50 countries pledge to conserve 30% of land and water

January 12, 2021 by  
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The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People has made a pledge to protect 30% of the land and water on Earth by 2030 to slow destruction of nature and species extinctions. The pledge was made public last Monday during the One Planet Summit in Paris. HAC is a coalition of more than 50 countries that was formed in 2011 to encourage internal action on the climate crisis prior to the Paris Agreement. The coalition is currently co-chaired by three countries: France, the U.K., and Costa Rica. It was formed in Durban in 2011 and has been at the forefront of encouraging international action on the climate crisis. The coalition is promoting actions against biodiversity loss and hopes that the pledge will lead to a successful conservation agreement during the Cop15 2021 summit in China. Related: Polar bears could go extinct in 80 years if global warming persists In their pledge, the countries have agreed to reserve at least 30% of the planet’s land and water as natural habitats. While making the announcement, HAC noted that protecting 30% of the planet by the turn of the decade is necessary to prevent mass extinction of plant and animal species. On Monday, several world leaders met at the One Planet Summit in Paris to discuss the biodiversity crisis and promotion of archeology as well as to examine the relationship between human health and nature . The event was addressed by various world leaders, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Besides the pledge to protect 30% of the planet, several countries in the coalition also made pledges to fund nature conservation projects. The coalition has pledged to invest billions of pounds in the  Great Green Wall of Africa  project and the launch of the new  Terra Carta  by Prince Charles. The coalition’s pledges have been applauded but also met by some criticism from various environmentalists. Many emphasized that the commitment needs to be met with actual efforts and delivery. Greenpeace U.K.’s head of politics Rebecca Newsom explained that there are also concerns about the source of funds being pledged by countries such as the U.K. Newsom argued that the funds should not be cut from budgets already allocated for other environmental projects. “Increasing funds to protect and enhance nature is critical to help secure success at the global biodiversity conference in China this year,” Newsom said. “Siphoning off cash from funds already committed to tackling the climate crisis simply isn’t enough.” Via The Guardian Image via Pauline Bernfeld

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50 countries pledge to conserve 30% of land and water

Vincent Callebaut proposes a green, food-producing footbridge for Paris

January 5, 2021 by  
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Vincent Callebaut Architectures has unveiled fantastical designs for the Green Line, a futuristic “inhabited footbridge” in Paris that would run on renewable energy, recycle its own waste and fight urban air pollution all while producing 87,500 kilograms of fresh fruits and vegetables every year. The ambitious proposal was created as an entry in the Reinventing Cities – C40 international design competition hosted by Ceetrus. The Green Line design spans the River Seine between the 12th and 13th arrondissements in Paris and aims to better connect the Bercy Village to the Masséna district. Conceived as an antidote to urban pollution, the carbon-neutral Green Line seeks to reinvigorate the city with its nature-inspired design. In addition to a lush planting plan that includes urban agriculture and carbon-sequestering woody plants, the garden footbridge also features an eye-catching, double-arched structure that takes inspiration from a fish skeleton. The biomimetic bridge is engineered for phased construction so as to minimize disturbance to local residents. Related: Vincent Callebaut unveils bioclimatic LEED-Gold timber tower The Green Line features a variety of garden types; however, its primary focus is on an edible landscape with participatory greenhouses on its panoramic rooftop. The scheme proposes a total of 3,500 square meters of vegetable gardens and orchards — with edible, native species — to help raise awareness of eco-gastronomy and the Slow Food movement. The fruits and vegetables grown on the footbridge would be harvested for use in restaurants and classrooms on the bridge.  Following principles of self-sufficiency, the footbridge proposal features 3,000 square meters of hybrid rooftop solar panels to power the facilities and restaurants on the bridge; 56 axial magnetically levitated wind turbines that power the bridge’s lighting fixtures; and a biogas plant integrated in the cells of the bridge that converts the non-edible parts of plants and organic waste into heat and electrical energy.  + Vincent Callebaut Architectures Images via Vincent Callebaut Architectures

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Vincent Callebaut proposes a green, food-producing footbridge for Paris

