Why nature is the next frontier for sustainable business

September 24, 2020 by  
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Why nature is the next frontier for sustainable business Erin Billman Thu, 09/24/2020 – 01:15 It has been encouraging to see company and government commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions coming thick and fast in recent months, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes announcements from corporate giants Facebook , Uber and Amazon . America’s Pledge has just revealed that U.S. businesses, states and cities accelerated their action on climate in 2020. Businesses are increasingly seeing that climate action is not only the right thing to do but it brings material benefits such as increased investment, improved reputation and overall competitive advantage. For example, investor BlackRock is asking that by the end of 2020, companies issue reports aligned with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. However, climate action alone is no longer enough to fend off the multiple environmental crises that our planet is facing. Nature — by which I mean the land, biodiversity, water and ocean we all depend on — is reaching a point of no return. As the World Economic Forum’s recent New Nature Economy report stated, there is no future for business as usual. The loss of nature poses a direct threat to economic activities currently responsible for generating over half of GDP. Since 2015, companies have been able to use science to ensure their efforts to tackle climate change are sufficiently ambitious. The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) was set up to facilitate this — to enable companies to ensure their efforts are “at least enough.” The corporate world has embraced this, using the SBTi methods and resources available to help them set and validate their climate targets for greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 1,000 companies are signed up, along with spin-off platforms such as the recently launched SME Climate Hub , which will help companies tackle their challenging Scope 3 emissions, particularly within their supply chains. What does this all mean for nature? While these efforts to tackle climate change can have some positive impacts on reducing nature loss to some extent, they are nowhere near enough and can create unintended consequences. Companies need to look holistically at all their impacts and dependencies on both climate and nature. We need to halve emissions by 2030, and we need to reverse nature loss. Neither is possible without the other. The interim targets provided in the guidance give companies direction they can align with now, across land use, freshwater use, climate impact and ecosystem regeneration. But when it comes to tackling nature loss, it is currently difficult for companies to know where to start or prioritize efforts. Until now there hasn’t been a framework that ties them together. The Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) was formed to provide this. It is comprised of more than 45 organizations working together to provide science-based targets for companies and cities. It builds on the momentum of the SBTi to enable companies to set targets beyond climate. It is part of the Global Commons Alliance which aims to create the world’s most powerful network to scale action to protect the planet. Now, the organization has published its first consensus guidance for companies on how to restore balance to the global commons by operating within Earth’s limits while meeting society’s needs. The guidance has been reviewed by 65 people from businesses, consultancies, NGOs and academic institutions. Our 14 business reviewers included representatives from Mars, Unilever and Kering — all of which are keen to remain involved with the SBTN and use the guidance in their own organizations.  Companies can use the guidance to help understand how to assess, prioritize, measure, address and track their impacts and dependencies on nature in line with science. In addressing their impacts and dependencies. It introduces an action framework that companies can follow to avoid future impacts, reduce current impacts, regenerate and restore ecosystems, alongside working to transform the systems in which they are embedded. The interim targets provided in the guidance give companies direction they can align with now, across land use, freshwater use, climate impact and ecosystem regeneration. The resource was developed to consolidate and build on multiple existing efforts companies are already involved in to protect nature rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. For example, they already can set targets to cut their emissions through the Science Based Targets initiative . For land use change targets, specifically deforestation and conversion, we signpost to the Accountability Framework Initiative . For water quantity and quality targets, the guidance directs companies to use contextual targets for water . For ecosystem integrity, specifically on working lands, the guidance recommends using regenerative agricultural practices in line with the European Commission. The guidance is also aligned with global frameworks including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to enable companies to consider their impacts on people in the land and seascapes where they operate. The goal is to engage with businesses to develop and refine this guidance in the coming months to ensure it is as easy to use and effective as possible. For companies, the main nature-related risk is inaction. Now is the time to get started as some steps required to prepare for science-based target setting can take time to do well. The future of all life on Earth depends on us fundamentally changing our relationship with nature now and building an equitable, nature-positive, net-zero carbon future. We urge all companies to get involved and join us on this journey. Pull Quote The interim targets provided in the guidance give companies direction they can align with now, across land use, freshwater use, climate impact and ecosystem regeneration. Topics Natural Capital Corporate Strategy Biodiversity Land Use Water Conservation Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Why nature is the next frontier for sustainable business

