Biden and the future of clean energy politics

January 22, 2021 by  
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Biden and the future of clean energy politics Sarah Golden Fri, 01/22/2021 – 01:00 Have you heard about the clean energy triangle?  The theory goes that in order to rapidly deploy clean energy, you need three elements: technology; policy; and finance. When these components are integrated, we’re able to thoughtfully accelerate the speed and scale of clean technologies. The technology is there and is getting better. The finance is following as investors see there’s money to be made. The only missing piece, before this week, has been policy.  The inauguration of Joe Biden as president is the dawn of a new political era; for the first time, the stars are aligning for the clean energy sector to unleash its full potential.  Biden’s position on clean energy is as diametrically opposed to his predecessor as this analyst can fathom. On his first day, the new president signed executive orders killing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and recommitting the United States to the Paris climate accord. As a candidate, Biden called for 100 percent clean energy in the U.S. by 2035. He’s integrating climate experts across all departments in “the largest team ever assembled inside the White House to tackle global warming.” The political sea change is larger than the whims of a single politician. It’s a reflection of the growing, influential force of the clean energy sector itself that will be difficult for serious politicians to ignore forevermore.  How clean energy pros helped POTUS land his new job Biden didn’t always make clean energy his issue. He responded to the public’s growing concerns about climate change and listened to experts about its immense economic potential.  That didn’t happen by accident. The clean energy sector has been growing and maturing for years, and in this election cycle, it helped Biden land his dream job thanks in part to the all-volunteer organization Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B) .  “I’m not just hopeful, I’m pretty convinced [clean energy professionals were politically influential],” Dan Reicher, CE4B co-chair and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy, told me in a phone conversation. “They’ve shown themselves to be very capable in President Biden’s victory and made a real difference.” CE4B brought together more than 13,000 individuals in all 50 states, including 40 regional affinity groups in key locations across the county. It raised $3.2 million through more than 100 fundraisers and held hundreds of phone banks to get out the vote. The effort brought together impressive, diverse and passionate professionals  excited about leaders who understand clean energy. (Full disclosure: I’m a volunteer for CE4B.) The success of the CE4B’s organizing and campaign efforts inspired organizers to spin out a newly formed nonprofit, Clean Energy for America, which will support candidates and policies that will accelerate the clean energy transition at the state and national levels.  “Clean Energy for America is a recognition that the transformation that we need to address our clean energy challenges and opportunities needs to happen up and down the ballot,” Reicher said. “It’s not enough to work on a presidential campaign and then close up shop. We’ve got to continue on a variety of races on the national level, but we have to get really focused on state and local races as well.” It’s also a recognition that clean energy professionals are realizing their power and are here to stay. As clean energy continues to disrupt dirty energy incumbents, the sector will grow in numbers and power. It also means those in power today will decide the policy levers that shape our energy future; who benefits and in what way.  Clean Energy for America is continuing with the key tenets of CE4B, organizing around the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion to ensure that the clean energy transition is a just transition for all. The long road to Clean Energy for America  Before Clean Energy for Biden, there was CleanTech for Hillary. Before that, there was CleanTech for Obama.  The evolution of the name — from cleantech to clean energy — is a reflection of the industry itself.  “We treated it as a technology play, not ready for prime time,” said Reicher, who was involved in each organization. “We now call it clean energy. We had decided we had become mainstream; we were no longer a large tech sector backed by venture capital communities. It is a large, mainstream energy sector backed by large investment firms around the U.S. and world.” Today, millions work in clean energy (about  3.4 million before the start of the pandemic), and those numbers translated into a larger network.  “We still marvel today at how fast [CE4B] grew to 13,000 people,” Reicher said. “We never saw that level of growth in the other organizations.” With the birth of Clean Energy for America, the group is poised to continue to mobilize in races quickly. That, combined with the virtuous cycle that promises millions more Americans will be employed by clean energy in the coming decades, plants a clean energy flag in the sand.  Topics Renewable Energy Energy & Climate Jobs & Careers Wind Power Solar Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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The case for buying climate tech from BIPOC and women-owned suppliers

