SDG Ambition: Scaling Business Impact for the Decade of Action

June 25, 2020 by  
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SDG Ambition: Scaling Business Impact for the Decade of Action Now more than ever, companies everywhere must unite in the business of a more resilient, sustainable world. Despite progress made in many areas, we are not on track to deliver on the SDGs by 2030. In fact, the United Nations Global Compact Progress Report 2020 reveals only 39 per cent of companies surveyed believe they have targets that are sufficiently ambitious to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Less than a third consider their industry to be moving fast enough to deliver priority SDGs. While 84 per cent of companies surveyed are taking action on SDGs, only 46 per cent are embedding them into their core business and only 37 per cent are designing business models that contribute to the SDGs.  The need for increased business ambition is clear but how do companies get started? How do they set ambitious benchmarks in the areas that will have the greatest business impact on the SDGs and accelerate integration of sustainable development into enterprise management processes and systems? In this webcast: Learn how to prioritize opportunities for SDG impact through core business activities – operations, products & services, and value chain Learn about best practice business benchmarks to gauge whether corporate activities are aiming at the necessary level of ambition to deliver on the SDGs Hear how companies can set goals – or level-set existing goals – in line with what is required to achieve the SDGs and about the processes and tools required to meet them Learn about SDG Ambition, a new accelerator initiative, in partnership with SAP and Accenture that aims to empower and equip companies to set ambitious corporate targets aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and accelerate integration into core business management Moderator: John Davies, Vice President & Senior Analyst, GreenBiz Group Speakers: Sue Allchurch, Chief, Outreach & Engagement, UN Global Compact Michael D. Hughes, Manager, Sustainability & Responsible Business, Accenture Ann Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, UN Partnerships and Sustainability, SAP If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast. taylor flores Thu, 06/25/2020 – 11:22 John Davies VP, Senior Analyst GreenBiz @greenbizjd Sue Allchurch Chief, Outreach & Engagement UN Global Compact @allchurch_sue Michael Hughes Manager, Sustainability & Responsible Business Accenture Ann Rosenberg Senior Vice President, UN Partnerships and Sustainability SAP gbz_webcast_date Tue, 07/21/2020 – 10:00 – Tue, 07/21/2020 – 11:00

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Lapsed fishing moratorium endangers Amazon river dolphins

June 19, 2020 by  
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They’re smart, rare, sociable and an incredibly coveted sighting for eco-tourists and wildlife lovers. But Amazon river dolphins are teetering on the brink of extinction as a five-year fishing moratorium has just expired, leaving them vulnerable to poachers. These playful mammals , which are sometimes pink, used to be abundant in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. But their rotting fatty blubber is irresistible to piracatinga, a kind of catfish. Poachers illegally kill the dolphins for bait to catch piracatinga. Related: Amazon deforestation increased by 34% in 2019 In January 2015, then-President Dilma Rousseff’s administration put a five-year moratorium on piracatinga fishing in order to protect the dolphins . But current President Jair Bolsonaro — notoriously unfriendly to the Amazon ecosystem — seems disinclined to extend the ban. “I believe [the lack of a moratorium] could make them extinct,” said Vera da Silva, a researcher for INPA . “Not all the objectives of the moratorium were fulfilled, therefore the moratorium must be extended.” The Amazon river dolphin is the world’s largest freshwater dolphin, growing to about 8 feet in length. The dolphins use echolocation to hunt murky Amazon pools for turtles, fish and freshwater crabs. Similar creatures live in other rivers of South America and Asia, but they all face threats from humans. In 2007, China’s Yangtze River dolphin was pronounced extinct due to pollution, habitat degradation and overfishing. “They are very special creatures,” Natanael dos Santos said of the Amazon river dolphin. Dos Santos works as a guide at Brazil’s Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development . “They are extremely intelligent and can display a complex set of behaviors, even like humans.” Fishing is only one threat the Amazon river dolphins face. Hydroelectric dams and mercury poisoning from gold mining operations have also reduced their population. Marcelo Oliveira, a conservation specialist at World Wildlife Fund Brazil (WWF), urges stronger community engagement with fishermen in the Amazon basin. “Extending the moratorium could be a way to protect the dolphins, alternative baits could be a way, but we need to have a balance between development and biodiversity conservation,” Oliveira said. “It’s not a fight between the two. If communities are involved in conservation, the dolphins will be safer.” Via Mongabay Image via Gregory Smith

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Lapsed fishing moratorium endangers Amazon river dolphins

Tiny house near the Catskills has a small backyard farm

June 19, 2020 by  
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This Catskills tiny house located in Woodbourne, New York is a perfect getaway for those who love the outdoors. With a huge outdoor setup, the property includes a detached stone firepit, a wooden meditation gazebo, an outdoor herb garden and two greenhouses. Walk into a small living room off of the patio with a space heater and seating area, and turn the corner into the kitchenette complete with a small refrigerator, hotplate, sink and storage with a restroom to the side. Upstairs, the bed in the cozy loft sits in front of a set of large windows with views of the forest, so you can fall asleep and wake up with a front-row seat to nature. Related: New tiny home for glamping on Governors Island offers guests the best views of NYC With a plush double bed, indoor fireplace and large windows, this tiny home is perfect for a romantic nature retreat only a couple of hours from Manhattan. Its remote location combined with comfortable features makes it great for getting off the grid for a few days and detoxing from the bustle of city life. There is Wi-Fi, heating, a kitchen area and free parking onsite as well as access to the large wooden deck and barbecue area outside, where you can immerse yourself in the peaceful surroundings. The outdoor seating area next to the garden and the stone firepit allows for dining al fresco. The property also has a composting toilet and solar panels for added sustainability. This tiny home is currently being used as a vacation rental with Glamping Hub. It comes with all of the essentials, including linens and towels, and firewood is available on the property for an additional fee. As of June 2020, the rental is booked out until November, where it is priced at about $122 per night for weekdays and weekends, not including taxes or fees. + Glamping Hub Images via Glamping Hub

