Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future

September 1, 2020 by  
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Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future Heather Clancy Tue, 09/01/2020 – 00:02 Business strategy organization Boston Consulting Group will use remote workplace lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce per-employee travel by at least 30 percent by 2025, one key element of the $8.5 billion company’s new commitment to achieve net-zero status for its own operations by the end of this decade.  It’s also planning an investment push that will see it fund carbon removal projects at a starting cost of $25 per metric ton in 2025, increasing to $80 per metric ton in 2030 — far higher than the amount companies traditionally pay to purchase carbon offsets on voluntary markets.  Both declarations are notable, for different reasons. The consulting industry traditionally has relied heavily on travel to deliver services — it represents 80 percent of BCG’s total footprint, for example. Reducing that activity is something that neither the consulting sector nor its clients would have imagined was possible at the end of 2019, BCG CEO Rich Lesser told GreenBiz. “We are in a period of unbelievable learning,” he said. “My expectation is we will find different kinds of models with less travel intensity.” While BCG hasn’t made any specific commitments about what that model might look like, Lesser said it could include using videoconferencing for certain sorts of engagements in the future rather than sending someone for an on-site meeting or arranging for consultants to work at client locations on a staggered, rotating basis rather than all at the same time. Within its own operations — it has 21,000 employees and offices in 50 countries — BCG is aiming to reduce direct energy and electricity emissions by 90 percent per full-time employee against a baseline measurement of 2018, according to the new set of commitments the company announced Tuesday. It previously committed to purchasing 100 percent renewable energy and will use energy-efficiency measures to fill the gap. Beyond 2030, BCG aspires to be “climate positive” — by removing more carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere on an ongoing basis than it actually emits through its own activities. While the company didn’t publicly identify projects in its press release about the new commitments, those investments will be for both nature-based and “engineered” solutions. “I suspect it will be a mix of both,” Lesser said, adding that BCG will prioritize “change the game” kinds of solutions. One example of an organization with which BCG already works is Indigo Ag, the company behind the Terraton Initiative, an effort to draw down 1 trillion tons of atmospheric CO2 through regenerative agriculture and soil wellness initiatives. Indigo is growing fast both in terms of funding and connections with farmers, which are hoping to get credit for the carbon sequestration potential of their agricultural practices. In early August, it added $360 million in new financing, bringing its overall total to $535 million. The Indigo Marketplace, where it links growers prioritizing sustainability practices directly with grain buyers, has completed more than $1 billion in transactions since September 2018. ‘The model has yet to be fully proved out, but there is massive capacity,” Lesser said. Aside from its own commitments, BCG also has pledged up to $400 million in services — such as research or consulting support through its Center for Climate Action — to support environmental organizations, industry groups, government agencies and others working on net-zero projects. It works on more than 350 such projects with more than 250 organizations, including the World Economic Forum, WWF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. How does BCG’s new pledges compare with other leading business consulting firms? McKinsey & Company declared carbon neutrality in 2018 and has set emissions reductions in line with the Paris Agreement, including a 60 percent reduction in purchased energy by 2030 and by 90 percent by 2050. It also has been active in engaging its suppliers — including 50 of the world’s largest airlines and five of the biggest hotel groups — on how to improve environment performance. And it has a large sustainability practice, focused on helping other businesses reduce their own impact. Another business consulting heavyweight, Bain & Company, was declared carbon neutral by Natural Capital Partners in 2012. It has reduced its direct emissions by 70 percent since 2011, with a pledge to reach 90 percent by 2040. It committed to delivering up to $1 billion in pro bono consulting work for social impact projects between 2015 and 2025. (So far, it has delivered about $335 million.) Topics Corporate Strategy Carbon Removal Net-Zero 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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Strategy firm BCG pledges net-zero impact, eyes ‘carbon positive’ future