Biden promises US-led climate summit in 2021

December 15, 2020 by  
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President-elect Joe Biden is making it clear that he won’t be fooling around regarding climate change. He has pledged to rejoin the Paris Agreement on his first day in office and to hold a global climate summit within the first 100 days. Last week, 75 countries met in a virtual Climate Ambition Summit co-hosted by the UN, France and the U.K. The U.S, still led by outgoing President Donald Trump, was conspicuously absent. Other major nations that weren’t participating included Russia, Brazil and Indonesia. Related: US formally exits Paris climate agreement Biden does not want the U.S. to be left out of these crucial goings-on and is itching to get busy on climate change. “We’ll elevate the incredible work cities, states and businesses have been doing to help reduce emissions and build a cleaner future,” Biden said in a statement. “We’ll listen to and engage closely with the activists, including young people, who have continued to sound the alarm and demand change from those in power.” He repeated the pledge of aiming for net-zero carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2050 and emphasized that this would boost the economy. “We’ll do all of this knowing that we have before us an enormous economic opportunity to create jobs and prosperity at home and export clean American-made products around the world.” To be successful, the world needs all oil-dependent countries to sign up for the net-zero emissions plan. The Paris Agreement is centered around countries having nationally determined contributions (NDCs), detailed plans about how they will severely curtail fossil fuel use and reduce emissions. The current NDCs were submitted in 2015 but need to be rewritten. As it stands, current NDCs will result in more than 3 degrees Celsius of warming, way overshooting the goal. The world will be watching for the Biden’s plan. “We look forward to a very active US leadership in climate action from now on as US leadership is absolutely essential,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres. “The US is the largest economy in the world, it’s absolutely essential for our goals to be reached.” Via The Guardian Image via Gage Skidmore

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What Biden could do about plastics

December 14, 2020 by  
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What Biden could do about plastics Lauren Phipps Mon, 12/14/2020 – 01:00 Most environmentally oriented eyes on the Biden administration are focused — appropriately — on mitigating climate change, creating jobs and transitioning to a clean energy future. Count me among them. So, I’m not holding out hope for a federal circular economy policy any time soon (I’ll let the EU take the lead on that front). However, I will pay close attention next year to the administration’s stance on everyone’s favorite entry point into the circular economy: plastics. More specifically, the potential to weave together or harmonize our current patchwork of city- and state-level regulations into a coordinated federal effort to chip away at the U.S.’s outsized plastics footprint . The most ambitious bill that could come across Biden’s desk is the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act , introduced earlier this year by Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-California). The sweeping legislation would establish a nationwide container deposit system (a.k.a. extended producer responsibility); set post-consumer recycled content minimums for plastic packaging that gradually would increase to 80 percent in 2040; and ban a number of single-use items including plastic bags, polystyrene foodservice containers and disposable utensils and straws. It’s controversial, to say the least, with predictable divisions between industry lobbying for voluntary commitments and activist groups demanding regulatory action and accountability.  This week, a coalition of 550 environmental groups, including many of the bill’s supporters, released the Presidential Plastics Action Plan , a proposed framework for the president-elect to reduce plastics entering the waste stream and regulate their management — with or without the support of Congress. Here’s what makes me optimistic: Plastic pollution has become a bipartisan issue. Although Biden’s emphasis on infrastructure, climate and environmental justice feels perfectly poised for an intersectional challenge such as plastic pollution, I’m not feeling confident that this is where Biden will spend his political capital with executive action, at least any time soon. But I’m hoping to be surprised. On the international stage, I’ll be tracking two major opportunities for the Biden administration: a global treaty on plastics pollution and the Basel Convention, a United Nations treaty that regulates the transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous waste, amended in 2019 to regulate the global plastic waste trade.  More than two-thirds of United Nations member states have declared they are open to a new agreement to tackle plastic waste and harmonize policy efforts among signatories, akin to a Paris Agreement for plastics. And while the U.S. has remained predictably silent on the treaty, WWF, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Boston Consulting Group recently released a manifesto calling for businesses to support such a treaty, garnering early support from major global brands including Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo, among other top global plastic polluters , signaling potential for broader support to enter into negotiations.  Although the U.S. is not a party to the Basel Convention, come next month, many shipments of plastic waste from the U.S. to other countries will be prohibited or complicated , increasing the strain on domestic recycling markets.  I’m not wildly optimistic that the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act will become the law of the land while the president’s ambition for environmental action is tempered by Republican control of the Senate. I’m also not filled with confidence that the U.S. quickly will become a global leader in the fight against plastics pollution.  But here’s what makes me optimistic: Plastic pollution has become a bipartisan issue.  If the historic influx of recycling legislation in Congress over the past few years tells us anything, it’s that recycling and materials management are on the national agenda. The education-focused RECYCLE Act and infrastructure-oriented RECOVER Act both received some bipartisan support before stalling amid the pandemic. And President Donald Trump signed the updated Save Our Seas 2.0 Act recently passed by both chambers of Congress. Among other things, it will provide $55 million in funding each year through 2025 to improve “local post-consumer materials management,” including municipal recycling programs (which could use the additional support these days). That’s a pittance compared to what’s needed, but we’ll take it. Indeed, when it comes to solving the plastics waste problem, these bills are woefully inadequate. They underscore the key distinction between tackling plastic pollution and addressing the problem at its root: Are we turning off the plastics tap, or bailing out the bathtub with a thimble? However insufficient, some federal action is certainly better than none.  Pull Quote Here’s what makes me optimistic: Plastic pollution has become a bipartisan issue. Topics Circular Economy Recycling Plastic Waste Plastic Featured Column In the Loop Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Person searches through plastic trash in a waterway near the Las Vegas Strip.  Shutterstock John Dvorak Close Authorship