January 18, 2021 by  
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The case for buying climate tech from BIPOC and women-owned suppliers Marilyn Waite Mon, 01/18/2021 – 01:45 Stopping carbon pollution alone will not bring climate justice. Reaching net-zero by 2050 will not either. Neither will achieving 100 percent renewable energy targets. The entire economy is being rebuilt. From electric modes of transportation to climate-smart agriculture, the low-carbon economy creates new roles, companies and workers. It would be regressive if this green economy excluded the very communities disproportionately affected by a changing climate. Moreover, the climate-friendly transition could provide an opportunity to create a more just workforce — one that includes more women and underrepresented people of color at all levels of leadership and ownership. Right now, this opportunity is not so. A 2019 study by the Solar Foundation and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) found that among all senior executives reported by solar firms, 88 percent are white and 80 percent are men. Another report from the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the Energy Futures Initiative found that for energy efficiency jobs, women and Black workers substantially lag the national workforce averages. If these trends continue, the low-carbon economy will be just as extractive as its predecessor. Previously, oil and gas companies topped the list of the largest Black-owned enterprises in the U.S. In the 1980s, the largest 10 of these included five energy-related companies , with combined annual sales of about $854 million in 2021 U.S. dollars: Wallace & Wallace; the Vanguard Oil and Service Company; Smith Pipe and Supply Inc.; the Grimes Oil Company; and the Chioke International Corporation. How can the two principal agents in the economy, suppliers and demanders, bring about climate justice? For customers and procurers, one solution is to buy Black. Support women-owned. Go local. That would require an ample supply of green products and services led by women and underrepresented people of color. So where are these suppliers, who are they and what do they have to offer? Historically in the United States, there have been government and corporate procurement programs that support minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). Many qualifying certification schemes exist, ranging from local to national, and from public, free structures to private, paid third-party structures. The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), founded in Chicago in 1972, certifies minority business enterprises (MBEs) through 23 regional councils across the U.S. The requirements? A company must be at least 51 percent owned and operated by Asian, Black, Hispanic or Native American U.S. citizens. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), founded in 1997, certifies women-owned businesses in the U.S. To qualify, a business must be 51 percent owned, controlled, operated and managed by a woman or women. Most procurement programs that have minority- and women-led business targets have their own process for verification, making third-party systems a redundant, unnecessary cost burden. While these systems may appear straightforward, they can be troublesome for the business owner. One Black-led cleantech startup was so frustrated with the NMSDC process that the founder gave up — at the time when she applied, NMSDC would not verify her as Black without her parental birth records indicating race. This information can be hard to come by for a whole host of reasons. Relying on 23andMe-style DNA tests also does not seem like a viable option for privacy and other concerns. Another Black founder explained, “Most procurement programs that have minority- and women-led business targets have their own process for verification, making third-party systems a redundant, unnecessary cost burden.” Others find the whole notion outdated, and most importantly for the bottom line, not helpful for attracting and retaining customers. Can a system established about 50 years ago meet the needs of today? After all, a lot has evolved in the marketplace — the digital age coupled with social media has changed the way businesses interact. The investment landscape, which still systemically and systematically denies access to capital to women and underrepresented people of color, also has evolved since the 1970s. As detailed in a report by the Brookings Institute, only 4 percent of the 22.2 million U.S. business owners are Black, and only 1 percent of Black business owners get a loan in their first year of business compared with 7 percent for white business owners. Finally, the democratization of information has led to a certain public accountability that lends itself to favor self-identification of race, ethnicity and gender. Instead of relying on a paywalled list of suppliers, purchasers form relationships with suppliers through “warm lead” business recommendations, industry vertical networks considered more trustworthy given the focus on subject matter expertise, and other avenues, such as the “crowd,” that help vet potential business partners. Many tech-oriented companies prefer equity to debt, and often can only consider equity at the early stages. The need to offer equity to investors often reduces the percentage of the founder’s ownership below the 51 percent threshold. The need to prove a certain race or gender may be less helpful than just using self-identification; today’s social media mechanisms create some accountability. Many procurement programs that seek to improve representation penalize larger MWBEs. The regulations are also set up to force these businesses to remain small, by putting in place revenue caps of as low as $3 million to qualify and by only having programs for MWBE sub-contractors, as opposed to prime contractors . Perhaps one way forward is to align with the times, where the ecosystem of capital and access to information has evolved. That is, make visible and uplift the MWBEs leading the clean transition, make the list of founders and senior executives open-access, provide early-stage capital (debt, equity, revenue share, non-dilutive grants) for both small and midsize enterprises and high-growth tech startups alike, strategically partner with MWBEs on projects, and remove the red tape that exists in procurement programs to keep underrepresented MWBEs in a subordinate and small position. On the latter point, the wish list for Black women cleantech founders that I spoke to include allowing for more flexibility around equity ownership (51 percent may be too onerous, especially for VC-backed startups), raising revenue caps (let’s say to $100 million), including sustainability and clean energy carve-outs in procurement, and moving away from third-party certification to decide who is a woman and who is a racial or ethnic minority. Black Owners of Solar Services ( BOSS ) is an organization set up to support smart policies that bring about climate justice in the U.S. Below is a list of Black-led companies, both small and midsize enterprises and startups, that are leading the low-carbon transition. Although not as robust as this list , for customers and procurers, this is where you can start. Senior Executive/CEO/Founder    Specialty Company Etosha Cave, Founder and CSO Carbon Economy Opus 12 Lisa Dyson,  Founder and CEO Carbon Economy Kiverdi Donna Sanders, Founder and CEO Energy Efficiency and Buildings Virimodo Donnel Baird, Founder Energy Efficiency and Buildings BlocPower SaLisa Berrien, CEO and Founder Energy Efficiency and Buildings COI Energy Ugwem Eneyo, Co-founder Energy Efficiency and Buildings SHYFT Power Solutions Ajulo E. Othow, Founder and CEO Solar Energy EnerWealth Solutions Dana Clare Redden, Founder Solar Energy Solar Stewards Gilbert Campbell and Antonio Francis, Co-founders Solar Energy Volt Energy Jessica O. Matthews, Co-founder and CEO Solar Energy Uncharted Power Jessica Newton, Founder and CEO Solar Energy OBIPower Ken Wells, CEO Solar Energy O&M Solar Services Kristal Hansley, Founder Solar Energy WeSolar Mark Davis, Founder and President Solar Energy WDC Solar Mina McCullom, President and CEO Solar Energy SynEnergy Monique Dyers, Founder and Managing Principal Solar Energy Ensight Energy Nicole Poindexter, Co-founder and CEO Solar Energy Energicity Rob Wallace, Co-founder and CEO Solar Energy Power52 Salma Okonkwo, CEO Solar Energy Blue Power Energy Kellee James, Founder and CEO Sustainable Agriculture Mercaris Nemo Semret, Sara Menker and Sewit Ahderom, Co-founders Sustainable Agriculture Gro Intelligence Tinia Pina, Founder and CEO Sustainable Agriculture Re-Nuble Zuleyka Strasner, Founder Sustainable Agriculture Zero Grocery Pull Quote Most procurement programs that have minority- and women-led business targets have their own process for verification, making third-party systems a redundant, unnecessary cost burden. Topics Social Justice Racial Justice Corporate Procurement 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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The case for buying climate tech from BIPOC and women-owned suppliers

Is your team embedding equity considerations into its carbon removal projects?