4 things corporations should know about urban forestry projects

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

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4 things corporations should know about urban forestry projects

Techstars Sustainability in Partnership with The Nature Conservancy

September 17, 2020 by  
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Techstars Sustainability in Partnership with The Nature Conservancy cecily martine… Thu, 09/17/2020 – 13:41

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Techstars Sustainability in Partnership with The Nature Conservancy

Midwest Row Crop Collaborative

September 17, 2020 by  
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Midwest Row Crop Collaborative cecily martine… Thu, 09/17/2020 – 13:15 The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative is an innovative partnership aligned to drive positive environmental change in the upper Mississippi River Basin. Comprised of leading businesses and nonprofits that span the full food and agriculture value chain, the Collaborative works to catalyze systems change solutions through diverse public & private sector partnerships and projects. Members collaborate by tackling systemic barriers to adoption of good farming practices, developing and implementing cutting-edge pilot projects that substantiate the water, air and soil benefits of sustainable agricultural practices and pave the way for broader change in the agricultural system.

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Midwest Row Crop Collaborative

This villa in India is made up of cascading floating terraces

September 17, 2020 by  
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Currently under construction in Hyderabad, India and designed by Studio Symbiosis, the Floating Terraces Villa will measure 11,840 square feet on one acre of natural landscape. One of the property’s most unique features is its cascading terraces , which appear to float from the indoor living space to the outside in order to protect residents from the region’s harsh climate. According to the architects, the nature-focused villa is designed to create an intimate relationship between the building and the surrounding landscape, with the terraces and a series of outdoor courtyards fostering this connection. The city of Hyderabad in South India is known for its iconic monuments that attract visitors from around the world. The area’s arid climate includes extremely hot, dry days with slightly cooler temperatures at night, limiting most people indoors for the majority of daylight hours. This is the main hurdle that the villa addresses through its build. The designers extended the series of cascading terraces from indoor to outdoor, creating a barrier for occupants during the hotter parts of the day and allowing for circulating ventilation with the cooler evening winds. Additionally, the terraces serve to create varied levels of privacy between rooms. Related: BIG’s LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces The center of the Floating Terraces Villa is defined by its double-height living space, which spills into a kitchen, library and formal drawing room. Bedrooms, each with its own dedicated outdoor courtyard and views into the main gardens, are flanked along the central living space as well. A double-height family room is accessed through a semi-covered green space , providing views of four separate courtyards while serving as a supplemental connection to nature. The starting point of the design was originally derived from a traditional Indian system of architecture called Vastu Shastra, modified to create alternating periphery grids that favor outdoor courtyards. Exposed concrete and natural wood are prioritized as construction elements. + Studio Symbiosis Images via Studio Symbiosis

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This villa in India is made up of cascading floating terraces