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On the fifth anniversary of the TCFD, a call to action

December 14, 2020 by  
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On the fifth anniversary of the TCFD, a call to action Ateli Iyalla Mon, 12/14/2020 – 00:05 December marks the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement — a turning point for the movement to limit dangerous climate change and environmental destruction. But that is not the only pivotal milestone we should commemorate this month. In December 2015, as a response to increasingly frequent environmental disasters that disrupted ecosystems and human health — plus caused unforeseen business losses and jeopardized assets and infrastructure — the Financial Stability Board launched the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). These leaders understood the direct linkage between climate change and financial risk. They knew the world needed a clear picture of these risks, as well as of the opportunities presented by corporate sustainability action, in order to ensure long-term profitability — especially in a world with a precariously changing climate. They recognized that without reliable climate-related financial information, assets could be mispriced and capital could be misallocated, meaning the global economy potentially could face a tumultuous transition to a low-carbon future. So, the TCFD was born. Two years later in 2017, the group introduced its official recommendations for corporate financial disclosures. To support the TCFD and the companies committed to meeting its suggested actions, CDP redesigned its own climate change questionnaire in 2018 to align with the recommendations. This streamlined the reporting process for disclosing companies, providing them with ready-to-go material climate and natural capital disclosures that can be used for their annual reports. It also standardized decision-useful information for the financial community. The TCFD’s recommendations already have made a tremendous impact in catalyzing a groundswell of corporate action on climate change. Out of 727 companies headquartered in the U.S. and Canada that disclosed to CDP in 2020: 47 have validated ambitious science-based targets (up 260 percent from 2018) and 457 have set absolute and/or intensity emissions reduction targets overall; 372 are disclosing Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions; 655 are implementing board-level oversight of environmental issues; 547 are using climate-related scenario analysis or plan to do so within the next two years; and 657 identify climate-related risks and opportunities that have influenced their organization’s strategy and/or financial planning — and 276 of those have developed a low-carbon transition plan as a result. Investors are responding positively to this streamlining of environmental-financial disclosure. In its latest status report, the TCFD notes that investor support for its recommendations grew by 85 percent from 2018 to 2019. Many investors use this TCFD-aligned data generated by CDP disclosures to assess which companies are best positioned in a climate-constrained future and to mitigate financial risk within their portfolios — exactly what the TCFD’s members first envisioned when they began their work five years ago. But, five years after its birth, the TCFD’s work is not done. More robust disclosure — both in quantity and quality — is needed. Investors cannot make apples-to-apples comparisons on sustainability information if companies do not report their data within a common framework. Companies that choose to solely provide TCFD-related information via standalone reports end up doing themselves a disservice for this reason. Disclosure also prevents greenwashing. Standardized frameworks such as CDP’s make it clear to investors what critical climate actions companies are — and are not — implementing. Disclosure puts companies a step ahead of likely mandatory disclosure regulation. Earlier this year, we saw the Canadian government announce that companies seeking COVID-19 relief must disclose their environmental impacts based on TCFD guidelines. More recently, the U.K. government announced that all companies must be TCFD-compliant by 2025. Most countries, including the bulk of the G20 , already have implemented some form of mandatory corporate climate impact reporting. Luckily, TCFD-aligned disclosure is mainstreaming. Companies understand the clear business advantage of sharing this crucial information with financial decision-makers. We have reached critical mass. We should celebrate this progress, the above stats from the 2020 corporate climate disclosures and the many other signals that environmental transparency and action are a business norm. But we should also mark the five-year anniversary of the TCFD’s initiation with a call to action: Now is the time for all companies to join this growing movement. With pollution poisoning communities from Louisiana to Beijing, forest fires blazing across the West Coast and states along the Gulf of Mexico still reeling after the destruction of Hurricanes Laura and Delta — among countless other environmental disasters wreaking havoc on lives and livelihoods — companies that are not disclosing simply have no excuse at this point. Climate change’s toll is worsening here in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. As we grapple with its impacts and advance known solutions, the TCFD guidelines provide critical guidance on what companies and investors should be focusing on to minimize risk, accelerate progress and reap the benefits of a low-carbon transition. The TCFD has designed the roadmap. Now companies must forge the path. Topics Finance & Investing TCFD 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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3 big trends headlining a tumultuous year in food

