports movement, the answers may be the key to solidifying the importance of integrating sustainability into sports.  A new report by Recipric, powered by Zoomph’s technology, helps us understand the answer. Recipric , an agency that represents sustainability and positive change within sports, leveraged Zoomph’s Audience Analysis Tool to help answer this question. Together, they co-published Sustainability in Sports , a report that ranks teams from various professional leagues — including baseball, football, basketball and soccer — according to which teams have the most “sustainability-minded” fans. The report also reveals which teams are most likely to have fans that are vegetarian, have an affinity for the outdoors, a particular stance on climate justice, and those most likely to follow Al Gore and Greta Thunberg.  It solidifies that sustainability can be enhanced through the power of sport because of the overlap between sports lovers and people that seek positive change. To reach these rankings, Zoomph’s platform started with about 342 million anonymized profiles. It developed the sustainability-minded audience by capturing a list of terms that someone interested in sustainability may use in their Twitter bio, or by tagging accounts that a climate activist may follow. From there, a segmented audience of more than 500,000 profiles was cross-referenced against Zoomph’s sports analytics platform to understand who this sustainability-minded audience may follow, including sports leagues, teams and brands.  To guide fan engagement strategies and to activate brand partnerships, sports teams often will poll their fan base to gain an understanding of their spending habits, their hobbies or even their passions outside of sports. While this may tell a story about the preferences targeted by a survey, Zoomph unpacks tendencies on social media without explicitly asking questions. This provides raw insights into a particular group of sports fans, but can tap into interests, brand endorsement and even behavioral data in a way that a survey question may not.  While it’s fun to see if assumptions line up with the results of the study, this data can be hugely impactful to the larger sports industry. Teams can look at this data to understand the specific interests of their followers, which can guide on-the-ground community engagement strategies that drive ticket sales or can tell them how to better leverage their brand partners. Brands can use this data to understand which team or even which league may provide the most engaged audience. Even agents could gauge the interests of their represented athletes’ followers to understand the value of a sponsorship deal.  An example from the report highlights U.S. pro sports teams most likely to have vegetarian or vegan followers. The shortlist shows the top five:  Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) New England Patriots (NFL) Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) Golden State Warriors (NBA) Boston Red Sox (MLB) While a casual fan may enjoy making assumptions about the stereotypical tendencies of each of these team’s fans, reasoning the list against demographic trends, or positing about various geographies, this list actually can mean big business for the rights holders and potential brands.  Not surprisingly, the Lakers and Beyond Meat launched an official partnership in 2019, and JaVale McGee, a Laker at the time, was named an official brand ambassador. However, the Lakers can continue to leverage these findings to identify additional vendors for the Staples Center, create a “Plant-Based Day” with incentives to support a local plant-based restaurant, or provide discounted tickets to plant-based fans. With the power of the analytics, a team can drive holistic positive change that engages their fans while taking climate action and improving health and well-being.  This study highlights the importance of sustainability-driven values for rights holders to engage with their fan base and to potentially tap into a larger audience. This drives revenue and is so critical to sustainability professionals charged with creating a data-driven strategy. It solidifies that sustainability can be enhanced through the power of sport because of the overlap between sports lovers and people that seek positive change. Pull Quote It solidifies that sustainability can be enhanced through the power of sport because of the overlap between sports lovers and people that seek positive change. Topics Marketing & Communication Sports Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The Los Angeles Lakers and plant-based products company Beyond Meat launched an official partnership in 2019.

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Game on: New study shows which sports teams have the greenest fans

VERGE Over / Under: Does tree-planting for carbon sequestration deserve the hype?

November 10, 2020 by  
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VERGE Over / Under: Does tree-planting for carbon sequestration deserve the hype? Heather Clancy, editorial director at GreenBiz, shares her take on the most over- and under-hyped carbon trends this year with the VERGE 20 audience. This segment aired at GreenBiz Group’s VERGE 20, October 26-30, 2020. Learn more about the event here: https://events.greenbiz.com/events/ve…   Watch our other must-see talks here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwW3…   OUR LINKS Website: https://www.greenbiz.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenbiz LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/gree… Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenbiz_group Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreenBiz YanniGuo Tue, 11/10/2020 – 09:22 Featured Off

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Good, Better, Best: Vegetarian Protein

October 22, 2020 by  
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Becoming vegan is one of the most impactful things an … The post Good, Better, Best: Vegetarian Protein appeared first on Earth 911.

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Good, Better, Best: Vegetarian Protein

Europe’s wood pellet market is worsening environmental racism in the American South