January 18, 2021 by  
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Is your team embedding equity considerations into its carbon removal projects? Gloria Oladipo Mon, 01/18/2021 – 01:15 With carbon emissions expected to rebound this year, 2021 presents another opportunity for companies to invest in climate-saving initiatives that move the corporate world closer to a net-zero future, especially carbon removal projects . While some companies already have started investing in these solutions on a larger scale, questions remain about how to conduct the process equitably. In other words, what environmental justice considerations should companies evaluate when investing in these opportunities? There’s a good reason to ask. Historically, carbon removal projects have a legacy of potentially reifying inequality; projects in the Global South become responsible for hosting said projects and their associated consequences while countries (and companies) in the Global North use these initiatives to meet their carbon reduction targets. Examples of this dynamic include projects such as a hydroelectric plant in Guatemala ( later linked to egregious human rights abuse ) and forest preservation projects in Brazil ; both offered Western companies opportunities to gain carbon offset credits, but the reality of their impact from a human rights standpoint was less understood.  Ugbaad Kozar, senior policy advisor at Carbon180, discussed these disparities and the power imbalance associated with carbon removal measures. “There’s a long history of Global South countries inheriting the burden of hosting projects that have benefited wealthier countries in reaching their climate targets,” Kozar said. “These projects can lead to inadequate payments, loss of local control over natural resources, loss of ability to use their land for other livelihood purposes.” A number of safeguards developed by NGOs can aid companies deciding whose carbon removal projects to invest in, Kozar said.  Carbon removal is still relatively nascent, which gives us a unique opportunity to shape how, where and which solutions will be deployed. For example, in 2005, the “Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhancement of carbon stocks” (REDD+) system was created as a social and biodiversity safeguard to make sure carbon removal efforts didn’t harm biodiversity and that its benefits were given to local communities. Elsewhere, the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance , a partnership spanning several international environmental NGOs, created “Climate, Community and Biodiversity” standards to ensure land-based projects respected community stakeholders and their cultures, and nurtured biodiversity, among other goals.   However, as argued by Holly Buck, assistant professor of environment and sustainability at the University at Buffalo, these safeguards have not been carried out without issues. REDD+ social safeguards have had mixed results ; the impact of the safeguards sometimes have been difficult to monitor and interventions made based on the safeguards had mixed results, she noted. Looking forward, that means companies have an opportunity to be even more progressive in establishing their own standards for equity considerations related to carbon removal, according to Kozar and Buck.  “Companies are even poised to play a role in having even more ambitious standards because some of those safeguards haven’t always been working out as well as intended … [companies can make] sure that theoretical co-benefits are actually delivered upon and [pay] more attention to who reaps the benefits from these projects,” Buck said.  Where to start? Before analyzing equity considerations related to their external carbon removal work, companies should first ensure they cultivate a workplace culture of justice within their organizations, Buck and Kozar said. This type of internal work is not only critical to unseeding racism in general (demonstrated as more carbon capture companies focus on making meaningful contributions to environmental justice ). Among other things, the Clean Air Task Force  also is following projects in California and Texas to determine how carbon capture technology might play a role in reducing local air pollution, with a view to releasing its research after this year to front-line communities. it’s an important first step for companies hoping to address oppression in their environmental work.   “It is so important for companies to start by looking internally and meaningfully begin anti-oppression work and diversification of the workforce. Doing so allows for opportunities to refute and rethink contextual perspectives and to understand the drivers of inequity and injustice,” Kozar said.  It is so important for companies to start by looking internally and meaningfully begin anti-oppression work and diversification of the workforce … In addition to creating equity within the workplace, companies investing in carbon removal projects must be committed to transparency about the process itself, all associated data, community involvement and an equitable distribution of resources. Carbon removal projects can be an opaque process, shrouded in litigation and inaccessible information; community members where carbon removal projects are located should be made aware of the process and included in the discussion of the project’s effects. “With industrial removal, some of the questions at the project site are: Are people happy with the industrial facility? Is it impacting them? … Are they seeing any benefit from it or just having to live next to a waste disposal site?” Buck said.   Most important, benefits need to be equitably distributed, ideally problem-solving for legacy effects of climate change that often occur in marginalized communities. For instance, a strategy of planting trees not only could address removing emissions but also help cool neighborhoods, reduce pollution, provide shade and have other benefits, an example Kozar provided.  Buck also cited the importance of government involvement to help ensure benefits are given equally. She noted how the California government helps redistribute funds from the state’s cap-and-trade program to vulnerable communities.  Overall, while the increase in companies investing in carbon removal programs signals a positive shift in more climate-friendly thinking, it’s critical to participate in these solutions in a way that centers and benefits oppressed communities, Buck and Kozar advised.  “Carbon removal is still relatively nascent, which gives us a unique opportunity to shape how, where and whi ch solutions will be deployed. As the industry emerges and scales, key players need to prioritize transparency and accountability, ensuring they do not ignore legacy pollution that harms marginalized communities,” Kozar said.  Pull Quote Carbon removal is still relatively nascent, which gives us a unique opportunity to shape how, where and which solutions will be deployed. It is so important for companies to start by looking internally and meaningfully begin anti-oppression work and diversification of the workforce … Topics Carbon Removal Social Justice Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Climeworks’ technology captures atmospheric carbon by drawing in air and binding the CO2 using a filter. The filter is heated to release the concentrated gas, which can be used in industrial applications, such as a source of carbonization for the food and beverage industry. Courtesy of Julia Dunlop/Climeworks Close Authorship

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A New Year’s resolution for Bill Gates