December 11, 2020 by  
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3 big trends headlining a tumultuous year in food Jim Giles Fri, 12/11/2020 – 01:45 I’m going to try to make sense of this tumultuous year, starting with three trends from the past 12 months that I see as key to the immediate future of food. 1. An insane year for alternative proteins The trend: By Dec. 1, venture capitalists invested a whopping $1.5 billion in alternative proteins during 2020, according to the latest data from the Good Food Institute . That money — close to double the 2019 total — is making the industry increasingly visible. At the start of the year, the Impossible Burger was available in around 150 stores — now you can find it in more than 15,000. Newer alt proteins are also coming. Just last week, Singapore became the first country to approve the sale of lab-grown meat . And while the field may not need further incentives, it got one anyway: This week, the XPRIZE Foundation announced a new $15 million competition focused on chicken and fish alternatives .  The twist: Moving fast means breaking things. I see two bumps in the road. First, alternatives have a tiny market share because animal meat is cheap and, for now, tastes better. Consumption of animal products should and will decrease, but many alt protein brands and startups will disappear before that happens. The second challenge was summed up by the French ag minister’s response to the news from Singapore : “Meat comes from life, not from laboratories. Count on me so that in France, meat remains natural and never artificial!” I’d bet on seeing more of a backlash against alt proteins. The question is whether it will dent the industry’s trajectory. My take: The minister should visit a concentrated animal feeding operation and explain why he describes what happens there as “natural.” 2. How committed is your company? The trend: Where do we start? How about June, when Unilever committed to zeroing-out emissions from all its products by 2039 ? Or last week, when Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, said it would spend  $3.6 billion over the next five years as it moves toward a 2050 net-zero target? Or back in March at Horizon Organic, a U.S. dairy brand that committed to going carbon-negative by 2025 ? Those are just the first three that come to mind in a bumper year for target-setting. The twist: What’s the rest of the industry doing? Far less, in many cases. When experts at CDP, a nonprofit that tracks sustainability commitments, surveyed 479 food and ag companies , only 75 reported having emissions commitments in line with the Paris Agreement. The situation is worse for deforestation. Around half of companies that source soy told CDP that they can track their purchases to the country of origin and no further. This means that when it comes to Brazil and other forest nations, most food companies are blind as to whether their soy comes from newly cleared land. My take: I’m going for glass half-full, at least on emissions. The industry is way behind where it should be, but every company that sets a meaningful target heaps a little more pressure on those that haven’t. 3. The rush for regenerative ag  The trend: Another area where a flood of new initiatives in 2020 made it challenging to keep up. Big industry names such as Bayer and Cargill said they would help farmers transition to regenerative methods, and big names from the wider corporate world — JPMorgan Chase and IBM, for instance — bought some of the first carbon credits from Indigo Carbon, an soil offsets marketplace. Nori, an Indigo competitor, closed a $4 million funding round . Another disruptive company, Farmers Business Network, launched a service designed to help farmers earn a premium from regeneratively farmed grain . Again, those are just the first examples that come to mind. The twist: No one disputes that these efforts will be good for soil health. But do regenerative methods sequester as much carbon as advocates claim? Some prominent experts think not. In May, the World Resources Institute warned of regenerative ag’s ” limited potential to mitigate climate change .” If so, should we be building an offsets market around soil credits? Again, experts have doubts: One important step toward such a market, the creation of a protocol for soil carbon offsets, was the subject of multi-pronged criticism . My take: If I’m honest, this worries the hell out of me. Imagine the PR storm if a big company shrinks its carbon footprint using credits that later come under attack in the media. The ensuing controversy could do huge damage to efforts to pay farmers to store carbon in soils. That’s it for part one of my 2020 roundup. Look for more of my reflections (and maybe some predictions) before the end of December.  This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Topics Food & Agriculture Alternative Protein Regenerative Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff 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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3 big trends headlining a tumultuous year in food