October 21, 2020 by  
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Europe’s wood pellet market is worsening environmental racism in the American South Danielle Purifoy Wed, 10/21/2020 – 00:45 This story was originally published by Southerly , in partnership with Scalawag and Environmental Health News for its Powerlines series, which looks at climate change, justice, and infrastructure in the American South. The series is supported by the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University, and is part of their  POWER project .  In 2013, when Enviva Biomass opened a new plant near Belinda Joyner’s community in Northampton County, North Carolina, she already knew what to expect. As the Northeast Organizer for  Clean Water for North Carolina , she’d met with residents of a small, majority Black town called Ahoskie, 40 miles from her home. Enviva had built its  first North Carolina plant  there two years before.  The corporation, which manufactures wood pellets as a purportedly renewable alternative to coal, did what most industries do in prospective communities — they promised jobs, economic development, and minimal impacts. What Ahoskie got was approximately 50 direct jobs, local tree loss,  noise ,  heavy traffic, air pollution, and combustible dust  from wood drying and processing that threatens their health and enjoyment of their homes. On top of those impacts, as many scientists and environmental groups now say, wood pellets are not the hoped-for transition fuel championed just 11 years ago.  However, like Ahoskie, Joyner’s community wasn’t quick to organize against the plant.  “I made an announcement in my church that this plant was coming and I kind of gave them a gist of what it would entail and at first, you know how people just don’t kinda pay you any attention?” she said. “And then once [Enviva] start building it, then they were saying ‘oh this is coming,’ and I told them ‘this is what I tried to tell you all about.’”  In June, I interviewed Joyner and other members of her community in Northampton County, which is located in the Northeast corner of the state, close to the Virginia state line. The area is rural, and peppered with industries — including Westrock Paper Mill, a warehouse and distribution center for Lowe’s Hardware, an industrial hog farm, and Enviva. Until it was canceled in late July, the  Atlantic Coast Pipeline  was slated to run through the county, connecting to a newly constructed compressor station.  The county is also majority Black (57 percent), with 21 percent of residents living in poverty compared to 14 percent statewide,  according to the most recent data  from the U.S. Census. The county’s median household income is 38 percent lower than the state as a whole; it is classified by North Carolina as a  “Tier 1” county , meaning that it is among the 40 most economically distressed of the state’s 100 counties. From Northampton County to Alabama’s Black Belt, residents and activists say companies like Enviva exploit mostly communities of color with promises to build up busted local economies with a “green energy” industry. Joyner’s home sits in a cozy loop of houses in a small Northampton County town. As I pull up to her house, she’s sitting on her porch with her sister and neighbors, chatting with masks on. The community is tight; they’ve shared a lot of their lives in this place.  For seven years, they’ve also had to share the burdens and losses from Enviva. “I call Northampton County the dumping ground,” Joyner said. “Being that we live right here off I-95, and it’s easy access, they just feel like more or less they can just come in here and give us anything, and we’re supposed to be happy after we get it.”  Enviva is the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets and is part of a rapidly growing industry in the U.S. South, where companies find ample forests, lax business regulations, and ports along the Atlantic coast. Though there is some domestic demand for wood pellets for electric utilities — particularly in the Northeast — the majority of wood pellets manufactured in the region are  exported to the European Union  (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), to fulfill global commitments to mitigate climate change by reducing reliance on fossil fuels.  Other wood pellet companies have flocked to the region, including  Drax , a major energy utility in the UK that now manufactures wood pellets in the U.S. South to burn them overseas in its power plants. Collectively, the region’s wood pellet industry exports more than 7.4 million tons of pellets per year. With facility expansions and several prospective plants on the horizon, that number is expected to climb in coming years. From Northampton County to Alabama’s Black Belt, residents and activists say companies like Enviva exploit mostly communities of color with promises to build up busted local economies with a “green energy” industry. Instead, communities hosting wood pellet facilities are not only further burdened by pollution and other local dangers, they are also entangled in yet another climate damaging trend — the destruction of biodiverse hardwood forests and the rise of monoculture tree plantations to produce energy that appears to pose climate threats similar to coal.  The rise of the wood pellet industry in the U.S. South can be traced back to 2009, when wood pellets were touted as a “transition fuel” that could be used to advance the  EU’s climate goals  — a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, and a 20 percent increase in renewable energy by 2020. Wood pellets were considered to be renewable energy because replanted forests could recapture carbon lost in the clear cutting and burning process. They were also coveted because unlike solar, wind, or water energy, wood pellets can be burned in the same incinerators as coal with some retrofits, thus eliminating the expense of new infrastructure. The U.S. South was targeted for sourcing wood pellets because of its status as the world’s “wood basket” — it is the largest producer of wood products, according to Emily Zucchino, Director of Community Engagement for the Dogwood Alliance, an environmental nonprofit committed to protect[ing] Southern forests across 14 [U.S.] states.  Enviva Biomass, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, has a large foothold in the region, with nine wood pellet manufacturing plants across six states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia and Mississippi — and two more facilities pending. A sign outside of the Ahoskie facility reads, “This is Enviva Country.” A spokesperson wrote that the company has a production capacity of 4.9 million metric tons of pellets per year.  Several other wood pellet production companies also operate in the region — Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc in Alabama, Highland Pellets in Arkansas, Mohegan Renewable Energy in Tennessee, and Drax, which manufactures wood pellets mostly near the Gulf Coast.  But even if the EU has met its 2020 climate goals — the region claims to have already  reduced emissions by 23.2   percent  in 2018  — the use of wood pellets raises important questions about the EU’s carbon accounting, [PDM1] and even more questions about public health and climate consequences for the U.S. South, which is already bearing the brunt of climate change effects.  “As more and more science came out about the industry… it became clear that this is not the green and carbon neutral energy it was made out to be,” Zucchino said. According to  a 2009 study  on climate accounting published in  Science Magazine , at the point of combustion, wood pellets put more carbon into the atmosphere than coal, despite generating less energy per unit than coal. Other studies, like one published in 2012 in  GBC Bioenergy , directly challenge the idea that wood pellets are renewable energy because forests can be replanted. The “carbon debt” generated when forests are cut and their stored carbon is burned into the atmosphere can take decades, if not more than a century, to “repay” through forest regrowth. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says humans must reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 to avoid the most catastrophic climate change impacts.  As more and more science came out about the industry… it became clear that this is not the green and carbon neutral energy it was made out to be. What makes the wood pellet strategy even more complicated is that,  due to loopholes in the EU climate policy , carbon emissions from burning wood pellets are often never counted.  Kenneth Richter, a Germany-based environmental policy consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the loophole is due to the disconnect in carbon accounting between the EU’s land use change policies and its energy policies. Carbon loss is measured only when trees are cut, and not when they’re burned for power. Another problem is that when pellets are imported, the EU counts no emissions at all. Though the theory is that the exporting nations would account for those emissions from clear cutting forests, the U.S. does not account for carbon loss from the wood pellet industry because it is no longer part of the Paris Agreement on climate change.  “You have massive amounts of carbon going into the atmosphere but everyone pretends they’re not there,” Richter said. “Everyone else says it’s someone else’s responsibility.”  The EU and UK also provide heavy subsidies to the industry because of the expense of importing wood pellets. Their reliance on the energy source to meet stringent emissions targets is now heavily political — and hard to correct — despite the growing scientific evidence against it.  “Energy companies in many European countries have obligations to produce a certain percentage from renewable sources,” Richter said. “It’s easiest to burn wood with coal, much cheaper than solar panels. They’re pushing the governments — if you don’t allow us to do this [burn wood pellets] and don’t subsidize us we’re going to fail. Drax is a prime example. It produces a large percentage of the UK’s electricity. If [the UK] took subsidies away from Drax, it would fail and cause difficulties in producing enough electricity in the short term.”  Northampton County residents like Joyner are more immediately concerned about the acute impacts of wood pellet manufacturing, from local clear cutting of privately-owned forests to the 24/7 production process.  “The noise… banging and during all hours of the night,” Silverleen Alston, who lives about a mile from Enviva’s plant in Northampton County, said in our interview at Joyner’s home. “I used to call up there [to Enviva] and tell them, why don’t they stop, lower the noise or whatever, till I stopped. I don’t even do it no more.”  In addition to the noise from grinding trees and truck traffic, Alston and others complain about a constant cloud of dust flowing from the plant onto their homes, cars, gardens, and into their lungs.  “The stuff is in the air, coming [in] all directions. I keep my car in a carport, and you can see the stuff on the car. So you know it’s not just coming down from above,” Alston said.  A  2018 report  by the Environmental Integrity Project found that 21 wood pellet mills exporting to the EU emit thousands of tons of particulate matter (fine dust), carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides (smog), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) per year, each of which are  associated with a range of illnesses , from respiratory and heart disease to cancer. These wood pellet mills also emit 3.1 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. The report also found that at least a third of wood pellet facilities violated their air permit limits in 2017. Fires and explosions have erupted in plants in five states largely from wood dust, which is combustible. In 2017, a wood pellet storage silo owned by German Pellets in Port Arthur, Texas,  caught fire  and burned unchecked for two months, sending many local residents to the hospital. Later that year, a  worker at the silo died  when pellets fell on the Bobcat machine he was operating. Many of Alston’s family members, who live together on a large plot of land they own, suffer from respiratory illnesses that have been exacerbated since Enviva’s arrival. Her father had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)   and died two years ago. Her aunt also has COPD, and her sister has to sleep on a breathing machine. Alston, her mother, and another sister all have breathing problems, though not as severe.  These wood pellet mills also emit 3.1 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. … Fires and explosions have erupted in plants in five states largely from wood dust, which is combustible. Other community members complain about not being able to spend as much time outdoors anymore.  “We have a gentleman that lives in the area, he said that he has to wash his car every three days and power wash his house every three months, and that’s the stuff that comes from Enviva,” Joyner said. “There’s a young man that lives out there that says he doesn’t cook out anymore because he can see the residue falling from the sky.” Richie Harding, a pastor of a local church in Northampton County, doesn’t live close enough to Enviva to experience the dust, but the private forest where Enviva sources its trees is near his house. When I interviewed him by phone, he told me that large swaths of the forest are now gone and listed the wildlife he’s observed in the area since the clear cutting.  “There’s been a high increase in the amount of animals,” Harding said. “Bobcats, black bears… coyotes… sightings more frequent in the Gaston area.”  In an email response Enviva’s director of communications and public affairs María Moreno wrote that Enviva follows all applicable environmental laws, including the U.S. Clean Air Act, and even exceeds regulation standards in controlling air pollution at its facilities.  “We use state-of-the-art, industry-proven air emission controls to reduce emissions from our manufacturing process with at least 95% destruction efficiency,” Moreno wrote. “We are going above and beyond what is required by the law as an industry leader to show our commitment to environmental stewardship in the communities where we live and operate.”  