January 18, 2021 by  
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A New Year’s resolution for Bill Gates John Elkington Mon, 01/18/2021 – 00:45 Bill Gates has a new book in the pipeline, ” How to Avoid a Climate Disaster .” Vital reading, particularly in a year that should see Glasgow hosting the COP26 climate summit. But if I could propose one additional New Year’s resolution for Gates, it would be to send another book to all COP26 delegates: Kim Stanley Robinson’s ” The Ministry for the Future .” Sci-fi fans know Robinson as a giant in his field, but I literally stumbled across his work. I had acquired a second-hand copy of his 2017 novel “New York 2140,” coverless and so somewhat unappetizing. I was using it as a doorstop, hence the stumbles. At 600-plus pages it loomed like the Eiger, but once in I was unstoppable. Wanting more, I ordered “The Ministry of the Future,” clocking in at a more modest 564 pages. If I had to give a prize for the best writing, it would go to “New York,” but if the prize was for giving readers confidence that we can crack the climate challenge, I would choose “The Ministry.” True, some early sections read like novelized versions of an MBA course on sustainable development, but stick with it. “The Ministry” is set in the time of COP58, a world where our worst climate nightmares are materializing. Indeed, the book opens with a disaster leaving perhaps 20 million Indians dead. It’s fascinating how tomorrow interferes with today. Science fiction, if you think about it, is all about perspective. In that vein, when I was trying to creep up on companies back in the 1970s, I pictured myself using a periscope. Later, when we had breached the corporate gates, even finding our way into boardrooms, it felt as though we were putting corporations — their leaders, cultures, technologies, business models and supply chains — under the microscope. We still do that sort of work but reaching for our telescopes — to track the trajectories of entire constellations of economic actors, with an eye to spurring systemic change. Still, alongside those different lenses and optics, I have long ached for some form of kaleidoscope — a compound lens delivering more information the more it is shaken, whether by the user or by reality. Decades ago, creeping up on the future, I began to stalk sci-fi authors. I had a fascinating early exchange with John Brunner, author of “Jagged Orbit” and “Stand on Zanzibar.” When I complimented him on the dystopian vision in the second book, which seemed to be increasingly realistic, he replied, uncomfortably, that he had hoped that the terrifying vision would wake people up in time. A later thrill involved interviewing Frank Herbert back in 1983. Denis Villeneuve’s film of Herbert’s magnificent “Dune,” perhaps the best sci-fi novel I have read, is due out in October. I genuinely can’t wait. Meanwhile, one thing Herbert told me stuck in my mind: “If you’re managing and fixing, you’re locking down today, you’re not getting into tomorrow. You’re preventing tomorrow.” A linked idea that has been rattling around my brain recently features an A.I.-enabled resource pooling all key solutions proposed in sci-fi novels — to tap into the collective creativity of some of the brightest minds of all time.  That idea, in turn, had me stumbling across an experiment launched by David Brin, another of my favorite sci-fi authors since I read his novel “Earth” in 1990, when he already was talking about the possibility of bringing mammoths back from extinction. Like it or not, such ideas are bounding forward, as I learned when talking to people such as Ryan Phelan of Revive & Restore a couple of years ago. Another case of fiction teetering on the edge of science fact .  It’s fascinating how tomorrow interferes with today. For a couple of decades, William Gibson has been my favorite contemporary sci-fi author, with the impossibly distant future of his early book “Neuromancer” gradually hauling back in later novels until it eerily mutates today’s realities. Or, as Gibson famously put it in the last century, “The future’s already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.” To which I often add, “Yet.” Someone else who achieves this trick is Ramez Naam — whose “Nexus Trilogy” I strongly recommend. As it happens, I met Naam — in his role as a radical energy analyst — at a VERGE event in San Jose, California, in 2016.  Now, with China looming, I have been reading sci-fi (in translation) by such authors as Liu Cixin . It’s fascinating how as cultures rise, technologically and economically, some begin to produce world-class sci-fi. Europe did it with authors such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, America with everyone from Isaac Asimov to Kurt Vonnegut.  New Year’s resolutions are an attempt to shape the future. I don’t do them, but if I did one candidate for 2021 would be to pour myself heart and soul into a new Volans project, the Green Swans Observatory . The idea here is to turn every lens we have — periscopes, microscopes, telescopes — onto the emerging regenerative economy. Scanning for what’s working, what isn’t (yet) and what needs to be tried next. Once again, I’m pondering where the sci-fi kaleidoscope fits in. So I called David Brin, inspired by his TASAT database — the acronym standing for “There’s A Story About That.” The idea, the website explains, involves: “Accessing more than a hundred years of science fiction thought experiments, TASAT taps into a passionate, global community of writers, scholars, librarians and fans. We aim to curate a reading list applicable to problems and possibilities of tomorrow.” A fantastic experiment, TASAT, although when you search the database for terms that feature routinely in The Ministry for the Future they rarely show up. Yet. True, the “Dune” series of novels focuses on the regeneration of planets such as Arrakis, but can TASAT-style initiatives help us all boldly go toward a truly regenerative future? Perhaps that’s one more resolution for Gates, or for another future-oriented billionaire or foundation: to help turn TASAT into a globally accessible portal to the ever-expanding universe of sci-fi wisdom. At a time when every second business book seems to include words such as “reimagining,” “reinventing” or “resetting,” we will need all the help we can get. Pull Quote It’s fascinating how tomorrow interferes with today. Topics Innovation Leadership Books Featured Column The Elkington Report Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Credit: gatesnotes.com

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A New Year’s resolution for Bill Gates

Raphael Warnock could prioritize environmental justice in Senate

January 4, 2021 by  
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The January 5 Senate runoff in Georgia pits two very different candidates against each other. There’s incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler, a pro-Trump business executive. Then there’s Raphael Warnock, a Democrat and senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, which has been part of a growing trend of Black churches pushing for environmental justice. Loeffler has warned that Warnock will turn the U.S. into a socialist country, as reported by Financial Times . Warnock said in a statement that it’s past time to fix “environmental wrongs and provide communities on the frontlines of our climate crisis a voice and a means to fight back against the pollution that threatens their children and families.” In order to achieve “true justice for Black and Brown communities in Georgia and across the country,” he said in the statement, people must address “historic shortcomings by placing equity and justice at the center of federal climate and environmental policy.” He indicated that he planned to do this work in the Senate. Related: How to support environmental justice Ebenezer Baptist Church is one of the most famous churches in the country, because Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. served as pastor there. The church was known as a leader in the civil rights movement and has been getting more involved in environmental activism since the early 2000s, when the church’s singles program was transformed into an environmental ministry. Instead of the usual singles activities, participants upgraded the church’s energy efficiency and started community gardens. “We were trying to care for God’s creation,” said Garry Harris, an Atlanta engineer and sustainability entrepreneur who led the singles ministry for more than 10 years. Warnock has been senior pastor at Ebenezer since 2005. In 2019, he hosted an interfaith meeting at Ebenezer to address climate change. Al Gore and Reverend William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, also participated. Environmental justice has been coming to the forefront as more people have become increasingly aware of the preponderance of polluting industries in low-income neighborhoods. Black churches often frame climate issues as public health, as congregants may live close to chemical plants, oil refineries or toxic waste dumps. If Warnock wins the runoff, he will have the power to speak up for these communities. Via Inside Climate News Image via Wikimedia Commons

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Episode 248: Mastercard CSO, parsing plastics policy, Paris Agreement at 5

December 11, 2020 by  
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Episode 248: Mastercard CSO, parsing plastics policy, Paris Agreement at 5 Heather Clancy Fri, 12/11/2020 – 00:10 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (5:30). HSBC invests in world’s first “reef credit” system Does 2020 mark a turning point for delivering on the Paris Agreement goals? How do you avoid getting distracted and stay focused on the mission? Features What will Biden mean for the circular economy? (18:20)   Don’t expect the incoming administration to use that nomenclature, but plastics pollution and recycling are far more likely to get national attention. Associate Editor Deonna Anderson chats with GreenBiz’s senior analyst for circular economy issues, Lauren Phipps. How Mastercard is helping spenders restore trees (26:45)   Big brands are leaning into growing consumer interest in supporting products and services that do “better” for the planet. Kristina Kloberdanz, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer of Mastercard, discusses the recent expansion of the Priceless Planet Coalition — which aspires to restore 100 million trees.  Happy 5th anniversary, Paris Agreement (39:25)   Maria Mendiluce, CEO of the We Mean Business Coalition, chats about signs of progress, the power of alliances and how companies can improve disclosure without engaging in greenwashing.  Climate change and healthcare (53:45)   What’s the emissions profile of the powerful healthcare sector? Can we create a circular supply chain for supplies? How should training evolve? Alan Weil, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs, visits with perspective from the journal’s recent report on these issues.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “Keeping Stuff Together,” “Southside,” “Night Caves” “New Day,” “Sad Marimba Planet” and “As I Was Saying” *This episode was sponsored by Salesforce and WestRock Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Deonna Anderson Lauren Phipps Topics Podcast Policy & Politics Finance & Investing Consumer Products Paris Agreement Health & Well-being Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 1:06:56 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 248: Mastercard CSO, parsing plastics policy, Paris Agreement at 5