HSBC invests in world’s first ‘reef credit’ system

December 7, 2020 by  
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HSBC invests in world’s first ‘reef credit’ system Jesse Klein Mon, 12/07/2020 – 01:45 Traditionally, offset markets have been focused on credits for atmospheric carbon sequestration or restoration projects. But there are many other ways industrial and agricultural operations harm the planet. Australian-based environmental project developer GreenCollar decided to tackle one problem by creating a new type of credit to address an environmental issue very close to its country’s heart: the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef. Behind climate change, the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef is poor water quality. Agricultural runoff from The Great Barrier Reef Catchments, a rural area covering 163,700 square miles of coastal Queensland that drains directly onto the reef, causes high levels of nitrogen and sediment to seep into the ocean and damage the reef ecosystem.  GreenCollar’s new system creates a marketplace for “reef credits” aimed at mitigating those practices. Similar to carbon credits, these reef credits are sold by farmers or project developers to organizations and companies looking to offset their environmental footprints. Those sales help fund improved land management practices. But instead of removing or avoiding carbon in the atmosphere, reef credits go toward helping improve water quality in this very specific area to protect the reef.  One reef credit in the GreenCollar system is equivalent to one kilogram of nitrogen, or 538 kilograms of sediment avoided from the ocean. Unlike carbon credits, which are focused on helping companies or individuals make removal claims, reef credits are about the abatement of pollution at the edge of the system. There is no scheme for removing nitrogen currently in the water system. Behind climate change, the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef is poor water quality. GreenCollar said it worked with farmers and verification auditors, including the Reef Credit Secretariat and EcoMarkets Australia , as well as the Queensland government and private sector buyers. including financial services giant HSBC, to develop, authorize and sell these new credits. “It was really important that the farmers were part of building the process itself,” said Carole Sweatman, general manager of water quality at GreenCollar. “No point in building this beautifully shiny architecture if you roll it out on the ground and find out people just can’t use it or it just doesn’t make sense to them.” The thousands of farmers in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments use fertilizer to grow sugar cane, bananas, avocados, mangos and tomatoes. But the high degree of rainfall in the area produces intense agricultural runoff into the ocean near the reef. Selling the reef credits funds investments in more efficient fertilizer practices such as matching the application to the needs of specific crops and removing compact soil to decrease excess runoff, according to GreenCollar. “Sometimes that means restructuring your whole farm,” Sweatman said. “Buying new equipment, installing GPS. Those kinds of things can add considerable costs.” In the grazing and ranching areas near the wetlands, erosion and gullies have allowed nitrogen and sediment to bypass the wetlands drainage system and enter directly into the sea. The revenue from the reef credits will help repair the landscape, manage drainage systems and combat cattle overgrazing to protect these areas, GreenCollar said.  GreenCollar created the credit architecture, including a standard set of rules for the credits and three approved methodologies vetted by the audit firms. To ensure the standard meets goals for additionality, ensuring that the credits lead to pollution mitigation that would not have happened without the money from selling the credits; and leakage, the unintended consequences that could lead to higher pollution by shifting demand from a protected area to an unprotected area, GreenCollar said it worked with third parties to create the verification system. The goal is to create a system that makes a real and significant impact on the reef while creating a marketplace for corporations, farmers and environmental achievements to intersect. I think people were skeptical that we’d actually bring corporates in. Any of those pessimistic views we’ve been able to dispel quite quickly. “The auditors themselves draw up the framework that they utilize to undertake the audit,” Sweatman said. “We’ve shared our own technical work, but they have to create their own templates and run that [verification] process.”  For example, leakage is a big concern for GreenCollar. While a farmer is making improvements in some areas on the land, it is possible for reverse outcomes to occur on the rest of the property. According to Sweatman, GreenCollar requires farmers to record information across the entire property so auditors know what is happening all over the farm. GreenCollar is working with 50 farmers and hopes to increase that to 180 over the next three years This is the first credit system created specifically to protect a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and understanding how farming practices can affect the health of the reef isn’t always straightforward, according to GreenCollar. “People are used to forest-type credits,” Sweatman said. “You can go out and count trees or use aerial photography to really understand what the potential is in a landscape and then just go and physically count things. In the nitrogen space, it’s not countable in that sense.” Similar to the marketplaces that support soil carbon credits, the GreenCollar reef credits rely on farmers sharing the personal records of practices on their properties, including how much fertilizer they apply and the systems they use to calculate that fertilizer amount.   GreenCollar also is faced with educating buyers about this new concept, not a simple feat when you consider that the traditional carbon credit market is already extremely confusing to potential buyers.  “I think people were skeptical that we’d actually bring corporates in,” Sweatman said. “Any of those pessimistic views we’ve been able to dispel quite quickly.” The first corporation GreenCollar brought in as a buyer was HSBC. The financial services firm recently completed the purchase of the first tranche of reef credits and plans to continue buying them as part of its net-zero commitment. HSBC is targeting net-zero in operations and supply chain by 2030; it also seeks to align its portfolio of investments with the Paris Agreement goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. According to Greencollar and investment of $4 billion Australian is required to meet water quality targets for the Great Barrier Reef. “These nature-based solutions are going to become increasingly important,” said Hamish Kelly, managing director of global banking, Australia at HSBC. “We feel that these sorts of schemes are very clear demonstrations that nature-based solutions can support communities, and also facilitate the transition to net-zero carbon. And for us in Australia, what’s more, iconic than the Great Barrier Reef.” HSBC’s climate commitments include investing at least $750 billion in sustainable financing over the next 10 years. HSBC paid $36.40 per credit, and GreenCollar estimates that the market for reef credits could be worth over 6 million credits by 2030.  Pull Quote Behind climate change, the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef is poor water quality. I think people were skeptical that we’d actually bring corporates in. Any of those pessimistic views we’ve been able to dispel quite quickly. Topics Pollution Prevention Regenerative Agriculture Water Conservation Farmers Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A new reef credit marketplace hopes to save the Great Barrier Reef with corporate and government investment.// Courtesy of GreenCollar.