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Tiny house near the Catskills has a small backyard farm

How Businesses Can Overcome Barriers to Achieving Climate Goals

June 15, 2020 by  
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How Businesses Can Overcome Barriers to Achieving Climate Goals Join us and discover the findings of research conducted by NRG Energy and GreenBiz Group, examining key plans and actions businesses are taking to address climate change. The research represents responses from hundreds of business executives and thought leaders, revealing that many are taking the right steps to reach their goals. A range of factors, however, threatens to disrupt progress including a lack of attention to risk, developing consistent resilience and financial disclosures such as those recommended by the TCFD, and a general need for greater expertise. In this one-hour webcast, GreenBiz Vice President and Senior Analyst John Davies will lead a wide-ranging discussion, showing you how: Risk management and sustainability efforts converge as climate change disrupts businesses and challenges green goals New reporting standards gain traction with demands for greater transparency Existing standards like those of the TCFD have been addressed by companies like yours Scenario analysis becomes the preferred approach to set science-based targets  Collaborations with energy service companies help achieve emissions reductions Moderator: John Davies, Vice President & Senior Analyst, GreenBiz Group Speakers: Greg Kandankulam, Senior Manager, Sustainability, NRG Energy Edwin Anderson, Partner, Oliver Wyman Emily Bosland, Manager, CSR Strategy & Reporting, Verizon If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast. taylor flores Mon, 06/15/2020 – 16:09 John Davies VP, Senior Analyst GreenBiz @greenbizjd Greg Kandankulam Senior Manager, Sustainability NRG @gregkandankulam Edwin Anderson Partner Oliver Wyman Emily Bosland Manager, CSR Strategy & Reporting Verizon gbz_webcast_date Tue, 07/14/2020 – 10:00 – Tue, 07/14/2020 – 11:00

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Trump allows commercial fishing in Atlantic national monument

June 9, 2020 by  
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The Trump administration announced on Friday that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which encompasses over 5,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean 130 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, will open to commercial fishing. The announcement came after the president attended a round-table discussion with commercial fishers from Maine who were concerned about the economic tolls of COVID-19 in their industry. Ocean experts are cautioning that the decision will cause comprehensive harm to the environment in the long run, especially as the proclamation will allow fishing within the monument without changing its size or boundaries. Brad Sewell, senior director of Oceans for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that such a significant change to a monument must be done by Congress. Sewell cited that the Antiquities Act gives the president the power to protect specific natural areas, not the other way around. The 5,000-square-mile ocean monument is home to sea turtles, endangered whales, unique species of cold water coral reefs , four extinct underwater volcanoes and deep sea canyons teeming with marine life. Related: Sea turtles thrive on empty beaches during COVID-19 lockdowns The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument has been open to sport fishing but closed to commercial fishing (with the exception of the red crab and lobster) since its creation in 2016 by President Obama. Any continuing fisheries were given a 7-year transition period to end their operations in the area by 2023. The Seamounts monument has been no stranger to controversy, even before Trump’s recent decision. A year after its designation, five commercial fishing groups sued the Obama administration because they felt the president had created the monument illegally. Now, Trump’s announcement raises the question of the limits of presidential powers regarding changing the rules of national monuments altogether. National Geographic’s Pristine Seas founder Enric Sala told National Geographic that these types of national monuments are established to preserve the country’s natural and historical sites. “We need pristine areas set aside so that we can see nature as it was before we overexploited it, and understand the true impact of fishing,” Sala said. “If commercial fishing were allowed in a monument, it would become just a name on a map, and no different than any other place in the ocean.” Via National Geographic Image via NOAA

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How the Navajo got their day in the sun

