One key to moving the Biden agenda: Bring all three sectors to the table

January 20, 2021 by  
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One key to moving the Biden agenda: Bring all three sectors to the table Laura Deaton Wed, 01/20/2021 – 01:30 The incoming Biden administration unquestionably will bring new focus to sustainable development goals at home and abroad. Joe Biden has produced plans in an array of key areas — environmental protection, clean energy and racial equity among them — and has promised action in his first 100 days as president. His administration will be playing catch-up in all these key areas, and the best way to make rapid progress is one that doesn’t get talked about enough: building three-sector collaboration into every major initiative. Government partnerships are nothing new, but they’re usually binary: Government agencies work with nonprofits or with businesses or gather feedback separately from each. Collaborations across all three sectors are less typical, but they generate more deeply informed, comprehensive solutions and yield wider support. The clearest way to illustrate the value of cross-sector collaboration is to contrast what happens when one sector isn’t at the table with what’s possible when all sectors are present. The following examples of initiatives related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals show the consequences of leaving out or engaging key stakeholders — and point to how the Biden administration can do better. When the nonprofit sector isn’t at the table: the lost opportunity in Opportunity Zones The Trump administration’s Opportunity Zones were a good idea on paper but were more effective at creating massive tax benefits for already wealthy investors than at creating new jobs and economic opportunities in disinvested communities. That’s largely because communities were left out of program design and implementation, which resulted in capital flowing into projects that didn’t target community needs and sometimes usurped preferred community uses. Working alongside government and corporate actors, community-based nonprofits could have ensured that the investments promoted equitable opportunity and contributed rather than extracted value from communities. A couple of successes show what’s possible: The Economic Equity Network, a pop-up Multiplier project, created a network of more than 300 people committed to equitable community transformation and wealth building and brought them high-impact investment opportunities in three cities. The project helped broaden female and minority investor and entrepreneur networks, and promoted the use of Opportunity Zone funds not only for real-estate investments, but also to scale up minority- and women-led businesses. The clearest way to illustrate the value of cross-sector collaboration is to contrast what happens when one sector isn’t at the table with what’s possible when all sectors are present. Moving into 2021, national community development organization LISC is collaborating  with local investment platform Blueprint Local on projects across the Southeast that will align small businesses loans, federal programs and community plans to build community wealth. The Biden administration has indicated support for Opportunity Zones, as well as acknowledged the need for fixes. The first action should be to look at these models and restructure the program with a new priority: bringing community-rooted organizations together with investors committed to creating public as well as private returns. When the for-profit sector isn’t at the table: The sidelining of sustainable fishing Environmental NGOs have been lobbying for the 30×30 initiative to conserve 30 percent of the world’s ocean habitat by 2030, and the Biden administration is embracing that goal. Sounds great, right? The problem is, the  legislation on deck was created without meaningful input from the small-scale fishermen who have helped make U.S. fisheries the most sustainable in the world. This proposal would ban commercial fishing in at least 30 percent of U.S. marine areas, overturning the successful fisheries management system, harming coastal communities and cutting off consumer access to sustainable local seafood. The end result could be to increase long-distance imports from far less sustainable sources. Contrast that with an example of what can happen when all three sectors work together: The nonprofit program Catch Together partners with fishing communities to create and launch community-owned permit banks, which purchase fishing quota (rights to a certain percentage of the catch in a fishery) and then lease that quota to local fishing businesses at affordable rates. The centerpiece of the program is a foundation-supported revolving loan fund that capitalizes the permit banks and allows communities to invest in tradable quota. That makes it easier for small-scale fishing businesses to access capital and compete against larger players for the ability to fish in their own local waters. So far, the Catch Together team has helped fund quota acquisitions and leasing in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and New England. The goal is to build a nationwide network of next-generation fishermen who are strong advocates for sustainable fisheries and ocean stewardship. This network and other local fishermen — especially Indigenous fishing communities — deserve a seat at the table to explain how their sustainable fishing techniques contribute to climate resilience and conservation. By insisting on collaborative approaches such as the Catch Together model, the Biden administration could ensure that the effort to mitigate the harm caused by large-scale fishing doesn’t undermine responsible small fishermen. It is possible to reach the 30×30 goals by working with fishing communities — in fact, that may be the