Despite installing additional pollution controls and obtaining an environmental justice (EJ) analysis approved by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) last year, Enviva’s claims do not reflect the daily experiences of residents living near the facility. In my interview with Alston, she told me that her husband still has to wash the dust from the plant off their car every other day. Further,  a 2018 study  of wood pellet mills in the U.S. South found that all wood pellet mills in North Carolina and South Carolina are located in low income communities of color typically overburdened by toxic industry. Across the region, the authors found that they are 50 percent more likely to be located in low income communities of color. Pine pellets in front a wall of fire wood. Photo by  tchara  on Shutterstock. As for the forest impacts, Moreno wrote that Enviva only takes “low grade wood,” which is a “by-product of a traditional timber harvest,” and that the higher demand for forest products like wood pellets leads to  more  forest growth.  But Richter, the EU-based environmental policy consultant, says the term “low-grade wood” is business jargon for otherwise healthy trees that are not valuable for the industry, but are very valuable for the planet. He says the increased forest growth that Enviva claims comes from higher demand for wood products is not the same kind of naturally occurring forests that people recognize.  “[O]ften these naturally grown forests are cut down and replaced with something that’s essentially a plantation,” Richter said. “Trees in rows, monoculture. One species, fairly fast growing, hardly any space between them. Sprayed with fertilizers [and] pesticides. It’s an agricultural crop. You lose the wildlife and biodiversity of what you previously had in a natural forest. Companies still call that a forest but it’s nowhere near what’s contained in an actual natural forest.” According to a 2018  Dogwood Alliance report , since 1953, the U.S. South has lost over 33 million acres of natural forest, and gained 40 million acres of pine plantations.  Black families like Alston’s and Joyner’s have owned land in Northampton County for generations, and experienced the closeness and safety of the communities, the freedom of living on the land. Joyner says the noise and pollution made some people in her community want to move away. She called one of her friends who moved an hour south to Zebulon, NC, “one of the fortunate ones.” According to a 2018 Dogwood Alliance report, since 1953, the U.S. South has lost over 33 million acres of natural forest, and gained 40 million acres of pine plantations. But many others can’t afford to move — and some don’t want to. “[Enviva] had mentioned to us, you know, had we thought about moving?” Alston said. “I’m on family earned land, that my grandaddy was invested in. To me, I really can say they couldn’t pay me enough to move.” Enviva got  support from Northampton County Commissioners  before opening the plant in 2013. They made the same promises that they made to Ahoskie — economic development and jobs. But according to Joyner, the public hearings for Enviva’s permit, organized by NCDEQ, were mostly publicized in newspapers and on posters tacked along the road. Not many knew they were happening, or understood what was at stake, so there was low attendance.  “If you really wanted to know what [the poster] was, you basically had to get out of your car and go and look at it,” Joyner said.  After the plant was built, and residents began experiencing the pollution and noise, they joined forces with Dogwood Alliance, which has been monitoring the growth of the wood pellet industry across the U.S. South, to advocate for improved environmental conditions at the plant. But after several meetings with the county commission, Enviva plant administrators and the company’s former public relations director, there were no improvements to the plant; the company has donated resources to local schools and meals to local residents.  Last year, NCDEQ granted Enviva a permit  to expand its Northampton plant , increasing its production capacity from 550,000 metric tons per year to 781,255 metric tons annually.  “We had a public hearing on the 20th of August last year,” Joyner said. “We had 40 or so people there opposed to the expansion and of course the only people who were for the expansion were people who worked for Enviva.”  Even if Enviva exceeds the requirements of its own air permit in its expanded facility, as Moreno wrote in our interview, there are still concerns about further deterioration of environmental quality in the community, and what it means for residents’ health.  “When I looked at the officer that was choking George Floyd, and he said I can’t breathe, this is the same thing that the industries are doing to our communities,” Joyner said. “It’s fine to have jobs, but give us some jobs that don’t kill us.”  As the wood pellet industry continues to grow across the South, Enviva has targeted Alabama and Mississippi for future expansion. The company is building facilities producing significantly larger quantities of wood pellets for export through a deep water  marine port and storage silo  currently under construction in Pasagoula, Mississippi. In each state, the company’s pitch remains the same: jobs and economic development.  “They go into these low wealth communities, promise opportunity, and a lot of residents bite on it,” said Rev. Michael Malcom, executive director of Alabama Interfaith Power and Light. “If we could get ahead of this, we could go in and tell them about the dangers of the wood pellet industry. But unfortunately, the way the system works in Alabama, ADEM keeps things under wraps until it’s time for the public hearing.”  Alabama has the third most timberland acreage in the contiguous 48 states, much of it in the form of pine plantations owned by  private absentee landowners  disconnected from local residents.  Enviva’s first Alabama facility  will be located in a small Black town called Epes, and is projected to open in 2021, with a production capacity of over one million metric tons of wood pellets per year. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) approved the permit last December, with additional  support from Alabama governor Kay Ivey .  Malcom said it is likely that Enviva spends as much as a full year making the case for a new manufacturing plant in a community, promising good jobs and low environmental impacts.  “When they announce [the facility], it’s already too late. [Enviva has] already gone in [to the community] and greased the wheel,” Malcom said.  Through mutual connections to the Dogwood Alliance, Malcom teamed up with Mississippi-based Katherine Egland, Chair of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Committee and Co-founder of the  Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization  to develop interventions for preventing the growth of the wood pellet industry in the Southeast. Their first chance was in Lucedale, Mississippi, a predominantly White rural community, where Enviva is now constructing a facility permitted last July. Malcom said Enviva had already convinced many people that the mill would be a good thing for the community, bringing much needed jobs.  “[ At the public hearing ] they were basically shooting our talking points back to us and saying, ’so what?’” Malcom said. “One guy literally said, ‘They [Enviva opponents] tell us we can get cancer. What’s wrong with that? Got to have something.” Industrial logging-dependent communities are some of the most poverty stricken places in the South … If industrial logging were the solution to these places, they’d be some of the wealthiest on earth. It’s just not true. After the hearing in Lucedale, Enviva  released a statement  saying that it was “proud to have the opportunity to create 90 direct jobs in Lucedale, 30 direct jobs in Pascagoula, and hundreds of additional indirect and construction jobs.” It also made a disclaimer that any ‘forward looking statements’ about its operations were estimated projections, and could not be assured. Regardless of the jobs projections, Zucchino said that the longer term impacts of the industry undermine other forms of economic growth.  “Industrial logging-dependent communities are some of the most poverty stricken places in the South,” Zucchino said. “If industrial logging were the solution to these places, they’d be some of the wealthiest on earth. It’s just not true.” Back in North Carolina, a predominantly Indigenous and Black community in Robeson County, were largely unswayed by the economic promise of the wood pellet industry. Already burdened with hog factory farms, coal ash waste sites, a landfill, a poultry litter burning plant, and increasing flood risk due to climate change, Robeson County residents mounted a long opposition campaign  against a new wood pellet facility  owned by London-based Active Energy Group (AEG),  including over 1000 public comments, substantial media coverage, and a public hearing  in which an overwhelming majority of speakers opposed the plant. Nevertheless, NCDEQ approved an  air permit for AEG in June . Construction is already in progress. Unlike the white wood pellets manufactured by companies like Enviva, which require energy utilities to retrofit their coal incinerators, AEG’s facility will manufacture  wood pellets called CoalSwitch , designed to be a direct substitute for coal, with no retrofits required.  “There’s a lot of moving pieces with this facility, and kind of a lot of confusion,” Zucchino said. “Not a lot of clarity [about whether] they have contracts for export, how big are they going to be. [AEG] is pioneering this [black wood pellet technology]; they’ve tried it in Utah without success… it hasn’t been done successfully anywhere as far as I know.”  Zaynab Nasif, public information officer for the Division of Air Quality at NCDEQ wrote via email that the agency provided additional avenues for community participation for the AEG site, and responded to concerns raised during that process by adding more stringent testing requirements for hazardous pollutants to the facility’s air permit.  But many residents of Robeson County, which is about 180 miles from Northampton County, are already suffering from high rates of respiratory illness, including COVID-19. Additionally, clear cutting more of the county’s forests for wood pellet production will likely exacerbate the region’s climate vulnerability.  “Enough is enough,” said Joyner, who travels frequently to Robeson County. “I’ve seen the damage that has been done there. It’s a shame to want to wreak havoc on a community in that way.”  In recent years, some new communities impacted by the wood pellet industry have begun organizing against it. Residents of the Netherlands,  who pay significant tariffs for the shipment of wood pellets from the U.S. , traveled to North Carolina and other parts of the South to understand the environmental impacts of the industry, and to fight for better climate policies in the EU.  “We have had people come here wondering, ‘why are you doing this to your land? We would not do this to our land,’” said Harding, who lives in Northampton County. “They see that America was destroying land just for a dollar, and that was really troublesome to them. They don’t understand pretty much like we don’t understand.” I am reminded with the wood pellet trade, if you look at the map of the wood pellet trade states and the former cotton trade states, they are the same. Since Egland started organizing with Malcom in Mississippi and Alabama a couple of years ago, she’s been struck by historic parallels of the wood pellet industry with other extractive legacies in the South and has been working locally and globally to motivate others to intervene.  “I am reminded with the wood pellet trade, if you look at the map of the wood pellet trade states and the former cotton trade states, they are the same,” she said. “The UK ignored the human rights abuses of the cotton trade, with slavery, now they are imperiling the descendants of that same population with the wood pellets. [The U.S. South] also happens to be the most climate vulnerable region in the nation.” There are some signs of progress, including European policies limiting wood pellet imports and decreased expansion of the industry in the U.S. South. Recently, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper and NCDEQ committed to  excluding wood pellets  from the state’s energy mix in its Clean Energy Plan.  Richter says an opening for change is on the horizon in the EU, as the government must revisit its existing climate legislation to prepare for new greenhouse gas reduction targets — a  55 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030  compared to 1990 levels. One piece of that legislation is the  Renewable Energy Directive (RED) , which he says is driving the demand for wood pellets as renewable energy. Kicking wood pellets out of the “renewables club” would kill existing subsidies for the industry, which he hopes can be diverted to pay for solar, wind, and water energy sources.  “[T]here’s also the  European Green Deal , the European road map for making economies sustainable. The person responsible for that is Franz Timmermans, the Vice President of the EU. He’s said that bioenergy needs to be reviewed. And we hope that he can become a bit of a champion for our demands.”  Zucchino also sees some momentum building against the wood pellet industry, from coalitions forming regionally, within states, and internationally.  “One of the things I’m proudest of in my time at Dogwood [Alliance] is the amount of movement building that we’ve accomplished around this issue,” she said. “We are seeing encouraging advances in the understanding of and policy around the wood pellet industry. But we need to see more and we need to see it happen quickly.”  Pull Quote From Northampton County to Alabama’s Black Belt, residents and activists say companies like Enviva exploit mostly communities of color with promises to build up busted local economies with a “green energy” industry. As more and more science came out about the industry… it became clear that this is not the green and carbon neutral energy it was made out to be. These wood pellet mills also emit 3.1 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. … Fires and explosions have erupted in plants in five states largely from wood dust, which is combustible. According to a 2018 Dogwood Alliance report, since 1953, the U.S. South has lost over 33 million acres of natural forest, and gained 40 million acres of pine plantations. Industrial logging-dependent communities are some of the most poverty stricken places in the South … If industrial logging were the solution to these places, they’d be some of the wealthiest on earth. It’s just not true. I am reminded with the wood pellet trade, if you look at the map of the wood pellet trade states and the former cotton trade states, they are the same. Topics Energy & Climate Pollution Prevention Human Rights Environmental Justice Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A pellet factory, where pine wood shavings are moved on a conveyor belt. Photo by  Juan Enrique del Barrio  on Shutterstock.