May 28, 2020 by  
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How the Navajo got their day in the sun Danny Kennedy Thu, 05/28/2020 – 02:00 In late March, during the early hours of the COVID-19 crisis, just as New Yorkers were realizing how many might die, a small solar development company closed a $4 million financing deal. “Closing” is never easy, but getting a half-dozen high-net-worth individuals, family offices and foundations to pony up as the world’s finance markets crashed around them was a triumph.  Getting the deal done was impressive in its own right, given that private equity had all but frozen in the weeks before and most venture-backed startups were running on fumes, telling their angel investors and anyone who’d listen that they had three months’ financial runway, or less. It seems even more important now, given the terrible toll COVID-19 is having right where the solar is planned: the Navajo Nation. A young team saddled with ambition and support from their tribal government, this largely native-owned company, Navajo Power , was getting ready to build a major solar project in one of the poorest communities in America.  “We are working hard to create jobs and build resilient infrastructure for our Nation and for the greater western region,” explained Brett Isaac, founder and CEO. “Navajo has perhaps the highest unemployment in the country at 65 percent — that’s pre-COVID. It is clearly going up, due to the virus. We need to put people back to work in creating the clean energy future. Developing some of the biggest projects in the world and maximizing the benefits for our communities can provide the resources needed to fund a wave of local infrastructure and community economic development initiatives. Clean energy can be our bridge.” A company to watch, and learn from Navajo Power was co-founded by Isaac and his old friend Dan Rosen, a college dropout from New Jersey. Rosen was adopted by Navajo artist Shonto Begay in his teens and went on to start one of the U.S.’s largest solar loan business, Mosaic. These two and their partners are leading the charge for the Navajo Nation’s just transition, from coal dependence to clean energy superpower. This movement one day will be studied in colleges around the world; justice can be done. Such drama around Navajo is justified. This is the largest indigenous community in the United States, with 250,000 people and a land base the size of West Virginia. There is a sordid history of “divide and conquer,” involving everyone from Kit Carson to the Sierra Club. The wealth of energy resources on Navajo land invited exploitation throughout the 20th century. Uranium was mined there. And coal. Lots of coal. Mined and burned to provide power for Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tucson and Phoenix.  The wealth of energy resources on Navajo land invited exploitation throughout the 20th century. Uranium was mined there. And coal. Lots of coal. Despite hosting centuries of extraction and decades of power generation, in 2020, more than 15,000 families on Navajo land lack electricity or running water. And surprise, surprise: the local community saw only a pittance for the years that King Coal ravaged its ancestral homeland. According to one local leader of the governing “chapter” responsible for running services, his entire community of 1,200 people received about $250,000 per year in royalties from the coal mining operation on their land. This community spent 50 years suffering from the toxic emissions spewing out of the coal-burning 1.2 gigawatt Navajo Generating Station nearby. This plant powered Los Angeles and points west — but not their own towns and settlements. All they got was the pollution, and almost enough money to pay for the salary of one public health worker and overhead. An utter disgrace. By contrast, Navajo Power’s solar projects will pay millions of dollars upfront and fair market value per year for the life of the project, while ensuring that the local community is compensated in addition to the central government. The solar plant will sit on the ground, leave resources in the ground, burn nothing and can be removed afterwards. The chapter can invest the revenue generated by this plant in public health, workforce development, job creation efforts such as ecotourism and high-value agriculture. Business unusual Solar is a strategy that will uplift this community. But unlike the similar promise of coal, solar power will not desecrate the Navajo’s sacred land, pollute their skies or poison their children. And the Navajo Power deal ensures this power will be owned and controlled by Navajo, not outsiders.  It was not only a coup to pull off any investment of this magnitude in the midst of the COVID crisis — there’s more business unusual in the deal. Baked into the financial structure is an expected rate of return for the investors. If and when this rate is achieved, any further returns will be distributed to the communities hosting the solar projects on their land. This financing design, with a “mission delta” built-in between the concessionary rate that investors are taking and a more market rate, will become an innovative benchmark for similarly well-intentioned companies in the future. Additional covenants include 10 percent of company ownership being held in a Turquoise Share, which funds community benefits in the event of profit distributions or sale of the company. Eighty percent of the profits must go toward solar projects or community investments. And executive compensation is capped relative to the lowest-paid employee.  Morgan Simon, CEO of the Candide Group, explained, “Navajo Power is creating a new kind of economic development model for communities through leveraging the revenues of utility-scale clean energy development. That’s what drew us to their work and why we led this investment.” This model is a stark contrast to the hundreds of years of exploitative fossil-fuel ventures that have taken place on the territories of native peoples.  Navajo Power, as you probably can tell, is not a typical company. It is a registered Public Benefit Corporation; a company with a core goal of public benefits on par with profit maximization. And for the power sector, it is innovative from woe to go. It is mostly owned by Navajo and committed, by its mission and business model, to maximize benefits for the community partners hosting the solar projects on their land. The company provides culturally appropriate technical assistance to communities as they go through the development process.  The backstory The political and historical context surrounding this momentous deal is worth understanding. During Donald Trump’s reign, U.S. coal plants have closed faster than during the Obama administration. We can thank the markets for coal’s loss of steam; wind in the Midwest and solar in the Southwest can produce cheaper electricity. This phenomenon has reached the reservation. After decades of hosting some of the nation’s largest coal mines and coal-fired power plants, including the Navajo Generating Station, San Juan, Cholla and the Four Corners Plant, these plants are finished. The first to fall, Navajo Generating Station, closed in November after a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to “save it” with subsidies. Early this year, the San Juan plant on the New Mexico side of Navajo announced it will shutter within three years. Cholla will stop one of three units this year and the rest by 2025. And Arizona Public Service, which operates Four Corners, recently announced it is moving up the retirement of that facility to 2031. Given the increasing loss-making economics, my bet is 2031 is a longshot. The Navajo entrepreneurs saw the vacuum left by falling coal plants as an opportunity for themselves, their reservation and the broader United States. The key insight is that the coal operations built on their land give the Navajo exceptional access to regional energy markets through the high-voltage transmission lines connecting them to major electrical demand centers across the West.  