only way it will happen. When government hides under the table: A power player blocks renewable energy Pacific Northwest residents and wildlife are caught in the grip of a self-funding federal power marketing entity holding fast to an antiquated model that forces consumers to buy more expensive, less environmentally friendly energy. The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) produces supposedly clean hydroelectric energy from the dams it owns — but its high-maintenance, high-cost infrastructure damages salmon habitat and produces pricier power than solar and wind installations. BPA has maintained the status quo despite these deficits by pacifying environmental NGOs with funding to develop environmental solutions (which have no chance of working unless the dams come down) and using its control of the grid to keep cheaper, greener renewable energy out of the market. Another thread runs through the success stories: science, scientists and diverse perspectives. In this case, a public agency essentially has gone rogue, using its monopoly power to privilege its own perceived interests. Collaboration with the nonprofit and for-profit sectors could create solutions that serve the public interest, but neither the Department of Energy (the BPA’s overseer) nor Congress has come to the table to demand it. Columbia Rediviva , a network of citizen activists, is working to change that by engaging Congress members in a plan to reimagine the Pacific Northwest power grid and bring salmon back to the Columbia River. One focus is freeing NGOs to be independent voices by shifting control of conservation funds to a different government agency (so that the BPA is not funding their operations). Another is building support for newer, better clean energy supplies by sharing research that shows taking down dams would deliver both cheaper energy and more jobs. The Biden administration can promote progress in the Pacific Northwest and on clean energy goals nationally by putting government on the side of innovation and aligning the players’ incentives with the public good. When everyone is at the table: The emergence of the first carbon-neutral U.S. city Menlo Park, California, is on its way to becoming the first carbon-neutral city in the U.S., thanks to Menlo Spark ’s work to activate stakeholders in pursuit of that vision. The nonprofit program has collaborated with local government, businesses, residents and experts to institute proven sustainability measures designed to not only reduce the Silicon Valley hub’s carbon emissions but also increase the prosperity of the entire community. Menlo Spark created community buy-in to the carbon-neutral initiative by outlining how it would allow Menlo Park to continue to thrive economically. This support brought the corporate and government sectors on board as well. The city adopted groundbreaking codes requiring that all new buildings operate entirely on electricity, and the Menlo Spark coalition spurred other Silicon Valley cities to do the same, creating a regional effect. The coalition also catalyzed 20 cities to commit to pursuing 100 percent carbon-free power for all customers by 2021. Solar installations for low-income families, improved transit tools and stops, an infrastructure initiative that paves the way for apartment dwellers to own electric vehicles, the Menlo Green Challenge for households, and educational tools all contribute to progress.  This example illustrates a key advantage of bringing all sectors into the conversation: the nonprofit sector is highly skilled at taking the pulse of a community and figuring out effective ways to gain support from all sectors for innovative ideas. Biden’s climate agenda will require all-sector support to succeed, and the administration should center the nonprofit sector as a valuable partner in building community support. The upshot: We need bigger tables As the examples above illustrate, three-sector engagement is crucial. And another thread runs through the success stories: science, scientists and diverse perspectives. Biden already has taken steps on the crucial task of bringing scientific assessments and ongoing research back into policymaking, but there’s a lot of catching up to do in this area. At the same time, we need to be sure we’re involving a true cross-section of the community in initiatives that affect us all. The National Science Policy Network is addressing both needs: this network catalyzes early-career scientists to take an active role in policymaking at all levels of government. It also focuses on racial justice and diversity in science, with initiatives to promote women and people of color and model inclusive and successful science communication. Having all the right people at the table is the essential first step in creating lasting solutions to our long-running environmental and social challenges. That means involving all three sectors, a cross-section of our communities and scientific advisers who themselves represent diverse perspectives and are committed to translating science into policy. In short, we need bigger tables where everyone gets a seat. The Biden administration would be wise to incorporate this principle throughout its policy agenda. That is how it will truly achieve Biden’s goal of uniting America. Pull Quote The clearest way to illustrate the value of cross-sector collaboration is to contrast what happens when one sector isn’t at the table with what’s possible when all sectors are present. Another thread runs through the success stories: science, scientists and diverse perspectives. Topics Innovation Policy & Politics Corporate Strategy Public-Private Partnerships Environmental Justice 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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One key to moving the Biden agenda: Bring all three sectors to the table