Pressure on creatives: PR, advertising firms targeted by fossil fuel divestment movement

November 30, 2020 by  
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Pressure on creatives: PR, advertising firms targeted by fossil fuel divestment movement Michael Holder Mon, 11/30/2020 – 01:00 As fossil fuel companies’ social license to operate becomes increasingly frayed, more industries in their orbit are getting entangled in the reputational quagmire that is now part and parcel of any activity that exacerbates the climate crisis. Airlines have faced “flygskam” — or flight shame — which has seen some travelers shun air travel, heightening pressure for the sector to demonstrate that it can develop a flight path to net-zero emissions. Similarly, carmakers around the world are racing to develop fully electric models in response to escalating consumer and regulatory pressure. And energy providers the world over are rushing to slash their reliance on fossil fuels as the clean energy transition gathers pace.  Now advertising and public relations companies, it seems, are also feeling the pressure from the societal drive for a rapid net-zero transition — and it is posing difficult questions for an industry far more used to pushing messages from behind the scenes than being front and center of the story itself. Yet that is precisely where the industry has found itself, after a new grassroots campaign — Clean Creatives — launched this month in the United States, aimed at pressuring advertising, PR and public affairs agencies to end what it regards as “greenwashing and misinformation campaigns that help delay climate action.” We can’t let these major oil companies that are spending most of their capex on oil and gas run a bunch of advertising pretending they’re renewable energy companies. Anyone doubting the seriousness of the campaign needs only look at the team behind it. Clean Creatives is backed by the same organizations and individuals that helped trigger the fastest divestment movement in history, convincing thousands of investors to ditch fossil-fuel assets and arguably doing more damage to fossil-fuel companies’ license to operate than any other campaign. Backed by climate activist and journalist Bill McKibben — who wrote an article in the New Yorker titled ” When creatives go destructive ” calling on major advertising and PR firms to stop working with oil, gas and coal companies that are not taking concerted action to decarbonize — the campaign aims to shine a spotlight on the scale of money being poured into boosting fossil-fuel firms’ reputations. It is a big business. Between 2008 and 2017, fossil-fuel industry trade associations in the U.S. spent almost $1.4 trillion on public relations, advertising and communications, according to Clean Creatives. Since the 1990s, the world’s top five public oil companies alone — Exxon, BP, Chevron, Shell and ConocoPhillips — have spent over $3.6 billion on reputational advertising, much of it centered on projecting an environmental and socially responsible image, according to a Brown University study . Yet the actual figure could be even higher, as it is difficult to lift the bonnet on the often private relationships between PR firms and their clients. Campaigners have long argued that while major fossil fuel companies are spending big sums on publicly pushing messages that suggest they are committed to decarbonizing by investing in greener forms of energy, in reality, the overwhelming majority of their capital expenditure still goes towards oil and gas. Now, this new campaign wants to call out PR and advertising firms on this apparent disconnect. “That’s exactly what we’re trying to highlight — we can’t let these major oil companies that are spending most of their capex on oil and gas run a bunch of advertising pretending they’re renewable energy companies,” Jamie Henn, co-founder of global climate campaign group 350.org and producer of the Clean Creatives campaign, told BusinessGreen. “The reason they do that is to maintain their relevance to the economy, to convince politicians that they don’t need regulation, and to try and get the public to not worry about the fact that these companies are destroying the planet.” He argued oil and gas company advertising is usually not directed at getting consumers to buy their products and services but is more akin to political lobbying. “This is political advertising that they’re running to maintain their influence over public policy,” he suggested. And as pressure ramps up on major advertising and PR firms for change, the impact is already being felt. Almost immediately in response to the Clean Creatives campaign, communications consultancy Porter Novelli announced it would end its working relationship with the American Public Gas Association from 2021. Clean Creatives hopes others soon could follow suit. “We think this campaign can be quite effective because if there was ever a target that cares deeply about their public image, it’s PR and ad people,” Henn said. “They’re uniquely sensitive to critiques like this.” The pressure on the industry has been building for quite some time already, and the reputational hazards are already being laid bare. Last week, it emerged that FTI Consulting — one of the largest management consultancy and communications firms in the world — has been dropped by at least three clients, while several other global asset managers are also reviewing their relationship with the firm, due to revelations about its controversial work with oil companies in a New York Times expose earlier this month . When contacted by BusinessGreen, the firm declined to comment. We think this campaign can be quite effective because if there was ever a target that cares deeply about their public image, it’s PR and ad people. “The precedent has now been set that if you want to be known as a green PR company or want to work with clients who care about sustainability, you can’t work with the fossil fuel industry,” Henn said. “We’re seeing that with FTI Consulting, and we’re also seeing that with Porter Novelli.” He argued the ripples from these reputational risks have the potential to spread much further than the PR and advertising industry itself, too, as the issue poses wider questions for any company that contracts out its PR and advertising services, not just the agencies themselves. “A lot of businesses think really deeply about transparency when it comes to sustainability — such as who their suppliers are, what pesticides they use, or whether they are buying materials from sustainable sources,” Henn explained. “The same question is rarely asked about their PR and advertising firms, but it’s a crucial issue, because if you’re paying millions of dollars a year to an agency that is also spreading misinformation on climate change, you’re spending against your values — just in the same way that you wouldn’t want your organic cereal to come from a wheat field sprayed with pesticides.” Yet it is clear that the industry — like many so many others — is in danger of totting up significant long-term costs in return for the money it earns from fossil fuels in the short term. And just like fossil fuel companies themselves, they also risk upsetting staff and stakeholders, and losing out to competition in a future talent pool drawn from an increasingly climate-conscious public. Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association in the United Kingdom, believes it therefore is becoming increasingly untenable for advertising, PR and lobbying firms to engage in blatant greenwashing on behalf of fossil fuel clients. “I think we’ve been at that stage for some time, but it is now accelerating partly because it’s of huge concern to the people working in the industry,” he told BusinessGreen. But for advertising, PR and lobbying firms looking to avoid the reputational risks of working with fossil fuel industries, there are not always easy answers. Turning down a client contract to run a major PR campaign for an oil major that consistently has lobbied against climate action and has not even signaled its intention to be part of a future net-zero economy is one thing, but more clients from carbon-intensive industries do not fall quite so easily into the climate laggard category. One could argue, for example, that having set net-zero targets and started to demonstrate a willingness to align with the Paris Agreement goals, oil majors such as Shell, BP and others have an entirely legitimate case for enlisting PR firms to showcase their green efforts. As with the financial divestment movement, there is a valid debate about whether engagement with high-carbon firms that are working to reduce their emissions is more effective than simply severing ties. Many within the energy and PR industries would argue that in publicly showcasing a carbon-intensive firm’s decarbonization plans, they help build momentum in support of climate action and make it more likely that ambitious emission reduction strategies are enacted. Yet the Clean Creatives campaign specifically calls out PR giants such as WPP and its subsidiary Ogilvy for working with Shell and BP, respectively. As with all of the PR firms contacted by BusinessGreen for this article, WPP declined to comment. Woodford believes agencies may face some difficult decisions over which clients to work with in the short term, but that it will become increasingly straightforward to tell the difference between a fossil fuel company paying lip service to climate action and one which is genuinely intent on reinventing its business over the coming decades in support of a net-zero emission economy. “I think it’s up to each individual firm and management team to make their own decision and judgements for whether their agency believes a company is going fast enough or acting seriously enough to tackle the climate crisis,” he said. “But whether that’s a favorable or unfavorable view, the pressure from the public and from governance is ultimately all going in one direction, and I think that’s a very good thing.” If you want to be known as a green PR company or want to work with clients who care about sustainability, you can’t work with the fossil fuel industry. The Advertising Association has been at the forefront of an industry-wide initiative in the U.K. that launched earlier this month dubbed Ad Net Zero , which aims to achieve net-zero emissions across the development, production and media placement of advertising over the next decade. It also intends to work with production agencies, clients and event organizers to decarbonize the wider value chain, while harnessing the power of their work to influence and promote more sustainable consumer choices. The initiative has had widespread support from across the advertising sector — including from WPP — according to Woodford, who says Ad Net Zero will be working with advertising businesses “wherever they are on the [net-zero] spectrum to help them improve their performance.” But while much of the focus has been on the negative greenwashing activities of some firms in the industry, advertising, PR and lobbying also can be used to accelerate climate action. For example, last year 20 U.K. advertising and communications agencies including Greenhouse PR, Barley Communications and Borra Co signed a pledge launched by sustainability consultancy Futerra to avoid working on fossil fuel briefs, promising to “use their power for good.” McKibben last weekend described PR campaigns and snappy catchphrases used to launder fossil fuel firms’ reputations as the kindling “on which the fire of global warming burns,” but in the right hands these tactics also can act as grease for the wheels of climate action by drumming up public support for the positive, exciting future the net zero transition offers. “The sector can help businesses drive positive change,” says Woodford. “Momentum is building across all sorts of industries, and I think the role of the advertising and PR industry is to amplify and accelerate that, to help businesses that are doing the right thing win in the marketplace, which can also encourage others to do the same.” As the net zero transition accelerates across economies and societies, there will be challening decisions for companies in all industries to make about the future direction of their business. But for ad and PR agencies which are all too aware of the value of maintaining a strong public reputation, those decisions likely will have to be made very quickly indeed, and the direction of travel suggests the pressure on them to avoid working with laggard fossil fuel firms will only intensify. As Woodford says, the potential impact of the adverting and PR industry on the pace and direction of the net zero transition therefore could be hugely significant. “Hopefully the tipping point is where you see the full array of competitive forces aligned to reducing the carbon footprint of industry and society, and people competing on this basis,” he explains. “This is where advertising is a great driver of competition and innovation.” Pull Quote We can’t let these major oil companies that are spending most of their capex on oil and gas run a bunch of advertising pretending they’re renewable energy companies. We think this campaign can be quite effective because if there was ever a target that cares deeply about their public image, it’s PR and ad people. If you want to be known as a green PR company or want to work with clients who care about sustainability, you can’t work with the fossil fuel industry. Topics Marketing & Communication Corporate Strategy Climate Strategy BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Various climate change-related placards carried by protesters at the Global Climate Strike Rally and March in downtown San Francisco in September 2019. Shutterstock Sundry Photos Close Authorship