Based on research, Navajo Nation has the potential for more than 10 GW of solar power — more than a one-to-one replacement for every lost megawatt of coal power — plus at least one gigawatt of wind. Their high altitude, blue skies and dry land base is ideal for hosting solar farms. It also could prove an ideal location for hosting long-duration batteries for grid services that provide reliability and resilience. Research and development on solutions such as hydrogen gas from electrolysis powered by inexpensive solar is another potential product of this endeavor. The Navajo are riding the perfect storm: better economics; natural and unnatural competitive advantages; and the disruption of energy technologies to position this previously overlooked community at the center of the U.S. energy future. A change of heart In March 2019, Navajo Power organized an Energy Roundtable that involved Navajo leadership and some big hitters in energy from the American West. These included David Hochschild, chair of the California Energy Commission, and Angelina Galiteva, a member of the Board of Governors of the California Independent System Operator, which runs the California electricity grid. California is the fifth-largest economy in the world. So, when the governor’s energy czar and manager of the grid were present at the roundtable, people listened. And they both had the same message: We won’t buy dirty power from Navajo. The previous year, California passed SB100, a law that requires the Golden State to be 100 percent powered with renewable electricity by 2045. California is a huge market, a kind of nation-state unto itself, with a distinct grid and an increasingly wealthy population of 40 million. When California adopted the 100 percent standard, other states followed suit. This included New Mexico, which has a long history with the neighboring Navajo Nation dating to colonial times. These energy players surrounded the nation — both figuratively and geographically — with 100 percent clean energy commitments. The conversation at the roundtable was focused on how none of these states wanted to buy coal-fired power for much longer. After 50 years of being forced by various means to allow coal extraction and combustion on its territory, the Navajo leadership was told that the world is going in a new direction. For the Resource Committee that was gathered, including Vice President Myron Lizer, this was news. But it was heard. It was hard to ignore Navajo’s biggest customer of coal power for last half century saying, “We won’t be allowed, by law, to buy it any longer.”  Showdown at the summit Galiteva had run procurement for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power earlier in her career, so she knew all about contracting with Navajo power producers. She was well-versed on the transmission systems that carried electricity across the high desert and Sierras into the L.A. basin. There’s an interconnect at Glendale, just east of the city, a point in the grid where high-voltage transmission cables connect and the juice from big power plants is broken up before being distributed through the massive urban sprawl that is Los Angeles. Galiteva agreed that Navajo could take advantage of that transmission capacity — a huge multibillion-dollar sunk cost — to sell solar power for the next century. The Navajo’s competitive advantage of using transmission lines paid for by the coal industry to connect clean energy generation on their land to the big cities might be fleeting. Other carrots were offered in the room for the Navajo leadership to consider shifting from coal to solar. One came in the form of an energy procurement manager from Apple; the most valuable company in history at that time that recently had committed to 100 percent clean energy. While he could not commit to a specific contract with Navajo on the company’s behalf, he did indicate Apple’s interest in new sources of clean power. In the last few years, data centers such as those run by Apple, Google and Facebook have emerged as core business for energy generators with direct electricity contracts. If the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, a group of several dozen large corporations, were a country, it would be in the top 10 in terms of energy consumption and commitment to 100 percent clean energy purchasing. The signal was clear for the folks in the room — the times were a-changing and the Navajo needed to get with the program. The Navajo’s competitive advantage of using transmission lines paid for by the coal industry to connect clean energy generation on their land to the big cities might be fleeting. Developers elsewhere across the West are proposing massive wind and solar farms with transmission. These were big decisions and directional choices proposed to the committee at the summit. None of which had an easy solution because, at the same time the summit was happening, on the Arizona side of the reservation, lobbyists in Window Rock were trying to convince the president to use sovereign wealth funds to bail out the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station. The owners and major off-takers had proposed to shut it down that summer, which would mean hundreds of jobs going off the reservation — a place with few good, consistent employment opportunities.  At the time of the Navajo Power Summit, the nation was under considerable pressure to buy out the owners of the Navajo Generating Station to keep it going — even if It meant funding a loss-making enterprise. Various excuses and initiatives were announced to justify the nation’s digging into a hard-won, rainy-day fund it maintains from fines settled by the federal government for damage caused by uranium mine tailings on their land. The new president, Jonathan Nez, elected in November 2018, was looking down the barrel of 700 jobs going away at NGS and seriously considered spending $300 million to keep the coal power plant running. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis advised Nez that this may keep the plant going for a couple of years, but nothing could turn the tide against coal in the West with all neighboring states committing to 100 percent renewables in the foreseeable future. In other words, it would be buying a white elephant. In an act of bold political leadership, Nez decided against bailing out the coal plant. The nation broadened its vision. It saw that building large-scale solar farms with companies such as Navajo Power would tap the existing transmission lines to big cities and address the thousands of families on the reservation who do not have electricity. In a proclamation made in April 2019, called the Navajo Háyoo?káá? , the parties created “a new economic vision for the Navajo People, through healing the land, fostering clean energy development and providing leadership for the energy market.” This is “a big move for the nation,” said Nez. The plan is based on four principles:  1. A diverse energy portfolio, creating workforce development and job creation opportunities for the Navajo people.  2. Restoration of land and water after decades of uranium and coal mining.  3. Rural electrification of homes that lack access to electricity. 4. Utility-scale renewable energy development to supply Navajo Nation and the western United States.  The Navajo Sunrise Proclamation says, “Through the Diné teaching of ‘T’áá hwó’ ajít’éego’ and for the many who have called upon our Nation’s leaders to transition away from our overdependence on fossil fuels, the Navajo Nation will strive for a balanced energy portfolio and will pursue and prioritize clean renewable energy development for the long-term benefit of the Navajo People and our communities.” The benefits of such investments will go beyond jobs and revenue for the Navajo. There is a sense of pride in picking the path rather than having it foisted upon them, as coal power was 50 years ago. Self-determination is a big issue for indigenous peoples the world over. Overcoming the colonial domination that energy development has created is a major triumphsof the Navajo Sunrise Proclamation. It brings hope, not just to this sovereign nation, but to people everywhere that just transitions can be made. Pull Quote The wealth of energy resources on Navajo land invited exploitation throughout the 20th century. Uranium was mined there. And coal. Lots of coal. The Navajo’s competitive advantage of using transmission lines paid for by the coal industry to connect clean energy generation on their land to the big cities might be fleeting. Topics Renewable Energy 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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How the Navajo got their day in the sun