The electric revolution needs sustainable battery materials

January 20, 2021 by  
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The electric revolution needs sustainable battery materials Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/20/2021 – 00:15 To electrify many of the world’s vehicles in the coming years, the EV industry will need to procure a massive amount of lithium-ion batteries. And that will require brand-new sources and technologies to find, extract and process battery materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel. These materials currently are extracted from beneath the earth through mining. Sometimes that mining process is problematic for humanitarian reasons, as with cobalt , or for environmental reasons, as with some lithium extracted via evaporation ponds . Fortunately, the issue of how to find new and sustainable sources for batteries is getting renewed attention this year from battery giants, tech startups, EV makers, investors and policymakers. “A major component of the renewable energy revolution is how do we get the materials necessary to do it,” says Kurt House, CEO of KoBold Metals . KoBold Metals is a startup that is building and applying machine learning and advanced scientific techniques for battery mineral exploration. The company is funded by investors Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Norwegian state oil company Equinor.  House estimates that to fully electrify the global vehicle fleet by 2050, the world will have to find over $4 trillion worth of new battery materials. “That is battery materials that we don’t know where they are now,” emphasized House.  Once sustainable battery materials are found and extracted, batteries are highly recyclable and a robust circular battery economy can be developed to reuse and recycle batteries, House noted: “It’s a really deep distinction with fossil fuels that are extracted from the ground and burned. You can never get that carbon back in a thermodynamical way. It’s a one-time trip.” KoBold Metals is building a database of information about the earth’s crust and using algorithms to mine that data to make predictions about the composition of materials under the ground in regions around the world. For example, while much of the world’s cobalt is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), KoBold is investigating a cobalt mining area in northern Quebec in Canada.  KoBold Metals is just one startup using computing to tackle exploring and mining sustainable battery materials. Another new player is Lilac Solutions , which has developed a more efficient and faster process to extract lithium from underground brines. Meanwhile, Redwood Materials is a startup developed by former Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel that is taking scrap metal from EV battery production and using that for the raw materials of other EV batteries. In addition to startups, big battery players are eager for alternatives to problematic materials such as cobalt. At the Consumer Electronics Show last week, Panasonic touted next-generation lithium batteries that will be cobalt-free and come out in a few years. Tesla and Apple also have been eager to slash the amount of cobalt in their batteries, and Tesla likewise has pledged to use cobalt-free batteries.  Eliminating problematic cobalt mined in the DRC is just one battery issue. Mining giants, battery makers, auto manufacturers and energy companies will have to create an entirely new framework to source, extract and process battery materials sustainably and then take back older EV batteries to both reuse and recycle them. And a lot of financing will be required to help set these systems up.  But circular and sustainable EV batteries — and the systems to support them — will be paramount to the electric revolution coming for both transportation and the power grid.  Want more great analysis of electric and sustainable transport? Sign up for Transport Weekly , our free email newsletter. Topics Transportation & Mobility Circular Economy 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 Kurt House, CEO of  KoBold Metals , a startup building and applying machine learning and advanced scientific techniques for battery mineral exploration. Photo courtesy of KoBold Metals

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The Ocean Cleanup launches sunglasses made from ocean plastic

November 25, 2020 by  
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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a floating island of waste located in the Pacific Ocean. Several organizations have taken part in cleaning up the area and transporting the garbage back to shore, where it is mostly hauled to landfills. But The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization based in Holland, has diverted plastic from the ocean and recycled it into fashionable sunglasses that are an essential part of the funding for future efforts. The organization spent years developing a garbage retrieval system, which eventually donned the moniker System 001/B when it was launched into the North Pacific Ocean in the middle of 2019. The team of more than 90 engineers, researchers, scientists and computational modelers successfully returned the collected debris to land. The plastic was then carefully bagged and labeled to ensure transparency throughout the process. The goal is to guarantee the plastic used in the sunglasses comes directly from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch cleanup . Related: The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers The certified plastic was then processed at a commercial scale, creating a strong, durable plastic for the sunglasses. The sunglasses are designed by Yves Béhar in California and manufactured by Safilo , a leading eyewear company in Italy. Every part of the product is made for recycling at the end-of-wear lifespan, including the polarized lenses and metal hinges. Because the amount of certified plastic is limited, the number of sunglasses produced is small. But the impact is mighty. Each purchase of the sunglasses supports cleaning up an area of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is equivalent to 24 football fields. The sale of all sunglasses in this initial release equates to 500,000 football fields full of waste removed from the ocean. The Ocean Cleanup will put 100% of the profits back into the process as it continues to innovate the best ways to clean up the ocean. This is not a one-time event, with plans well underway to improve the System 001/B for the next ocean exploration and cleanup. “It’s incredible to think that only a year ago this plastic was polluting our oceans and now it’s something beautiful, thereby turning a problem into a solution,” said Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. “Of course, The Ocean Cleanup is only here today because of our supporters, so I am excited these sunglasses are just another opportunity for everyone to be part of the cleanup and help us maximize our impact. I am thankful for the support of our followers and our partners and for their dedication and efforts to realize this very important step on our mission to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.” + The Ocean Cleanup Images via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup launches sunglasses made from ocean plastic