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Europe’s wood pellet market is worsening environmental racism in the American South

Amazon hands Mercedes-Benz its biggest electric vehicle order to date

August 28, 2020 by  
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Amazon hands Mercedes-Benz its biggest electric vehicle order to date Katie Fehrenbacher Fri, 08/28/2020 – 00:00 German auto giant Mercedes-Benz announced its largest order of electric vehicles to date Friday: 1,800 electric delivery vans for retail giant Amazon to use across Europe. The deal shows how companies are increasingly paying attention to ways to decarbonize transportation including buying more zero-emission commercial vehicles. In particular, the market for electric last-mile delivery vehicles is starting to grow quickly as logistics companies such as FedEx and Amazon, as well as retailers such as IKEA, set and strive to hit climate goals.  Mercedes-Benz, a subsidiary of Daimler, has been a longtime partner of Amazon, as well as global shipping companies. Two years ago, Amazon bought 20,000 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans to launch its local franchised shipping program in the United States. However, those were internal combustion vehicles. The world’s largest automakers have been relatively slow to build and market electric trucks and buses, citing a lack of demand from customers and technology that isn’t ready for prime time. That’s left an opening for startups such as Rivian, which has a deal to sell Amazon 100,000 electric trucks.  But Mercedes-Benz appears to be making up for lost time. The automaker also announced Friday that it’s joining the Climate Pledge, an initiative coordinated by Amazon and firm Global Optimism that commits signatories to achieving the objectives laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement by 2040, a decade earlier than the agreement’s 2050 goal. Mercedes-Benz says it will become net carbon-neutral by 2040.  Amazon plans to use the 1,800 electric delivery vans — 1,200 e-Sprinter vans and 600 e-Vito vans — to deliver goods in countries in Europe. European countries including England, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Sweden are acting aggressively to decarbonize transportation emissions and are more swiftly adopting electric trucks compared to the U.S. Mercedes-Benz says by the end of the year it will offer five electric vehicle models and 20 plug-in hybrid vehicle editions. Its vehicle and battery production also will be carbon-neutral, using clean energy. Amazon is adding 1,800 electric delivery vehicles from Mercedes-Benz as part of our journey to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world, and we will be moving fast to get these vans on the road this year. Transitioning to electric vehicles after decades of making gas and diesel-powered ones won’t be easy. The German auto industry is losing jobs and profits as it refashions its factories to make electric vehicle drive trains, and reduces production of the traditional engine and gas tank.  At the same time, big companies such as Amazon increasingly are making global climate commitments in an effort to stay competitive, protect their brands, meet mandates and retain employees. Amazon plans eventually to have all of its shipments to customers become net-zero carbon, with 50 percent of all shipments net-zero by 2030. Electrification of its fleet will play a large role in those goals. In the release, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that Amazon is buying the electric vans from Mercedes-Benz in an effort “to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world.” Pull Quote Amazon is adding 1,800 electric delivery vehicles from Mercedes-Benz as part of our journey to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world, and we will be moving fast to get these vans on the road this year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Daimler Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Amazon Close Authorship

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Amazon hands Mercedes-Benz its biggest electric vehicle order to date