How the Navajo got their day in the sun

May 28, 2020 by  
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How the Navajo got their day in the sun Danny Kennedy Thu, 05/28/2020 – 02:00 In late March, during the early hours of the COVID-19 crisis, just as New Yorkers were realizing how many might die, a small solar development company closed a $4 million financing deal. “Closing” is never easy, but getting a half-dozen high-net-worth individuals, family offices and foundations to pony up as the world’s finance markets crashed around them was a triumph.  Getting the deal done was impressive in its own right, given that private equity had all but frozen in the weeks before and most venture-backed startups were running on fumes, telling their angel investors and anyone who’d listen that they had three months’ financial runway, or less. It seems even more important now, given the terrible toll COVID-19 is having right where the solar is planned: the Navajo Nation. A young team saddled with ambition and support from their tribal government, this largely native-owned company, Navajo Power , was getting ready to build a major solar project in one of the poorest communities in America.  “We are working hard to create jobs and build resilient infrastructure for our Nation and for the greater western region,” explained Brett Isaac, founder and CEO. “Navajo has perhaps the highest unemployment in the country at 65 percent — that’s pre-COVID. It is clearly going up, due to the virus. We need to put people back to work in creating the clean energy future. Developing some of the biggest projects in the world and maximizing the benefits for our communities can provide the resources needed to fund a wave of local infrastructure and community economic development initiatives. Clean energy can be our bridge.” A company to watch, and learn from Navajo Power was co-founded by Isaac and his old friend Dan Rosen, a college dropout from New Jersey. Rosen was adopted by Navajo artist Shonto Begay in his teens and went on to start one of the U.S.’s largest solar loan business, Mosaic. These two and their partners are leading the charge for the Navajo Nation’s just transition, from coal dependence to clean energy superpower. This movement one day will be studied in colleges around the world; justice can be done. Such drama around Navajo is justified. This is the largest indigenous community in the United States, with 250,000 people and a land base the size of West Virginia. There is a sordid history of “divide and conquer,” involving everyone from Kit Carson to the Sierra Club. The wealth of energy resources on Navajo land invited exploitation throughout the 20th century. Uranium was mined there. And coal. Lots of coal. Mined and burned to provide power for Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tucson and Phoenix.  The wealth of energy resources on Navajo land invited exploitation throughout the 20th century. Uranium was mined there. And coal. Lots of coal. Despite hosting centuries of extraction and decades of power generation, in 2020, more than 15,000 families on Navajo land lack electricity or running water. And surprise, surprise: the local community saw only a pittance for the years that King Coal ravaged its ancestral homeland. According to one local leader of the governing “chapter” responsible for running services, his entire community of 1,200 people received about $250,000 per year in royalties from the coal mining operation on their land. This community spent 50 years suffering from the toxic emissions spewing out of the coal-burning 1.2 gigawatt Navajo Generating Station nearby. This plant powered Los Angeles and points west — but not their own towns and settlements. All they got was the pollution, and almost enough money to pay for the salary of one public health worker and overhead. An utter disgrace. By contrast, Navajo Power’s solar projects will pay millions of dollars upfront and fair market value per year for the life of the project, while ensuring that the local community is compensated in addition to the central government. The solar plant will sit on the ground, leave resources in the ground, burn nothing and can be removed afterwards. The chapter can invest the revenue generated by this plant in public health, workforce development, job creation efforts such as ecotourism and high-value agriculture. Business unusual Solar is a strategy that will uplift this community. But unlike the similar promise of coal, solar power will not desecrate the Navajo’s sacred land, pollute their skies or poison their children. And the Navajo Power deal ensures this power will be owned and controlled by Navajo, not outsiders.  It was not only a coup to pull off any investment of this magnitude in the midst of the COVID crisis — there’s more business unusual in the deal. Baked into the financial structure is an expected rate of return for the investors. If and when this rate is achieved, any further returns will be distributed to the communities hosting the solar projects on their land. This financing design, with a “mission delta” built-in between the concessionary rate that investors are taking and a more market rate, will become an innovative benchmark for similarly well-intentioned companies in the future. Additional covenants include 10 percent of company ownership being held in a Turquoise Share, which funds community benefits in the event of profit distributions or sale of the company. Eighty percent of the profits must go toward solar projects or community investments. And executive compensation is capped relative to the lowest-paid employee.  Morgan Simon, CEO of the Candide Group, explained, “Navajo Power is creating a new kind of economic development model for communities through leveraging the revenues of utility-scale clean energy development. That’s what drew us to their work and why we led this investment.” This model is a stark contrast to the hundreds of years of exploitative fossil-fuel ventures that have taken place on the territories of native peoples.  Navajo Power, as you probably can tell, is not a typical company. It is a registered Public Benefit Corporation; a company with a core goal of public benefits on par with profit maximization. And for the power sector, it is innovative from woe to go. It is mostly owned by Navajo and committed, by its mission and business model, to maximize benefits for the community partners hosting the solar projects on their land. The company provides culturally appropriate technical assistance to communities as they go through the development process.  The backstory The political and historical context surrounding this momentous deal is worth understanding. During Donald Trump’s reign, U.S. coal plants have closed faster than during the Obama administration. We can thank the markets for coal’s loss of steam; wind in the Midwest and solar in the Southwest can produce cheaper electricity. This phenomenon has reached the reservation. After decades of hosting some of the nation’s largest coal mines and coal-fired power plants, including the Navajo Generating Station, San Juan, Cholla and the Four Corners Plant, these plants are finished. The first to fall, Navajo Generating Station, closed in November after a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to “save it” with subsidies. Early this year, the San Juan plant on the New Mexico side of Navajo announced it will shutter within three years. Cholla will stop one of three units this year and the rest by 2025. And Arizona Public Service, which operates Four Corners, recently announced it is moving up the retirement of that facility to 2031. Given the increasing loss-making economics, my bet is 2031 is a longshot. The Navajo entrepreneurs saw the vacuum left by falling coal plants as an opportunity for themselves, their reservation and the broader United States. The key insight is that the coal operations built on their land give the Navajo exceptional access to regional energy markets through the high-voltage transmission lines connecting them to major electrical demand centers across the West.  