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Pressure on creatives: PR, advertising firms targeted by fossil fuel divestment movement

You say old coal plant, I say new green hydrogen facility

November 24, 2020 by  
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You say old coal plant, I say new green hydrogen facility Lincoln Bleveans Tue, 11/24/2020 – 01:30 Relics. Environmental hotspots. Or maybe reminders of a simpler time. Good or bad, no one views America’s old coal-fired power plants with indifference.  In their day, they were reliable, cost-effective backbones of America’s economy, driving some of the most spectacular growth the world has seen. Powering industry, commerce and society, they generated not just electricity but economic ecosystems that stretched far beyond the plants themselves and often served as the mainstay for thriving middle-class communities.  But then the environmental realities came into sharper focus: air, soil, and water pollution and greenhouse gases at the smokestack. At the same time, advances in natural gas production such as fracking (controversial in their own right) have made natural gas-fired power a better economic choice than coal-generated power. Recognition of those externalities, especially GHG emssions, further erodes coal’s competitiveness. More broadly, expanding renewable energy further divides the pie, while increasing energy efficiency keeps the pie from growing or even makes it smaller.  As a result, coal-fired power plants are closing and those economic and social ecosystems collapsing around the country. Jobs are lost, communities are imperiled and hard-earned skills are suddenly obsolete, sacrificed to the altars of economics and sustainability. “Sad but inevitable,” goes the collective sigh, “wrong place, wrong time.”  Like natural gas, that hydrogen contains heat that can be released with combustion to drive a generator. Unlike natural gas, that combustion is GHG-free. I disagree. We can and must do better. Much better.  That’s not just idle hope: My utility, Burbank Water and Power (BW&P) in California, is on the frontline of these transformations. Every day, our company manages a long-term commitment to a large coal-fired power plant in rural Delta, Utah, while it races towards a zero-GHG future — and not just by abandoning the old for the new. Together with our neighbors, Los Angeles and Glendale, and our partners in Utah, BW&P is bringing that old coal-fired power plant (and its local and regional ecosystem) along into the sustainable future — even though we will retire the coal plant itself in 2025. But to what? And when and why and how? You see an old coal plant and an obsolescent workforce; I see a superb opportunity for green hydrogen. Green? Hydrogen? Let’s start with hydrogen. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but just coming into its own as a versatile fuel for a world moving away from hydrocarbons. Capturing hydrogen is simple in theory: just apply a lot of energy to water to break the two H’s (hydrogen) from the O (oxygen) to create pure hydrogen. Like natural gas, that hydrogen contains heat that can be released with combustion to drive a generator. Unlike natural gas, that combustion is GHG-free. The technology is proven. Until now, though, the cost of that energy has kept hydrogen from widespread adoption. That’s changing fast; it’s also the “green” in “green hydrogen.” In the Age of Renewables, electricity is increasingly abundant and cheap (or free or even negatively priced, as in you get paid to take it) when solar power dominates the midday grid. In turbine-generators, an evolution of the ones currently powered with natural gas, that green hydrogen produces the holy grail of a zero-GHG power system: dispatchable renewable electricity ready to turn intermittent renewables such as solar and wind into a reliable power supply. The physics of solar are transforming both the economic and environmental feasibility of green hydrogen. Back in Delta, Utah, I see an industrial site and a community ready for redevelopment. I see a skilled and experienced industrial workforce ready to build, operate and optimize complex systems. I see transmission lines to bring in the renewable energy needed for green hydrogen production. And I see the water rights, in mind-boggling amounts, that are a prerequisite for both today’s coal-fired power generation and tomorrow’s green hydrogen production.  The physics of solar are transforming both the economic and environmental feasibility of green hydrogen. That transformation is already underway in Delta. We are replacing the coal plant with state-of-the-art natural gas turbines ready for 30 percent green hydrogen co-firing right off the bat. Those turbines and the rest of the plant are being future-proofed, engineered by turbine manufacturer Mitsubishi Power to be ready for each technological advancement, step-by-step, to 100 percent green hydrogen by 2035. (Mitsubishi is no outlier in this regard: General Electric is on a similar innovation path for its machines.) That green hydrogen, in turn, will be produced on-site using renewable energy (especially that midday solar) imported by the same transmission lines that export power to California, Utah and Nevada. Soaking up that excess solar power, in turn, helps the entire Western electric grid keep costs down and reliability up. And the workforce is top-notch: Coal plants are complex and demanding and they are the best in the business.  But the key is water. The coal plant uses up to 26 million gallons every day to generate electricity but has rights to far more. That’s a lot of low-cost, zero-GHG green hydrogen. That’s also lot of skilled jobs and tax revenue: the durable foundation for thriving, hard-working communities. Now pan back from Delta to the other 350-plus coal-fired power plants dotting the map of the U.S. Every one of those dots represents communities, economic ecosystems, workforces, water and transmission surrounded by ever-increasing renewables. Every one of those dots can be an opportunity to flip the script: Rather than left behind, they can be hubs for a thriving and inclusive transition to a zero-GHG future. Pan back even further to the 2,400-odd coal plants in the world. Do you see what I see? Let’s transition to a sustainable future together. Pull Quote Like natural gas, that hydrogen contains heat that can be released with combustion to drive a generator. Unlike natural gas, that combustion is GHG-free. The physics of solar are transforming both the economic and environmental feasibility of green hydrogen. Topics Energy & Climate Utilities Jobs & Careers Hydrogen Coal Solar Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Burbank Water & Power Close Authorship

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You say old coal plant, I say new green hydrogen facility

Earth911 Podcast: Roger Duncan and Dr. Michael E. Webber on the Future of Buildings, Transportation, and Power

November 23, 2020 by  
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Earth911 talks with Roger Duncan and Dr. Michael E. Webber … The post Earth911 Podcast: Roger Duncan and Dr. Michael E. Webber on the Future of Buildings, Transportation, and Power appeared first on Earth 911.

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Earth911 Podcast: Roger Duncan and Dr. Michael E. Webber on the Future of Buildings, Transportation, and Power