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New Zealand targets carbon neutrality by 2025 amidst climate emergency

December 3, 2020 by  
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New Zealand has joined 32 other nations in formally acknowledging a climate emergency. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described climate change as “one of the greatest challenges of our time” and pledged that New Zealand would have a carbon-neutral government by 2025. But not all New Zealand governmental officials agreed. The Green Party and the M?ori Party supported the motion, which noted an “alarming trend in species decline and global biodiversity .” The National Party and Act Party opposed it. Related: Japan aims to be carbon-neutral by 2050 Since New Zealand ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016, its good intentions have not been matched by progress in reducing emissions . New Zealand is among 12 out of 43 industrialized countries whose net emissions increased between 1990 and 2018. In the last 20 years, the country’s net emissions rose 60%. “The irony is, even under Trump , the U.S. is going to have made better per-capita reductions than we have,” said Bronwyn Hayward, a political science professor at University of Canterbury, as reported by The Guardian . National Party leader Judith Collins called the emergency declaration virtue signaling. “We think it’s all very well to declare an emergency but there’s no proper plan in place as to how to deal with it,” Collins told Radio New Zealand. She pointed out that only about 10% of the government’s vehicle fleet is electric . The vehicle situation is one of the topics Ardern plans to address. In the future, the government sector will only buy electric or hybrid vehicles. Coal-fired boilers will also be phased out of public service buildings. “This declaration is an acknowledgement of the next generation. An acknowledgement of the burden that they will carry if we do not get this right and do not take action now,” Ardern said. “It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope.” Via The Guardian Image via Dan Freeman

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Taking stock of Chase, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley’s recent climate commitments