Ocasio-Cortez and Kerry co-chair climate change task force

May 15, 2020 by  
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By focusing on climate change and other issues important to progressive voters, Joe Biden is attempting to win over Bernie Sanders’ supporters and unify the Democratic Party. Biden has tapped Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Secretary of State John Kerry to co-chair a climate change task force. “She made the decision with members of the Climate Justice community — and she will be fully accountable to them and the larger advocacy community during this process,” Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson Lauren Hitt said in an email. Ocasio-Cortez was a staunch Sanders supporter until he dropped out of the race in April. Related: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez releases Green New Deal resolution Ocasio-Cortez serves as representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, which includes the eastern part of the Bronx and parts of Queens. At only 30 years old, she’s Congress’ youngest member and is known for advocating for working-class people and social and environmental justice; Ocasio-Cortez sponsored the Green New Deal. Kerry is known for his work on environmental improvements. He helped orchestrate the 2016 Paris Agreement, which addressed greenhouse gas emissions . Other panel members bring the perspectives of both rural and urban areas. “This is the Climate Dream Team for Democrats,” said Jeremy Symons, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental consultant, according to Inside Climate News . The climate policy panel is one of six task forces Biden convened to unify Democrats after Sanders left the presidential primary race. The other five panels focus on healthcare, immigration, the economy, criminal justice reform and education . The groups will meet before the Democratic National Convention to help set Biden’s campaign agenda. “A united party is key to defeating Donald Trump this November and moving our country forward through an unprecedented crisis,” Biden said in a statement. “As we work toward our shared goal, it is especially critical that we not lose sight of the pressing issues facing Americans.” Via NPR Image via Senate Democrats

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Ocasio-Cortez and Kerry co-chair climate change task force

Watch for ADM to pioneer biofuels, more carbon capture projects

May 13, 2020 by  
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Watch for ADM to pioneer biofuels, more carbon capture projects Heather Clancy Wed, 05/13/2020 – 02:57 Although decarbonization of industrial processes remains a big technical challenge, food processing and commodities giant Archer Daniels Midland recently adopted new commitments to cut its absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2035 — with additional carbon sequestration projects and changes to its transportation fleet figuring largely in that strategy. ADM also has pledged to decrease energy intensity by 15 percent over the same timeframe. “Our new goals are ambitious yet achievable,” said ADM chairman and CEO Juan Luciano, in a statement when they were revealed in late March. “The greenhouse gas emissions we’ll save will be the equivalent of those from charging every single smartphone on the planet 250 times.” The new commitments , the culmination of a 1.5-year planning process, aren’t officially science-based targets but they are “more aggressive” than the 2 degrees Celsius reduction scenarios suggested by the Paris Agreement, according to ADM’s chief sustainability officer, Alison Taylor. The new commitments do not yet cover Scope 3 emissions, although that it is a forthcoming priority for the company, she said. We hope in this trajectory of 15 years there will be technologies that come online that we don’t even know about today. ADM’s new board-level sustainability and corporate responsibility committee — as well as the whole executive council — played a role in setting the new goals, she said. A feasibility study conducted by consulting and engineering firm WSP Global summarizes the best courses of action — now and over the next 15 years — that are most viable. “It gives me faith that this will be taken seriously,” Taylor told GreenBiz shortly after the new strategy was revealed. ADM’s list of potential options (as identified by that study) is comprehensive and includes many measures you’d