Journey Foods uses AI to create sustainability recipe for food manufacturers

August 20, 2020 by  
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Journey Foods uses AI to create sustainability recipe for food manufacturers Jesse Klein Thu, 08/20/2020 – 02:00 Riana Lynn’s company, Journey Foods , is dragging the packaged food business into the 21st century.  “Food manufacturing has really only scaled up in the last 60 years,” she said. “And that means we’re also working on very antiquated methods.”  Her company’s software uses machine learning, artificial intelligence, data scraping and cohort analysis to recommend the most nutritious and more sustainable ingredients for food companies, such as its partners Ingredion and Unilever.   In 2018, the global packaged food industry generated $2.77 trillion , an amount expected to reach almost $5 trillion by 2027. With veganism surging , many of those trillions of dollars will be spent on plant-based products that companies will need to redevelop to appease shoppers.   According to Lynn, when a food company wants to move to a gluten-free or plant-based version of one of its core products, that process takes a lot of trial and error. JourneyAI, the software from Journey Foods, is designed to recommend the most suitable almond flour or vegan butter alternative, helping the business save time, money and resources in the formulating or reformulating process. “We’re making sure that the cost and sustainability and nutrition match for that product,” Lynn said. “We can make sure that the cost is right and availability of alternatives are right, so the customer can buy an improved product without a lot of waste.” The software uses machine learning to recommend the most nutritious and more sustainable ingredients for the big food companies. Journey Foods analyzes over 260 characteristics including general nutrition, mass macronutrient values and proprietary sustainability scores in its recommendation engine. And it not only categorizes and analyzes ingredients but also connects food companies with suppliers, acting as an efficient middle man in the supply chain. Journey Bites is a proof-of-concept product. Courtesy of Journey Foods. Journey Bites, the company’s limited direct-to-consumer fruit snack offering, was a proof-of-concept product meant to model and prove out the software’s data methodology and problem-solving features. The small cubes come in two flavor varieties: mango and cayenne spice and strawberry and chia . The products are packed with nutritional benefits such as healthy vitamins, fiber and naturally occurring antioxidants such as polyphenols. While improved nutrition was Lynn’s first goal with Journey Foods, she said there was a natural evolution into thinking more about sustainability.  “Sustainability came in a little bit later down the road,” she said. “Even though that’s a passion of mine.” Lynn is a scientist at heart with a background in biology. Working with big data sets while doing genetics research at the University of Chicago helped prepare her data management portion of the business. And her experience of the food deserts around the university inspired the focus on food and nutrition. After working on investment teams and at the White House, she turned to the startup world, becoming an entrepreneur in residence at Google.   Lynn underscores the importance of introducing more biodiversity in food for sustainability and has seen mungbean and sea plants such as algae and phytoplankton become trendy ingredients for food companies looking for more sustainable options. The proprietary sustainability scores used in JourneyAI combine information from university environmental programs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework Guidance and other information specific to unique sustainable manufacturers. Journey Foods’ methodology targets greenhouse gas emissions and water use. “There are manufacturers that use less water in the process,” Lynn said. “But because of the way that they extract, they can pull more nutrient density.” According to Lynn, Vesta Ingredients , an ingredient manufacturer in Indianapolis, is one of those unconventional, more sustainable manufacturers that is getting in front of more eyes because of Journey Foods’ algorithm.  Lynn wants her algorithm to tangibly affect the industry and make a real change from inside the big food company’s recipes.   “We are really after the goal of creating the most actionable database for consumer product companies,” she said.  Pull Quote The software uses machine learning to recommend the most nutritious and more sustainable ingredients for the big food companies. Topics Food & Agriculture Food & Agriculture 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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Home “Eco”nomics – Window Replacement

August 18, 2020 by  
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Getting new windows is one of the most satisfying ways … The post Home “Eco”nomics – Window Replacement appeared first on Earth 911.

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Plastic rain is contaminating protected habitats

June 24, 2020 by  
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The term “pristine” environment is no longer applicable even to the most remote locations on Earth. Recent research has established that plastic rain is now pouring in the most protected areas in the western U.S. The research, which was published in the journal Science , reveals that 11 protected areas in the western U.S. receive rain that is contaminated with plastic microparticles. Over a period of 14 months, the researchers collected rainwater samples across 11 areas that are known to have the most pristine environments. The rainwater in these protected areas was found to be highly contaminated with plastic particles. The researchers revealed that the 11 protected areas receive over 1,000 metric tons of microplastic each year. Related: Record high amount of microplastic found on seafloors Research director and environmental scientist Janice Brahney of Utah University said, “We just did that for the area of protected areas in the West, which is only 6 percent of the total U.S. area.” Brahney’s comments indicate that plastic rain might be a much bigger problem in areas that are not protected. This research confirms a situation that is already spreading around the world. In recent years, several studies have found increasing amounts of microplastics in rainwater, especially in protected habitats, like the French Pyrenees and the Arctic . When microplastics mix with rain, they freely flow into rivers and oceans. Consequently, they affect the natural environment and the lifespan of many species. Scientists are now saying that plastic rain is a much more complex problem than acid rain. In the past few decades, the increase in the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere resulted in acid rain in many parts of the world. Thankfully, efforts to control the emission of these gases have reduced acid rain significantly. Unfortunately, the microplastic problem is not one that can be solved overnight. We do not have a proper mechanism to trap the microplastics in the atmosphere. Even stopping the production of plastic today will only be half of the solution. To worsen the situation, the world still produces and uses plastics in large amounts. A Consultancy McKinsey publication reports that plastic waste is expected to rise from 260 million tons in 2020 to about 460 million tons in 2030. Although the research on plastic rain was only conducted in a handful of locations, it shows the gravity of the situation. If action is not taken to control the production and use of plastics, we are looking at a future where both water and air will be full of microplastics. + Science Via Wired Image via Dennis Kleine

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Plastic rain is contaminating protected habitats