November 24, 2020 by  
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Taking stock of Chase, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley’s recent climate commitments Whitney Mann Tue, 11/24/2020 – 00:40 Recent months have seen major moves on climate action by some of the world’s largest private banks, including JPMorgan Chase, HSBC and Morgan Stanley. What sets this latest wave of climate pledges by financial institutions apart from past announcements? Building on previous commitments that increase green investments or restrict financing to certain high-emitting activities, recent pledges add to growing evidence that banks are taking a more holistic approach to the climate emergency. Looking across their investments in different sectors and regions, more banks are considering how to reduce the carbon intensity of entire portfolios over time. After all, through their product offerings, lending activities and client engagement, financial institutions can play a key role in influencing the transformation necessary for a net-zero emissions economy. What we have given the market is an ambition that our total financing by 2050 will be net zero. That is a far bigger prize or goal than picking a sub-segment of our portfolio and saying ‘I am not going to bank you’ because that’s not what the world needs. That industry or that customer may then just go to Bank X, Bank Y, or Bank Z. They won’t have changed their business model. — Noel Quinn, CEO, HSBC, in an interview with Reuters on Oct. 9, 2020. While recent commitments signal increased ambition, they vary in content and structure across institutions. RMI established our Center for Climate-Aligned Finance in July to support financial institutions — as well as their stakeholders and shareholders — in overcoming practical challenges to align portfolios and investment decisions with a 1.5 degree Celsius world. As part of this work, the center seeks to bring transparency to the new landscape of climate commitments — discerning barriers to success and pinpointing opportunities to ensure measurable impact from this promising momentum. Climate commitments across institutions may have similar bumper stickers — Paris Alignment, climate alignment, or net zero by 2050 — but what’s under the hood? Unpacking commitments October announcements by JPMorgan Chase and HSBC outline their intended contribution to the low-carbon transition over a given time. Specifically, JPMorgan Chase announced in October that it would shape its financing portfolio in three key sectors to align with the Paris Agreement; three days later, HSBC announced its statement of net-zero ambition . This past year has seen a slew of similar statements, including from Barclays in May — making it one of the first banks to announce ambition to go net zero by 2050 — and then from Morgan Stanley in September. While this blog focuses on a subset of global banks, their commitments are part of a larger movement across the financial sector that includes institutional investors and broader coalitions. Climate commitments across institutions may have similar bumper stickers — Paris Alignment, climate alignment or net zero by 2050 — but what’s under the hood? Below, we identify signposts to help pick apart the differences between similar-sounding commitments. These categories represent critical questions facing a financial institution that has committed or may be looking to commit its portfolio to alignment with a climate goal. Coverage Coverage refers to the business units and financial products included in the commitment to measure, manage and reduce emissions. For instance, several banks have committed to align their lending portfolios. Barclays’ accounting additionally covers the capital markets activity it supports. Coverage also often can be delineated by sectors, such as BNP Paribas’s decision to prioritize decarbonization within its power portfolio, or ING’s inclusion of nine sectors in its annual Terra Report . ING has iterated further by indicating which part of the sectoral value chain is included in the scope (upstream oil and gas rather than trading, midstream, storage or downstream). JPMorgan Chase has committed to a sector-specific approach that will seek to address all emissions, including scope 3 emissions in their priority sectors. Targets and pathways For the designated coverage, commitments are further distinguished by targets (what will portfolio emissions be reduced to and by when?) and pathways (what trajectory will portfolio emissions take over time toward the specified target?). Pathways incorporate technology roadmaps based on a set of assumptions about what the world will look like over time. The extent of decarbonization achievable over time depends on which low-carbon technologies will be available when — projections that hinge on assumptions about investment rates, policies, demographic shifts and beyond. BNP Paribas and Barclays are among the institutions that will use the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) to guide their energy and power commitments, but many other pathways exist. RMI’s Charting the Course highlights that selecting a pathway from the nearly limitless options presents a key challenge to financial institutions taking meaningful steps toward alignment. Tools for analysis Many analysis tools, methodologies, models and platforms exist to support institutions in understanding where their emissions are today, and how they can transition their portfolios over time. For instance, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citi recently announced their participation in the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF)  — a coalition working on measuring financed emissions and improving transparency through disclosure. Other tools are more forward looking to support investing that steers portfolios in line with climate commitments over time. For instance, 17 global banks recently piloted PACTA for Banks to analyze their corporate loan books with different climate scenarios and inform future decision-making. And 58 financial institutions have committed to SBTi’s financial sector framework , which helps financial institutions “set science-based targets to align their lending and investment activities with the Paris Agreement.” Disclosure and reporting Disclosure in line with The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure recommendations, much like other financial risk disclosure obligations, is critical for transparency and accountability, and to ensure risks are accurately priced in financial markets. There are currently many voluntary standards and frameworks for reporting material factors across sectors, creating a complex landscape and motivating five standard-setting groups — Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, Global Reporting Initiative, Climate Disclosure Standards Board, International Integrated Reporting Council and CDP — to collaborate toward a commonly accepted reporting framework. These existing standards ultimately could inform what disclosure and reporting mandates from forward-looking regulators might look like in the future. Implementation actions How do banks turn statements of ambition into progress along their pathway and, in turn, measurable impact in the real economy? When investing in a world believed to be on track to warm to 4 degrees Celsius, increasing the volume of green finance is essential. However, it cannot in and of itself create the low-carbon world and attendant investment opportunities needed for banks to achieve their climate alignment commitments. Rather, by influencing the availability and cost of capital, banks can more strategically and actively shape the real economy. When investing in a world currently believed to be on track to warm to 4C, increasing the volume of green finance is essential. ” Breaking the Code ,” RMI’s August survey of climate action efforts in the financial sector, outlines different influence levers financial institutions possess. These levers range from designing products to support the transition of high-emitting assets to offering services to support their clients’ transitions. These levers can and should be employed in unique ways across business units and asset classes based on an institution’s particular commitments and individual context. Organizational approach Finally, banks are adopting different organizational responses to support implementation of new products, offerings and services stemming from commitments. One such approach reflects an “embedded” model, wherein responsibility is dispersed across existing business verticals by, for instance, placing a climate expert within a bank’s asset management team. Alternately, banks may opt for a more “centralized” model involving some sort of systemic re-organization around their commitment. A centralized model may involve creating new business units with a dedicated remit spanning the institution. JPMorgan Chase, for example, is launching its Center for Carbon Transition , which will provide clients with centralized access to sustainability-focused financing, offer research and advisory solutions and engage clients on their long-term business strategies and related carbon disclosures. Of course, significant variation exists. Notably, Credit Suisse has adopted a somewhat hybrid approach involving elements of both a centralized and embedded model. JPMorgan Chase has put partnering with its clients in carbon-intensive industries at the center of its new commitment. — Paul Bodnar, Chair, Center for Climate-Aligned Finance JPMorgan Chase is one of the center’s founding partners , alongside Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. Next steps The landscape of climate commitments by financial institutions is changing rapidly. At the center, we expect our analysis to broaden and deepen as we work with this sector to first crystallize and then actualize commitments toward climate alignment. Innovation is at the heart of competition among financial institutions, and actions advancing climate alignment should be no different. We expect future analysis to focus on frameworks for enabling comparability across institutions. Our goal is to broaden the path forged by these alignment pioneers, reinforcing their efforts to accelerate change at the scale demanded to meet the challenge of climate change. Pull Quote Climate commitments across institutions may have similar bumper stickers — Paris Alignment, climate alignment, or net zero by 2050 — but what’s under the hood? When investing in a world currently believed to be on track to warm to 4C, increasing the volume of green finance is essential. Contributors Shravan Bhat Brian O’Hanlon Topics Corporate Strategy Finance Banking Collective Insight Rocky Mountain Institute Rocky Mountain Institute Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  wutzkohphoto  on Shutterstock

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Taking stock of Chase, HSBC, and Morgan Stanley’s recent climate commitments

Is ‘net-zero’ greenwash?