expect for near-term improvement such as renewable energy procurement, investments (although limited) in on-site generation technology including solar, wind, nuclear and battery storage and ongoing energy “treasure hunts” for identifying energy efficiency and reduction opportunities. Flipping the switch Another major focus will be “fuel switching,” both for its industrial facilities and transportation fleet. This is a daunting task: ADM, which has about 40,000 employees in 200 countries, operates more than 330 food and ingredient manufacturing facilities worldwide. It owns more than 1,800 barges, 12,000 rail cars, 360 trucks, 1,200 trailers, 100 boats and 10 oceangoing vessels. Its leased fleet is just as massive. According to the WSP assessment, about 46 percent of ADM’s energy consumption in 2018 (28.6 million MWh) was attributable to coal and 33 percent (20.7 million MWh) came from natural gas. As of that time, about 8 percent (5.2 million MWh) came from biogenic sources such as biodiesel, ethanol, biogas and biomass — a percent you can expect to increase as ADM works toward its new reduction goals. And ADM is exploring all of its options including biomass, although that would require capital expenditures and the construction of substantial storage facilities to handle the feedstock. If ADM transitioned its industrial energy loads entirely to biomass, it would require more than 500 trucks daily of fuel, according to the study. It’s more likely, instead, that the company will opt for multiple options that also include biogas, renewable natural gas and — potentially in the future — hydrogen. “We hope in this trajectory of 15 years there will be technologies that come online that we don’t even know about today,” Taylor said. To see our company looking at the future, this was rewarding for employees. ADM is already testing emerging technologies within its transportation fleet. In late February, it announced a plan to outfit five trucks with a fuel system from Optimus Technologies that allows conventional engines to run on 100 percent biodiesel. They’ll be part of a year-long pilot: Each vehicle will travel an estimated 160,000 to 180,000 miles, with the technology expected to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 500,000 pounds on each truck. For perspective, that’s a reduction of about 80 percent over traditional diesel. The fuel itself will come from an ADM refinery in Jefferson, Missouri. Indeed, it’s worth noting that ADM is still one of the largest biodiesel and biofuels producers in the world. It stands to benefit from that sort of transition. An early adopter of industrial carbon capture When it comes to removing existing atmospheric carbon, ADM is digging into emerging carbon capture and sequestration solutions. It is already operating a commercial-scale installation at its corn processing and biofuels facility in Decatur, Illinois, that is capable of storing up to 1 million tons of CO2 annually. The CO2 is being injected into a saline reservoir that’s almost 1.5 miles underground. This isn’t something it can do indefinitely: The project can store up to 5.5 million tons in total, and it’s only slated to run up to five years initially. Realistically, this isn’t something that ADM can do everywhere. The right combination of geological considerations is necessary for this sort of installation. But the 45Q tax credit for carbon removal projects has made this more feasible, Taylor said, and the approach is being evaluated elsewhere. “We can demonstrate to our colleagues that this technology can be scaled up,” she said. When I spoke with Taylor in early April, I asked about whether the rollout of the new goals might be delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the company could have waited until later this spring, she said the team decided to push forward to help keep the ADM workforce focused on the long term, even amid the short-term crisis. “To see our company looking at the future, this was rewarding for employees,” Taylor said. “It’s giving them confidence about the future.” Pull Quote We hope in this trajectory of 15 years there will be technologies that come online that we don’t even know about today. To see our company looking at the future, this was rewarding for employees. Topics Food & Agriculture Corporate Strategy Decarbonization Corporate Strategy Sustainability Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off An ADM carbon storage facility. Close Authorship