How the climate crisis will crash the economy

September 14, 2020 by  
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How the climate crisis will crash the economy Joel Makower Mon, 09/14/2020 – 02:11 The chickens are coming home to roost. Even before the western United States became a regional inferno, even before the Midwest U.S. became a summertime flood zone, even before an annual hurricane season so bad that the government is running out of names to attach to them, even before Colorado saw a 100°F heatwave swan dive into a 12? snowstorm within 48 hours. Even before all that, we’d been watching the real-world risks of climate change looming and growing across the United States and around the world. And the costs, financially and otherwise, are quickly becoming untenable. Lately, a steady march of searing heat, ruinous floods, horrific wildfires, unbreathable air, devastating hurricanes and other climate-related calamities has been traversing our screens and wreaking havoc to national and local budgets. And we’re only at 1°C of increased global temperature rise. Just imagine what 2° or 3° or 4° will look like, and how much it will cost. We may not have to wait terribly long to find out. It’s natural to follow the people impacted by all this: the local residents, usually in poorer neighborhoods, whose homes and livelihoods are being lost; the farmers and ranchers whose crops and livestock are withering and dying; the stranded travelers and the evacuees seeking shelter amid the chaos. And, of course the heroic responders to all these events, not to mention an entire generation of youth who fear their future is being stolen before their eyes, marching in the streets. So many people and stories. But lately, I’ve been following the money. The financial climate, it seems, has been as unforgiving as the atmospheric one. Some of it has been masked by the pandemic and ensuing recession, but for those who are paying attention, the indicators are hiding in plain sight. And what we’re seeing now are merely the opening acts of what could be a long-running global financial drama. The economic impact on companies is, to date, uncertain and likely incalculable. The financial climate, it seems, has been as unforgiving as the atmospheric one. Last week, a subcommittee of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a report addressing climate risks to the U.S. financial system. That it did so is, in itself, remarkable, given the political climes. But the report didn’t pussyfoot around the issues: “Climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy,” it stated, adding: Climate change is already impacting or is anticipated to impact nearly every facet of the economy, including infrastructure, agriculture, residential and commercial property, as well as human health and labor productivity. Over time, if significant action is not taken to check rising global average temperatures, climate change impacts could impair the productive capacity of the economy and undermine its ability to generate employment, income and opportunity. Among the “complex risks for the U.S. financial system,” the authors said, are “disorderly price adjustments in various asset classes, with possible spillovers into different parts of the financial system, as well as potential disruption of the proper functioning of financial markets.” In other words: We’re heading into uncharted economic territory. Climate change, said the report’s authors, is expected to affect “multiple sectors, geographies and assets in the United States, sometimes simultaneously and within a relatively short timeframe.” Those impacts could “disrupt multiple parts of the financial system simultaneously.” For example: “A sudden revision of market perceptions about climate risk could lead to a disorderly repricing of assets, which could in turn have cascading effects on portfolios and balance sheets and therefore systemic implications for financial stability.” Sub-systemic shocks And then there are “sub-systemic” shocks, more localized climate-related impacts that “can undermine the financial health of community banks, agricultural banks or local insurance markets, leaving small businesses, farmers and households without access to critical financial services.” This, said the authors, is particularly damaging in areas that are already underserved by the financial system, which includes low-to-moderate income communities and historically marginalized communities. As always, those least able to least afford the impacts may get hit the hardest. This was hardly the first expression of concern about the potentially devastating economic impacts of climate change on companies, markets, nations and the global economy. For example: Two years ago, the Fourth National Climate Assessment noted that continued warming “is expected to cause substantial net damage to the U.S. economy throughout this century, especially in the absence of increased adaptation efforts.” It placed the price tag at up to 10.5 percent of GDP by 2100. Last month, scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said that while previous research suggested that a 1°C hotter year reduces economic output by about 1 percent, “the new analysis points to output losses of up to three times that much in warm regions.”’ Another report last month, by the Environmental Defense Fund, detailed how the financial impacts of fires, tropical storms, floods, droughts and crop freezes have quadrupled since 1980. “Researchers are only now beginning to anticipate the indirect impacts in the form of lower asset values, weakened future economic growth and uncertainty-induced instability in financial markets,” it said. And if you really want a sleepless night or two, read this story about  “The Biblical Flood That Will Drown California,” published recently in Mother Jones magazine. Even if you don’t have a home, business or operations in the Golden State, your suppliers and customers likely do, not to mention the provenance of the food on your dinner plate. Down to business The CTFC report did not overlook the role of companies in all this. It noted that “disclosure by corporations of information on material, climate-related financial risks is an essential building block to ensure that climate risks are measured and managed effectively,” enabling enables financial regulators and market participants to better understand climate change’s impacts on financial markets and institutions. However, it warned, “The existing disclosure regime has not resulted in disclosures of a scope, breadth and quality to be sufficiently useful to market participants and regulators.” An analysis by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure found that large companies are increasingly disclosing some climate-related information, but significant variations remain in the information disclosed by each company, making it difficult for investors and others to fully understand exposure and manage climate risks . The macroeconomic forecasts, however gloomy, likely seem academic inside boardrooms. And while that may be myopic — after all, the nature of the economy could begin to shift dramatically before the current decade is out, roiling customers and markets — it likely has little to do with profits and productivity over the short time frames within which most companies operate. Nonetheless, companies with a slightly longer view are already be considering the viability of their products and services in a warming world. Consider the recommendations of the aforementioned CFTC report, of which there are 20. Among them: “The United States should establish a price on carbon.” “All relevant federal financial regulatory agencies should incorporate climate-related risks into their mandates and develop a strategy for integrating these risks in their work.” “Regulators should require listed companies to disclose Scope 1 and 2 emissions. As reliable transition risk metrics and consistent methodologies for Scope 3 emissions are developed, financial regulators should require their disclosure, to the extent they are material.” The Financial Stability Oversight Council “should incorporate climate-related financial risks into its existing oversight function, including its annual reports and other reporting to Congress.” “Financial supervisors should require bank and nonbank financial firms to address climate-related financial risks through their existing risk management frameworks in a way that is appropriately governed by corporate management.” None of these things is likely to happen until there’s a new legislature and presidential administration in Washington, D.C., but history has shown that many of these can become de facto regulations if enough private-sector and nongovernmental players can adapt and pressure (or incentivize) companies to adopt and hew to the appropriate frameworks. Finally, there is collaboration among the leading nongovernmental organizations focusing on sustainability reporting and accountability. And there’s some news on that front: Last week, five NGOs whose frameworks, standards and platforms guide the majority of sustainability and integrated reporting, announced “a shared vision of what is needed for progress towards comprehensive corporate reporting — and the intent to work together to achieve it.” CDP , the Climate Disclosure Standards Board , the Global Reporting Initiative , the International Integrated Reporting Council and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board have co-published a shared vision of the elements necessary for more comprehensive corporate reporting, and a joint statement of intent to drive towards this goal. They say they will work collaboratively with one another and with the International Organization of Securities Commissions, the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation, the European Commission and the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council. Lots of names and acronyms in the above paragraph, but you get the idea: Finally, there is collaboration among the leading nongovernmental organizations focusing on sustainability reporting and accountability. To the extent they manage to harmonize their respective standards and frameworks, and should a future U.S. administration adopt those standards the way previous ones did the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, we could see a rapid scale-up of corporate reporting on these matters. Increased reporting won’t by itself mitigate the anticipated macroeconomic challenges, but to the extent it puts climate risks on an equal footing with other corporate risks — along with a meaningful price on carbon that will help companies attach dollar signs to those risks — it will help advance a decarbonized economy. Slowly — much too slowly — but amid an unstable climate and economy we’ll take whatever progress we can get. I invite you to  follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter,  GreenBuzz , and listen to  GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote The financial climate, it seems, has been as unforgiving as the atmospheric one. Finally, there is collaboration among the leading nongovernmental organizations focusing on sustainability reporting and accountability. Topics Finance & Investing Risk & Resilience Policy & Politics Climate Change Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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How the climate crisis will crash the economy