Based on research, Navajo Nation has the potential for more than 10 GW of solar power — more than a one-to-one replacement for every lost megawatt of coal power — plus at least one gigawatt of wind. Their high altitude, blue skies and dry land base is ideal for hosting solar farms. It also could prove an ideal location for hosting long-duration batteries for grid services that provide reliability and resilience. Research and development on solutions such as hydrogen gas from electrolysis powered by inexpensive solar is another potential product of this endeavor. The Navajo are riding the perfect storm: better economics; natural and unnatural competitive advantages; and the disruption of energy technologies to position this previously overlooked community at the center of the U.S. energy future. A change of heart In March 2019, Navajo Power organized an Energy Roundtable that involved Navajo leadership and some big hitters in energy from the American West. These included David Hochschild, chair of the California Energy Commission, and Angelina Galiteva, a member of the Board of Governors of the California Independent System Operator, which runs the California electricity grid. California is the fifth-largest economy in the world. So, when the governor’s energy czar and manager of the grid were present at the roundtable, people listened. And they both had the same message: We won’t buy dirty power from Navajo. The previous year, California passed SB100, a law that requires the Golden State to be 100 percent powered with renewable electricity by 2045. California is a huge market, a kind of nation-state unto itself, with a distinct grid and an increasingly wealthy population of 40 million. When California adopted the 100 percent standard, other states followed suit. This included New Mexico, which has a long history with the neighboring Navajo Nation dating to colonial times. These energy players surrounded the nation — both figuratively and geographically — with 100 percent clean energy commitments. The conversation at the roundtable was focused on how none of these states wanted to buy coal-fired power for much longer. After 50 years of being forced by various means to allow coal extraction and combustion on its territory, the Navajo leadership was told that the world is going in a new direction. For the Resource Committee that was gathered, including Vice President Myron Lizer, this was news. But it was heard. It was hard to ignore Navajo’s biggest customer of coal power for last half century saying, “We won’t be allowed, by law, to buy it any longer.”  Showdown at the summit Galiteva had run procurement for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power earlier in her career, so she knew all about contracting with Navajo power producers. She was well-versed on the transmission systems that carried electricity across the high desert and Sierras into the L.A. basin. There’s an interconnect at Glendale, just east of the city, a point in the grid where high-voltage transmission cables connect and the juice from big power plants is broken up before being distributed through the massive urban sprawl that is Los Angeles. Galiteva agreed that Navajo could take advantage of that transmission capacity — a huge multibillion-dollar sunk cost — to sell solar power for the next century. The Navajo’s competitive advantage of using transmission lines paid for by the coal industry to connect clean energy generation on their land to the big cities might be fleeting. Other carrots were offered in the room for the Navajo leadership to consider shifting from coal to solar. One came in the form of an energy procurement manager from Apple; the most valuable company in history at that time that recently had committed to 100 percent clean energy. While he could not commit to a specific contract with Navajo on the company’s behalf, he did indicate Apple’s interest in new sources of clean power. In the last few years, data centers such as those run by Apple, Google and Facebook have emerged as core business for energy generators with direct electricity contracts. If the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, a group of several dozen large corporations, were a country, it would be in the top 10 in terms of energy consumption and commitment to 100 percent clean energy purchasing. The signal was clear for the folks in the room — the times were a-changing and the Navajo needed to get with the program. The Navajo’s competitive advantage of using transmission lines paid for by the coal industry to connect clean energy generation on their land to the big cities might be fleeting. Developers elsewhere across the West are proposing massive wind and solar farms with transmission. These were big decisions and directional choices proposed to the committee at the summit. None of which had an easy solution because, at the same time the summit was happening, on the Arizona side of the reservation, lobbyists in Window Rock were trying to convince the president to use sovereign wealth funds to bail out the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station. The owners and major off-takers had proposed to shut it down that summer, which would mean hundreds of jobs going off the reservation — a place with few good, consistent employment opportunities.  At the time of the Navajo Power Summit, the nation was under considerable pressure to buy out the owners of the Navajo Generating Station to keep it going — even if It meant funding a loss-making enterprise. Various excuses and initiatives were announced to justify the nation’s digging into a hard-won, rainy-day fund it maintains from fines settled by the federal government for damage caused by uranium mine tailings on their land. The new president, Jonathan Nez, elected in November 2018, was looking down the barrel of 700 jobs going away at NGS and seriously considered spending $300 million to keep the coal power plant running. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis advised Nez that this may keep the plant going for a couple of years, but nothing could turn the tide against coal in the West with all neighboring states committing to 100 percent renewables in the foreseeable future. In other words, it would be buying a white elephant. In an act of bold political leadership, Nez decided against bailing out the coal plant. The nation broadened its vision. It saw that building large-scale solar farms with companies such as Navajo Power would tap the existing transmission lines to big cities and address the thousands of families on the reservation who do not have electricity. In a proclamation made in April 2019, called the Navajo Háyoo?káá? , the parties created “a new economic vision for the Navajo People, through healing the land, fostering clean energy development and providing leadership for the energy market.” This is “a big move for the nation,” said Nez. The plan is based on four principles:  1. A diverse energy portfolio, creating workforce development and job creation opportunities for the Navajo people.  2. Restoration of land and water after decades of uranium and coal mining.  3. Rural electrification of homes that lack access to electricity. 4. Utility-scale renewable energy development to supply Navajo Nation and the western United States.  The Navajo Sunrise Proclamation says, “Through the Diné teaching of ‘T’áá hwó’ ajít’éego’ and for the many who have called upon our Nation’s leaders to transition away from our overdependence on fossil fuels, the Navajo Nation will strive for a balanced energy portfolio and will pursue and prioritize clean renewable energy development for the long-term benefit of the Navajo People and our communities.” The benefits of such investments will go beyond jobs and revenue for the Navajo. There is a sense of pride in picking the path rather than having it foisted upon them, as coal power was 50 years ago. Self-determination is a big issue for indigenous peoples the world over. Overcoming the colonial domination that energy development has created is a major triumphsof the Navajo Sunrise Proclamation. It brings hope, not just to this sovereign nation, but to people everywhere that just transitions can be made. Pull Quote The wealth of energy resources on Navajo land invited exploitation throughout the 20th century. Uranium was mined there. And coal. Lots of coal. The Navajo’s competitive advantage of using transmission lines paid for by the coal industry to connect clean energy generation on their land to the big cities might be fleeting. Topics Renewable Energy 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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How to Get Your Supply Chain to Embrace Circularity