Solar-powered timber home in Chile embraces ocean views

April 15, 2020 by  
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Earlier this year, Chilean architecture firm Cristobal Vial Arquitectos completed Casa Rural #01, a solar-powered holiday home oriented for views of the Pacific Ocean and optimal passive solar conditions. Located just outside the coastal town of Matanzas in Navidad, the building was designed for a reduced environmental footprint, from the use of elevated foundations that minimize site impact to the rooftop solar panels that meet all of the home’s electrical needs. Set atop hilly remote terrain high in the pine-studded mountains, Casa Rural #01 marks the first home to be constructed within a new housing development. Conceived for a single family, the modestly sized building embraces the outdoors with its framed views and material palette. The structure is built entirely of dimensioned wood with structural insulated panels (SIPs) and is topped by a metal butterfly roof with solar panels.  Inside, Casa Rural #01 measures 60 square meters and is organized as three modules, all of which open up to an exterior west-facing terrace . The house includes three bedrooms, an open-plan living room with a kitchen and dining area, and a bathroom. The interior spaces are minimally dressed and wrapped entirely of timber with the roof timber elements exposed.  Related: This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views “The proposed volume is proposed longitudinally in favor of the slope,” explains the architects in a project statement. “That is why a modulation of three separate volumes is solved, which organize the public, private (children) and private (adults) program. The separation of these volumes is done through two cuts that allow having the north-south domain of the land in which it is located. In order not to lose the continuity of these, a broken gable roof is proposed, as an envelope, which seeks to dialogue with the existing slope and at the same time marks what is the circulation space within it and the opening towards the views.”  + Cristobal Vial Arquitectos Images via Cristobal Vial Arquitectos

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Solar-powered timber home in Chile embraces ocean views

This is a solution that could help end illegal fishing

March 2, 2020 by  
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In the Pacific Ocean, a report estimated 24 percent of the fish are unreported and illegally traded in international markets.

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This is a solution that could help end illegal fishing

BP walks away from three U.S. trade groups over carbon pricing

March 2, 2020 by  
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From Apple to Unilever to Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, more big companies are partings ways with industry associations that support policies at odds with corporate sustainability goals

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BP walks away from three U.S. trade groups over carbon pricing

How using biodiversity indicators can improve conservation effectiveness

March 2, 2020 by  
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Data can help companies make decisions about their conservation initiatives — and improve outcomes.

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How using biodiversity indicators can improve conservation effectiveness

Endangered Canadian Orca births first calf in three years

June 4, 2019 by  
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A small and endangered pod of orca whales primarily seen off the coast of British Columbia was seen with their first newborn calf since 2016. The calf has been called a “ray of hope” by whale researchers and conservationists and brings the total population up to just 76 whales. “Researchers at the Centre for Whale Research, have confirmed that the calf is a new addition, and based on its coloration and body condition was likely born sometime in the last one to three weeks…More field observations are needed to confirm the identity of the calf’s mother,” the research center said in a statement. Related: Russia to release hundreds of illegally captured orcas and belugas from ‘whale jail’ The whale was first observed and photographed by whale watchers on May 31, who noted its orange hue and fetal skin– evidence that it was born very recently. This subsection of endangered killer whales are unique to others of the same species because they primarily eat Chinook salmon instead of seals and mammals. The crash in salmon population in the Pacific Northwest contributed to a decline in whale population. Last year, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee released a plan to revive and protect salmon and whale populations. The newest calf belongs to the J-Pod, but there are two other pods of the endangered group– the L-pod and the K-pod. Just five months ago, the L-pod also successfully birthed a calf. “Southern resident killer whales , their population is small so any birth is huge,” a representative from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada told CBC News. Despite these recent celebrations, the survival rate for Orca calves is only 50 percent. The last successful Orca birth took place in 2016. However, last year after the death of the calf, the mother continued to carry the body for a heart wrenching 7 days, a story which received considerable media attention and drew sympathy for the vulnerable population. Via The Guardian Image via skeeze