Amid devastating forest fires, One Trillion Trees movement puts down U.S. roots

August 27, 2020 by  
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Amid devastating forest fires, One Trillion Trees movement puts down U.S. roots Heather Clancy Thu, 08/27/2020 – 00:02 This week marks the launch of the first regional chapter of the ambitious global movement to plant 1 trillion trees  — a natural climate solution seen as critical for helping draw down the earth’s carbon debt, and an idea that has been spreading like wildfire since it was planted in January in Davos, Switzerland. There are more than two dozen launch partners for the new U.S. branch of 1t.org, spearheaded by the World Economic Forum and American Forests. Collectively, the group — which includes tech giants Microsoft and Salesforce, consumer products companies Timberland and Clif Bar, financial services powerhouses Bank of America and Mastercard and the cities of Detroit and Dallas — hopes to grow more than 855 million trees covering 2.8 million acres. It’s a bold goal, especially poignant in the context of the devastating forest fires raging in California, which have claimed more than 1.2 million acres (and counting) as of Tuesday afternoon. “That is a reforestation debt that is now due and owing,” said Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests, when we chatted earlier this week. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American forests and forest products are responsible for capturing 15 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions captured from burning fossil fuels. By conserving, restoring and growing trees, the country has the potential to capture double the emissions, estimates a study advanced by The Nature Conservancy. The 1t.org organization, which includes a bipartisan stakeholder council with representatives from governments, businesses, nonprofits and academia, was created to scale the collective resources of those making tree-related commitments, Daley said. As an example, a tool for calculating the carbon emissions that could be reduced through specific reforestation efforts is under development. It’s also working on scaling financing mechanisms. A controlled burn to stop incoming wildfire in Mendocino, California. Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service.   The chapter is also prioritizing efforts that can “remedy gross inequities” by bringing trees back to urban neighborhoods and by placing the potential for job creation at the center of plans, Daley said. The World Economic Forum estimates that sustainable forestry management has the potential to create up to 16 million jobs by 2030 — and more than $230 billion in new economic opportunities.  There’s also a very clear environmental justice issue to address. The map of tree canopies across the United States closely mirrors income, race and health issues — with low-income communities sorely lacking. “We are not going to plant as many trees in cities, but every one of them will have an impact,” Daley said. “It is central to our vision.” The city of Dallas , for example, is pledging to conserve and restore close to 14.8 million trees as part of its urban forestry management plan. Tucson, Arizona, is planning to plant 1 million over the next decade. Detroit and Boise, Idaho, are pledging fewer, but they’re also part of the launch. Salesforce wrote headlines in January for its commitment to restoring and planting 100 million trees; Mastercard is looking to restore or protect the same number over the next five years through its Priceless Planet Coalition . The effort links the activities of cardholders to forest conservation initiatives. For example, corporate cardholder accounts can influence donations to the fund with through spending. Mastercard’s partners in the effort include Citibank, Santander UK, Saks Fifth Avenue and American Airlines. Kristina Kloberdanz, chief sustainability officer for Mastercard, said her company became involved with 1t.org because of its expertise in forestry issues. “We know the business we are in,” she said. “We are not the experts in tree planting. It’s really important to us that we do this right. That we galvanize and motivate. This is bigger than any one of us.” When I asked Kloberdanz what sorts of initiatives Mastercard plans to prioritize, she said agroforestry — where tree preservation is incorporated into broader agricultural strategies — is part of the plan. “We are most interested in planting where there is going to be a benefit to the climate, but we’re also interested in the community and biodiversity benefits as well,” she said. Topics Forestry Carbon Removal Social Justice Natural Climate Solutions Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Kuldeep Singh, nursery manager for the L.A. Moran Reforestation Center in Davis, California. Courtesy of American Forests Close Authorship

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Amid devastating forest fires, One Trillion Trees movement puts down U.S. roots

Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought

August 20, 2020 by  
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We knew it was bad. But a new study of plastic in the Atlantic Ocean reveals the  pollution  problem is ten times worse than scientists suspected. The study, just published in  Nature Communications , uses data collected in fall 2016. Scientists from the U.K.’s National Oceanography Centre sampled seawater from 12 Atlantic locations, from Britain to the Falklands. Samples include large amounts of  water  from three different depths within the ocean’s top 200 meters. Using spectroscopic imaging, researchers calculated the water’s quantity of polystyrene, polyethylene and polypropylene microparticles. These three microparticle types represent the world’s most common plastics and account for approximately half of global plastic waste. Related: Record high amount of microplastic found on seafloors Scientists’ calculations suggest that the Atlantic contains about 200 million tons of these three  plastics . Previous estimates put the figure at between 17 and 47 million tons, the total amount likely released into the Atlantic Ocean between 1950 and 2015. “Our key finding is that there is an awful lot of very, very small microplastic particles in the upper  Atlantic ocean , much higher than the previous estimate. The amount of plastic has been massively underestimated,” said Katsiaryna Pabortsava, lead author of the study. Microplastics threaten both human  health  and marine life. Scientists have found microplastics in small and large animals alike, from the gooseneck barnacle to humpbacked whales. Even humans now ingest microplastics in water, air and some foods. “We definitely know we’re exposed, there’s no doubt,” said Chelsea Rochman, an ecologist at the University of Toronto in Canada. “We drink it, we breathe it, we eat it.” The problem is new enough that scientific health assessments are only just beginning. The study’s authors hope their findings will encourage policymakers’ to act before it’s too late — if it isn’t already. “Society is very concerned about plastic, for ocean health and human health,” Pabortsava said. “We need to answer fundamental questions about the effects of this plastic, and if it harms  ocean  health. The effects might be serious, but might take a while to kick in at sub-lethal levels.” + Nature Communications Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought

Cariuma welcomes a new Pantone collection of natural, vegan shoes

August 20, 2020 by  
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Brazilian sustainable sneaker company Cariuma has released its newest collection of completely vegan and natural footwear . All styles in the fall Pantone collection are made of organic cotton canvas and raw natural rubber gathered through ethical tapping. Released on August 12, the new vegan shoes come after a similar Color of the Year collaboration that sold out on pre-order after just one week and gained a waitlist of 5,000 hopeful customers. The collection is inspired by the unique color palettes found in nature from different regions around the world. The Picante color comes from Arizona’s red rocks and desert, while the Bungee Cord green is inspired by free climbers on El Capitan in California. Blueprint blue recalls the last spot on the horizon where the sky blends into the sea, and Snow White is inspired by the snowy white mountain caps on Everest. The black shoes, dubbed Moonless Night, resemble the dark days of Alaskan winter. These naturally occurring tones are chosen for versatility so that each color is easy to match with your style, even as the seasons change. Related: Vegan shoes from Insecta are a stylish option for eco-friendly footwear Cariuma is on a mission to take a stand against fast fashion as well as other wasteful and unsustainable practices in the fashion industry. The brand’s IBI collection, for example, was the first sneaker made from bamboo and RPET, making it 30% to 40% lighter than common sneakers. Perhaps even better, every purchase of a pair of vegan shoes from Cariuma will go toward planting two trees in the Brazilian rainforest, directly aiding in reforestation and preservation of endangered species and natural habitats. These reforestation efforts will focus on native Brazilian species such as the Jacaranda, Pau-brasil-branco, Peroba, Caroba and the Murici-da-mata. Prices in the new Pantone collection range from $89 to $98, depending on style. + Cariuma Images via Cariuma

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Cariuma welcomes a new Pantone collection of natural, vegan shoes

FOReT’s accessories marry sustainability with high-fashion

August 7, 2020 by  
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Mining for metals and gems often harms the environment — to say nothing of the leather, ivory regularly used to produce accessories. But who says that beauty has to hurt the Earth? Many less harmful options exist, and FOReT proves this with its line of sustainable, eco-friendly cork jewelry . FOReT keeps nature in mind and centers sustainable philosophies through every stage of production. Most FOReT jewelry uses cork, with small amounts of polyester and polyurethane. Cork comes from the outer layer of oak tree bark, which gets harvested every nine years. The harvesting process does not harm the tree, and in time, the bark grows back. This process encourages growth and renewal in the tree. Cork also helps make FOReT’s accessories water-resistant and durable. The jewelry line includes a range of eye-catching jewelry, including necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings. Even FOReT’s handbags and wallets use cork . FOReT’s wide product range helps you create a variety of looks. Each accessory features a high-end look and distinct style meant to get noticed. As FOReT’s website states, “We believe that there is no greater designer than Nature and this led us in search of a material that encapsulates its ethereal beauty. We came across the beautiful cork and were completely enamoured by it, inspiring us to launch our sustainable brand FOReT. At FOReT, we aim to create products that have a positive impact on our lifestyle and environment without compromising on the latest style and trends using the choicest of materials that resonate with being earth-friendly and responsible.” That’s what FOReT stands for, sustainable, responsibly-made fashion . The company commits to making the world a greener place. Every purchase helps fund FOReT’s biodiversity initiative with SankalpTaru , an NGO that plants trees in India. This initiative focuses on “planting and maintaining trees and supporting rural farmers.” FOReT is also a PETA-approved vegan company. + FOReT Images via FOReT

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FOReT’s accessories marry sustainability with high-fashion

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