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Here’s what fringe consumers tell us about the post-pandemic marketplace

May 13, 2020 by  
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Here’s what fringe consumers tell us about the post-pandemic marketplace Deonna Anderson Wed, 05/13/2020 – 00:06 For years, communications firm Shelton Group has been gathering data about “fringe” consumers through intensive, manual social media analysis about both environmental and social sustainability. Why? Because while the fringe tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to the trends, eventually some ideals of fringe consumers become mainstream. As just one example of a once-nascent idea, Shelton Group pointed to the call by buyers for consumer brand companies and others in the consumer products value chain to transition away from plastics that eventually end up in the ocean. “The important piece of that is this is where you as a business and as a company and as a brand can take a look and understand something, that if it comes at you as a surprise, it’s a threat,” said Susannah Enkema, vice president of research and insights at Shelton Group, during last week’s GreenBiz webcast about what fringe consumers can tell us about the post-pandemic marketplace. “But if you understand it now, you can turn that threat into an opportunity, And that’s really the power of the fringe,” Enkema continued, before sharing findings from Shelton Group’s most recent report, ” Seeing into the Future: Leveraging fringe consumer insights to build a sustainable brand in a post-COVID world .” Between March and mid-April, Shelton Group observed trends on social media — including Twitter, Reddit and Instagram — to gather insights about what might happen after the COVID-19 pandemic. It first shared the findings during the webcast. The important piece of that is this is where you as a business and as a company and as a brand can take a look and understand something, that if it comes at you as a surprise, it’s a threat. In the report, Shelton Group defines the fringe as a “subset of individuals who live on the fringes of society in terms of their beliefs and behaviors,” also noting that they tend to be activist-oriented. Additionally, the firm polls mainstream consumers to further gather data about trends. “We have over the last few years seen a shift towards sustainability that we haven’t haven’t seen before, and it’s kind of two-fold,” said Suzanne Shelton, president and CEO at Shelton Group, during the webcast. “There’s a social proof or social pressure kind of aspect to this, in which pre-COVID, 42 percent of us wanted to be seen as buying green products,” Shelton continued. “But beyond that, we’ve also seen pre-COVID that 86 percent of us expect companies to stand for something more than just making money.” As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and recession, fringe consumers can give businesses a sense of what their expectations might be when this is all over and we go back to a “new normal.” Here are a few key takeaways. Shelton said businesses have two options — return to “business as usual” or “embrace the responsibility consumers have given them to tackle large scale issues like climate change,” noting that business leaders should choose the second option for a number of reasons. Further, Shelton said, businesses need to get involved in the right way and start rethinking sustainability so that they’re not doing the bare minimum. Consumers need to know that businesses have some “skin in the game.” “In this new COVID world, what we’re seeing in the fringe that is quickly becoming mainstream is that those ideas are amplified,” she said. “What we’re seeing clearly in all this listening that we’re doing right now, again fringe and mainstream, is that businesses are sort of acting in one of four ways and therefore, they are getting categorized in one of four ways by consumers.” Shelton noted that there is a hierarchy in the four ways consumers are categorizing businesses. The businesses that are donating small aid that takes advantage of pandemic-induced losses are ranked low while those going beyond minimizing losses — such as those that shifted their manufacturing to produce masks or hand sanitizer — are ranked the highest. Consumers are paying attention to these actions, and as citizens, they’re paying attention to “the system” — the government, economic system, etc. — which the fringe has said needs to be changed for years. That idea is becoming more mainstream, as the pandemic has exposed the flaws of the current models and to point to a specific system, capitalism. During the webcast, Shelton said right now is the time for companies to step up their sustainability efforts. “As you think about your 2030 goals and 2040 goals, I think you need to go way beyond or else you’re going to live in this bucket forever and be seen as, ‘Yeah, they’re doing alright but they could be doing more,’” she said. Pull Quote The important piece of that is this is where you as a business and as a company and as a brand can take a look and understand something, that if it comes at you as a surprise, it’s a threat. Topics Consumer Trends COVID-19 Corporate Strategy COVID-19 Corporate Strategy Sustainability Strategies Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Andrii Yalanskyi Close Authorship

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Here’s what fringe consumers tell us about the post-pandemic marketplace

Downturn signals opportunity for climate-aligned investing

April 27, 2020 by  
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Several frameworks are emerging that sets performance thresholds identifying economic activities that align with the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets.

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Downturn signals opportunity for climate-aligned investing

Shell unveils net-zero emissions plan

April 20, 2020 by  
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The oil giant updated investors on sweeping new strategy to deliver net-zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2050.

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Shell unveils net-zero emissions plan

Coronavirus could trigger ‘largest ever annual fall in CO2’ in 2020

April 13, 2020 by  
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But an analysis suggests the likely reduction in CO2 still would be far off goals of the Paris Agreement.

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Coronavirus could trigger ‘largest ever annual fall in CO2’ in 2020

‘Red flag for COP26’: Most high-carbon companies shooting ‘wide of the mark’ for a 2C world

March 23, 2020 by  
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Investor-led Transitions Pathway Initiative warns four in five firms in carbon-intensive sectors currently fail Paris Agreement test.

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‘Red flag for COP26’: Most high-carbon companies shooting ‘wide of the mark’ for a 2C world

What we know so far about countries’ 2020 climate commitments

December 5, 2019 by  
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The stakes are high — how can we ensure the new nationally determined contributions raise confidence that we are on track to a 1.5 degree C world?

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What we know so far about countries’ 2020 climate commitments

COP25: Diving into the first Blue COP

December 5, 2019 by  
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There’s a new tide of global awareness rising about the critical role of our oceans in climate mitigation and adaptation.

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