November 17, 2020 by  
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Is ‘net-zero’ greenwash? Joel Makower Tue, 11/17/2020 – 02:11 This year, there has been much ado about zero. It’s becoming hard to read the green media, or even the mainstream media, without seeing new net-zero commitments from companies, governments, institutions and others. Indeed, “net-zero” is the new “zero waste” — remember way back in 2019 when everyone was making that commitment? — which is the new “100 percent renewable,” which is the new “ISO 14001 certified,” and on and on, all the way back to when announcing a LEED-certified building was widely considered to be media-worthy . Now, net-zero is the flavor of the month. Global net-zero commitments doubled in less than a year and commitments by companies more than tripled, rising from 500 at the end of 2019 to more than 1,500 by September. In addition to net-zero companies, there are also net-zero buildings , communities , products , farming , factories , supply-chains , even ships . One large financial institution set forth a commitment to net-zero client emissions . There’s also net-zero water and waste . There are net-zero-committed oil companies , utilities and airlines . Earlier this year, the United Nations formed a Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance of institutional investors. The Trump administration even has funded the development of net-zero coal plants . You can’t make this stuff up. So, you’d think all this talk about “zero” would add up to something, right? It’s hard to know, according to a new report, ” Navigating the nuances of net-zero targets ,” by the NewClimate Institute and Data-Driven EnviroLab . You’d think all this talk about ‘zero’ would add up to something, right? Not neccessarily. As the report notes, net-zero commitments vary widely in terms of their metrics and transparency, among other things. That is, no single standard governs the way net-zero is defined or measured, or even how it should be communicated. For example, companies may refer to becoming “carbon negative” or “climate positive”; or that they seek to achieve “net-zero” or “net-negative” emissions or “deep decarbonization”; or that they plan to become “emissions-free” or achieve “zero emissions”; or that they are committed to a “1.5 degrees C pathway.” It’s not just language. Another issue is the lack of standardization about goals. For example, according to the report, some companies aim to fully decarbonize their own operations along with those of their supply chain, while others have no target for reducing their own emissions. Net-zero goals range from commitments to reduce emissions by a specific percentage by a target year, which are reported through platforms such as CDP, to more general announcements of net-zero ambition. Target practice And then there’s the issue of target dates — and, even more so, interim targets. Setting 2050 as the year for achieving net-zero emissions (or some other goal) is one thing — that date aligns with the goals of the Paris Agreement — but that 30-year horizon is a bit far off to enable reasonable accountability, perhaps deliberately so. What progress can we expect to see in, say, 2025 or 2030? Relatively few companies have committed to such accountability: Only 8 percent of companies’ net-zero targets include interim targets to chart a decarbonization pathway, according to the NewClimate Institute and Data-Driven EnviroLab report, which notes, “Interim targets offer clarity and guidance on how particular targets should be implemented. They provide the transparency necessary to ensure accountability.” Reliance on offsets is yet another issue. Some experts have deemed it appropriate for companies to invest in emissions offsets once they have made all of the other appropriate emissions reductions — such as through efficiency measures or by buying green energy — but offsetting one’s emissions without really cutting them is another thing altogether. According to the report, only about half of the companies and one-quarter of the subnational governments “are transparent about their intention to use offsets for their net-zero targets. The number of actors that explicitly rule out using offsets is limited.” Moreover, it added: “Without a radical transformation of the offsetting market and the types of activities it supports, offsetting cannot be considered an equivalent alternative to an actor’s own emission reductions in 2020.” Even that’s not the end of the issues that companies need to consider. Getting to “zero,” it turns out, is no small thing. And it will loom larger in the coming months, as calls for increased corporate ambition grow, the United States (presumably) rejoins the Paris Agreement, governments edge closer to putting a price on carbon or creating other market mechanisms — and the ravages of a changing climate continue to be felt around the world. Increasingly, the makers of all those net-zero commitments will need to demonstrate that they truly are making significant progress, and fast. 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 You’d think all this talk about ‘zero’ would add up to something, right? Not neccessarily. Topics Commitments & Goals Climate Change Net-Zero 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 GreenBiz photocollage, via Shutterstock

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Is ‘net-zero’ greenwash?

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