Leveraging the ocean’s carbon removal potential

November 11, 2020 by  
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Leveraging the ocean’s carbon removal potential Katie Lebling Wed, 11/11/2020 – 00:30 To meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius 2.7 degrees F), greenhouse gas emissions must reach net-zero by mid-century. Achieving this not only will require reducing existing emissions, but also removing carbon dioxide already in the air. How much carbon to remove from the atmosphere will depend on emissions in the coming years, but estimates point to around 10 billion-20 billion tons of CO 2 per year through 2100, globally. This is a tremendous amount, considering that the United States emitted 5.4 billion tons of CO 2 in 2018. As the need for climate action becomes more urgent, the ocean is gaining attention as a potential part of the solution . Approaches such as investing in offshore energy production, conserving coastal ecosystems and increasing consumption of sustainable ocean-based protein offer opportunities to reduce emissions. In addition to these opportunities, a range of ocean-based carbon removal approaches could help capture and store billions of tons of carbon. Importantly, these approaches would not increase ocean acidification. The ocean absorbs just under one-third of anthropogenic CO 2 emissions, which is contributing to a rise in ocean acidification and making it more difficult for organisms such as oysters and corals to build shells. The ocean absorbs just under one-third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, contributing to a rise in ocean acidification. A few options for increasing the ocean’s capacity to store carbon also may provide co-benefits, such as increasing biodiversity and reducing acidification. However, many approaches remain contentious due to uncertainties around potential ecological impacts, governance and other risks. If research efforts increase to improve understanding in these areas, a combination of approaches could help address the global climate crisis. Ocean-based ways to remove CO 2 from the atmosphere Proposed methods for increasing the ocean’s ability to remove and store carbon dioxide — including biological, chemical and electrochemical concepts — vary in technical maturity, permanence, public acceptance and risk. Note: This graphic represents the general types of proposed approaches, but may not reflect every proposal. 1. Biological approaches Biological approaches, which leverage the power of photosynthesis to capture CO 2 , offer a few approaches for carbon removal. Ecosystem restoration Restoring coastal blue carbon ecosystems , including salt marshes, mangroves and seagrasses, can increase the amount of carbon stored in coastal sediments. Globally, the carbon removal potential of coastal blue carbon ecosystem restoration is around a few hundred million tons of CO 2 per year by 2050, which is relatively small compared to the need. However, ample co-benefits — such as reducing coastal erosion and flooding, improving water quality and supporting livelihoods and tourism — make it worth pursuing. Restoring coastal blue carbon ecosystems, including salt marshes such as this one, can help store carbon in addition to other restoration benefits. Photo by Bre Smith/Unsplash Large-scale seaweed cultivation Another proposed approach is large-scale seaweed cultivation , as seaweed captures carbon through photosynthesis. While there is evidence that wild seaweed already contributes to carbon removal, there is potential to cultivate and harvest seaweed for use in a range of products, including food (human and animal), fuel and fertilizer. The full extent of carbon removal potential from these applications is uncertain, as many of these products would return carbon within the seaweed to the environment during consumption. Yet, these applications could lower emission intensity compared to conventional production processes. Seaweed cultivation also can provide an economic return that could support near-term industry growth. One interesting application is adding certain seaweeds to feed for ruminant farm animals, which significantly could reduce their methane emissions. Methane has especially high climate warming potential, and methane emissions from ruminants contribute roughly 120 MtCO1e per year in the United States. Emerging research shows that certain types of red seaweeds can reduce ruminant emissions by more than 50 percent, although more research is necessary to show consistent long-term reductions and understand whether large-scale cultivation efforts are successful. In addition to reducing emissions, seaweed cultivation also may reduce ocean acidification. In some places, this application is already in use for shellfish aquaculture to reduce acidification and improve shellfish growth. Understanding potential ecosystem risks is critical to implementing this approach at scale. Potential risks include changes to water movement patterns; changes to light, nutrient and oxygen availability; altered pH levels; impacts from manmade structures for growing; and impacts of monoculture cultivation, which can affect existing marine flora and fauna. Continued small-scale pilot testing is necessary to understand these ecosystem impacts and bring down costs for cultivation, harvesting and transport. Iron fertilization A more controversial and divisive idea is iron fertilization , which involves adding trace amounts of iron to certain parts of the ocean, spurring phytoplankton growth. The phytoplankton would take in atmospheric CO 2 as they grow, with a portion expected to eventually sink to the ocean floor, resulting in permanent storage of that carbon in ocean sediments About a dozen experiments indicate varying levels of carbon sequestration efficacy, but the approach remains compelling to some due to its low cost. Although iron fertilization theoretically could store large amounts of carbon for a comparatively low cost, it also could cause significant negative ecological impacts, such as toxic algal blooms that can reduce oxygen levels, block sunlight and harm sea life. Additionally, researchers are hesitant to pursue this method due to a fraught history, including one experiment that potentially violated international law. Iron fertilization, which involves adding trace amounts of iron to certain parts of the ocean, spurring phytoplankton growth. Because of the relatively low cost, there is also the risk of a single actor’s conducting large-scale fertilization and potentially causing large-scale ecological damage. Given that this method remains contentious, a critical first step is creating a clear international governance structure to continue research. Iron fertilization continues to face scientific uncertainties about its efficacy and ecosystem impacts that, if pursued, would require at-sea testing to resolve. 2. Chemical approaches Chemical approaches, namely alkalinity enhancement, involve adding different types of minerals to the ocean to react with dissolved carbon dioxide and turn it into dissolved bicarbonates. As dissolved carbon dioxide converts into dissolved bicarbonates, the concentration of dissolved CO 2 lowers relative to the air, allowing the ocean to absorb more CO 2 from the air at the ocean-air boundary. Although mineral sources are abundant, accessing them would require significant energy to extract, grind down and transport. While alkalinity enhancement is in use at small scales to improve water quality for calcifying creatures such as oysters and other shellfish, large scale applications would require pilot testing to understand ecosystem impacts. Additional research also will help map accessible and suitable sources of alkalinity and determine how to most effectively apply it. 3. Electrochemical approaches A handful of electrochemical concepts also store carbon as dissolved bicarbonate. Unlike chemical approaches, electrochemical approaches do so by running electric currents through seawater. Variations of electrochemical approaches also could produce valuable hydrogen or concentrated CO 2 for industrial use or storage. Scaling up this approach would depend on the availability of low-carbon energy sources in suitable locations. Additional research will help map such sources and analyze potential benefits, such as hydrogen production. Governance and social considerations of ocean-based carbon removal Ensuring appropriate governance frameworks — both national and international — for ocean-based carbon removal approaches will be a critical pre-condition before many are ready to scale. International legal frameworks for the ocean, such as the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and the London Convention and Protocol, predate the concept of ocean carbon dioxide removal. As a result, these frameworks are retroactively applied to these approaches, leading to differing interpretations and a lack of clarity in some cases. Some legal scholars suggest amending existing legal instruments to more directly govern ocean carbon removal, including carbon removal in ongoing negotiations for new international agreements or shifting governance to another international body entirely. Robust environmental safeguards, including transparent monitoring and reporting, also must be in place. Lastly, ocean carbon removal approaches should not move forward without first considering the impacts on local communities and indigenous populations. Community acceptance of potential pilot testing and impacts on coastal communities also must be a pre-condition to moving forward at scale. Climate action must include the ocean As the world seeks effective tools for the climate action toolbox, employing approaches on land and at sea would prevent over-reliance on any one approach and spread the carbon removal burden over larger systems. However, before any large-scale application, ocean-based carbon removal approaches require continued research to better understand their effectiveness, cost, capacity and ancillary impacts. Such research will ensure a strong scientific foundation from which to pursue these concepts, while minimizing unintended impacts on ocean ecosystems. If understood and effectively developed and implemented, ocean-based carbon removal approaches could prove valuable to reaching net-zero and avoiding the worst effects of climate change. Pull Quote The ocean absorbs just under one-third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, contributing to a rise in ocean acidification. Iron fertilization, which involves adding trace amounts of iron to certain parts of the ocean, spurring phytoplankton growth. Contributors Eliza Northrop Topics Oceans & Fisheries Carbon Removal World Resources Institute Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz collage via Unsplash Close Authorship

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