May 22, 2020 by  
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How to Get Your Supply Chain to Embrace Circularity Companies can make progress toward building a circular system only so far on their own. To change your entire system, you need to engage your whole value chain and beyond to create a truly circular model. Succeeding in this arena often requires convincing suppliers to make shifts and identifying new suppliers that better align with your company’s circularity goals. In this webcast, Interface VP and CSO Erin Meezan will share how the modular flooring company employed multiple strategies to transform its supply chain, an evolution that was essential to the company’s Mission Zero success and led to a broader impact outside of Interface that extended to other companies. You will learn: How to support existing suppliers How to identify new opportunities How to circumvent barriers to change Join Interface this June and begin laying the groundwork for your organization’s own supply chain transformation!    Moderator: Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group Speakers: Erin Meezan, Vice President & Chief Sustainability Officer, Interface More to be announced If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast. taylor flores Fri, 05/22/2020 – 08:30 Joel Makower Chairman & Executive Editor GreenBiz Group @makower Erin Meezan Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Interface @Erinmeez gbz_webcast_date Tue, 06/23/2020 – 10:00 – Tue, 06/23/2020 – 11:00

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Disney releases retro tees using bottles from the parks

May 19, 2020 by  
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Creating clothing fibers from  recycled plastic  is nothing new, but when a name like Disney is involved, it’s hard not to have childlike enthusiasm over the efforts. Disney, a company that needs no further description, has partnered with Unifi, Inc., makers of REPREVE®, the leading recycled fiber, to produce a new retro-style Mickey & Co. collection that is sure to bring out the kid in all of us.  Unifi has been on this ride for a long time, turning plastic waste into material used by Chicobags, Ford, Patagonia, PrAna and many other companies. The ever-growing count meter on their website reports over 20 billion bottles have been recycled , with the resulting fibers being used for everything from totes to curtains. Related: REPREVE: sustainable multi-use fiber made from recycled water bottles The company’s partnership with Disney offers an opportunity to educate children about the importance of recycling. As Jay Hertwig, Unifi’s Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, said, “Disney’s new retro collection is a wonderful circular economy initiative that shows what can happen when kids of all ages recycle and give bottles a second life. We’re thrilled to partner with Disney on this iconic collection and help promote the importance of recycling and sustainability.” The recycled products for the clothing release came, in part, from the Disney parks themselves, bringing the product full circle from pre- to post-production. This 1984 retro Mickey & Co. collection is currently available online through ShopDisney.com. Regardless of your favorite character, a total of nine tees featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto are ready to bring the magic. In addition to individual characters, there are several tees with the entire gang appearing in all their fabulously fun fanfare.  Disney timed the release of the new retro line with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April 2020, before shutdowns of the parks began due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. + Disney and Unifi Images via Unifi 

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Sustainable infrastructure investments can aid the post-COVID recovery