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Endangered Canadian Orca births first calf in three years

State of emergency in effect as Hurricane Lane barrels toward Hawaiian coastline

August 23, 2018 by  
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Hurricane Lane is swiftly moving along its course toward Hawaii, where a hurricane warning is in effect for Maui and the Big Island. A hurricane watch has also been issued for Kauai and Oahu. According to the National Weather Service , the storm has now been downgraded to a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to make contact with the state later today. Related: After three months, Kilauea eruptions might be over The NWS reported that “the center of Lane will track dangerously close to the Hawaiian Islands from Thursday through Saturday.” In addition, the organization noted that, “regardless of the exact track of the storm center, life-threatening impacts are likely over some areas as this strong hurricane makes its closest approach.” Despite the storm’s demotion from a Category 5 to a Category 4, many locals are comparing Hurricane Lane to the devastating Hurricane Iniki, which hit Hawaii in 1992. Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation on Tuesday in case Hawaii needs relief for “disaster damages, losses and suffering.” In a news release from the Governor’s office , Ige said, “Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane. I’ve not seen such dramatic changes in the forecast track as I’ve seen with this storm. I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact.” Related: The Eye of the Storm dome home can withstand hurricanes — and it’s officially on the market Residents have already “rushed to stores to stock up on bottled water, ramen, toilet paper and other supplies,” according to an Associated Press report. With maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and rainfall accumulations of between 10-15 inches, the storm is expected to cause flash-flooding and landslides in Hawaii. In addition, the NWS has reported the possibility of “large and potentially damaging surf.” As the hurricane continues to approach the Hawaiian coastline, many residents are hoping Lane will show a little more mercy than 1992’s Iniki, which killed six people and caused $1.8 billion worth of damage. Numerous government buildings have closed as the state’s residents prepare for the storm. Via NPR Image via Shutterstock

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State of emergency in effect as Hurricane Lane barrels toward Hawaiian coastline

A spike in tailless whale sightings worries scientists

May 8, 2018 by  
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People have occasionally glimpsed tailless whales in western North America, but a recent spike in sightings has troubled scientists. This year alone, at least three flukeless gray whales have been spotted near California. Ship collisions or killer whale attacks probably aren’t to blame for the injuries; entanglement in fishing equipment is likely the cause. National Geographic reported that when whales are feeding in areas with debris, man-made objects or fishing gear, nets or ropes can get stuck at their tail’s base, slowly sawing off their flukes. Ropes and nets can also cut off blood circulation, causing a whale’s tail to wither away. Entangled whales may not survive, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ‘s (NOAA) California stranding network coordinator Justin Viezbecke. “The majority of them — if not all of them — are going to most likely die from these injuries,” Viezbecke said. Related: Unusually high number of humpback whale deaths prompts NOAA inquiry Losing a tail makes life difficult for whales. Feeding becomes a challenge; the limb serves as a propeller as they navigate to the seafloor and seek out crustaceans. The long migration from Mexico birthing grounds to Arctic feeding grounds can also be hard without a tail. Flukeless mother whales are less capable of defending their babies from killer whales . According to whale biologist Alisa Schulman-Janiger, some whales can adapt to the handicap. Brooke Palmer — who posted a YouTube video of a tailless whale near Newport Beach, California earlier this year — said in the video description that the whale was doing “seemingly well as it adapted to the loss of an integral limb. It is sad, but inspirational how resilient and adaptive these beautiful mammals can be.” The increase in tailless gray whale sightings matches up with what National Geographic called a general increase in whale entanglements. There was an average of 10 incidents a year between 2000 and 2012, but in 2017, there were 31 incidents, according to NOAA whale disentangler Pieter Folkens. Folkens said the reason behind the rise is unknown, although it could be possible that people are better at spotting the whales. Via National Geographic Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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