Snhetta completes stunning Norwegian cabins for glacier hikers

June 24, 2020 by  
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The breathtaking landscape of Luster in the western part of Norway has recently been joined by Tungestølen, a cluster of timber hiking cabins with cozy interiors and panoramic glacier views. Designed by international design firm Snøhetta for Luster Turlag, a local branch of the Norwegian National Trekking Association, the pentagonal and oblique cabins were built to replace the original Tungestølen Tourist Cabin that had been destroyed by a cyclone in 2011. The new structures are engineered for extreme wind resistance and feature sturdy glulam frames, cross-laminated timber sheeting and ore pine cladding. Perched on a small plateau overlooking the spectacular Jostedalen glacier, Tungestølen is designed to accommodate up to 50 visitors across nine cabins , each of which features a unique, beak-like shape to slow down the strong winds that sweep upward from the valley floor. The sharply pitched roofs give the buildings a playful feel and create dynamic interiors with angular and panoramic windows of varying sizes. Timber lines the light-filled interiors to create a cozy and warm atmosphere.  Related: Elevated, green-roofed cabin minimizes impact on mountain in Norway Because Tungestølen was designed with group hikers in mind, the development is centered on a main cabin that serves as a social hub and meeting spot with its spacious lounge anchored by a large, stone-clad fireplace and panoramic windows that take advantage of the building’s tall ceilings. Built-in benches and furnishings help maximize interior space, which is primarily built of unpainted timber. A restrained color palette that complements the minimalist interiors takes cues from the muted tones of nature and range from charcoal grays to mossy greens. The eight other cabins on site will be used for dormitories and include a single private unit that can accommodate 30 visitors. One of the cabins is based on the original model for the Fuglemyrhytta cabin, another hiking cabin designed by Snøhetta in Oslo that has become a huge hit among hikers since its opening in 2018. Tungestølen was officially inaugurated by Queen Sonja of Norway; the cabins open to the public in June for the hiking season, which spans summer to fall. + Snøhetta Images via Snøhetta

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Lyft’s 100% EV strategy requires a policy blitz

June 24, 2020 by  
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Lyft’s 100% EV strategy requires a policy blitz Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 06/24/2020 – 02:00 ICYMI, ride-hailing biggie Lyft announced last week that it plans to electrify every single car offering services on its platform by 2030, including both those that Lyft owns and rents to drivers and ones that its drivers own. It’s a colossal task for an 8-year-old company that says it won’t be profitable until at least 2021 and plans to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in costs this year.  Why will it be so hard? Because the vast majority of cars on the Lyft platform are owned by drivers, many of which drive for less than 10 hours a week for Lyft. So essentially Lyft has to act as a catalyst — using policy, economic and industry tools — to spur the broader transportation ecosystem to more rapidly adopt zero-emission vehicles. In particular, the unprecedented move will require an unprecedented leap forward in policies that can make electric vehicles affordable and beneficial for Lyft drivers within the next 10 years. On a media call last week, Elizabeth Sturcken, managing director at the Environmental Defense Fund, put it this way: “Lyft is committed to using the most powerful tool we have to fight climate change: policy influence.” One of Lyft’s strategies will be to work with regulators across city, regional, state and even federal levels to create an environment that reduces the upfront costs of EVs and helps drivers save money fueling them compared to gasoline cars. Lyft already has tested out creating this kind of environment in a couple of microcosms in the United States.  Lyft Director of Sustainability Sam Arons pointed to Lyft’s policy work in Colorado during the Political Climate podcast last week. Arons said Lyft was able to work with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to modify the state’s law around Colorado’s electric vehicle tax credit and make it available to ride-hailing fleets.  As a result of the changes in the Colorado law, Lyft was able to roll out what it says is the largest electric ride-hailing deployment in the U.S. — with 200 EVs — in the Denver area of Colorado. “We want to replicate that with other policymakers in the country,” said Arons on the podcast .  Lyft is committed to using the most powerful tool we have to fight climate change: policy influence. Lyft also mentions in its white paper that the company has been working closely on policies such as California’s new law creating a Clean Miles Standard, under which ride-hailing companies soon must submit plans to introduce targets for zero-emission vehicles. Lyft says it’s been working with partners on similar legislation in other places such as Washington state. In the same vein, Lyft also has been advocating for more states to adopt laws such as California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). That’s California’s mostly-loved law that generates LCFS credits for companies providing low carbon fuel, whether that’s from electricity, renewable diesel or renewable natural gas. Revenue from selling LCFS credits can be used to support low carbon projects in California such as EV rebates for buyers, community-based EV programs and deployment of high-speed charging stations. At the federal level, Lyft plans to try to help maintain and expand the federal zero-emission vehicle tax credits, which can be as large as $7,500 but are being lowered and phased out for some automakers that have reached the limits, such as Tesla. Beyond policy influencing, Lyft also will need to work closely with automakers to reduce EV prices and optimize new electric vehicles for ride-hailing drivers. Lyft plans to start this work by leveraging its bulk purchasing power when buying EVs for its Express Drive program, which rents cars to Lyft drivers across the country. In addition to automakers, Lyft will need to collaborate with EV infrastructure providers and utilities to get more EV chargers deployed and to create better rate designs for EV charging. There’s a whole lot of work to do, and it’ll take the entire ecosystem to get Lyft where it wants to go. Good luck, and we’ll be following along with the ride-hailing company as it leads the industry toward electrification.  Pull Quote Lyft is committed to using the most powerful tool we have to fight climate change: policy influence. Topics Transportation & Mobility Policy & Politics EV Charging Electric Vehicles Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off All of the initial projects will be in the United States. Courtesy of Lyft Close Authorship

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