May 5, 2020 by  
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Sustainable infrastructure investments can aid the post-COVID recovery Katherine Davisson Tue, 05/05/2020 – 04:23 The economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing governments around the world to come up with policies for stimulating the global economy. Many are considering a tried-and-true method to boost economies in the short term and provide wide societal benefits in the long term: infrastructure investment. Countries around the globe are set to launch the biggest round of infrastructure investment since the post-2008 financial crisis stimulus measures. It’s easy to see why: Demand is enormous. The world is on-trend to face a  $15 trillion gap between the infrastructure investment needed and the amount provided by 2040 . On the supply side, when 1 percent of GDP is invested in infrastructure,  economic output increases by about 0.4 percent in the same year and by 1.5 percent four years later . Building in a new world Before the shovels hit the dirt, it’s worth understanding how the world of 2020 is different from the world of 2008. The infrastructure sector, long a laggard in embracing innovation, has worked hard to close the technological gap with other industries, and disruptors have transformed the way we design, build and manage infrastructure systems. Attitudes toward the importance of addressing the climate crisis also have changed. For example, since 2008, the percentage of U.S. adults who say dealing with global climate change should be a top priority for the president and Congress  has risen 14 points . The ongoing coronavirus crisis has amplified the growing calls for resilient and adaptable infrastructure that effectively can operate during moments of crisis. Given this big opportunity, it is imperative that when the nations of the world look to embark on infrastructure investment programs, they strive to provide infrastructure that is sustainable, technologically advanced and resilient. It is the financially, environmentally and socially responsible thing to do for the world. The economic benefits Economically, the case for technologically advanced, resilient and sustainable infrastructure is clear. Low and middle-income countries alone could see  a net benefit of $4.2 trillion  from investing in infrastructure that prioritizes future-focused resiliency. That’s a $4 return for every $1 spent. Low and middle-income countries alone could see a net benefit of $4.2 trillion from investing in infrastructure that prioritizes future-focused resiliency. That’s a $4 return for every $1 spent. Integrating new technologies during the design, construction and operational phase of an infrastructure asset can significantly lower the cost while improving the functionality. Artificial intelligence (AI), advanced data analytics, fintech, cloud computing, 5G, new materials, renewable energy technology and 3D printing are just a few innovations changing the global infrastructure landscape. When used, they can decrease project cost, compress construction time, reduce community disruption, minimize environmental harm and increase safety. The benefits of using technology to plan, build and operate sustainable infrastructure systems have won over many decisionmakers, including in the United Kingdom, which is planning to implement a  national digital twin program  to connect all aspects of its infrastructure system onto one secure network. Digital twins are computer models that combine AI, data analytics and machine learning to produce a digital version of a physical object. They help optimize the planning and operation of infrastructure by providing valuable insights in near-real-time. The U.K. expects the program to produce $8.70 billion in value a year from cost savings and efficiency gains from more sustainable management of the country’s infrastructure. The environmental benefits Dividends for the environment are also apparent. In energy infrastructure, long a major source of global carbon emissions, renewable technologies have made enormous strides. Wind and solar power are the  most cost-effective modes of power generation  across more than two-thirds of the world, including in the United States, China, Brazil and India. But building infrastructure that encourages environmental stewardship isn’t merely limited to the green energy space. Infrastructure’s burgeoning technological revolution ensures that all aspects of infrastructure have the ability to contribute to ecological preservation. The fast-growing Port of Brisbane on Australia’s east coast found itself in dire need of a solution for accommodating ever-growing container ships. In past years, the operators likely would have simply dredged the seafloor, an expensive and environmentally damaging exercise. They instead chose to  use cloud-computing technology  that assesses currents, tidal levels, wind patterns and other data to provide forecasts that allow the port to guide larger ships into the harbor depending on environmental conditions. In use since 2017, this program has allowed the port to increase capacity without dredging, allowing for even larger ships to access the port, all while improving operational safety, planning ability, sustainability and future-readiness. The societal benefits Not to be forgotten are the benefits for our societies of building advanced, sustainable and resilient infrastructure. We must create social infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, that use the latest innovations and techniques that can withstand the evolving challenges of our times, from natural disasters to pandemics. For example,  Nantucket Cottage Hospital , a small island hospital off the U.S. East Coast, is using the latest in technological and sustainability advances to create a medical facility that is adaptable to a variety of potential challenges in the coming years. This infrastructure revolution will not happen on its own. Although innovation has flourished, the sector lags behind others in technological sophistication. By focusing on environmental contingency planning, proper material use, emergency access to utility services and space adaptability, the hospital is protected against natural disasters and more long-term changes in environment and patients surges — crucial on an island whose population swells from 11,000 to 50,000 in the summertime. Similarly, the developers of the  Michael Tippet School  in the London borough of Lambeth set sustainable innovation and resilience as guiding principles. The project managers chose  laminated timber-an increasingly popular building component  as a primary construction material. Laminated timber is not only environmentally friendly compared to more carbon-intensive options such as concrete and steel, but it also can be assembled quickly and onsite, saving time and money. The result was an airy, adaptable space that easily could adjust to the changing requirements of this special needs school. The backbone of the economy This infrastructure revolution will not happen on its own. Although innovation has flourished, the sector lags behind others in technological sophistication. Existing innovations need to be more widely embraced, and new innovations need more nurturing — both areas where better cooperation with governments could yield positive results. Community engagement also needs to be increased. Working with local stakeholders to deliver updates and providing opportunities to receive community feedback at all stages of an infrastructure project greatly will increase the chances of success. Projects also should focus on adaptability and replicability. Finding and disseminating successful models can eliminate trial and error periods that cost time and money. It is often said the infrastructure is the backbone of the economy. We must ensure that that backbone is prepared to carry the weight of the future. Committing to using this opportunity to build advanced and resilient and sustainable will do just that. This article originally was published by the World Economic Forum. Pull Quote Low and middle-income countries alone could see a net benefit of $4.2 trillion from investing in infrastructure that prioritizes future-focused resiliency. That’s a $4 return for every $1 spent. This infrastructure revolution will not happen on its own. Although innovation has flourished, the sector lags behind others in technological sophistication. Contributors Joseph Losavio Topics Infrastructure COVID-19 Article Source World Economic Forum Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The fast-growing Port of Brisbane on Australia’s east coast is using cloud-computing technology  that assesses currents, tidal levels, wind patterns and other data to help guide larger ships into the harbor depending on environmental conditions.

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